by Marion D. Tuttle

The standard Disclamers apply here. I don't own the characters of Xena and
Gabrielle. They are owned by Universal Studios. I just brought them out to
play for a little while. The story, however, is all mine.

Sex Disclaimer: Of course there is. I wrote it , after all and I firmly believe
in the love between these two.

Author's Note: This story very closely parallels some recent events I myself
have lived through and, as always, there is one woman that inspired it all.
Angel, as always, what I do is for you.

A quietness had settled over the Amazon village. The celebration that
marked the signing of the treaty between the Amazons and the Centaur
Nation had left everyone in a spirit of revelry. The only person that had not
participated in the party and celebration to it's full extent had been the
Queen. It wasn't that Gabrielle wasn't happy about the treaty. The truth is,
she was estatic about it, but she had matters of a much more personal
nature on her mind tonight.

She watched as, across the courtyard, the tall beautiful warrior that was
her best friend conversed with several members of the Royal Guard. This was
when Xena looked her most enticing to Gabrielle, her defenses down, no
glaring stare to try and unnerve an opponent and no tension in her muscles
while she waited for the attack that she knew was coming.

She was totally relaxed and at ease now and Gabrielle had made the
choice that tonight would be the night that she confessed her true feelings
to Xena. She sensed in her heart that the warrior felt the same way she
did, but nothing had every been said. It was almost as if Xena was afraid
to open up her heart any further than she already had.

Thinking back over the last couple of years, Gabrielle recalled several
times when she thought she had picked up signals from her best friend, that
she wanted more from their relationship than friendship, but the moment
passed just as quickly and she was left alone again to her doubts. But no
more. Tonight she would find out for sure, for better or for worse, if Xena
wanted her as much as she wanted Xena.

She looked up from her musings to see a blinding smile passed her way by
her friend. "Gods, I wonder if she as any idea what she does to me?", the
bard thought to herself. She knew she wasn't going to be able to sit there
and watch Xena very much longer without doing something that may well
embarrass them both. She was just about to go to Xena and suggest they
retire for the evening when one of her own Royal Guard spun Xena around to
face her and claimed her lips in a searing kiss.

Her heart dropped through to the ground. One of the fears that had
stilled her voice whenever she had come close to telling Xena, was the fear
that Xena would be disgusted because she did not have an attraction for
women. But that was not the case. Here was proof right in front of her.
Xena was kissing the guard back and thoroughly enjoying it. So the warrior
was attracted to women, just not to her. She fled the courtyard and ran
into the Queen's hut, slamming the door behind her.

Xena noticed her departure. Did she dare hope that Gabrielle's reaction
meant what it looked like? It closely resembled a jealous rage. She had not
been trying to illicit a response when she let the young Amazon kiss her.
She truly believed that Gabrielle was beyond her reach. She knew that
Gabrielle viewed her as a best friend, but Xena believed that was all it
would ever be. She had wanted the bard for as long as she could remember,
but had accepted that she would have to keep her feelings to herself. She
did not want to do anything that would make Gabrielle leave her, so she
decided to just suffer her desire in silence. After all, Gabrielle had been
married and was interested in men, wasn't she?

The warrior had hoped that maybe a diversion with the sweet little
Amazon she held in her arms would be just what she needed to take the edge
off her desire for Gabrielle. She was hoping that by taking Alana to bed,
she would be able to get rid of some of her pent up frustrations.

As soon as she saw the hurt look on Gabrielle's face, all the passion she
felt for the woman in her arms fled. She stepped back from Alana. "I'm so
sorry, I can't do this.", she said before turning and running to the hut as
fast as her legs would carry her. She found the door barred against her.
For a moment she felt anger and irritation that Gabrielle would react this
way. But in all fairness, she had just received a shock and something told
the warrior that going on the attack would not be the best course of action
right now.

"Gabrielle, please open the door." There was no answer to her plea except
for the sound of the bard's heartbroken sobs. Xena fought to keep her
temper under control, knowing that it would not serve her purpose. Still
she could not keep the edge out of her voice when she spoke again.
"Gabrielle, open the door or I will rip it of the hinges, and we both know
I can!"

A moment later, Xena heard sounds coming from the other side of the door
as Gabrielle worked to undo the latch. The door swung open and Gabrielle
stood there, her hands on her hips blocking the warriors entrance into the
hut they shared. "Xena why are you here?", she asked, her voice dripping with
sarcasm. "It looked like you had plans for the evening."

Xena tried to move into the hut, but Gabrielle was having none of it.
"If you would just let me explain, maybe you would understand...", Xena tried
to get Gabrielle to listen.

"Explain? What's to explain? It all seemed quite clear from where I was
standing. If that little piece of fluff is what you want, then by all means,
let me as Queen of the Amazons be the first to offer my congratulations!"
The bard nearly spat the last words out.

Xena struggled to keep her raging emotions under control. She was dealing
with a whole gambit of emotions. Anger that the bard would so easily believe
the worst, disgust with herself for her blindness to Gabrielle's feelings and not
noticing those feelings until now. As well as allowing her actions to hurt
Gabrielle. And finally, despair at the thought that she had finally come to realize
that Gabrielle felt the same way about her and she may have destroyed those
feelings of love by the stupidity of her own actions. "Gabrielle, Alana is not
what I want."

The bard turned on her in a rage, green fire shooting from her eyes.
"Really? Well for being someone you didn't want, you were doing a damn good
impression of making it look like you did!" Having said that, she pushed
past Xena back into the courtyard. "I'm going for a walk.", she announced.
"When I get back, I expect you to have your things moved out of this hut. I
don't care where you stay but you aren't staying here."

Her fist balled in frustration at her inability to make the bard understand,
or even listen. She slammed her fist into the stone wall next to the hut, not even
feeling the pain as the blood began to drip down her fingers.

Ephany rounded the corner just in time to catch the last few words of
the exchange between her Queen and the warrior. She saw the desolate look
on Xena's face and knew that she had been right in her assessment of the
feelings between her two friends all along. She thought of offering the
warrior sympathy, but that was not what Xena needed right now. She needed to
be goaded into action and Ephany knew just how to do it. Without preamble,
she approached her brooding friend. "Well what did you expect? When you
stand in plain view and throw yourself at that little harlot." She was met
with an icy blue stare that would have scared most people to their grave,
but she pressed on. "You can't tell me you didn't know how Gabrielle felt."

Xena hung her dark head. With a self debasing chuckle she said, "I
didn't know...I hoped."

"So you love her?", Ephany asked, already knowing the answer. Surprised
to see tears sliding down Xena's cheeks, Ephany had to once again surpress
the urge to comfort her. Xena needed a strong hand right now. "Xena, if you
truly love her, then why were you with Alana?"

A bitterness welled up in her throat. "I thought I could never have
Gabrielle and I needed to be with someone." She was starting to become
aware of the stinging pain in her hand, but it was nothing compared to the
pain in her heart. The shame of her actions weighed on her, but Ephany would
not let her sink into despair. "Feeling sorry for yourself is not going to
solve this problem Xena. Do you love Gabrielle enough to fight for her?"

"I would die for her.", came the forceful response.

"Then I will help you get this sorted out, but you have to promise me.
No more secrets, no more holding back with each other, is that clear?"
Xena looked at Ephany, her thanks clearly written on her face. "Thank
you", was all she could say. "But first things first. Let's get you to the
healers hut and have that hand looked at."

Gabrielle ran until the air in her lungs felt like fire. She had made
so many plans for tonight only to have them blow up in her face. When she
saw Xena responding to another woman's kiss, it was then that she first
started hearing the voice. Well the truth was she had heard it before, for
months in fact, telling her to reveal her true feelings to the warrior. But
she had always pushed it to the back of her mind as fanciful thinking on
her part. Now the voice was too strong to ignore. Where it had been a gentle
whisper before that was not really even there, now it was as if someone
were standing right next to her and speaking directly in her ear. "What
right do you have to be angry with Xena?", the voice asked her.

Gabrielle's immediate response was one of disbelief. "How could she do
that to me?", she railed at her unseen tormenter.

"Do what? There was no betrayal. Not only did you not tell Xena of your
true feelings, on many occasions you went out of your way to hide them from
her. So I ask you again, what right do you have to be angry if Xena turns
to someone else? She loves you, but had resigned herself to never being able
to have you."

This brought another angry response from Gabrielle. "She loves me? Then
why did she never say anything? Why should it have been just up to me?"

The voice had been very patient, but Gabrielle could hear the control
slipping as it answered. "You know as well as I do that Xena is still
caught in the grips of her warlord days in many ways. She was terrified of
hurting you. She never would have told you first. You, however, are the light
that keeps Xena directed. If you had only said something. It may be too late

The last remark caught Gabrielle's attention more than any other. "What do you
mean, it may be too late?"

"The last time I saw Xena, she was very despondent over your refusal to
see her. Who knows what she might do?"

Gabrielle felt a sudden lump in her throat. What had she done? By not
saying anything to Xena, had she brought about her own worst fear? Had she
destroyed their friendship altogether? Before she even realized she was
moving, she found herself running back towards the village. Her heart was
pounding in her ears. How could she have been so stupid? She had to get to
Xena and try and straighten all this out.

Behind her a flash of light appeared and the Deity appeared with a wide
smile. It may have been wrong to make the bard think that the warrior was
suicidal, but it had motivated her to action. And you truly knew what would
have happened if Ephany had not been there to help Xena? She decided her
little deception would be excused and it had served it's purpose. "Let's
just hope these two get it right this time.", she said to herself.

Back in the village, Xena sat in the healer's hut having her hand
examined. The woman that took care of all the medicinal needs of the Amazons
frowned at what see saw. "Well I certainly hope you don't have to face any
attackers in the next few weeks because it will be at least that long
before you can even pick up your sword with this hand."

Xena looked at her bandaged hand and asked, "How bad is it?"

The healer made one last examination of her hand. "It should heal
completely. I have set the bones that you broke.", she added with a warning
scowl. "As long as you follow my instructions to the letter and try not to
do too much too soon, you should be fine."

A sardonic smile came over the warrior's face. She was not used to
taking orders from anyone, but in this case, if it meant regaining the use of
her hand, she would do what she was told. She heard the commotion outside
the hut and started to rise to investigate when she felt both Ephany's and
Laura's hands on her shoulders pushing her back down. Laura regarded the
warrior with a somewhat irritated expression on her face. "What did I just
get done telling you ?", she asked. "Ephany go see what's happening, would
you please, before our friend here loses her patience and undoes all my

The blond Amazon shook her head with a slight chuckle before stepping
outside the door to see what all the noise was about. She was brought up
short by the sight of Gabrielle laying prone and motionless on a litter
surrounded by nearly the entire village. A young Amazon stood between
Eponin and Solari, tears streaming down her face, mumbling incoherently. "I
didn't know it was her. It happened so fast."

"Laura get out here now!", Ephany yelled. The healer came running out of
her hut at the sound of Ephany's call. "What's wrong.... by the Gods, what
happened?" She gasped when she saw her young Queen.

Solari stepped forward. "This was an accident Ephany. As Regent, it is
certainly within your rights to call for an investigation. But I saw
everything and I can tell you that what happened was a horrible mistake
caused by a young inexperienced guard that raced terribly wrong. As Captain
of the guard, I feel as though I am responsible for any under my command. So
any punishment you see fit...". Solari lowered her head before her friends
in shame.

Ephany placed a gentle hand under her chin and forced her to look her
in the eye. "Solari, I appreciate your feelings, but you, as Captain, can not
take the blame for every mistake your soldiers make any more than
Gabrielle or I can take the responsibility of every action of every Amazon.
People have to accept the responsibility of their own actions." Turning
towards the young woman that was trying to keep her racking sobs under
control and failing miserably, she asked, "Tresa, tell me what happened." The
Regent waited for the guard to answer her before she asked again, more
forcefully this time. "I want an explanation!" Before the upset woman had a
chance to speak, Ephany turned to Eponion, she had almost forgotten about
Xena in the shock of seeing Gabrielle wounded. "Eponion, go and keep Xena
from coming out here. I don't care how you do it, but we don't need her
seeing Gabrielle like this."

The very thought of that was enough to make a sudden shudder run through
the dark haired Amazon , who was usually as stoic as Xena herself. The
thought of Xena slashing first and asking questions later was not something
that any of the Amazons wanted to see and they knew they would if Xena saw
Gabrielle right now. Ephany needed time to get to the truth of the matter
and she wouldn't have that if Xena lost her temper. The Warrior Princess'
control was legendary, but not when it came to someone hurting Gabrielle.
If Xena walked out here right now, Tresa's life would be over.

Being in full agreement with the Regent, Eponion entered the healer's hut
just in time to see Xena getting ready to go outside. "Xena long time no

Xena raised a dark winglike brow. Something was up. Eponion was a good
friend, but never what Xena would have described as the "bubbly" type. She
decided to play her cards close and try to figure this out.

"Hi Ep, it hasn't been that long. You just left on your hunting party
two weeks ago and I saw you just before that."

"Oh well that's true. I guess I was just surprised that you and
Gabrielle were still here. You two usually don't stick around this long."

Noticing the wrappings on Xena's hand, Eponion tried to steer the
conversation into an area that wouldn't have Xena thinking about Gabrielle
and hence send her out of the hut to find her. Not knowing anything about
what had happened between them, she found it odd that Xena had been
injured and Gabrielle had been out in the woods alone and not with her.
Oh well, time enough later to piece everything together. The important
issue right now was to keep Xena in here and away from the scene in the
courtyard until Ephany could make some sense of it. "What happened to your
hand?", she asked in an attempt to keep Xena focused on her. She saw
something flash briefly in the warrior's eyes, was it regret?

Raising the injured hand and looking at it as if for the first time,
"These bandages represent my own stupidity Eponion. I hurt Gabrielle in the
worst possible way and now I don't know if I will ever be able to get her

Eponion held her breath, boy had she picked the wrong subject! She
stared at the warrior in amazement. It was commonly thought throughout the
Amazon Nation that Xena and Gabrielle were lovers and nothing had really
been done to squash the rumors. Both women had agreed a long time ago that
by letting everyone think there was more to their relationship than there
really was, would cut down on the number of problems and challenges that
Gabrielle faced as an absentee Queen.

Only a few of their close friends, Ephany, Solari, and Eponion herself
knew that their relationship had gone no further than a deep friendship.
Although all three women sensed a deep desire in both of their friends for
it to be more, the subject was never bought up. With one exception, when
there had been a challenge to the throne and Xena had acted as Gabrielle's
chosen champion. It was then that Ephany, Gabrielle and Xena had made the
decision to let the rumor stand. Most of the Amazons loved Gabrielle and
would never hurt her, and the few that did have a taste for power through
subversion had a healty respect for their Queen's skill with a staff. But
just to be safe, they knew that anyone would think twice before incurring the
wrath of the Warrior Princess by attacking her lover. Eponion could see
there was a definite sense of pain in Xena's deep blue eyes that was not
caused by her hand.

"Tell me what happened Xena."

Not being the type of woman that normally poured out her emotions, Xena
was a little surprised to hear her own voice as she began recounting the
entire tale to her freind. Everything from her kissing Alana, to Gabrielle's
strong reaction, to her own loss of control in slamming her hand against
the stine wall. She looked down at the bandaged hand that rested in her lap.
"How could I have been so stupid Eponion? If I had just told Gabrielle the
truth, none of this would have happened."

Eponion's stomach was starting to knot. If Xena was beating herself up
this badly over just hurting Gabrielle's feelings, what was she going to do
when she saw the result of the bard's flight into the woods?

Back in the yard, Ephany turned to the young guard. "Now Tresa, tell me
what happened and don't leave anything out." By now Tresa had herself under
some amount of control. Her thoughts were still tripping over one another,
but at least now she could make some sense of them. She took a deep
shuddering breath and began to try to make the Regent understand what had
happened. "I was on patrol along the western border when I heard someone
running towards the village. I turned to see who it was. I had my bow at
the ready....". Tresa stopped to draw a deep shuddering breath and continued
on. "I called out for whoever it was to identify themselves. When I
received no answer, I fired a warning shot to let whoever was out there know
that they were on Amazon territory and that I meant business. I thought they
would see the arrow and come forward at that point." She looked over at
Gabrielle, still very pale and barely clinging to consciousness. "The Queen
must have stepped right into the path of the arrow. She was running, but just
about to raise her arms in the Amazon salute of peace when the arrow struck
her. I could only watch....", she dissolved into another fit of sobs again.

Ephany looked at the young woman. She was guilty of nothing more
than inexperience and lack of skill. If there was any blame to be laid, it
was solidly at her own door for not seeing that the young woman was no
where near ready to be on patrol. She turned to her friend that had bought
Tresa and Gabrielle back to the village. "What happened after you got there,
Solari?" "Not much. I arrived just moments after Gabrielle had been hit. I
heard her running as well and was on my way to investigate. I saw Gabrielle
and tried to stop the bleeding. We headed right back here to find Laura." In
a lower voice, only the Regent and healer could hear, she added ,"Gods Ephany,
she's lost so much blood. What if Laura can't...."

"Don't even think that!", Ephany told her. "She is going to be alright,
she has to be." Turning back to address the small group that had gathered,
"Solari is right. I see no need for an investigation into this matter. It
was an accident. However, Tresa since this was caused by your lack of
experience, you are from this moment relieved of any duties within this
village except to train and train some more until you can't stand up. And
then you will train even more until you are the best trained Amazon that
ever served Artimis. You will not go on another patrol until your skills
meet with my personal satisfaction, is that quite clear to you?"

Tresa just nodded her head. She had expected much worse. She thanked
the Gods that Ephany was a fair and just Regent and was more concerned with
making a fair ruling than exacting vengeance. Just as she was turning to
leave, Ephany added to her statement. "Do not make the mistake of thinking
you are getting off easy here. The person that will train you will not be
able to start for about a moon due to an injury, but then you will spend
every day trying to match your skills against Xena."

The young Amazon's heart dropped. When Xena found out that she was the
one responsible for Gabrielle's condition, she would beat her to a pulp and
Gods forbid if the Queen died. Her life would be forfeited at the hands of the
angry warrior.

Solari pulled Ephany to one side, a look of concern on her face. "Two
questions. First, do you think it wise to let Xena be the one? She won't want
to train her , she'll want to kill her. Especially if the worst happens and
Gabrielle dies. Secondly, what makes you think that even if Xena agrees to
this plan of yours that she will stick around that long or wait a full moon
before taking any action?"

"Those are both good questions. First, Xena will want what Gabrielle
wants. I am hoping that she will be a calming influence. We all know that
Gabrielle can reach Xena when no one else can. And if Gabrielle does
die...", she closed her eyes at the thought before continuing on, "accident
or not, Tresa would be sentenced to death for killing the Queen by Amazon
law. So it would only be just that Xena be the one to carry out the
sentence. Secondly, Xena's sword hand has been injured." Solari raised a
questioning brow at that statement. Had someone finally gotten the better
of the warrior princess? "It's not what you think ", Ephany commented seeing
the unspoken question in Solari's eyes. Alot of things have happened in
the past few days that you've been gone. Anyway, Xena cant fight for at
least a moon and Gabrielle is not going to be fit to travel anytime soon
and you know as well as I do that Xena is not going to leave here without
Gabrielle." She didn't finish the thought out loud, but thought to herself
'unless the worst happens'.

Realizing that they were running out of time before Xena came out of
the hut with Eponion, Ephany directed the two Amazons that had carried the
litter with Gabrielle on it to the back of Laura's hut so that they could
carry her in the back when Xena came out the front. "I don't want Xena to
see Gabrielle until I have had a chance to explain things to her.", Ephany
said, giving Solari a quick kiss. She smiled briefly, "Give me some time to go
to the Queen's hut and talk to Xena and then I promise I will meet you at
our hut and give you a proper welcome home."

Inside the healer's hut, Xena sat talking with Eponion. She could not
understand why the Amazon was acting so strangely, but she knew if she gave
herself enough time she would figure it out. Just as she was beginning to
lose patience with the cat and mouse game, Ephany entered the hut with Laura
behind her.

"What happened?", Xena questioned as the two women came into the room.
Lara glanced at Ephany, she did not envy her the task of having to tell
Xena of the recent events that had taken place. The Regent knew she was
going to have to tread very light ground in order to avoid an explosion
from the warrior princess. "Xena let me walk back to the hut with you. I
have something I want to talk to you about."

'Finally', she thought. 'Maybe now I'll get some answers.' They walked to
the hut in silence. Xena could sense that whatever Ephany wanted to tell her
was weighing heavily on her mind. A sudden chilling thought crossed her
mind and a feeling of dread began to take root in her stomach. Something
was wrong with Gabrielle. She had all she could do at that point not to
turn around and demand answers, but she knew Ephany would tell her
everything once they were inside. As soon as they reached the door, Xena
felt her control start to slip. 'Just a little bit more', she told herself.
Xena crossed to the far end of the room and sat in one of the chairs,
indicating the other to Ephany. Something told her this was not going to be
a short conversation. "Would you care to tell me now what is going on?"

Ephany prayed to Artemis to help her find the right words, as she sat
across from Xena. Looking at her friend, she couldn't help but think this
all could have been avoided if both women had not been so pigheaded
about exposing their true feelings to each other. Oh well no point in looking
back at that now. "Xena there's been an accident....involving Gabrielle."
Xena felt the cold knot of fear that had started in her stomach reach out
and surround her heart. She took a deep breath and fought for control.
Flying into a blind rage right now wouldn't do her or Gabrielle any good.
She needed to know what had happened. "Tell me what happened Ephany
and don't leave out any details."

The Regent went on to explain how Tresa, in her inexperience, had made
the mistake of firing an arrow before she was sure of what
she was firing at. She also told Xena of the sentence she had passed down
in her capacity as Regent. Upon hearing this, Xena could only nod. Ephany had
truly not been certain of what type of reaction to expect, however the one
she was faced with was the last thing she would have imagined from Xena.
The warrior princess sat without saying a word at first. When she finally
did speak, it was to blame herself for the situation. Her words were so
quiet at first that Ephany was not even sure she had spoken. "If only I had
just told her the truth." Her dark head hung low for a minute before she
raised eyes bright with unshed tears to meet with Ephany's. "How bad is it?"

Not wanting to add to Xena pain, but not wanting to down play the
seriousness of Gabrielle's condition, Ephany opted for the simple truth.
"She's lost a lot of blood Xena, but she's strong. Laura seems to think that
if we can just get some fluids into her to replenish her body, then she will
be alright. But we'll just have to wait and see." Thinking about what
Ephany said, Xena slowly shook her head and whispered almost to herself,
"It's too late."

Moving to put a hand on her friend's shoulder, Ephany could feel the pain
that was building inside of Xena. But too much had happened already because
these two proud women had turned their feelings inward instead of
expressing them to each other. She would not let Xena withdraw into a
shell. One of them had to make the first move if they were going to get past
where they were. And since Gabrielle was unconscious, it was up to Xena.
Ephany knew she would have to stir the warrior to action in this instance
if anything was going to get set right.

"Xena, it is not too late. You have to go to Gabrielle now. Forget all the
misunderstandings and crossed signals. Tell her what you FEEL!"

"I know your right Ephany, but what if she rejects me?"

"Trust me, that is not going to happen."

Xena knew that Ephany was right. There had been too many problems as a
direct result of her and Gabrielle not admitting to each other what they
felt. She felt the lump start to form in her throat. "What if....", she
started to ask Ephany.

The Regent gave her a hard look, knowing where her thoughts were headed
she said, "Don't even think that. Gabrielle is going to come through this.
Now go to her."

Xena walked across the compound to the hut where Laura kept her patients
while they were being treated or recuperating from injuries. Xena felt her
heart constrict at the sight of Gabrielle's pale face as she laid upon the
bed. Laura rose to greet her at the door, not sure what to expect. "Ephany
told you what happened?"

The warrior nodded her head, "Yes". She moved to sit beside the bed. Taking
Gabrielle's hand in her own, she turned back to Laura. "Is she...."

"She's going to be fine Xena. I have given her a sleeping draught to
relax her. She woke up after she was bought in here. Her only thoughts were
of getting up and searching for you. I had to get her to stay still so she
wouldn't cause more damage to herself. The arrow didn't hit anything vital,
but she did lose a lot of blood. With rest though, she should be as good as

Xena expelled a breath she hadn't realized she was holding. When
Gabrielle woke up they were going to have a talk. She noticed that her hand
was starting to throb a little bit and tried to adjust the bandages a
little. "Do you want me to give you something for that?", Laura nodded
indicating Xena's hand.

"No thanks. I want to be here when Gabrielle wakes up and I want to be
awake for it. We have a lot to talk about. Besides, it's not really that

"Alright, but if it gets worse, you'll ley me know?"

Xena smiled at the concern the small woman carried in her heart. "Yes I
will.", she said.

Sitting there watching the bard, Xena heard the voice in her head again
that had become a regular visitor in the past few days. "This is it warrior
princess. If you don't tell her the truth when she wakes up, you will
never get another chance."

When Xena had first started hearing the voice in her head, she had just
written it off to her own subconscious wants and desires trying to manifest
themselves. Now she recognized it for what it was. For some reason, some
divine presence was trying to direct her to throw caution to the wind and
follow her heart. The gentle rise and fall of Gabrielle's chest as she
breathed in her sleep slammed the reality home to Xena that she had to
tell Gabrielle of her feelings and pray that she felt the same way.
She could not picture her life without Gabrielle in it.

She snapped to attention when she noticed Gabrielle starting to stir,
she was starting to wake up. Xena tenderly brushed the hair back from
Gabrielle's eyes, softly calling to her "Come on Gabrielle, wake up."

Her mind was fuzzy as she started to come back, had she just heard?

"I'm right here Gabrielle. Do you feel okay? You were pretty out of it
for a while." She tried to keep her voice light. "I was starting to get a
little worried."

The bard still had not completely opened her eyes until her hands
touched against the bandages that covered Xena's hand. "Xena what happened?",
she asked, feeling a sense of fear that the warrior had been in a fight and
that there were more extensive injuries that she couldn't see. She had to
be sure her friend was alright.

Xena could see the anxiety in Gabrielle's gaze. She thought of making a
joke out of the situation, but thought better of it. This was not the time
for levity. What they needed between them now was the truth and nothing
else but.

Following Gabrielle's gaze down to her hand, she answered first the
question about her injury. "I just let my temper get the best of me." She
saw the look of concern that leapt into those wonderful sea green eyes
that could hold her captive. "Don't worry, there was no fight. I just smacked
a wall." She sat searching Gabrielle's eyes for some hint of what she was
thinking and all of a sudden the walls she had built around her heart for
all those years came tumbling down and she felt tears springing to her own

"Gabrielle I am so sorry. I know that you left the village because of
what you saw...", her words were choked off by the sob in her throat.

Gabrielle raised two fingers to Xena's lips to still her protests. "Xena,
it was my own fault. I let my own jealousy drive me. If Alana is what you

"No!" The single word nearly exploded from her lips. More quietly she
continued. "No Gabrielle, Alana is not what I want." So softly it was barely
heard, "You are."

Reaching up and lightly brushing the tears from Xena's cheeks, she
whispered to her. "What did you just say?"

"I said you are what I want. You have been for so long and I have been
too much of a stubborn fool to tell you that I love you."

Tears began to spill from Gabrielle's eyes now. Here was the woman of
her dreams telling her that she had the same feelings she had been having,
that she loved her. She struggled to sit up, but Xena firmly but
gently pushed her back down onto the mattress with her hands, placing a
sweet kiss on her lips. "Don't try to sit up Gabrielle. You took a nasty
wound there. And after looking at it, I agree with Laura. Nothing vital was
hit, thank the Gods. But, you are still going to be weak from lack of blood
for a few days."

The bard had a smile on her face when she said, "But I want to hold you
and I would really love it if you kissed me again."

Gabrielle's words brought a brilliant smile to Xena's face as she moved
to lay down beside her love and drew her into the protective circle of her
embrace. "I want to hold you too.", she whispered against Gabrielle's ear.
"But if I start kissing you now, I won't want to stop."

The bard's words were playful, "And the problem with this would be...?"

"Let's just say I would rather wait until you have regained your full
strength.", Xena quipped as she pushed Gabrielle's head down so that it was
laying on her shoulder while she held the bard against the length of her
body. "Go to sleep now Gabrielle. The more you rest, the sooner you will get

Tiredness was evident in Gabrielle's voice as her arms tightened around
Xena. "Please stay with me."

"I don't ever plan to leave you again." With that, they drifted off to
sleep. It was candlemarks later when Ephany opened the door, intending to
check on Gabrielle and was greeted with the sight of Xena and her Queen
sound asleep and wrapped in each others arms. The corners of her mouth
turned up in a smile, everything was going to work out after all.

Gabrielle awoke the next morning to find herself wrapped tightly in
Xena's arms, so it would appear that last night had not been a dream. The
warrior had kissed her, told her she loved her, and held her in her strong
arms all through the night. She sensed, more than saw, that Xena had woken
up. From her position with her head laying on Xena's chest, she did not have
a good vantage point to see the azure blue eyes that she loved falling
into. It was more of a change in breathing patterns that told her Xena was
awake. The bard felt arms tighten around her as the warrior pulled her
closer. She reached up and began to nibble on Xena's neck and felt a sharp
intake of breath as she found a particularly sensitive spot. Xena laid back
and enjoyed the sensations for a few minutes before trying to gently push
Gabrielle back. "If you keep doing that, I will not be responsible for my
actions.", she told the bard. "And I won't be able to stop."

"Who said I wanted you to stop?" Gabrielle teased.

With the last vestiges of willpower she had, Xena got up from the bed. "As
much as I would like to stay here and finish this, there are two main
reasons why I can't. Number one and most importantly, you lost a lot of
blood and you need to rest to get your strength back."

Gabrielle knew that Xena was right, but she still wanted to convince
her otherwise. She stood up to kiss the warrior and almost landed flat
on her face when the room started to spin. Xena caught her before she hit
the ground and carried her back to the bed. While giving her cheek a light
caress after she arranged her back against the pillows. "And secondly,
this is Laura's healing hut, remember? Any moment now she and Ephany
and probably half the village are going to be coming through that door
to see how how you are doing. Do you really want the entire village to
stand there and watch while I make love to you?" Xena couldn't keep the
humor out of her voice for the last part of her comments.

Gabrielle felt the blush go up her cheeks at the thought of being
walked in on at the height of their passion. "Alright you win, for now."
And then with a gleam in her eye she added, "But just you wait till I get my
strength back."

The next few days were spent in a flurry of activity. Ephany decided to
take advantage of the fact that Gabrielle would be staying in the village
for a while and had presented her with just about every petition that had
come before her in the past two moons, as well as seeking her advice on
political strategies. Solari had Xena tied up looking over new
trainees on the field. Even though she still could not wield her sword, her
advice was invaluable in making the young Amazons more aware of where they
needed to sharpen their skills. They settled in to an easy routine and
Xena was surprised that she felt such a sense of peace without the normal
compulsion she felt to move on. Walking into their hut one afternoon after
watching what was a particularly grueling training session, she caught sight
of her bard. The vision that met her almost stole her breath.

Gabrielle was sitting on the bed with the afternoon sun streaming into
the hut behind her. Soft blonde highlights in her hair seemed to be turned
red-gold in the bright light. A pile of scrolls was littered around her on
the bed with one on her lap that Gabrielle seemed to be deeply involved in
reading. It was in that moment that Xena realized where her new found sense
of peace had come from. Ever since she had admitted her feelings to
Gabrielle, she had felt like she had been given the greatest gift the world
had to offer, just by virtue of the fact that Gabrielle returned her
feelings. She felt the familiar stirrings of desire and for once did not
feel like she had to hide the expression she knew was on her face.

The bard raised her eyes to meet those of the warrior and felt the
breath catch in her throat at the look of unbridled desire she saw in
Xena's eyes. She put down the scroll she had been reading and started to
rise to go to Xena, but the warrior held up her hand to still her
movements. Xena moved foward until she was standing in front of the bed.
Without making a sound, Gabrielle moved back and patted the mattress beside
her in silent invitation. Xena sat and looked into the eyes that had
captured her heart so long ago. She felt her pulse begen to quicken as she
sat next to Gabrielle on the bed. Sky blue searched sea green to see if she
could find the slightest hint of reservation there, she found none.

She sat down next to the bard and waited to see what Gabrielle was going
to do next. It seemed funny to her in a way that she, the warrior princess,
was sitting like a scared rabbit waiting to be devoured. She knew now that
Gabrielle had the same feeling that she did, but she wanted to make sure
that anything that did happen was the bard's idea. The last thing in the
world she wanted was to make the mistake of pushing her love into something
that she was not ready for.

It had been almost two weeks since Gabrielle had been shot with the
arrow and while she was still a little sore if she moved just the right way,
she had basically recovered. She had made the decision this morning that
they had waited long enough to consumate their love, but she was one of the
few people in the world that had a close understanding of the way Xena's mind
worked, most if the time. And she knew that the warrior princess would not
let anything happen until she made the first move to let Xena know she was
ready. If only she had come to realize that earlier. But as much as she
wanted Xena, there was one final issue left unresolved between them as a
result of all that happened. That needed to be taken care of first.

Gabrielle placed her hand on Xena's shoulder. "Xena, we need to talk
about Tresa...." To her suprise, Xena put a hand up to stop her. "I know
what your going to say Gabrielle. You'd like to let her off the hook all
together. That can't happen. The Amazons have got to see that sloppiness
like that will not be allowed. However, I have had time to cool off. It's
probably a good thing I did hurt my hand and had to wait to carry out
Ephany's sentence of training her. So she will train with me every day like
Ephany said, but I will be no harder on her than I would anyone else. I
don't feel the need to punish her for what happened to you. But when I'm
done with her, she will be the best trained Amazon ever."

The bard smiled. She felt relief pour through her. She had been worried
that in Xena's rage over what happened, she would kill Tresa. She was amazed
at the change that had come over her friend lately. She reached to hug
Xena. "I am so glad that you don't feel the need for revenge against her,
it was an accident after all."

Holding Gabrielle close, she was trying to keep a tight reign on her
desires. "I know that Gabrielle, but I will train her so that she never has
another accident again."

Gabrielle could feel the heat starting to spread through her body from
the close proximity of the woman she loved. She raised her lips and offered
them slightly parted to Xena. Looking at the gift that was being offered,
the warrior felt a lump catch in her throat and sent out a silent prayer of
thanks to whatever God or fate that was responsable for bringing this
amazing woman into her life.

She slowly lowered her own lips to lay claim to her love. Just before
making contact, she whispered, "I love you Gabrielle. I want you so much."

"Show me, my Warrior. Take me please."

Xena closed the brief remaining distance between them, kissing Gabrielle
until her breath was coming in ragged gasps and held her in a strong
embrace while lowering her to the bed. The kiss turned from a soft gentle
caress of lips on lips to a passionate exchange between two women that
were consumed with their need for each other. Xena felt Gabrielle's arms
pulling her closer and her heart soared with every kiss and touch.
"Gabrielle, I need to feel you please."

The bard could not believe the tone in Xena's voice. She was not going to
make Xena beg though because she wanted this just as much as Xena did. Her
response, Xena was to unlace her shirt and throw it to the floor. The sight
Xena was met with stole the very breath from her lungs. "You are so
beautiful Gabrielle.", she breathed as she reached out to touch her love's
breasts. The first contact was like lightning through both of them. Hands
held and caressed the warm flesh of the bard's breast's until they were
joined by moist hot lips and a tongue that traced patterns across desire
swollen nipples. The more they touched each other, the more they wanted to
touch each other. The brown wraparound skirt was the next thing to go, her
naked body pressed tightly against a leather clad warrior. Xena moved to
take her and was surprised when her hand was stopped in it's descent
towards her center.

"Wait Xena, I want to feel you to. Let me get you out of these
leathers." She had began working on the laces in back even as she spoke.
She lowered the leather down to expose two perfect breasts that she
immediately started to rain kisses on, while she eased the rest of the
garment past Xena's hips and off her legs. They were both already so close
to the edge it wasn't going to take much to put either one over the edge.
Xena's hand found her way between Gabrielle's legs while she straddled her
thigh. The wetness she found there was just one more thing that put her
close to orgasm. Her hips worked against Gabrielle's thigh while her hand
worked in and out of the bard's body. Gabrielle's whole body arched off the
bed trying to deepen the contact with her warrior. She felt her orgasm
approaching and knew that she couldn't hold it back, screaming out
"Xeeennnaa... oh Gods yes." Hearing her name screamed out was enough to
put the warrior over into bliss. Her whole body shook with the force of her
climax. Xena still had Gabrielle held tightly in her arms as she rolled over
onto her back, pulling the bard on top of her. She ran her hands down her
back cupping the firm buttocks of her lover. "I'm no where near done with
you my bard.", she told her as she started the spiral towards the heavens
again with passionate kisses. The session of lovemaking went on long into
the night.

The next couple of weeks passed in a haze of lovemaking and work for
both women. Gabrielle had regained her strength faster than anyone had
thought she would. Publically she declared it was because of Laura's and
Xena's excellent care. In private she told the warrior that it was due to
her loving attentions.

Every night Gabrielle would unwrap and check Xena's hand, which was all
but healed. But Gabrielle insisted that they keep it wrapped for a few more
days just to be safe. After Gabrielle had done her routine check, Xena would
look at the wound to make sure it was healing properly and that no
infection was setting in. They were probably past the point of danger now,
but like her bard, if Xena was going to make a mistake, she wanted it to be
on the side of caution. After checking the area around the wound, Xena
could never resist leaning in for a kiss and that always led to more.

The days passed and although Xena and Gabrielle held each other and
made love every night, Gabrielle could sense that her lover was not giving
herself over completely. Even at the height of their passinonate encounters,
there seemed to be a part of the warrior that the bard couldn't reach. She
had tried to talk to Xena about it, but she had always just told her that
she was more deeply in love with Gabrielle than she ever would have thought

For her part, Xena knew that there was a part of herself that she had
been holding back, but she was just afriad of letting go completly,
even with her bard. It tore at her heart that her holding back a part of
herself was causing Gabrielle pain, after everything they had been through
but her fears held her in check.

It had been one full moon since Xena had hurt her hand now and she
found herself sitting out in front of Laura's hut waiting to have her hand
examined. The healer asked her to move her fingers and squeeze her hand so
she could check her grip. Everything seemed fine and she handed Xena her
sword to see if she would have a problem with the weight. She was more than
a little surpised when Xena was able to go through a series of complicated
patterns and turns with her weapon without missing a turn.

"That is amazing. You haven't been able to touch your sword in a moon's
time, but you still move it as if it where a part of you."

Xena smiled at the healer. "I have many skills.", she told her.

Laura returned the smile. "So I've heard.", she changed the subject. "So
Xena, is it a safe assumption that you and Gabrielle have everything on
track now?" She was taken aback by what looked suspiciously like a blush
creeping up the warrior's cheeks. She could not resist the urge to tease
the warrior a little bit. After all, how often did someone get a chance like
this with Xena. "Why Xena, don't tell me you're embarassed."

"Not embarassed, just surprised that you would ask." She tried to find a
way out of a conversation she really didn't want to have. Looking more
towards the floor than Laura, she added, "I didn't think anyone knew yet."

She didn't expect the next reaction from the healer. Laughter broke
forth from her as she said, "You didn't think anyone knew? By the Gods woman
how could we not? You are not the, shall we say, most reserved woman in the
world when it comes to that, and neither is Gabrielle for that matter."
Noting how the warrior was reacting to her jest, Laura immediately became
more serious. "Xena what is wrong? Your not ashamed to be known as
Gabrielle's consort are you? Most of the village already believed it was
true anyway......"

That brought Xena's head up. "No that's not it at all. I am proud to have
Gabrielle as a lover. I am just worried that she may be affected by my
past." Xena felt emotions she had been holding in check for the past month
rise to the surface and the damn started to burst. "I worked very hard over
the past few years to make people believe that Gabrielle was just a
traveling companion. If my enemies knew how much Gabrielle means to me,
that would place her in even greater danger." Xena was unaware that
Gabrielle had come into the hut and was standing behind her. She felt the
bard's hand on her shoulder, giving a gentle squeeze. "Xena, I knew there was a
reason that you had held back one me and I suspected it might have been
this. Let me tell you something. I would rather die today knowing you love
me than spend the rest of my life without ever having known your love."

Laura had the good grace to quitely exit, leaving the two women alone.
She knew that a very emotional scene was about to unfold and wanted to
give her two friends some privacy. At the simple declaration of love from
her bard, Xena felt the tears spring to her eyes. Gabrielle moved in front
of the warrior and took her in her arms and rained gentle kisses across her
face while she wiped the tears away. "Xena I love you for wanting to
protect me, but sometimes you need someone to protect you too, and I want
to be that person."

"But Gabrielle..."

"Sshhh", she told her, as she placed her fingers on the warriors lips.
"I'll always be there for you Xena and together we will deal with whatever
comes our way. One thing at a time. Just promise you will never hold back
anything from me again. There have been too many misunderstandings and
denials between us to let anything like that get in the way ever again."

Pulling Gabrielle closer to her, Xena welded their lips together in a
seering kiss. "Gabrielle, I always want you with me and I promise that from
now on you will have all of me. I belong to you...heart, body and soul."

"And I to you, my dear warrior." Having made the vow to each other
that they would always be a part of each other and open to one another, they
proceeded to let their bodies follow the path their hearts had already

The End

As always, I appreciate any questions or comments you may have. My e-mail
address has been changed for future refrence anyone with questions, comments
or just wanting to say hello can reach me at mariontuttle@hotmail.com

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