by: de Bonheur

DISCLAIMER: The characters of Xena and Gabrielle belong to MCA/Universal, and are used
without intent for commercial profits. Author's copyright does not extend to said characters.
This is a work of fan fiction. NOTICE: The author retains all rights automatically attached to the creation of this work. AUTHOR'S NOTE: I know I should be working on THE SECRETS OF THE HOARY DEEP, but The Bard, nostalgic that she is (since it's raining cats and dogs by Chateau Mondestin), is holding my muses hostage until I tell this story... <wink&grin> Anyway, it fits right into the flashback time line of TSOTHD, i.e. picks up where AND FAIR TRUTH left off. WARNING: This is alternative fan fiction, contains absolutely unadulterated adult content (and mush) and may be offensive to some readers. Please use discretion. _____________________________________________________________________________

Strolling along the shores of the Thracian sea, the Warrior Princess smiled as she squinted against the sunlight at the slim form ahead. She had fallen behind subconsciously, tracing the set of small footprints, following, imprinting her larger ones over them before the lapping waves could restore the smooth surface of fine, wet sand. The warm breeze in her hair, caressing moisture from her skin, reminded Xena that Summer Solstice was only a few days ago, and that they and the Amazons had celebrated it with the first sea bath.

*Amazons...* She brushed her dark locks away from her face, and continued with her aimless mental meanderings. *It seems so long ago...* the warrior mused, *Yet like only yesterday sometimes...* ejecting the cherry pit she had been sucking on into the water. Gabrielle had decided last night that she wanted a break from her studies and her subjects, and that this was to be their day alone. As a start, the pair spent the morning swimming, frolicking in the ocean, and picnicking on freshly picked cherries and apricots, and sweet treats made from newly gathered honey... Though she could still taste in her mouth another sort of sweetness...

Looking again at the fair bard, her lips curled up involuntarily, and the raven-haired woman softly sighed. *Innkeeper's daughter... Destroyer of Nations... reformed warlord... warrior... consort to the Amazon Queen,* her mind still had trouble wrapping around the last idea, still trying to get used to it. *Gods,* she shook her head, and fought the urge to sprint forward, to envelope her partner in a fierce embrace.

She and Gabrielle had been joined for less than a season... At first, the two were going to go visit their families after the ceremony. But then they had decided to stay with the Amazons for a little while longer, and wait for the treaty negotiation sessions to begin. Ephiny thought this would be a good time for the bard to learn more about ruling her people, as the end to their wanderings across the known world approached, and the warriors expected their queen to assume her reign. Watching her partner getting frustrated over ancient and often antiquated rules and rituals aside, Xena had been happy. She couldn't think of a time when she had felt as relaxed, or as contented. And she even began to notice the beauty of little things like blooming blossoms, butterflies chasing after the wind, and bird songs...

*But they'll never compare to how she glows under the sunlight,* the warrior smiled appreciatively. *Or moonlight,* she appended, and drank in the vision of her beloved's firm, compact body, her bared shoulders and back, and her blond tresses still moist from their earlier swim. And her heart raced to the sight of slightly rounded buttocks swaying underneath the blue-green cloth that the bard had on as a wrapped skirt... A present from Eponin, like the one wrapped about her own hips. *Funny how the Amazons have been giving us things that match.* Her brows creased slightly as she recalled all the gifts they had received, *Good thing we can leave the stuff here now, don't think Argo would be amused otherwise.*

Her grin widened as her thoughts took a fluid turn, and she recalled the reason they would be coming back here more often, if not staying permanently soon... *Like you could stop thinking about why,* Xena rolled her eyes at herself, her musing focused once again on their joining gift from Artemis... And she imagined the soft, added curve on her mate's otherwise flat stomach, *Gods, my bard...* and subconsciously lengthening her steps, her body needing to close the distance between them.

The changes in the bard's figure had been subtle... In fact, nobody had noticed them yet, not even Gabrielle herself, at least not until her partner pointed them out to her. And the warrior remembered clearly how furiously her lover blushed, as she explained, demonstrating with her mouth and hands, the variety of ways she was able to tell the differences...

*Stop it!* Her recollection halted on command. *Last thing she needs is to be tackled into the sand...* She growled mentally, *Barbarian!*

*Interesting though...* At first, when the original euphoria passed, the Warrior Princess was a little scared, afraid of the idea of settling down, although the concern of staying in one place was minor when compared to her other fears. But despite all that, she was excited, *Home...* Indeed, the warrior was surprised how much she looked forward to it. *Family...* And she really liked the sound of that.

And her smile turned tender as she began to think about the strange cravings her partner had begun to have, *Amazing...* It swiftly became mischievous, then a chuckle escaped her lips, *Thank the gods I have a strong stomach...* It was fun for Xena to watch Ephiny and Solari turning different shades of green at some of the items on their queen's menu. *And the cook...* She almost laughed out loud at the looks the poor woman had been giving her sovereign. *Bet Cyrene would enjoy every moment of this...*

*Oh, gods...* the warrior's demeanor lost some of its gleefulness as she mulled over the innkeeper's promise of throwing them a joining party; Xena was not looking forward to that. And she was almost afraid of the fuss Cyrene would make over their news. *Her family, too... especially Lila,* the warrior cringed as she envisioned their upcoming visit to Poteidaia.

Taking a deep breath, Xena steered her musing back to its original track. And smiled again as she speculated how much her mother would enjoy meeting the challenge of Gabrielle's appetite, and how much she would love indulging the blonde. And the crooked grin expanded as the Warrior Princess recalled her partner's protests over getting spoiled rotten by her, *Just can't help it, my bard.*

Somehow, Gabrielle chose that moment to turn and walk towards her, and her heart thudded at the brilliant smile. *If I weren't already head-over-heels in love...* Xena was certain she would be that instant.

"Whatcha thinking about?" The bard asked, as she approached, "I like seeing you so happy." She pressed up to kiss her warrior on the cheek.

"Oh, just someone I know," she shrugged casually and ruffled her partner's still damp bangs. "Don't you have enough of these already?" A dark brow went up as the fair blonde dumped a large handful of sea shells she gathered into the shoulder bag Xena was carrying.

"For now, yes," she responded, while rifling through her prize, "You think Argo would like a shell necklace, too?"

"Why don't you ask her," the warrior answered absently. *Whoa... Are you crazy?!* Her mind screamed at the sudden image of her war horse with a string of shells around her neck. Then, looking at the beautiful woman who was the source of her distraction, her best friend, her mate, she drank in the mild look of surprise and amusement and her impish grin. She surrendered, *Yeah, crazy in love...* and gathered the bard in her arms in a slow, sensuous kiss.

Gabrielle fell into the embrace immediately, and returned the kiss in equal fervour. Her tongue twining with her warrior's, stroking, as she reached around her partner's neck, pulling her closer, extending their connection.

Wanting more, she licked down her lover's throat, sucked at the sensitive spot by her neck, then back to willing mouth, devouring, tasting lips still sweet from fruit juices, and slightly salty from the sea. Revelling in the sensation of smooth, warm body pressed against hers, she reached back to cup firm buttocks, eliciting a soft whimper of desire, which Xena greedily swallowed. Without breaking from their kiss, she lifted her partner; and both moaned as their bodies glide against each other, belly to belly, breasts to breasts, until strong legs wrapped around her hips.

"Gods," the warrior gasped, "So wet," when she felt moist heat pressed against her flesh, making her weak with hunger for her bard. One arm supporting Gabrielle, her free hand ran boldly along slim body, over full breasts, teasing sensitive nipples which had darkened to a rosy hue, pulling on them gently.

"Xe..." she purred, between kisses, tongues flicking, teeth nibbling gently lower lips, clinging to her partner, arching to the onslaught of her fiery touch.

And dark clouds gathered without the pair's notice, and the lovers gained awareness of the sudden storm only when raindrops began to heavily pelt. Within moments, their skirts were soaked, and their hair, thoroughly wetted.

Reluctantly, Xena tore her mouth away from the bard's, "We should head back," she suggested. Still, unable to resist, she went back and licked away glistening droplets by her lover's lips, and was promptly captured in another deep, searching kiss. If Gabrielle had heard her suggestion, she showed no signs of heeding it. And the warrior's heart and body followed, willing and yearning to go wherever their love and her bard take them. Her prudent mind was about to protest, but was silenced by her mate's feverish assault.

"Gabrielle..." She gathered enough wits to try again.

"Rain..." The bard breathed her reply between kisses, "Swim..." moist tongue swirled around her earlobe, pulling in, "Wet", teeth nibbling gently, "... Same difference." Hot mouth upon hers again, probing, tantalising.

*Oh, Hades!* All her rational thoughts chased away, "Can't argue... with that!" She gasped, when she felt knots untied. And her wrap skirt fell away, joined by Gabrielle's almost immediately.

And Xena was caught off guard when her partner grabbed the bag off her shoulder, hand pressing against her chest as leverage, and jumped off her embrace onto the beach. Momentarily stunned, blue eyes blinked widely at the figure of one small naked bard racing towards the crashing waves.

"Give me that bag!" She picked up their discarded coverings and went after her mate.

"You won't let me carry it," Gabrielle turned back and taunted, still running, "So if you want it, you gotta catch me first!"

It shouldn't have been that difficult for the Warrior Princess to catch up. But she was completely distracted by the enticing vision of her lover splashing in the water, kicking up sand and sea foams... Powerful muscles rippling through her defined thighs and backside as she sprinted along the shore, slightly obscured by the rain... Her blond tresses fluttering in the wind like the flame, stirring...

*This is a very bad idea,* she chastened herself and shook her head cleared of impulsive thoughts, *Should have listened to reason...* "Hey, come back here," she called to her partner, while picking up her steps. And Xena was surprised when Gabrielle actually stopped.

Unexpectedly, the bard turned, and flung the satchel at her, "Catch!"

The warrior reached up and snatched the pouch from the air, relieved that the contents stayed in. Then, she noticed her mate holding something in her hand. "What's that?" She asked, curious, reaching at the same time for the statue-looking item.

"A surprise," the blonde replied, grinning, and keeping it away from her grasp.

"You know how much I like surprises..." The dark woman rested her free hand on her hips, and mock scowled, "Let's see..."

"You look so cute when you do that," her partner teased, as she unfolded a familiar assemblage of thin leather straps.

"What are you doing?" Xena choked, as she watched her lover finishing buckling the toy about her trim waist.

"What do you think I'm doing?" Gabrielle purred seductively, as she pressed up to her lover, insinuating her fingers into damp dark curls, and smiled with satisfaction when she drew a shuddering gasp from the warrior.

"Planned this?" She whispered hoarsely as the bard pulled her head down.

"Well, not the rain," Gabrielle mumbled against her lips, covering them with a series of sucking kisses. Her lover shivered to her warm breath against chilled skin.

"What about your Amazons?" Xena managed.

"Yours, too," she broke off their kisses, licking up the raindrops gliding down her partner's chin, "What about them?"

"What if they..." long fingers tangled themselves in wet blond hair as hungry mouths met in a deep, open kiss. "Come..." and she ran her tongue along the inside of her mate's bottom lip. "Looking..." nibbling on the tender flesh, and gasped, "For us?" as they eased onto the rain and tide soaked sand.

Looking down to grey blue eyes that reflected the sky above and blended with the horizon, "They wouldn't..." Gabrielle grinned wickedly, "...dare" and drawled, as her warrior's body arched involuntarily to her caress. Her green eyes darkened with hunger as they followed the steady rain running rivulets down peaks and valleys and plains.

Unable to hold back any longer, she fell into her love, and curled her tongue sensuously around a puckered nipple, tasting salty ocean mingling with the wild spice of her lover's perfume. Her hand played over her partner's body, her flesh heated against her skin, in stark contrast to the collapsing waves and the pelting rain.

Suddenly craving warmth and contact, the bard stretched herself out over her warrior's muscular body, feeling protected by its strength and sheer power, yet at the same time intoxicated by her shapely curves and swells.

Drawing her lover's firm flesh into her mouth, sucking hungrily, she ran her palms down her beloved's torso, along her sides... Reaching down, Gabrielle stroked the inside of her partner's thighs, tantalising, watching her eyelids flutter close in rapture.

"Yes," she exclaimed softly in delight, as Xena shivered to her touch. She continued with her light torturous caresses, moving her pelvis against her lover's wetness until she was teasing her entrance, until they're almost joined.

"Please..." Her partner pleaded, bending forward for a kiss, pulling the bard close as she fell back against the sand.

Rain struck her full in the face, but she didn't care. Excited, pulled by the heat, she wanted her now, here, this instant. Her skin tingled with a pleasurable sensation as she took a long breath, then pushed forward, "Yesss!" as she pressed completely within.

And a moan of pleasure escaped her lips as she watched the tense, beautiful body of her partner writhing to her touch... Pulling her close, tightly. Imagining herself in the slick, slippery heat of her lover... Moving inside, deep, filling...

Their bodies snug, melding together, as she grasped her warrior's hips with both hands and began thrusting with powerful strokes... A little rough. Deep. Taking, claiming, filling, needing, staying close, pleasuring, gaining speed, moving in a frenzy storm... Together.

She latched onto her lover's nipple, her cheek rubbed against the slick, firm globes of Xena's breasts, vaguely aware of the warrior's large hands on her back and buttocks, guiding her in, pressing her tight. Was it just her imagination, or was the rain falling harder suddenly? Gabrielle wondered, as she heard a loud beating in synch with the mad throbbing of her own heart, the pumping of blood in her veins...

Remembering the first time she took her lover like this, tasting her surrender... Their bodies arching, hands twining, moving together. One rhythm. Knowing that moment they each had the other's heart, body and soul. Totally. Completely. Irrevocably.

"Yes... please..." Her partner squirmed against her, her deep voice strained, gasping for air, "Gabrielle..."

"Yeah?" She could hardly catch her breath herself, "Like this?"

"Yes!" She growled, "Gabri...elle!"

Somehow managing a chuckle as sweat poured down her face, "Love you" the blonde breathed, as hips pushed up to meet hers.

"Gods..." Xena hugged her close in reflex, "You, too" her words coming out in pieces, "Don't ever stop... Oh, gods!"

*Never...* She promised, closing her eyes. Half leaning her face against the warrior's breasts, she only heard sounds of the rain hitting the sand and rocks... Waves gurgling as they crashed onto the shore and sizzled against their body... The world around her... Her world. Contained by the strong arms holding her, legs pulling her in, and moans and passionate calls of her name...

"I need," the warrior breathed, "... to taste you," as her lover withdrew, before her lips were captured in a searing, strangely calming kiss, and revelled in their deep, unsunderable connection...

Before pulling Gabrielle up to straddle her face, her powerful hands holding onto her hips, squeezing her buttocks, moulding... Heated palms caressing her thighs and legs, up along her body... Smiling when they lingered about her waist and belly, "Love you," she mouthed, watching the bard blushed in response with infinite tenderness.

And grinned widely when small palms reached up to press against her hands as they massaged sensitive, slightly swollen breasts... As her breathing quickened, her body flushed, pulsing with desire, sighing of pleasure.

Intently aware when a warm hand left hers, her stormy blue eyes raging with passion as she stared at how it played over taut abdomen, along smooth curves of raw energy, and down... Lacing the slim fingers with her own before they could snake within honey-blond curls... Blowing softly, ruffling the fine hair, as her grin turned feral at her lover's husky moan of frustration.

Normally, Xena loved to watch her partner touching and pleasuring herself... To hear her bard cry out softly her name, gasping... Her chest heaving as light lashes fluttered in desire as she tried to keep herself open for her mate... Just so her warrior could see even the slightest shiver. Just so she could delve in and hungrily lap up sweet glistening nectar when she wanted... Just as she wanted...

But not now...

Inhaling the scent pungent with the smell of the ocean and her lover's arousal, she paused briefly to watch the warm waves breaking against her lover's body, blending with the raindrops from above. She then sighed and closes her eyes happily, yielding, usurping at once the sensation of cool water encircling and flowing between her bard's thighs.

"Oh, gods," Gabrielle gasped with expectation when strong rough hands seized her hips and pressed downwards... And nearly screamed at the first hot touch of her lover's tongue, almost scorching against the occasionally lapping waves... Moaning hard as ravenous mouth sucked on her flesh hungrily, the intimate feeling incredible, delicious.

Her palms curving around to knead her fair partner's buttocks, pushing, moving back and forth, as Xena drank in her beloved... Her tongue lapping at the slick, warm, luscious moisture, as she smeared and coated hers lips and chin with her bard's sweetness.

"Xena..." She panted, sensing the beginning onslaught of uncontrollable spasms... "XE!" As her warrior's hot, wet muscle thrust upwards, impaling, pushing deep inside, fitting perfectly. She could feel herself tightening involuntarily around her partner... And whimpered at the emptiness when the teasing strokes resumed.

Unbelievably turned on at the sight of her partner twisting and tugging at her own erect nipples, her tight body swaying back and forth feverishly, her head thrown back in violent fits of passion, the Warrior Princess redoubled her efforts. She wrapped an arm tightly about grinding hips, keeping the rhythm... And reached up, cupping one of her lover's breasts firmly, kneading, squeezing erect rosy bud between fingers.

And she moaned deeply when with a defeated gasp, Gabrielle took hold of her hand and tore her rapacious palm away from her chest and pushed it roughly downwards. Pressing down her thumb fitted to her lover's cleft... And caressing gently with her fingers splayed across the soft swell of the blonde's stomach... The warrior captured her lover's sea green eyes, and smiled, *I love you so much, my bard, and you, too, my little one.*

She teased, lapping slowly, easing back when her partner was almost overwhelmed... Then flicking and sucking hard again, driving her wild... Feeling the pressure building up, absorbing the tiny shivers of excitement within the bard's soft folds... Enclosing the swollen flesh pulsing against her lips, pushing her tongue in... Xena wished she could climb up inside her love.

Looking down, Gabrielle watched, her lids half-closed, languishing with desire, as her warrior's mouth closed over her sex... Completely mesmerized by the sight of her lover's beautiful lips devouring her most secret parts... Feeling her tongue stroking hard and fast against slick, engorged flesh... Hot, in stark contrast with the cold tide.

A trembling started from within at her partner's insistent suckling, tasting... Pulling from the depths of her being, thrilling torrents that coursed through her body. She closed her eyes as the spasms expanded outwards, and held her breath... And came hard with the crashing waves, certain to fall forward with them had her warrior not held her tight.

And still, she felt the void within, aching, throbbing, unsatisfied. The bard rolled with her warrior, and onto her back, circling the strong frame with her arms and legs... Clasping the larger body close, embracing, wanting to feel her weight upon her... Kissing, yielding to her partner's plundering tongue... As the warrior busied with the buckles on the leather straps.

"Take me, Xe..." She begged, tangling her fingers in her beloved's rain drenched tresses, caressing the broad back firmly, "Please..." Her thighs raised, knees bent, a leg curled up about her partner's hips, "I need you..." Opening herself to her dark lover completely.

"Oh, Gabrielle..." Xena purred low, as the textured shaft sank in slowly, careful with the penetration... Adjusting to the bard's body, pulling slightly out, pressing forward again... Giving in a little more... Before she withdrew again, a little less this time... Then pushing in further...
Driving her mate wild with anticipation.

Supporting herself on one arm, she leaned forward, "Love you..." Her other hand free to roam and caress her lover's body... Tracing her eyelids, her cheeks, her lips with soft kisses... Teasing, pleasuring, assuring... Until Gabrielle captured her face, plunging into her mouth.

Then sharing her soft moan as she tasted her own essence and the salty sea... Lips pressing, tongues twirling in and out, searching, feeding each other and themselves with their fiery love... Sharing an intimate closeness.

She pulled back slightly, before pressing in again gently... Feeling her lover's tightness, as their connection slid along slick, warm inner walls... Kissing, probing, thrusting towards each other gently... Savouring the sensation, in relaxed, rhythmic strokes...

"Gabrielle," the warrior growled in heated passion, as her lover's nail dug into her back. The light sting of salty waves lapping at the surface wounds only fuelled her furious, barely controlled desire.

"Xe?" Her partner asked in a low, throaty call, while arching up to meet her, urging her on.

"Yes, my bard..." She buried her face in her mate's blond tresses, inhaling the scent of wild flowers and summer rain, and whispered against her lover's ears, "Feel us." Concentrating, moving her body slowly, in filling circles, coaxing, she needed, wanted to be gentle with her bard.

And at the same time feeding and feeling her passion, teasing her pleasures from deep, secret places inside of her... Rubbing, grinding, touching, savouring, taking, giving, melting...

Pulling and pushing deeper in desire and heat, clinging together, contracting against each other...

Shifting, still connecting, Xena knelt between her lover's parted thighs. In one fluid movement, she brought one of Gabrielle's legs up onto her shoulder, and the other over her opposite hips... And tickled the back of her partner's knee with her own rock-hard nipple, while pressing still deeper within... Large hands caressing slim, smooth body... Adoring... Cupping full breasts, feeling the fiery warmth of her mate's body, ardent, arching, against the cold sea.

Green and blue keeping open, holding on, heightening intimacy, bonding soul to soul...

The warrior watched as droplets fell from her chin onto the bard, and almost swooned with desire when pink tongue flicked out to capture them.

Rotating, seducing, grinding... Until they both were moaning each other's name in unison, panting... Their cries of pleasure filling each other's ears, their bodies slick with rain and beaded heat, riding the waves... Hearts beating, swelling with love, believing they would burst... Unfearing, in a crescendo of passion...

"Xena..." Her lover breathed, shifting once more, pulling her closer still.

"Yes," the warrior responded, seizing her lips in a needful, devouring kiss, "Gabrielle..." Sucking, nibbling, tasting exquisite refined honey, sweeter than the sweetest wine... Intoxicating.

The pair rocked against each other, their spirits exhilarated... As each raced the other towards the summit... Expanding with freedom...

And with utter contentment...

Gently, the warrior eased away from her bard and lay down beside her... Still touching, lightly kissing and holding close... Their breathing and heartbeat slowing, still in synch.

The blonde reached up to caress her back, moving her storm soaked hair away from her face and shoulders. "Hey..." and exclaimed softly as she felt the faint scratches. "Gods, Xena," she kissed her tenderly, "I'm so sorry..."

"Don't be," her partner kissed her back, "I look forward to showing them off," and grinned when she sensed the rising flush. "Gabrielle?" Unstraping the carved toy and bringing it up, she asked, "Where did you get this?" While admiring the intricate details and smooth surface. Obliging to her sudden inspiration, Xena ran her tongue suggestively along the curves on one side, and had the divine pleasure of watching the blush grow.

The bard swallows, feeling a familiar tingle down her spine in response... "Do you like it?" She asked hopefully.

As a reply, the warrior raised her eyebrows and leered; and her finger tip traced the soft dip between small polished swells on one of the sculpted figures.

"I don't mean that!" Her lover slapped at her chest playfully.

"Yeah," her expression turned serious, and Xena responded sincerely. "You had it made?" She wanted to know, as she handled the small statue of two women entwined together. "They do look very much like us."

Nodding in the affirmative, "Us, forever," Gabrielle whispered, as her lips met her mate's...

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