Xena decides that she and Gabrielle need some time alone and she takes Gabrielle to a secluded place where they can spend a few days only concerned with each other.
***********


Xena, Gabrielle, Argo are the property of Universal and Renaissance Pictures. The rest of the story is mine alone, written for fun and not intended to infringe on any copyright.

This story depicts a loving, sexual relationship between two women.

There is no violence in this story.
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VACATION

A short story written by ?

July 2001


The sun was peeking over the treetops and spreading its golden rays across the meadow occupied by a small, tidy camp. A brook gurgled softly as its waters skirted the campsite and disappeared into the woods across the meadow. A golden colored horse munched on the meadow's sweet grasses wet with the morning dew. Next to a low burning fire two women lay atop sleeping furs covered by a light blanket, their bodies tightly entwined. The smaller of the two slept peacefully held in the protective arms of the larger woman who was watching her sleep.

The sun continued to climb in the eastern sky and Xena knew that she should wake Gabrielle. But, seeing how relaxed and peaceful she looked, Xena could not bring herself to disturb her lover. The last several days had taken a heavy toll on both women. Just yesterday, they had fought off three different bands of road bandits attacking innocent travelers. When not fighting the bandits, they had helped upright and reload a merchant's wagon that had lost a wheel and overturned. And, had caught a runaway horse that had been spooked by a snake and thrown its rider. They had ended the day by having to face down a pair of bullies in the small village where they had stopped just long enough to buy supplies.

Xena tried to remember the last day they had spent without some sort of confrontation or fight, she couldn't. Since they had left Amazonia after their bonding ceremony, it seemed like trouble followed them everywhere. "By the gods, if I'm tired of all this fighting, I sure Gabrielle must really be tired of it," Xena thought to herself. "Maybe it's time we took a little break." Asmile slowly made its way across Xena's face as the notion of taking Gabrielle away somewhere began to take shape in her thoughts. A slight movement in the body she was holding brought her thoughts back to the present and she gazed lovingly down at her awakening partner.

Gabrielle groaned as the sun's bright rays inched up her face and into her closed eyes. She wished Xena had not left the window blinds open last night allowing the sun to end her blissful sleep. "Wait a minute,"her mind began to shake off the morning haze. She never could understand how Xena seemed to wake fully alert and aware, no matter how tired she had been when going to sleep. Now, as Gabrielle's memory began to clear, she thought "we didn't stop at an inn last night."Slowly, she lifted one eyelid and scanned her surroundings finally bringing one sleepy eye to rest on the beautiful woman that had her wrapped in loving arms.

Xena's smile widened as she looked into Gabrielle's partially opened eye. "Good morning, love," she greeted the woman she loved with all of her heart and placed a tender kiss on the lips that she adored. "Sleep well?"

Gabrielle savored the feel and taste of Xena's lips against her own. "Ummmmm," was all she could manage in response as she slowly began to stretch her small compact body. As she worked the kinks out of her tired muscles, she was careful to stay within the loving hug Xena had her wrapped in. Usually, Xena was long removed from their sleeping furs by the time Gabrielle woke and she wasn't about to miss one moment of being held in Xena's arms, a situation she never tired of. "It's late," she finally mumbled.

"Yup," Xena agreed as she enjoyed the feel of Gabrielle's body stretching and arching against her own.

"You let me sleep late," Gabrielle continued her morning stretching ritual.

"Yup."

"Any particular reason?" Gabrielle asked. "Usually, the only time you let me sleep late is if one of us is sick," as soon as the words left her lips, Gabrielle panicked and twisted out of Xena's embrace so that she could kneel at her side. "Honey, are you sick?" she placed a hand on Xena's forehead to check for fever, her voice thick with concern.

Xena looked into Gabrielle's now widely opened and alert eyes. She took Gabrielle's hand from her forehead and brought it to her lips, gently kissing each knuckle before turning it over and kissing the palm. "I'm okay," she assured Gabrielle. "I just thought you might enjoy sleeping late today. You know, we've been kinda busy the last few days." She held Gabrielle's hand against her chest, wrapped in her own.

"That's an understatement," Gabrielle sighed as she relaxed, snuggling up tight against the woman she loved with all of her heart and soul. Xena instantly folded her long arms back around Gabrielle and pulled their bodies closer. "I've lost count of the number of road bandits and bullies we've dealt with lately. Not to mention the villagers in distress, travelers in distress and ÷" Gabrielle turned to gaze at Xena, instantly drawn into the most beautiful blue eyes she had ever seen. "You know, it seems that everyonewe've come across lately has been in distress of one kind or another."

"Sure seems that way," Xena chuckled, while returning Gabrielle's gaze. Oh, how she loved to look into Gabrielle's eyes, greener than the Mediterranean Sea and twice as deep. Xena wondered how such a small body could hold so much emotion and how she got to be the lucky person to be on the receiving end of her affection.

"Not that I mind being able to help folks when they need it," Gabrielle added quickly. "But," she sighed," it sure is hard to get anything done when we are constantly having to fight. I can't remember the last time I was able to work on my scrolls." Xena pulled Gabrielle even closer and placed a tender kiss on the tip of her nose. "Not to mention, it's hard for us to have any time to÷" Gabrielle broke the gaze with Xena and looked out across the meadow. She didn't want Xena to think that she was complaining about helping out those in need but she did miss making love to her bond mate and it had been several days since they had been that intimate. "Well, you know," she said so softly that Xena had to strain her sensitive ears to hear.

"I've missed you, too," Xena placed gentle kisses on Gabrielle's forehead, eyebrows, eyelids, cheeks and chin. "What" kiss"say" kiss"we" kiss "take" kiss"some" kiss"time" kiss"off?" Xena pressed her lips against Gabrielle's. Xena deepened the kiss, her tongue tracing Gabrielle's lips and seeking permission to enter her lover's mouth. Gabrielle gladly yielded to Xena's tongue, moans from both women the only sounds in the quiet meadow for several long moments. Breaking off the kiss in order to suck in much needed breath, Xena asked, "what do you think? Just you and me. Sorta like a vacation."

"You mean it?" Gabrielle asked, knowing that 'vacation' was not a word Xena used very often. In fact, she didn't think Xena had ever used it before this day.

"Yup," Xena placed more tender kisses on Gabrielle's face and neck thinking that she was liking this idea more and more all the time.

"Don't we have to be at King Gregor's soon?" Gabrielle tilted her head to one side giving Xena better access to her neck.

"Not until the middle of the next moon cycle," Xena continued her assault on Gabrielle's neck before her kisses began a slow descent to Gabrielle's shoulders.

Gabrielle wrapped her hands into long silky black hair, pulling Xena's head tighter against her body. "Where would we go?" she asked breathlessly as her body responded to Xena's attention. A wave of warmth washed over Gabrielle and settled between her legs.

"I was thinking of the coast," Xena's lips forged a path to Gabrielle's breasts. She rolled both women over so that she could lay partially on top of Gabrielle, careful to support most of her weight on an elbow. "I know of a nice, secluded spot," Xena tongue explored Gabrielle's right breast as her hand explored her left.

"Sounds wonderful," Gabrielle moaned. She tightened her hold on Xena's hair as she arched her back and thrust her breasts up urging Xena to expand her exploration.

For the next hour, the meadow was filled with the sound of two women expressing their love for each other.

*********


Argo was moving at a fast trot and the cool wind blowing against Xena's face felt almost as good as the two arms wrapped tightly around her body. Xena tightened her own grip on Gabrielle's arms and leaned slightly back to increase the contact between them. Twisting slightly in the saddle, she turned to look into Gabrielle's eyes. "Happy? " she asked.

"Mmmmm,"

"Is that a yes or a no?" Xena smiled.

"Oh, Xena," Gabrielle's insides seemed to melt at the sight of Xena's smile. "That's a definite yes."

They rode on in silence, their bodies held tightly together. Smiles brightly displayed on their faces as each woman thought of the love they felt for the other and how they would express that love in the coming days. Days to be filled with only each other. No road bandits to fight, warlords to defeat, villagers to rescue. Neither woman could wait for the coast to come into view.

*******


Xena and Gabrielle had stopped alongside the road for a late morning snack and to rest Argo. "We should be there by late this afternoon," Xena said between mouthfuls of Gabrielle's favorite treat, nut bread.

"Do you plan on telling me about this place we're going?" Gabrielle had been trying unsuccessfully to get Xena to further identify their destination.

"Nope, I want it to be a surprise." Xena gazed at her lover. "But, I'm sure you're going to like it. It has a really nice view," her eyes traced the lines of Gabrielle's neck. "Yes, a beautiful view," Xena thought, a smile slowly stretching across her face.

Gabrielle looked at Xena. Seeing the impish smile, "what are you thinking?" she asked.

"I don't think you want to know," Xena teased.

"Oh, I bet I can guess", Gabrielle teased back. She raised herself from her sitting position and crawled on all fours over to Xena. "Bet I know a way to get you to tell me," she said as she pressed her lips against Xena's. Her tongue traced Xena's lips and sought entrance to the world of pleasure that they protected. Xena moaned softly as she allowed Gabrielle the entrance she sought. Gabrielle sighed at the unexpected pleasure of the sweet taste of Xena combined with that of the nut bread so recently eaten. Gabrielle deepened the kiss.

"By the gods, Gabrielle," Xena gasped for breath, barely managing to get the words out.

"You like?" Gabrielle asked.

Laughing, Xena wrapped her arms around Gabrielle and pulled her tight against her, "I like very much. But, I don't think we should take this any farther right now", Xena panted, her breath not yet back to normal.

"Why not?" Gabrielle asked, her lower lip pushing out into a pout.

"Oh, Gabrielle," Xena laughed kissing the offending lip, "Because, I don't think the caravan coming up the road would be too interested in that kind of roadside entertainment."

Gabrielle jerked her head to look down the road at the wagons of several families moving towards them. Women and children walked alongside heavily laden wagons being driven by their husbands and fathers. Gabrielle's face flushed a deep red.

Sitting up to try in an attempt to regain her composure, Gabrielle straightened her back and sat facing the road with a sweet smile on her face (or at least what she thought was a sweet after being interrupted in her attempt to seduce Xena). She nodded and waved friendly greetings to the passing caravan members

When the caravan had completely passed from sight, Gabrielle turned her attention back to Xena.

"Hey," Xena grabbed Gabrielle's busy hands, "I think we should keep this for later."

After repacking their lunch items into Argo's saddlebags, Xena swung herself up into the saddle. She reached her arm down to Gabrielle and effortlessly lifted her up to the saddle. Argo eased into a steady trot as Gabrielle snuggled tight against Xena's back.

Gabrielle giggled, "I wonder what stories they'll be telling around the campfire tonight."

********

Gabrielle was half asleep, her head nestled between Xena's shoulders. After leaving the road earlier in the day, they were now traveling long forgotten and unused paths that provided little chance of encounters with other travelers or road bandits. Xena had removed her breastplate armor, not wanting Gabrielle to be uncomfortable as they rode. Xena loved having Gabrielle in the saddle with her, she loved the feel of strong arms around her and strong thighs pressed against her. The only thing better than Gabrielle riding behind her was when Gabrielle rode in front and Xena could wrap her own arms and legs around her lover's body.

Their path still surrounded by forest, Argo raised her head to better smell the change in the air. Sensing that the coast was not far, Argo softly whinnied her judgment to her riders.

"You're right, we're almost there, girl," Xena agreed patting Argo's neck. A short time later, Xena brought the large, golden horse to a stop.

"Gabrielle, you awake?" she gently asked, turning her head to gaze over her shoulder.

A mumbled "I think so," came the reply.

"We're here," Xena informed her companion.

Gabrielle took a deep breath, she was surprised at the strong salty air that filled her lungs. Slowly she opened her eyes to the panorama that greeted her. Xena had turned Argo to the side, allowing Gabrielle an unencumbered view of the beach and sea beyond. The sun was high in the sky and reflected off the pure white beach sand as if it each grain was a tiny diamond. Foam capped the waves that were delicately washing onto the wide, sandy shore. Gabrielle could see for what seemed to be an unlimited distance out across the water.

"Oh, Xena," Gabrielle cried, "it's beautiful." Searching the beach in both directions, she could see no sign of any other human occupants.

"You like?" Xena asked.

"Oh, very much so. Can we go to the shore?" Gabrielle motioned to the breaking waves.

"As you wish, my love," Xena replied as she urged Argo forward.

It didn't take long for Argo to cover the distance or for Gabrielle to slide off Argo's back as soon as they had reached the shoreline. Gabrielle immediately sat down and took off her boots. She buried her toes in the warm sand and sighed with pleasure.

"Xena, it's beautiful. Come on, let's take a swim," Gabrielle began to shed her clothes. Before Xena could dismount, Gabrielle was running naked into the surf.

"Ah, beautiful indeed," Xena said to no one in particular as her eyes followed Gabrielle. She slid from Argo's back and pulled off the saddle and saddlebags. Free of her burden, Argo took off at a gallop down the beach. Xena laughed softly, "I don't know which of you two enjoys the beach more". Turning her attention back to the sounds of Gabrielle splashing in the surf, Xena began to remove her own clothing and she soon joined Gabrielle.

******

The women lay on the warm sand, soaking up the late afternoon sun and letting it dry their bodies wet from their recent swim. "This is sooooooo wonderful," Gabrielle sighed.

Eyeing the position of the sun, Xena decided, "we probably should get to our campsite before it gets too late".

Gabrielle rolled onto her side, burying an elbow into the sand and resting her head on her open hand. She looked lovingly down at Xena, her eyes scanning the length of the beautiful, naked body of the woman she loved. She thought how amazing it was that since their bonding ceremony at the Amazon village, her love for Xena seemed to grow more each day. And, she knew that Xena felt the same way. "Oh, the time we wasted, my love," she thought. Gabrielle bent down and gently kissed Xena before pushing herself off the sand and standing. She extended a hand to her lover and Xena allowed herself to be pulled up beside Gabrielle.

They walked to their gear, Xena whistling for Argo to join them. She threw the saddle over Argo's back, placing their saddlebags across the saddle. Then she picked up their clothing and reached for Gabrielle's hand.

"I take it you have a campsite in mind," Gabrielle wrapped her arm around Xena's waist as they started to walk down the beach.

"Yep. I happened upon this spot several summers ago when I was traveling alone after my army betrayed me."

Gabrielle tightened her grip on Xena, giving her comfort against the bad memories of that night she had been forced to endure the gauntlet. Against all odds, Xena had survived but Gabrielle knew that the scars from that betrayal ran deep into Xena's soul.

Xena led Gabrielle along the shore to the north. As they walked, the beach began to disappear as a rocky field took its place. Soon, they were walking along a narrow path between the surf and field. Boulders that had fallen, over the eons from the rising cliff pressing close at the path's side, littered their path forcing them to maneuver around them, much to Argo's annoyance. At high tide, the path would be impossible to travel and Xena knew this would provide extra security against unwanted intrusions.

"Just a little further," Xena assured Gabrielle as she made her way around one of the larger boulders in their path. Slowly, the path began to widen as the cliff receded further away from the water. The piles of boulders continued to grow until they merged into an uninterrupted wall of rock. Gabrielle wondered where there could possible be room for a campsite among these rocks. She was just about to poise this question when Xena broke into her thoughts.

"Here it is."

Gabrielle stopped alongside of Xena who was standing in front of a narrow opening. "Wait here until I can make sure it's unoccupied," Xena said before grabbing her sword and entering the opening, she quickly disappeared through the boulder wall. Gabrielle looked questioningly at Argo who snorted and shook her head as if to say, "How can you doubt her?"

"It's all ours," Xena said reappearing. "Come on." Xena again took Gabrielle's hand in her own and lead her into the opening. "Doesn't look like anyone's been here in quite some time. So, we shouldn't have to worry about visitors."

The narrow passage allowed Gabrielle only the view of Xena's back as they made their way between boulders. Suddenly, the path opened onto a sandy cove surrounded by the unbroken boulder wall and backed into the cliff. Gabrielle stopped dead in her tracks. "It's beautiful," was all she managed to get out before Argo nudged her forward to allow enough room for the horse to exit the narrow passageway.

"Glad you like it," Xena bent down and kissed Gabrielle before leading her further into the cove. Xena was happy that the setting of the cove would make it next to impossible for invasions into their privacy or threats to their safety during their stay. High tide would keep anyone from following the path. The narrow passageway to the cove would force any intruders to enter single file and thus be easily defended against. The cove was nestled back into the sandstone cliff, the base having eroded over the years rendering the cove invisible from anyone standing atop the cliff. And the surrounding boulders would provide protection from stormy surf and strong winds. Inside the cove, soft beach sand gently sloped up before being replaced by the hard packed ground at the base of the cliff.

Argo neighed, impatient to be rid of the saddle and saddlebags. "Alright," Xena said as she left Gabrielle to explore the cove and walked over to the horse. "Couldn't you wait until I kissed my girl?" Argo's response was a shake of the head. "Funny," Xena laughed.

"We'll need firewood," Gabrielle had already observed the lack of any inside the cove.

"I'll get some," Xena responded. "Should be plenty back in the trees we came through earlier."

"Oh, okay," Gabrielle said happily, surprised that Xena would offer to do what was normally her chore.

"You can help," Xena told Argo. "We won't be long. We'll be back before the tide comes in, I promise," Xena took the shift that Gabrielle had just pulled from one of their saddlebags. She pulled the shift over her head and then sat on a convenient boulder and pulled on the boots that Gabrielle held out to her. Standing, Xena spoke to Argo "just stand there quietly for a minute, or else." She pulled Gabrielle into her arms and kissed her passionately. Breaking the kiss after several heartbeats, she whispered "I'll save the rest for later."

"I'll be waiting," Gabrielle sighed, her knees wobbly from the passion of their embrace.

Xena led Argo out of the cove and back through the boulders. The tide was just starting to turn, "Don't have as much time as I thought. We'll have to hurry or you'll have to swim us back," she laughed at Argo. Argo raised her head and snorted. "You wanna bet," Xena challenged as she swung herself up onto Argo's bare back. She had volunteered for firewood duties for two reasons. First, she didn't want Gabrielle wandering the beach alone. But, more importantly, she was sure that Gabrielle would want to set camp up in her own special way and she didn't want to spoil her bard's plans.

After gathering enough firewood for coming night and following morning, Xena tied it to Argo's back and headed for the cove and Gabrielle. The tide had risen and, having taken off her boots, water rose to her bare ankles as she led Argo back along the narrow path. "Good timing", Xena thought.

Reaching the opening in the boulders, Xena led Argo back into the cove. Gabrielle had made good use of her time alone. Xena was surprised to see two fires burning. A large one in the middle of the cove, Gabrielle's cooking supplies set out by it. A second, smaller fire was burning next to their sleeping furs set further back against the cliff. It was a perfect spot. Their furs were spread out on the ground at the foot of the cliff. The fire was built close to the rock face behind the bed allowing the fire's heat to reflect back and drive away the chill of the sea air. Their furs were laid out on the highest spot in the cove and they could look over the boulder wall far out across the water. Sailors on a passing ship might see the glow of the campfire but would never see the lovers lying next to it. A perfect spot, indeed.

"Here let me help," Gabrielle rushed to Xena's side.

"It's okay. Where do you want it?", Xena asked as she untied Argo's load of firewood.

"By the fire, silly," Gabrielle giggled.

Xena piled most of the wood by the cooking fire. "Where'd you find the wood?" she asked as she carried a smaller load to the fire by their bed.

"Oh, there were a few branches lying around. They must have blown down from the trees atop the cliff," Gabrielle chatted as she followed Xena.

"Probably right," Xena said. Noticing the aroma coming from the cooking pot on the fire, "something sure smells good."

"Hungry?" Gabrielle asked.

"Starved."

"Well, wash up. There's fresh water over there," Gabrielle nodded to a bowl set out on a rock between the two fires. The soapstone and a piece of material for drying hands and face laid beside the bowl, ready for use. She knelt by the cooking fire and stirred the contents of the pot. Gabrielle filled two bowls with the stew she had prepared from their supplies. Adding a large slice of the remaining nut bread to each bowl, she sat back and waited for Xena to join her.

After washing, Xena moved to Gabrielle's side and sat down. She took the offered bowl of stew and took a deep breath, breathing in the wonderful smell coming from the bowl. She hungrily took a spoonful of the stew. "More delicious than it smells," Xena praised.

Gabrielle's heart soared. It was silly she told herself, but she couldn't help the way Xena's praises affected her. Those moments were so precious.

"Aren't you hungry?" Xena asked as Gabrielle's bowl sat untouched. "Are you sick?" suddenly the smile on Xena's face was replaced by a look of concern. She started to put her own bowl down, freeing her hands to check Gabrielle for signs of fever.

"I'm okay," Gabrielle said, gently pushing Xena's hands away. "I was just watching you eat and forgot to eat myself."

A raised eyebrow replaced concern, and Xena picked up her bowl of stew. "Some excuse."

"The best!"

Xena emptied her bowl and devoured her bread. She washed it down with a long drink from their water skin.

"More?" Gabrielle asked.

"Please, this is really good," Xena took the replenished bowl from Gabrielle and immediately began to empty it as fast as she had the first. "Don't know why I'm so hungry. That's usually your job," Xena teased.

"Could it have anything to do with you activities earlier today?" Gabrielle jabbed back.

"Um, whatever could you be taking about?" Xena questioned. Then slowly switching her concentration from the bowl of stew to Gabrielle, Xena purred "isn't there some unfinished business we have?"

"Xena, what are you thinking?" Gabrielle asked coyly but couldn't stop a giggle as Xena moved closer.

"Oh, I think you know exactly what's on my mind," Xena scooped Gabrielle up in her arms and carried her to their bed. Lowering her feet gently onto the ground, Xena removed the night shift that Gabrielle wore. She then laid Gabrielle down on their furs. Xena straddled Gabrielle's body, her knees softly touching the sides of Gabrielle's thighs. A shiver shot through Gabrielle at the touch of her lover's bare skin against her own. Xena pulled her own shift over her head and threw it aside. She slowly dropped her body down to lay atop Gabrielle, breasts touching. And finally, after what seemed an eternity to Gabrielle, Xena's lips pressed against her own.

Fire spread from Xena's lips throughout Gabrielle's body. A soft moan escaped from her throat to be caught in Xena's mouth. Xena's tongue teased and explored the lips she knew so well and yet never seemed to know at all. Her tongue entered and began a slow, sensual exploration of Gabrielle's mouth and tongue. Soon tongue wrestled with tongue, each seeking and pushing, twisting and turning. Xena won, this time. She drew Gabrielle's tongue into her own mouth and wrapping her lips around it, she sucked it. Only the need for air finally separated their mouths.

"Xena," Gabrielle moaned. Xena felt a fire between her legs as her lover let her feelings known. She began to lay tender kisses on Gabrielle's brow, eyelids, nose, cheeks, and chin. She moved slowly down Gabrielle's throat and across her shoulders. Gabrielle buried her hands in Xena's satin hair and held tight. Looking up to lock eyes with her lover, Xena smiled seductively before moving her lips to Gabrielle's breasts.

Wrapping a hand around Gabrielle's left breast, she caressed the soft, yet firm, tissue in her hand. She gently squeezed the nipple until it turned hard at her touch. Pressing her palm against the hard nipple, she lightly brushed her tongue over the other equally aroused nipple. Gabrielle's body jerked, her chest rising to press against Xena's mouth.

"Oh, Xena÷."

Xena slowly circled the breast with her tongue. Her hand caressing one breast, she sucked the other breast into her mouth. Spasms of pleasure shot through Gabrielle's body, her hips rose up and a thigh pressed against Xena's warm, wet sex. Xena moaned at the unexpected touch, keeping her mouth on Gabrielle's breast, she released her hand and it found its way to Gabrielle's hips. Gently pressing Gabrielle away from her. "No, my love," she whispered at Gabrielle's disappointment, "tonight, I please you".

Xena's mouth moved to Gabrielle's other breast and gave it equal treatment. The moans coming from Gabrielle were causing feelings of need to rise within Xena. She fought the temptation to enter Gabrielle immediately and bring her to the ecstasy she desired. With a hand now squeezing each breast, Xena's tongue began a slow descent downward. Reaching Gabrielle's navel, her tongue circled the indentation before diving hard and strong into it. She could taste the salty remains of their earlier swim and she made sure that she explored it thoroughly.

Gabrielle's body reacted violently to the touch. Her back arched driving her breasts against Xena's hands and her hips rose pressing her stomach against Xena's mouth. Her thighs flew open in the hope that Xena would take her. But, Xena did not. Instead, she waited for Gabrielle's body to return to the soft furs before her mouth sought out each hip, kissing and sucking along the bone line.

"Xena, please," Gabrielle was gasping for breath. Her knuckles white as her hands were wrapped around Xena's hair. "Please," she begged in a voice no stronger than a whimper.

"Not yet, love."

"Xena, please," the plea was repeated over and over.

Xena responded by tracing hot kisses back across Gabrielle's taunt belly to her navel. This time, her lips circled the opening but did not enter. Expecting the thrust, Gabrielle groaned when it didn't happen. Xena tongue moved down further. Down to the musky, sweet smell rising from Gabrielle's raging center of desire. She reached the soft, downy hair guarding the entrance, wet and inviting. Xena buried her face into the warmth. The curly, fawn colored hair tickled her nose and cheeks. Xena inhaled deeply, breathing in her lover's sex, wanting to fill her own body with the wonderful smell that was her mate.

Gabrielle's hands, clutched in Xena's hair, were preventing Xena from sinking lower. She gently reached up and released the fists, placing them at either side of Gabrielle. The furs took their place in Gabrielle's strong grasp.

"Oh, Xena. I can't÷."

"Yes, you can." Xena could tell that Gabrielle was at the edge and ready to plunge over it. But, the pleasure she was planning for her lover would make the wait worthwhile. "We're almost there, love."

Free from Gabrielle's restrictive grasp, Xena lay her body between Gabrielle's legs. Her strong shoulders pressing smaller thighs wide apart. She looked up at Gabrielle who had thrown her head back and was moaning for the sweet torture to stop. Xena smiled knowing she had brought her lover to the brink and was now ready to leap off the edge with her.

Xena gently pressed open Gabrielle's warm, wet lips. She examined Gabrielle's treasure with her eyes before lowering her mouth into her sweet sex. Gentle, tender kisses touched every curve and ridge. Gabrielle moaned and Xena felt her own pleasure rising to its peak as she listened to her lover's response to her touch. A long sweep of her tongue filled Xena's mouth with Gabrielle's nectar and she swallowed the treasure slowly, savoring its sweet taste.

"Almost there," Xena promised her lover. This time when she lowered her mouth into Gabrielle, she gently took the hard nub between her teeth. Timing her movements with the experience of one who had brought such pleasure before, Xena thrust her fingers deep into Gabrielle at the exact same time she pulled up hard on the nub captured in her teeth.

Gabrielle body jerked up as screams of her lover's name flew from her lips. Hearing Gabrielle's cries of passion, Xena's body responded with it's own climax. Both bodies heaved and spasmed. Neither woman had any control as the sheer pleasure of their carnal desires were satisfied with wave after wave of lava heated passion rushing through them. Cries of "Xena" and "Gabrielle" filled the cove and echoed from the rocks encircling their love nest.

After several long minutes, their orgasms began to subside and the women dropped hard onto the furs unable to speak. Xena now lay half on and half off of her lover. She could hear Gabrielle's labored breathing but, because of her position, could not see her. Xena struggled to speak, but no sound would come. She tried to move, but her limbs were heavy and useless.

Gabrielle had yanked so hard on the furs that she had literally lifted herself off of the ground. She crumbled down on bare earth, the furs balled under her. She seemed unaware of the discomfort that the furs beneath her and Xena's body on top of her caused. She lay with her arms thrown out to her sides, her eyes staring sightless up to the heavens.

Both could think of nothing else to do but give in to the glorious, satisfied exhaustion that their lovemaking had left their minds and bodies in. And so, they slept.

********

Gabrielle woke. Sometime during her sleep, the furs had been rearranged and she now lay atop them with Xena, a blanket covering their entwined bodies. She twisted just enough to be able to look into Xena's face and to see that her lover was still asleep. A look of peace on her face that Gabrielle did not see often enough. Tears started to stream down Gabrielle's cheeks, "Oh, Xena," she whispered, "how I love you." As the tears quietly fell, sleep reclaimed her.

********

The morning sun was breaking through the night's darkness when Gabrielle re-awoke. She could feel Xena's arms wrapped around her and her warm breath blowing lightly across her cheek. Slowly she opened her eyes, afraid that even such a small movement might disturb her lover. Happily, her eyes were met with the deep blue orbs she adored.

"Hi."

"Hi, yourself," Xena's lips softly caressed her own. Not breaking contact, Xena asked, "Did you enjoy?"

"Are you kidding!" Gabrielle sat bolt upright. She threw herself into Xena's open arms and pressed her body as close to Xena's as was physically possible. "Oh, Xena, you make me so happy." Leaning back to look into Xena's eyes, she said very quietly, "thank you."

"For what?" Xena asked as she laid them back down on their blankets.

"For loving me," Gabrielle murmured as she snuggled closer against Xena.

They held on to each other, saying nothing but feeling everything. Love flowed from one to the other and back again, as if an electrical charge was hooked between their bodies. Such love between two mortals had never been seen on earth and, quite possibly, never would be again. They slept, never leaving the touch of the other.

*********

"How does a swim sound?" Xena asked the still half-asleep bard.

"Sounds wonderful, enjoy", Gabrielle groaned as she wrapped the blanket back around her body.

"Oh, no you don't," Xena reached down and pulled the blanket away. "You slept most of the morning. Get your lazy butt up," Xena commanded.

"Like I wasn't alone in that," Gabrielle retorted. "Come back to bed, I know a better exercise."

"Okay, suit yourself," Xena threw the blanket over the sexy, naked body sprawled on the ground at her feet. "I'll see you later." Xena turned and walked towards the opening in the boulders, she was gone from sight before Gabrielle could crawl out from under the blanket.

"Wait up," Gabrielle called out.

Xena was floating on her back, enjoying the cool water lapping over her skin. She smiled as Gabrielle swam out to join her, "I knew you'd come."

"Oh, you wish," Gabrielle eyebrows raised suggestively.

Xena's response was to use both hands and pushed a wave of water into Gabrielle's face. A water fight ensued, ending only after Xena scooped Gabrielle into her arms and carried her to the sandy shore. Xena laid Gabrielle down onto the sun-warmed sand and covered the smaller body with her own. As waves gently caressed the sand, Xena and Gabrielle spent the afternoon making love.

******

Their fires had long ago burned out, so Gabrielle found her flints to restart them as Xena pulled a shift over her head. "Ugh," Xena grunted.

"What's wrong love?" Gabrielle looked at Xena from where she knelt next to the fire pit.

"The joy of swimming in the sea and playing in the sand is you end up with sand in places you hardly think about. And the salt water is making my skin dry up as we speak," Xena groaned. "What I would do for a fresh water bath," Xena sighed.

"Ah!" Gabrielle jumped up as if she'd been struck.

"What's wrong with you," Xena asked, laughing at the odd look on Gabrielle's face.

"I forgot all about this," Gabrielle was skipping (yes, skipping) over to the far corner of the cove. "When you went for firewood last night, I discovered this," Gabrielle was pointing to the rock face. "A branch was stuck here and when I pulled on it÷. well, here it was. I meant to tell you, but÷ you know, something else came up," she giggled. "But, here it is."

Xena stood, arms crossed, eyebrows raised. "Gabrielle, will you take a breath and tell me what you are blabbering about."

Gabrielle grinned, "A spring. See. A fresh water spring." She pointed behind her.

"Well, I'll be," Xena walked over to Gabrielle's location. She reached a hand down to taste the water. "Fresh and sweet."

"Too bad its flow is so small. But maybe we can dig a hole and catch enough for a bath," Gabrielle suggested as she watched the water flow from a break in the cliff.

"No," Xena shook her head thoughtfully. "The sand would absorb it instantly. However÷" Xena's voice trailed off as she examined the boulder field watching the fresh water disappear into the rocks. Xena pondered the disappearing water, she was certain that there was no fresh water flowing into the sea on the shore side of the boulder wall. So, this water had to be flowing into some sort of cauldron within the boulder field. "Um, I wonder÷"

"What is it, Xena? Where are you going?" Gabrielle asked as Xena began to climb atop the boulders.

"Here, take my hand," Xena said while reaching down to help Gabrielle climb the large boulders. "If I'm right, there may be something just on the other side of these rocks.'

"What kind of something?" Gabrielle was getting annoyed at Xena's vagueness. "Would you please tell me what you are thinking," Gabrielle shouting at Xena.

"That," Xena was standing at the edge of a large boulder pointing down over its edge.

"Oh, this is scary," Gabrielle shied away from the edge.

"No, it safe. Here, hold my hand." Xena coaxed Gabrielle to rejoin her.

Safe in Xena's grasp, Gabrielle exclaimed, "It's lovely" as she looked down into the crystal clear pool several feet below their current position. "Can we reach it?" Gabrielle asked as she eyed the steep, rocky sides of the pool.

"Don't know. Let's see," Xena moved closer to the edge. "Stay here and I mean it."

"I will."

"Seriously, Gabrielle, stay here. If I slip trying to get down there, you'll need to get Argo and a rope to help me back out. If we both slip in... Well, you get the idea."

Fear flashed across Gabrielle's face, "Maybe you shouldn't try. I don't want anything to happen to you," she grabbed Xena's arm and held tight.

"It's okay. I'll be careful," Xena smiled down at her love. "If it gets sticky, I'll come back up immediately."

"Promise", Gabrielle sought Xena's assurance that she would not chance an injury or worse.

"I promise."

After planting a reassuring kiss on Gabrielle's soft lips, Xena carefully picked her way down the boulder face to a rock ledge jutting out into the pool. "Perfect spot for a nap or, perhaps, another activity," she thought to herself. The way down wasn't as bad as it had appeared from up top and even appeared to be an easier climb up than down. "Good thing for that," she knew how much Gabrielle disliked heights, one of the reasons she was never too eager to ride Argo. From the rock ledge, Xena dove into the water and swam to the far side of the pool. Gabrielle was standing exactly where Xena had left her. Xena called out, "Gabrielle, it feels great. Join me."

"Okay, how to I get down?" Gabrielle's question drifted down to Xena.

"Jump."

"Are you crazy," Gabrielle gasped. "It must be ten thousand feet down."

Xena laughed at Gabrielle and her heights. "No love, only about twenty feet. Come on jump, it's the fastest way down. I'll be right here to catch you."

"Can't you come get me?" Gabrielle asked.

"If I have to make that climb back up right now, I'll be too tired to climb down again," Xena lied. "And, you won't get to enjoy this. Come on, love, I'm right here." Xena chuckled as she watched Gabrielle process the pros and cons of her situation. Finally, unwilling to wait any longer, Xena called up the one word that was guaranteed to get Gabrielle to attempt something she did not wish to, "chicken?"

Anger spread quickly across Gabrielle's face. She glared down at Xena who was now making chicken noises and flapping her arms in imitation of a chicken flapping its wings.

Gabrielle glared at her lover, took a deep breath and leaped off the boulder into the emptiness below. In seconds, she was sinking down beneath the surface. She hung motionless for a moment before pushing off the rocky bottom with her strong legs and shooting upward. Bursting through the water's surface right in front of Xena, her upward momentum stopped and she started to fall back into the pond. Xena grabbed her and instantly covered her face with kisses.

"I knew you could do it."

"By the gods, Xena, must you always have the last word?"

"With you love, that is a very rare honor indeed," Xena laughed before lifting Gabrielle up and throwing her across the pool. A water fight quickly broke out and continued until both women made for the rock ledge in exhaustion. They shared the ledge as neutral territory since it was the only perch available within the pool. They lay back, their bodies sinking into the warmth of the sun heated rock. Saying nothing, their bodies were soon entwined.

"Darn," Gabrielle muttered, "I wish we had brought the soapstone with us, my hair could use a wash.'

"Don't move."

Before Gabrielle could lift herself to a sitting position, Xena had climbed back up the rock wall. Her head poked over the rocks above Gabrielle, "Anything else, my love."

"Can't think of anything."

"Be right back."

Gabrielle had barely laid back down on the warm stone ledge when Xena landed softly at her side. "One soapstone at your service, my queen."

Gabrielle giggled at Xena. She rarely called her "queen" away from Amazonia. Technically, it was a true statement since Xena had become a member of the Amazon nation in order to bond with Gabrielle. But no one ruled Xena, not even an Amazon queen.

"Come on, let's get clean," Xena pulled Gabrielle into the water and began to lovingly wash her body and hair. When she finished, Xena handed the soapstone to Gabrielle who returned the favor.

After their baths were completed, the lovers climbed back onto the stone ledge. The warmth of the stone and the rays of the afternoon sun soon had their bodies dry. As they lay wrapped in each other's arms, legs entwined, lips sought out lips and soon the sounds of their lovemaking filled the air. Afterward, they slept peacefully.

******

"Gabrielle, love. Wake up," Xena gently nudged the sleeping bard. The sun was sinking in the west and shadows were beginning to lengthen across the rock walls surrounding them. "Come on, love. We have to head back to camp."

"Ummmm," the bard muttered. "Can't we stay here a little while longer?" she asked, eyes still closed tight.

"If we do, we'll be here all night," Xena replied. "Get up."

Slowly opening her eyes, she looked up at the warrior towering above her. "Why the hurry?"

"If we don't climb out of here while there's still some daylight, we won't be able to see the footholds. So, get up now or we spend the night."

"I'm up. I'm up."

Xena helped Gabrielle to her feet and quickly positioned the bard in front of her. "I want you to put your hands and feet exactly where I tell you, okay?" It was getting hard to make out the contours of the rock wall in the increasing darkness, but Xena was sure her memory would be enough to get them safely up to the top. She pointed to the first foothold and guided Gabrielle up the cliff. Xena kept her body no more that a step behind Gabrielle's. She wanted to be in position to grab Gabrielle and push away from the wall with her strong legs should Gabrielle slip and fall. A strong push from the wall would be necessary to clear the rock ledge they had used as a love bed earlier. A body falling onto it would surely result in death, or worse. And, Xena was not about to let anything happen to the woman she loved. Carefully, she guided Gabrielle up until she was able to scramble atop the boulders above. Before Gabrielle had caught her balance and turned to help Xena over the ledge, Xena joined her.

"If I had known you'd follow so closely, I would have let you carry me up", Gabrielle smirked.

"Um," Xena looked thoughtful, "maybe we'll keep that for another day. Come on, let's get off these boulders while we still have some light." Xena took Gabrielle's hand and led her back to their camp.

*********


The days passed quickly, the women expressing and sharing their love and enjoying each other's company. They swam in the sea and bathed in their private pool. Hours were spent wrapped in each other's arms talking, laughing and growing ever closer. And, they made love. Sometimes waiting until night overtook their camp. Sometimes, during the heat of day. A single touch could set their passions soaring and send shock waves of desire coursing through their bodies, only to be quenched by passionate love making. Yet they could be content just holding each other close, the touching of bodies all that they required. Theirs was a blessed joining of two souls.

******

"We're out of food," Gabrielle stated.

"Guess it's a trip to Conbria," Xena was holding Gabrielle as they sat in front of the fire wrapped in a blanket. The morning air was damp and the chill went to the bone. Conbria was a small village half a day's ride south. It had a market and they could get food and supplies. "I think we should get you a horse," Xena said absentmindedly.

"Why?" Gabrielle's head snapped up at the comment. "I won't ride it."

"I know," Xena grinned and kissed the top of Gabrielle's head.

"Then why bother?" Gabrielle said gruffly, not liking to ride unless she was wrapped around Xena.

"Calm down, my bard," Xena soothed. "I want you to continue riding Argo with me. But, we can't expect Argo to carry both of us and all of our supplies." Argo raised her head and nodded in agreement. "A second horse could be used as a pack animal, until you needed to ride it."

"Um."

"Change of season in the air."

"Um," Gabrielle sighed as Xena tossed a couple of sticks onto the already roaring fire."

"We're almost out of firewood," Xena said as she eyed the small pile of sticks at her side.

"Um."

"If we leave now, we'll be back before dark."

"Um."

"Will you stop with the 'ums" and tell me what you think," Xena brow was raising.

"Okay," Gabrielle reached up and smoothed Xena's brow back down. "Here's what I think." She took a deep breath before continuing, "I think we should head for Conbria, get supplies, get a horse, and then÷"

"And then what?" the brow started back up.

"Then we should head for King Gregor's castle."

"Not come back here?" Xena was perplexed. She was sure that Gabrielle would want to return and, to be truthful, she had certainly enjoyed the peaceful days that they had shared and wanted them to continue. She put her hands on Gabrielle's shoulders and gently turned the bard to face her.

"Okay, Gabrielle. What's going on behind those beautiful green eyes of yours?"

Gabrielle reached her hands up behind Xena's neck and pulled her warrior to her. Her lips pressed against the warmth of Xena's and she kissed her longingly and passionately. After several moments, Gabrielle pulled back, "I think the world has been without its Warrior Princess long enough."

Xena's eyes locked onto Gabrielle's. She allowed herself to be drawn deep into the green orbs and she melted against Gabrielle's lips. Just before closing her mouth over Gabrielle's she said "the world can do without the Warrior Princess for a while longer." Their mouths crushed together, their passion built to a blinding level and they pleasured each other until it was released.

******

They lay next to the dying fire, wrapped in each other's arms and the blanket to drive away the evening chill. "Guess we won't make Conbria today," Gabrielle giggled.

"Nope, you'll have to go hungry tonight. We'll head out at daybreak. Be there and back in no time."

"No, Xena," Gabrielle said sharply.

Xena looked at her quizzically, what did she say that had made Gabrielle angry.

"I meant what I said this morning," Gabrielle answered the unasked question. "The world needs its Warrior Princess. We can go to Conbria, but then we head to King Gregor's."

Softly, Xena whispered, "But, I was really beginning to like it here, with you, my wife."

Gabrielle cupped a hand around Xena's cheek and caressed it. A tear fell from Xena's eye and Gabrielle softly brushed it away. She looked up into that face that showered her with so much love and she realized what Xena had called her. 'My wife'. Xena had only used that term the night of their bonding as she had taken Gabrielle's hand and proclaimed her love by slipping the ring onto Gabrielle's finger.

"Oh, Xena. I love you so much and I would love to stay here with you forever. But, you know our destinies lay elsewhere. There are too many others depending on the Warrior Princess. We can't think only of ourselves now, we must think about the greater good."

"Maybe the Warrior Princess is tired of the greater good. Maybe the Warrior Princess wants only to hold her wife in her arms and love her. Maybe the Warrior Princess wants to settle down and start a family with her wife. Maybe÷" Xena was stopped by a finger pressed softly against her lips.

"Oh, Xena. How I have dreamt of hearing you say those things. I would give anything to be able to do that. And, now hearing you say it, I know that one day we'll have that life. But not today, not now. Our destiny still calls us and we must answer that call."

Gabrielle had spoken directly to Xena's soul and she could not deny the truth in Gabrielle's words. "I love you so much, Gabrielle." Xena tightened her hold on the woman who meant everything to her.

***********

Xena and Gabrielle moved about the camp quietly gathering their things and packing them into their saddlebags. It was going to be hard for both of them to leave the quiet cove that they had called home for the last several days and each was quiet, absorbed in her own thoughts.

When Argo had been saddled and the saddlebags securely attached to the saddle, Xena led Gabrielle out from the cove and back along the path to the beach where they had enjoyed that first day. They continued across the sandy shore to the forest beyond. Once on solid ground, Xena swung herself up onto Argo's back and reached down to pull Gabrielle up behind her.

Gabrielle leaned against the strong back of her soulmate. She thought of the kingdom they were headed for and it's rulers. Gabrielle and Xena had first met King Gregor after they had found a baby at the side of a river near his castle. In trying to save the baby's life, they had brought King Gregor and Queen Pandora together. "It'll be good to see King Gregor and Pandora again."

"And, little Gabriel," Xena squeezed Gabrielle's thigh as she urged Argo forward.

"Yes, and little Gabriel," Gabrielle agreed. "I bet he's grown."

"Love, it's been five seasons. I'm sure he's grown. Probably getting into all kinds of trouble by now, just like his namesake," Xena laughed.

"Yeah, probably," Gabrielle sighed. Her eyes began to close as the gently rhythm of Argo lulled her. Suddenly she sat upright, realizing just exactly what Xena had said. "Hey," she started to scold but could say no more as Xena spurred Argo into a full gallop and Gabrielle had to hold on for dear life. Xena's laughter filled her ears. "Oh, you will pay for that, warrior mine." Gabrielle promised as she tightened her grip on her warrior.
 
 

THE END


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