So Softly Inspired
By S Derkins
©Feb 1999

Disclaimers: The characters may belong to Universal, but all the rest belongs to me, so no copying in any manner other than for personal use.

Content Warning: This is an alternative story about two women involved in a romance. Nothing really explicit, but if you don't like this type of story or too young to legally read this, please hit back now.

Author's Note: All too often, the artists of the Xenaverse state inspiration from episodes or fanfiction, but I found inspiration from Angelique's drawing, 'So Soft'. If you wish to see the drawing by this talented artist, please follow this link:

"So Soft" - by Angelique

Suggestion and comments welcomed at:

Gabrielle squeezed the cool water from the cloth for perhaps the thousandth time. She shook the excess water from her fingers and dabbed at Xena's fevered skin. For three days, the bard had been tending her lover, becoming more worried with each day. The herbs hadn't helped with the infection and fever. It still raged within the woman resting against her breast. Gabrielle knew it now all rested in the hands of the warrior and the fates. A single tear of despair escaped her eyes just as someone knocked quietly on their door. She angrily wiped it away before inviting the visitor in. Toris stepped into the room, a tray resting his large hands.

"I thought you needed something to eat. You barely touched your meals in days," he gently chided, his voice filled with concern. Gabrielle shook her head, disinterest clearly gave her excuse. Her worry over Xena had stolen her appetite.

"C'mon, you need to eat something. How will your getting weak from starvation help my sister? Please? If not for your sake, then for Xena's. She needs you strong for her."

His words made sense and she nodded. The bard shifted enough to allow her to eat-but low enough so that her lover's head could still remain on her stomach. Gabrielle had a desperate need to maintain that continuous contact with the older woman. An almost irrational fear of separation had made even the briefest of trips away from her warrior agony. The fear said Xena might slip away if she didn't stay connected with her. The bard knew the terror was out of proportion, but she couldn't ignore it.

She nodded to Toris and he smiled as he placed the tray next to her on the bed. Gabrielle lifted the stoneware bowl of broth to her lips and sipped it. The taste was probably excellent, Cyrene's cooking could be no less, but the young woman couldn't taste it. She wasn't even aware when the tall man next to her took a chunk of bread and softened it in the broth before placing it to her lips. She chewed absently until it was gone. The tray was removed from the bed and Toris left the room unnoticed.

The fever raged on.

Nightfall darkened the room and Gabrielle held Xena closer. The silence of the evening was broken only by the warrior's labored breathing. Each inhale was a gasp. Each exhale was a rattling escape of air. Gabrielle paced her own breathing with her partner's, worried that they would stop and end forever. The bard's heart raced whenever the breathing lost its rhythm. Gabrielle felt a scream building up inside of her. The need to do something-anything-to help Xena brought sudden determination to her exhausted limbs.

She got out of bed and collected their things, placing them into the saddlebags. They were leaving this tiny room which stank of fear and death. They would go outside to sleep under the stars, to breathe in fresh air, and to face their fates together.

She left their room and headed down the hallway until she found Toris' room. She pounded on the door forcefully until he woke and opened it.


"I need you to help me," she said simply. He followed her without question to the room. She ordered the bother to pick up the long-limbed woman and to follow her. The Amazon Queen led the way outside and left the village borders. She kept walking until she reached the edge of the small lake.

Gabrielle then gathered soft grasses for bedding and threw a blanket over them. Toris gently laid his sister down.

"Leave," Gabrielle ordered. Toris considered arguing for moment but then shrugged before turning away. His tall form disappeared into the blackness and the two women were alone.

Gabrielle gathered materials for a small fire and began setting up camp. Once the fire was going strongly, she looked out over the lake, taking in the peacefulness of the night. Crickets chirped, small animals scurried in the bushes, an owl hooted. The summer night was warm and the tiniest of breezes caressed her skin.

Feeling the itchiness of her sleeping shift, she yanked it off and relished the freedom. Perhaps a swim would make her feel better. Maybe both of them. The bard undressed her partner and struggled to get the tall woman to her feet. Xena unconsciously helped her weakly, but it was up to the smaller woman to support her. Gabrielle, braced by her renewed determination, found the strength to take them both into the water. They didn't need to go out far.

The bard stopped when the water was knee high and lowered them both down into the cool lake. She cradled the larger woman in one arm and bathed her. She cupped her free hand to wash the skin above the water, softly scrubbing the skin with her fingers. She then lowered the warrior enough to wet her hair, washing it as best she could without soap. Satisfied her lover was free of the deathroom stench, Gabrielle took Xena back to their camp.

The bard grabbed a cloth and dried both of them as best she could. Feeling better than she had in days, she helped Xena into their makeshift bed and crawled in with her, covering them with one of their bedrolls. It smelled of wood smoke and horse but she didn't care. The scent reminded of her of happier times. Perhaps Xena could smell it too. Her breathing seemed less labored. Taking hope from this, Gabrielle drifted into Morpheus' arms.

* * * * * * *
The Amazon Queen woke to birdsong and mid-morning sunlight. Taking a few moments to fully waken, she listened to the gentle lap of the water on the shore. As she listened, her ears searched her surroundings and found everything peaceful. Too peaceful. The sound of Xena's painful breathing couldn't be heard. Terrified, she opened her eyes and reached out to her lover as she leaned over her. The bard's eyes searched the relaxed face below her own fearfully, her heart pounding frantically in her chest.

Gabrielle's eyes sought out Xena's breasts and felt her own heartbeat slow in relief at the steady rise and fall. She was alive. A touch to the warrior's face confirmed the fever had broken during the night. Thanking any gods that might be listening, the bard lowered her face to rest on Xena's breast. She could hear the steady beating of her warrior's heart. The sound was beautiful to her and she turned her face to place a grateful kiss to the skin and then replaced her cheek to the breast.

The bard remained there until her stomach gurgled loudly in renewed interest. Laughing at herself, she threw on her top and skirt. The rest she would do without. The trip back to the inn wasn't far. She put a pot of water over the fire for making tea then headed for the village.

Toris and Cyrene looked up expectantly at her return. Gabrielle smiled brightly and they let out their breaths in relief. A brief explanation and a plea for food later, she headed back to the lake.

When she arrived, her eyes automatically looked towards the bed. It was empty. Her eyes searched the area until she found Xena, resting on a grassy spot in the sun. The warrior had put on her leathers and boots. Gabrielle smiled, knowing Xena had stubbornly refused to stay in bed longer than absolutely necessary. The fact that she hadn't put on all her armor and armbands meant her warrior had used most of her strength in dressing that much. Gabrielle smiled indulgently.

"Hi tiger, sleeping in the sun?" she teased. Xena grumbled but didn't open her blue eyes. Gabrielle dropped to her knees at Xena's side and leaned forward, kissing the slightly parted lips. Her lover lazily returned the kiss and smiled.

"I've missed you. Welcome back Xena," Gabrielle whispered as she straightened. Xena followed her, leaning her weight onto one hand. She wrapped her free arm around Gabrielle's middle and pulled her closer. Xena nuzzled languidly at the smaller woman's neck, enjoying the sweet contact.

"Xena," Gabrielle moaned, "You haven't eaten in three days and your fever just broke. Don't start something when you're not in any condition to finish it," the bard chided. Xena chuckled against her skin.

"I'm not planning a marathon Gabrielle," Xena teased. Her free hand made lazy circles on her lover's back as she began a more earnest exploration with her lips. Gabrielle groaned. Her common sense said no, but it flew away with the wind when Xena took her earlobe between her lips and suckled. Just grateful to feel her touch once more, she pushed away her doubts and allowed Xena to continue, reaching out her hands to support her lover.

Taking advantage of this, Xena lowered her mouth to the top of a firm breast. The warrior felt the sigh of pleasure escape from the smaller woman. Encouraged, the fingers of her free hand slipped beneath the waistband of the Amazonian skirt. Gabrielle arched and held on tighter.

Xena turned her head slightly to rub her cheek against the cloth covered breast. She could feel the hidden nipple harden under her touch. The warrior continued her stroking for a moment before taking the nipple, cloth and all, into her mouth. She firmly tugged on the hardened peak with her teeth, dragging out a moan from the woman that held her.

Unsatisfied because of the barrier between them, she reached for the edge of the green top. Her fingers hooked into it, pulling it downwards until the breast was exposed. Her mouth greedily sought out her prize, taking the peak into her mouth. Once captured, Xena found her reserve of energy almost depleted, much to her disgust. The warrior knew she'd be the subject of the bard's kidding within a few moments-but in the meantime, she enjoyed the sensation of the hardened nipple within her mouth.

The warrior suckled it gently, running her tongue across the puckered flesh. As the seconds passed, she felt herself falling unwillingly into sleep, the breast still within her mouth. Her lips and tongue stopped.

Gabrielle looked down, taking in the sight of her lover sound asleep at her breast and chuckled. She placed a kiss on the sleeping woman's forehead, her passion cooling into indulgent love. Tomorrow was another day.

"Sleep well my friend."

The End

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