The Why of It

Cath, Bard



The characters of Xena and Gabrielle and others belong in their entirety to Universal/MCA, Renaissance Pictures, and all the other powers that be. No copyright infringement is intended. I wrote this story at the urging of my muse; it should never be used for profit. Please do not copy or cite elsewhere without express permission of the author. "The Why of It" first posted on LaLa and Netgyrl’s "Tales from the Tavern Wall" and was written at the request of one of my fellow denizens at the Wall.


This story depicts scenes of violence and/or their aftermath. Readers who are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of depiction may wish to read elsewhere.


This story depicts a loving friendship between two consenting adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state or country in which you live, please do not read it. If depictions of this nature disturb you, you may wish to read something other than this story.

Part 1

Xena watched Gabrielle bathe. The tall, dark woman sat on the pond’s grassy shore, not yet ready to join the other woman in the clear water.

As the sunlight illuminated Gabrielle’s glistening torso, the Warrior Princess noted the large and small scars that now traced their way about her lover’s arms and upper body. She knew that short blonde hair covered another gash on Gabrielle's forehead. Not yet healed, an angry wound stood out on the Amazon’s left shoulder. That scar would require much time to fade.

"How many injuries has she had there alone?" thought Xena. She remembered at least three times, perhaps four, that the Bard (or her reincarnations) caught an arrow or sword in that shoulder.

"She’s starting to look like me," mused the Warrior. Her smile faded as she remembered the soft, pristine flesh of the girl who left Potidaea to join her on the road. Back then, Gabrielle’s expressive hands bore the cuts and calluses of a farm girl, but the rest of her body was untouched.

"The price paid for a life chosen." This is what Gabrielle would have said if asked about the changes in her physique since she began traveling with the Warrior Princess. And she paid willingly.

Xena noticed the younger woman’s large hands – strong, yet so gentle, as Gabrielle scrubbed her fingers through her short, blonde hair. She treasured the scent of that hair – clean and fresh.

The Dark Warrior closed her eyes and asked, "Why?"


Part 2

Gabrielle looked back at the shore. Xena sat there, gazing across the water at her.

The Bard found this vision beautiful, in a heartwrenching way.

What had she done to deserve the love of this extraordinary woman – a woman with a past deeper and darker than the mines of Corinth, yet who struggled daily for redemption and the greater good? The day that Gabrielle followed Xena from Potidaea, she thought she had found a hero to worship and to emulate. Eventually, the young Bard found her very self in the arms and eyes of the Warrior Princess.

Through their many adventures, the Bard had learned that Xena and she shared an eternal destiny as soulmates. They would be reincarnated time and again: separate, but always journeying together.

Gabrielle treasured these moments alone with the woman she loved. Peaceful moments were so few. They gave her time to ponder the question of two people from such different worlds, now forever joined.

The Amazon Bard floated on her back, eyes wide open to the cloudless, blue sky, and asked, "Why?"


Part 3

Xena felt a sudden chill, like plummeting into deep, cold water. She shivered and looked out on the pond. Gabrielle was nowhere in sight. The young woman had vanished before her eyes.

The Warrior Princess rose to her feet and concentrated on the spot where she had last glimpsed Gabrielle. She scanned the water from side to side and fought her panic as she watched for a signal that the Bard might be exploring the bottom of the pond. The steep banks made it nearly impossible for the young woman to have come ashore anywhere but near Xena.

"Gabrielle!" shouted the Warrior Princess. Her voice echoed back, "Gabrielle, Gabrielle, Gabrielle!" Fiery pain seared through her soul.

"No!" exclaimed the Warrior Princess in fury. She dove into the water and swam with inhuman speed to the spot where Gabrielle had been floating moments ago.

Xena took a deep breath and went under, searching the clear depths for a sign that Gabrielle was still there. Her sharp eyes failed to catch any hint of the Bard.

The Warrior Princess shot straight up out of the water, gasping for air. Her lungs burned, but she took another breath and went down again, and again.

Finally, exhausted by her effort and no longer able to see in the approaching darkness, the Warrior Princess swam sadly back to shore. She crawled onto the grass and collapsed, sobbing and shivering.

Lost in her sorrow, she barely heard someone calling her name. Finally, the voice grew insistent.

"Xena, look at me!"

The Warrior Princess lifted her head and saw an old woman standing just a few paces away. The woman held a staff that suspiciously resembled Gabrielle’s old weapon.

With a growl, Xena leapt the distance between them. In the blink of an eye, she pinned the woman to the ground, jabbed two pressure points in her thin neck, and cut off the flow of blood to her brain.

"Where is Gabrielle?" she snarled ferociously.

The old woman smiled despite her impending doom.

"The one you seek lies just before you," she responded, gasping for air.

Xena thrust her fingers at the pressure points on the old woman’s neck and stood over her, looking like an avenging goddess. The woman gasped for breath.

"This is no time for riddles. Tell me what you’ve done with Gabrielle or I’ll tear your heart out and feed it to the wolves."

The old woman pointed to a small clearing just beyond the trees that surrounded this part of the pond. Xena could see a fire and what looked like a human figure covered by a heavy cloak.

She hauled the crone to her feet by her wrist, snatched her sword from the ground and strode into the trees, dragging the woman after her.

As she entered the clearing, Xena glanced about warily for an ambush. She pushed the old woman ahead of her.

"No tricks," she growled.

The woman stumbled, caught her balance, and did not respond. Instead, she crossed to the figure on the ground and pulled back the cloak, revealing the face of Xena’s Bard.

Instantly, the Warrior Princess was on her knees beside Gabrielle. The young woman was unmarked and appeared to be breathing, but she was in a deep sleep. Her hair was wet and she wore nothing beneath the cloak. Xena tried to rouse her, gently at first, then more forcefully. Gabrielle mumbled incoherently. She refused to wake.

"Who are you? What have you done to her?" Xena demanded of the old woman now standing on the other side of the fire. She could feel her anger giving way to despair and frustration.

The woman stepped around the fire, reached with the staff, and drew back the cloak, revealing Gabrielle’s body.

"Look at her Xena. Behold the body of your beloved."

The woman used her staff to indicate the various wounds and scars that crisscrossed the Bard’s body, now illuminated by the firelight.

"Would you go back if you could and prevent these? Would you find a way to keep her from following you, now that you know all that happened?"

Xena was torn. She wouldn’t trade a moment of her time with Gabrielle for all the riches in the world, but when she examined the wounds and knew the pain that accompanied each, she hesitated. The old woman noted her confusion and continued.

"I heard you ask a question earlier today." The old one nodded toward Gabrielle. "She asked it too, at almost the same time."

"What question?" Xena inquired numbly as she stared at each wound on her lover’s body and realized their sharp contrast to Gabrielle’s peaceful face.

"You both asked ‘why?.’ It’s a simple question – why – yet so full of surprises when answered. Do you want the answer?"

"What I want is no more games."

The Warrior Princess had recovered her poise and suspected that the old woman might be setting them up for something. Her experiences with the Greek gods taught her never to trust a mysterious stranger who spoke in riddles.

"Do you want the answer?" the old woman repeated. "I know your young friend there wants it. She wants it badly enough to die for it."

"What do you mean?"

"I appeared to her just after you both asked your question today and offered to answer. I warned her that it involved great personal risk. To find the explanation, she would have to offer herself over to me. I told her that I would give you the answer, and if you accepted and agreed to tell her, she would return to the land of the living. If not, then she would remain forever in the world of the dead. Meanwhile, she slumbers between both worlds."

"Go on," Xena commanded when the woman paused to catch her breath.

"I gave her another option as well."

"Which was?"

"To allow me to make the same offer to you."

Xena pictured Gabrielle’s response. With resolute green eyes and a firm countenance, the Bard told the old woman something like, "No way."


Part 4

Xena sat and leaned back against large boulder near the fire. She eased the sleeping Bard onto her lap and made sure the young woman remained covered. The night air was cold.

The old woman sat on the other side of the fire, straight-backed, her legs crossed in a pose that Xena had seen often in India. Gabrielle used that pose when she meditated…


The Warrior Princess stroked the soft, sleek hair of her golden companion. The Bard smiled in response and her eyes moved beneath their closed lids. Wherever she was right now, she appeared happy – or at least comfortable.

"Are you ready?" the old woman asked.

Xena looked deep into the face of the being on the other side of the fire. Something flickered in that countenance. This woman was not what she appeared.

"Do I have a choice?" countered the Warrior Princess.

The crone chuckled and threw some sticks on the flames. Sparks flew into the vast darkness overhead.

"You always have a choice."

"Tell me what I need to know to bring her back. I can’t…." Xena choked off.

"Can’t what?"

"Just tell me what I need to know."

"Xena, answer my question. You can’t what?"

Suddenly, The Destroyer of Nations felt rather small and alone.

"I can’t live without her."

The crone snorted derisively.

"Of course you can live without her. And she can live without you. This everlasting love business is sheer nonsense. I’ve read her scrolls. She writes about soulmates and destiny like they are something that just happens, ordained by the fates, or the gods. It is imaginative drivel, designed for weak-minded, heart-dominated, sentimental fools."

Xena felt a powerful anger deep in her gut. Although she seldom let on, the Dark Warrior loved her Bard’s romantic tales. She fairly growled her next statement.

"You were going to tell me something that I have to tell her. Get on with it."

"Ah, yes." Another stick floated into the fire. The old woman reached to her belt and detached a small, leather pouch with a drawstring closure, which she opened carefully. She poured a handful of silvery powder from the pouch and threw it toward the flames. The smoke and fire turned brilliant orange, then flashed a striking green. Xena felt the image burn into her vision. She could not look away.

"Watch, then, Xena," the old woman commanded. "I’ll show you the why of it. Look upon the lives you led!"

Xena gazed into the flames, overcome with a heaviness that made it impossible to move her legs. She continued to stroke Gabrielle’s hair and forehead, taking comfort in the nearness of the young woman.

A familiar scene played out before her in the firelight: Xena, Destroyer of Nations, burying her armor, sword, and chakram; confronting Draco’s slavers as they tried to take the women and girls of Potidaea; a foolishly brave golden-haired girl offering herself to the slavers in trade for the others, about to face the slaver’s whip; Xena rescuing the captives. Again, the Warrior Princess felt the tender ministrations of Gabrielle’s mother as she tended the wounds inflicted during the rescue; the shame at Gabrielle’s father telling her to move on; the pride as the young girl stood up to him and urged her to stay. Xena didn’t even know Gabrielle’s name then. She recalled the reverence with which Gabrielle helped her don her armor, then pleaded with the Warrior Princess to take her away from the humdrum existence of Potidaea. From that very first moment, something about the girl appealed strongly to the Warrior. But she couldn’t let on.

The scene shifted to the early morning darkness of the next day as Gabrielle bade goodbye to her sister, Lila, and sneaked out of her home.

Despite her fondness for the events that brought Gabrielle into her life, Xena barely concealed her impatience. She wanted her Bard back – now. She gave the crone a hard, withering stare. The scene faded.

"I’ve known this for years. Gabrielle told me about these events. She wrote of them in her first scroll. They explain nothing."

"Patience, Warrior," the crone responded as if speaking to a dense child. "Her life is in your hands.’ With this, the old woman nodded toward Gabrielle. The Bard thrashed in Xena’s arms and groaned. She struggled for breath and a look of intense pain crossed her face.

Xena willed herself calm and held her partner tightly. She bent her head and whispered soothingly in Gabrielle’s ear. She looked across the fire at her tormentor. The woman nodded again, and Gabrielle relaxed. A light sheen of sweat remained as a memory of her struggle.

Xena conceded with a scowl.

"You win this one, old woman. Continue."


Part 5

The crone tossed more powder into the fire. Xena watched as the flames showed Gabrielle moving down the road that would carry her away from Potidaea, toward her future with the Warrior Princess.

The scene froze and the old woman looked directly at Xena – challenge in her eyes.

"You both imagine that you’ve made the best choices. What if you were deluding yourselves? You and Gabrielle think that her leaving Potidaea made a difference in her life. You think that staying there would have been a mistake. Watch now."

More images appeared in the flames.

Xena watched the young dreamer leave home to join the Warrior Princess. She could hear the girl’s thoughts as Gabrielle walked toward the sunrise.

"Okay, Gabrielle, which way would a Warrior Princess go?" the Bard-to-Be asked herself as she scanned the road leading from Potidaea to Amphipolis.

Xena could feel the girl’s excitement. Then, she felt something else – guilt, hesitance, fear. These feelings battled with Gabrielle’s desire for adventure and her worship of the Warrior Princess. Xena sensed all this as if she was inside Gabrielle’s mind.

But, this time, fear won. After a few more steps, the girl paused and gazed down the road, then back toward her village. She sighed and shook her head. With slumped shoulders and plodding step, Gabrielle turned back toward the safety and predictability of her home.

The "real" Bard stirred. Terrible pain and disappointment marked the illusory Gabrielle’s expression – an expression mirrored by the young woman cradled in Xena’s lap. Gabrielle began muttering, but all Xena could make out were the words "I failed again," as the sleeping Bard admonished herself for a newly imagined past.

"What of this choice?" The old woman’s question interrupted Xena’s concentration.

The Warrior Princess dreaded the scene to come, but she had to know – for her sake and Gabrielle’s.

"Show me what this means," she asked in a low, resigned tone.

The crone chuckled and floated another handful of powder into the fire.


Part 6

The old woman continued explaining to the darkness, as if alone.

"Gabrielle was the spark, the glowing ember that kindled a new flame in the Dark Warrior. In turn, Gabrielle basked in the light and warmth of Xena’s blaze, then found her own fire. Now, they burn together."

She paused and looked over at the Warrior Princess – her eyes glowing eerily, reflecting the campfire between them.

"But that is poetic nonsense, of course, from those scrolls," she snapped. "Behold reality."

The fire leapt into the night and another scene played out.

Fascinated, Xena observed her younger self as she stood in the middle of her mother’s tavern. The citizens of Amphipolis prepared to stone her to death, mistakenly thinking the Warrior Princess was leading a raiding army against the village. A young girl threw the first stone; the other villagers joined in. Xena watched her image begin to bleed from gashes on her face and shoulders. Even in self-defense, she would not lift her sword against the people of her homeland.

"This is where Gabrielle came to my rescue and convinced them to let me go," Xena thought smugly. She leaned down and whispered a "thank you" to the unconscious Bard.

But the scene continued without Gabrielle, and Xena looked on in horror as they hurled rocks, harder and faster, the fury of the crowd building by the moment. Hot, sticky blood poured from her wounds into the eyes of her image.

"Outside with her," demanded Cyrene, Xena’s mother. "Do what you will, but not in here."

Three burly men seized the stunned warrior, bound her wrists behind her, and led her from the tavern to the street. She offered no resistance.

The stoning continued until the Warrior Princess of Amphipolis was on her knees in the dust, covered with her own gore. As she gazed at the scene of her death, Xena felt the sting of the rocks, and the hatred and derision of the townspeople.

At last, the Warrior lay quietly in the street, breathing hard, life ebbing crimson from her body. An old woman hobbled up to the prone figure. She carried a large stone, which she dropped on Xena’s head, caving her skull.

"That is for the son you took away forever," the old woman whispered, then spat at Xena’s body.

She lay still as the villagers walked away. Cyrene came to the entrance of the tavern, shook her head, turned, and closed the door.


Part 7

In the present, Xena tried to slow her pounding heart. Despite the evening chill, perspiration rolled from her forehead, and mingled with the tears that trailed down her cheeks.

"So you came to the end you sought, and a bad one at that." The crone chuckled harshly.

Xena stared at the woman in disbelief. She had never really considered what might have happened without her beloved Bard’s intervention.

Finally, the Dark Warrior managed a question.

"And what of Gabrielle?" she asked hoarsely.

"Oh, you’d like to think she came to a bad end too, wouldn’t you?" taunted the old one. "But Gabrielle had a different fate."

More powder floated into the flames and conjured new images.

"By the gods," thought Xena in exasperation, "will she never run out of that stuff?"

Another scene played before the Warrior Princess.

Gabrielle sat in the middle of a comfortable hut, nursing a tiny infant girl. The babe suckled contentedly at her breast. Two other young children, a boy and a girl, both blonde and beautiful like their mother, played near the hearth. Gabrielle closed her eyes and emitted a sigh that sounded seriously contented.

Through the doorway strode a tall, handsome man. He approached the nursing mother, bent down, and placed a gentle kiss on her forehead. Xena gasped. The man was not Perdicas – Gabrielle’s intended when Xena first met the young woman.

The other two children greeted him as "father" and ran to him. He lifted them in strong, gentle arms, and hugged each in turn.

"So what has Potidaea’s most famous bard and healer done to make the world a better place today?" he asked with a smile and a wink.

Gabrielle laughed the familiar, soft, joyful laugh that Xena loved.

"Not much today. Xena kept me busy." She indicated the child in her arms, still nursing greedily.

"What a name you chose for our daughter, Gabrielle," he teased. "Named her after a vicious warlord, you did."

Gabrielle replied in a voice filled with conviction.

"Yes, Mathias, Xena was a warlord. But I wouldn’t be here now if she hadn’t rescued me from those slavers. She was trying to turn her life around."

"She died at the hands of her own people," he argued without rancor.

"We’ve covered this before," Gabrielle countered patiently.

"Well, I just hope our Xena doesn’t live up to her namesake," Mathias stated in a tone that indicated the conversation was over.

His spirited wife refused to surrender, but realized this was not the time.

"I hope she does," Gabrielle whispered, gazing at her infant with the clear eyes of a loving mother. The baby paused and smiled back at her, then resumed suckling.

"By the gods, I hope she does…"


Part 8

The images faded and the campfire burned down. Xena cradled Gabrielle in her lap. The Bard lay wrapped in the heavy cloak, and had not stirred for some time.

"So what do you think now, Warrior Princess?"

Xena did not respond. Instead, she contemplated the face of the young woman she held. Given what the crone had shown her, Xena gained far more from their relationship than her companion.

Without Gabrielle, Xena would have died at the hands of her own townspeople. Without Xena, Gabrielle would have become respected bard, healer, mother of three beautiful children, and wife of a man who seemed to cherish her.

With Xena, Gabrielle experienced injury pain, betrayal, crucifixion, the birth of an unnatural daughter, whom she was forced to kill… enough horrors for several lifetimes, let alone one that might be all-too-short if the Bard remained with the Warrior Princess.

Tears continued to dampen the Dark Warrior’s cheeks. She felt as if someone had wrapped a leather band around her skull, then tightened the band until it cut off all rational thought.

How could she explain this to Gabrielle?

The crone’s vision confirmed what Xena had dreaded all along: Gabrielle made the wrong choice when she followed Xena from Potidaea. The Warrior Princess chose unwisely and selfishly by allowing Gabrielle to stay with her.

She caressed the Bard’s forehead with a callused thumb. Gabrielle shifted and gave another small, contented smile. Xena wondered what might be running through the young woman’s mind.

The crone interrupted Xena’s melancholy reverie.

"You must promise to tell her this when she awakens, Warrior. Else, she forfeits her life."

Xena blinked back her tears and stared at the crone.

"How does all of this explain the why of it?" she asked in a flat, drained voice.

The crone smirked.

"You might get that answer when you talk with her," came the mysterious response.

Again, Xena gazed down at her companion. When she raised her eyes, the old woman had vanished.


Part 9

The Warrior Princess tucked the cloak tightly about the young woman and began to rock her, hoping to rouse her gently from her stupor. The Bard groaned. She stretched and squirmed.

Gabrielle opened her eyes. She tried to focus. Above her, by the dying firelight, she observed the concerned countenance of her friend.

"Welcome back," Xena whispered.

"What a dream…" Gabrielle began hoarsely. Then, she noticed that she was naked beneath the covering, and cuddled quite comfortably in the lap of her favorite Warrior Princess.

"Xena, what happened? Why are we…? Where are my clothes?"

Her attempt to sit up was thwarted by an uncooperative, spinning earth.

"Ooof!" she panted, and fell back into that wonderful lap, those strong arms…

Xena suppressed a smile.

"Gabrielle, do you remember anything about your dream?"

The Bard’s furrowed brow signified deep concentration.

"Not much at all… First, I was swimming in a pond. Then, I was back in Potidaea. And you rescued me from Draco’s men just like before…"

Here, the Bard paused and shook her head sadly.

"But this time, I was too scared to follow you…I couldn’t bring myself to leave home… and you went away, and I just….stayed."

Gabrielle’s words flowed as if she was trying to make sense of them for the first time.

Xena laid her companion tenderly on the ground and retrieved a waterskin.

She helped the Bard to sit up, then pulled Gabrielle back into her arms as she propped herself against the boulder. The younger woman leaned into Xena’s chest, wrapped in her protective embrace. Both women drank long, thirst-slaking draughts. Silence rested heavily between them: Gabrielle too tired to talk; Xena trying to figure out how to tell the Bard what she had learned from the crone.

Gabrielle noted several expectant glances from her partner. She let the first few pass, but they continued. Finally, she nestled even closer to the tall, dark woman and placed a hand on her forearm.

"What is it, Xena?" she inquired softly. "I know you want to say something. Just say it, please?"

The Warrior Princess flashed a grim, ironic smile, then stared into the campfire’s glowing coals. She sighed, wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, and began.


Part 10

"Gabrielle, do you recollect anything unusual about yesterday?"

The Bard pondered.

"Nothing odd that I recall…" She paused and envisioned yesterday’s events.

"Wait…while I was floating in the pond, I was sort of, you know, thinking about everything we’ve been through, and how much you mean to me, and….I just kind of asked ‘Why?’ Next thing I knew, I was back home, getting rescued again."

"That’s what I thought," Xena stated with a flash of insight. "I asked the same question while I watched you swim. Then you disappeared and the old woman showed up."

Xena described her search for Gabrielle and the crone’s arrival.

Memories flooded back. Gabrielle knew she had answered another question – something about a choice. She explained her own encounter with the crone to Xena, who nodded in understanding.

"You had a choice, and you chose me," the Warrior Princess whispered reverently. "You could have stayed conscious, avoided the risk, but you trusted I would tell you what you need to know."

Gabrielle nodded, and the way the Bard’s head moved across Xena’s breasts caused the Warrior Princess to swallow hard. She controlled her longing and continued.

"Do you remember anything after you gave up on following me and returned to Potidaea?"

"Nothing, except feeling like such a coward. I failed to follow my dream."

Xena debated with herself, but knew she risked the Bard’s life if she withheld the rest of the story.

"Gabrielle, listen carefully. The old woman showed me what happened, or would have happened. You definitely weren’t a failure, my love."

With that, the Warrior Princess shared what the crone had revealed, including her own death, and Gabrielle’s happy, fulfilling life as bard, healer, wife, and mother.

When Xena finished, she released the young woman. Gabrielle moved to sit beside her. Xena hung her head and rested it in her hands. She epitomized remorse and dejection.

Gabrielle stayed very still, lost in thought. She didn’t know what to say, but she knew she had to come up with something soon. Already, she sensed Xena’s guilt, despair, and darkness creeping back to smother them both.

The Bard whispered the first coherent words that came to mind.


Part 11

"I don’t want it any other way."

"What?" Xena questioned hoarsely, looking at Gabrielle with longing and apprehension.

The Bard found her true voice.

"I said I don’t want it any other way, Xena. I mean that. You think you’re the only one with regrets? I left my family and friends, my safety, maybe even a more fulfilling life. I was young and Potidaea seemed stifling. Sometimes I wonder if I wasn’t a little crazy. But I had plenty of chances to go back, even dreamed of going back. When I grew older and wiser, I realized that I might be able to fit in, make a contribution."

She paused. Xena nodded sadly.

"But every time I considered that option, the prospect of losing you tore my heart and soul apart."

Inwardly, Xena smiled. "By the gods, she has a way with words!" exclaimed her proud, private voice.

Outwardly, the Warrior Princess took the young woman’s hand and gave a reassuring squeeze.

Gabrielle’s grin ignited a blaze in the darkness. The Bard was on a roll now.

"Xena, you didn’t choose me. You barely tolerated me those first few weeks."

Xena began to protest, but Gabrielle silenced her with a mock scowl.

"Get this straight, Warrior Princess. I chose you. I’ve made that same choice again and again at every crossroads, except for the one time with Perdicas…" Here, she trailed off for a moment.

"But I returned even then. Even when I did something stupid, I always chose the path that led me back to you. Can’t you see that after all these years?"

Gabrielle’s question pierced Xena to her core. So many times the Warrior had not seen.

"Then, the answer to the question ‘Why?’ is because you chose?" asked the dark woman hesitantly.

"Yes," Gabrielle responded firmly. "And because you chose to take me back each time."

The Bard was on her knees now, in front of Xena. The Warrior sat upright, stiff and cross-legged.

Gabrielle gripped Xena’s shoulders with her strong hands. As she reached out, the cloak fell away, exposing her body – rippling muscle, soft, golden skin by fireglow. Xena emitted a small gasp and felt a growing heat at her center. A look of sheer, amorous lust filled her eyes. Gabrielle failed to notice as she continued her lecture.

"You told me that we create our own destiny. Well, we’ve done that, my love, every time we’ve chosen each other. There’s no magic here, Xena – no goddess in white casting a spell. There is only us and what we create each time we choose. Each choice forges another link in the chain, another rung on the ladder, another slat in the footbridge, another….mmmphff…"

Xena laughed as she covered the Bard’s mouth with her large, gentle hand.

"Believe me, Gabrielle. I get the picture."

Gabrielle shook her head. Xena withdrew her hand from those soft lips, and traced down the younger woman’s chin and throat to the tender area just above Gabrielle’s left breast. There, she used her fingertip to emblazon a small "X" wrapped inside a large "G." She drew a circle around the two letters. The Bard groaned at this erotic gesture. Her blue-green eyes reflected the love and lust she found in Xena’s.

In a flash, and with a growl of pure desire, the Amazon Bard launched herself at the Warrior Princess. Despite a valiant struggle, Xena lost.

The sun rose on two sleeping lovers, sharing an embrace, naked beneath a warm, comfortable cloak.

Somewhere beyond the forest, an old crone shape-shifted into the Goddess of Love.


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