This takes place right after The Abyss.
"I meant it, you know," Gabrielle
said when they were finally alone.
"Meant what?" Xena asked reluctantly, having a pretty well defined idea what her friend was referring to. She banked their campfire and tried to keep busy. A bird was singing a song in a nearby tree.
"What I said back at the cave, near that awful waterfall."
"Oh, yes! That you wish to be buried with me and my family in about fifty years," Xena tried to postpone the inevitable with a lark. "Wish granted."
"No, what I said after that," the young bard persisted quietly. "I love you, Xena."
"I know you do. And I love you right back." Gods, she was terrified. The warrior scanned the surroundings for her horse, still looking for an escape. It was a sunny afternoon. Apart from the bird, nothing budged.
"Xena, I mean love you, really romantically love you, dammit! Don't you understand? I am in love with you. I can't help it. I'm sorry." She very nearly cried.
"Oh, don't be sorry, Gabrielle," Xena said, quickly taking the young woman into her strong arms and holding her tight. "You should never be sorry for what you feel." She stroked the young woman's hair. She could hit herself. Who was she to say that? Wasn't she hiding something herself? It was always so much easier to tell someone else what to do… She knew she had to say something nice now to comfort Gabrielle. No escape.
"Besides, I'm honoured," she said. But that was not all, and if she was ever gonna tell her friend, it would have to be now. She owed Gabrielle that much after what she'd just said. But Hades! she was petrified! Xena took a very deep breath. Her heart pounded in her throat. "And you make me a very happy woman." She added hoarsely.
"I do? You love me too? Oh Xena, do you?" Gabrielle was cautiously thrilled and examined the beautiful features of the taller woman.
There was no going back now.
"Yes, Gabrielle," Xena confessed. "I do. And I have for a very long time."
Gabrielle looked up into the incredibly blue eyes and read great tenderness… and fear in them. She did not dare believe her luck, but if this was a dream, she was sure going to take advantage of it. She pulled Xena's head down and planted the most delicate of kisses on those enticing lips. Tentatively at first, but growing bolder when Xena did not pull away. When that first kiss broke, they were both panting slightly.
"Why didn't you tell me before?" Gabrielle asked in wonder, looking up, still holding on to the tall woman.
At first Xena did not answer, a pained expression on her lovely face, but finally she said: "You want the truth?"
"Yes, of course!" Gabrielle was stunned.
"Promise me you won't laugh?" Xena asked hesitantly.
"I was scared. Still am, as a matter of fact." Xena confessed quietly. Gabrielle smiled despite herself. The great Warrior Princess, scared!
"Scared of what?" she asked.
"Tell me," she urged.
"That you might turn me down, for one." Xena admitted.
"Oh Xena, I love you so much, I would follow you to the end of the earth and till the end of time. I would never turn you down." Gabrielle reassured her beautiful companion.
"Scared that you might leave me." Xena added.
"There is no way you could get rid of me, you should know that by now," Gabrielle giggled.
"Yeah well, if you found out I loved you this way and you did not feel the same, it could scare you off, couldn't it?"
"It would destroy me." The warrior sighed.
Gabrielle kissed the warrior lovingly and then said: "Well, there is no way I will be leaving you after a kiss like this. Anything else that you were scared of?"
"I am scared I will lose my self control."
"Hmm, I think I would love you to," the bard replied suggestively and started kissing her way up Xena's elegant neckline.
"No, Gabrielle, I mean it." The warrior grabbed the younger woman by the shoulders. "I know I can be rather uhmm… intimidating, uhmm… overwhelming at times, that might scare you."
"I don't scare easily," Gabrielle answered boldly.
"And then I'm terrified that you would be victimised if the wrong people found out you are the most important person in the world to me." Xena continued.
"I think some of them already suspect that." Gabrielle sounded positively naughty!
"Well, yes, but they don't know exactly how much you mean to me."
"Neither do I. How much is that?" the blonde teased
"Do you really want to know, Gabrielle?" Xena asked breathlessly. Part of her felt the same joy the bard felt, a rich, promising bliss. It was so very tempting to let herself be sucked into Elysia by giving in to it.
"Yes. Very much," the bard replied in a low voice. Xena took the leap.
"Then let me show you." The warrior princess took possession of the smaller woman's eager lips and her hands wandered hungrily over her lithe form.
Suddenly she stopped.
"Oh gods, what am I doing?" she muttered, let go of the young bard and ran off into the forest, leaving Gabrielle with a stunned smile on her swollen lips.
Somehow, Gabrielle did not fear Xena would really leave her, so she got dinner cooking. When Xena did not return by the time it was ready, she ate in solitude and cleaned up afterwards. When night fell she spread the bedrolls, putting Xena's conveniently close to her own and she slid under she warm skins, waiting for the warrior to return. Gabrielle was determined to stay awake until she would, but she must have dosed off for a while anyway. She woke when she felt more than she heard the dark woman silently slip into the furs next to her. Gabrielle pretended to be asleep. She knew Xena was in emotional turmoil and she would have to be very patient. But it would be worth waiting for, she promised herself.
During the next couple of days, Xena was more taciturn than ever. They travelled in silence, speaking only when necessary. Xena practiced her drills with more determination and she lunged herself into action adventures even more often than usual. The Warrior Princess seemed to look for trouble still more than trouble looked for her. Gabrielle silently watched the tormented warrior's back and left her in peace. She was very careful not to refer to their little romantic encounter. Not in words, not in looks, she was even cautious not to casually touch her tall friend. She tried not to flirt, which was extremely difficult, knowing how Xena felt about her. She knew this powerful woman, this beautiful, dangerous Warrior Princess was terrified and exceptionally vulnerable. And in love with her! Yes! Gabrielle felt full of pride. And confident she would eventually be able to convince Xena, seduce her, lure her into loving her and being loved. She would have to be exceptionally cautious, however. A smile played around her lips all day when the warrior could not see her.
One afternoon, after they had practiced
an exhausting staff exercise, Gabrielle had backed off, completely out
of breath. Although Gabrielle was quite skilled with her staff, there was
not a chance of beating Xena in this mood…the warrior was fighting against
herself. Xena went on with a particularly heavy workout, completely wearing
herself out. The blonde sat watching the beautiful, tall woman with concern,
but decided that it would probably be better if she didn't. She went to
the river, where she took a much needed bath. When she came out refreshed,
she realised she had forgotten to bring a towel. Under normal circumstances,
she would have gone back to their camp and gotten one, but now that didn't
seem a wise thing to do either. She decided to sun dry on the flat rocks
near the waterfall. She stretched out on the sumwarmed stone, that had
been smoothed by centuries of running water and closed her eyes, feeling
the sun caress her skin and daydreaming about how good it would be if Xena
would let go her defences and allow herself to…
Suddenly Gabrielle felt a cloth being thrown over her naked body. She sat up, embarrassed, fearing she had made things even more difficult for the warrior.
"We have to talk." Xena announced in a hoarse voice. She was covered in sweat and dirt, but had taken her armour off. She took a hearty swig from the waterskin she had brought along before she threw it to the blonde. She looked the other way.
"Right," the younger woman said. She sat up, covered herself and took a mouthful too.
"I should probably need something a lot stronger than water," Xena remarked with half a smile.
"I know this is very hard for you," Gabrielle said softly.
Xena dropped down to her knees next to the bard and muttered, barely audible for the tears in her voice: "Oh, Gabrielle, I am so very scared to be loved!"
"I know," Gabrielle hesitated a moment before she tenderly stroked the powerful shoulders, that were now shaking with unshed tears. "I understand, Xena."
"I am so scared to let you love me!" she said in a voice thick with despair.
"I know," Gabrielle said. "Oh, Xena, can I hold you?"
"Yes, oh, yes, please, hold me!" When Xena looked up, Gabrielle noticed two muddy trails of tears down her stained face. She pulled the dark head close and kissed Xena's dusty forehead, before the warrior buried herself in Gabrielle's comforting embrace.
"Everything's gonna be okay," Gabrielle whispered into the dark tresses.
"I love it when you say that…. It really makes me feel better," Xena said softly, hiding even deeper into the arms of the small bard. They sat like that for a long time, quietly. Xena felt her panic slowly subside. Gabrielle could feel the warrior gradually relax a little.
"We will have to take this very slowly," Gabrielle tried.
"One step at a time," Xena was glad Gabrielle understood.
"You will have to set the pace," the blonde suggested.
"I need you to be very patient with me."
"Yes, I will, I promise."
"I love you so much, Gabrielle."
"You are safe with me, Xena." Somehow she knew that Xena needed to hear that even more than 'I love you too.' For now.
Silence. A comfortable, healing silence.
"You know what you need?" Gabrielle asked in the end.
"A bath!" the bard said with a huge smile.
Xena chuckled. "You know what? You are right. And I'll have one with my favourite bard!" Xena had some of her old zest back. She was on her feet in the blink of an eye, scooped up Gabrielle in her arms and vaulted into the water, leathers, bard and all. They fooled around for a bit, before Gabrielle wrapped her arms around Xena from behind.
"Come here," she said. "Let me wash your hair."
Xena was going to turn the offer down, but thought better of it. "Okay," she said. "Step one?"
Gabrielle grinned as she got out of the water to get the soap. "Yes, step one." She was aware that Xena couldn't take her eyes off her naked, dripping form. It made her feel all mellow inside. It was with great tenderness and care that she washed the dark hair of the gorgeous woman, treating her to a head massage as a bonus. Xena drifted on her back, her eyes closed, as Gabrielle rinsed the last soap out of her long black hair. She was just thinking that maybe it was not so bad to be loved and spoiled after all. Suddenly she felt a little, tender kiss on her mouth, Gabrielle's tongue just barely brushing her lips, which sent a jolt of pleasure right down to Xena's groin. She opened her eyes in surprise, only to see the young blonde stride out of the water, rivulets dripping down her lovely backside. Gods, she was beautiful!
"This will do for step one. I'm hungry." Gabrielle called, without looking back.
Xena grinned. "Some things never change." And I love it!
She stripped of her leathers and underwear and rinsed them before hanging them out to dry.
Bent over the fire cooking dinner,
Gabrielle felt Xena move up behind her. The warrior's hands encircled her
bare midriff and then moved up to cup both Gabrielle's breasts, kneading
them, pulling her close, then teasing her nipples. The smaller woman got
rid of the spoon she was stirring the stew with, before she could drop
it. Gods, this was so good, it made her knees go weak. She leaned into
the embrace and felt Xena's lips on her bare neck, planting little kisses
and licks in the general direction of her earlobe. She could feel Xena's
nipples harden through her thin shift against her sensitive back. Hunger,
other than for food, spread through her entire body. She turned around
in Xena's arms so their lips could meet. She pulled down the dark head
and parted her lips, welcoming in Xena's tongue, tasting, revelling. She
was afraid to scare Xena off by her enthusiasm, so she tried to hold back
a little, but it took all the strength she had. When at last their kiss
broke, she noticed she had been holding her breath and let it out in an
enormous sigh. That made them both laugh out loud.
"This will count as step two, don't you think?" Xena said.
"Fine by me," Gabrielle was still balancing on her shaking knees.
"Xena, can I ask you something?"
the bard asked over dinner.
"Why is it so difficult for you that I love you, and so much easier for you to love me?"
"Oh, that's simple," the warrior said.
"Well, first of all, I've had practice. I mean, I've been in love with you for a long time, so I had a chance to get used to it."
"I see. And?"
"And then: loving you is the active part. I can do it. If I uhm …make love to you I'm still in control. It's the passive part that is so hard for me. It makes me so vulnerable, that I just want to run away."
"Figures." Gabrielle said, swallowing hard when Xena mentioned making love. Just hearing those words from that alluring mouth echoed right down to her belly.
"I'm afraid I'm just not good at receiving." Xena admitted.
"Yet," Gabrielle added with a smile, stroking Xena's beautiful face.
"Yet," confirmed Xena, catching the blonde's hand, kissing it and looking up with a seductive grin that sent even more butterflies down to Gabrielle's stomach.
It was the middle of the night. Gabrielle
couldn't sleep, ever since their scorching good-night kiss, several candlemarks
ago. She could still feel it on her lips and the side effects still hummed
trough her body. She got up on one elbow to look at the stunning woman
beside her in the starlight. She noticed the warrior was awake too and
looking at her for she could see the white of her eyes glimmer in the faint
"I want you so much," Gabrielle whispered,
"I want you too," Xena replied softly. The white of her teeth glimmered as well.
"So tell me again why we can't make love yet?" Gabrielle asked softly.
"Because I'm not ready to give myself to you yet."
"I'm ready to take you, though!" Xena added.
"Doesn't sound so bad to me," the bard said, swallowing hard again.
"Oh, Gabrielle, I love you so much, I want our first time to be special and… mutual, you understand?"
"Yes, I think I understand."
"I'm so sorry."
"It's all right; I want it to be mutual too. Can I hold you?"
"Yes, I would love that."
Gabrielle spooned up behind the warrior, wrapped one arm under her neck and the other around her waist and pulled her close. She pressed a kiss on the dark head. Just holding her was bliss…
Being held was bliss, Xena thought. She could get used to this. Another step. In this position, they finally feel asleep.
When they woke up the next morning, somehow they had shifted the other way 'round. Xena had her strong arms wrapped around the small blonde and she felt a great sense of belonging fill her, body and soul. She lay very still to bathe in this unusual feeling for a long moment
Then she softly kissed the blond head until Gabrielle woke up and turned over, catching the light kisses with her lips.
"Hmm, this is a great way to wake me up, you can do that any time!" she said.
Xena grinned. "I'll remember that!"
They sensed right away that there was rain in the air. It was time they got out of the bedrolls, broke up camp and got moving and maybe find a shelter from the rain that would inevitably come.
On their way south, they found a
roomy and deserted cave overlooking the sea, just when the first large
drops began to fall. The sea was a deep grey and there was no telling where
she met the equally dark grey sky. The waves rolled over in a foamy white
upon the rocky shoreline.
It looked like they were going to be stuck in the cave for quite some time and somehow it made Gabrielle just a bit uneasy. How on earth was she going to control her growing hunger for the beautiful warrior caught in a small space? Suddenly an idea formed into her pretty head. After they moved Argo and their stuff into the cave, Gabrielle volunteered to go out and collect firewood in the pouring rain. When she came back with a lot of reasonably dry firewood, she was completely soaked herself and took off all her clothes. No sense in running around in wet clothes when you could seduce your lover into loosing her self-control.
Not that she wasn't nervous herself: she was no expert on the subject, but as far as she knew, people all tend to be nervous before they make love for the first time. Hades knew she was scared to disappoint Xena too! The reason why people do it anyway, she thought, is that they are very much in love and incredibly attracted to one another. And she knew they both were. Gabrielle hoped that she could push Xena over the threshold, feeling slightly guilty, as she had promised to be patient. But she had been patient, up till now, hadn't she?
She hung her clothes to dry near the fireplace, where Xena had already managed to set fire to some of the wet sticks and branches. Gods, she was good with fire! Gabrielle thought. She herself was burning with a different kind of fire inside and she hoped Xena would, eventually, take equally good care of that.
When Xena got up, satisfied the fire
would maintain itself and would dry the extra wood, she noticed the bard
was casually doing her chores. With no clothes on! Gulp!
She felt desire rise in her belly. Gods, she was gorgeous. Of course she was gorgeous with her clothes on, as well, but naked…! It would take a lot of strength not to just take her, stuck as they were in this cave.
"Gabrielle, aren't you cold?" Xena tried.
"No, on the contrary, don't worry," the bard replied, without looking at Xena, as she hung a kettle of water over the fire. Afraid so…
"I've got spare clothes right here for you," Xena tried again.
"Don't need them, thanks!" It was, in fact, not cold at all, a flushed warrior noticed. Actually, it was quite hot, come to think of it!
While they worked together as the experienced team they were, to make this cave into a comfortable place to stay for a while, the warrior stole a glance at the beautiful little blonde out of the corners of her eyes every so often. To tell the truth, she could hardly take her eyes off her flawless skin at all. She wondered what it would feel like under her hands, her lips, her tongue…those perfect breasts, those enticing nipples… the firm ass. And those legs! Oh Gods! The atmosphere was loaded with sexual tension, while outside the sound of the breaking waves was drowned in the pouring rain.
When inside the water boiled, Gabrielle chose some relaxing herbs for tea, even though she knew Xena would instantly recognise them. Xena delayed it for as long as she could, finding still more to do, but when she finally sat down next to the naked bard, she sniffed the tea and drank it all, without comment. It was a silent surrender and another step. She slowly took her armour off, both literally and figuratively, she realised.
"Here, let me help you," Gabrielle offered.
"Thanks," It was only right that the bard should help her with such a symbolic deed.
"I know you are nervous," Gabrielle whispered in Xena's neck. "I'm nervous too."
She started to massage Xena's shoulders softly. Xena closed her eyes. She let the herbs sink in and allowed herself to thoroughly enjoy the touch, the tenderness and the attention of the bard.
"Why should you be nervous, Gabrielle?" Xena asked.
"I'm scared to disappoint you." The small blonde admitted. "I know you have been with many people and I'm afraid I will be no competition." She kissed the warrior's neck.
"You will have no competition," Xena assured her, tenderly pulling her around and on her lap. "You are above all competition. I have never loved anyone the way I love you."
Gabrielle's answer was smothered in a passionate kiss that lasted until she did not even remember what she was going to say.
"I think I'm ready, Gabrielle," Xena whispered. "I have only one more fear left."
"Tell me," the bard purred, relishing in the warrior's embrace.
"I'm afraid I will hurt you if I come on too strong. I tend to be … rather passionate." Xena admitted with her eyes cast downward and a warm colour spreading over her gorgeous face.
"Okay, so scare me," Gabrielle dared her lover. "I will be very disappointed if you don't." she smiled audaciously.
Xena got up, the bard still in her arms, and practically ran the few steps to their bedrolls, where she very gently put down her precious load. She quickly got rid of her remaining leathers and underwear and stretched out her long frame next to the lovely blonde.
"You have to tell me when I scare you," she said breathlessly between kisses. "I hope [kiss] I can still control [kiss] myself then, [long kiss] but I'm afraid [kiss] you drive me wild!" More kisses.
"I trust you, Xena. And I love you madly!" Gabrielle replied. Which was the last reasonably sensible sound that emerged from her lips for a very long time.
Their lovemaking was passionate and
extremely tender, each one of them thoroughly exploring the familiar body
of her best friend for many seasons. Gabrielle thought she would drown
in happiness, when she felt Xena finally take one of her nipples in her
mouth and suckle gently. She pulled the dark head closer, encouraging her
lover to continue, harder, closer, longer. And then she lowered herself
to finally taste the ample bosom of the gorgeous woman that she had hungered
after for so long. For a split second, she thought she felt Xena stiffen,
but the rising passion overruled any second thoughts the warrior might
have had. She moaned with desire, and so did Gabrielle. The sound, the
smell, the sight and the touch of this enticing woman were intoxicating.
And what turned her on even more, was that this … this goddess obviously
felt the same for her!
Xena played Gabrielle's body like an instrument. She skilfully increased her excitement to a point that Gabrielle didn't know existed. To regain her senses, she stopped Xena every so often to take a few deep breaths and then touched the warrior the way the dark woman had just touched her. Until Xena would take over again. It was like a game, a dance, and by the gods, did she enjoy dancing!
Xena set her entire body on fire, when she lowered her hands between Gabrielle's legs and found a very wet, very hungry place that simply begged for attention. When Xena touched the sodden folds, Gabrielle took a sharp intake of breath that she forgot to release for a long time. Xena expertly stroked and fondled her clit and all the bard could do was moan with pleasure. Just when Gabrielle was going to do the same to Xena, she felt the warrior get up on her knees and bury her dark head between the bard's legs. Oh, Gods, her breath alone on her wet sex was nearly too much! But then Xena carefully took her swollen clit between her lips and suckled gently, growing bolder as Gabrielle screamed out her pleasure. She bucked wildly with her hips and Xena had a handful when the younger woman's body begged for release. Xena could feel it coming when Gabrielle slowly reached her peak and tumbled over the edge of her first orgasm.
"Oh, Xena, OH XENA! Oh yes, yes, YES! YESSS!, this is sooo good, Oh gods, Xena, what are you doing to me…" It took her a few minutes to regain her breath before she added hoarsely: "I love you so much."
Xena held her tenderly, stoked her spent body and smiled at her. "I love you too, Gabrielle." She whispered softly into her hair.
The younger woman hid her face in Xena's bosom and suckled one nipple, while fondling the other with her hand.
"This is so very good," she sighed. "Are you all right?"
"Yes very much," Xena smiled reassuringly. "I trust you. I feel safe with you."
"Can I …?"
"Yes…" Xena said, lifting Gabrielle's chin for a deep and very intimate kiss.
"Hmm, you smell!" the bard remarked with a smile.
"You are going to as well, if I have anything to do with it," Xena said with a chuckle.
The knot in her stomach dissolved as Gabrielle's hand slowly travelled down the length of her hungry body and touched her wet core. Xena widened her legs in welcome, reached for the small hand and clustered three of the bard's fingers. She guided them towards her hungry opening and pushed them in.
"Take me, Gabrielle," she begged in a low voice that resonated deep in the bard's belly. "I want to be yours, ahh!" Gabrielle swallowed hard, but caught on quickly, moving her fingers in and out Xena's slippery sex slowly, picking up the rhythm of Xena's throbbing need. It made her feel full of pride to understand that she was the one to cause the deep moans of pleasure that emerged from the breathtaking woman in her arms. After a while, she wanted to taste her lover the same way Xena had tasted her earlier, so she got up and turned around, leaving her fingers in the place where they were most wanted. She took in the unique scent of her lover and softly tasted her ambrosia. Xena inhaled sharply as the blonde touched her clit with her tongue.
"Hmm, this is good!" she moaned.
Encouraged, Gabrielle lapped at the swollen bud and then suckled at it. She could tell Xena was really turned on by what she did, which consequentially, excited Gabrielle to no end!
Suddenly, she felt the urgency of Xena's moans and movements increase and Gabrielle redoubled her efforts accordingly until … Xena reached her peak.
She came, wave after glorious wave, noisily crashing and rolling upon the welcoming shores of Gabrielle's love.
Tears ran over both their faces for
the enormity of what had just happened. Xena was relieved in more ways
than one. It had been such a struggle to let go of her fears that her orgasm
came with a flood of tears. Gabrielle felt touched and honoured that Xena
had surrendered to her so completely, so utterly and so … deliciously!
She held the tall, beautiful woman in her arms and felt they had conquered
the fear together. With a lump in her throat, she comfortingly caressed
the older woman's hair and wiped the tears from her cheeks.
"Told you everything was gonna be alright," she murmured, pulling Xena close to her breasts until she felt desire rise in her all over again…
“So, if I understand this correctly,
you have loved me since …?” the bard asked quite some time later with a
relaxed and very satisfied sigh. The rain was still pouring outside, but
inside the cave it was warm and snug.
“It must have started when we were at my brother’s grave and you said I was no longer alone,” Xena admitted. “And it has been growing deeper ever since.”
"That was the very moment that I realised I had fallen in love with you. It really happened before that, when you rescued me and my friends from Cortese. I just did not recognize it right then."
"Yes, wow. To think that all this time…”
“Let’s not waste any more.”
And they didn’t.