The Stoic Warrior

by ArdentTly

Disclaimer: The characters of Xena and Gabrielle both belong to Universal Studios, MCA and Renaissance Pictures. Infringement of their rights is not intended.

Sexuality Disclaimer: The following short story is intended for mature audiences; that is, people over the age of consent. It contains scenes of graphic lesbian sexuality. Should this type of fan fiction not be to your liking, please feel free to move along and read something else.

Character Disclaimer: I've taken some liberties with the character of our erstwhile warlord, the Warrior Princess. She's not nearly as orally inept as she may appear and I've decided to expound upon that. There be anguish in a few parts, too, comfort being close behind.

This is a rather harmless bit of fluff, merely an idea that's been rattling around my brain for weeks. I hope you enjoy it. All offerings, burnt or otherwise, can be directed to me at

Special thanks to my beta reader Mark and my sweeties Deb and Simone..big kisses to all. Without your encouragement this idea may never have come to fruition.


There she rides so proud and tall

A hero of this land

She fights for right, for weak and small

For the greater good she stands

She once ruled Greece as its Lord

With Ares by her side

She fought with chakram and with sword

And did conquer and divide

With azure eyes and mane of black

She is danger in repose

Of wit and charm there is no lack

Her power how it rose

Now she rides her horse o'er Greece

Defending those she may

With Gabrielle she stands for peace

Stoic hardship is her way

Xena sat in the tavern, brooding over the fact that Gabrielle had yet another young man sniffing around her as she told story after story after....well, ad nauseam. It was excruciating after two or three stories of the bard's Tales of the Warrior Princess epics but when she began trotting out some romantic poetry...well, it put the warrior's teeth on edge. Would she ever look at her and say such things? Hearing the sighs of the love struck men in the audience made the warrior's jaw muscles ache. Jealousy rose like a giant serpent, coiling around her, holding her tightly in its embrace.

She looked at the beautiful face of Gabrielle and knew such pleasing bait was certain to attract a following. Judging by the look on a certain...boy, as he exhaled mightily, the warrior knew yet another heart was being conquered. Gabrielle's purity seemed to attract an endless following of young men, all eager to win the bard over.

Xena had been consuming copious amounts of port and ale all evening and her mood was beginning to turn ugly. The man sitting at the next table winced, hearing her grind her teeth back and forth. She removed her breast dagger and started to carve deeply into the rough wood of the table.

Gabrielle sat on the stage, blissfully unaware that her friend was turning their table into kindling. She looked across at the young man with the doe eyes. A smile played across her lips. 'Tonight.', she mused, 'tonight is the night I give myself to someone.' Gabrielle winked at the young man, trying to put a look of 'come hither' into her eyes but failing because she knew, without a shadow of a doubt, the someone she wished would respond to that look didn't seem to have a clue of her true feelings.

Secretly, the bard dearly wanted that 'someone' to be Xena. Yes, she'd worried that particular revelation like a dog with a meaty bone; not letting it alone and constantly going back for more and more until the thing was in tatters. However, she was resigned to the fact that the probability of such a joining was to be forever unrealized.

Gabrielle was still stinging over Ulysses and what he and Xena shared aboard ship. She wasn't sure why but since then her libido seemed to be revved into high gear. Watching her friend exchange small kisses that began more wanton and desirous...well, it made her realize what she didn't have. 'Yes, that was it', she thought. 'I'm jealous, that's all. If I can't have Xena, I'll try and make due with a boy friend and this nice looking fellow will do nicely.'

Having made her choice mentally, the bard settled into the tale of Prometheus and for the next hour, keeping the tavern enthralled. Every now and again, she'd look across at Xena and smile. Not getting one in return was nothing new. Xena was, after all, a stoic warrior of historic proportions. As she watched Xena she was totally unaware of the effect even a glance the warrior's way was having and assumed it was the gradual deterioration of the tavern rabble surrounding them that was causing Xena to seem tense and irritable.

The warrior watched from hooded eyes as the boy...for that was all he was...crept closer, all but drooling over her friend. 'Her friend. Now that was a laugh!', Xena thought bitterly. 'If I could only articulate my feelings for the woman...' She sighed and swallowed more of her ale.

She'd had to be very skilled as an orator, rousing the blood of thousands upon thousands of warriors over her period as Destroyer of Nations. Whenever she thought of those days she found herself back on the battle field; her lust running rampant and unchecked. No, recalling those images would only torment her dreams and perhaps loose the monster within her once more. 'And that, she mused, is something to be avoided at all costs'. She had developed the skills needed to inhibit her lusty appetites for all things in life, curtailing her raw debauchery and holding it in check.

Learning to minimize her replies, harnessing her wanton spirit and desire for knowledge had been the more difficult feat. But she had managed it. It made her smile inwardly to hear Gabrielle refer to her as a stoic warrior. If she only knew. As much as she tried to deny her carnal feelings towards Gabrielle, she could feel her ardor rising. As the liquor began to slightly dull her senses, Xena set her shoulders and decided that tonight...tonight was the night that she'd explore those feelings. 'Would Gabrielle be receptive?'

And with that last thought, the warrior pushed herself away from her chair and draining the tankard, slamming it down on the table. The sound reverberated throughout the place, causing all idle chatter to slowly grind to a halt.

"Gabrielle. You're done. It's late, let us not tar.....", Xena arched an eyebrow at the stunned look on the bard's contenance. And then, after clearing her throat, continued, "Bed. You. Me. Now. Upstairs."

She ignored the tittering around her and quietly replaced her dagger into its customary spot between her breasts. The last thing she expected was an argument. However, that is precisely what she got.

Gabrielle smiled sweetly at her intended escort and then drew Xena to the side.

"Xena, I'm not finished with my story. Besides, it's not that late and I'm not in the least bit tired or sleepy. And, well, I have plans for later on." She glanced over at the young man and then darted a quick look at her friend, trying to gauge the reaction. Would she clam up and just walk away, shutting her and everyone else out? Or would she...well, she swallowed quickly, her heart beating wildly; the other thought, that of an lustful warrior merely throwing her over one strong shoulder was just too vivid.

Gabrielle's reverie dissipated and she knew her face was beet red. Would it betray her true feelings? She was certain that her feelings for the warrior were unmistakable and yet, it seemed as if the object of her desire was oblivious. She turned her back and tried to get her emotions under control.

"Xena, I..."

With at least half a keg of spirits coursing through her veins the warrior's ability to make lucid decisions was becoming somewhat impaired. The concept of wanting and getting became blurred and all the warrior could think of was following her heart and ignoring her head. And so, without further ado, she pushed aside the young lad in waiting and pulled the bard into a fireman's carry. Gabrielle felt a thrill run through her. 'That look in Xena's eye - perhaps it wasn't too much to hope that tonight, maybe...' Any thoughts of the young man flew out of her head as she felt the warrior's muscular shoulders move against her.

Having one's fantasy come true is a wondrous thing, but in front of a crowded tavern? Xena placed a sharp smack upon the bard's behind as the woman began to struggle. Gabrielle's strangled cry brought a smirk to the warrior's lips. "Behave yourself, bard!"

"Eeeep! Xena! Stop....put me down...what...where are we...Xena!!" Seeing that her actions weren't bringing the desire effect, Gabrielle sighed heavily and propped herself on top of the warrior's shoulders with both elbows and watched with embarrassment as the crowd was reduced to snickers and behavior which verged on bedlam. Arching her eyebrows, Gabrielle wondered if the crowd had been intuitive enough to see into her heart, her desire for Xena plainly written in her eyes.

Xena got to the top of the stairs and then turned to the crowd. "Barkeep! Room key. Now!" That was cause for further bawdy comments and the warrior looked on coldly. "Hey, warrior! You gonna save some of that for the rest of us?" Xena clenched her teeth and wondered just how upset the bard would be if she went down and simply tore the man's tongue from his gullet. Seeing the look upon the warrior's face, it wasn't very long before a set of keys were tossed up. Setting her jaw she said, "Show some respect. If not for the young woman then for yourselves." And with that, she turned on her heel and marched down the hallway. The sound of ribald jokes and unkind laughter followed the warrior as she made her way towards their room. Xena growled with frustration and mumbled a few oaths under her breath before she finally got the door opened.

She kicked the door closed and then deposited the bard upon the pallet. Xena walked with slow measured steps over to the side table and began to wash up. When she turned and began to unbuckle her armour and gauntlets, Gabrielle's eyes grew to the size of saucers and she began to fidget with the hem of her skirt. The look in the warrior's eyes told her everything. 'Was the port making Xena so bold or does she really want to be with me?'

She watched the Warrior Princess blink slowly, her tongue inspecting every crevice and peak of her back molars.

"Um, Xena? Are, mad at me for some reason? I mean, I really wasn't going to...well, that man was very nice and..." She quickly shut her mouth as the warrior held up her hand cavalierly.

"Gabrielle, don't lie to me. I know the way you were looking at him. You knew precisely what you were doing", she said, waving her arm about. All evening long, you've endeavoured to sow lavish thoughts of desire and passion in that....boy. Don't refute it."

Gabrielle slowly blinked and wondered to herself, 'Alright, who are you and what have you done with Xena?' She frowned, mentally scratching her head, trying to figure out just how her stoic monosyllabic warrior could be so articulate.

Setting her weapons aside and dropping her armour carelessly on the floor, Xena approached the bed and looked down at the woman who unknowingly held her very heart and soul in her hands. She blinked slowly and then took a deep breath...

"I yearn to have your body close to me.

My blood catches fire when you but touch my skin.

I crave the feeling of your lips once more whispering across my own.

The beat of my heart increases alarmingly

and I find myself lost in a sea of my desire."

The bard's eyes widened as she recognized a bit of prose she'd made up months ago. It shouldn't have surprised her that Xena had been listening but she found it quite amazing to hear it recited with such beauty and clarity. "Sometimes I'm not sure you're even aware of my ramblings, Xena..." The warrior put a finger to the bard's lips and smiled, "I hear everything you say, Gabrielle. Your voice is like music to my ears. Even when you go on about me in your stories", she said with a crooked smile. Gabrielle smiled bashfully, knowing her heroic epics really did make Xena feel uncomfortable. She felt her chin cupped and then looked into the bluest eyes she'd ever seen. 'I could happily fall into them forever', she thought wistfully.

Gabrielle slowly reached up and took the warriors face in her hands. As her lips touched the soft pliant mouth of the Warrior Princess, she felt an overwhelming sense of coming home. 'Just like when...' A fleeting image of the warrior with her arms around her flooded her mind and she was struck with a feeling of deja vu so strong she had to closer her eyes, willing the vertigo away. 'How could l forget this? How could l not know, with total certainty, that Xena's love was as pure as my own?' Her thoughts flowed like quicksilver as she sought to remember the naive woman she'd been over a year ago. So sure of herself, so brazen in her method of dealings with the world. That woman had been partially aware yet unable to accept the gift of love the warrior had bestowed upon her that brief moment when they opened their hearts to each other on the dreamscape.

Xena moaned into the bard's parting lips and her passion grew and she felt Gabrielle's questing tongue slide along her own. In their zeal to disrobe each other, both women were reduced to the sounds of gnashing teeth and frustrated cries of untold passion. Xena's fingers fumbled with the laces of the bard's vest, not giving into the overwhelming urge to simply rip the article of clothing from her body. Gabrielle pulled at the warrior's shift, managing to pull it up over the woman's head before it became entangled in the warrior's arms. With a growl, Xena flung the vest into the corner, shrugged off her clothing and worked studiously at removing the bard's belt. And then finally, the warrior lowered herself upon the naked body of her soul mate and Gabrielle thought she must surely die from the complete and utter exaltation of it.

"Please tell me you're not drunk, Xena...please.", said the bard in a wavering voice.

"No, Gabrielle...I may be a bit inebriated but I can assure you my head is clear and my love is is like the red, red rose..." and their kisses deepened as hands began delicately mapping the forbidden terrain that had previously been denied them.

"Gods, Xena...I don't know what to do...teach me..." The bard placed her mouth on the warrior's neck and began laying a path of hot kisses. Just as Xena was about to respond, she groaned as the bard's sharp teeth bit into the taut muscles of her shoulder.

Gabrielle felt her lover's strong thigh move deliberately between her legs and spread her thighs with gentle ease.

"Make love to me, Xena..." she growled out between nips to the warrior's hot flesh.

With a roar the warrior pulled away from the woman beneath her and looked down with eyes bright and glistening with sweeping carnality. Gabrielle felt a tremor of fear as she looked into the formidable face of her soon to be lover. There was passion yes, but also unbridled fury as well. She swallowed her fear and closed her eyes tightly, placing her hands on the warrior's upper arms.

"I've wanted this for so long. Don't hold back...anything." She swallowed convulsively and her eyes popped open as she heard a deep chuckle emitting from the warriors throat. It wasn't a reassuring sound; it held a promise of wild abandon and perhaps even untold depths of depravity. Gabrielle shivered in response as she beheld a very tempestuous Warrior Princess.

Wasn't this what she'd secretly wanted, desired and yearned for all these years? Hadn't such thoughts been present as far back as the first time she saw the mysterious warrior? Now that the reality of their passion was before her, the gentle bard from Potedaeia was uncertain and wary.

"Ah, my bard. Alter? When the sun refuses to shine. Falter? When my heart stops to question if this love be true. I shall do neither, my precious, for I know you are the keeper of my flame; the other side of my soul."

Hearing the warrior speak so....poetically...sent shivers up Gabrielle's spine and all of her fears seemed to melt away. She tentatively reached up one hand and began tracing the woman's lower lip. Her heart skipped a beat as Xena's mouth opened and her finger slid inside and was enveloped by the warmth. She could have cried as the desire began to build once more.

As their mouths met again, the bard felt compelled to pull the woman closer, closer still and then groaned aloud as the hard surface of Xena's knee came into contact with her heated center. Tilting her head back, she offered herself once more to the ex-warlord.

Visions of Anokin filled Xena's mind and she was lost in the carnal emotions she'd felt for the girl. It had been an accepted part of the bargain she and Alti had entered into. Sweet Anokin was barely 16 when she gave herself to the wild passions of an untamed Warrior Princess. Their love making had been harsh and impetuous, leaving the girl exhausted and covered with evidence of its wanton fury.

Scenes of strident coupling, cries of pain and the hot tears of Anokin's self hatred seemed to fill the ex-warlord's ears as she witnessed the brutality and insensitivity of the mean-spirited person she used to be. Watching as the girl writhed mindlessly beneath her, Anokin's young body glistening from the light of the fire, Xena felt the lustful flames begin to roar ever higher until they were unleashed once more.

Xena felt the blood boiling in her veins as she contemplated the glowing skin of the woman beneath her. She struggled against just taking her very hard and very fast. There would be nothing to prevent that eventuality, she mused to herself. 'The woman was all but delivering herself up for sacrifice.' And part of her, the warlord, the Conqueror, wanted to do just that: take what she wanted and needed, giving nothing in return.

Xena shuddered as she forced the harsh images away, back into the farthest recesses of her mind. She knew it was the port that was unleashing these cruel reflections of her past. Gaining control of herself once again, she centered herself and felt a sense of harmony slowly wash over her and began to let go of the repugnant emotions that threatened to feast upon her soul once more.

The warrior knew in her heart of hearts, were she to inflict such an unspeakable crime against one who's soul was so pure, so luminous, the result would surely be a mortal wound. For both of them. She couldn't. Then taking a deep breath, Xena closed her eyes and just decelerated everything around her, in her, and simply existed. Drawing upon the inner strength of her very spirit, the warrior brought forth the unperturbed well being that Lao Ma had instilled within her. She ceased to desire; ceased to hate; ceased to have a force of will.

When she opened her eyes she looked upon the face of her love, her heart, her very soul. The rage had gone, her mind was clear, leaving her feeling focused and calm. Xena felt all of her senses alive and every minute detail of the woman beneath her was accentuated in stark relief. She gazed upon the beauty of Gabrielle's skin and saw not the sun wearied texture nor the travel grime but the healthy glow of youth and the light flush of arousal. As her eyes mapped over the terrain of the bard's body, Xena was overcome by emotions. Each inch of delicate flesh brought a catch in her throat; each swell and hollow was like the composition by a great poet. She watched in fascination as the flesh of her lover's aureoles began to pebble before her and she slowly brought her gaze back up into the features of her heart's desire.

Verdant eyes caught the warrior in the snare of their beauty and she was undone. As she gazed lovingly into the very windows of the bard's soul, Xena felt herself surrounded by a sea of tranquillity and her heart skipped a beat. She felt herself embraced by the warm light of total love. Entwined were the crimson and cobalt ribbons of passion and desire and she felt an overwhelming sense of peace; she longed to dwell in their warmth forever.

She broke from her reverie at the touch of a warm but hesitant hand and watched as her love lay open and beckoning. The bard's lower lip quivered with self doubt and perhaps a touch of uneasiness. And all at once the Warrior Princess felt her jaded heart unchained and she bent down, as if it was the first time, and brought her lips a hairs width above the bards'. As their breath interminged, both women felt lightheaded and disoriented and yet somehow complete. That moment, that very instant in time, the gods were humbled and planets in far off galaxies collided, their existence forever unknown.

"I love you, Gabrielle", she said simply. The bard watched as the truth of those words was laid bare in the warrior's sapphire eyes and pondered at the shadows therein, mirrors that had seen far too much horror and malevolence in one person's lifetime. Running the tip of her finger slowly along the chiseled jawline, down the well formed nose and over each high cheek bone, Gabrielle thought herself in the presence of a goddess. Surely the aspect of this magnificent power of nature would put even one such as Aphrodite to shame.

So enraptured had the bard been with the charisma and power of the Warrior Princess that she'd missed the things that she now had ample opportunity to behold. The sun-bronzed skin of her beloved was covered with the faded nicks and scars of long past encounters with brigands and thieves. The full sculpted lips were accentuated with small lines that revealed a penchant for both humour and gaiety; things that were revealed only when they were alone. The bard's eyes began to roam over the strong neck and shoulders of the warrior and then alighted upon the succulent depression of Xena's abundant cleavage. She swallowed and then the tip of her tongue slipped out to wet her somewhat parched lips. "Xena, I want to be with you. I want to make love with you. Tell me how to please you." The ex warlord smiled gently at the bard, finding it quite incongruous that one so clearly learned in the art of lyrical poetry, one so in touch with her emotional well being, should not know that she already had, unequivocally, pleased her already. "The joy that you bring me daily pleases me, Gabrielle. The smile upon your face, the twinkling in your eyes; they please me immensely. The golden red tinge to your hair, the amber flecks l see in your eyes, the rapid pulse at your throat; they all please me, my bard. When I look at you, your heart speaks volumes to me, each one more perfect than the last. I see the total love within your soul, Gabrielle, and I know it is for me. This above all else, pleases me more than any promise of an eternity in Elysium ever could." Gabrielle smiled up at the woman of her dreams and felt, at long last, complete and at peace. It was a feeling she'd longed for since childhood. A feeling she'd searched for all of her life, only to find that it existed right there under her nose.

She'd felt such passion for her friend and had many lustful dreams of just how they might make love. Yet at no time did she ever truly realize that what they might have would be...this. For she knew, without a doubt, the myth regarding one soul separated by the gods, to be true. "I love you, Xena. I always have. I've always wanted...this.. but l never believed that I would fall in love and find my soulmate, all in one person. I mean, I had hopes but.." Xena rubbed the tip of her nose up and down the bridge of Gabrielle's and smiled ruefully, thinking of the time wasted when all either had ever wanted was this special moment in time. "I know and I'm going to make it up to you, I promise. We'll have tonight here at the inn and tomorrow as well, if you like, and then Gabrielle, we'll have the rest of our lives." Gabrielle smiled and then reached up and pressed her lips passionately against Xena's. The warrior felt the heat expand from her lower belly and felt every fibre of her being awaken and take charge. She gave the lead to her young lover, letting the bard kiss and nibble at her lips until she felt the kiss deepen, their ardor rising steadily until both felt their need overpowering them. And then she slipped her tongue between the woman's lips and began a careful exploration of her sweet mouth. The bard moaned as the warrior's questing muscle began to slide along her own and then she shifted her weight, allowing Xena's knee to press against her dampening center once more.

The bard gasped as she felt her earlobe enveloped in Xena's hot mouth. She arched her back as she felt a hand move slow up her torso, finally coming to rest on the bottom swell of her right breast. "Oh gods, Xena", she whimpered, as the woman's hand moved up to cover her breast fully. The warrior began to massage Gabrielle's breast, making its hardening nipple painfully erect. "I have always loved you, Gabrielle..", she purred, punctuating each word with a tender, heated kiss. And then she looked deeply into the eyes of her beloved and asked, "Do you truly want this, Gabrielle?" The bard's lower lip trembled and her smile was like the light of a million stars. And Xena bent her head and began kissing along the woman's neck. As she made her way down to the apex of Gabrielle's breast, her mind was filled with the wonderful scent of the woman she loved. It was the smell of wild flowers, sunshine and the morning dew. As she beheld the bud before her, she slowly slipped her hot tongue along the outside of the aureola and shuddered as a muffled cry was torn from her lover's throat. Gabrielle's eyes closed in ecstasy as she felt her nipple enveloped by the lips and mouth of the Warrior Princess. In all of her reveries the bard had never dared expect such total tenderness and devotion from a woman such as Xena. She had supposed their first time to be raw and uninhibited. She'd expected a wanton and forceful warlord and was, instead, being wooed both with poetic discourse and sensitivity.

All rational thought left the bard as she felt her breast being suckled, licked and nibbled upon. She felt the heat radiate from her very core, covering the warrior's thigh with scented dew. Gabrielle bit her lower lip as she felt Xena move over and repeat the process, lavishing her other breast with the utmost care and devotion. As Xena pulled and suckled upon the breast of her cherished bard, she moved down so that Gabrielle's hips had to widen to accommodate her waist. The bard moaned as Xena released an engorged bud and began trailing her tongue along the taut muscles of her belly. She felt her knees bend and soon the warrior was settled between her legs. Gabrielle's body shook as if from a fever as she watched a radiant smile come over the contenance of her lover.

"Blissful is my heart tonight

And I await your pleasure

l will fill thee with delight

And take thee at my leisure

For my love l give to thee

The depth there is no measure

If thou givest thyself to me

Thy heart I shall but treasure"

Gabrielle looked down into the face of her lover and felt as if her heart would break. She reached out a trembling hand and moved a lock of the warrior's ebony hair from her glittering eyes. "I don't know...what to do, Xena...I want you so much." A light blush covered the cheeks of the bard as the warrior leaned down and exhaled hotly against her center. Gabrielle's heart skipped a beat as a shiver ran up her spine. Her eyelids began to flutter as she realized what Xena meant to do. A soft moan escaped her lips as she felt warm lips place a gentle and loving kiss upon her. Xena ran her fingers through the golden fleece before her, reveling in its softness, its scent. She had wanted this....but never believed it could actually transpire. Only in her most treasured fantasies was this played out. She found it hard not to believe that perhaps this...this beautiful dream...was merely a figment of her fevered imagination. Closing her eyes, Xena felt her euphoria slip...perhaps...And then she felt her cheek stroked, warm hands upon her face. The uncertaintly left her as she breathed deeply, her opened eyes never leaving those of her Gabrielle. "You've saved me.", she whispered, placing another kiss on the woman's inside thigh. And then she ran her tongue closer and closer to the core of the bard's joy and in a matter of seconds reduced the woman to a fervent bundle of nerves.

Gabrielle had never known such elation as when she felt the warrior's attentive mouth upon her. Every inch of her seemed to be bathed in a firey embrace which treatened to completely overwhelm her senses. She groaned, bending her knees, tucking her feet along the sides of her lover and entwining their fingers together on her lower belly. Such an intimate kiss sent bolts of desire coursing through her and it was all she could do to hold on as the flames rose higher. Each time she felt as though her heart could withstand the ecstasy no further, the warrior would choose a different place on her body on which to focus her attention. Xena explored and charted every square inch of the bard's body, each area seeming to have its own well of sensations and Gabrielle reveled in the skill and patience the warrior took in their joint discovery. "Oh, by the gods, Xena....more, don't stop.." Gabrielle watched with fascination, the play of muscles beneath the warriors tan skin; each movement a symphony in and of itself. She ran her hand along the firm flesh of Xena's upper arm and marveled at the strength yet softness of the woman before her. The warrior groaned at the feathery touch, all of her senses alive and focused. The salty taste of Gabrielle's velvety skin was much more palatable than the finest Grecian wine and far more addictive as the woman explored every swell and crevice of Gabrielle's receptive body. Each fold and crease traced by the warrior's tongue seemed to become engorged, waiting for release. "Oh, Gabrielle, so responsive...", groaned out the warrior. "I love you, my bard."

Gabrielle wrapped her arms securely around the warrior as Xena settled herself upon the length of her torso. The bard began thrashing her head from side to side as her breasts were stroked and kissed. Her glistening skin broke out in goose flesh as the moistened area was exposed to the cool air. Small cries filled the air as Xena moved her thigh up to massage Gabrielle's center and the woman's breath came in fast and shallow as her nipple was encompassed in the heat of her lover's mouth. Wave upon wave of emotion began to build in the woman as she felt her slickened thighs ride the hard muscle of her lover's thigh. "Yes....yes.", the bard moaned as Xena's hot breath rustled the fine whisps of hair covering her temple. When Gabrielle felt the warrior's tongue begin to outline the edge of her ear, whispering, "Gabrielle" in just that certain way that made her pulse quicken, she felt herself begin to shudder. Clutching the warrior in a fierce embrace she arched her back and felt her soul take wing as she tumbling into a sea of pure pleasure. When at last she opened her eyes her vision was filled with that of sapphire as the warrior lay beside her, propped up by an elbow. She blinked lazily, a cheshire grin upon her lips and waited until she had her galloping heart under control once more.

"That was...phenomenal, unique, singular, astonishing, sensational, fabulous...I could go on...", she began, in a very languorous voice. She tried to raise her arms in an effort to put actions into words but failed to lift them more than a few inches off the bed. A smirk played upon the ex-warlord's face and she stroked her chin lazily. "I was thinking more along the lines of breath taking, earth shattering, momentous, mind boggling, blissful, uplifting, soul clensing, pleasurable and rewarding." Xena laughed easily as the bard cuffed her nicely muscled belly. "Oh, you!" She snuggled closer to her lover, covering the woman's mouth again and pulled the warrior to lie atop her once more. Wrapping her legs securely about Xena's torso, she began to lay fevered kisses along her well formed neck and strong shoulders.

Xena brought up her two hands and gently cupped her beloved's flushed face.

"Gabrielle", said the warrior as she touched her forehead to that of the bard's. "Please don't feel, my love, that you have to reciprocate right now. Understand, beloved, if I could but hold you in my arms, feeling the play of your muscles beneath your skin as you slumber; watch your breath rise and fall within your breast, making my own shudder in response; caress your image with my eyes until tears fall freely down my countenance at your beauty; it would be enough, my Gabrielle."

Gabrielle stifled a cry and held the woman closer still. The woman wondered just how Xena had been able to hide such compassion not to mention her oratory skills. It had made sense, once the bard reflected upon the ex-warlord's past. Of course she would have been prolific in the skills of a public speaker. She knew the woman was more than capable of being utterly charming when the need arose. Which wasn't, she mused, very often with the life they had chosen to lead. She rather liked this side of Xena.

"Xena, why didn't you know...say anything before...about, well, 'us'? I was certain you knew my feelings. There were times when I all but threw myself at you. What made you decide to take action?" The warrior rolled over and placed her arms behind her head. She was silent for a while and Gabrielle thought the woman was going to shut her out, retreat into what she now thought of as the stoic warrior facade. "I was afraid, Gabrielle. As simple as that. I've felt such love for you, my bard, but no, I didn't recognize anything in your speech or manner. I was truly blind to the love in your eyes. I thought...I might drive you away." She took a deep breath and then turned to look at her lover. "I have such darkness within me, Gabrielle. You have no idea the horrors I've seen, the deaths I've caused. It shames me to think of the butcher I was back then. I was a cold hearted bitch, capable of untold depravity and wholesale slaughter. There was nothing I wouldn't do, no one I wouldn't kill, to obtain the total power that was my destiny. Alti foretold of it and Ares promised it. I sold my soul for it without even a thought or care." She paused to run a tanned hand through her shaggy hair. "I've pretty much resigned myself to an eternity in Tartarus. Not that I deserve anything less. However, I'll try and right as many wrongs as I can before I leave this world. It won't tip the scales; Hades has had my name in his book for a long time. It hurts me deeply that I shall never spend eternity with you or Lyceus when I leave this place."

Gabrielle suddenly rolled over, a hand covering her trembling lips. Xena placed a hand on her shoulder, feeling the anguish coming off her lover in waves. She embraced the woman, turning her so they faced each other and then just let Gabrielle cry. "Shhhh....I know..." Xena rubbed the woman's back with soothing hands, making smaller and smaller circles, feeling her relax just a little more until, finally, the sobbing ceased and the bard fell asleep.

The first rays of dawn came creeping over the horizon and the warrior was still pondering the implications of the previous night. It had been exceedingly selfish of her to have consummated her feelings for Gabrielle. She knew that it was something she had wanted and needed desperately and in light of the confession last night, knew that Gabrielle had wanted it, too. But the ramifications of her actions kept eating at her, denying her respite before the coming of the new day. Dragging a tired hand across her face, she gave herself a mental shake, trying to put things into a more positive perspective. After all, the discovery and realization of the love they felt now bound them closer than ever before.

Could she ever tell the bard just how difficult it had been to hold her lustful thoughts at bay? There had been days when her very soul felt lost and a need to be complete so overwhelming that being unable to act upon it made the warrior feel she was being slowly consumed, bit by bit, leaving nothing behind the stoic mask she always wore. Xena sighed, inhaling the scent of the woman she loved so deeply, her nose being tickled by the gold mane beneath her chin. The warrior marveled at just how perfectly their bodies seemed to fit; every hollow filled, every curve molded against; even their breath seemed to eb and flow in perfect synch. She watched as the light fell across Gabrielle's hair, making the red highlights resemble a radiant halo. The warrior smiled and eased herself from the tangle, tucking the blanket firmly around her lover. She sat at the edge of the bed and tried to get her wild mane into some semblance of order, gave up and settled for realigning her vertebrae instead. Each pop elicited a moan of relief and Xena decided that while sleeping in a comfortable bed was nice it was just too hard on her back. Just as she was getting up she felt a warm hand snake out from beneath the covers and caress her lower back and buttocks.

"Ah, I see you're awake, my Amazon Princess. There are still hours before you need to get up. I'm going for a work out. How about I bring us some breakfast when I return?" Xena shivered as she felt both hands softly caress her lower back and move to her hips. "I have a better idea for a work out than your usual routine, Xena. Let me please you as you did me last night." She began kissing her way up the bronzed, strong back of the Warrior Princess, pausing to nibble upon her ribs and shoulder blades. Straddling Xena's buttocks, she pressed her naked flesh against Xena's heated torso and brought her hands around slowly to feel the weight of the warrior's firm heavy breasts. Xena's skin broke out in gooseflesh and she dropped her chin to her chest.

Gabrielle began running her fingertips up and down the warrior's side and then moved across to the dimples on the woman's buttocks. "Yes, Gabrielle. Right there, touch me there", she whispered. The bard's hands lingered, making obscure patterns across each indent and then softly inspected the delicate flesh at the top of the cleft. Xena's response was immediate; she shuddered and a soft sigh escaped her lips. Gabrielle moved back, placing kisses where her hands had lingered.

The bard felt sanctioned as she watched her lover respond to her touch and moved her hands around to delicately touch the warrior's lean belly and rib cage. Gabrielle began tonguing each dimple and then left a trail of flames as she covered each inch of Xena's back. She heard the warrior draw in a shuddering breath as her hands moved lower, tangling themselves in the soft crinkled curls. Xena pushed herself into a standing position and turned, facing her lover. She cupped the woman's face and leaned in for a very slow passionate kiss. The bard groaned in reply and she basked in the softness of her lover's mouth.

Gabrielle moved her trembling hands over the fiery skin of her lover, gently running her fingertips over each pert nipple. She sighed deeply as the warrior pulled her into a strong embrace, pillowing her face between her magnificent breasts. The bard inhaled the scent of her lover; the essence that of leather and gingiber. She pressed her lips to the woman's cleavage and began working her way across to the outside swell of her right breast. As she kissed and nibbled the warrior's skin, Xena let her head fall forward, her ebony hair falling into her face.

Running her hands along the warrior's side made Xena tremble in anticipation as Gabrielle moved around to cup her buttocks. She kneaded them and then felt her hands covered by the warrior. Gabrielle gazed up into the intensely ardent look upon her lover's face and then sighed as her hands were moved down farther to caress at the back of the warrior's legs. The bard moved so that she was now straddling either side of the warrior's powerful thighs, her feet dangling over the side of the bed. She lay her face against the woman's upper abdomen and continued to lightly play with the sensitive skin at the backs of the warrior's knees. She felt the skin beneath her twitch as Xena moved their hands up to caress her inner thighs. Gabrielle moaned as she felt the evidence of Xena's passion. "Yes, my Gabrielle. You leave me reeling with my desire for you. I come alive with your touch, leaving me weak with need."

"Gods, how I love you, Xena. I feel I've come home, safe within your embrace." She felt embolden to continue her exploration of the skin leading up to the warrior's apex and marveled at the heady scent which seemed to overwhelm her. Xena released the bard's hands and began to massage Gabrielle's breasts, pulling gently at the sensitive peaks.

Pushing the bard onto her back, Xena placed the woman's fingers over her sex and then straddled the woman's lower thighs. She bent in and enveloped a rosey bud with her mouth, her heart filled with joy as she listened to Gabrielle's cries of passion. The smaller woman began probing each fold and protuberance of the warrior's center, finally settling on the area where the moistness seemed to flow. Xena sighed as she felt herself entered. She moved up until she sat astride her lover's waist, massaging the soft mounds of flesh before her. Xena closed her eyes and tried to still her sudden need to run. She'd come this far and by the gods, she'd see it through. Giving her heart hadn't been easy but she needed to give Gabrielle everything...all that she was.

Gabrielle watched as the muscles beneath Xena's torso undulated and her breath quickened. She could see the raw passion and love mingled there in the warrior's eyes. She was letting someone inside, baring her soul. Gabrielle felt Xena tremble, her muscles taut before the warrior finally exhaled, releasing her doubts and fears. "All that I am I give to you, Gabrielle. My strengths, my weaknesses and my pain. Can you love me, truly love me, knowing the monster I was and could be again?" Gabrielle made to remove her hand but was stopped as the warrior encompassed it, thrusting the fingers in deeper. "I want to show you what I like, my bard." A feral look overcame the soft features that Gabrielle had seen during their love making and she bore witness to the transformation from her friend into the warlord she had been. She felt a catch in her throat as she pondered the events that transpired to create the self-disparagement in such a strong and caring person. The bard knew now the capability Xena possessed for total, unconditional love.

"Yes, Xena."

The warrior began to rock back and forth, her breasts taut and nipples erect. She looked down upon her love and continued, "Can you love me knowing that without you I would surely die? Could you accept that your life will be forever changed because of my past and the fact that now, more than ever, you will become a target? Knowing that I would do anything to protect you, to keep you safe, including the sacrifice of anyone around us, including myself? It is not a question taken lightly, Gabrielle." Xena pushed another finger inside and tilted her head back, urging the bard into a moderate rhythm. Gabrielle watched in total fascination, the woman before her, knowing that she was being offered total trust. She doubted even Marcus had been given this opportunity. Before she could answer, the warrior bent down, bringing her lips close to the bard's ear and whispered, "Could you love me knowing that I could have taken what I wanted from you easily had you not offered it up to me? There was a time tonight when the idea of taking someone with only passion, only lust, never giving, filled my mind. There were days, my Gabrielle, when I did just that. And worse." Gabrielle felt a hot tear against her lips and brought both hands up to hold her lover in a fierce embrace. Xena was uncooperative at first, her body stiff and unresponsive. And then the bard kissed her cheek and in a strong voice, said, "Yes, Xena. I could love you, knowing all of that... and worse." And the warrior's shoulders slowly began to weaken and then Xena returned the embrace and just held on as she allowed herself to mourn the life she might have had, those many years ago.

The bard held her lover close as a few hot tears flowed down her neck and onto the sheets beneath them. Except for that, she would never have known that Xena was weeping. Some of the stoic warrior still remained, letting the bard in only so far, unable to completely relinquish control of her emotions.

Xena finally rolled over onto her back and placed a weary arm across her eyes, her body rigid once more. Gabrielle could now recognize the signs of detachment before they descended, cutting off everything and everyone around the warrior. Finally, Gabrielle decided the silence had gone on far too long and came to lie between her lover's legs, her head pillowed on the warrior's breasts. She listened as echoes of hoofbeats thundered within the chest beneath her. "Xena, I know it's hard for you to trust, to give of yourself completely. But I want you to see that I would never betray you...I...l love you.." Her face was lifted and she found herself looking into the burning eyes of a woman who had experienced total betrayal in her life and had survived in spite of it. In fact, the bard knew they should both be grateful for it was out of the burning embers of that betrayal that the person who was and is the Warrior Princess emerged; strong, fearless and capable of denying the gods sovereignty over her very existence. "Oh, my Gabrielle. I know that...just as I would never betray you...ever. I would rather die than to..." Her mouth was then covered by all the warmth and love Gabrielle could bestow in one kiss. As the kiss deepened, the bard could feel the barriers fall away once more and her heart was filled with the conviction that whatever was to befall them, their love would be strong enough.

Slipping her tongue along that of the warrior's elicited such an intense response the bard had to maintain some control and not let it overwhelm her once more. She wanted, needed to make love to Xena; needed to display her devotion in such a way that the warrior would know, in no uncertain terms, her love was true and sacrosanct. Gabrielle felt her hand encompassed once more and marveled at the soft silky feeling as her fingers were bathed in the wild fire that seemed to exude from every pore of her lover. Xena brought her thighs over so that she was straddling the torso before her and placed one of the bard's hands just at the crest of her hip bone. As the soft touches moved over the sensitive nerves Gabrielle felt the warrior twitch and saw the play of passion in Xena's eyes.

"Tell me what this does to you, Xena?" The warrior looked down upon her lover and could see the need for some control to be relinquished. Lao Ma had been most enlightening with regards to the application of pressure points in conjunction with erogenous zones. The Warrior Princess knew intuitively where to inflict the most pain and how to arouse to the point where consciousness was a tenuous thing at best. "That point right there...yes..pressure applied at that point...causes one's tactile become....very hypersensitive....aaaaaaaaahhhhhhh." The bard blinked and then repeated the action once more, watching a slight flush come over her lover's chest and neck. The Warrior Princess seemed to come alive as the bard gently caressed the area again. Moving her fingers deeper, the stroke longer, Gabrielle could see and feel instant results from her labours. Her hand was laved with the droplets of the silkiest dew, the air perfumed with the woman's ardor and her ears filled with the softest moans imaginable.

As she brushed against the warrior's curls, Gabrielle saw that in truth the slightest movement of air across Xena's body was having a profound effect. She watched as the woman's aureoles' pebbled and then hardened to rosy points. The sight was so inviting that the bard licked one of her own fingers and then ran it slowly over the peak, earning a shudder which ran through to her very fingers. Xena's jaw clenched in response to the stimuli, a light sheen of perspiration beading on her upper lip. She felt her body afire with wave after wave of intense pleasure. Her senses felt alive and she was transported. She placed trembling hands over the firm breasts of her lover and could actually feel what it was doing to the young woman. She was awash with the duality of being both the giver and receiver, celebrating in the joys of each. She moved her fingers just to the right of Gabrielle's nipples and pushed firmly, holding the action for a few seconds before moving her hand to cup the breasts once more. The bard's reaction was instantaneous, her hooded eyes gazing back at Xena with lust. "Oh gods, Xena", she gasped. Each woman watched the response their every movement had upon the other but it was Xena's eyes that closed first as an piercing orgasm suddenly undulated through her entire body. Gabrielle was too busy feeling every brush of the warrior's fingers against her nipples, focusing on the movement of her fingers within her lover. "Gab...ri....elle...oohhh." The bard continued to move her fingers ever slightly as the warrior tilted her head back, exposing her neck to the light of the coming day.

The bard watched as the shadows played across her lover's features as the sky turned crimson behind her and was again struck by the beauty of the woman. With all of her senses enhanced, the bard was finding it hard to concentrate on just one thing. The way she was pleasuring Xena was filling her heart with joy; feeling the warrior responding so intensely to her touch fueled her libido; the way her body was tingling because of the pressure points was bringing her to almost total rapture; all of which was extremely overpowering. It taxed the woman's ability to form lucid thought and she was aflame with sensuality.

As Xena felt her muscles begin to contract she bent down and took her lover's mouth, drawing in the slick muscle that lay within. Whether it was the deep kiss, the way that Gabrielle clutched at her or the way their full and sensitive breasts whispered against each other, it mattered not. Xena's jaw began to tremble, her shoulders shook and then a gradually building wave began to overtake her. A low growl began in the back of her throat and she embraced the bard's shoulders in an effort to hold onto anything as her control began to slip away.

The bard felt Xena suddenly grasp her shoulders, burying her face into her neck. She felt her fingers held in a vice like grip, pulsating in a rhythm that seemed to match the pounding of her heart. Xena felt the bard's hand move down to her hip bone, drawing feathery light touches and she began riding the crest of yet another ripple of ecstasy. Arching her back, she threw her head back and all but roared her release. When she was cognizant of her surroundings once more, the warrior lowered herself once more and offered a series of very soft kisses against the temple of her lover.

Gabrielle's breath was coming in gasps, her jaw muscles bunched as she readied herself for the oncoming assault of a very powerful orgasm. She never knew it could be like this, feeling everything she was doing to the warrior and what the warrior in turn was doing to her as well as what the combination of both experiences was doing to her psyche. She began to shake but was unable to reach the next level of her release. It was only when she felt both the warrior's hands encompass her breasts once more, strong thumbs rubbing back and forth over their hard surface did the woman finally feel that her approaching orgasm might indeed arrive, releasing her from an almost tormenting state of bliss.

Xena knew the effect the nerve block would have on the woman and could see just how close the bard truly was. Placing her mouth over the taut muscles of her lover's shoulder, at a certain point just where it meets the neck, she began to suck hard, her teeth gently biting down. Gabrielle felt herself letting go, her hands fluttering in an effort to find purchase, finally clutching the bed linen in her fists as her body spasmed and rocked against the warrior.

Her perceptions changed and Gabrielle found herself observing more than the play of light and shadow as her mind's eye absorbed everything around her, within her. Her emotions were so heightened that she could almost see an aura surrounding their love; its heat melting into her very soul. Her very being felt as if it were expanding, filling every corner of her heart; fixing that which was broken, that which was missing. The connection she'd initially experienced was now being felt tenfold and it was all she could do to stop herself from flying off into nothingness. Xena moved to the side of the panting woman, drawing the bard's back against her. She trailed her fingertips along Gabrielle's shoulder and upper arm, smiling as yet another shudder ran through her frame.

The two women lay nestled like that and just listened as the tavern came to life around them. For Xena, there was no turning back. Whatever doubts and recriminations she'd felt about the consummation of their love, the bright cold clarity of the new day dispelled. She had never felt so connected, so loved, so totally sanctioned before. No one had ever elicited such a feeling of total acceptance; that she, in her entirety, could be loved, desired and cherished, for being who she was and what she was. She leaned in and kissed the woman's bare shoulder and then smiled as Gabrielle rolled over to face her. "You know just how much I love you, Xena. I've never shared that kind of intimacy with anyone before. The touching of souls, the sharing of was unique."

Xena reached over and pressed the swollen purpled area near the bard's neck, rubbing her nose along Gabrielle's check as the woman drew in a shaky breath."I'm sorry, love. I was rather occupied and forgot to release that particular nerve block. It was one of the first ones Lao Ma ever taught me. One of my favorites and very easy to administer. I suppose it has to do with the nerve endings being so close to the surface." Gabrielle looked away and then cleared her throat. "So, you and Lao Ma...were...?" Xena smiled, thinking of the pleasant memories she still kept close to her heart. Lao Ma had been instrumental in showing the barbarian Xena used to be that she could love completely but also that the path to true enlightenment lay in giving that love selflessly and unconditionally. It had been a lesson hard learned and wouldn't truly be felt by the warrior until she looked up and saw a young woman trying to stop some slavers outside a small town called Potedaeia.


"Yes, my love. She was a mentor and lover and a very dear friend. She resurrected my soul, Gabrielle." The warrior paused, seeing a pensive look come across the bard's gentle countenance. "And I've given it to you. Unconditionally. My love for Lao Ma was deep and pure but she was not, could never be, the love of my life, the other part of my soul. She allowed me to look inside myself...and find you."

Gabrielle blinked a few tears away and gently cupped her lover's face. Would she ever get used to having such words of love spoken in such a fashion? She was Xena: Warrior Princess, yes, but now she was so much more. "You are my mentor, lover and my dear friend, Xena." The warrior kissed the full lips before her, murmuring, "You have given me your heart, my love, and I shall give you the world." The bard smiled gently, "Xena, are you going to talk like this to me from now on? I mean, I'm not complaining, really. It's just, well, rather daunting, you know? I'd like to think I have some talent in the ways of a bard, but in comparison to your verbosity,'s rather...daunting."

Xena touched a fingertip to the woman's nose. "Yes, you did say that. Twice. No, Gabrielle, I won't be talking like that to you all the time. Just when the mood strikes me...and we're alone. After all, I have a reputation to uphold. As do you. Never doubt your talents, my love. You have such joy and compassion within cannot help but translate into your words." The bard blushed endearingly and watched as Xena got up and began to wash. She wondered if she'd ever get tired of seeing such poetry in motion. Would there be a time when this would be all too commonplace? She hoped that day would never come.

Finally dressed, the warrior bent over and kissed her lover and said, "Be right back.", and was gone. Gabrielle found herself whistling as she used the cloth to give herself a light wash. A growl interrupted her morning ablutions and she fervently hoped Xena had gone to get breakfast. She was just finishing up when there was a tap at the door and the warrior poked her head in. "You just about ready?" The bard nodded and smiled as Xena came up behind her and folded her into a hearty embrace, nuzzling her neck. "I love you, Gabrielle", she whispered. The bard turned, her laces finally done up, and replied with a very passionate kiss.

As the two women sauntered down the steps, they were met by a few rabble-rousers who hadn't had enough excitement the night before and decided, foolishly, that their luck just might change. Placing the saddle bags on the stairs, Xena watched her lover drop into a defensive position, staff at the ready. She removed her sword and placed it with the other articles. Xena arched an eyebrow as one of the men approached her rubbing his hands together, a smirk playing on his lips. Glancing sideways to see that Gabrielle was prepared, she smiled toothily. "You don't wanna do this, trust me. I didn't get much sleep last night and I'm in no mood for any of your crap." The man smirked, "You didn't get any sleep? Ha! Somebody was doin an awful lotta screamin last night. We want some, too."

Gabrielle hid her face in her hands. "By the gods, Xena!", she whispered, "I know you said I was loud, but you never said I screamed." She removed her hands and gave the disheveled man an evil look as he chuckled lewdly. She looked over at warrior and saw amusement. "Like a pair of crazed weasels, they were," the thug said lecherously to his partner. "Although, I can't say I ever heard a woman scream like that before." Feeling rather bold and frisky, the bard smirked at a sudden image of anyone being with this man. As snort escaped her lips as Gabrielle poked the ruffian in the stomach with the end of her staff. "Why am I not surprised?" Wiping a dirty hand over his crotch, the second thug quipped, "We've heard tell she's the Warrior Princess: she's got many skills. We just wanna see some of em." He leered suggestively at the bard and then turned to face Xena. "Aw, c'mon. I won't take long, I swear it", he said with a leer.

"Oh, don't worry, neither will I." Xena grabbed the man by his left wrist and pulled him forward and off balance. As he leaned back, trying to right himself, the warrior kicked the feet out from beneath him. She moved her boot until it rested upon his right knee and began to add pressure. The man gasped and looked frantically over at his friend for rescue. Xena smirked as she watched the man in question being hit about the head and shoulders, finally going down before the onslaught of a very pleased looking bard. Gabrielle poked the man once in his solar plexus and nodded satisfactorily as his eyes rolled back into his head and he slumped, unconscious, to the floor. "I enjoyed that."

She made her way past the man's crumpled form and stood by the Warrior Princess. Standing very close, Gabrielle watched the twinkling of her lover's eyes. "Ah", Xena smiled mischievously, "I do so love the fragrance of a warrior's perspiration in the morning", Xena drawled, lifting her sword arm and inhaling deeply. "Shall we dispatch the varlet or be on our way?" Xena waggled both eyebrows and smirked, "I do have other plans." Gabrielle watched as a cold look came over the warrior's face, a snarl upon her lips...Then she winked at the bard and Gabrielle fought back the urge to release a full blown guffaw. Xena watched as her lover began to lose her battle with mirth, the bard's sides shaking as she turned and covered her mouth.

Meanwhile, the reclining 'varlet' had been listening to the warrior as she began to speak in what appeared to be a foreign language. He did understand the gist of what she was saying and decided that retreat was an option he wished to explore. "Um, I could just, you know, say sorry and leave?", he tried, a tentative smile on his lips. Xena smirked once more and removed her boot. "G'wan! No leg busting today; you caught me in a good mood." Holding her hand out for Gabrielle, the warrior stepped over the man and the two walked to the tavern's entrance. He sat up rubbing his knee. "Say", he said to the retreating blonde, "you don't talk much." Gabrielle smiled sweetly, fluttering her eyelashes. "No actually, I'm the stoic monosyllabic one with the good set of lungs." He scratched his chin, wondering why both women were doubled over in what looked to be pain. He quirked an eyebrow at his 'sleeping' friend, deciding that whatever the monowhatever sounded like it was catchy and he for one was going to have his yearly bath a bit early.

Xena let go of her lover's hand and threw the saddle bag over her shoulder as they made their way towards the stables. It was going to be hard to hide her feelings now but she'd worry about it at a later date. Right at that particular moment she had plans. After kicking the door open, she took a quick look around and then pulled the bard into her arms, kissing her deeply. They finally broke away from each other, both more than a little breathless. Gabrielle tore her hands away from the front of Xena's brass armour, knowing if she wasn't careful, they would never get on the road to Athens. She shook her head sweetly and waved her finger at the warrior.

"No, no, no....we'd best not commence upon an avenue which cannot reach fruition, my stoic warrior", purred the blonde regally. Xena merely grunted and began grinning in such a way as to leave the bard little doubt as to her intentions. Wiggling her fingers quickly, the warrior smirked, "C'mere....."

"But Xena", the bard tried patiently, "what know? I don't want to be found in various stages of undress by the stable boy. Besides, I might scream again." Xena turned and placed the bolt across the door. "Now, where were we, my verbose lamenting little wild meager diminutive morsel?" She began unbuckling her armour once more, a glint in her suddenly very dusky blue eyes. The bard began to rapidly retreat. She knew it was for naught, yet Gabrielle was determined it would be a merry chase.

The bard tried not to giggle, but at no time in her life did she ever expect Xena: Warrior Princess to actually play with words. She was so busy getting used to this other other side of Xena that she would later swear it was a two and a half gainer the woman performed as she vaulted the small paddock, landing squarely in front of her as she attempted to slip behind a few bails of hay. "Eeeep!", she shrieked, watching a feral look come over her lover as she unhooked the last of her armour. "Xena?"

Argo snorted nearby, dismissing the antics of both women and continued to concentrate of the feedbag before her. Her tail swished with annoyance. Xena began leaving a trail of clothing and was soon resplendent in the outfit she was born in. Gabrielle's plans of a merry chase ended abruptly and she sighed, "You know, I have many skills, too. I wonder how good your lung capacity is, oh great Warrior Princess." Then she began to unlace her short bodice.

"Not that I care particularly at this moment, but please tell me: the amount of port isn't still coursing through your veins from last night, making you act this way; and you paid the innkeeper extra for the use of his barn, right?" The warrior grinned crookedly and advanced upon the hesitant bard. Xena chuckled and drew the woman to her. As she helped Gabrielle rid herself of the upper garment, the warrior took a step backwards, mouth agape. "What? What's wrong?", the blonde asked, moving her hands lightly over her own frame. Xena smiled gently, "Nothing. As a matter of fact, everything is terribly right. It's just,'re beautiful. I've never seen you like this; fully aroused in the daylight hours. The way the light streams through the slats, the rays of light playing across your breasts..." She closed her eyes briefly and then began,

The rosy flush upon her breasts

doth truly signify

The height in which her rapture rests

Her essence can't deny

The fervent teat no more bereft

Elicits her reply

A dainty kiss upon her cleft

Brings forth her heart felt cry

And I watch with joy and wonder

Desire plays o'er her form

As she rends my soul asunder

My hand within kept warm

When, at last, she lies so sweetly

Within mine arms to rest

Our ardence now spent completely

Enact what love doth best

Gabrielle worked the last of her belt free, letting the skirt fall to the floor of the barn. "By the gods, do you remember all of those poems? I remember a few that really touched something within me but you seem to have a fount of them at your fingertips. Who was that by?" The bard stepped out of her breeches and then stood with hands on hips. "And I don't think there's such a word as 'ardence', Xena. I've never heard of it." Xena bent to the saddlebags and took out a blanket, spreading it in an area bathed in soft light wafting down from the open loft. She sat down cross legged and then reached up a hand for the bard. They sat facing each other, Gabrielle pushing an errant hair out of her face. It was these small affectations where Xena could once more see the young girl who had slowly insinuated herself into the harsh life they now lead. She reached out and touched her finger to the bard's lips. "Ardor, ardent, ardently. It stands to reason there would be ardence; the act of being ardent." She looked off towards Argo and tried hard to think of a way to change the subject at hand.

"Well, I don't know, Xena. I suppose that does make sense. So. Who wrote that poem you just quoted? It was very nice but a little ribald, don't you think?" She stopped as she saw a slight look come to her lover's face. "You wrote that, didn't you? Oh, Xena! I'm sorry....I didn't mean to sound as if I hated it. I didn't. It was very well done..I.." Once more the warrior placed a finger to the bard's lips. "It's alright, Gabrielle. You see, I do find words so comforting. I have to do something with my free time. After all, it really isn't very easy to remain so stoic and monosyllabic without falling asleep from total boredom. There have been times when I was sure to have fallen off Argo had I not pinched myself black and blue, trying to stay awake."

Gabrielle captured the woman's hands within her own and brought them to her mouth, laying small kisses along each digit, working up to Xena's wrist where she began to nibble. The warrior grinned crookedly, her jaw askew. "Mind you, there are certain things in my favour when I fall back upon my facade. I can glean all sorts of information by just...listening. For example, I know you're worried about reaching Athens, concerned about our future together and wondering whether we are ever going to get around to making love. Yes, sanctified and a certainty. You see? Monosyllabic stoicism is sometimes best."

The bard grinned, putting her hand against her lover's cleavage. ""

Argo stomped a few times, huffing and puffing in her stall. She perked her ears as she heard a throaty chuckle. "Shall I make you scream, Xena? I'll bet I can make you roar again like you did last night. Or was that this morning?" The bard rubbed her chin in thought. Xena leaned in and kissed the woman's pert nose. "Well, my ardent bard, you can try."

Soon there were other sounds that filled the air and the horse swished her tail contentedly.

Things were as they should be.


The End

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