After the Bath

by ArdenTly

Disclaimer: The characters of Xena and Gabrielle belong to Renaissance Pictures/USA Studios and MCA. No infringement is intended.

Any and all offerings, burnt or otherwise, can be directed to me at

Xena lay in the faint glow of dawn, watching each breath as it left Gabrielle's slightly parted mouth. Propping herself up with one elbow, she gazed down, thinking life couldn't be more perfect. She'd finally let the bard in...All the way...and she hadn't run screaming. In fact, Xena thought, rubbing her neck in retrospect, the bard had displayed a bit of her own unbridled sexuality. She winced with a grin as she felt the bite marks. Oh yes, indeedy.

She ran the tip of her finger down between the sleeping woman's breasts and smirked as the nipples hardened and the blonde groaned suggestively. Insatiable. Just like me, she thought with a smirk. Her eyes glazed over once more as her thoughts went back to their first encounter.

The evening had begun, as usual, with a nice hot soak in the tub. It was getting harder and harder to find inns that didn't know them...Gabrielle's penchant for warbling at the top of her lungs at the oddest moments, her off key attempts at singing all but driving the heartiest of business away.

Xena loved these times they had together in the baths. It was here that she could just relax and enjoy being around the only person she could really trust. She wasn't too sure just how the little bard was going to feel when she bared her soul to the woman but Xena had decided that tonight was going to be the night. No more grinding her teeth whenever the blonde snuggled up during the night. No more holding back emotions that threatened to spill over and engulf the warrior, making her weak and ineffectual in their every day battles with brigands and murderers.

"What if you died tomorrow and missed the chance to tell someone how you felt about them?"

Gabrielle rinsed the soap out of her hair and then waited. She knew there was something on the warrior's mindÉit just took Xena a while before she could actually get things out sometimes.

"You told me once that even the dead can hear your thoughts."

Xena smiled and then stood up, causing the water to sluice over her shoulders and breasts as she reached over for another face cloth.

"That's true but it does nothing for those left behind. Just think, Gabrielle, how you'd feel if, say, you really wanted to be with someone and missed an opportunity to tell them, and they were dead in the morning."

The bard nodded, took the cloth from her friend's hands and began lathering it up with soap.

"Well, I suppose I'd feel disappointed and let down, sure. Say, is this one of those riddles of yours where I'm supposed to guess which warlord you fancied but never told? It wasn't Draco, was it? No, couldn't be cos he's still alive."

Xena shook her head and grinned.

"Nah, it's just something that's been playing on my mind lately. Like, say there was this really hot guy that caught your eye and because you never said anything, you missed spending a nice time with him in what turned out to be his last hours."

"This is really getting morbid, Xena. How many ports did you have downstairs?"

Xena smirked and counted off four fingers. She could have held up twice that number and both knew it would never have dulled one bit of her ability to either defend them or make half way decent conversation.

"Okay, so is this warlord alive or dead?"

Xena whirled around and placed both hands on her hips.

"Who said it was a warlord?"

Gabrielle stroked her chin in thought and then played her fingertips over the surface of the water.

"Are you saying it wasn't a living warlord orÉ"

The warrior grabbed the cloth and began scrubbing her chest and shoulders. Gabrielle felt a knot in her throat as a rosy hue began to spread over her friend's breasts and nipples.

"What makes you think it was a warlordÉorÉa guy, for that matter?"

Xena all but snorted at the blank look adorning her friend's face.


"Oh, please! You'd better shut that pretty little mouth of yours before a fly wanders in there."

Gabrielle's mouth snapped shut and she leaned heavily against the wood staves of the tub.

It had never occurred to her that the Warrior Princess was referring to someone they might have met in their travels. If it wasn't a warlord, well, that did narrow things down. Then she gave herself a mental pinch. Xena was lusting over a woman? So, there was something to the rumours she'd been studiously ignoring. A faint tingling began spreading through her belly.

While the warrior had probably beaten up more men then she'd ever taken to her bed, Gabrielle knew there were a few that held a special place in her heart, just not lately. Although she wracked her brain Gabrielle couldn't come up with one village, one instant where Xena had made excuses to stay longer in town or not share a pallet with her during their travels. Perhaps she was looking at things the wrong way. She was assuming that Xena was talking about past encounters with men but perhaps she'd taken a liking to barmaids lately. The tingling fizzled and was replaced with something else.

"SoÉis this woman alive or dead?" An eyebrow rose at the woman's tone of voice but Xena decided not to tease the younger woman. No, now was not the time for foolishness when there were serious things to be discussed.

She rinsed the soap off her body and began working some lotion through her long thick hair.

"This isn't really a game, Gabrielle. And I didn't really throw it out for discussion as to whom I might be lusting afterÉman or woman. I just wondered what your thoughts were on the subject in general."

Gabrielle arched an eyebrow, attempting to use 'the look' that came so damned easily to the warrior but failed miserably.

"Something in your eye, Gabrielle?" The warrior said with another smirk.

"Oh, you just think you're so funny. You say it isn't a game but I know you, Warrior Princess: something's on your mind. If you are asking whether there is someone I'm lusting over, then the answer is no."

"Not even Joxer, huh?"

"Ack! Xena! Don't even kid about that! He might hear you and I've already got my hands full trying to dissuade that twerp as it is. If he thought for one moment that I even thought about him like thatÉ"

"Well, he is a man, Gabrielle, and you do turn your pretty little head at the drop of a hat. Why not Joxer?"

"Why notÉwhyÉ" She stuttered. "Because! Because he's Joxer, that's why not!"

Xena smiled good-naturedly and then moved closer to the bard.

"Ah, don't worry about it. I was just kidding you. Besides, I don't think he'd stand a chance with a pretty thing like you."

"I am not a pretty girl, Xena. I'm a woman." And with that statement said, she stood up and did a slow turn, giving the warrior ample chance to do a quick inspection of her many womanly attributes.

Cupping her breasts one by one, Gabrielle held them out and ran her thumbs against the tips.

"Does this look like the body of a 'girl' to you, Xena?"

The smile froze on Xena's face as she watched her friend's nipples harden.

There was an equal response on the bard's face and both women began to wonder exactly how they'd gotten into hotter water than either of them ever expected.

The spell between them was broken as the sodden washcloth fell from Gabrielle's hand.


Xena's tongue darted quickly across her upper lip and then her mouth twitched into a half-hearted grin. However, the dry click in her throat betrayed the offhanded attitude she was trying to portray.

"Heh, guess we'd better go get dressedÉwater's getting kinda cold."

Gabrielle found herself nodding in agreement but her mouth had other plans.

"No, actually I find it warm in hereÉvery warm."

Xena searched the woman's face, trying to read exactly where the topic of conversation was going and exactly how she should respond.

"Yeah, warm."

Gabrielle opened her mouth to say something and then shut it. The tip of her tongue darted out and then white teeth claimed a bit of her lower lip.

Xena could feel the uncertainty wafted off the bard and decided that perhaps she'd better back off and pick things up at a later date.

"Turn around and I'll help rinse you off." A jolt seemed to travel up her arm as she touched the woman's shoulder. Gabrielle nodded and turned; submerging herself up to her neck in water she was almost oblivious to. In fact, her focus had narrowed to only one thing: Xena was attracted to women. She briefly wondered exactly what type of woman before a couple of names popped into her head: Lao Ma, M'lila, CleopatraÉeven some of the stories she'd managed to drag out of the woman about an Amazon called Cyanne now seemed suspect.

"Xena?" she began tentatively.

The warrior had been busy working her strong fingers through long blonde hair, enjoying the contact and the brief silence when two hands had closed around her wrists.


"Xena, have you been with manyÉwomen?"

The warrior thought briefly of just either ignoring the question or bluffing her way through and steering them into a safer topic of conversation. Those thoughts were brief indeed as the blonde rose up out of the water and turned to face her. Xena found herself caught by more than a pair of hands around her wrists as green eyes bore into her.


Gabrielle's heart seemed to pound loudly in her ears as she waited for the inevitable: she had no delusions that the warrior would actually answer her pointed question; Xena didn't often share intimate information and this certainly fell into that category.

Therefore, it came as a complete surprise when the woman took her wrists in a similar grasp.

"Yes, I have."

"Oh," squeaked the bard.

"Does that surprise you? It shouldn't. I'm in my mid thirties, Gabrielle, and I've done a lot of living in that time, sampling everything life has to offer - even things most people would deny under torture." She smirked, thinking of some of the more risquŽ forms of entertainment Rome had to offer.

"No, um yes, umÉI don't know, but I guess it shouldn't, huh?"

Xena just smiled. An eyebrow rose slowly as the bard averted her eyes and tried to pull her hands away.

"What?" Xena tugged on the woman's hand and then released her grip.

"C'mon, Gabrielle; you can ask me anything." She cringed inwardly, mentally kicking herself once more for even bringing up the whole topic of conversation. If she'd only kept her mouth shut, taking illicit pleasure in her furtive glances as the woman bathed, totally oblivious to the reaction her naked body was having. Even their daily close proximity was a blissful torture she was willing to endure forever.

Her nostrils flared and she found her eyes slowly dancing across the wet surface of the bard's chest. Her mouth felt dry and yet somehow filled to brimming at the same time.

Gabrielle chose that moment to look up. Her level of uneasiness was ratcheted back a few turns as she noticed two things: Xena had been staring at her breasts and now looked like a child caught with her hand in the cookie jar. Both things had something in commonÉhunger.

Feeling somewhat bold, she cleared her throat and decided to just take the bull by the horns.

"Well, I was wonderingÉyou having been with womenÉwellÉ" She nervously fingered the corner of her mouth and then went on in a rush, "Well, if you've been with women and like them then how comeÉI mean, exactly what type is your type and how come I've never seen you with any women or have you just not found your type yetÉand I'm rambling, aren't I?"

Xena blinked. 'Well, now you've done it: you've confused her to the point whereby she's either going to start foaming at the mouth or shrink back in revulsion.'

"Now, GabrielleÉperhaps we should go and lie downÉerÉyou should get dressed and sit down. Over there by theÉumÉdownstairs at a table."

Now it was Gabrielle's turn to blink. Was she just going to treat her like some sort of child and ignore her pointed question? Was there more than one? She tried to think of exactly what she'd said but came up empty.

"Hey, I don't want to get dressed or go back downstairs. I want an answer. And stop treating me like a child!" She placed her fists on either hip and stood glaring, looking very inch the child she was trying not to be.

Xena pressed her lips together tightly, deciding correctly that any laughter at that point would be extremely ill timed and ill advised.

Instead, she coughed and began talking about cold water and how they could both catch their deaths, all the while trying to herd the bard closer to the edge. Perhaps if she stepped out of the tub first the bard would take the hint and get out, too? Having the woman naked, her breasts proudly pointing in her direction was somehow extremely distracting and certainly not conducive to her staying on task. She scratched her head mentally. And just what was that task? She drew a blank.

Gabrielle took the woman's silence as an affirmation that she would continue to be treated like a child and that Xena was never going to see her as anything but a child.

And so she kissed her. Hard. And on the mouth.

Xena's eyes were wide and somehow unstaring, as her lips were pressed hard against those of the blonde's. Gabrielle, however, had her eyes closed tightly and her body trembled in response.

'Oh, now I remember,' thought both women at the same time. However, the bard was a little quicker on the uptake, stopping the warrior cold with exactly the type of question she was woefully unprepared to answer at that moment.

"How come you've neverÉI meanÉam IÉXena!"

Xena blinked and then pulled her head back in surprise. She'd been wool gathering, trying to think of anything to dissuade the young woman from her appointed task: reducing her to a shell of a woman, battle shocked and totally vulnerable to onslaught - conquered completely!

Her mouth opened and closed but not a word was uttered. She wanted to defend herself; she wanted to just tell the woman to back off, to leave her alone. How dare she be put on the spot like that, and made to feelÉ


With a shock the warrior realized that she had wanted this all the time and that the truth would finally be dragged into the light, making it impossible for either one of them to ignore. And despite her total discomfort, Xena knew that it would all begin or end right here and right now.

"You're my type."

Two blonde eyebrows rose up into an equally blonde hairline. 'What? I mean, I am?" 'I'm her type! Yippee!'

"But thenÉwhy haven't you taken me to bedÉorÉtried somethingÉI mean," she snorted, thinking of all the baths they'd shared, all the pallets they'd curled up on together and all the cold nights she'd lain on the lumpy hard cold ground when she could have been lying on top ofÉ

"Well, that's a fine how do you do! You make me feel like some kid, ignoring all my attempts at flirtingÉ"

Xena's eyebrows shot up.

"Flirting?" she shouted.

"Yeah, flirting. Don't tell me you haven't noticed? I've all but thrown myself at you for years!" She turned around and pounded the edge of the tub. "Well, I never. After all this time, here I've been thinking all she wanted was an endless string of bad boys when she really wanted me. But at the same time she ignored my wants and needsÉthat were plain as the nose on her face! For years! Oh, that is so not fair! We could have beenÉ"

She whirled on the brunette, fists clenched once more.

"I am soÉ"

Placing both hands up in supplication, the warrior backed up and began to sputter.

"Whoa, whoaÉI have many skills but none of them include mind reading, Gabrielle. And just how was I suppose to know all those goo goo eyes were lust and not the idol worshipping I took them to be? I mean, really! And what about all those guys you mooned over?"

"Oh, that is so unfair and you know it! If you'd given me one indication that you would be even slightly receptiveÉ!"

"Ha! Receptive?"

Xena pushed her way through the water and stood nose to nose with the smaller woman.

"And just what kind of reception were you expecting I'd give? Was I suppose to tell you that I've always loved you, or that I've been warm for your form for years, that you fill my dreams each and every night, and that it takes every inch of will not to just grab you andÉOh Hades!"

She grabbed the woman by the shoulders and kissed her. Hard. Right on the mouth.

And even though she could feel the bard's knees buckle, she couldn't nor would she even entertain the thought of stopping. And the kiss deepened.

Finally both women pulled apart, totally breathless but smiling.



Gabrielle pressed her cheek against the warrior's chest and sighed contentedly.

The warrior's response was a little bit different: after holding all the emotions under strict control, never having been able to express one moment of the love she felt, it was like a dam had been opened. Gabrielle felt the woman shudder against her and then Xena just seemed toÉrelax.

The bard looked up into the woman's face and realized she'd never seen the woman look soÉrelaxed.

"Hey, Xena? Are you okay?"

She stood there blinking, wondering exactly the same thing. Just exactly was she feeling?

"Great. I'm feeling wonderful, Gabrielle."

The bard smiled. She was feeling pretty damned good herself. She hugged the woman closer and took a deep breath.

Noticing exactly where her nose was, Gabrielle turned in a bit and began to drink in the warrior's heady scent. A nice comforting feeling settled around her as her nose discerned each and every subtle nuance that was Xena: the musty scent of horseflesh coupled with well-oiled leather, with some warrior sweat, a bit of the spicy lamb they'd enjoyed downstairs, along with the full bodied fragrance of cheap port.

Her mind buzzed happily as each bit of information came in.

Xena scrunched her chin down and tried to see what the bard was doing. She seemed to beÉsnuffling.

"Hey, that tickles."

A pair of green eyes caught hers and then both sets closed as their lips met again.

When they'd finally been able to get out of the now cooling bath water, Xena had picked the woman up, wrapping the bard's legs around her, and padded quickly to a sleep pallet. She'd almost dropped the woman when tiny jolts of pain assaulted her senses. It was a moment before the warrior realized Gabrielle had sunk her teeth into her neck and was noisily sucking. She had a mad flashback to their close encounter with Bacchus and had shivered in delight. There was something about seeing the bard's mouth ringed with a flash of red, not to mention how positively intoxicating it was to taste that well known coppery flavour, that stirred the embers within the warrior to such an extent that even the air surrounding them seemed to catch fire.

It had been a night filled with both fire and ice as each woman teased and tempted the other, bringing and being brought to levels of such intense desire.

Xena blinked deeply and then sighed as her thoughts moved back to the present. Yeah, if getting a room back then had been hard now it was nearly impossible. Who knew the bard could actually scream like that? She rubbed the grin on her face. Who knew she could scream that loud either? In fact it was just that type of response that had assured an innkeeper's lack of interest when it came time to renting a room every now and again. That and the fact that their now ritual nighttime bathing had caused many a roof to become so sodden that full-scale leakage was assured. But even though they'd been forced to cut down their in-door adventures it was all worth it.

Looking at the sweet countenance of her lover, the tender bard of Poteideia, one would never guess such passion lay behind her green beguiling eyes. She felt her swollen flesh contract, an ache spreading once more as she thought of the intensity of their lovemaking. Her respect for the bard's creativity went up tenfold as she pondered just where Gabrielle had learned such interesting ways toÉentertain. Life was going to be so darned interesting as they both found out just how well developed each woman's imagination was.

She watched as the bard slept on, knowing that morning would find them resuming their libidinous activities. Perhaps she could put on a display of short arms drills in the town square, thus earning them a little more money. After all, a few more days of rest and relaxation would do them both a world of good.

"Relaxation, huh?" She didn't ever remember it being called that but it was as good a description as any. And with a contended sigh, Xena lay back tucking her hands under her head as she wondered exactly how long it would be until dawn; it was certain there would be no sleep that night.

And then Gabrielle rolled over and curled up with her head nestled against her shoulder joint and Xena had no further thoughts of sleeplessness. In fact it was many hours after dawn when both women awoke feeling refreshed and very relaxed.

The End.

Begun April 7, 1999

Revised March 22, 2001

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