Seven Nights to Bacchus

by Hunter Ash

Disclaimers: I don't own Xena, Gabrielle, Argo, Bacchus or Joxer, unfortunately. They belong to someone else and I'm just borrowing them for entertainment purposes. No copyright infringement is intended. Don't bother suing me - definitely wouldn't be worth it.

Subtext/Alt Sex: Yes, even though they haven't admitted their desires for each other yet, Xena and Gabrielle really want to. If consensual same sex relationships bug you or are illegal where you are, please do the following: leave. Come back when you're older, have an open mind or have changed your laws.

Violence: Non-consensual vampiric sex with major character - I'd rate an "R", several bacchae also bite the dust (pun intended).

Timeline: A few seasons after Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.

Storyline: A mysterious female warrior brings another confrontation with Bacchus, Lord of the Bacchae with the souls of Gabrielle and Xena hanging in the balance.

Feedback: Please, I love hearing from readers.

Xena smacked at another tree that just happened to have the misfortune of being too close to the warrior's sword at the wrong moment. She growled and slashed at another one.

Xena was confused and she hated that feeling, almost more than anything in the world. After years of controlling her emotions had made the warrior think she was invincible to feelings. Now she was at the mercy of her own feelings and hated it.

Xena had almost lost Gabrielle with that stupid war between the Mitoans and Thessalians and realized how much the bard meant to her. It was bad enough that she had realized that she had fallen in love with her traveling mate and best friend, but now being unable to control those feelings was driving the warrior crazy. She was totally and hopelessly in love with her bard, no chance for recovery. Xena growled again. The ex-Warlord had thought she could control those feelings and never reveal them to Gabrielle.

It was getting harder and harder and the warrior was suffering for it.

All because she didn't know how Gabrielle truly felt about her. Xena didn't think the bard was interested in women sexually, she hadn't shown any interests in their travels together, even after more than two summers. The warrior knew that Gabrielle loved her but what kind of love that was confused Xena and she hated being confused, especially about anything dealing with herself.

Xena was willing to suffer for the rest of her life rather than risk losing Gabrielle's friendship. The warrior thought she could handle it like she had always handled emotions and feelings before, ignore them and stuff them down. Now, she was finding that was more difficult than she had thought it would be.

The warrior had always thought that emotions and feelings were a weakness, especially in a Warlord and had fought hard to control them in herself and those around her. Any sign of weakness in herself or those around her was quickly smashed or destroyed. After these seasons of traveling with Gabrielle and Xena was re-evaluating her beliefs. The bard was the kindest and most gentle person Xena had ever known and also the most emotional. The warrior remembered when Gabrielle had thrown herself into Xena's arms for comfort when a young man was taken by Death when they rescued Her. Xena had been surprised and unsure of herself. Gabrielle had turned to her for comfort, no one had done that ever, not even when she was a child except Lyciuss, her brother. Xena reflected that was probably one of the most telling moments when her heart began to melt for her little bard.

Gabrielle could also be the most stubborn person Xena had ever butted heads against. Especially if something crossed her moral boundaries, especially about killing. Xena had no problem in killing, it was something she had to restrain in herself while Gabrielle was the opposite, absolutely refusing to kill.

The warrior couldn't imagine her life without the bard but now she was worried. There was someone else in the picture and Xena was wondering if she was wrong in hiding her feelings from Gabrielle.


Xena and Gabrielle had been traveling in northern Greece, a land of endless mountains and valleys filling their days. Most nights were spent in rock caves, laying together under the same blankets next to a fire. Almost every night was a long one for Xena. Just the bard sighing gently as she settled into Xena's arms and placed her head on the warrior's shoulder was enough to ensure that Xena wouldn't be sleeping any time soon. Hours would pass with Xena stroking the bard's hair and gently caressing Gabrielle's cheek before she would finally be able to control her pounding heartbeat and the fire throughout her body.

What was adding to Xena's confusion was that she could almost swear that she saw desire in Gabrielle's eyes at times. A quick flash and then they'd both turn away, blushing. Xena was wondering if she reading things into their relationship or if Gabrielle was actually thinking of the warrior in that way.

Then they came upon Shareka.


Three days before, they had been walking along a mountain trail that occasionally opened up into small meadows when they heard the sound of fighting, sword on sword, fist on flesh. Xena had reached down and Gabrielle had vaulted onto Argo's back and they were off at a quick trot.

This was a reflection in another change in their relationship, Xena reflected. Before Xena would have left the bard on the trail to plunge headlong into whatever danger waited up the road, now she took Gabrielle with her, trusting the bard's continuing developing skill with the staff to protect her and keep her out of trouble while Xena handled the big stuff. She was beginning to treat and think of Gabrielle more like a partner than just a traveling companion who had to be protected all the time.

A female warrior was against the cliff side in a small clearing on the mountain face. In a semi-circle around her were five bandits, two more at her feet. Xena's sharp eyes took in the growing pool of blood under their bodies and dismissed them. She stopped Argo for a moment and Gabrielle slid off the horse. Xena drew her sword and let out her famous war cry, urging Argo forward.

The bandits turned at the sound, surprised and thrown off guard. The female warrior took advantage of the distraction and thrust her sword through the chest of one of the bandits and took on the one to his left as he struggled to defend himself.

Xena and Argo scattered the remaining three bandits, two of them falling before they even realized their throats had been cut by Xena's sword. The third bandit decided to make a break for it only to be knocked senseless by a flashing staff landing on his head. He dropped straight down to the ground without a sound. The last bandit lost his battle and choked a strangled cry as the stranger drove her sword through his throat. His eyes had glazed over before she released him.

Gabrielle trotted to stand beside Xena as she dismounted Argo. The bard watched with amusement as both warriors bent down to clean their swords on the tunics of dead bandits.

Both warriors stood and eyed each other, sizing the other up. Gabrielle, stepped between both of them.

"Hi, hope you don't mind us stepping in." she said easily.

Xena almost growled at the other woman when the stranger eyed Gabrielle. Grey eyes flashing with an intensity that made Xena nervous.

Both Gabrielle and Xena could get a good look at the stranger now that they weren't dodging swords and bandits. The woman was tall, not as tall as the Warrior Princess but still tall, which meant she stood over Gabrielle. Her hair was as dark to compare with Xena's and her eyes were a flashing grey. Even Xena had to admit that the woman was strikingly beautiful with a well defined body, but there was an air of hunger about her, an aura of danger that Xena realized was even different than her own.

The warrior was dressed in simple leather, not even the brass adornments that covered Xena's armor, providing extra protection. Large gauntlets, leather trousers, cotton tunic with a leather vest covering that. Knee high fur boots and a wide belt holding a scabbard for her sword and a dagger at her other hip. She wore no jewelry of any kind except a silver necklace with a silver wolf's head. She tossed her raven hair back with a quick movement of her head and sheathed her sword.

"I'm glad you two came by, I'm Shareka." she extended her hand and Gabrielle grasped the hand with a firm grip and then the woman extended her hand and shook Xena's arm in a warrior's grip.

"I'm Gabrielle and this is Xena," the bard answered easily.

"The Warrior Princess and the famous bard?" Shareka asked with raised eyebrows.

Xena almost grinned when the bard actually blushed. Gabrielle casually shook off the praise and recognition but Xena knew that being known for her talent pleased the bard greatly.

"Well, yeah. We're headed south if you want to travel with us," Gabrielle offered, quickly changing the subject.

"I'd like that, I think." Shareka said easily, not even looking at Xena.

Xena's eyes narrowed.


Three days and nights later and Xena was still frowning. Shareka and Gabrielle had been talking almost non-stop since they met. The other female warrior telling the young bard of her travels throughout the various nations, the places she had seen and the people she had met. Gabrielle had soaked it all up eagerly, her bardic mind filing away little details. Then the bard was delighted when Shareka seemed to enjoy Gabrielle's tales of her adventures with Xena and frequently complimented the bard on her talent, bringing a blush to the young woman's face and a frown to Xena's.

One thing the bard hadn't been able to do was draw Xena into any of the conversations. The warrior had gone stoic again and it frustrated Gabrielle and Xena knew it but didn't know how to fight against it.

Xena cursed herself and her lack of courage. She almost laughed at that thought. Xena, Destroyer of Nations, Warlord supreme, Warrior Princess, afraid? Terrified, was more the word. Terrified of a little inexperienced bard from a small village. Terrified of revealing her feelings to another person. Terrified of losing Gabrielle on any level.

How many times did the warrior focus on sharpening her sword to keep Gabrielle from seeing her shaking hands? How often did she have to break into sword drills to work off the heat rushing through her body when she caught sight of Gabrielle naked in a river or stream? Too many times the warrior had caught herself in-between sleep and consciousness, stroking Gabrielle's hair and almost nuzzling the blonde's neck, her hands wanting to slip lower and explore the younger woman's body.

Xena slashed at a bush with a growl. Even now the thought of Gabrielle's long hair falling into those green eyes when the bard was passionate about something could make Xena whimper.

Now there was Shareka.

Xena had left the two at camp when Shareka had begun showing Gabrielle some of the dance steps she had learned from the Russ tribes in the north in the regions known as the Steppes. Xena had gone to inspect the perimeter and sort out her feelings. Really, she had gone out to whack something.

Xena was now feeling something she hated, jealousy and doubt. Could Gabrielle be thinking of leaving her? Shareka was certainly a better traveling companion, it seemed. A good fighter, well traveled, very open and talkative, and she didn't seem to have the dark past that Xena had.

The warrior was at a loss. Did she dare risk revealing her feelings to Gabrielle and possibly lose her? Try and live with things as they were once Shareka moved on? Let Gabrielle go?

Xena cursed and swung her sword again. She had let Gabrielle go more than once and it kept getting worse for Xena each time. To the Academy in Athens, early in their travels and then to Perdicus in marriage. Gods, that one had killed the warrior. Each time Gabrielle had come back to her but now Xena wasn't sure if Gabrielle left this time that she'd see the bard again.

The warrior could sense and almost see the hunger surrounding Shareka, Xena knew that the other warrior wouldn't hesitate to reveal her desires to Gabrielle when she thought the seduction was right. Would Gabrielle respond? Damnit! Xena cursed silently, Gabrielle wasn't interested in females, was she?

Xena was at a crossroads and knew it, she had to tell Gabrielle how she felt and risk everything with the little bard.

Xena sheathed her sword and stepped into the light of the campfire and stopped dead in her tracks, stunned by the sight of Gabrielle and Shareka.

The other warrior looked up from Gabrielle's neck and grinned at the warrior.


Gabrielle was frustrated, confused and hurt. Ever since they had come across Shareka, Xena had been so quiet and withdrawn that it was driving the bard crazy. The bard had gotten used to Xena going stoic whenever they were in a village or town but Gabrielle also delighted in how Xena relaxed when it was just the two of them on the road. The bard knew that she saw sides of Xena that no one else ever had before and it delighted her beyond words. She hated the silence and wall between them now and didn't know how to fix it.

Gabrielle had found herself enjoying Shareka's company but was also distressed that Xena didn't. This was in addition to the frustration she was already feeling about the warrior.

The bard had realized that her feelings had gone from early hero worship of the warrior to deep friendship and then had been startled to discover that the friendship had deepened beyond love, now it also included desire. She couldn't pinpoint when it had, except that she had always loved the warrior from the first moment she had seen the raven haired beauty with the sword.

Just watching Xena go through her sword drills was enough to cause the bard to flush deeply, heart suddenly pounding until she was sure that Xena could hear it. Gabrielle had lost track of how many times she thought her trembling hands would give her away as she reached to help Xena take off her armor. Or how many times the warrior had caught Gabrielle staring at her.

Gabrielle wasn't really surprised by the change in her feelings. She knew about relationships between women, even in her small village it wasn't unheard of. Frowned on, maybe, but not unheard of. She had also been approached by a couple of the Amazons but had declined. Her heart belonged elsewhere.

What she wasn't certain of was the warrior's feelings about her. She knew Xena enjoyed the sexual pleasures of both sexes, Gabrielle had heard the rumors of Xena's past conquests that included both male and females. She just didn't seem interested in Gabrielle that way and the bard wasn't willing to risk her friendship with Xena.

The bard had discovered a lot of things about herself in traveling with the warrior over the last couple of summer turns and one of them was that she wasn't the scared kid she had always thought of herself. Xena had pointed out that offering herself in exchange for the women of her village to the slavers had been brave and it had taken Gabrielle a long time to see that. She had argued with the warrior that it was just what Gabrielle had to do at the time. Xena had argued back that this was what made heroes brave, they merely did what had to be done without thinking about the fear or the consequences.

The one thing the bard accepted as fear: losing Xena if she ever revealed her feelings to the warrior.

Gabrielle kept quiet.


The night had started out the same as the previous two, after dinner the guest warrior and bard had begun trading stories and Xena was silent as a mute.

The talk had turned to dancing somehow, a subject that pleased the bard but didn't hold any interest for Xena. Gabrielle hadn't been surprised when Xena had gotten up and left to check the perimeter but she still frowned, watching her warrior melt into the shadows.

"Must be hard," Shareka commented.

"What's that?" Gabrielle turned her attention back to the other warrior.

"Being in love with someone who isn't interested."

Gabrielle felt herself blushing bright red and dropped her eyes. "Obvious, huh?"

Shareka smiled and lifted the bard's chin until green eyes looked into grey ones. "Yes," she said simply.

Gabrielle struggled to fight down the tears threatening to fill her eyes.

Shareka stood up with a smile. "Let me show you some of those moves."

After a few turns and demonstrations, Gabrielle found herself laughing as Shareka pulled the bard to her feet.

"Come here, I'll show you."

Shareka laughed again and pulled Gabrielle in front of her and moved her body close to the bards, her arms moving along to mirror Gabrielle's in front of her.

The bard felt her heart begin beating faster. She had admitted to herself earlier that she was attracted to Shareka but she also realized that it was Shareka's resemblance to her warrior and not anything beyond sexual attraction. Again she had to admit that her heart belonged to one person, even if Xena didn't know it or want it.

Shareka leaned down to Gabrielle's ear.

"You are so beautiful," she whispered and Gabrielle felt her muscles tense up. She started to move away but found Shareka's arms suddenly wrapped around her.

"Shhhh, little bard," the voice cooed in her ear.

Gabrielle shook her head, trying to focus. Something was suddenly wrong but she couldn't seem to shake it.

"Close your eyes and listen to my voice. Listen only to my voice." the voice drifted through the haze of the bard's mind and she closed her eyes and leaned back into the strong arms. "That's it, relax. Let your body flow into mine, let your mind drift to me. You will only hear me, no one else."

Gabrielle placed her arms over the arms holding her tightly, feeling only the heat from the other woman's body.

"Let go, little bard," the voice whispered. "Think of your warrior, this is Xena."

"Xena?" Gabrielle whispered, leaning her head back into the breasts of the woman and then crying out with sudden shock and pleasure as lips found her neck and ear lobe and began kissing her and nibbling lightly. "Oh gods, Xena!"

"Yes, little bard, come to me." the voice instructed.

Gabrielle whimpered as the hands began to roam over her body, sending sensations throughout her body to match the ones beginning at her neck.


Xena growled and started to move forward but was surprised to find she couldn't move when Shareka raised her hand and pointed in the warrior's direction. The grey eyed warrior continued to grin as Gabrielle moaned in her arms.

"Easy, warrior." Shareka said easily, bending down to lightly nip Gabrielle's neck. "Relax and enjoy the show." Shareka laughed.

Xena tensed her muscles with all of her strength and couldn't move.

"Let her go, damnit!" she yelled.

"Not a chance!" Shareka laughed. "Don't worry, Xena, she's not betraying you - she thinks I'm you." the grey warrior reached up to cup one of the bard's breasts, bringing a groan from Gabrielle. Xena growled again and then screamed when she couldn't even move her arms.

"You see, Xena, my father sent me, he'd like to see you again."

"Who?" Xena growled and felt a chill run up her spine when Shareka looked up from Gabrielle's neck. Grey eyes were now yellow and red. "Bacchae!"

"Of a kind. I'm the daughter of Bacchus, my bite and powers are specials, as you both are going to find out." Shareka promised, moving her other hand to stroke Gabrielle's sex through the skirt she was wearing. Her other arm left the bard's breast to wrap around Gabrielle's waist as the girl's knees went weak.

"Xena, please!" Gabrielle begged, bringing a sob to the warrior as she stood helpless.

"Let her go, you can have me, just let her go!" Xena begged.

"I don't think so. I'm going to take her, every bit of her, until she screaming for release and then she'll feel my fangs."

Xena screamed in rage and fought against the invisible force holding her but it only caused Shareka to laugh once again. The vampire spun the bard around into her arms, capturing the Gabrielle's lips in a rough embrace that had the bard moaning and clinging tightly to the warrior, pinning her head against Gabrielle's lips. Xena could see how deep the kiss was and how passionate. The Warrior Princess closed her eyes with a whimper.

Xena kept her eyes closed and wished to every god in Olympus and around the world that she could block out the sounds as well. Sounds of her bard in the height of passion, calling Xena's name over and over again, moans and groans and then screams. The sound of Shareka's voice whispering things to her bard that Xena should be saying.

Xena opened her eyes with a scream of rage but Gabrielle couldn't seem to hear her. Shareka merely grinned at the warrior and then returned her attention to the bard.

Both vampire and bard were naked and lying on the sleeping furs, Shareka hovering over the bard's arching body as the vampire lavished attention on Gabrielle's nipples with her hand and mouth, the other hand between Gabrielle's legs, slowly moving with a maddening rhythm that was causing the bard's hips to buck of their own accord.

Xena tried screaming Gabrielle's name, tried talking through whatever enchantment the vampire had over the bard, and then sobbing her frustration to the bard. Gabrielle heard none of it.

Shareka raised her head, eyebrows raised and looked at Xena.

"Did you know she's still a virgin?"

Xena groaned and felt her heart collapse in agony.

"She and her husband fell asleep on their wedding night from too much wine. She was waiting for you, Xena."

Xena screamed again, feeling tears streaming down her face and closed her eyes as she heard Gabrielle gasp in pain and then begin moaning in pleasure again, calling Xena's name.

The sounds seemed like they continued forever to the warrior until she felt numb outside and inside from the assault on her muscles from struggling against the enchantment hold and her emotions from the assault of hearing Gabrielle's cries of pleasure at the hands of another, worst was that Gabrielle thought it was Xena and kept calling her name and begging her warrior for more.

"Xena, you really don't want to miss this." Shareka's voice purred as Gabrielle's voice pitched a couple of notches higher and became more frequent.

Xena opened her eyes and saw Gabrielle's body thrashing, hands grasping at the fur underneath her, back arched and head thrown back in passion. Shareka moved up the bard's body, keeping up the rhythm with her hand as she poised over the bard's neck.

"No!" Xena screamed as Shareka gauged the bard's reactions and struck with her fangs, sinking them into the bard's neck.

Gabrielle screamed and grabbed at Shareka's back, digging bloody furrows into the vampire's skin as her body tensed and began to shake uncontrollably. The bard screamed Xena's name while the vampire drank.

To Xena's horror the vampire raised her head and brought her own wrist to her teeth and bit deeply. The warrior screamed as her mind protested what she was seeing, the vampire offering her bloody wrist to Gabrielle and the bard latching onto the offered wrist and drinking deeply while the vampire returned to the bard's neck and continued her own drinking.

"No!" Xena screamed again as Gabrielle's cries became weaker and her struggles in the waves of the orgasms ceased and her head dropped back unconscious, still the vampire continued drinking from the bard's neck. "Let her go, you bitch! Stop! I'll do anything!"

Finally, Shareka raised her head and looked at the warrior, licking her blood stained lips. She lowered the bard to the sleeping furs and covered the naked body under her with a smile.

"She's still alive, Xena."

Xena sobbed, straining again and again against her own unmoving muscles.

Shareka passed a hand over the bard's unconscious face. "Listen to me, little bard, listen to me." she said softly. "When you awake you will remember everything, including that it was me and not your warrior, you will remember."

"No!" Xena screamed again. "I'll rip you into tiny pieces!"

Shareka smiled even wider as she dressed. "I'd expect no less, Xena." As she adjusted her cloak she walked up to the warrior, ignoring Xena's struggles.

"Listen to me, Xena, and listen carefully." Shareka ordered. "Gabrielle is alive and will stay that way if you do what you're told."

Xena stopped struggling and tried to control her breathing as her eyes narrowed.

"My bite will require time for Gabrielle to change into a bacchae. You have one week to get her to the Bacchae Forest and to my Father's caves. You will exchange yourself for Gabrielle's freedom from my bite and join with us. The bard will be set free if you do. Until that time she will begin to change, slowly at first but it will be there."

"Release her and I'll come with you now!" Xena pleaded.

"No, you caused my father suffering and he wants that repaid. You'll suffer watching the bard slowly change from a creature of the day to one of the night. You'll also both suffer knowing that I was the one who took her and not you."

Xena let loose with a barrage of curses that would have impressed a dockworker and Shareka merely grinned at her.

"One week, Xena, or she's lost to you forever."

Xena fell forward with a yelp of surprise as the enchantment was lifted and Shareka was gone.

"Gabrielle!" Xena cried, scrambling forward to her bard.


Xena found the bard still unconscious and her neck still bleeding. The warrior quickly grabbed Gabrielle's skirt up and ripped a strip from it and pressed it to the bard's neck until the bleeding had stopped.

Gabrielle began moaning and thrashing slightly, her body beginning to shake. The warrior stripped off her armor and quickly put on her cotton sleeping shift and pulled the blanket around her and stretched out alongside the bard, trying to keep Gabrielle warm as the loss of blood hit the bard's system.

"It's okay, I'm here. You'll be okay." she whispered, stroking Gabrielle's hair out of the bard's eyes.


Day 1

It was morning before the bard's pulse began to slow down and her lungs were able to take in a full breath without gasping. Xena had spent the night massaging Gabrielle's limbs, trying to keep what blood was left in the bard's body flowing to all parts of her body. As the bard's breathing returned to fairly normal, Xena sank down next to Gabrielle exhausted, mentally and physically. She drew the bard into her arms and gently rocked the smaller woman as Gabrielle twitched with muscle spasms and nightmares.


The warrior opened her eyes, realizing she had fallen asleep holding the bard close, Xena's back against a tree, and her body was going to protest falling asleep against a tree. Green eyes were beginning to widen with memories and fear.

"It's okay, I'm here." Xena whispered, pulling the bard closer.

"It wasn't a dream was it?" the bard whispered.

"What do you remember?"

When the bard burst into tears and clung to the warrior, Xena knew that Gabrielle probably remembered everything, including the instruction to remember. The warrior held her bard until the girl's tears subsided to gentle sobs.

"What happens now?" Gabrielle finally asked between sobs.

"We go to the Bacchae Forest and try and end this once and for all." Xena answered simply.

"I'll be a bacchae long before that!" the bard started to struggle out of the warrior's arms but Xena held her firm.

"Stop! You've lost a lot of blood and you're going to discover that you can't stand just yet." Gabrielle stopped struggling and looked into the bluest eyes she knew with fear in her own. "Second, you have no clothes on and with that blood loss your body temp is way too low to go around Greece in the fall without clothes."

Gabrielle began to blush and turned her eyes away, remembering how she had gotten undressed. Xena pulled the bard's face back around until Gabrielle looked at her.

"We'll deal with that, you thought it was me. You did nothing wrong, my love."

Gabrielle closed her eyes as a wave of emotions rushed over her, sending a pounding to her head until the bard thought she was going to pass out. Xena had called 'my love?'

Xena held her closer and gently rocked her until Gabrielle opened her eyes again.

"You're not mad at me? That I feel that way about you?" the bard whispered, suddenly looking very young and Xena felt her heart melting even more.

"Mad at you, little one? I'm so pissed off that I can't see straight." Xena answered with a crooked grin. Gabrielle's eyes widened in sudden fear. "No, not at you. At me, for not telling you sooner how I felt, maybe if I had then Shareka wouldn't have been able to get between us. I'm the one who's sorry. I am so in love with you, Gabrielle."

The bard broke into a fresh round of tears, holding tightly to the warrior.


One of the worst hours the warrior had ever spent was telling Gabrielle what Shareka had said after the bard passed out and what their immediate future was.

"I'll slowly become a bacchae unless you give yourself over to Bacchus?" Gabrielle whispered while Xena attempted to cook some lunch, both of them having cried themselves through what should have been breakfast.

Xena nodded unhappily.

"Then it's simple, you are NOT going to give yourself over to Bacchus."

"I'm trying to think of a way out of it. We've got a week." Xena muttered.

"If you don't then promise me you won't turn yourself over to Bacchus!" Gabrielle insisted, starting to get to her feet and deciding against it when a wave of dizziness hit her.

Xena frowned. "I told you not to move, you need food and a day to recover your blood."

"Promise me!" Gabrielle insisted, sweat breaking out all over her body.

"I can't promise that, damnit!" Xena snapped. "I'll do anything to keep you alive!"

"Xena, think! The world isn't going to end if I'm gone but it could end if you end up in Bacchus' hands!" the bard yelled and almost fell on her face. Gabrielle leaned back against the tree, trying to stop her head from pounding so hard.

"My world would end without you, Gabrielle." Xena whispered, crossing the small space between them and taking the bard into her arms again.

"Xena, you and Bacchus together would be practically undefeatable. You can't let that happen! Promise me!" Gabrielle insisted, her face taking on that stubborn face that Xena knew very well and the warrior sighed.

"I promise neither of us will fall to Bacchus' control." Xena promised grimly.

"Oh no you don't! You won't kill yourself either!" Gabrielle started to struggle but gave up after a moment, her body trembling with the effort.

"I'm not living without you and I won't become one with Bacchus either. Don't argue with me on this, little one. I love you. If we find a different option between now and then I'll gladly take it."

"Gods, I feel so weak," Gabrielle complained, laying her head on Xena's chest.

"I know, you need to eat and then we'll break camp."

"I don't think I can walk," Gabrielle frowned, hating to admit weakness, especially to her warrior.

"Then you'll ride on Argo with me. The faster we travel the more time it'll give us to think of something." Xena explained and Gabrielle merely nodded. With a kiss to the top of the bard's head Xena moved back to the food.


It was well into twilight before Xena called a halt and set up camp. She was tired and worried. Gabrielle had slept most of the time in Xena's arms during their travel on Argo that day and Xena hadn't been surprised, knowing the bard's body was attempting to heal and replace her missing blood. What was worrying Xena was that she couldn't think of a way out of the mess to save herself and especially Gabrielle.

Neither could Gabrielle.

"To kill Bacchus you have to be a bacchae, we were bacchae when you rammed that dryad bone into his chest. Why didn't he stay dead?" Gabrielle muttered between bites. Xena was glad to see the bard's appetite return.

"Maybe you have to be a full bacchae, we weren't fully his." Xena ventured.

Gabrielle frowned. "But once you drink his blood you have no will left. Maybe if I kill him this time it'll break the hold, it did before."

"I've got a feeling that Bacchus has thought of that, you were bit by his daughter this time and she said her bite was different. Besides, you couldn't fight his control last time."

"You did," Gabrielle countered, flushing, knowing Xena was right, she hadn't been able to resist Bacchus. She had even drank her best friend's blood that night.

"I had you beside me and we moved quickly. Another few moments and I would have been lost. I had to save you." Xena said softly, reaching out and caressing the bard's cheek. Gabrielle closed her eyes and leaned her head into her warrior's hand, tears threatening to spill from her eyes when she opened them.

"I love you, I'm so sorry," Gabrielle began but Xena placed a finger over the bard's lips.

"You were raped, Gabrielle, physically and emotionally. You have nothing to be sorry for." Xena's eyes narrowed. "I am going to rip Shareka and Bacchus into little pieces, though."

"What is it with the gods, Xena?" Gabrielle demanded, an exasperated look on her face, causing the warrior's eyebrows to raise. "Ares and you, Morpheus, Bacchus, how many others are going to mess with our lives?"

"Add Hera to that list if we stay friends with Hercules and Iolaus," the warrior grinned and Gabrielle threw a piece of bread at her with an answering grin.

"Okay, turning into a full bacchae is out, too risky." Gabrielle began concentrating again.

"Right." Xena agreed.

"Even a partial bacchae might not work, so what does that leave?" Gabrielle frowned.

"I'm not sure. Maybe if I kill Shareka with a dryad bone and hack Bacchus into tiny pieces it'll break the spell and he might take longer to recover."

"Do you think I'm connected to her specially?" Gabrielle whispered, suddenly very afraid and ashamed.

"I don't know. We might have to bet on it. Shareka said her bite was different and special, it might be that if we kill her it'll break that connection." Xena answered.

Gabrielle suddenly found herself struggling against tears again. Xena was surprised when the bard tried to shake off her comforting arms.

"What is it, Gabrielle?"

"How can you touch me?" the bard whispered, the tears beginning to fall.

Xena drew the bard into her arms, holding her tight. "Because I love you."

"Don't let me become like that again," Gabrielle whispered.

"Not if I can help it, little one."

Xena let the bard cry for a while longer until Gabrielle settled into her arms comfortably and the sobs stopped. Gabrielle lightly ran her hand along Xena's arm, slowly tracing some of the small scars, sending shivers up Xena's spine.

The warrior leaned down slowly and drew the bard's lips to hers. At first the kiss was tender and tentative, Xena could almost feel Gabrielle's doubts and hesitation, then the bard reached up and drew Xena's head closer and the kiss deepened.

Abruptly Gabrielle broke off the kiss and sat up. "I can't, I keep seeing her face now that my memories are the right ones." she whispered.

Xena wrapped her arms around Gabrielle again. "It's all right, it'll just take time. I want this to be right between us."

Gabrielle sighed with relief and leaned her head back onto Xena's shoulder.

"I love you so much." she said softly.

"Back at you, Gabrielle. Now, get ready for bed while I check the area." Xena saw a moment of fear flash in Gabrielle's eyes. "It's okay, I will not be out of earshot, I promise."



The night was a long one for the warrior again. Gabrielle kept tossing and turning in her sleep and crying out. Xena spent most of the night comforting the younger woman.


Day 2

Xena groaned when she woke up the next morning. The sun was already up and the warrior felt like she had been through a full day of battle. Argo snorted her displeasure at not being fed sooner. Xena smiled and got up with another groan, careful not to disturb the sleeping bard next to her.

Xena moved to feed her beloved horse and leaned heavily against Argo's neck.

"I've got to think of something, Argo. I can't lose her now!" she whispered, wiping away tears. The warrior shook her head and set about cooking breakfast. That was usually Gabrielle's chore but Xena wanted the bard to sleep as much as she could.

"Come on, sleepyhead, time for breakfast." Xena said softly, shaking the bard's shoulder. She frowned when Gabrielle didn't even moan in protest. Xena shook the blonde a little harder and felt the bard attempt to shrug off her hand. The warrior grinned and shook Gabrielle again. "Come you, little one. Breakfast!" the mention of food was usually sufficient to get the bard out of bed or cheer her up but not today.

"Not hungry," the bard muttered, throwing the blanket over her head.

Xena frowned, this was a first, she thought.

"Come on, you've got to eat and we need to get moving."

Even after going for a swim to try and wake up, Gabrielle found herself still groggy and half dozing over breakfast. She managed to eat most of the food put in front of her with Xena's encouragement.

More disturbing was the bard flinching whenever Xena got near her. Xena was tired, worried and angry. The warrior wasn't surprised by Gabrielle's reactions, Xena had seen survivors of assault before and knew to expect anything. It didn't make it easier, however, to deal with.

Xena pushed Argo as hard as the horse could with two riders. Again Gabrielle dozed most of the day in Xena's arms.

Xena was concerned, the bard barely touched her lunch and still seemed groggy until it got closer to dark. Only then did Gabrielle seem to wake up and begin taking note of her surroundings.

For the warrior, it was another long night filled with nightmares, both hers and Gabrielle's.


Day 3

For Xena and Gabrielle the next day was repeat of the day before, right down to the bard not being very hungry. This more than worried the warrior, Gabrielle was known for several things in the warrior's mind: her bardic talent, her stubbornness and her hunger. Now Gabrielle wasn't talking much, seemed listless and wasn't hungry.

And the nightmares were worse. It had taken hours for the bard to finally drift off to sleep. At first she had been too restless to sleep and kept Xena awake with her. After several nights of not sleeping well, the warrior was tempted to whack her beloved on the head and send her unconscious. Xena gritted her teeth and tried to sleep until the bard's nightmares woke her up.


Day 4

The fourth day found the pair at a small village and Xena took advantage of it by putting Gabrielle in a room at the inn and tending to a much neglected Argo. The warrior was becoming accustomed to the bard being groggy during the day and overly restless at night. She remembered Shareka's words about Gabrielle turning from a creature of the day into one of the night. Xena was getting more concerned, she hadn't been able to get Gabrielle to eat breakfast, no matter how much she encouraged the bard or even threatened her, Gabrielle just wasn't hungry anymore. For food, at least, the warrior thought.

The warrior bought some supplies and made a couple of other stops in the village before heading to the room. Xena intended on getting the bard at least semi awake and back on Argo but seeing the bard sleeping sounding on the bed and her own exhaustion of not sleeping for several days and nights caught up with the warrior.

Xena knew that she was in no shape to fight anyone nor was she thinking clearly. Exhaustion and lack of food was one of the first and fatal mistakes a warrior could make. Xena pulled off her armor and crawled into the bed beside her bard and was asleep within minutes.

Xena was startled to wake up to a pair of yellow eyes watching her in the warrior's arms. She yelped and almost dived out the other side of the bed.

"Xena!" the warrior blinked and saw Gabrielle's greens eyes looking at her concerned in the twilight of evening. The warrior tried to calm her rapid heartbeat and moved back to her original position, taking the bard into her arms. She could feel Gabrielle trembling.

"Sorry, nightmare, I think." Xena muttered, holding the bard close.

"Xena, how do we make this better?" Gabrielle's voice reached the warrior's ears in the growing darkness.

"The plan's still the same, I kill Shareka and rip Bacchus into a hundred tiny pieces."

"No, I mean us. I want you so badly that it aches, it hurts me physically but I freeze every time I reach for you." suddenly Gabrielle broke into tears once again and Xena held her closer. "I wanted it to be you!" the little bard whispered.

"I know, I'm sorry I couldn't stop her." Xena felt tears of her own falling down her face and her own heart aching.

"Xena, kiss me, please."

Xena hesitated only a moment before lowering her head to Gabrielle's lips. Their first kiss had been tentative and hesitant, this one turned passionate and exploring very quickly. The warrior was surprised when it was Gabrielle's tongue insisting on entrance past lips, Xena groaned as the bard began exploring her mouth and the bard's hands began exploring her body, reaching under the sleeping shift to touch the bare skin of Xena's well developed back muscles. The warrior suddenly felt on fire everywhere, especially wherever Gabrielle was touching. Xena's arms wrapped around Gabrielle and drew her closer and then hands were reaching for the laces at Gabrielle's sleeping tunic.

They both broke away, gasping for air and with the electric shocks rushing through their bodies. Xena was surprised when Gabrielle crawled on top of her and yanked at the warrior's shift, demanding. In a moment the warrior was naked under her bard and found herself groaning at the desire she saw in the green eyes above her. She growled and reached for the tunic laces again and Gabrielle smiled and threw the tunic off.

Both women moaned at the sight of each other in the moonlight and then Gabrielle's head dipped down as her body slid along the warrior's, her lips taking a nipple between them, her tongue dancing over Xena's breasts. The warrior cried out with desire and need, her back arching.

"Oh gods, Gabrielle!" Xena hissed, a hand running through the blonde's loose hair as it fell across the warrior's breast.

Gabrielle growled deeply and returned to Xena's lips as one arm pulled the bard closer and the other hand grabbed her ass. Xena nearly whimpered as Gabrielle's hips settled into her own.

The bard moved her lips from the warrior's and traced her tongue lightly over Xena's earlobe and then nibbled on it. The warrior felt like every nerve and muscle was on fire as the bard's lips traveled to her neck.

Xena was stunned a moment later to find Gabrielle sitting in a corner of the room, huddled against the wall, holding her arms around her knees and slowly rocking back and forth, sobs reaching the warrior's ears.

Xena was up in an instant and beside Gabrielle.

"No! Stay back!" Gabrielle shouted, holding out a hand in warning.

Xena quickly went to the table and managed to light a candle with shaking hands.

"Oh gods," she whispered when she turned to see Gabrielle's eyes shining bright yellow, rimmed with red and the bard's trembling hands. Xena quickly moved across the room and knelt down near the bard, back far enough away as not to seem a threat to the struggling young woman. Gabrielle closed her eyes and buried her head in her knees and arms, sobbing.

"Gabrielle, talk to me! Fight it!" Xena urged, feeling herself shiver. Placing the candle on the floor the warrior moved to the bed and grabbed the two blankets and threw one over the bard without touching her and wrapped the other one around herself.

After a few minutes Gabrielle looked up at her and Xena sighed in relief to see green eyes once again.

"I'm sorry," Gabrielle whispered and Xena took the bard into her arms once again.

"It's okay," Xena whispered.

"I guess it's really happening." Gabrielle said miserably.

"Yeah, it is. Are you hungry yet?" Immediately Xena was sorry for her choice of words and felt the bard stiffen. Gabrielle looked up into her warrior's eyes with a smirk.

"Mean for something besides your neck?"

Xena felt herself blushing as Gabrielle disengaged herself from Xena's arms and stood up, wrapping the blanket around her.

"Actually, I am. Meat, very rare." the bard's eyes took a faraway look in them, bringing a frown to Xena's face. She quickly got dressed and went to find them some dinner.

Xena suddenly wasn't sure how she was going to sleep and she wasn't worried about Gabrielle having nightmares. She was worried Gabrielle was becoming the nightmare.


Day 5

Xena had been right, she didn't get much sleep at all and was grumpy the next morning, especially when she practically had to carry the bard out to the stable and hold her in the saddle.

She couldn't even get Gabrielle to eat any more the almost raw meat this morning. What had startled the warrior was that she could no longer deny what her eyes were telling her. Gabrielle was slowly changing in front of her.

The bard's canine teeth were longer and her eyes had more yellow in them, even in the day time. Xena couldn't even get a coherent response out of the young woman until after noon and then she was wide awake and restless when dark approached and her hands trembled all the time.

Xena pushed into the night until she was ready to drop out of the saddle. The warrior finally called a halt and began setting up camp and was startled when Gabrielle walked up beside her and took the sleeping rolls out of the warrior's hands.

"Let me, you're exhausted."

Xena nodded, unable to argue. Gabrielle led her to a tree and eased the warrior down and covered her with a blanket.

Xena tried to ignore the yellow in Gabrielle's eyes as she closed her own.


When the warrior woke she found Gabrielle cooking dinner of fresh rabbit, two of them and the camp was set up. The bard looked up with a small smile, her eyes her normal green. She pulled some of the meat off a spit and onto a plate and spooned out some fresh cooked vegetables out of a pot and brought it over to the warrior.

"May not taste like much, we're low on herbs." she said softly, pulling the water and wine skin closer.

"What about you?" Xena asked as she sat back up from her position on the ground, noticing the bard wasn't eating.

"I ate while you were asleep." Gabrielle answered, turning her head away. Xena's sharp eyes noticed the slight pink around the bard's mouth.

"You mean you drank your dinner?" Xena pushed and wasn't surprised when Gabrielle leaped to her feet and stalked back to the fire, pushing the vegetables around in the pot. "Talk to me, Gabrielle, I need to know what's happening."

She saw Gabrielle's hands clench and the jawline tighten.

"Yes, I drank my dinner, all right?"

"Yes, whatever we need to do to get through this. How did you catch the rabbits? You're not much for hunting."

"I could hear them, I could smell them and I could move faster than I've ever moved before." Gabrielle whispered. Xena shuddered, was the bard telling that she had caught the rabbits with her bare hands?

"My hands and body shakes, I can't see straight, I ache all over and then I drank some of the blood. It was like medicine to me and now I feel like I've never felt before." Gabrielle continued softly.

Xena, began to eat slowly, afraid to speak and break the bard's willingness to talk.

The bard turned and faced the warrior and Xena used her years of experience to keep all emotion from showing on her face or eyes when she saw Gabrielle's eyes were mostly yellow with some green and red mixed in. She continued to eat, watching Gabrielle.

"I can hear your heart, Xena," Gabrielle continued. "It just jumped almost out of your chest. I can scent your fear, I can feel it." the bard turned away.

"I am afraid, of what you're becoming and what it will do to your soul." Xena admitted. "What are you feeling?"

Gabrielle's jaw clenched even tighter.

"Strong," she whispered. "During the day my body feels like lead, I can't keep my eyes open and it feels like the sun is burning me. At night I feel like I could take on a Cyclops by myself barehanded."

"What do you miss about the way you were?" Xena asked cautiously.

Gabrielle frowned. It was several moments before she answered.

"Being able to touch you. I don't know if I'm reaching out to you in love or hunger for blood. I don't know if it's me or this thing taking over. The hunger is consuming everything, I can't think of anything else!" the bard growled in anger. "I'm not even sure I could write a single paragraph."

Xena nodded, pleased with Gabrielle's anger. The warrior remember the short sense of power that being a bacchae gave her and how attractive power could be. She had spent over ten years caught up in it's grasp. Xena knew she'd have to keep reminding Gabrielle of the cost of that power.

"What do you remember when you were a bacchae?" Xena asked, cleaning the dishes while the bard sat down heavily on the ground, considering the question.

"Not a lot. It's like there wasn't much thinking, everything centered around the hunger, around the blood and Bacchus. It was all about sensation, not really thinking. The power of flight, the rhythm of the drums, the pounding of the blood in someone's veins." Gabrielle answered.

"Not much room for a bard writing, huh?"

Gabrielle looked stunned, her eyebrows creasing in puzzlement.

Her eyes were totally green and filled with tears when she looked up at Xena. "No room for your love either," she whispered.

Xena pulled the bard to her feet and into her arms.

"We're not going to lose that, little one. I won't let you go!" Xena promised.

"Swear to me you won't let me become a total bacchae!" Gabrielle hissed, clinging to Xena.

"I swear it." Xena promised.

Gabrielle pulled away and sat down across from the fire and shrugged at Xena's frown. "I don't think I can be too close to you at night. I feel my fangs aching to sink into your neck." the bard whispered, ducking her head.

Xena resisted the urge to whack something again with her sword, instead sitting down to sharpen it.


Day 6

"Xena?" a sleepy voice came from under the hood of the cloaked figure in front of the Warrior Princess.

"Yes, little one?" Xena was tired, the thought of Gabrielle wanting to sink her fangs into her neck had kept the warrior semi alert all night. Any other time she wouldn't mind the bard's teeth at her neck, but right now they were a little too long for the warrior's taste.

Gods, I'm so tired, I'm losing it, she thought to herself.

"How are you going to kill Shareka? I mean, I can't get near a dryad graveyard right now and I don't think you're going to leave me alone in the Bacchae forest while you go fighting for bones."

"I have a dryad bone in the bottom of one of the packs, I've had it since we took on Bacchus last time."

"Really, is that what's giving me fits?"

"What does it feel like?"

"Like heat, like getting too near a fire, like your body after a battle," the voice began to drift and Xena felt Gabrielle's muscles relax again, falling back into her sleep of the day.

"Gods, this had better work," Xena muttered.


By the time Gabrielle started taking notice of her surroundings, Xena had already set up camp and had her dinner cooking. Gabrielle noticed the warrior flinch when she looked at the bard and figured the change must be worse. It certainly felt worse for the bard, it felt like every nerve was on fire and the hunger was more than a physical ache, almost doubling her over in pain.

Xena noticing the pained expression, walked over to the bard and simply handed her a bowl of dark liquid and turned back to cooking her dinner, intentionally turning her back to the bard.

Gabrielle's senses were reeling, making her lightheaded as she took in the scent of the fresh blood in the bowl. She was almost finished with the entire contents when the tears began falling down her cheeks. Even with her disgust and shame, she finished the bowl, her need outweighing everything else.

The warrior's keen ears heard the bowl being sat down and turned to look at Gabrielle again and was dismayed to see that the bard's eyes were still yellow with just a touch of green and her canines were definitely fangs now.

"Can you make it through the night without another feeding?" Xena asked simply.

Gabrielle sat back against a stone and tried to assess her bodies' needs and shook her head. "I don't know." she whispered.

"We'll manage, little one."

"Xena," Gabrielle's eyes were bright when she looked up into Xena's blue eyes. "use the dryad bone, I'm not strong enough, please!"

"No!" Xena's face took on that stone look Gabrielle knew very well, it was usually the one that crossed over Xena just before a serious battle or argument. "Not until it's hopeless and you are strong enough! You're the strongest person I know!" Xena argued.

"Xena, I want to feel your body under me, to feel your desire and then sink my fangs in your neck. I can't separate anything anymore." Gabrielle snapped back.

"We'll manage, we'll be at the Bacchae Forest tomorrow in the daytime. Most of the bacchae prefer to run around in the daytime only as wolves, I can handle that."

"They'll be waiting for us," Gabrielle complained.

"Yes, they know we're coming and they know I'm pissed." Xena growled.

Gabrielle shook her head, realizing the argument was pointless.


"Xena?" the warrior was awake in an instant, sword in hand. She blinked for a moment, taking in the fact that Gabrielle wasn't in her bedroll across the fire but sitting with her back to the stone, arms around her knees and rocking again. For the last two nights the bard had insisted on putting her bedroll across the fire from Xena and the warrior had let her, knowing that Gabrielle wasn't going to sleep much during the night and being close to Xena was getting difficult for the bard.

"Gabrielle? What is it?" Xena asked, moving next to Gabrielle quickly, pulling her blanket over the bard but Gabrielle shook it off.

"Keep it, I'm not cold. I don't think we get cold." the voice said bitterly.

"What is it?"

"It hurts, Xena," Gabrielle sobbed, refusing to raise her head.

Xena closed her eyes in agony over her beloved's pain. She sat the sword on the stone behind Gabrielle's head and went over to grab her dagger that she kept under her pack that she used for a pillow. The warrior walked slowly back to Gabrielle and knelt down in front of the woman, the bard still had her head buried in her arms.

"Gabrielle, look at me," Xena ordered.

"No, I can't. I can hear your heartbeat, I can almost hear the blood rushing through your veins. I can see the life flowing through your body. I can't."

"Gabrielle, trust me, please."

Xena's heart did skip a beat when the yellow and red eyes looked up into hers, the pain and hunger apparent. Xena quickly took the dagger and sliced her hand open and let Gabrielle see the blood and held her hand up. The bard instantly grabbed the hand with her hands and lips.

"No fangs, little one," Xena said softly, gently stroking Gabrielle's hair, pulling the bard into an embrace.

Xena carefully wrapped a strip of cloth around her hand while Gabrielle wept in her arms until both of them fell asleep at dawn.


Day 7

The warrior wasn't surprised when Gabrielle couldn't wake up a few hours later. Xena packed up camp and got the bard onto Argo. Time was running out and Xena knew it, even Argo didn't want Gabrielle near her, it had taken all of Xena's bond and persuasion with the horse to get the mare to allow her to put Gabrielle on the horse.

Xena was tired, she couldn't remember the last full night of sleep she had gotten and the constant worry over Gabrielle and their future was taking it's toll.

It was late afternoon when they reached the Bacchae Forrest and Xena could feel the eyes upon them. Movement in the trees and on the ground as Bacchae women in human form and wolves watched the movements of the warrior and bard closely.

Xena got off Argo and pulled Gabrielle gently into her arms and placed the bard at the foot of a tree. The warrior went to Argo and leaned in close, whispering in the mare's ear.

"I want you out of here, go back to the village we went through, they're waiting for you."

Argo shook her head and stamped her forefoot.

"Do it, girl!" Xena urged and the horse trotted off back down the path they had taken.


The warrior glanced over to see Gabrielle rising to her feet and pulling back the hood of the cloak. Xena was too weary to even be surprised by the totally yellow and red eyes looking at her or the paleness of Gabrielle's skin.

"I'm here," she answered in a flat voice.

"They're everywhere," Gabrielle whispered, looking around.

"I know."

"They're calling me!"

Xena moved faster than Gabrielle and had tackled the bard before the young woman knew Xena was moving. The warrior quickly had the bard's hands tied behind her back and covered Gabrielle's body with her own, holding her tightly as Gabrielle screamed and struggled against the ropes.

Xena hit the young woman with a couple of pressure point blows.

"Always remember I love you," Xena whispered as Gabrielle sank into unconsciousness and then took the blocks off.

The warrior reached into one of the packs and pulled out a dryad bone. Even in her unconscious state, Gabrielle whimpered. Xena fought back the pain grabbing at her heart and stuck the bone in her gauntlet, out of sight and threw the bard's body over her shoulder and drew her chakram.

With a grim face the warrior headed for the Bacchae caves.


The warrior fought to keep from letting any emotion show on her face as she walked through the cavern with Gabrielle over her shoulder. She could see and hear the movement all around her, on the sides, behind and above. Xena felt her exhaustion falling away from her as her blood began pumping faster, anticipating action.

The warrior also knew this surge of strength would last longer than with most people but it couldn't last all night.

Bacchus' lair hadn't changed all that much over the seasons, it was almost eerie to the warrior how much it was like that Harvest night seasons before when she had followed a bacchae Gabrielle, trying to save the girl's life, her soul and destroy Bacchus.

Bacchae women were dancing around the fountain, filled once again with the blood of victims and Bacchus. One drink and the half bacchae women would be full bacchae and belong to Bacchus for eternity. Bacchus sat on his throne high above the cavern floor, watching his children dance, his fanged teeth showing his delight.

Xena watched for a moment, taking in the fact that some of the bacchae dancing with each other were also feeding on each other. The warrior felt herself flushing at the sounds of pure passion coming from the couples. She remembered how it felt to have Gabrielle sink her fangs into Xena's neck, the sexual magic of the bacchae bite.

Without a word Xena walked through the cavern, the bacchae slowly becoming aware of the intruder, beginning to circle her. The warrior walked to the fountain where she could see Bacchus clearly, her eyes narrowing as Shareka stepped out of the shadows on her right. Xena carefully put Gabrielle down and hit the pressure points again, keeping the young woman unconscious.

"Xena!" Bacchus' voice dragged her name out like the hiss of a snake, making the warrior's skin crawl. She had no idea what inspired Bacchantes to their frenzies over Bacchus. Xena wasn't impressed nor aroused by the huge goat-horned god.

"All right, Bacchus, you win. Release her." Xena demanded.

"Xena, Xena, such impatience. It's really not fair of you to have her knocked out cold and tied up. I was looking forward to hearing her screaming for the blood and begging for the bacchae sex before turning her back into a farmer." Shareka taunted.

"Come down here and I'll have you screaming and it won't be in pleasure," Xena growled.

Bacchus laughed heartily at the warrior's enraged face.

"Xena, it'll be a delight having you at my side. The world will tremble!" he roared.

The warrior shrugged her shoulders, looking bored. "I've heard that from Ares for years now, Bacchus, and he's the God of War. I'm not amused."

The warrior's eyes danced as she watched Bacchus rise to his feet, clenching his fists in anger. Xena's eyes caught the bacchae surrounding her and tenses her muscles.

"Take her!" Bacchus roared.

With her war cry Xena became a blur of action. Two bacchae closed in rapidly from each side and Xena slashed out with her chakram in a backhand motion that decapitated both in a flash, bodies exploding into nothing. The warrior was pleased to find that halfling bacchae weren't as hard to kill as full Bacchae or Bacchus himself. She flipped up and over the heads of two more getting close, landing behind them and severing their lower spines with the chakram, they fell screaming to the floor, unable to move.

Xena felt arms grabbing her from behind and hot breath at her neck, the warrior reached back and pulled the bacchae over in a flip. Unlike other opponents, this one didn't fall to the cavern floor, the bacchae went to the air and up to the cavern ceiling to regroup and distracting the warrior. Xena felt her ribs protesting as a foot caught her under the left arm and fell sideways. She slashed out with the chakram just in time to catch another bacchae reaching for her, the bacchae fell back screaming, grabbing at the stump where her hand had been.

Xena's eyes widened in terror as several bacchae lost interest in the warrior and grabbed their wounded sister instead, sinking their fangs into her neck and bleeding stump.
The wounded bacchae screamed and then shattered into dust as her sisters drained her totally of her blood. One of them, kneeling on the floor, looked at the warrior with blood lust eyes, blood on her lips.

Xena sent the chakram flying just as the bacchae launched herself towards the warrior. The former warlord caught the chakram after it passed through the neck of the attacking bacchae, shattering the vampire's body into dust.

The bacchae swarmed the warrior all at once and Xena went down to their blows and kicks, taking out three more before they effectively had her pinned to the floor of the cavern.

The warrior's eyes blazed blue fury as Shareka walked up into the warrior's sight. The bacchae warrior grinned, revealing her fangs.

"Oh, this is delightful!" Shareka laughed. "Where shall I bite you, darling? The inside of the thigh as my hand claims you? The neck, while your body bucks under me?"


"You forget out bargain, warrior." Shareka said easily and walked over to Gabrielle's unconscious form, taking out a dagger and cutting the girl's bonds.

It took Shareka a moment to realize that the bard had moved. It took another moment for the bacchae warrior to realize that there was a dryad bone sticking out of her chest with Gabrielle's hand on it, the bard's face in torment from touching it.

"You forgot to ask Gabrielle if she agreed to our bargain," Xena said grimly.

Gabrielle fell back against the fountain, holding her burned hand as Shareka turned and looked back up at her father.

"No!!!" Bacchus screamed as Shareka sank to her knees and then forward on her face, her body shattering to dust before it had even totally hit the cavern floor.

Xena tried to break the hold of the bacchae and growled her frustration when she couldn't. She raised her head and watched Gabrielle shake off her cloak and grab up Shareka's fallen dagger. When she turned and moved towards the bacchae holding Xena the warrior felt a surge of relief and energy as green eyes met hers with no sign of the bacchae in Gabrielle.

"Take them!" Bacchus roared, flying down from his perch high in the cavern to land directly in front of the bard.

Xena managed to get one foot free and kicked the bacchae holding her arms and flipped up onto her feet with a war cry. She glanced over in time to see Gabrielle's look of fear as Bacchus towered over her and all she had was a dagger.

"Gabrielle!" the warrior screamed as Bacchus backhanded the bard across the cavern. Xena watched with horror as the bard slid down the rough rock wall, Gabrielle shaking her head, stunned.

Xena let loose with a sidekick that caught a bacchae under the chin, sending the female vampire flying backwards. The warrior spun quickly on her heel and brought the foot up under another bacchae's jaw and drew her sword out as she finished the spin. With a war cry the warrior leaped into the air, lashing out with both feet into the chests of two bacchae on either side of her and then bounded from the floor and flipped over to land behind Bacchus. The warrior ducked quickly as Bacchus swung his huge fists at her head, with the same movement she swept up the dryad bone that had taken his daughter out.

Xena rolled under his next swing and grabbed up her chakram and sent it flying, cutting a wide slice through Bacchus' throat and decapitating another bacchae before returning to the warrior's hand. She ran up and along the fountain, slashing at bacchae hands and arms as they reached for her. She flipped over the remaining two in her way easily and stabbed backwards with her sword, impaling another bacchae on her sword and slashing out with the chakram with her left hand, a bacchae fell back, clutching at her stomach.

Xena grabbed Gabrielle up and was racing out of the cavern before the bard was aware of her surroundings.

The warrior wasn't surprised when she felt feet hit her in the back, sending her and the bard flying to the floor. Xena rolled over in time to dodge the deadly claw-like fingernails of a bacchae diving for her. The warrior brought her elbow down at the bacchae's neck, stunning the vampire. The bacchae burst into dust as Xena buried the dryad bone in through her back.

Gabrielle shook her head again and grabbed the dryad bone as Xena flipped up to her feet, facing three more bacchae swarming down from the ceiling and Gabrielle saw the rest coming down the tunnel.

"This is not good," she muttered and then squeaked as she was grabbed from behind. She stamped down hard on a foot and was pleased to hear cursing as the hands released her and then realized it was a male voice. She turned to find Joxer dancing on one foot, his armor rattling.

"What?" the bard stammered.

"Gabby, behind you!" he yelled and the bard spun on her heel in time to bury the dryad bone into the chest of a bacchae reaching for her.

The bard screamed as the bacchae swarmed over Xena again and one sank her fangs into the warrior's neck. Both Joxer and Gabrielle were stunned for a moment, watching the warrior struggle for a moment and then drop her weapons, her eyes becoming cloudy.

"No!" Gabrielle screamed, racing forward and tackling the four bacchae holding Xena and quickly sank her dryad stake into the one who had bitten her warrior. The bard was grabbed from behind by the other three and thrown to the floor, banging her head again. She could hear Joxer swearing and fighting, probably with one of the bacchae, her fuzzy mind registered.

Just before darkness hit her the bard could have sworn she heard music.


Gabrielle started to open her eyes and thought better of it with a groan. Instantly, she felt a cold cloth on her forehead and tender arms holding her.

"It's okay, little one," a familiar voice whispered.

The bard risked opening her eyes again and found blue eyes starring at her with a slight smile.

"Oh gods, why in Tartarus do I have to keep getting hit on the head!" she complained with a whisper, not risking anything louder. Xena grinned at her bard and placed a light kiss on her lips.

"You'll be fine," the warrior said simply.

Gabrielle sat up quickly, remembering the bacchae cave, the wave of nausea and dizziness made her fall back into Xena's arms.

"Easy, that didn't mean you could jump up and run around the forest all night." Xena smiled as Gabrielle groaned, fighting back the need to retch.

"You were bitten," Gabrielle whispered, frowning. "Joxer, music?"

Xena carefully helped the bard sit up so Gabrielle could get a look at her surroundings. She pulled the bard into her arms, between her legs as the warrior sat with her back against a tree.

Gabrielle was surprised to see Joxer tending the fire, watching her closely, concern radiating from him. Then the bard blinked twice at the other figure playing the lyre softly, it's affect calming the bard's headache.

"Orpheus?" she whispered and the man grinned. "How?"

"When you were sleeping in a village I sent a messenger to Joxer to get Orpheus." Xena explained. "I was counting on them being there when we got to the bacchae cave."

"Yeah," Joxer grinned, "we made it just in time to save you two."

"Oh gods," Gabrielle whispered, knowing they would never live this one down. Xena, Warrior Princess and Gabrielle, Amazon Queen being rescued by Joxer the Mighty. She felt a squeeze from Xena's hand in hers and knew the warrior was thinking the same thing.

"The bacchae are now sleeping and Bacchus can go back to his wine festivals." Orpheus said with a smile.

"Thank you, Orpheus." Xena said simply.

"My pleasure this time, Xena." and he was gone.

Joxer jumped visibly. "How do you get used to that?" he complained.

Gabrielle leaned back into her warrior's chest, closing her eyes. She felt the warrior lean down to her ear.

"This is going to be complicated, do we tell him?" the warrior whispered.

"Yes, but in the morning." Gabrielle wasn't surprised to see Argo next to Joxer's horse. "You think of everything." she muttered, pointing at the horses. She could feel Xena's grin.

"That was their signal to come and rescue us. I wasn't sure I could get us out of there. I'm just glad you had strength enough to kill Shareka, that turned the tide. By the way, how's the hand?"

Gabrielle held up the hand and discovered it wasn't even scratched any more. The dryad burn having disappeared with the rest of her bacchae symptoms when Shareka died.

"How's your neck?"

"Fine, you know you saved me by killing that bacchae. You were magnificent!" Gabrielle shuddered at the huskiness in the warrior's voice.

"Xena," she whispered, leaning back, arching her neck for her warrior.

"Hey, guys, dinner is ready if your headache is better," Joxer's voice snapped them back to their surroundings.

"We'll continue this conversation, little one." Xena promised.

Gabrielle growled, bringing a chuckle out of the warrior.

"What?" Joxer demanded.

Gabrielle sighed heavily and interlaced her fingers with Xena's and looked at Joxer, taking in his frown and growing suspicion in his eyes.

"Xena, can you refill the waterskins from that nearby creek?" the bard asked, never taking her eyes off of Joxer.

She could almost feel the confusion from the warrior but felt Xena getting to her feet from behind the bard. Xena carefully pulled Gabrielle back against the tree, kneeling down and checking the bard's eyes in the firelight.

"I'm fine, I think Joxer and I need to talk." Gabrielle assured her.

"Can't it wait?"

"Two more minutes with you and I'm going to kiss you and the whole damned world is going to know." Gabrielle hissed quietly. Xena grinned and pulled the bard's hand to her lips and gently kissed the bard's palm.

"I'll be close," Xena said and rose to her feet and went over to the packs to grab the waterskins. She was worried about the growing emotion in Joxer's eyes but left the camp for the shadows.

The waterskins were already full and the warrior had no intention of wandering far.


"Joxer," Gabrielle said softly as the young man gritted his teeth, watching her. "Can you bring me a plate, I'm not sure I can stand up just yet."

"Sure, Gabby," suddenly given something to do, the young man's eyes cleared and she saw her faithful Joxer once again. For a moment she wasn't sure if she had been looking at Joxer or his very cold and calculating twin, the assassin Jett.

He quickly filled a plate with food and handed it to her gently and sat down in front of her, cross legged.

"Joxer, I don't know what Xena told you about this mess, please tell me what you know."

"Not much, I got a message to find Orpheus and get to the Bacchae caves as fast as possible. The message said to wait in the village until Argo showed up and then come in and help you and Xena. It said that if I didn't find Orpheus and make it on time then you and Xena might not make it out of there. That's it." he answered simply.

"I was bitten by the daughter of Bacchus and was slowly turning into a bacchae. Tonight would have been my last night as human if Xena, you and Orpheus hadn't made it."

"You were a bacchae again?" he frowned.

"Yes, it was slower this time but incredibly painful and hard." he pointed to her plate and she obediently took a few bites before continuing. "The hardest part, Joxer, was how I was bitten."

Xena, hidden in the shadows, felt her heart skip a beat and choked back a sob, knowing how hard this must be for Gabrielle to talk about it.

"Bacchus' daughter, Shareka, seduced me." Gabrielle said softly, dropping her eyes to her plate.

"But....." Joxer stammered and Gabrielle was sure if he hadn't been sitting already he would have fallen on his tailbone. "You're not into females." he protested.

"Yes, I am. I always have been, sometimes men, mostly women, Joxer." Gabrielle said simply.

"But....." he continued to stammer, eyebrows almost meeting in a picture of puzzlement. "You've never.... only Perdicus."

"Perdicus was a mistake, I loved him but I wasn't in love with him. I married him because I thought I could never have the one person I was in love with and I thought I could have a good life with him as a friend and companion." Gabrielle admitted.

"No," he whispered and both the bard and Xena could see his eyes harden again.

"Yes," Gabrielle insisted. "Shareka seduced me, took my body making me think she was Xena. Then she took my blood and turned me into a bacchae."

Joxer's jaw clenched and both women could see veins beginning to stand out in his throat and forehead. Gabrielle reached out and placed a hand over one of his clenched fists.

"Joxer, I'm sorry. I know how you feel for me but I am in love with Xena and have been for a very long time. I tried to fight those feelings because I didn't think she loved me but I can't help it and I can't fight it. Now I don't have to."

He shook off her hand and jumped to his feet, he began pacing in front of the fire.

"She can't love you! Not like I do!" he protested, his eyes shining brightly.

"Joxer, she loves me and I love her. I know she was planning on following me in death if she was forced to kill me to keep me from becoming a full bacchae."

The inept warrior began pacing again.

"Gabrielle," he was suddenly on his knees in front of her, "it can't work! There's no future with Xena, and you know it. All it will do is get you killed!"

"Maybe, but I accepted that life when I forced her to accept me as a traveling companion, long before I even thought I could win her love. Joxer, please," Gabrielle leaned forward, looking him deep in the eyes and drew back from the intensity she found there. "please, I care about you very much, don't force this."

"How do you know what you want? You haven't exactly been around any good men, traveling with her."

"Joxer," Gabrielle's eyes narrowed as her cheeks flushed. Xena could hear the beginning of anger in the bard's warning. "Don't continue this! I've known what I want for a very long time and I've had plenty of offers from both men and women!"

Xena's eyebrows rose at that one. Women? Of course, she should have realized that many of the Amazons were more than taken with their Queen, probably even Ephiny.

Joxer stood up again, obviously angry. "Did she seduce you? I know her reputation, Gabrielle, you're just mistaking attraction for love."

"Joxer, damnit! Listen to me! Xena did not seduce me, we've barely even kissed."

"Then how do you know you want her like that!?" he shouted.

"Don't make me do this, Joxer!" she shouted back, holding a hand to her aching head.

"What is it about her? You know I love you and I'd be good to you." he whined.

"How do I know? It's not just her looks, her personality, her anything - it's just her. How do any of us know why we fall in love with who we do?"

"Why can't you give us a chance?" he demanded.

"Joxer, I can't," Gabrielle protested weakly, tears filling her eyes.

"Why not? You two haven't even been together, have you?"

"Because..... because.... oh Hades. Joxer, I tremble just at the thought of her touching me. My body is on fire just thinking about touching her, I ache to feel her against me, I want my lips and hands all over her body and hers on mine and inside me."

Xena could see both of them blushing at the blunt description of what the bard was wanting out of the warrior.

"I feel empty inside at the thought of losing her, I see nothing but darkness if she should turn me away. I will face death tomorrow if I can face it with her." Gabrielle continued passionately.

"And me?" he asked bitterly.

"Joxer, don't do this!" she snapped.

"What do you feel about me!?" he yelled, stopping his pacing.

Xena, in a tree above the two at the campfire, growled softly and readied her chakram, just in case things got any worse.

"I love you, Joxer, but I don't feel anything like that for you." Gabrielle finally admitted.


"I'm sorry, so very sorry." Xena could almost see the tears falling down Gabrielle's cheeks.

"You married Perdicus because he was a friend and you'd be comfortable and for me you feel nothing?!" Joxer demanded, eyes shining brightly, face twisted in anger.

Gabrielle's head dropped.

"I'm not even good enough for that?!"

"Joxer, please!" she pleaded, "I couldn't have done that to you! Perdicus would have been happy with that and only that from me, you would have to have more. You would want my love and I can't give that to you!" She shouted, trying to get through his anger.

"Xena over me? With everything she's done? How many men and woman has she taken to bed and used? How do you know you're not just another one! She even used sexual games to break Hercules and Iolaus up!"

"Joxer, enough, right now!" Gabrielle threw her plate across the space at him. "That was a different Xena, and you know it!"

"How do you know? How far away is the Warlord when she goes into battle? She'll just use you and hurt you, I never would."

"Joxer, don't make me choose! You won't like it!" Gabrielle snapped.

Joxer growled and started forward only to fall backwards on his tailbone as both he and bard stared at a chakram, buried halfway in the ground in front of his feet. Xena dropped down out of the trees to stand next to Gabrielle. The bard reached up and placed a hand on the warrior's thigh. Joxer growled, seeing the motion and he started to get to his feet but the warrior moved quickly across the few feet and knocked him back onto his back with a foot.

She knelt down next to him, her blue eyes blazing into his.

"I like you, Joxer. In fact, I care about you very much and Gabrielle loves you like a brother. Don't push this. Take some time and cool off."

"Go ahead, kill me all ready." he taunted.

"I don't want to kill you, Joxer," she sighed and moved back to stand next to Gabrielle.

The want-to-be warrior sat up, glaring at Xena.

"You should kill me," he muttered.

"I'm not going to kill you, just go away for awhile until you can be Gabrielle's friend again."

Joxer scrambled to his feet and ran for his packs, trying to stifle back a sob.

Gabrielle started to stand but felt a restraining hand on her shoulder.

"Let him have some time, little one. It's not easy to lose your dreams." Xena said simply.

Gabrielle turned and Xena sank down to her knees to draw the bard into her arms as the bard began to cry.


After a few minutes, Gabrielle snuggled into a more comfortable position in her warrior's arms. Xena leaned back against the tree, drawing the bards into her arms, across her lap.

"What Joxer said about my past sexual history," Xena began, her throat heavy.

"I don't care, Xena. I know you have a past, I've heard some of the stories. That's not you now." Gabrielle protested quietly, nuzzling her head against the warrior's chest.

"Yes, it is," Gabrielle frowned and looked up into Xena's pained face. "Part of that is me. You don't know what it can be like when the blood lust hits."

Xena was more than confused when Gabrielle began giggling and then rolled out of the warrior's lap, seized by laughter. Gabrielle looked up and broke into fresh giggles at Xena's confused face, tears streaming down her face from laughing so hard.

"Xena, think about what you just said!" Gabrielle stammered, giggling.

The bard burst into laughter again at the warrior blushing, realizing that "blood lust" had taken on a new meaning for both of them, then she smiled at the absurdity of the statement.

"All right, you," the warrior growled. "I mean things can still get rough in my bed and I'm afraid of hurting you."

"We just spent a week afraid I was going to rip your throat out in that bed, I think we can handle anything you throw at me." Gabrielle sat up grinning. Xena raised her eyebrow challenging.

"Oh you think so?"

"I'm willing to learn, my warrior," Gabrielle assured her warrior.

Xena's eyebrows furrowed when the smile left Gabrielle's face.

"What is it?"

"I need you, Xena," tears began to fill the bard's green eyes again. "I need to feel you, to know it's really you touching me. I need to touch you and please you but I'm scared, I still see Her!"

Xena crawled the few feet over to the bard and knelt in front of her, keeping her eyes locked with Gabrielle's. The warrior slowly began removing her armor slowly, followed by her gauntlets and armbands. Shifting her position, the warrior unlaced her boots and removed them, leaving just her leather shift on. Xena shifted to kneel in front of Gabrielle again, noting the bard's increased breathing and flushed face.

Xena carefully moved a hand to the bard's cheek and gently caressed it with the back of her hand, Gabrielle closed her eyes and whimpered softly.

"Look at me, Gabrielle," Xena said softly and Gabrielle's eyes opened.

"Gods, you are so beautiful, I love you." the bard whispered.

"I love you, little one. More than you can possibly know right now." Xena smiled, her features softening. "Touch me."

Gabrielle leaned forward slowly, reaching up to touch Xena's face and closed her eyes, continued forward until their lips finally met.

The warrior kept still, letting the bard control the situation and the speed. After a moment the bard's lips began a firmer approach to her explorations and her hand came up to pull on Xena's head, pulling the warrior closer as her other hand reached out and wrapped around the warrior.

Xena felt herself moan as Gabrielle's lips parted and her tongue touched the warrior's. Xena gladly parted her lips and warrior and bard tongue met in mutual exploration, both fighting for dominance, Gabrielle's fingers lacing through the warrior's dark hair, holding her tight. The bard's other hand came around and softly touched the warrior's breast through the leather and the bard moaned at the contact.

The two broke contact to try and catch their breath again, Xena was surprised to find herself trembling. The warrior had never trembled at anyone's touch before, not even Borias or Hercules. She leaned forward, touching her forehead to Gabrielle's.

"Oh gods, Xena," the bard whispered. "I never felt.... everything is shaking."

"I know, me too."

"When it was Shareka, it felt good but," Gabrielle paused.

"What, little one?"

"Something felt empty about it, like a dream."

"That's because it was a spell and it wasn't me." Xena smiled reassuring, pulling back to let Gabrielle see the love in her eyes for the bard.

"I want you," Gabrielle growled and became aggressive, almost startling the warrior as the bard threw herself into Xena's arms, carrying Xena over onto her back. The warrior responded by pulling the bard along on top of her and shifting a leg to come up between Gabrielle's leg to her center. The bard threw her head back with a moan.

Xena took advantage of the moment and reached up and unlaced Gabrielle's small top, freeing the bard's beautiful and full breasts. The warrior's moan was quickly matched by Gabrielle's as the callused hands of her warrior reached up and slowly began massaging her breasts, her nipples firming up instantly.

"Oh gods, yes!" the bard moaned, her hips beginning to move her body over Xena's leg. The warrior raised up, holding Gabrielle close, and let her lips claim one of the nipples and felt Gabrielle's body tremble all over at the jolt of electricity shooting through her body and settling in her groin. The warrior's hands reached around, undoing the bard's skirt ties and pulled it over the bard's head, releasing the nipple only long enough to remove the cloth. The warrior felt an answering growl from her bard and a tugging at her leather shift. Xena grinned and let the bard pull it off of her, both of them naked except for Gabrielle's boots. The warrior decided those could wait till later as her mouth captured the other nipple of the bard.

Xena moved her lips up the bard's shoulder and began to lightly nibble on Gabrielle's neck, bringing whimpers and moans from the young woman, her head thrown back and neck arched. As Xena's lips moved up, she met the warrior's lips in a passionate, almost desperate kiss.

Xena leaned forward and gently lowered the bard to the ground and began kissing the bard's neck and moving down back to the nipples. Gabrielle was moaning and arching her back, her fingers laced through the warrior's hair and the other raking across Xena's back.

The warrior thought she was going to melt away in Gabrielle's arms, each moan and jerk from the bard sent a shock wave through the warrior's body as well. When Xena brought her hand to Gabrielle's center, both women groaned and trembled with the connection between them.

Xena moaned again to discover how wet Gabrielle was for her as she parted the bard's lower lips and ran her fingers over Gabrielle's sex. The bard reached down and pulled the warrior back to her lips, her tongue exploring Xena's mouth as Xena's fingers explored her.

"Oh gods, don't stop, please!" the bard begged.

"Not a chance, little one." Xena promised.

As the warrior's lips reached down to lavish attention on the bard's nipples once again, her fingers hesitated.

"Gabrielle," the bard's green eyes opened and looked at her warrior, her eyes heavy with desire, face flushed and breath rapid. "This is going to hurt but only for a moment," the warrior said softly.

Before Gabrielle could respond, the warrior quickly filled the bard with her fingers, her thumb reaching out to begin stroking the woman's clit. Gabrielle gasped for a moment and then felt her hips moving of their own accord, moving with a rhythm that Xena was creating with her fingers. Sounds were coming from the bard's throat unconsciously.

As the bard's cries got louder Xena felt her own body responding, beginning to ride higher and higher as Gabrielle approached her zenith. Xena added another finger and increased the depth of her strokes and intensity and with moments Gabrielle was clutching at the ground beneath her and then grabbing her warrior's shoulders, screaming Xena's name and then just screams.

Xena felt her own body trembling with a release along with Gabrielle's spasms as waves racked both their bodies.

When Gabrielle could open her eyes she was in the warrior's arms and Xena was stroking her hair gently and whispering words of love to her.

"Gods, I love you," Gabrielle whispered.

"I love you," Xena smiled back, hugging the bard closely.

"That was incredible!" Gabrielle grinned, running a finger over Xena's cheek as blue eyes filled with tears of joy and wonderment.

"Not too much pain?" Xena asked, concerned.

"No, what was that about?"

"Seems that when we broke the spell your body returned back to normal before it was placed on you, before Shareka tricked you," Xena said softly, nuzzling the bard's neck.

"You mean..., you're my first?"

"Technically," Xena agreed and held Gabrielle as the bard began to cry softly.

"Thank the gods, I wanted it to be you," the bard whispered.

"Thank you, little one," Xena whispered, her eyes filling with tears of joy of her own.

After a moment the warrior was pleasantly surprised when Gabrielle rolled Xena onto her back and followed, lying on top of her warrior. In a flash, the bard was exploring the warrior's body with her lips, tongue and hands, driving Xena into a frenzy.

Gabrielle grinned when Xena's back arched under her body when the bard brought a hand between the warrior's legs and began stroking the warrior's sex.

"Gabrielle, oh gods," Xena moaned. "I've wanted you for so long, take me, please!"

Gabrielle moaned at the passion in Xena's voice, her own body reacting to the sounds her warrior was making. The bard felt like her body was dancing with lightning bolts, she wanted to touch and taste every inch of the body under her and the sounds Xena was making was driving her insane.

Xena growled as several fingers entered her and Gabrielle's teeth lightly danced over each nipple and then the lips wrapped around one and the bard's other hand made sure the other nipple wasn't left out as well. The warrior felt her hips moving with the bard's hand and heard Gabrielle moan around Xena's captured breast.

"Gods, it feels so wonderful, Xena," Gabrielle whispered as the warrior's body opened for her fingers and then clenched around them, pulling her deeper.

"Harder, little one," Xena growled.

Gabrielle gladly increased her thrusts into her warrior and glanced up, amazed at the sight. Xena's head was thrown back and she was biting her lower lip, face flushed and sweating. Gabrielle recognized the flush of passion on Xena's face, having seen it after a battle when the warrior would return to her.

Gabrielle made a mental note to ask Xena about that later.

As it was, the noise and sight of Xena was driving the bard insane and causing her body to react along with the warrior.

Gabrielle moved down Xena's ribs and abdomen, positioning her body between Xena's legs, taking in the warrior's scent with a whimper of need. Xena thought she would go crazy as Gabrielle began exploring her with her eyes as well as she had with her fingers. Xena felt Gabrielle part her lips and tentatively slide her tongue along them.

"Oh gods!" Xena cried out, trying not to buck her hips in response to the sensations of Gabrielle's breath and tongue on her.

The bard was delighted with the response and moaned at the taste of her warrior and buried her tongue deep where her fingers had just been, pulling several cries from Xena. Gabrielle whimpered and drank deeply, finding that she couldn't get enough. The sensation of need was like the blood lust the young bard had just gone through for a week, only this time she could drink her fill, she reflected with what little coherent thoughts she had left.

When the bard ran her tongue up past the lips to Xena's clit, she thought the warrior was going to come totally off the ground with her entire body. Feeling the warrior's legs trembling and seeing the clutching of Xena's hands, Gabrielle quickly entered the warrior with several fingers again and concentrated on the warrior with her tongue.

"Oh gods! Gabrielle! Yes!"

Within moments Xena was screaming the bard's name again and again.

After a few minutes, Xena opened her eyes and found herself in the bard's arms, Gabrielle gently wiping away tears from the warrior's blue eyes.

"Wow," Xena whispered, trying to get her breath back.

The bard smiled shyly. "You okay?" she asked softly.

"More than okay, my love. Where did you learn that?"

Gabrielle blushed profusely and Xena smiled at her. "I read some of the private scrolls of the Amazons and I asked questions," she admitted, blushing even more.

"You learn quick," Xena teased.

"I love you," Gabrielle said simply.

Xena reached up and brushed a tear away from the bard's cheek, "I love you too, Gabrielle, more than anything."

The warrior quickly stood up and pulled the bard to her feet and then lifted Gabrielle off her feet into her arms. Gabrielle squeaked with surprise and pleasure as Xena walked over to the bedrolls. The warrior gently laid the bard down on the bedrolls and then joined her, covering them both with blankets.

"Gabrielle," Xena hesitated. "you know I've had many sexual partners, mostly one night stands or short times."

The bard snuggled down into her favorite sleeping position, in Xena's arms, head laid on the warrior's shoulder. She dragged one arm over the warrior's ribs and then playfully brought the hand back up to begin stroking Xena's nipples. The warrior's breathing increased.

"Yes, love?" Gabrielle murmured.

"I, uh, stop that!" Xena grinned, grabbing the bard's hand and kissing the palm. "I'm trying to say that I've never felt like this before, it's different. I've never been in love like this before."

"Good, cause I'm not letting you go either," Gabrielle smiled as she closed her eyes, holding the warrior's hand.

"I love you," Xena whispered, closing her own eyes.

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