The Winds of Change

Part 2

By L. Crystal Michallet-Romero

Copyright  © February 24, 2002 L. Crystal Michallet-Romero
All Rights Reserved

All feedback welcomed at:

A special thank you to my beta readers: Sue Rice, Bill The Semi-Bard and the love of my life, my soul mate and partner, Jess.
To Read Winds of Change #1:
* Xena Warrior Princess, its characters, and all related materials are the property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures.  No infringement intended.  All other characters are mine.
* The X-Files, it's characters, and all related materials are the property of Chris Carter, Fox, 1013 Productions. No infringement intended. All other characters are mine. 
Rated: NC-17
Violence: None
Sexual Violence: None
Subtext: Yes
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Overview: This story takes place after the Winds of change, which was centered around the time after the X-Files episode, Nothing Important Happened Today (Parts 1 and 2) Which guest starred Lucy Lawless.

The soft, soothing music of Andrea Bocelli wafted through their home from the Nakamichi, Cd-player. Dressed in faded blue jeans and a short sleeved white t-shirt, Xena trod barefoot over the cold tile. Once in the dinning room, she instantly regretted her casual attire when she saw the way Gabrielle had set the table. For a moment, she tried remembering if today was a special anniversary or birthday. When her memory assured that it was neither, she inhaled deeply as she steeled herself for an uncomfortable encounter over dinner.

Xena had long ago learned that something was bothering her lover whenever Gabrielle removed the warrior's choice of everyday dinner setting and replaced it with a more elaborate setting of her own choice. The simple Jade Crackle® dinner plates, inexpensive corkscrew glasses, and simple tablemats jointly purchased at Bed, Bath and Beyond and The Pottery Barn had been returned to the kitchen cupboards. In their place sat the fancier place settings that Gabrielle used on special occasions like anniversaries, birthdays, and gathering of close friends. The only other time Gabrielle would set the table with them was when the bard wanted Xena to know that she was upset or angry with her.

With only a smile, Xena tried to ignore the icy silence of her bond mate as she sat in her customary place. She overlooked the ornate 18k gold inlay within the Royal Doulton® plates. The warrior within her mentally noticed the difference in weight between the extravagant Philippe de Jorna® silverware, compared to her simpler choice of Treble® flatware. Keeping her eyes downcast, she carefully cut into the beef strip bringing the morsel to her lips, all the while making certain not to spill any of the meat's juices on the fine Linvosges® table linen. She closed her eyes and savored the wonderful flavor assaulting her senses.

"Umm-Yumm…." The warrior gave an approving smile as the luscious flavors of the dinner bathed her pallet. "Honey, you've really outdone yourself!"

Silence and an icy glare met Xena's words. Gabrielle remained frozen, arms folded in front of her, brows creased in irritation and lips pursed. Unexpectedly, the warrior noticed how the bard's tan blouse clung seductively. The ample shape of her breasts enhanced by the silk fabric caused the warrior's cheeks to flush with desire. 'Not now, dammit', she thought grimly. 'Aren't you in enough trouble?'

Xena lowered her gaze as she took the goblet of Chateau Lafite and savored it slowly, then returned it to its place on the table. The chilling coldness of her dinner companion prevented her from enjoying the heavy, yet smooth oaken flavor of France's first growth Bordeaux. As she gazed at the wine within the Lalique
® goblet, she wondered how she was going to get herself out of this mess. After so many centuries together, lovers' spats were inevitable, but usually they had overcome them. Such bumps in the road even added a bit of spice to long days and longer years. This time however, Xena was afraid she had done something so horrendous, that it was possible their relationship might not be able to recover from it, and the mere thought filled her with dread.

With an assumed air of nonchalance, the dark haired warrior smiled across the table to the bard. "Honey, this is the best meal you've made yet! I can't remember when you've cooked anything better! Yep, I mean this tastes really, um ... good…" Her words trailed off as her thoughts screamed, 'Holy Zeus, Xena, shut up,' as she returned her attention to consuming the dinner. 'You're only making it worse with your babbling, you idiot!'

With the room devoid of human conversation, the sweetly melodic crooning of the Italian tenor rose in the air. While she ate the meal, Xena mentally sang along with the song, translating each word into the ancient Greek language that she had once spoken with her lover. Although many of the words had disappeared over time, the basic meanings of love never went away.

With a slight sigh, Xena kept her eyes downcast on the food. Pushing the food around on the plate, she mulled over the current situation. When it seemed that that the sorrow of her heart could no longer be contained, she gulped down the sadness before gazing at her lover with a broad smile and tried again.

"You know, Gabrielle, I really have to admit it! You've really learned a lot from watching that Copper Cook show!" Xena exclaimed with a flourish as she took a bite from the asparagus on her plate. 'Shut UP, you stupid idiot', her mind screamed.

Gabrielle only gazed at her, her eyes never wavering from the warrior. "That's Iron Chef, Xena. And this isn't Japanese cooking," the bard's voice was deep and controlled as she became teary eyed as her lower lip began quivering. Unable to maintain eye contact, the bard turned away from Xena as a single tear ran down her cheek.

The warrior couldn't stand it any more. "Aw ... Gabrielle ... Sweetheart ... please," Xena's voice was soft as she sat her fork on the plate. "I'm sorry, honey, really I am! Gabrielle, how long are you going to be mad at me?"

Either unwilling, or unable to answer, Gabrielle glanced down as she readjusted herself in her seat. Her eyes focused on the uneaten food on her plate. As if the weight of the world were settled heavily upon her shoulders, the bard slumped in her chair, anger no longer holding her up.

"Xena, why can't we even talk about this?" the bard's voice was imploring.

At the intense scrutiny from her bard, Xena lowered her eyes. "Gabrielle ... it-it's just ... honey, please, it was just a stupid mistake. There's nothing to it, believe me! I can't believe you're even angry about it, it's not like I cheated on you!"

"You don't understand do you?" Gabrielle shook her head. "Xena, why are you brushing this aside? Why can't we even talk about it without you running off and hiding? And if it had happened to you, wouldn't you want to know about it? Wouldn't you be just a little bit angry too?" Her voice was so soft that Xena had to strain to hear her.

"Gabrielle, I didn't run away and hide," she pleaded.

"No? Then I guess working-out was more important this morning rather than answering my question? And what about when I tried to bring it up again during lunch and you dashed out?" Her brow arched in a question.

"Well ... my car needed a tune-up! You never know when I'll need it…" The warrior tried to defend.

Gabrielle eyed her soul mate narrowly. "Xena, I can't believe this! You're doing it again ... after all of these centuries, you're treating me just like you did for the first few years after we met. Except nowadays, instead of sharpening your sword to avoid talking to me, you run off to the weight room, or the rec room or out in the garage to tinker with the cars!"

At her lover's words, Xena closed her eyes as a sigh escaped her. Filled with guilt, she lowered her head, placed her elbows on the table, and covered her eyes as her own tears threatened to spill. She knew she had made a mess of things, and now the warrior didn't know how to get herself out of it.

"Gabrielle ... I'm so very, very, sorry..." Xena offered again as she shook her head for emphasis. "Please, I'm a fool, an idiot, even a jerk, but please, please don't be angry with me!" she begged.

For a moment, Gabrielle seemed to contemplate her lover's words, then, with a shake of her head, she pushed away from the table. The napkin from her lap fell unheeded to land at the bard's feet before she walked away. In a desperate attempt to get through to her lover, Xena rose from her chair and followed the smaller woman through their house.

"Gabrielle, please, I'm sorry! It was a mistake! I don't know what else to say!" She pleaded as she restrained the retreating bard in the hallway.

The smaller woman glanced down at Xena's hands. At her gaze, Xena released her hold of Gabrielle's arm. "Please?" Xena entreated, careful not to touch her again for fear of violating her lover's personal space uninvited.

"Xena, you just don't even understand why I'm angry, do you?" Gabrielle said in wondering tones.

For a moment, Xena thought over her lover's words. She knew what Gabrielle was searching for, but for one reason or another, Xena found it hard to express. Unlike the bard, words did not come easy to the warrior, and the span of a few thousand years had not changed this fact.

As if sensing Xena's retreat, the smaller woman's eyes filled with tears as she gazed into the tall woman's eyes. For a moment, she appeared to be thinking. She shook her head slowly and very softly said, "Why can't you just talk to me?"

"Gabrielle ... I-I ... it's just that…" But her words fell into silence as she lowered her eyes in shame.

After a deafening moment of silence, Gabrielle shook her head. She turned away from Xena, and sighed in defeat. The bard seemed uncertain of what to do next. But then, filled with purpose, Gabrielle moved away and walked directly toward the double garage.

Xena stood back and watched as Gabrielle strode from their home. With quick, purposeful steps, the smaller woman walked past the hooks on the wall, grabbed her set of keys, and walked out through the kitchen door. In defeat, Xena closed her eyes as she leaned against the wall. Her initial instinct was to chase after her lover, begging her to return, but all Xena could do as Gabrielle walked away, was bow her head struggling to hold back her tears.

With resignation, Xena turned away as she heard the Jaguar's engine reeve up. The blaring music of the car stereo clashed with the operatic melodies and filled the air, wafting through the house. Xena glanced up and gazed out the window. She caught her bard's tear filled eyes pleading for something that Xena was unable of giving, right before Gabrielle backed her Jaguar XKR two-door coupe out of the garage. With a roar, it tore down their private cement road, its rear lights disappearing at the bend.

As the warrior moved through the hallway, she thought over the bard's words. Her mind went over everything that had happened between them as she walked into the dinning room. The food remained untouched and the bottle of Chateau Lafite sat open on the table.

With only a sigh, she chugged the remaining wine in the goblet before leaving the empty glass on the table, then took the bottle and moved toward the stairs. With each step, she took a deep swallow from the bottle. A part of her wanted to clean up the table and surprise Gabrielle, yet another part just wanted to drink away her pain and wallow in self-pity. 'Besides, knowing Achala, she's right behind the kitchen door waiting for me to be gone before she rushes in to clean up,' Xena reasoned as she began walking up the steps. The low clinking sounds that started behind her before she was halfway up the stairs confirmed her suspicions bringing a sad smile to her lips. Slowly, it became a frown as she began thinking about what the bard had said once more.

A part of her knew what Gabrielle was talking about, and although she thought she had gotten better over the years, there were still some things that Xena was unable to communicate. Her little mistake with Gabrielle was one of them, she reasoned as she moved into their shared room. She moved to the low dresser drawers and leaned against them, placing the bottle of wine on the rosewood surface. Xena longed to finish the wine yet knew that this would not solve her problems. When she glanced up, she saw her own reflection looking gloomily back at her and sighed.

"Face it, Xena, you've really messed up this time," she said out loud before turning and falling on the bed.

'What is wrong with me?' She silently asked herself as she curled into a fetal position, her arms instinctively reaching for someone who was not there. Instead of a warm body, she took Gabrielle's pillow and held it close, the fragrance of her lover wafting to her senses.

'I love her, so why can't I just ... talk to her ... tell her why it is that I do things,' her mind wondered even as the silent tears trickled from her eyes and lulled her into a fitful slumber.
As Gabrielle shifted the gears, she glanced in the rear view mirror and watched as the private gate closed behind her. With a shake of her head, she brushed the tears away and tried to concentrate on her driving. When this failed to stop her tears, she simply leaned into the soft leather seat as she turned off the CD player and flipped on the radio. Like a dark omen, the voice of Cher came blaring out at her.

"No matter how hard I try ... you keep pushing me aside ... and I can't break through ... there's no talking to you…" The singer's words brought a slight chuckle to the bard.

In all of her years with Xena, she had never felt as alone as she did now. It was true that when they first got together, Xena had the habit of not communicating with her. The first thing that came to mind was the incident in Chin with Lao Ma. If Xena had only told her the truth, if she had only known the whole story, instead of slight comments or innuendo, then maybe ... but no, Gabrielle had not known. She had been kept deliberately out of the loop and that was because Lao Ma was someone whom Xena had loved, perhaps even more than she loved her bard.

At this thought, Gabrielle slammed her foot on the gas and felt the powerful engine surge forward, its acceleration pushing her back against the seat as she tore down the road.

'No, Xena only tries to keep something from me when she has strong feelings about it,' Gabrielle thought as the music changed. Cher's voice faded out and was replaced by the anger filled voice of Alanis Morissette. As the tears ran down her cheek, the bard began to sing along, belting out the familiar words that had never meant anything to her before now.

"I want you to know that I'm happy for you. I wish nothing but the best for you," Gabrielle sang out as she felt the steering wheel in her grasp. "Is she perverted like me? Would she go down on you in a theater? Does she speak so eloquently? And would she have your baby?"

With a growl, the bard shifted gears as her gaze remained fixed on the road. The large full moon on her left side failed to capture her attention. Instead, she drove as her mind fought to sort out her rampant thoughts. When she saw a look-out point off from the freeway, she steered her car towards the exit, then followed the signs in the dark. Once at the top, she parked her car and turned off the engine as well as the final accusations of Alanis Morissette.

As she stared into the night, she reflected upon their early years together, which seemed to return with crystal clarity. Her memories of those times were the most pleasant and not only because Xena had been her first, but because of their mutual love, respect and yes, honesty. True, there were times when Xena had grown silent and introspective, but those were always times when Gabrielle knew how to comfort her lover. Through it all, their days of traveling and the adventures they experienced, were times she would never have traded. When the opportunity arose for them to always have one another, it took only a bit of encouragement from Aphrodite to get them each to eat of Odin's golden apple.

'Did we make a mistake?' she silently wondered as she closed her eyes to the onslaught of images that ran through her mind. 'Are soul mates really meant to be living an immortal existence with one another?' Before she could even contemplate it, the image of their baby, the child that Xena had wanted, came to mind.

She could vividly remember the first time Xena brought up the subject. There was finally a lasting peace in the land, and she felt that an addition to their family would liven things up. Since Xena had progeny through Eve, the warrior suggested that perhaps Gabrielle might want to carry a baby for them. Although she saw through Xena's ruse, the bard accepted because she loved Xena enough to give her a child. It didn't matter that Xena desired a little one looking like her lover. All that mattered to the bard was that Xena was happy.

Gabrielle remembered their joint effort to find a suitable father. Once he was found, it took little time for them to bring him into their circle long enough for his seed to be planted within her. Once she became pregnant, she and Xena had left the man and the country he lived in as quietly as they had entered it. Except that they left with a baby of their own, Gabrielle thought with a smile.

Together they raised the child, and watched with pride as the boy grew into a man. Later they waited with joy each time his wife swelled with his babies. When she and Xena felt that too many questions had arisen by their long life and good health, they staged their deaths and left their short-lived kin to live in peaceful ignorance of their ancestors' immortality. Although they still kept track of Gabrielle's kin through the Covington line, as well as Xena's Pappas lineage they tried not to interfere with the daily lives of their descendants. It was only when they later heard of archeologist's Janice Covington and Melinda Pappas' plan to enter the tomb of Ares that they decided to intervene. When their descendants encountered the God of War in the tomb, Xena used her immortal gifts for the first time to enter into Mel's body while Gabrielle monitored from behind the scenes. Later, when Ares' plan was defeated, they drank a toast to the strength of their many times's great-grand children. Afterwards they shared a laugh as well, at the expense of the God of War who had so often plagued them in ancient times.

Gabrielle found herself smiling as she remembered their years together. True, they had some rough times, but overall, their lives together were filled with happiness and joy. The few excursions they made to help various people and groups were simply distractions along the way.

"So why are you closing me out, my love?" she asked aloud, then shook her head as she looked up at the stars. "Because now I've got to drag it out of you ... one way or another."

Once she had answered her own question, she reached down and started the car. Filled with a new resolve, she gunned the engine and made her way back to the freeway. As the radio blared out music, she ignored the lyrics as she drove over the road, her only thoughts on her relationship with Xena. She didn't know what was behind her soul mate's thoughts, but she swore that she wouldn't back down. As her tears dried up, she decided that she'd get answers from her lover no matter what the cost.
Xena hadn't realized that she had fallen asleep. All she remembered was curling up on their bed and hugging Gabrielle's pillow close. At the soft touch, she almost forgot the anger of her lover. With a smile, she opened her eyes and saw the slight reflection of green eyes staring back.

For Gabrielle, she wasn't altogether certain what she would find when she returned home. The dinning room was now spotless and the lights were turned off. Once she made her way into the bedroom, she noticed the near-empty bottle of wine on the dresser, the heady scent of wine in the room. On their bed, Xena laid curled in a fetal position, her arms wrapped protectively around the bard's pillow.

Gabrielle smiled at this as she kicked off her shoes and carefully moved to join her lover. For a few moments, she lay on her side and watched the taller woman sleeping, the soft gentle breaths almost lulling her to sleep. It had been so long since Xena had drunk herself to sleep, yet knowing that the bottle wasn't empty eased Gabrielle's concerns. 'It would take much more than just a bottle to get you dead drunk,' the bard thought as she remembered the few times that Xena had passed out from too much wine.

When she reached out and lightly touched Xena's soft, tear stained cheeks, the warrior instantly stirred, her eyes opening from the slight contact. As she saw the slight smile, the bard only stroked her cheek some more as she waited for the sleep to leave her lover. When it did, she fought for patience as she steeled herself for this encounter.

"Xena, are you finally ready to discuss this with me?" The bard asked calmly.

Xena nodded sheepishly as she wiped at the dried tears in her eyes, "Yeah."

"Xena, what happened last night?" Gabrielle asked softly as she held the accusations in her heart at bay.

"Gabrielle, I swear ... I-I don't know," was all she offered.

"After all of our years together, you've never done that before ... never," Gabrielle said softly as she kept the tears from her voice.

Filled with a sense of defeat, Xena closed her eyes. Her outer appearance resembling a whipped puppy as she said, "Honey, please ... it didn't mean anything, honest!"

"But ... Xena, you've never cried out another woman's name when we made love ... why,
Xena, why now?" She asked maintaining her gaze on the warrior.

Uncertain of what to say, Xena leaned against her. She laid her forehead against the bard's as she reached for the smaller woman and wrapped her arm over Gabrielle's waist. When it seemed that Gabrielle would not pull away, the tall warrior sighed as she snuggled deeper into her lover's arms. "Honey, it was a mistake!"

"But ... Xena ... why, Scully? Why did you call out her name? Is there something going on between you two that I don't know about?" Gabrielle asked as her fingers absently ran through her soul mate's hair.

Xena thought about the question, it was something she had thought about ever since it happened but she still had no good reason for her mistake. With a sigh, she closed her eyes, her mind trying to find answers as Gabrielle's hypnotic fingers brushed through her hair.

"Gabrielle, forgive me, please! I've been lying here trying to figure it out myself ... and, well ... it's just ... umm ... oh, gods! I don't know how to say this..." her voice grew low as she tried to find the right words.

Finally, when an answer seemed to emerge, she pulled away from Gabrielle and looked into her eyes. Xena reached out and lightly touched her lover's cheek then brushed her fingers through the smaller woman's soft hair. "Sweetheart ... it's, well ... it's your new hair color..."

"My hair color?" Gabrielle's voice was laced with confusion.

Xena sighed, then nodded. "Honey ... it's just that ... well, it's a lot like Scully's style, I mean ... it even looks the same color as when we first started to monitor her, remember? It's a deep auburn, like the way she used to keep it. I think I may have unconsciously been thinking that at the time I said her name," the warrior explained, then added, "but it didn't mean anything, honest!"

"My hair?" Gabrielle was confused as she touched her own locks, "But you knew I was going to change it?" The smaller woman was self-conscious.

"No, I didn't! When you said you felt you needed a change, I thought you'd just buy some new clothes like you always used to ... maybe get a new necklace ... I didn't know you'd go and get a whole new hair cut and go and change the color too!" Xena exclaimed.

"You don't like it!" The bard pouted as she looked on the verge of more tears.

"No, honey! I didn't say that! It's just ... well ... after a few thousand years of my blonde bard, it just may take me a while to get used to it. As for what happened when we were making love, when you went down on me, and I saw that hair color between my thighs, it was an honest mistake! I swear, there is nothing going on between me and Scully!" Xena pleaded.

The bard seemed to think over her words. Her mind deciphered the meaning even as her heart embraced Xena's explanation. When she glanced at her lover, she noticed the imploring gaze begging for forgiveness.

"Xena, you know I've never forbidden you if you desired to spend time with another, so you know I wouldn't be angry if a part of you wanted to share yourself with Scully. But I would be very hurt if you kept it from me. Xena, we've never once lied to one another, not in the last three millennia." Gabrielle stated matter-of-factly as she reminded the warrior of the agreement that they had made long ago.

At the memory of their age-old lives together, Xena smiled as she nodded understanding. It was true, in all of their years together, they had never again lied to each other since the twin debacles of Hope and Ming Tien. Although they had agreed to be open to other relationships, aside from the one time when they both wanted a child, neither one had shared themselves with another.

"No, we haven't. In the three thousand years that we've been together, honesty has always kept us together," the taller woman agreed.

"Yes, it has, Xena. So please tell me now, do you ... desire Scully, maybe on a subconscious level?" Gabrielle asked.

Xena remained silent as she thought over her lover's question. When her time in Dana Scully's presence crossed her memory, she sighed as she closed her eyes and thought hard about it. Small in stature, yet filled with such strength, Scully more than Agent Reyes had caught her attention. Next to Gabrielle, Xena had never met a woman filled with such intelligence, inner strength, and beauty, and this had intrigued her.

She inhaled deeply as the realization of this thought suddenly settled in her mind. Afraid of what her bard might think, she closed her eyes tightly in an attempt to dampen whatever emotions might have arisen in her for the FBI agent. As if seeing her struggle, Gabrielle lightly touched her warrior's cheek, then forced her to gaze into her eyes.

"Xena, I love you; I know you love me. Nothing will ever change this fact," she assured.

At the open declaration, the warrior released the breath she had been holding as the floodgates to her tears suddenly opened up. She reached for the bard, held her close in her arms, and allowed her tears to fall freely as she gently laid kisses over her lover's face.

"Oh, please forgive me Gabrielle. I hadn't ... didn't ... I couldn't even see what you were saying, I'm so sorry!" Xena whispered as she kissed her bard's tender lips. When calmness returned, the smaller woman pulled away as she gently wiped the tears from Xena's cheeks.

"Xena ... how far do you want to go with these feelings for her?" The bard asked unconsciously holding her breath.

"I don't want to go anywhere, Gabrielle. Please trust me, I've been with you for so long because we are meant to be with each other. Since we ate of Odin's apple, I've never lied to you, and I don't plan on it now," she assured, than added, "I don't want whatever feelings I have to go anywhere with Scully. It's just that ... by the gods, Gabrielle, when you showed up with your hair like this, with this color, you reminded me so much of her and ... I don't know how to explain it," Xena sighed as she ran her fingers through her lover's hair.

"Do you love her?" the petite redhead asked quietly.

"Gods, no!" Xena answered immediately. "I love you, Gabrielle. And what I see in Dana ... well, I've seen that ever since the first time I saw you." At Gabrielle's confused expression, she nervously gulped as she steeled herself for the next explanation. "Gabrielle, Dana is a strong, confident woman. She is filled with such intelligence, and is so beautiful ... I can't help but admire that, because it was the first thing I saw in you. But Sweetheart, you've got to believe, I do not want to act on any feelings, unless they're with you," Xena stated intently.

At her words, Gabrielle's eyes became moist as she hugged her lover. Her arms wrapped protectively around Xena and pulled her close. As if the strain of their argument had never existed, the bard tenderly caressed her. They lay like this in silence, until finally, as if a thought had just crossed her mind, Gabrielle pulled slightly away.

"Xena, how come you can always change your appearance at the drop of a dime, but when I decide to make a change, it's harder for you to accept?"

Surprised by her question, Xena blinked as she pulled away from Gabrielle. "I'm not changing my appearance because I want to; I only get disguised for going under cover, that's all," Xena tried brushing away Gabrielle's accusation as an air of injured innocence crossed her features.

"Xena, you know perfectly well that Dana Scully had never known you as The Warrior Princess, so why'd you style your hair differently?" Her words were challenging.

Xena, unable to respond, shrugged her shoulders as she tried making her escape from the bard's inquisition. "I told you, it's just when I go undercover, no other reason why," she said as she snuggled close to the bard.

"Oh, no you don't, Warrior Princess!" Gabrielle warned as she easily rolled Xena onto her back, straddling her lover's torso as she held the bigger woman down. "Come on, Xena, tell me the truth! You don't go through all of those changes just for going undercover! Admit it! You like to have a change of look as much as any other woman does!"

In a mock struggle, Xena wiggled in her grip while protesting her innocence. With a large smile, Gabrielle reached down and began tickling her lover. Xena's features turned stoic as she tried to fight against the fingers, then, with a slight shrug, she softly chuckled. At this slight show of defeat, Gabrielle stopped her movements as she gazed down into dark blue eyes.

Xena smiled up at her lover, her gaze falling into familiar desire filled green eyes before moving to the dark auburn hair. When she realized how truly beautiful her lover was, either with blonde hair, or auburn, she smiled.

"Okay. You're right ... I like change as much as you or anyone else. I guess I just like to change my appearance more often than you do," Xena admitted.

"And when I decide to change, I really change, huh?" Gabrielle smiled down at Xena.

Without a word, Xena lifted up and kissed Gabrielle's lips. Their kiss was at first soft and tender, then became deeper. When they finally pulled apart, Xena smiled up at her. "If you release my hands ... we could have another go at it," she wiggled her eyebrows, "and this time, I promise, the only name I will cry out will be yours!"

The bard seemed to think about it for only a moment, then released her hold on the warrior and said, "If you'd like, I can pretend to be, a, um, certain auburn haired FBI agent and interrogate you! That way you couldn't be blamed for saying anything, um, incriminating in the, uh, heat of the moment, could you?" She smiled wickedly.

At the sound of lust in Gabrielle's voice, and her seductive expression, Xena's eyes grew wide from surprise and she felt a flush of desire heat her skin. Before she had time to think, she asked, "…and during this interrogation, might there be some ... ummm ... handcuffs involved?"

"Oh, most definitely!" Gabrielle smiled licking her lips.

"Honey, you're on!" Xena answered quickly as she felt her body already responding to her lover's words.

The End

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