By Azurenon & Savanna Mac
Please see part one for all disclaimers.
"Donít need no womanís help," Gabrielle grumbled, mimicking the cookís voice, as she sat two buckets of warm water down beneath the port hole in their cabin, where there would be ample room to take a bath. "Well, at least I got these out of the deal. I can go to bed clean tonight," she continued, her body feeling sticky from the salt water. "And these need to be washed out as well," she added, glancing down at her wet halter and skirt, still sticking to her skin.
"What... are you doing?" Xena asked, as she walked into their cabin, to find Gabrielle sitting on the floor by the head of the bed, wrapped in a blanket.
"Trying to refine your invention," the bard answered, without turning around.
"I can see that," the warrior retorted. "I meant... whatís with the blanket wrapped around you? You catching a cold or something?"
"No, I just took a bath and... washed out my clothes," the bard responded, gesturing towards her halter and skirt, which were hanging on a line sheíd put up by the port hole. "Thereís a bucket of water for you," she added. "Itís probably cold by now though. Where have you been so long?"
"Cleaning fish, remember?"
"They caught that many?"
"Ah, you know how men are when thereís a woman around. More talk than work."
"I see," Gabrielle grumbled. "Well, which one has fallen head over heels for you this time?"
"None that I can tell," the warrior responded, as she dropped down beside her friend. "Iíve learned not to be too nice. Here... give me that, Iíll finish it." she offered, reaching for the rope in Gabrielleís hand.
"PHEW!" the bard gasped, fanning the air in front of her. "You smell like a... big fish."
"Well, whaddaya expect?" the warrior retorted, tugging on the rope.
"Oh no," the bard countered. "You wash your hands first. Iím not sleeping in a bed that smells like fish." Xena quickly let go of the rope and stared at her friend, as if she were trying to think of something to come back with. "Take a bath... and wash out those clothes while youíre at it," the bard added.
"I washed these just yesterday," Xena countered.
"Then do it again. Because this little bard does not sleep with... fishy smelling warriors."
"Hmph," Xena grunted, as she lowered her head, her eyes catching sight of the opening in the bardís blanket, which revealed one smooth white breast to her view. Her eyes then quickly traveled down to a thatch of light brown curls. "Hmph," she grunted again, swallowing hard and feeling her groin muscles tighten. Her gaze then returned to the bardís face, to find the latter watching her intently. She then quickly turned away and scrambled to her feet.
Guess a bath isnít such a bad idea, she thought. Too bad I missed watching hers, she added, as she approached the bucket.
"Youíll have to used the same rag I did," the bard informed her. "Itís the only clean one I could find."
The warrior picked up the wet rag from the side of the bucket and catching the scent of lavender, started to raise it to her nose. Get a grip will ya! she chided herself, as she dropped the rag into the bucket. For the love of Zeus, youíve got it something awful!
Gabrielle tried to concentrate on the task at hand, yet she couldnít help thinking about that look on Xenaís face, which sheíd just seen. If she didnít know better, sheíd swear Xena had been looking at her the way a man would. She also couldnít keep her eyes from straying to what the warrior was doing across the room.
She watched as Xena removed her outfit, the leather sliding down and revealing bare skin. And although sheíd seen Xena naked many times before, she never got enough of feasting her eyes upon that lovely body. So firm, so smooth, so well endowed.
She saw, as well as, heard the leather outfit hit the floor and watched Xena step out of it; the cheeks of the warriorís behind jiggling slightly as she moved. The bard yanked on the rope in her hand to tighten a knot.
"Ouch!" she yelped, as the knot tightened around the finger sheíd forgot to move.
"You okay?" Xena asked, glancing over her shoulder.
"Yeah sure," the bard grumbled, feeling embarrassed beyond reason, as she loosened the knot. "Just... rope burns."
"I said Iíd do that," the warrior commented, turning around to face her friend.
Gabrielle glanced up at her and swallowed hard at the sight of her friendís frontal nudity. She quickly turned back to her work. "No, I.... Iíll get it. Iíve got.... nothing else to do."
The warrior stared at her friend. She knew sheíd seen the bard looking at her body and not her face. Could Gabrielle really feel the same way, she wondered.
Kiss the girl and find out, a voice inside her head prodded.
No, Xena retorted, as she quickly turned back around.
Gabrielle tried even harder to keep her mind on her work now. And she almost succeeded, that is until she noticed Xenaís right elbow moving in a particular motion and knew where the warriorís hand must be. Wish I could do that for her, she thought, imagining the wet rag in her own hand, moving between those firm thighs. "Youíre losing it," she mumbled, shaking her head to clear it.
"Beg pardon?" Xena asked.
"Oh nothing, I... I just lost my grip on the rope, thatís all."
"Leave it, Gabrielle, Iíll finish it," the warrior said over her shoulder.
"No, no, Iím.... Iím almost through."
"Hmph," Xena grunted, as the rag came up wetter than when sheíd started using it in this particular location. For the love of Zeus, she thought, all this from just thinking about her sitting over there naked? If this keeps us, Iím gonna have to... take matters into my own hands, she thought, quickly dunking the rag back into the water.
Got to keep my eyes to myself, the bard demanded, or Iíll never get this done right!
A few moments later, Gabrielle was finished; the last knot tied tightly. She got to her feet, feeling proud of her accomplishment. So proud was she, that she forgot about the blanket, which had slid from her shoulders as she got to her feet. "Done," she announced.
Xena quickly turned around, her leather outfit, which sheíd been cleaning, still in her hands. Both womenís eyes zeroed in on one anotherís naked bodies, instead of the finished project.
Xenaís outfit slipped from her hands upon seeing the bard in all her glory. And as she squatted down to pick it up, Gabrielleís knees grew weak at the sight of her friendís ample backside staring her in the face.
The bard involuntarily reached out for the bed in order to steady herself, as Xena rose to her feet.
"Have you checked it out?" Xena inquired, hanging her outfit on the line beside Gabrielleís.
"Checked it out?" the bard mumbled in response, seeing the warriorís left breast jiggle with the motion of draping the outfit over the rope.
"Yeah, see if it will fold up on you," Xena replied over her shoulder.
"Uh, no..." the bard answered, as the warrior once again squatted down, rambling in her pack now. "But, I.... will..." she added, as she raised one knee in preparation to crawl onto the bed, while watching Xena intently.
A loud THUMP, followed by a groan, reverberated in the small cabin. Xena had just slide her brown undergarment over her head and quickly spun around. Gabrielle was sprawled out on the floor on her back, naked as the day she was born. A twinge went through the warrior at the sight.
"Are you... hurt?" Xena asked, rushing over to her friend.
"Uh no," Gabrielle responded, raising up on her elbows and rubbing the back of her head. "Nothing but my pride." she added, noticing Xenaís attire, as the warrior offered her a hand up.
"What happened?" the warrior queried, pulling her friend to her feet. "Did it fold up on you again?"
"Uh no... I just... Iím not used to beds that move, thatís all. Worse than a horse," the bard added, rubbing her backside now. "You always come.... prepared, donít you?" she inquired, changing the subject to Xenaís attire, for sheíd seen the warrior looking at her body.
"You packed this for me, remember?" the warrior reminded her.
"Oh... so I did," the bard responded, as Xena reached behind Gabrielle and retrieved the bardís blanket from the floor. "Wish Iíd packed something for myself," she added.
The warrior then wrapped the blanket around the bardís shoulders. "We... take care of each other," she said softly, the sides of her hands touching the bardís exposed skin, as she pulled the blanket together in the front, her eyes traveling down the bardís naked body. "I... I do... have something for you," she added, turning away and moving back towards her pack.
"For me?" Gabrielle queried, regretting that Xena had not prolonged the previous moment.
"Yeah, I... I was gonna save it until your birthday, but..." Xena paused, as she squatted down and produced a package from the confines of her pack. "Since itís getting late and... your clothes donít appear to be drying fast," she continued, glancing up at the darkening of the light coming through the porthole and the bardís still visibly wet clothes. "I figure... you could use these now."
"Use what now?" the bard queried, coming around the bed, anxious to know what present Xena had bought for her birthday.
"Open it and see," the warrior said, holding out the neatly wrapped package to her friend.
Gabrielle took it, feeling giddy and warm inside, as well as anxious to boot. Xena had actually bought her something. What could it be?
"By the gods, Xena," the bard gasped, as she ripped open the package, her fingers touching the teal colored material inside. "Itís... silk!"
"Yeah, I... I hope you like it."
"But, wha... what are they?" she asked, holding up the open front tunic and a pair of pants.
"Sleeping attire," the warrior responded.
"Xena, you shouldnít have," the bard mumbled, although she was pleased as punch. "This is so expensive... I canít...wear this... to bed."
"Yes, you can. Believe me, Gabrielle, youíre worth far more than this to me," the warrior said, then felt embarrassed. "Here, let me help you," she added, changing the subject. "Iíll hold them while you... get dressed."
At first the bard felt slightly embarassed to remove the blanket in front of Xena. And yet, after all theyíd been through so far and especially seeing the look in the warriorís eyes at the moment; the one sheíd wanted to see for so long, without Xena being crazy, she dropped the blanket like a hot potato.
Xena swallowed hard at the sight of the bardís naked body so close she could reach out and touch it. Instead of reaching out like she wanted to, however, she settled for rubbing her fingers over the soft, silky material, as she handed the pants to Gabrielle. She watched in utter torment, as the silk slid up and over the bardís lower extremeties. Her hands ached to touch this silky fabric with Gabrielleís body encased beneath it.
"Oh... here," she said, handing her friend the shirt. Gabrielleís breasts jiggled slightly as she placed her arms in the sleeves and Xena nibbled on her lower lip.
"How do these buttons work?" Gabrielle asked, pulling the shirt together in front.
"Let me show you," the warrior offered, stepping up to her friend and taking the sides of the shirt in her hands. "The buttons go through these loops, see?" she explained, the sides of her hands grazing each side of Gabrielleís exposed skin as she fumbled with the loops and buttons.
The bard could feel Xenaís warm hands against her exposed skin, as well as the slight quiver of each through the silky fabric. Is she nervous? she wondered. If so, about what? She canít be nervous over me, could she? Is she afraid I wonít like it? Yeah, thatís gotta be it.
"Itís... beautiful," the bard whispered and meant it, as Xena hooked the last button. "I love it."
"Do you?" the warrior asked, smiling broadly as she reached up and adjusted the bardís collar. "I knew youíd look wonderful in this. You do it far more justice than any boy ever could," she added, her hands moving over the silky fabric covering Gabrielleís shoulders.
"Boy?" the bard queried, feeling as if Xena had just slapped her in the face.
"Well, yeah... you see, these were made for boys, but... well, they didnít have this color in a womanís size. All they had was... well, they were too... foo-foo for you, ya know."
"Oh, I see," Gabrielle mumbled dropping her head. "I guess Iím not exactly that feminine, am I?"
"No, no, thatís not what I meant," Xena corrected, reaching out and raising the bardís chin with her index finger. "I wanted this color for you. I thought it would... compliment the lovely sea green color of your eyes and... it does," she added, her voice turning suddenly very soft and husky.
Gabrielle swallowed hard, upon noticing the look in Xenaís eyes. There was very little doubt this was the look sheíd longed to see.
The two women stared at one another, Gabrielleís legs growing weak, feeling as if she were losing herself in the depths of Xenaís blue eyes, as the warriorís face moved closer ever so slowly.
Go on... kiss the girl, Xenaís mind urged her. She wants it. Just look at her. Sheís ready and willing and... waiting. Seize the moment, Xena.
Iím seizing, Iím seizing, she retorted, her lips only inches from the bardís now, as Gabrielle closed her eyes.
A bell clanged loudly, ripping through the silence. Xena jerked back, ready for action. "Come and get it!" a male voice called out.
"Guess... the stew is ready," the warrior commented, turning away and tugging on her nose. "Hmph, and... Iím not dressed to go up on deck," she mumbled, glancing down at herself.
"Iíll... get it," Gabrielle offered with a heavy sigh, as she started away.
By the gods, the bard thought, closing the door behind her and leaning back against it. I know she was going to kiss me, I could feel it in my bones.
Are you sure? She was probably just going to kiss your cheek or something, her mind argued.
Hey, since when did you switch sides? the bard queried of herself.
Since you started deluding yourself, her mind retorted, Youíre only seeing what you want to see, ya know. Itís not real.
No, I know I saw... desire in her eyes. It was just like when she was crazy, only... sheís not anymore.
Are you sure that was desire? What would you know about it anyway? Maybe it was just... happiness or... maybe she wasnít think about you at all. Maybe she was thinking of someone else who would look good in those clothes.
The bard glanced down at her new outfit.
Remember she said it had been made for a boy, her mind continued. Who do you think she was really thinking about when she bought it, hmm? Sure she didnít buy it as a present for her son? And she just gave it to you because,... you didnít have anything else to wear?
"Solan doesnít have green eyes," Gabrielle mumbled aloud, admiring the beautiful teal color of the outfit.
So, she could have made that part up. Stop deluding yourself, Gabrielle. Xena does not want you that way. She couldnít. Sheís a grown woman whose had many, many lovers. Sheís even had a child by one for Zeus sake. Xenaís a normal, healthy female with desires for male companionship. Sheís not like you, with your crazy ideas. If she was, do you think Xena would wait this long to make her desires known? Quit dreaming, Gabrielle, youíre only hurting yourself.
"I... suppose so," the bard agreed aloud, as she started up the steps to the upper deck, her head dropped, her spirits lower than they had been upon boarding the ship.
The two friends ate yet another meal in silence. Fish stew, rice, bread and orange fruit this time. Although Gabrielle had no desire for the fruit now. There were too many memories attached to it from the night before, as well as this morning. Memories she didnít care to relive in her mind, at the moment, for she was already depressed enough at it was.
"Not gonna eat your orange?" Xena queried.
"Nawh," the bard responded, "You can take it to your stowaway friend."
"I donít think thatíll be necessary."
"Because he seems quite capable of taking care of himself."
"Oh... well... whatever."
"Besides Iím tired. I just wanna get some rest. Fishing and... cleaning fish especially, takes a lot out of you."
"Hmph," the bard grunted, as she got up from the bed and made her way over to the chamber pot.
"Iíve been meaning to ask you, howíd you get those buckets of water from the cook?" Xena inquired.
"A bribe... to stay out of his kitchen," the bard responded.
"I see," the warrior commented with a smile. "You did a good job on the... bed, by the way. Weaving those poles through the webbing and tying it on each strand... was a good idea."
"Iím sure you would have done better," Gabrielle grumbled.
"You okay?" Xena questioned, as she heard the bard coming towards the bed. "Herb still working?"
"Yeah, I suppose so. No nausea."
"Then... whatís wrong?" the warrior prodded, turning around slightly in order to see her friendís eyes.
"Nothing. Iím just... tired, I suppose," the bard replied, easing down onto the bed.
"Youíve been quiet every since you came back from getting our supper. Someone say something to you or... do something...?"
"No. Just tired," Gabrielle responded, as she laid back and pulled the blanket up around her.
"Those clothes comfortable?" Xena queried.
"Oh yes,... very. I... I love them. Thank you."
You donít sound like you loveíem, Xena thought, watching the bard roll over on her side and put her back to her. "Is it... that time of the month?" she asked quietly.
"Huh? Oh... no," the bard responded. "I.. really am just tired, Xena."
"Hmph," the warrior grunted, as she got up and strode over to the chamber pot herself.
When she returned to the bed and eased in, Gabrielle appeared to be fast asleep already. "Goodnight, Gabrielle," she said softly, putting her back to her friend, so that she was facing the door.
Xena lay there thinking over the days events and suddenly realized just how many times sheíd come close to kissing Gabrielle in that short period of time. Perhaps thatís whatís bothering her, she thought. Surely she knew what I was about to do and... she didnít like it. Hmph! Then I wonít try that again! she promised herself.
Just as she was about to drift off to sleep, she felt movement behind her and heard Gabrielle mumble something incoherent. Then a hand touched her side and slide around to her waist. At least I have this, she thought, placing her hand over top of Gabrielleís. Even if itís not me youíre thinking about, at least I get to hold you in your sleep. Too bad I end up sleeping through some of the best holding positions, though. If only youíd wake up and... wake me up, Iíd....
Ah-h, if only.... the warrior sighed heavily. I can wait, Gabrielle. I know it feels like I canít, but... I know in my heart that Iíd wait for you, forever. The best things in life are worth waiting for, after all. And one day, my precious little bard, you will be mine, she added, lacing her fingers with Gabrielleís.
Continue to part 5
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