See Chapter 1 for disclaimers.

Chapter 15

Xena sat quietly, leaning against a tree, looking pensively into the heart of the blazing campfire. Azure eyes glittered in the reflected flame, hiding a mind in turmoil. Gabrielle was shifting restlessly in her mind, unable to settle in reaction to her own churning emotions. Sparing a quick glance over to her resting companions, Xena sighed deeply and lifted her face to the sky.

That looks like an athlete... Her mind couldn't help but play the game.

Nah, it's you, the hero. The soft burr echoed in her mind, bringing a smile to her face.

Go back to sleep, Gabrielle.

I can't. You won't let me.

Sorry. Images invaded her mind, bringing a pleasant tingle to her body. Stop that!

A far off chuckle tickled her senses. Another vivid scene played in her head and she let it unfold, letting the passion sweep through and cleanse her clean.

Do you remember, Xena? The voice, low, deep and full of want, whispered in her brain.

Oh yeah...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *


She had just finished her training for the day and was heading back inside for a long, hot bath. The house appeared deserted, the other slaves apparently having their evening meal. Walking along the corridor leading to the quieter part of the building that housed her quarters, a small hand came out and grabbed Xena's arm, pulling her into a darkened alcove.

Before she was able to react, her hands were full of a small blonde who seemed to have eight hands of her own. She barely had a hold on Gabrielle as she climbed up her body, desperately trying to reach her goal. The extra weight sent her slamming against the wall at a precarious angle. The small woman had knocked the wind out of her and she was gasping for air.

"Gabrielle, one moment," she whispered.

"No, now!" Her voice brooked no argument, and she proceeded to take what she had been waiting for all day.

"Someone might hear."

"I don't care. Let them find someone of their own." Her lips went back to their search, looking for those places that would make Xena react. Gabrielle was still discovering her lover's body, mentally cataloguing everything like a precious treasure map.

Xena's mind was playing mental catch up as her body flooded with sensations, wild and exciting feelings that simply swept her away. Whimpers escaped her mouth without permission as wave after wave of pure unadulterated passion swamped her. This mere slip of a girl had her begging for mercy in near-full view of anyone who would pass by, making her forget her own name.

She was beyond caring at this point as quicksilver fingers found her and tortured her mercilessly. A voice hoarse with passion, whispered in her ear, "I love you, Xena, but I have to have you now. You have been on my mind all day and now I have to repay you in kind."

Xena was not about to argue with the outcome of this sudden tryst. She only hoped that Antillia didn't walk past at that particular moment, not that she would have or could have stopped. Gabrielle had won this particular battle without so much as a skirmish. She had no defence against this onslaught and had to simply surrender to her lover's greater emotional strength.

The maelstrom of passion subsided as quickly as it began, leaving its two participants panting from exertion. Xena slowly let down her partner, straightening garments strewn in a fit of physical madness. They took a moment or two to calm down, but neither could remove their grins for the rest of the day.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *



Thank you, Gabrielle. Xena could feel herself settle after the pleasant diversion.

You're welcome. Now let me get some sleep.

Xena breathed in the cooling night air, watching over her charges as the night sky slowly passed overhead.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Cyrene woke up the next morning, preparing for another day's work. She poked her head in her granddaughter's room to find it empty. Resting in its little nest was the egg, now broken in pieces. She quickly scanned the bed and the floor, looking for the little creature that had hatched, without success.

"Marina?" There was no answer.

Cyrene trudged down the stairs to the kitchen to start breakfast. A sound caught her attention and she opened the back door and looked outside.

"Marina, honey, what are you doing?" The child was searching through the food scraps. "Did you lose something?"

"No, grandma." She hid the scraps behind her back.

"What do you have in your hand?"

"Nothing." Bright-blue eyes looked up under dark lashes in innocence.

Aww, that is sooo sweet... "Well then, come inside before you catch your death." Let her keep her secret for now.

Marina skipped in smiling, thinking she had managed to fool her grandmother.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Gabrielle stirred up the fire and had the remnants of last night's meal heating up for breakfast.

"That had to be the worst night's sleep I have ever had!"

Well, d'uh! Xena mentally rolled her eyes at the goddess.

"Aphrodite, just live with it, OK?" Gabrielle had to admit that the deity was easily upset and was getting on her nerves. She didn't like the bed, she didn't like the food, the walking was too hard...

"And this isn't fun. This is just so... so... uncool." Her nose wrinkled up in disgust.

Gabrielle crossed over to the immortal, squatting down on her haunches, "Just think of this as a bad vacation. It'll be over soon enough and you can get back to your nice, comfy room upstairs." It was really strange to be looking down at someone from this height. And intimidating too, by the look in Aphrodite's eyes. Heh...

"Sorry, sweetpea." She really had no right to complain. After all, she wasn't the one with the nastiness inside her. Her hand caressed the knee in front of her, feeling the soft skin underneath it, and her mind immediately turned to the young blonde inside.

"Don't even go there." She looked up into pale blue eyes that read her every thought.

Her brow creased in concern, upset that her intentions were so easily picked up.

"It could have been real good, you know?"

"Yeah, I know. The Goddess of Love and all, but I'm taken."

"Stuck on tall, dark and deadly, eh?"

"Oh yeah. You better believe it."

"Life just sucks."

A large hand came down on top of the goddess's arm. "But look what we had to go through to get to it."

"If you ever change your mind, all you gotta do is call."

"I know. But it's a forever kind of thing, Aphrodite."

"Yeah, I know." The goddess's tongue clicked in disgust.

"You know?"

"Yeah. The Fates foresaw it and I sort of put my stamp of approval on it, so that's that." She sighed at the loss. Oh well...

Gabrielle stood up and went over to kick Ares awake. "C'mon, time to get up."

"Yeah, yeah," he mumbled, trying to open sleep-soaked eyes.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *



Xena and Gabrielle switched places once more, allowing the older woman control in case of trouble. They quietly played a game of "What Am I?" while they walked, allowing brother and sister to chat behind them.

"Ar, will you get over it? It's done and you lost."

He walked along sulkily, not happy with losing the one thing that he truly wanted. Everything else was just a diversion. His mind was already trying to figure out how to get her back, but first he needed to get rid of that annoying blonde.

"Stop it! Leave them alone." Ares glared at his sister, upset that she knew what he was thinking. "Of course I know what you're thinking. You think of nothing else."

You got that right... His eyes subconsciously shifted to the body walking in front of him, his mind lulled into sensual lassitude by the bold sway of Xena's walk. Oh yeah...

Xena could feel Ares' eyes boring a hole in her butt and was tempted to turn around and tell him to put his eyes back into his head.

Just ignore him.

But it's not your butt he's staring at.

No, but if I were him I'd be doing the same thing. No, I wouldn't, I'd be acting on it.

Why, Gabrielle, I didn't know you had such a preoccupation with sex.

Hehe, only with you Xena. Only with you.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Xena's senses went on alert before she even saw them, grabbing Gabrielle's attention. She glanced over to the two Gods in warning seconds before they were waylaid.

A band of about thirty men stood in their way, awaiting their leader who weaved his way through them on horseback. Xena looked him in the eye, mentally sizing him up. Piece of cake...

"Well, well, what do we have here then?" He took in the three of them, already looking past the fight to the enjoyment after. "Veerrryyy nice." Aphrodite shivered at the undisguised look of lust on his face. As a mortal, this was now a very real threat that she hadn't had to face before.

"We don't want trouble here. We'll just move on." Xena tried to walk around them but the leader moved his horse to block her way.

"Not so fast there, warrior. I require some payment, a toll if you will, for you to pass."

"What sort of payment?" Xena shifted in readiness as she took in the line of men spreading out in front of her. They were expecting trouble.

"Just a little comfort and understanding from you two ladies should suffice. What do you think men? These two help to while away a few hours in exchange for our 'protection'?"

"Not for you." Xena's voice dropped to its lowest register, sending a warning to her opponents.

Cebraxis laughed, his men joining in the merriment. "Well then, warrior woman. I'll just have to settle for blondie over there." He turned to his men, "Kill them. Save the blonde for me."

The air erupted in a sound of wild yelling and crashing metal. Xena's sword slid from its sheath in silence, the sun glinting off the razor sharp weapon in deference to its wielder. She headed for Cebraxis, intent on bringing him down quickly. Glancing over her shoulder, she could see Ares draw his sword, taking on two of the advancing soldiers. Aphrodite was up against a far tree, seemingly frozen in her tracks. Another couple of Cebraxis's men were heading in her direction.

Without thinking, Xena grabbed the Chakram and tossed it towards the most immediate danger. "Aphrodite, don't just stand there. Fight!" the spinning disk bounced and ricocheted, finally finding its two targets and returning to her hand.

Xena knew she had made a fatal mistake the moment the weapon returned. Her battle lust was up. It latched onto her dark emotions and tore at them, like a lion feeding on its prey, multiplying her darkness so fast she could not stop it. It rolled over her and she could feel only the need to kill and destroy.

In the back of her mind she could hear Gabrielle screaming at her, but the voice slowly faded into the background until all she could hear was her own heartbeat, her vision veiled in crimson, as she went in search of blood.

Men came at her from all sides but it meant little to her. Her blade flew with terrifying speed, cutting through bone and muscle without much effort, her strength tripled by the force inside her. Blade in one hand, and Chakram in the other, she cut a swathe through the opposing forces towards her goal, who was slowly backing up his horse, and she advanced quickly on him.

Xena felt the force increase in her, her need for death becoming an unquenchable thirst. Her focus was on getting to the rider on horseback, but she desired the fury and the lust of the kill, demanding blood satisfaction to satiate its constant hunger. She drew out the battle, enjoying each slice of flesh and cry of pain her efforts elicited.

Blood flew in all directions, spraying her with the hot liquid. Licking away the moisture on bloody lips, the sensation struck her to her core, stirring those deep, dark emotions she hid well away. Her path was now clear to her next target and she steadily stalked towards him.

With nowhere left to go, Cebraxis attacked, swinging his sword down on her head. His downward momentum was stopped, the sword caught in a large hand and merely held there. A sensual smile graced her lips as she reached up and held his hand in hers, slowly tightening her grip until the sound of breaking bone echoed around the trees.

He screamed in pain but she merely held it, tightening her grip even more until the bones pierced the skin. She grabbed his shirt and threw him off his horse into the dirt. The fighting had stopped momentarily awaiting the outcome. Xena's heart pumped in slow pulses, the excitement building as the entity demanded its sacrifice.

Without much pretence, she raised her sword and brought it down swiftly, the sensation of cutting flesh and bone passing up her arm to her brain. She stood for a moment, a sexual shudder shaking her long frame. Oh yes, this was freedom at its rawest and most satisfying.

Xena turned to the rest of the battle. The remaining men stepped back in fear, seeing a ghostly aura appear in her eyes. She was lost.

"Damn," Aphrodite muttered.

"Come," Xena's voice held a hypnotic tone to it, drawing in the twenty remaining men left alive. "I'm now your leader."

"What about these two?"

"Leave them. We have more important targets now."

Gabrielle had never felt anything so terrifying as the orgy of violence that was flowing through her partner. She could sense everything; the dark intent, the cool cunning intellect and the almost sexual ecstasy of the kill. She now fully understood her partner and the constant day-to-day battle it took to keep this madness under control. How was she going to pull her back from the edge of this insanity?

Continued in Chapter 16

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