For the Keeper of My Soul--Always

By: Alex P.

Feedback: Yes, please, I'm begging, this is my first story here, and I need all the help I can get. Send them to: keeper444@webtv.net any comments welcome.

Spoilers: I don't think there are many, if any at all, it's my own little world, and my own time-line.

Disclaimers: Xena, Gabrielle, Argo, and any other characters from the show are the property of USA studios, RenPics, etc. No copyright infringement is intended and no money is being made. I just borrowed them to play and I'll send them home when I'm done, pinky swear. Violence: Well yes, it *is* a Xena story, nothing real blood and guts, but there is a certain amount of violence. Sex: Nothing graphic, but there are references to a loving relationship between two people of the same gender, (a lot of touchy feel-y kind of stuff) If this bothers you or is against the law where you are, please delete it immediately. If you are under 18 please go away until you are old enough.

Rating: PG-13ish to a soft R maybe.

Dedication: This one is for Niki, the keeper of my soul and my inspiration. If not for her belief in me this story wouldn't exist. Thanks cher!


The Keeper of My Soul--Aways 1

By: Alex P.


As the horse topped the rise, it's tall, black-haired rider could see the

narrow, yet dense, fringe of forest. It separated the river's flood plain from the foothills, as well as the road which horse and rider were following that led into its depths.

The sharp, crystal blue eyes spotted a tower of black smoke billowing up from the far side of the thick mass of green. She was instantly on guard,

her senses reaching out in search of anything out of place, some sight or sound that might warn of impending danger. The breeze coming off the river reached her, even here, ruffling her long midnight tresses.

Xena had come this way before and recalled the large, quickly growing river city of Ciros that was situated on the banks of the river just beyond the narrow band of forest. This was where she was supposed to join her beloved bard and mate, Gabrielle.

Some villagers had asked for the warrior's help with some marauding bandits who had been raiding their small village. Since the villagers were poor farmers, they had no way of conceiving any kind of defense and were in desperate need of assistance.

They heard that Xena had turned to the side of good, and that she was in the

area, so they sent a small group of representatives to ask for her help.

The reformed warlord and Gabrielle were on their way to Amazon lands for Gabrielle to meet with the council of elders over some minor dispute that their laws allowed only their Queen to resolve.

The regent's judgment wouldn't do since she was indirectly involved in the dispute. Xena had to smile as she thought of her small companion and how determined she was to do her duties as queen, even though she wasn't there full time. Yet another reason she loved her bard so much.

In fact, they were seldom in Amazon lands any more, an oversight the warrior wanted to correct for her bard as soon as they were together again.

When the villagers showed up at their camp with their request, Xena was going to decline. She was accompanying her bard to her destination and loathed leaving her side.

Gabrielle, being Gabrielle, had insisted Xena go to the aid of the villagers while she and the four Amazon scouts who brought the summons went on to the Amazon nation.

The warrior princess was not too thrilled with the plan, but Gabrielle would not relent. So she agreed and they planned to meet at Ciros when they'd finished their separate missions.

"All right, I don't like leaving you for this long," Xena had said sulkily when they parted ways. "We will meet at the Hag's Head Inn just outside the western gate into Ciros in two weeks, three at the outside, no


"I promise my love, and I'll miss you too, my fierce warrior." Gabrielle spoke softly in her partner's ear as she kissed her cheek. "I'll wait for you forever if I must. I promise you a hello you'll never forget when we're together again."

A wry smirk crossed her lips as she recalled how she had blushed when she heard the Amazons giggling, realizing they'd heard the little blonde's promise.

"You did that on purpose," she growled softly into her lover's perfect pink shell-like ear

"Of course I did," Gabrielle teased. "I just love the way only I can make my big tough warrior blush, and you are so fetching when you blush."

This made Xena blush even more, and the self-satisfied smirk on the bard's face was just too much. The powerful woman reached down and wrapped her strong arms around her Amazon Queen's waist and pulled her close, holding the tight, compact, perfectly proportioned, body against her own.

She loved the feel of the smaller woman's muscular frame sculpted by hours of staff practice with her warrior. Xena lifted Gabrielle to her until their lips met in a soul-searing kiss. Gabrielle's lips parted automatically allowing entrance to her passionate lover's probing, swirling tongue.

Xena deepened the kiss until the world around them ceased to exist for the now highly aroused bard. Her head began to spin from lust and lack of oxygen.

The bard moaned her passion into her warrior's mouth as she felt Xena growling from deep in her chest.

Finally, when Gabrielle was sure she was about to melt, Xena released her, patting her on the top of her head. Without speaking, the tall beautiful woman turned and leapt to Argo's saddle.

"That should help you remember your promise till we meet again." Xena laughed as Gabrielle's lust glazed emerald eyes refocused then went wide in disbelief as she realized her lover's intention. "Two weeks, my love, and I'll be there to collect my *hello*."

With that, she'd galloped off down the road, the villagers trying desperately to keep up with her unexpected departure. Gabrielle was left sputtering with shock and frustration as she watched the very center of her world gallop quickly out of sight.

The bard waited on top of that hill, watching until Xena was out of sight, before she signaled her companions and headed for Amazon lands.

Xena knew because she kept looking back until she could no long see her bard

and her party and every time she looked back she saw her beautiful lover watching and waving.

She had hated leaving her companion and lover and the whole time she was helping the villagers she was like a trapped panther. Constantly pacing and snarling at anyone unfortunate enough to come within striking distance.

Xena could hardly sit still long enough to eat and sleep was impossible. If she wasn't working on the villagers defenses, she would go off somewhere private and do her sword drills and anything else she could think of, trying to take her mind off the empty feeling in her heart from the absence of her bard.

The Warrior Princess became so surly, the villagers were almost more afraid of her than the bandits. Dark circles appeared under her nearly colorless eyes and her cheekbones were becoming prominent beneath her pale skin, as sleep and appetite eluded her.

Finally, Xena became tired of waiting for the outlaws to attack and went out in search of their camp to put an end to their threat once and for all.

Patience wasn't one of Xena's many skills, but tracking was. It wasn't long before the warrior princess located the main camp of the so-called bandits.

They were a rag tag group of deserters and rejects that the fates had thrown together on a whim. The group had no discipline or real leadership. If the village had been larger, the bandits would have been cut down with their first raid.

In fact, they would have presented no threat to any organized defense. Which explained why they had gone after the smaller villages instead of moving on to more lucrative areas.

Having located their camp and assessed their strengths and numbers, Xena was tempted to go after them by herself, but remembering her promise to her little bard she returned to the village.

The warrior selected a

party of ten of the best fighters and five of the most promising archers. The anxious warrior led them in a surprise attack on the outlaw camp as dawn broke the next morning.

The attack was a total success and the few who survived the devastating strike by Xena and her recently formed "army", scattered to the mountains, far beyond the boundaries of the little group of villages. Not only were they no longer a threat, but also the survivors spreading the

tale of the villager's retaliation, made it less likely that another group of bandits wound take their place. Anyone would at least think twice before launching an assault on the isolated farming villages.

Having made sure the village was safe from any immediate threat, Xena gracefully accepted their thanks, refused their offers of reward, and hurriedly packed her belongings. She quickly but quietly left the still celebrating villagers for her rendezvous with her beloved Gabrielle.

Anxious to once again be in the arms of her emerald-eyed companion, Xena urged her loyal war-horse, Argo, toward the river port of Ciros.

Two days out from her destination, Xena woke just before dawn with a tightness in her chest and a knot in her stomach. Confused at first, the warrior closed her eyes and tied to get in touch of whatever the inner alarm was trying to tell her.

As she concentrated, sifting through the millions of thought fragments, only one word screamed out to her. It was the one word that was the very core of Xena's being, the one word that was sure to get her undivided attention. The only word that could launch her up to break camp, throw her gear onto the saddle, that she too was quickly settling into.

The one word that would cause her to push herself and her beloved Argo to the very limits of their endurance. The one word... Gabrielle.

For some reason, unknown to Xena, she had the overwhelming feeling that her bard was in deep trouble and was in dire need of her warrior.

Xena rode hard all that day and late into the night, the feeling that her Gabrielle was in serious trouble getting stronger with each passing moment.

It was well into the night and she realized how hard she was pushing Argo when the powerful horse stumbled on the dark trail. She came to the realization that if she were going to reach her bard at all, she would have to stop and rest her horse before it killed itself trying to please her.

"I'm sorry old girl." Xena apologized to the tired animal as she rubbed her down with burlap bags she carried just for that purpose. "I got carried away worrying about Brie. I just can't shake this feeling that she's in trouble and needs us. Know what I mean?"

At the question, the long-time traveling companion snorted and shook her head, seeming to agree with her rider. The big horse pawed the ground as if to express her concern over the short blonde that saved carrots and apples as treats for the golden Arabian mare.

"I know big girl, I miss her too," the warrior whispered to her horse that shared her heart with the absent bard. "We'll rest for a while and get an early start in the morning."

The horse blew out a long impatient snort and began munching on the long sweet grass available near the campsite, while her mistress sat on a log next to a small campfire chewing on smoked venison and a hard tack biscuit.

It wasn't long before Xena lay in her bedroll trying to get some much-needed sleep. It was a battle to get her eyes to close so that she could fall into a light restless nightmare-plagued sleep.

Her mind was filled with visions of her lover in dire need, and calling to the warrior for help, but she always remained just out of reach. Giving up just before dawn, Xena broke camp, saddled Argo, and they were on the road again just as the horizon was lightening in anticipation of sunrise.

The sun was well up when Xena topped the final ridge. Before she entered the narrow band of forest that separated the highlands from the wide slow flowing river and the tower of smoke, the warrior silently prayed to

Artemis to protect her chosen.

That in itself was an indication of how worried she was about the small golden haired bard who had so completely captured her heart.

The smell of battle on the light breeze that blew in from the river did little to ease the warrior's worry. She knew it was less than a half days ride to Ciros and her waiting bard. What she was seeing now made Xena fervently hope that the usually punctual Amazon Queen would be late for their meeting.

Xena spurred her mount toward the trail that led through the forest wanting to get to the source of the smoke as quickly as she could, but all the time knowing deep down in the darkest region of her soul that she was not going to like what she found.





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