With A Little Help From Our
by Marion D Tuttle
This is a story that was posted long ago and subsequently got lost in the shuffle. I had recived several request to repost it but unfortunatly I had lost the copy I had as well. So I wish to extend thanks to Murphy for not only requesting that it be reposted but also finding it some where in the anals of cyber space and sending it to me. Thank you Murphy for being more with it than I was :)
All the standard stuff goes here the characters you recognize are all owned by Universal Studios although there are a couple in here that came out of my own musings anyway no copyright infringement intended, not written for profit Yadda yadda yadda
Sex disclaimer You better believe it this is a story about two women that are very much in love if that offends you my heart really does bleed for you
The atmosphere in the tavern was one of lively celebration, The village was preparing for it's harvest festival and everyone was in a flurry of activity, cooking, setting up stands all the general preparations that went along with any celebration. The Innkeeper was busy checking last minute details for two very special guest he was expecting. He spoke to is wife and then to his staff he wanted to make sure everything would be perfect for their arrival. If some one had told him several years ago that he would not only be looking forward to a visit from the Warrior Princes but that she would be one of his best friends and an honered guest in his establishment he would have laughed. After all it wasn't that long ago that Xena had been a warlord, feared in most of the known world. But she had changed, it was because of that change that he and his wife had survived the attack on their village . In fact most of the people that lived here now owed their very lives to Xena and Gabrielle.
Two women entered the common room just as the Innkeeper was making his final rounds. In the middle of giving final instructions to his staff for tonights celebration he looked up. As he saw the friends he had been expecting his face lit up with a grin. He rushed over to the women to greet them warmly. "Xena, Gabrielle welcome I'm glad you were able to make it for the festival."
Xena clasped hands with the Innkeeper. "Paulas it's good to see you again, how is you're family?"
"Everyone is great thanks to you two."
The Innkeeper snapped his fingers and motioned for a barmaid. "Bring the best meals in the house and wine for my friends." turning back to Xena and Gabrielle he said "I have my best room reserved for you, after you've finished you're dinner I'll have a bath sent up." Gabrielle reached for the pouch where she kept their dinars. Seeing this Paulas raised is hand to stop her. "You're money is no good here, put it away."
"No objections Gabrielle, after what you and Xena have done for this village no one here will take money from either of you."
The bard knew when she was losing an argument and she graciously acquiesced. "Okay, okay you win Palus, but at least agree to let me entertain later on with some stories." The thought of getting to try out some of the new stories she had been working on appealed to Gabrielle. She had been spending a fair amount of time writing lately, more to ward off frustration than anything else. When they were traveling it didn't seem to bother her too much but when they were in one place for more than a day or too she had begun to notice lately that feelings she had been able to keep a handle on were coming to her more and more often. At first she had told herself that it was just a case of hero worship that made her think of Xena nearly every waking moment. But it had become clear to her that it was much more than that her biggest problem was she had no idea what to do about it. She was afraid to make her feelings known. She was sure if Xena felt the same way about her she would have said something by now. But she told herself she had to face the truth, Xena thought of her as a friend, that was all. The woman was gourgus and could have anyone she wanted. She told herself that being Xena's best friend and traviling companion was enough and she wasn't going to jepordize that by trying to make their relationship into more than it was.
"I'd never argue against hearing some of your stories Gabrielle."
Xena stood back and smiled at the exchange. It was true if she had her choice between making a campsite or staying in an Inn, she would chose the campsite most every time. But this was the one exception. Xena genuinely liked these people so she grudgingly accepted their gratitude for having saved their village last spring from Callisto's army. The most important factor in her tolerance was that it made Gabrielle happy to be here. The warrior would give all she had in this world to make sure her bard was happy. She had been dealing with her own growing feelings, she wasn't wxactly sure when it had happened but but she had begun to see Gabrielle in a diffrent light. There had always been something specail about the young woman, Xena had seen that from the moment she had laid eyes on her. But she had clamied the warrior's heart before Xena had even know what was happeneing. The problem was Xena had herself convinced that Gabrielle deserved more than she could ever give her and she wa s not going to stand in the bards way when it came time for her to have the things she wanted. Gabrielle had talked about wanting a home and a family, these were things that Xena would never be able to give her, or so she thought. As a result both women were caught in what seemed to be an impossiable situation. They both wanted the same thing but neither of them knew it. It had become clear that it was going to take a little outside help to get the two of them together.
Paulas had an ulterior motive for setting the stage the way he had. Over the time that he and his wife had become friends with the warrior and her bard they had made some very astute observations. Both he and his wife had noticed the loving gazes Xena gave Gabrielle when she thought no one was looking. They had also taken note of the desire in the younger woman's eyes each time she looked at Xena. Paulas and his wife could clearly see that their two friends were in love with each other, now they just had to help them see it. The three friends sat at the table talking about some of the upcoming events of the festival. When the barmaid arrived with a tray laden with food Paulas excused himself saying he had other things to attend to.
Leaving both women at the table, Paulas went in search of his wife. Seeing her head towards the kitchen he followed her in. "Marina, have you heard anything more?"
"Not here Paulas"
"The stables, come with me."
Husband and wife walked towards the stable hand in hand. After entering the building Marina quickly surveyed the interior to make sure they were alone. Once she was assured of this she secured the door with a bolt.Paulas asked again "Have you heard any more about what we're supposed to do?"
"No I haven't Paulas and I've got to tell you I don't like this at all."
His puzzled expression made it clear to his wife that he didn't understand "What's not to like? We get to help two good friends and get on Aphrodite's good side in the process." He couldn't understand his wife's reluctance to take part in this plan. It wasn't that she didn't want to see Gabrielle and Xena together. In fact she had made the statement to him many times before that they should give their friends a little push in the right direction.
"You seem to be forgetting we could also be incurring Ares' wrath. On top of that what if we've been misreading things and this is not what Xena and Gabrielle want? I mean if we're wrong and we put them in an uncomfortable position" She paced in front of her husband. "Please understand Paulas I want them to be happy, but I don't want to risk having Ares take it out on us. things have been going so well....
Marina was becoming visibly agitated when a shower of light appeared before them. "Chill Honey nothing bad is going to happen." The Goddess of Love had taken them completely by surprise she took a few steps over to stand in front of Marina "First of all nothing will happen between those two that they don't want I promise you if they BOTH don't feel the same way about each other nothing will happen. I just want to get them in the right setting to open up their hearts to each other, no magic, no spells. Secondly leave worrying about my brother to me."
"May I ask a question Goddess?" Marina couldn't believe she had found her voice to address Aphrodite directly "Why do you care whether Xena and Gabrielle become more than close friends?"
Smiling at the woman that had dared to question her she answered. "My brother
thinks if he can get Gabrielle out of Xena's life he can get her to go back to
her old warlord ways. I don't believe that would ever happen, Xena is a changed
woman and she sees now that Ares is not what she needs. But if Xena finally
admits her love for Gabrielle it will put her that much further out of my war
monger brothers grasp. Besides, I am the Goddess of Love after all." With that
was gone in the same shower of light.
Paulas grinned at his wife "She does have the entrance and exit thing down to an art form doesn't she." They both began to laugh and headed back towards the Inn. Xena and Gabrielle had finished their dinner of roasted fowl and vegetables with fresh nut bread and fruit. They sat companionably sharing a jug of wine, Gabrielle had begun telling Xena about some of the plans she had made for their stay here. Placing a hand on Xena's arm to emphasize a point she saw a fleeting look pass the warrior's face, close to physical pain.
Gabrielle wasn't to far of the mark in her assessment of that look. Xena
had reached a point where she craved any contact with the bard but it hurt
wanting more than just casual contact and not being able to have it. Every time
the bard touched her lately it was like sending lightning bolts along her nerve
endings. If only she thought Gabrielle might be able to feel the same
Still holding on to Xena's hand Gabrielle was feeling many of the same things. Lately she thought she had seen glimpses of desire in Xena's eyes whenever they were close but she didn't act on these thoughts for fear of the reaction she might get.
Both women wanted what was closer than they know and both were afraid to reach out and take it, stifled by the fear of rejection. Draining the last of the wine from her cup Xena stood up "I'm going to go check on Argo. Are you going upstairs?"
"Yeah I'll meet you up there when you're done" Tossing an apple to Xena from the table she added "Give it to Argo as a treat."
She smiled in spite of herself. Gabrielle's sensitivity was one most
endearing qualities. Looking at her friend a series of thoughts flashed through
her mind. Each one more erotic than the one before. Xena shook her head to clear
it and headed for the door.
The bard had covertly watched the emotion that had played across Xena's face and she began to wonder. Had she been wrong to hold back her feelings. Was Xena facing the same struggles she had been? As she made her way towards her
room she sensed a presence behind her. She was getting almost as good as Xena at using all the levels of her senses, she turned
coming face to face with the Goddess of Love herself. Aphrodite what are you doing here?"
"I'm here to help."
"Not that I'm not happy to see you, but help with what?"
Aphrodite didn't want to have to spell it out for her. She had hoped that by approching Gabrielle she could plant the seed of an idea that the bard would take hold of. "I'm here to help with you and Xena." The Goddess added hoping Gabrielle would pick up on what she was trying to say.
For her part Gabrielle was at a loss she knew what her feelings for Xena were but she had never voiced them to anyone. Was it possible that, being a God Aprhidite had figured it out? Part of her wanted to open up to her friend and tell her everything but she still held back. "I don't know what you mean. Xena and I are fine, but if you want to stick around to say hi she should be up in a few minutes. She just went out to check on Argo."
Aphrodite began to get the idea that she was going to have to try a diffrent tactic. 'I said no magic' She thought to herself. 'But it doesn't really count if all I do is give her a little push to let out the truth in her heart doeas it?' Standing before Gabrielle she placed her hand over her eyes drawing them closed "Pretend that I'm Xena and do what you most desire."
Without a moments hesitation Gabrielle took the Goddess' face in her hands and kissed her, after several moments Aphrodite broke the kiss and stepped back "I thought as much." Aphrodite said
What she had done began to register with Gabrielle, and she started to get angry "Why did you do that?"
"To prove a point, and to help you see the truth. You want Xena, you have for a long time now. And whether you know it or not Xena wants you too, and neither one of you will have any peace until you both admit it."
All of the anger drained out of the young bard "Is it that obvious?"
"Apparently to every one but the two of you. Paulas has set you're room up with every possible romantic prop you could think of. Go in and wait for Xena."
"And what do you suggest I do when she gets here?"
Aphrodite leaned close and whispered in her ear "Seduce her!"
Seeing the surprised look on Gabrielle's face Aphrodite continued on "Oh come on, one of you has to make the first move and it won't be Xena. She's still hung up on her warlord gig, she's convinced herself that if she fess' up about her feelings you'll split."
"But what if you're wrong?"
"I'm not, trust me." a quick smile and the Goddess was gone
Gabrielle went into the room caught up in a swirl of emotion thinking to herself 'Seduce Xena yeah right, and then I'll teach her a few things about how to use a sword" Her thoughts were interrupted by Xena coming into the room.
Crossing to the fire place she noticed the room's decor candles, flowers, a
bottle of wine and two glasses on the table.
Various paintings had been placed on the walls of lovers in various stages of ecstasy 'Oh great' she thought to herself 'I don't have enough trouble keeping my desire for Gabrielle under control without Paulas putting us in a room designed for sex.' She began to feel the familiar tension in her muscles and then from nowhere she heard a voice in her ear. "Just relax, let Gabrielle take control from you for one night and see what happens." As appealing to her as that thought was shewasn't sure were it was coming from.There was no one else in the room but her and Gabrielle, the words had been so whisper soft she wasn't sure that she hadn't imagined the whole thing.
Gabrielle came over to where the warrior was standing "Hey do want some help with your armor?"
Xena was startled out of her musings "What? Oh yeah sure."
The bard went efficiently about the task of removing the leather shoulder pads followed by the brass back and breast plates. "How about a drink Gabrielle?"
Going over to the table Gabrielle purred two glasses of wine handing one to Xena she took a drink from the other one before setting it down. Walking around behind the chair Xena had sat down in she placed her hands on the warrior's shoulders, lightly massaging the knotted muscles she found there. "You're so tense Xena, relax."
'Relax, that's a good one .' Xena thought to herself. Thinking back to the voice she had heard in her ear Xena made an effort to let her body relax. She closed her eyes and willed herself to stay still.
Beginning a slow deep massage Gabriele worked to ease the tension out of Xena's neck and shoulders, as she felt the stiffness ease under her hands. Without even realizing what she was doing she let her fingers began to trail lightly up and down Xena's upper arms. The warrior fought the instinct to move has the voice came to her again "Just wait and let whatever is going to happen." Sitting back she let Gabrielle's hands roam here they may. Her thoughts wandered right along with Gabrielle's hands, in her mind instead of working on tired mucsels the bards hands went from massaging to carressing the skin under her fingers.
For Gabrielle's part she was transfixed by the sight she was afforded
from this angle, the tops of Xena's breast's were visible above the leather and
she had an unobstructed view of a more than ample cleavage. The bard was caught
up in the fantasy she let her hand wander down the front of Xena's chest. Her
finger tips slid underneath the edge of the leather bodice coming to rest just
above Xena's right nipple. The sharp intake of breath from the warrior shocked
her out of her day dream. She froze not
knowing what to do until she felt Xena bring her hand up and gently rub along her forearm. After what seemed like an eternity Xena spoke to her "Gabrielle you don't have to stop....if you don't want to." The words were out before Xena had a chance to think about what she was saying. She held her breath waiting to see what the reaction to her comment would be.
The bard closed her eyes at the storm of emotion that was washing over her, it was all she could do to find her voice. "No Xena I don't want to stop.." She moved her fingers further down inside the leather until her hand was fully cupping a warm breast.
Xena's breath was growing more rapid and shallow from the ministrations of
Gabrielle's hand. Her mind began to
swim with all the images of the things she wanted to do to Gabrielle. She hated the thought of breaking contact but she wanted to bring the bard in front of her so she could hold her and kiss her. Turning slightly in the chair she gently pulled Gabrielle around until she stood in front of her. She couldn't believe it but it seemed like her deepest desired were about to be fullfilled. She sent up a silent prayer to any God that was listeneing that if she were dreaming not to wake her up. Lost in the depths of sea green eyes Xena murmured "By the Gods, you are beautiful."
"I seem to recall saying the same thing to you once, shortly after we first met."
Xena chuckled "As I remember you were slightly incapacitated at the time."
The memory of being under the influence of drugged nutbread and blurting out to Xena that she thought she was beautiful brought a bluch to her cheeks. "Well I'm stone cold sober now and I still think you are the most beautiful thing the Gods have ever put breath into."
Tracing her thumb across Gabrielle's full lips Xena searched her eyes for any trace of doubt. She had to make sure Gabrielle wanted this too. As much as she had dreamed of this she was not going to let it happen unless Gabrielle was sure of what she was feeling. She asked her "I have to know this is really what you want Gabrielle. I love you and I couldn't stand it if you let me make love to you and then you regretted it."
Her answer was to lean forward and soundly kiss the warrior sending the blood pounding through her veins, pulling back from the kiss both women were left completely breathless
"Should I take that as a yes?" Xena asked.
"I was told by a very knowledgeable friend that I should take charge and seduce you. So let me tell you what the plan is I'm going to take you Xena and I'm going to make love to you."
"Oh really and what am I going to be doing during all of this?"
"Why my dear, your going to lay back and let me."
Surprise registered on the warrior princess' face, she had never known her friend to be this forceful before She drew Gabrielle into a tighter embrace leading her towards the bed Xena laid back pulling Gabrielle down on top of her. "Then take me my love, do with me what you will."
Gabrielle licked her lips in anticipation of all the things she wanted to do. She began by giving Xena a hot wet open mouthed kiss that Xena felt to the very center of her soul. She then nibbled her way along Xena's jaw line and down her throat to the tops of her breasts. Her lips grazed the edge of the leather "I think your way over dressed love, this leather has got to go, now!"
Xena couldn't believe the unbridled passion she was seeing in Gabrielle. She was also having a hard time believing she had so completely surrendered herself. She had never been with any one she trusted enough to let her defenses down so totally. To tell the truth she was thoroughly enjoying what her young lover was doing to her
After pulling the leather garment off her lovers body. Gabrielle sat back, desire clear in her eyes to view what she considered to be the most perfectly fashioned human form she had ever seen "Let's see what can I do to you now? How about this?" Leaning down she drew a nipple into her mouth while rolling the other nipple between her thumb and forefinger the taste and feel of Xena was driving Gabrielle wild. A moan escaped Xena's throat. "Like that do you?" as she moved her hand lower "What if I do this?" She asked as her hand cupped Xena's center, using her palm she rubbed back and fourth. This had Xena arching her back of the bed next she ran a finger along the entire length of Xena without any actual penetration "How about that Xena? How does that make you feel?"
"Please what my love?"
"Please take me..I need you inside me right now!"
Hearing the plea in Xena's voice was almost enough to push Gabrielle over the edge she pushed two fingers and then a third into her lover's body The bard watched as Xena's face took on the look of a woman totally consumed by passion "Tell me how you feel Xena I want to hear you."
"Gods Gabrielle what your doing is so.... "
"So what Xena?"
"Oh it's soooo good.... harder..."
Her fingers pumped into Xena until she had the warrior helpless in her arms and screaming her release. Gabrielle's hand was coated with Xena's juices she bought her fingers out of Xena which bought a whimper of protest from the warriors lips until she felt the fingers pressed against her own mouth "You are so wet Xena."
"Only for you my bard, only for you"
Lowering her lips to Xena's breast again she was surprised to find her
self flipped over onto her back. "You don't think I'm going to let you have all
the fun do you?" Xena kissed Gabrielle gently while she asked her "Where did you
learn to do all that?"
"Well I knew what felt good to me whenever I would fantasize about you."
"You had fantasies about me?"
"Well yes." was the only response she could manage to get out
Xena pulled her into a close embrace "You're not getting shy on me are you?" she chuckled "Just give me a few minutes to catch my breath and I'll see what I can do about making some more of those fantasies reality." Lightly kissing Gabrielle she told her "By the way, you aren't the only one that has been having fantasies you know."
Xena started by kissing Gabrielle senseless her hands seemed to be every where at once. The bard could feel her heart pounding in her chest in time with the warriors. Murmuring the words against Xena's lip Gabrielle told her "I love you Xena."
Xena responded "I love you too Gabrielle, and I'm about to show you just
how much." Nudging her thighs apart with one of her own Xena felt Gabrielle's
wetness against her leg.
'"I have wanted you for so long, it feels like I've been waiting my whole life for this."
"Don't wait any longer Xena, I'm here and I'm yours."
Gabrielle was already in a fevered state from all she had done to Xena,
as the warrior kissed her way across heated flesh she could feel her own pulse
start to race again. When her lips made contact with Gabrielle's most sensitive
spot the bard
nearly jumped off the bed the only thing that anchored her was her lovers strong arms. Putting her tongue as far inside Gabrielle as she could she worked her fingers over her love's swollen clitoris. Gabrielle's hips bucked up against Xena's insistent mouth. The warrior held on to Gabrielle's hips. Trying, without much success to hold them still. She felt like she was shattering into a million pieces as her orgasm over took her the feelings were so intense they briefly robbed her of conciseness She awoke to a worried Xena shaking her and calling her name "Gabrielle.. Gabrielle!" She opened her eyes and saw the fearful expression on her lover's face "Don't you ever scare me like that again!"
"Sorry love, but you literally took my breath away."
Holding each other both women felt a sense of peace, as if the had just come home from a long grueling journey. A smiling Aphrodite looked down from Olympus and saw what she had been waiting all this time for "Finally" she sighed to herself "They've come to their senses."
In other areas of Olympus Ares, God of War was less than pleased with the progression of events. "If my meddling sister hadn't stuck her nose in I wouldn't have this complication to deal with now." he raged
As if on cue Aphrodite appeared in front of him "Let her go Ares, Xena would never come back to you anyway even if she and Gabrielle hadn't become lovers. She's lost to you, move on."
Ares threw his sister a brooding look "That irritating little blond has been a thorn in my side for years. I will get Xena back if it's the last thing I ever do."
"It just may be brother, it just may be."
Waking the next morning just before sunrise as was her habit she felt a smile come to her face at feeling Gabrielle draped across her body and remembering all that had happened last night Looking down at her still sleeping lover she let a peace she had never thought she could feel settle over her heart. She had spent do many years denying that she could even feel love again. This amazing young woman had slowly worked her way into her warriors heart though and made Xena see that not only could she feel love but she would recieve more love in return then she ever would have thought possible. She reached down and placed a tender kiss on her lips, she was lost when she felt Gabrielle's response it turned into a very late morning.
When they finally did descend the staircase they were greeted by wide smiles from Paulas and Marina. Husband and wife could tell by the body language and the happy expressions of their friends that the mission they had set out on had been accomplished.
"Good morning ladies." he greeted them jovially "Can I interest you in some breakfast or maybe at this hour I should say lunch."
The result of his jest got him 'the look' from Xena
"Whatever you have will be fine Paulas." Gabrielle interjected before Xena had a chance to make a saltier comment. Leading her warrior to the table Gabrielle leaned in and whispered in Xena's ear "Come on love, after the workout you put me through last night and this morning, I'm starved."
This bought a smile to Xena's lips "Why am I not surprised?"
Sitting down to the feast before them Xena was once again amazed at the
depth of her friends appetite. The only thing that might rival Gabrielle's
ability to pack away food would be her sexual appetite. That was something that
Xena would be eternally
grateful for. Even after the marathon love making sessions of last night and this morning, she still felt a rush of almost overwhelming love and desire just looking at her bard.
".....Xena have you heard a word I said."
"Huh? Oh I'm sorry I guess my mind was wandering."
With a chuckle in her voice Gabrielle said "Yeah and I'll bet I know where it went."
Watching this exchange from a darkened corner of the tavern a seemingly
harmless stranger gathered information and started to formulate a plan. Standing
to leave he cast one final glance in the direction of the two women enjoying
their meal. He knew what he was about to do was dangerous, Xena was not known
for her forgiving nature. But he placed his faith in his benefactor.
Going into the alley in back of the tavern the man looked around to find the God of War himself standing there. "Did you see them?"
"Yes Ares, I still don't know why you want me to do this though."
"It's not necessary for you to understand all you need to know is if you do this you will be well rewarded. If you don't well...." He let the comment hang in the air unfinished. It's meaning more than clear.
"But what if Xena decides to come after me, she'll kill me."
"Let me worry about the warrior princess you just need to worry about doing what I tell you."
He knew he was sticking his neck out questioning the God Of War but the way he say it getting on Xena's bad side was nearly as bad. He wanted to be sure of exactly what his role in all this was and how it would effect him. "Lord Ares, please understand I mean no disrespect. But why would you have a mortal do something that is clearly so important to you?"
As a general rule Ares had very little patince for mortals and this little slug was getting to be a real pain. Still he did need someone to run interferance for him so he decided to explain, to apoint. "Xena is a very exceptional mortal, she can sense my presence. In order for my plan to work she can not know I am involved before I am ready to reveal that to her. That's where you come in." He crossed his arms across his chest. "Now if there are no other questions."
A flash of light and Ares was gone. The man knew he was probably in a no win situation but decided better to have the God of War as an friend than an enemy. The next question when was when to put the plan into motion, 'no time like the present he thought'. Ares had made it very clear what he wanted done and that he wanted it done quickly. Bringing the rolled parchment out of his tunic he went back into the tavern, this time making himself more noticeable he announced "I have a message for Xena."
Stepping forward to take the parchment she said "I'm Xena."
Handing the parchment over he stood back while she read the missive
"Damm" she thought to herself "Why now of all times?" Looking back to the man
she thanked him for bringing the message and gave him a dinar for his trouble.
After he left she turned to Gabrielle and told her "I have to leave for
a few hours today."
"What's wrong Xena?" Gabrielle asked concern evident in her voice.
"Nothing really, just an inconvenient annoyance king Gregor needs me to make a visual confirmation of the man that tried to kidnap his son last month. they are sure they have the right man but since I was the only one that got a good look at him they need me there." Xena considered Gregor a friend but the truth was she would rather have spent the day curled up in bed with Gabrielle then make the journy to his castle. Still if the had captured the man that had tried to engineer the kidnapping of the Prince then Xena felt she needed to be there.
"I see, well give me a few minutes and I'll be ready to go."
"Why don't you stay here and enjoy yourself today? It's going to be a huge bore besides I'll be able to go faster if it's just me on Argo." The thought of having Gabrielle travel with her to break up the monotony of the trip was appealing but she would be able to make the trip faster without her. Besides she knew Gabrielle had been looking forward to spending some time here, it was rare that the got the chance to just 'hang out' and not have to worry about one mission or another.
Gabrielle thought for a moment, she could tell this wasn't like other times when Xena had tried to leave her behind supposedly for her own good. It was just an annoying chore that they had known would come sooner or later. She would also have a chance to look around for a while and what Xena said about time did make sense. Gabrielle smiled at her warrior "I suppose I can do without you for a few hours. If you promise to hurry back." she teased.
Knowing that Xena had an aversion to public displays of affection the bard was surprised when Xena pulled her into her arms and gave her a lingering kiss goodbye. "I promise." she quipped before she turned to leave.
After she had left Gabrielle walked back over to where Paulas was standing "I wanted to thank you for preparing the room, it was very nice Xena and I really enjoyed it." with a twinkle in her eye she asked him "How long have you known?"
"Since the last time you were here. The signals were so clear none of us could believe that you and Xena hadn't done anything about you're feelings yet."
"I guess we were both pretty blind huh?" Not blind she thought to herself, more like scared to act on what we wanted. "Xena has to run an errend today. I thought I might take the time to do some shopping. Any ideas on which stalls I should hit first?"
Paulas gave her a list of some of the better vendors in town. Knowing Gabrielle's love for getting a good bargin he made it a point to list some of his friends that he knew would haggle with the young woman. Taking the time to straighten out her bag Gabrielle realized she had left a few things upstairs, including her staff, the training Xena had drummed into her told her never to leave her weapon behind when she went out in public.
Going into the room she realized too late that someone had been laying in wait for her. The rag her assailant was holding over her nose and mouth had been treated with something that was making her feel light headed. After some struggle she slumped backwards into the arms of her attacker sinking into blackness. Slinging Gabrielle over his shoulder he left the note on the table with the knife blade plunged through it. He carried his burden to the window and lowered them down the rope ladder pulling it after him. This had been almost too easy his original plan had been to follow the two women with a friend and create a distraction that would have separated Xena from Gabrielle long enough for him to make his move. He couldn't believe his good fortune when the bard had stayed behind.
Xena reached the stables in a clear state of anger. She didn't like people playing games with her and when she reached Gregor's castle it became apparent to her that was exactly what some one had done. The Kings royal guard had met her at the gate, surprised to see her the had shown her into the Kings private reception room.
"Xena this is a pleasant surprise, where is Gabrielle?"
"Surprise? Gregor you sent for me."
Holding up the parchment Xena said "According to this you did."
She handed him the rolled up scroll that bore his royal seal. After he read it he looked at her with a puzzled expression on his face "I don't understand, it is my seal but I didn't send for you."
"You haven't made an arrest of the man that plotted to kidnap you son?"
"Sadly no, it seems he has just dissappered. I know I would feel much safer if we could find him. I don't know why some one would send you a message saying we had him in custody."
"I'm afraid I do understand I hope I'm wrong but something tells me I need to get back. Please excuse me Gregor." As he watched Xena bolt from his hall the king was still unsure what all this was about. But he knew one thing he felt true pity for whom ever had perpetuated this deception.
Xena pushed Argo harder than she ever had before, she had a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach. When she got to the tavern she vaulted off Argo and landed in front of a very startled stable boy. "Please take care of Argo" she said as she headed out the door, she had to find Gabrielle. She ran into the Inn seeing Paulas at the bar she went directly to him "Where is Gabrielle?"
"I thought she was going into town, didn't you see her in the village?"
"No, are you sure....."
A barmaid approached Xena "I saw her go back upstairs."
"Did you see her come back down?"
Xena thought for a moment she wanted nothing more than to believe that Gabrielle was just worn out and had gone back upstairs and decided to take a nap. It was what she wanted to believe, but her instincts told her different. Her heart was in her mouth as she took the stairs three at a time. She threw open the door and looked into the room the first thing she saw was the empty bed, no nap. Gabrielle's staff was leaning in the far corner her she had left it last night. Her eyes moved to the right and she saw the knife sticking out of the table grabbed the note. Reading the lines she fought for control, the note read 'If you ever want to see Gabrielle alive again you will come to my temple tonight when the moon is high, If I do not see you I will deliver her dead body to you at sunrise. Ares'
Xena felt a rage welling up inside of her she hadn't felt since her warlord days. She closed her eyes fighting for control, knowing if she gave in to her rage now it could well cost Gabrielle her life. She couldn't stand the thought of losing the love she had found, she would not let that happen.
Paulas joined her in the room by way of explanation she handed him the note. He felt cold fury at the words he read, just when Xena and Gabrielle had found the courage to admit their love for one another Ares had to stick his nose in. Looking at the warrior the comment he was going to make died on his lips when he saw that Xena was choking back tears. Xena dashed off a note of her own, "Paulas will you have you're son find Hercules and Iolaus the note will explain every thing."
"We'll do whatever we can Xena. You had better get going, you don't have much time. May the Gods go with you."
"All but one." she muttered under her breath.
"Take a fresh horse from the stable Argo will never make it you pushed her to hard just to get back here."
"Your right of course,. Thank you Paulas you've been a good friend to me and Gabrielle." Clasping hands Paulas left to tell the stable boy to have a fresh horse saddled for Xena and to give is son instructions to find Hercules with Xena's note. The warrior moved quickly around the room gathering the things she needed. She pushed the fury down into the pit of her stomach 'Focus' she told herself She had to focus on getting Gabrielle back.
Marina came out of the kitchen just in time to see Xena bolt out the door. She asked her husband "What's wrong?"
Paulas explained to his wife what had happened. "I was afraid something like this would happen." The worry for their friends showed clearly on her face.
He moved to comfort her and told her. "That's because you have a caring heart my love. But I'll tell you if you want to worry about someone then maybe you should worry about Ares. I have a feeling that once Xena gets a hold of him he is going to need a prayer."
Within a few moments Xena was at the stable ready to go. She mounted the horse and was gone. She could only hope Darrius was able to find Hercules with her note, he was an intregal part of her plan. After a ride that seemed to last forever Xena arrived at the temple of Ares. Taking a deep breath to try and regain her composure Xena entered the temple. Upon seeing Ares lounging in his Chair before the alter, Xena asked without preamble "Where is Gabrielle?"
"What Xena no questions about why I bought you here? No demands for explanations? I'm disappointed, really your focus is off."
"My focus is just fine Ares. I don't care about you're twisted reasons , I want to know here Gabrielle is, now!"
Ares looked at the warior with smug satisfaction. "You feel it don't you Xena? The rush, in the old days you wouldn't stand there asking questions you would kick ass and worry about the concequnces later. That's what your instincts are telling you to do right now aren't they? But that irritating little blonde has you so twisted arounf her finger your to worried about doing something that might upset her..."
"Cut the speech Ares. I came here for Gabrielle not to play your sick little games."
He stood up, fury running through every fiber of his being. "Well that's just to bad isn't it Xena? You see I'm the one holding the cards here and we are going to do this my way." He reached up and pulled a cord causing a curtian to fall revealing what he had done with Gabrielle. "You want your little friend? There she is."
Xena turned to see Gabrielle bound and gagged a sharp blade poised at her heart. They only thing stopping the blade from springing forward and embedding itself in the bards chest was a thin rope, that was rapidly burning through. Xena's eyes connected with Gabrielle's the unspoken love that passed between the two women that one look couldn't go unnoticed
"If there is so much as a mark on her I swear I will make you bleed for it ."
"There is an easy way to save her Xena, come back to me and Gabrielle goes free."
He shrugged his shoulders "Then she dies. Your rage at her death will bring you back to me any way you know it's true. You'll be back to the old Xena in no time. Either way I win." He toyed with a chain that was hanging from his chair. "It's a shame though she does have some potential as a warrior if you would just agree to come back to me we might be able to come to some terms where she could still be with you in some way in your Army. I could live to be the greatest commander the world has ever known."
"No your wrong! If Gabrielle dies I'll die with her."
The bard began to struggle against her bonds, she couldn't let Xena sacrifice her life. Surprise registered on her face when she looked past Ares shoulder to see Hercules standing in the doorway, and he wasn't alone. She had never seen the man standing next to Hercules but her instincts told her this was no mere mortal. Gabrielle didn't know why they were there but she was sure that Xena had something to do with it.
"Ares!" a voice roared like thunder from the entrance "What do you think your doing?"
"Zeus!" Although he tried to keep it hidden the surprise at hearing the King Of The Gods was evident in his voice.
The king of all Gods came forward "You can not do this Ares, you've gone to far this time!"
"This does not concern you father."
In the split second Ares was distracted Xena lunged forward and cut the bonds that held Gabrielle to the post, pulling her out of the way just before the blade was released. Hercules was at her side in a second and together they untied Gabrielle. Xena wanted nothing more than to take the bard in her arms, but that would have to wait,. Right now she had to deal with Ares. The warrior princess had blood in her eyes, Hercules sensed this and put a restraining hand on her arm "Xena don't try to take him on now your anger is blinding you and he will take advantage of that."
Xena pulled her arm away "I appreciate you bringing Zeus here to stop him, but he is going to learn to NEVER touch Gabrielle again."
Trying to calm her lover down by telling her "Please Xena, let Zeus handle this Hercules is right he will use your anger against you."
"Enough!!!" Zeus' voice reverberated throughout the temple turning to the trio on the floor he addressed an irate warrior princess. "Xena normally I don't involve myself in the petty games my children play with mortals . But you have helped my son on more than one occasion." he nodded towards Hercules "So I owed you a debt, this balances the scale."
Looking back at the God of War his father let loose all the pent up fury he had held in check "Ares if you ever interfere with either one of these women again I will see to it myself that you are stripped of your Godhood and banished from Olympus. Is that clear?"
Ares was in no mood to be made a fool of in front of the people gathered there, and challenging Zeus would have been foolish indeed.
"Well" Zeus boomed "Whats it going to be?"
"What choice do I have father? If you are lending them your protection it would be stupid to go against you." Ares turned to Xena "I will never understand you. You could have had it all, the world at your feet but you choose her..."
"You would never understand love Ares. What I feel for Gabrielle is more powerful than any power you ever had or could ever have over me she is the world to me."
Hercules helped Gabrielle to her feet, he held her back when she attempted to go to Xena he whispered in her ear "Let her get it off her chest, or it will eat away at her. Xena needs to make it clear that he will never be able to lay claim to her again."
Gabrielle nodded her head in understanding Xena was a woman of high passions in love and in anger The bard knew her lover need to get this out so she stood patiently beside Hercules while Xena gave Ares a verbal lashing. "If you ever come any where Gabrielle again Ares I will slice you in sections and feed you to Argo got that?" She walked back over to where Gabrielle stood with Hercules, clasping his fore arm she told him "I can't thank you enough for everything you've done. If anything had happened to Gabrielle I don't know what I would have done..."
"I'm glad I was able to help. I'm just happy to see that the two of you have stopped denying your true feelings."
"Xena every body knew but no one dared to brooch the subject with you or Gabrielle. You've both been known to kick a little butt when some one crosses you." he chuckled.
She raised a Quizzical brow at him her expression drawing a laugh from Gabrielle "Hercules has a point Xena without being sure of you're reaction ...... put your self in some one else's place . Would you want to face a pissed off warrior princess?"She followed the last remark with a caress to the side of Xena's face.
Hercules was amazed when he saw Xena's reaction to Gabrielle's touch he
was surprised thar Xena not only allowed the bard to touch her in front of him
but seemed to enjoy it. For the short time he and Xena had been lovers she had
cringed away from any displays of public affection. It must be love he thought
Escorting the two women out side both Hercules and Zeus felt that the were in the presence of two people that were very much in love. And even though they would be eternally grateful for the help the had received they were very anxious to be alone. Putting a hand on one shoulder of each women Zeus said to them. "My daughter told me that what you two shared was
special, now that I've seen it for myself I'd have to say I agree." Turning to Hercules "Well my son, I hope this is the last of this problem."
Looking at Xena and Gabrielle Hercules answered "I hope so Father they deserve to be happy." Seeing his friends like this made him aware of just how much they had been through. He could also tell it was time to leave and give them some privacy.
Zeus got the same idea "Come on Hercules, I'll walk back to the village with you. It will give us a chance to catch up."
Giving in to impulse Gabrielle reached up and kissed Zeus on the cheek "Thank you so much, for everything."
"Your welcome" he smiled down at her. With that Zeus and Hercules turned
to go down the path that lead back to the village
Looking towards the sky Gabrielle noticed the sun was starting to make an appearance on the eastern horizon "Do you think we should head back? Paulas and Marina will be worried...."
Xena drew Gabrielle into a strong embrace lowering her lips to kiss her "First things first Gabrielle Hercules will let everyone know we're okay. Right now I'm not in a mood to share you with anyone else."
"Now that you mention it I would like to have you all to myself for a while." She gave Xena a heart wrenching kiss as the warrior lowered her to the ground. Gabrielle noticed ther were tears in Xena's eyes. Reaching up and wiping the wetness away the bard asked "What's wrong Xena?"
"I came so close to loosing you, I love you so much, If we hadn't been able to save you, I couldn't stand that." Xena pulled Gabrielle closer, rolling her over onto her back Xena moved on top of her "I want you now Gabrielle I can't wait."
"I want you too Xena."
Both women just about ripped the clothes off each other until they were naked in each others arms There was no time for tender caresses or lingering kisses this time they were both driven by a burning desire for release. They pushed each other towards the edge both of them pumping fingers into their lover in a fevered pitch. Reaching a mutual climax they both pushed on neither woman being able to get enough of her lover. Finally the stress of the night before coupled with the intensity of their love making took it's toll, the both fell back exhausted they fell asleep wrapped tightly in one anthers arms This was the sight that greeted Aphrodite, rather then waking the sleeping woman the Goddess of Love waved her hand granting her blessing on the love that existed between the warrior princess and her bard. Her senses telling her the were no longer alone Xena opened her eyes sensing no danger she laid still careful not to disturb her lover "Aphrodite, why are you here?"
"Relax Xena I'm just here to grant my blessing on you both, and about time it is too."
Xena smiled at the Goddess "You know I'm not in the habit of saying thank you to the Gods, But I owe you my thanks for bringing Gabrielle and me together."
The Goddess disappeared with the final words "Just love each other forever the way you do now and I will be well repaid."
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