Some Kin of Bacchus
by Hunter Ash
Disclaimers: see part I for the usual stuff.
Gabrielle couldn’t believe it, she still shook her head in wonderment. They were actually in one of the rooms of the castle, one of the master rooms. Cassian had simply walked out of the tunnels, showed her ring to the stunned staff and they had leaped to obey her orders.
Within a candlemark Gabrielle was sitting beside a bed with her wounded warrior in it. Fresh water and food had been brought in as well as clean clothes. The servants were treating her like an honored guest. Gabrielle was more than confused.
Cassian walked in and noted Gabrielle’s suspicious look as the bard waved at the room. "What’s going on?" the small woman demanded.
Cassian smiled. "The servants are part of a clan of people that have sworn allegiance to my family, no matter which member demands their service. My brother has fled so they turn to me. With my brother’s wealth and influence I can undue some of the damage he’s done. The Romany, the servants, are tracking down the former guests of my brother and especially the fledglings. If we can get them in time we might be able to save some of the women before they taste human blood."
"Wow." Gabrielle said simply.
"For a bard, that’s a short sentence." Cassian teased.
"I heard Samius call you ‘sister,’" Gabrielle stated.
"Yes, we are the children of a being, one of the first of the dark side." Cassian admitted.
"A demon?" Gabrielle’s eyes went wide.
"No, a wonderful and loving mother and father. Not all that walk the dark side are evil. I like to think I’m not. You’ll meet others in your long life." Cassian smiled.
"Is that why you can’t be killed except by fire, you’re a demi-goddess?"
"What about Xena?" Gabrielle demanded.
"It’s slim." Cassian warned.
"You said we had options, what are they?" Gabrielle’s jaw took on a set that Cassian recognized as probably the bard’s stubborn face.
"When she awakens tonight she’ll be a fledgling vrykolaka. The options are that we find the vampire that bit her and kill the vampire, restoring Xena back to human. Next option, we kill her before she claims a victim," Cassian held up a hand before Gabrielle could protest. "I didn’t say we’d do it, just giving you the options. You’ve seen the vrykolaka, image Xena as one. She would be unstoppable. Increased strength, heightened senses, blood lust, no morals left, ability to turn into a wolf and fly. What could stop her?"
"She’d be like her Warlord self only ten times worse," Gabrielle said thoughtfully. The thought of Xena leading an army of vrykolaka across Greece and beyond was a terrifying one.
"Next options are the tricky ones; when she wakes up as a fledgling you reach her, the inner soul and bring her back with your love until we find the vrykolaka and kill it."
"She came back from the dead when I called her." Gabrielle said hopefully.
Cassian’s eyebrows rose. "From the dead?" Gabrielle nodded.
"Even without knowing how you feel about her?"
Gabrielle nodded again.
"Then there might be a chance."
"The next option?" Gabrielle asked.
"The last and most horrible option. Chain or cage Xena, feeding her only animal blood until we find the vrykolaka and kill it, freeing Xena."
"Oh Goddess Artemis, no." the thought of Xena in a cage, fangs bared, hunger crazed for blood was almost as bad as the image of a Vampire Warlord.
"It usually doesn’t turn out well," Cassian agreed grimly. "You watch your loved one lose their soul. They tear at the chains or the bars, straining to get out, only to rip your throat out. Most of the time they become mindless, hungry animals."
"What happens when the vrykolaka who infected them is killed?"
"I haven’t been able to find that out. It’s an instinct they have once they turn a victim, the vrykolaka flee the area and go into hiding. They do it to protect their heritage. Sometimes the vrykolaka fledgling isn’t thrilled with being made a vampire and attempts to seek out the vrykolaka in revenge. Others, like us, try and kill the vampire before the fledgling can complete the change. If we don’t catch the vampire before tonight the chances are that we won’t." Cassian turned and went to the window. The first beginning rays of sunrise were touching the sky.
"She’ll sleep the through the day so we will probably. Get some rest." Cassian suggested. "We’ll talk about it later."
"How do we decide what option to take?" Gabrielle asked, tears streaming.
"Depends on what she’s like when she awakens. If she can fight through the hunger then we have hope." Cassian noted the bard’s head beginning to sag forward and moved over to the woman. She gently lifted the bard into her strong arms.
"Hey!" the bard protested with a mumble.
"Quiet, hold your warrior and sleep." Cassian placed the bard in the bed next to Xena and the bard happily complied with the order.
Within minutes Cassian was also asleep. Two Romany men with drawn swords stood outside each door and one under each of the bedroom windows.
Gabrielle turned over against the sunlight falling through the window and found herself in the arms of Xena. She snuggled contentedly in those arms and nuzzled herself into Xena’s shoulder and hair. She was about to drift back into total sleep when the arms tightened around her in a hug. Gabrielle opened her eyes to find Xena looking at her.
The bard smiled, seeing the bluest eyes she had ever seen. "Xena! I thought you’d sleep all day, are you okay?" Gabrielle started to sit up but Xena held her in the embrace.
"I am as long as you’re with me." Xena answered and pulled the bard back against her and Gabrielle whimpered with pleasure.
"Xena, I’m sorry. I didn’t know how you felt, that you might feel the same towards me. I... I love you." Gabrielle whispered and held her breath.
She felt Xena’s lips on her hair and a reassuring hug. "I love you too, Gabrielle. More than I can tell you." Gabrielle looked up and her lips touched Xena’s lightly. They both lost their breath in the electric shock that hit both of them with the contact. Gabrielle reached a hand behind Xena’s head and pulled the warrior back to her lips and the kiss became more insistent, more passionate. Xena finally pulled back and Gabrielle lay back on the bed in Xena’s arms.
"Wow!" Gabrielle muttered.
"Wow is right." Xena frowned and looked at the bard. "What happened? I feel funny."
"Funny how?" Gabrielle sat up instantly.
"I don’t know, just funny. Not quite myself somehow." Xena saw her bandaged wrists and looked at Gabrielle with a questioning look.
"Whoa, where to begin? What do you remember?" Gabrielle asked.
"Calling for you." Xena said softly and leaned up to kiss the young woman again. Xena’s arms went around Gabrielle’s waist and the bard was pulled on top of the warrior when Xena leaned back down. Gabrielle wasn’t protesting. In fact, her tongue was demanding entrance past Xena’s lips and her hands were roaming all up and down Xena’s ribs. Xena felt herself beginning to arch at the touch of the bard. Gabrielle moved a leg between Xena’s and was answered with a moan from the warrior and Xena received an answering moan when she moved a leg up a bit and met with Gabrielle’s womb.
Gabrielle broke away, breathing heavily next to Xena’s neck. "Oh gods, my love. You feel incredible!"
"So do you, my bard." Xena nuzzled Gabrielle’s hair and moved her lips to Gabrielle’s neck and the bard shivered.
"Gabrielle, great news! What?...." Gabrielle was more than stunned to find herself sitting on the floor and to look up and see Cassian struggling with Xena on the bed. Growls and muttered curses confused the bard even more.
"What in Tartarus do you think you’re doing?!" Gabrielle demanded, jumping to her feet.
"Look at her!" Cassian demanded.
Gabrielle moved around the bed and almost fainted at the sight of her love growling and snapping, a full set of fangs and yellow eyes that were outlined in red.
"Xena?" the bard whispered.
"She almost bit you! Quick, get the ropes I left at the foot of the bed and grab a body part!" Cassian demanded. The two Romany men rushed in and dropped their swords, rushing forward to help the bard secure the warrior to the bed.
Xena continued growling and thrashing, gnashing her teeth together. Gabrielle turned away and Cassian held her as she wept.
Cassian nodded for the two Romany to leave which they did with a bow.
"You said, you said good news," Gabrielle choked out.
"Yes, I did. They found the vrykolaka!" Gabrielle stepped back in the woman’s embrace and then grabbed the warrior and hugged the tall woman until the vampire demi-goddess thought her ribs would break.
"Great, we kill her and Xena comes back!"
"Yes, but damaged." Cassian said slowly.
Gabrielle backed up and looked at Cassian with narrowed eyes. "What?"
"What I suggest that Xena be the one to kill the vrykolaka herself and end the curse. This will free of her of any guilt or any taint of the darkness." Cassian said.
"What guilt could she have, she didn’t ask for this." Gabrielle demanded.
"Part of her did, the instant those vrykolaka touched her she was gone. You felt the bacchae’s touch, did you totally overcome the guilt of being bitten?"
Gabrielle blushed and turned her eyes. "Not really, I should have been more careful."
"Think of what happened to Xena, not only was she bitten, her body gave itself over to them, totally. She betrayed you in her heart. Her body totally enjoyed what was happening and the mind followed but she still called out for you."
"That shows she loves me and not them." Gabrielle insisted.
"She won’t see it that way. She almost bit you, given two more minutes and she would have been a full vrykolaka and on the way to turning you, her love. That’s a lot of guilt to get around." Cassian warned.
"How would you know?" Gabrielle snapped, frustration over the last two weeks finally coming to the surface.
"Look at me."
Gabrielle’s quick intake of breath was audible. Cassian’s eyes were yellow with a slight tinge of red and she had a full set of fangs. "I’m a prisoner of the hunger just as much as Samius is. I just control it better but there have been times when I’ve hurt people. Just like Xena did."
"Killing the vrykolaka herself will cure this?"
"No, but it will help. It will show Xena that she is in control, she’s the one making the choices. Her choices were taken from her, I’m hoping she takes them back. If she kills the vampire then her mind and soul can heal totally, I believe."
"But look at her," Gabrielle cried. Cassian did and turned her eyes away from the thrashing vampire on the bed. Xena’s hair was slick with sweat and the warrior’s lips were bloody from gnashing her teeth together in rage and hunger. She fought against the ropes with all her fabled strength. She growled at the two women and howled. "She’s in no condition to make decisions!"
"No, that’s where your love comes in. You have to reach her and bring Xena back to consciousness. Get her to fight the hunger, to win over the insanity and she might be able to face the vrykolaka. Even then there’s the danger she’ll fail and fall under the vrykolaka’s influence again and we’ll have to kill the vrykolaka ourselves and hope Xena can recover."
"Gods, why!?" Gabrielle demanded.
"Mine don’t usually answer, do yours?" Cassian asked with a smile.
"Not that one question," Gabrielle admitted with a shrug. She looked over at the thrashing woman and took a deep breath. "How do I reach her?"
"How did you reach her when she died?"
Gabrielle nodded and started towards the bed. Cassian started for the door but Gabrielle’s voice stopped her.
"Cassian, if this doesn’t work..." Gabrielle looked back at Xena and then Cassian. "End it for both of us, she won’t cross over alone again."
Cassian looked deep in Gabrielle’s eyes for a long moment and then nodded.
"Have faith, bard." Cassian encouraged, "A love like yours is beyond death and beyond evil."
"You couldn’t reach Myatt, could you?"
Cassian was surprised when tears filled her eyes, it had been a long time since she had cried. "No, but I don’t think our love was like yours either."
Gabrielle turned and faced Xena.
How long Gabrielle talked and pleaded with Xena she didn’t know. It seemed like forever. When she had first approached Xena the young bard hadn’t known what to say so she said whatever was in her heart. How she had loved Xena from the first day the warrior had saved her and her village from the slavers. How that love had grown into something beyond hero worship and friendship. How the bard couldn’t live without Xena in her life. How her marriage to Perdicus had been a mistake, of her guilt over his death. Of her desperation when Xena had died. How over time Gabrielle had figured out the depth of her feelings for Xena but not how to act on them. Of her fear of rejection from the warrior. How her heart ached just to see Xena’s eyes. Everything in her heart and soul. Gabrielle broke down several times in tears.
Finally out of words the bard’s head slumped forward into her arms on the edge of the bed in tears. When she looked up she saw blue eyes looking into her green ones.
"Xena?" she whispered.
"Gabrielle, help me." the warrior whispered.
"You have to fight it, my love. You have to overcome the hunger before we can help." Gabrielle touched Xena’s cheek and the warrior closed her eyes. Tears escaping from under the closed lids.
"Fight it!" Gabrielle urged and then pulled back when the eyes opened and were yellow again. "Fight it! Come on, warrior! This is nothing! You’ve been hungry before! You’ve been wounded! You continued on, you fought on! Fight this!"
Xena closed her eyes again and clenched her teeth together. This time the eyes were blue but Xena was trembling with the effort.
"I love you more than life itself, Xena. Don’t leave me again!" Gabrielle leaned forward and kissed the warrior’s bloody lips gently. Xena tried to draw back.
"No, the hunger - I don’t know which is stronger, the blood or my desire for you." Xena protested.
"You have to fight it, my love. You have to decide which part of you is in control, you or the vrykolaka."
"A kind of bacchae. You can fight the hunger, you can do it." Gabrielle urged, kissing the warrior again. This time the lips softened and parted slightly. Gabrielle stretched herself out on the bed.
"Gabrielle, please. I could barely control myself around you before this, I can’t now with this running in my veins."
"Do you remember the women who turned you?" Gabrielle snuggled up next the warrior and began unlacing the nightshift.
"Gabrielle, please!" Xena attempted to move away but was helpless.
Xena turned her eyes away. Gabrielle reached up and turned the warrior’s head to face her. "Yes," the warrior whispered, tears beginning to fall again.
"It’s all right, you were forced, my love. It’s part of their magic. Did you want them?" Gabrielle went back to untying the laces and then moved the cloth away from Xena’s breasts. Xena gasped and thrust her head backwards.
"No.... yes. Not at first." Xena hissed as Gabrielle took a nipple in her lips.
"Oh gods, I’ve wanted this for so long," Gabrielle moaned and then began to run her tongue and teeth over the nipple as one of her hand reached over the warrior’s ribs to grab the other nipple.
"Gabrielle, please." Gabrielle glanced up and saw the warrior now had fangs but the eyes remained blue.
"Stay with me, love. I want you, not the vrykolaka. I want you to want this. Do you?"
"Ahh, more than anything, my love. I’ve loved you for so long and wanted you."
"You enjoyed the vrykolaka."
"No!" Xena screamed and tried to break the ropes again. Gabrielle leaned back away from the warrior until Xena stopped struggling.
"Yes, face it. We both enjoyed the touch and the bite. I was fortunate that the bacchae didn’t have time to get more sexual than that. Face it, my love, your body couldn’t help it. You were helpless."
Gabrielle knew how much that drove the warrior crazy. Xena disliked nothing more than being in control of a situation, especially her own body.
"No!" Xena had her eyes closed tightly.
Gabrielle began lifting the shift above Xena’s thighs. The warrior’s thrashing had already moved the shift mostly up the bed and now Gabrielle was moving it further up. Xena’s head snapped up, eyes wide open as she watched the bard pulling the cloth up to reveal the triangle of Xena’s dark hair.
"Yes, my love?" Gabrielle then surprised the warrior by standing up. Xena’s head snapped back onto the bed when the young bard began unlacing her own tunic top.
"Oh gods, please. I can’t control it!" Xena begged.
"Yes you can! It’s you that wants me, not the vampire. It’s up to you which you’ll be, Xena. My lover or my killer."
"What!?" Xena whispered, her head snapping back up to stare into the bard’s green eyes.
"Either you fight this and love me or you kill me with your fangs." Gabrielle said simply.
Xena began protesting, ordering and then begging Gabrielle to stop but the bard ignored her until she was standing in front of her lover totally naked. Xena lost her train of thought at the sight of the beautiful body in front of her.
Gabrielle moved forward slowly and again stretched out next to her warrior. Her hands were trembling. She snuggled down onto Xena’s shoulder and she felt the warrior relax slightly.
Gabrielle moved one hand across the warrior’s ribs, playing with the soft skin. "I haven’t been with a woman before, or even with a man. Perdicus and I fell asleep. I was glad at the time because I was thinking of you."
"Gabrielle, I can’t, the hunger, it hurts." Xena whimpered.
"Then I guess I’ll distract you." Gabrielle raised up and kissed the warrior again. Xena fought against the kiss but the bard was insistent and the older woman finally gave in and Gabrielle felt the wonderful but battered lips go soft and part slightly. Xena moaned when Gabrielle’s tongue played over her new fangs. Gabrielle was careful not to let the fangs cut her tongue though. She then slid her body half over Xena’s, placing a leg between Xena’s legs. Xena growled with the frustration when she couldn’t raise her leg to touch Gabrielle’s center in return.
"This could be interesting under different circumstances." Gabrielle grinned.
"I’ll get you for that, my bard." Xena promised, a hint of a smile in her eyes for the first time in days.
"I hope so, my love, I hope so." Gabrielle began kissing her warrior across the stomach and along the rib cage, under the woman’s beautiful breasts, lightly teasing her tongue along the skin and around the nipples, lightly touching but not enough to provide any relief. Xena moaned in frustration and pulled at her ropes. "Do you remember the vampires touching you?"
"Gabrielle, I can’t!" Gabrielle glanced up and saw yellow mixed with blue in the eyes she adored.
"Yes, you can. Who do you want touching you, me or the vampire?"
"You, always you!" Xena hissed as Gabrielle’s lips claimed a nipple again.
"Think carefully, we have one of your other lovers here. Do you want me or her?" Gabrielle was careful to let her hair fall around her face, framing her around Xena’s breasts, it also hid the terror in her eyes as she asked the question.
"What?!" Xena’s body went stiff as she whispered the question.
"One of them is here. You have to choose what you want, the vampire or me."
"You, I love you and want you. I’ve wanted you for so long now, it drives me mad." Xena hissed. The warrior’s body arched when Gabrielle’s hand pressed firmly against her mound but offered no further release. Xena growled.
Gabrielle moved slightly up the warrior’s body and began kissing the taller woman again and began to move her fingers, parting Xena’s lower lips and playfully moving but always staying just shy of the clit or the opening. Xena’s body was thrashing of it’s own accord from frustration and need.
"Do you remember their hands on you?" Gabrielle asked, looking Xena in the eyes and letting the warrior see the pain and the passion in the green eyes. Xena tried to look away but Gabrielle bit the warrior’s lower lip, forcing her eyes open. "Do you?"
"Yes," the warrior whispered, a tear escaping.
"Do you want that again?"
"No! I want your hands, your lips, your body. I want you." Xena struggled against the ropes.
Gabrielle slipped a finger into Xena and the action was answered by the warrior gnashing her teeth and arching her body up, trying to capture more of Gabrielle.
"I want you, Xena." Gabrielle whispered, entering her lover with two more fingers. Xena moaned, thrusting her head back and then forward again to catch the bard’s lips in a fierce and demanding kiss. Gabrielle pulled back slightly, leaving the warrior whimpering. "I want your hand in me, I want your lips on me, I want to feel the weight of your body on mine, I want to feel your teeth at my neck. I want you." Gabrielle closed her eyes. She felt a shock rock her body, connecting with Xena’s own pleasure. "Gods, the way you feel, it’s incredible." Gabrielle whispered.
Xena whimpered and struggled with the ropes.
The young woman was amazed at her feelings, her body was trembling of it’s own as she felt the wondrous feel of Xena’s body and the warrior’s response to her touch. Much like the warrior herself: straining to always be in control and yet so filled with passion. Soft skin covering hardened muscles, a body that fought for control and yet trembled at the bard’s touch, Xena’s body opening, straining to take more and more the bard’s touch and clamping down to claim the bard’s fingers. Gabrielle moaned deep in her throat, waves of passion sweeping over her own body.
Gabrielle moved down to take a nipple in her lips and teeth again as her hand began to move with a slow rhythm, her thumb reaching out and lightly rubbing the swollen clit, working in tandem with her fingers to bring the warrior to a very high peak.
The bard slowly kept building her warrior higher and higher until Xena was thrashing on the bed, hips bucking, meeting and matching Gabrielle’s rhythm. Gabrielle moved up again and began nibbling on Xena’s earlobe, causing the warrior to moan and whimper even louder.
The bard looked up and stopped her motions with her hand when she saw Xena’s yellow eyes. "Fight it, my love! I want you, not the demon’s hunger!"
Xena screamed in frustration and squeezed her eyes. When she opened her eyes again they were their bright blue. Gabrielle began moving her fingers again and the warrior growled.
"Love me or kill me, Xena."
Gabrielle felt Xena’s muscles tightening even more rapidly and harder and knew instinctively that Xena was fast approaching the point of tumbling over that cliff of passion. The bard reached over and grabbed the knife she had left on the table beside the bed and positioned the blade against one of the ropes holding Xena’s wrist. The warrior, eyes closed in passion was unaware of the bard’s movement. Gabrielle’s head dived down and teeth claimed the warrior’s neck at a particularly erotic spot as Gabrielle’s fingers entered the warrior more forcefully. With a quick motion the rope was cut and with a quick slash the other hand was free. Gabrielle tossed the dagger away and grabbed her warrior around the waist.
Xena screamed out the bard’s name.
Gabrielle felt the warrior’s arms wrap her in an embrace as both their bodies shook from the release that Gabrielle had built between them and in Xena’s body.
Xena felt fangs and reached for Gabrielle’s neck as her body shook and shuddered.
The sounds were driving Cassian crazy. It hadn’t taken long to figure out what the bard was doing to the warrior to reach Xena. It was unexpected though. Cassian hadn’t thought the bard would try such a risky move, what could be more dangerous? Just the act of drinking blood was erotic enough without tempting a fledgling with sex. Cassian shook her head, hoping that Gabrielle’s faith in the love she and Xena shared was strong enough.
The time had dragged on and Cassian had dismissed the two guards, taking pity on them. It was hard enough to listen to the two women herself. She sat on the floor against the far hall wall, toying with a stake in her hands. She looked down and removed the bandage from her hand, grinning slightly at the sight of the slight red mark that showed where she had been wounded severely.
"Told you I heal quickly," she muttered.
After what seemed like hours everything went quiet and Cassian frowned. She had heard sounds of passion from both women but that didn’t mean anything. It was part of the curse and magic of the vampire, their victims feeling such incredible passion that the victim would willingly come back again and again, even knowing it meant their death. The eroticism of the bite was addictive, Cassian knew that.
The vampire demi-goddess waited for several more minutes and then sighed deeply, sensing no movement in the room beyond the door. She slowly climbed to her feet and listened at the door. Again hearing and sensing nothing, Cassian opened the door slowly, stake at the ready.
Her cat-like eyes spotted the two women on the bed. Most of the candles had died down but the few that remained lit showed both women tangled in an embrace. It would have been difficult to determine where one body began and the other ended. Cassian, senses and body heightened, on alert, moved cautiously closer to the bed and hissed slightly in surprise at the cut ropes around the warrior’s ankles and wrists.
Gabrielle was curled alongside the warrior, head resting quietly on Xena’s shoulder, one arm contentedly thrown across the warrior’s ribs. Xena was half turned towards the bard and their legs were intertwined with each other, Xena’s arms around the bard. Both women appeared to be sleeping peacefully.
Cassian carefully moved closer and slowly pulled the bard’s hair away from her throat and almost whimpered with relief when she found no wounds on Gabrielle. She opened her eyes in relief and found Xena watching her. The warrior raised a finger to her lips, indicating silence and Cassian nodded.
The warrior attempted to move without disturbing the smaller woman but Gabrielle whimpered in her sleep and increased her hold. Xena smiled and placed a pillow in the bard’s arms. Gabrielle whimpered again but kept sleeping. Xena crawled out of the bed, grabbing the bedpost for support for a moment. Cassian handed her a robe and motioned out the door, letting the warrior go first.
Xena noticed this and the fact that Cassian still had a ready hand on the stake and smiled slightly but went out the door first, despite her warrior instinct screaming against walking in front of a potential source of danger. In the hallway Cassian closed the door slightly.
Xena faced the other woman.
"Gabrielle said that you could help if I fought against the hunger."
"Yes, I....." Cassian shook her head and lowered the stake. "How?"
"It’s never happened, has it?" Xena asked, seeing the disbelief on the red-haired warrior.
"No, never. They always give in." Cassian whispered, remembering trying to reach Myatt and failing. Remembering having to ram a stake through her bondmate’s chest.
Xena shrugged. "Gabrielle." was the simple reply and Cassian nodded.
"She is incredible, you know." Cassian agreed.
Xena managed a tired smile. "I think I’m just beginning to realize just how incredible."
"We need to hurry, the hunger can really hit hard when you’re tired." Cassian motioned down the hallway.
"I sense something about you," Xena said cautiously.
"Did Gabrielle tell you what happened? About me?" Cassian asked as they walked down the hall.
"What you sense is our connection, vampire to vrykolaka."
"What!?" Xena stopped dead. Cassian attempted a reassuring smile, choosing to reveal her own fangs.
"I’m not quite what they’ve attempted to turn you into. I was born of one of the first vampires and I learned to control my hunger in my teens. It’s still there, but I don’t take human blood. I also don’t fear the sun because I refuse to give into the darker side of my birthright. You are at a crossroads, warrior." Cassian motioned for Xena to continue on with her and the warrior followed along. "If we hadn’t caught the vrykolaka you would have the choice to try and fight the hunger for the rest of your life, very difficult and probably and impossibility. Or you could give in and we’d kill you. By killing the vrykolaka who bit you, you will return to human."
"Gabrielle risked her life, didn’t she?" Xena whispered.
"Several times tonight in saving you. First in the ritual chamber, then in trying to reach you and freeing you to make the choice yourself." Cassian nodded.
"The stake you carry, that was for BOTH of us, wasn’t it?"
"Yes," Cassian stopped and looked the warrior in the eyes. "If you had bitten her I could have saved her, turned her back human by killing you. She asked to follow you if I had to kill you."
Xena leaned against the wall as she felt her knees go weak. "Gods, no, I wouldn’t want her to die!"
"That was her choice, she said you wouldn’t cross to the other side alone again."
Cassian saw tears filling the warrior’s eyes. She touched Xena lightly on the arm. "She loves you that much."
"I love her." Xena replied simply.
"Remember to tell her often." Cassian smiled.
"What do I need to do now?" Xena asked as they continued down the stairs. Cassian led them to what was probably the wine cellar where Xena could hear screams coming from behind the door.
Cassian stopped at the door and handed Xena the stake.
"One of your attackers is in there. Kill her and you’re free."
"Can’t you help her?" Xena frowned at the stake.
"No, she’s lost her soul to the darkness, you’ll be freeing her."
"Gabrielle called them my lovers," Xena whispered.
"You have to decide which the vrykolaka is, your lover or rapist. Do you remember the attack?"
Xena blushed and dropped her eyes. "Some of it." she admitted.
"Do you remember your orgasm? The bite themselves?"
Xena shifted uncomfortably on her feet. "No," she whispered.
"You called out Gabrielle’s name." Cassian answered softly.
"Gabrielle?" Xena looked up and Cassian was pleased by the look of hope in the warrior’s eyes.
"Yes, you were calling for Gabrielle, not the vrykolaka. Who is your lover, the demon or Gabrielle? Decide now, warrior."
Cassian opened the door and shoved the warrior through before Xena could say a word. Cassian closed the door, leaving the warrior facing a chained vrykolaka.
Gabrielle woke up reaching for Xena.
"Xena?" she mumbled, continuing to reach out and then opened her eyes, finding nothing more than covers and a pillow. She quickly sat up and looked around. Memories of the evening flooded back and she felt her throat for wounds and then checked her wrists. "Thank the gods," she whispered. She jumped out of bed and almost fell to her knees. "By the gods, my legs feel like mush!"
Then she smiled, remembering the reason why her body was feeling like it had been battered but satisfied too. Gods, she had never known it could feel like that! she thought.
She steadied herself and grabbed her clothes. She was surprised to find one of the guards outside her door, seeming to be waiting for her. He motioned for her to follow as he moved down the hallway quickly. She followed, lacing up her tunic top as they went.
"Xena?" she asked and he merely nodded and led the way down the stairs and through the main hallway to the small stairs leading to the wine cellar. He pointed down and she went down them as quick as she dared on unsteady legs.
Her heart almost stopped when she saw Cassian waiting by the closed door. The vampire woman straightened up when she saw the bard.
"We have to wait." she said, trying to cut off Gabrielle’s demands and protests.
Gabrielle growled and started to push past the taller warrior but Cassian held her firm.
"You both chose this path, she has to finish it."
"She won’t fail." Gabrielle said firmly.
"I pray she won’t."
Both women backed away from the door as it began to open and both sighed with relief as a bloody Xena stepped into the light, the bloody stake still in her hands.
"Thank you, Mother." Cassian whispered.
"She’s gone." Xena said simply and fell to her knees. Gabrielle was kneeling beside her lover and embracing her in a flash.
"I’m here, my love." Gabrielle whispered.
Xena clung to the smaller woman and began to weep. Cassian moved forward and raised Xena’s head and looked deep into the blue eyes. Cassian bared her fangs and growled and then smiled when she felt and saw no answering of blood to blood. Gabrielle was watching, fear showing in her eyes.
Cassian smiled at both of them. "It’s over for both of you, although you will discover that the neck is still very erotic for you." Cassian grinned and Xena buried her head in the bard’s long hair.
"I could have killed you!" she whispered. Cassian helped both of them to their feet where they clung to each other.
"You didn’t. You chose love over the demon. You chose me."
"Let’s get you both cleaned up and back in bed before you both fall flat on your face. I’ll send for your things from the inn."
"By the way, where are we and how did we get in a large mansion?" Xena asked as they started up the stairs again.
Cassian laughed. "It’s been a very long night, warrior. You two may have been enjoying yourselves but my back hurts from sitting on the floor all night, I want to go to bed. Have your bard tell you in the bath."
Xena blushed and Gabrielle giggled.
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