written July 1997

[Disclaimer: There is no actual sexual violence in this tale, however, it is implied.]
[This is dedicated to my partner, and family. Kelly, you are the best friend I could hope for]


In the early morning light, she dressed quietly, after she finished, she looked at the prone form on the bed. The beautiful redhead, cuddled a pillow close in her sleep. Making her look even more radiant as she turned closed eyes in her direction, a blissful smile accentuating her angelic features.

Xena was always amazed by Gabrielle's need to give her pleasure. Who could have thought someone with such a small frame could acheive such a variety of sensual positions?

Xena stared with undying devotion at her lover. She would give anything to wake her up and make love to her one last time. But it was better this way, leave now and let the note explain it all.


Stay put. Had to go east, the people needed me. But I'm afraid the darkness is calling to me. It's really hard right now. I don't want you to see me like this! I'll be back soon.
Please, stay here and be safe. This isn't for you, it's for me! The darkness is so strong! I need you here. Lead me home, leave a light on.
The one who loves you most,


That morning, Gabrielle awoke. She looked around the room and saw the saddle bags gone. She jerked up and saw the scroll on the table. She unrolled it and read the message. It infuriated her. But when she re-read it, all the pleading undertones came out. She rested heavily in her chair and looked out the window, breathing a silent prayer to the gods for the safe return of her lover.

Fingering the bronze choker necklace around her delicate throat, she bathed. Then went downstairs to eat breakfast. She saw the innkeeper [a giant of a man!] and he waved. He walked over with a hot plate of smoked ham, sweet bread and milk. He then placed a platter of sliced melon on the table.

"Your 'friend' told me your favorites!" Gazing at Gabrielle's surprised look, he continued.

"Yes, I know what she is to you. I saw her give you that [points to the choker] yesterday. I know what she means to you. Anyone would have to be a fool to not see it. See?" The innkeeper pulled out a necklace from his shirt and smiled. Gabrielle's expression was what he wanted.

"SHHH! I danced for my beloved Flare." He pointed to an extremely tall woman. Taller than Xena! She had long blonde hair and a figure that was dazzling. Her muscles perfectly proportioned to her height. Her body was alot like her Xena's. Long, lean, tanned, and absolutely beautiful. The amazon beauty walked up and hooked her arm through her husband's.

Gabrielle smiled as she watched the married couple, She lightly fingered the brass choker at her delicate throat. She remembered the day before, when her warrior gave it to her...


She sat facing the bar, waiting for Xena to return from tending Argo. It had been at least two candlemarks. What was taking so long? Argo must really feel neglected, she thought.

Just as she decided to go to the stable, she felt strong hands rest on her shoulders. Smiling, she leaned back to feel the firm, leathercald abdomen at her back.

"Open your eyes, beloved." The smoky voice commanded. She did as told, and saw a fine brass choker dangling before her eyes. Made of three strands of brass, two were shaped like dragons, their tongues wrapped around a sparkiling green crystal. It was beautiful.

She felt the hands pull her lovely honey-red hair up to clasp the necklace against her neck. Those hands then stroked the hair back over her back and shoulders, and the warrior leaned down...

Suddenly, the warrior jerked upright and stopped. The bard looked up and saw that her warrior was uncomfortable with this public display of affection. She looked out at the patrons, none were paying attention, but she understood the reticence. She squeezed the right hand on her right shoulder, transferring her love and appreciation through the gentle touch.

She felt herself coming back as Flare spoke up. The memory would have to be enough, until she could make new ones when her beloved warrior returned.


"Hodiak? How is our bard?" She was tall, but Hodiak was taller! He leaned down and kissed her lovingly. He pulled back and answered.

"She's worried about her lover. I can't blame her. Xena rode off in a very unusual state. The ranger was upset. It takes alot to unsettle one of Artemis's chosen. Kanto's a good man, but the people needed more than he could give."

Ranger? Gabrielle had heard of them before. Warriors chosen to defend those Artemis deemed innocent and incapable of defending themselves. Their code was one based on honor, faith, trust, and the good deeds they always strove to accomplish.

Kanto was one of the best, and one of the few. Artemis seldom chose men for the station. But after entering their hearts and showing them the love she had for all of her chosen, the men were as honorable as any Artemis had met.

One could not knowingly commit an act of evil, or lose the love of Artemis and the gifts that love bestowed. Gabrielle resolved to sit tight and rely on her faith in Xena. She knew she couldn't deny her lover's request. So she stayed and decided to perform some more.


At the eastern village...

Three days after leaving Gabrielle at the tavern,

"Xena? You need some sleep. You're no good if you're exhausted. Get some rest." Kanto smiled as Xena shook her head. She placed a hand on his shoulder and smiled.

"I'm fine. I need to keep watch." Xena walked to the camp's edge, and started making a perimeter check. The moonlight always made her think of her Gabrielle. The way it shimmered over her smooth, lightly tanned skin.

"Oh, Gabrielle. I miss you my love. Please understand why I didn't want you here. This is so hard, but I can't sleep. I'll just dream, a dream of you now would do me more harm than good. I'd get on Argo and ride back to you. I'd take you in my arms and never walk away again. These people deserve better. I want you in my arms, making love to you so much. But I've got you here, and that's enough." Xena laid her hands on her chest and felt a tear on her cheek. Suddenly, movement caught her hearing.

"Xena, We found something to the north! Come quick!" The farmer looked in the direction indicated. She followed them a good while and they stopped.

"Well, What did you want me to see?" She felt something in the air and it made her uneasy. Movement in the shadows caught her attention. The sight she saw made her blood run cold. She felt like she was seventeen years old again.

"Xena, Xena, Xena! It's so good to have you here." Tyrak smiled evilly as he approached. Just as she started to speak, one of the farmers hit her in back of the head, stunning her. Before blackness claimed her, she heard the deal.

"Remember, we brought Xena, now you leave us alone!" The farmer shakily pointed to the fallen woman.

"You did well. We will be going now." He pointed to some of his men who tied and lifted the unconcious warrior. The farmers ran off, leaving their savior in the enemy's hands. What they didn't hear, Xena did, before passing out.

"Get the men ready! Two mornings from now? We attack!" His lieutenant took off to their camp. Tyrak looked down at his trophy, smiling. "You're mine, Xena. And this time? I will break you!" He kicked his horse into an open trot to his camp.


In the sixth day since their seperation, Gabrielle was getting thoroughly worried.

'Where is she? Artemis!? Please, Hear me. Don't let her be hurt. We've only just discovered our love. Don't take it away from us now. I don't think I'll ever be able to tell her how much she means to me.'

She held the choker up to her lips and kissed it lovingly, with all the tenderness in her heart. Xena had to come back! She just had to. Putting the choker on, she went downstairs and saw that the bar was busy. Reports were coming in from the east. A huge battle had broken out between an army and a small band of fighters on the outskirts of the village, Mikolos.

Rumors of a single woman warrior and an unknown amount of villagers were fighting off the army of Tyrak, a warlord who had defeated Xena once. That defeat drove Xena mad with shame. After the battle? He had her tied against an x-frame and beaten. Gabrielle remembered the details of Tyrak's treatment of her beloved. Told by the warrior in one of her fevered nightmares. He never cared what his men and women did to her while she was tied there. Three days of beating, rape, and other disgusting acts heaped on her, before her men rescued her.

"No wonder the darkness was beaconing her to destroy this scum!" She couldn't blame her lover as the image of Xena, seventeen years old, tied to an x-frame and being beaten unconcious and men and women swarming over her beautiful young body as if she were some--some-- Gabrielle closed her mind to those thoughts.

'Gods! Xena, what you've endured would break most people! No wonder you wouldn't let anyone get near you.'

Thankfully, Gabrielle had conquered her cherished warrior's need for walls and defence from the people who loved her. She smiled at the memory of their first night of lovemaking and the tender silences that followed.

Suddenly, there was a commotion outside, a fighter making his way to the tavern. Gabrielle walked up to a man just coming in, he had an excited look on his face and was speaking so fast, no one understood.

"Calm down, breathe. Now, is this about Mikolos?" A frenzied nod. "Has Tyrak been defeated? Where's Xena and her 'troops'?"

The man turns sombre as Gabrielle looks at him intently. "That was her name?" Gabrielle wasn't sure she liked that. "She fell on the last day. She was on her knees, having lost her sword? She was killing them bare handed. I'm not sure, but Kanto took her into the caves to the northeast. He had a scroll that she wrote. Are you Gabrielle?"

She nods, she's not liking this at all. She takes the scroll and reads it:


My dearest love,

I don't know when this will be over, I just pray it's soon. I can't wait to hold you in my arms again. I know that you want to be here, but these people don't just need my help. They fear me! They're not sure who they fear most, Tyrak, or me.

Gods! I always wanted to get even with him for what he did to me! I know I shouldn't kill him, but I can't stop it! The darkness is so strong! Please, don't worry too much. I promise, I'll be there soon. Leave a light on for me.

my heart longs for your touch,


Gabrielle bedded down that night, she still didn't know the fate of her beloved. She knew she should do something, but she couldn't ignore the request. She had to stay put. She placed a lantern in the window [a tradition begun six days ago] and prayed that it would lead Xena to her.

That night, she dreamed of Xena's return. How glorious it would be, regal and beautiful, a true hero! The cheers of the crowd, the adoration they showed her cherished warrior as she made her way to her. The entire time would be spent talking about their time apart and making love until their seperation was forgotten.

Morning, Gabrielle was going out of her mind with worry! She went downstairs and met her hosts again. Hodiak shook his head. No news. Kanto hadn't returned, therefore, neither had Xena. She needed something to do.

She went into the kitchen and volunteered for kitchen duty.The dinner crowd was thoroughly enjoying anything Gabrielle turned out. Hodiak came in smiling.

"Gabrielle? You ever get tired of bein' a travelling bard? You have a job here as cook! I've never seen so many people order seconds in all my days!"

Gabrielle smiled and returned to her culinary creations. Evening fast approached and Gabrielle was ushered to the stage again. She was tired, but she had promised to do this. In the 8 days since being here, Gabrielle's take was impressive indeed. Two hundred and forty dinars! Gabrielle finished with the kitchen and headed for the stage.

With a sigh, she climbed the steps and started to the center. "I sing a song of---" Movement caught Gabrielle's eye and she turned. There! The height and set of the walk were unmistakable. Gabrielle waited, anticipating the beautiful sight of her cherished warrior.

What she saw was shocking! Xena's face and hair was matted with blood. Her eyes glazed. The armour was damaged and the leather a lost cause. She waited until Xena came to a halt in front of her. Patrons cleared out as she made her way to the stage. Stumbling over each other to get out of the way. Gabrielle stepped down from the stage and walked up to Xena and smiled.

Xena smiled weakly as she spoke, "You-left-a light-on- for-meeee---" Xena collapsed into Gabrielle's waiting arms. The need for warrior strength had passed. Gabrielle cradled her lover, soothing tones escaping her lips. Xena's size and blacking out pushed Gabrielle to the floor. She landed as softly as she could, sheilding Xena from the fall as she continued to cradle her. Kanto knelt down and spoke to the lovely bard. "She needs rest. She didn't sleep once while she was fighting. Tyrak was a constant point for her." Kanto made a move to pick up the fallen warrior and carried her to Gabrielle's room. Laying her gently on the bed, he turned to leave when Gabrielle stopped him.

"Did she--? Tyrak, is he--?"

"No, Gabrielle. Xena only disabled him. She destroyed the part that made him a feared warlord. Rape will never be an option for him again. It saddens me how she got in this state, however." Kanto frowned darkly.

"What do you mean?" She places a hand on his arm, and he looks down to her.

"The villagers lead her into a trap. They wanted to trade her life for theirs. Tyrak accepted, and attacked anyway." Kanto looked at the floor. He couldn't look at those sea-green eyes, now blazing with fury.

"How dare they--You led her into that?!" The bard punches him, hard. Kanto takes the hit and continues to look down.

"I didn't know. They were scared. They would have done anything to spare their people. He wanted to--But we stopped him. Gabrielle, I wouldn't have let him hurt her anymore, I swear it." He looked at the fallen warrior.
"He did some--monstrous things to her a few days ago. When we freed her? She could have killed him, she had him down. But she closed her eyes and tears streaked her face. She opened them and started chanting.

'I'm going back, she's left a light on.' She kept saying it over and over. It gave her peace and strength. Instead, she ran him through his privates, intent only to render them useless." He left.

Gabrielle lay down beside Xena and spoke softly. "Xena? I'm going to take off your armour now, okay? I'm going to order a bath for you and get you cleaned up."
Seeing the warrior's glazed nod, she stood and went to the door. Hodiak was there with four buckets of water. He set them in the fire to heat and looked at Gabrielle. Seeing how worried she was, he smiled and patted her on the shoulder as he left. Gabrielle walked to her warrior and sat her up gently. As she removed the armour, she felt Xena's hands wrap around her hips. Xena's head was against her firm stomach as she fell to her knees and wept.

"I love you. I couldn't have made it back to you if you hadn't--" Gabrielle rested a hand on Xena's cheeks and turned her to face her. She leaned down and kissed her lightly on the lips before removing the leathers.

Every inch of skin uncovered carried a small bruise or welt. They hade been healed, but still tender to the touch. As gentle as she was, Xena still flinched. She felt all the pain in these scars. It made her love her warrior more. Her hands removed the tattered leathers. Moving around to feel the muscled shoulders and torso. She brought her hands to her lover's breasts and felt something odd.

That's when she saw it. A golden ring with a small ball peircing Xena's left nipple. She looked at it and saw the shame in Xena's eyes.

"What's this? Xena? Tell me." The words, so soft, peirced the haze in Xena's brain. She looked up and saw Gabrielle gazing into her eyes.

"It's a symbol of ownership." Xena was on the verge of crying. Gabrielle steadied her and she continued. "Five days ago? I awoke in Tyrak's camp. I had been tied to an x-frame and he was--he was. I don't think he got to--" She looks away, but Gabrielle puts a finger to her chin and turns her to face her again, an unspoken plea to continue. She draws strength from those sea-green eyes and continues...

" He then stepped back and this ebon skinned woman took a needle and peirced me as she ran the gold ring through my nipple. The ball has Tyrak's sigel on it. I was his property until Kanto and the other's rallied and rescued me."

Gabrielle pushed the flood of anger aside and led her to the tub and sat her down. She poured the buckets into the tub, it was a good warm temperature.

'How dare they ask for her help and then--!' She then got in her position behind Xena, rinsing the blood from Xena's face and hair. The warrior jumped at her touch, but realized it was Gabrielle. The fear of Tyrak touching her was not unfounded.

'I'll make her forget his touch. I'll erase the memory of his filthy desire!' Gabrielle vowed to herself. She lathered a pink foam from Xena's skin. She washed the dark hair, enjoying the feel of her warrior's skin under her touch. After that, she set about drying her off. Kissing each new scar and tender spot on the warrior's body. For Xena, each kiss was a year's worth of healing, replacing anger with love, and shame with joy.

Tyrak's touch was a fading memory, some nightmarish spell that was now broken. Only Gabrielle could do this, make her forget the pain. This was one of the many reasons she loved her bard.

Gabrielle rested her cheek against the silky hair between her lover's thighs. She nuzzled gently and Xena grasped the bedpost behind her as Gabrielle kissed her way to the new adornment on her lover's breast. She looked into Xena's tear glossed eyes and spoke as soothingly as possible.

"Xena?" Fingering the ring lightly. "This doesn't prove *HE* ever owned you. What you should see this as, is a victory over the darkness." At the sight of her lover's puzzled look, she continued.

"See, you could have killed him, but you didn't. You made him pay for his crimes against you and any other person he victimized. The villagers then took over his fate. *THIS* is a reminder of victory. Not shame. Do you understand?" She runs her fingers over the ring and gently pulls on it. The sensual moan this caused pleased her, Xena apparently enjoyed it as well. She arched her back, offering the ring to her lover's ministrations.

The amazon bard smiled and ran her tongue along the circumference of the ring, gently tugging with her tongue before taking the nipple in her mouth. The action her tongue made against the ring and the taut flesh was driving Xena wild!

She smiled against the flesh and continued as her knee gently parted Xena's thighs and her left hand trailed down to her seething core. So hot and wet, Gabrielle moaned against the nipple in her mouth. The gold ring adding a new taste to her cherished warrior. Yes, this was a new thing, and she was going to enjoy it.

Xena was in the Elyssian Feilds, or at least, her lover seemed to transport her there. Gabrielle could always make her feel joy in the smallest things. Warm summer rain, a flower in bloom, her smile. She'd do anything to make her lovely amazon bard smile. Anything. "Gods, Gabrielle! I want you to own me. Completely and without resignation. Please." Gabrielle looked at her. She had never heard such a heart felt plea from the warrior. She smiled and pushed her back on the bed. She lay ontop of her, parting Xena's legs with her right knee. She gently ground her knee against the sensitive flesh, as she gently thrust two fingers into her lover's entrance.

Gabrielle's hair trailed across her throat and chin, gently brushing her lips. This simple contact against her lips enraptured her, she was on the verge of climax when Gabrielle stopped. She straddled Xena's hips and leaned down to kiss her way down to her collarbone. She traced her tongue around Xena's right breast, gently nipping on the nipple.

Her right hand caressed and gently tugged on the golden ring in the left. Xena was arching her hips up as Gabrielle moved her tongue to her left breast. Feathering kisses around the underside, but avoiding the nipple.
When she finally rested her lips around it, she bit down on the ring and pulled gently, listening to the sharp gasp of air and the moans that followed. Gabrielle hadn't moved her left hand from it's place. She had removed her fingers and merely cupped her lover's sweet sex, the contact causing erotic spasms in Xena's muscled body.

Sweat covered their bodies in a fine sheet as the bard held her warrior a willing prisoner of the desire only she could invoke. She knew there were moments when Xena needed to lose control, and now was one of those times. She splayed her fingers over Xena's muscled abdomen, feeling the muscles twitch at her touch. Gently grinding her knee against the base of Xena's pubic bone, as she continued to tease and suck the left nipple.

She looked up and smiled as she saw tears streaking Xena's face and saw that they weren't of pain or sorrow. These were tears of love, shed by one lover at the joy of the other's touch.

She kissed those tears and went down to her lover's stomach, trailing her hands softly behind. She then straddled her stomach, slowly grinding her hips against the muscled abdomen, the warrior's hands trailed up her body, over her hips, her stomach, and finally to her firm breasts. Her firm hands cupping them and giving a gentle squeeze before moving to her hair, caressing her right cheek. The bard captured her hand and sucked each finger as she gently made love to her warrior.

Xena leaned up to kiss her and the bard's toned thighs wrapped around her hips as the warrior kissed her way to her love's breasts. She rubbed her cheek against the firm nipples before taking one in her mouth, sucking gently.

Gabrielle brushed the midnight colored hair over the toned left shoulder as she leaned down to kiss the area behind the left ear. "I love you..." Gabrielle whispered as she pushed Xena back on the bed, kissing her way downward, to the full breasts, sucking them. She drew back, blowing her warm breath over the wet flesh. Her lover shuddered at the feeling. She kissed her once more before making her way downward, covering the muscled thighs with feather-light kisses. She was at her lover's center and she breathed deep the smell of leather, jasmine oil soap, and Xena. A smell she knew was the sweetest scent on earth.

"Gabrielle? Ohh! I couldn't have made it back if you hadn't left that light on. Mmmmhmm." Gabrielle looked into those dazzling blue eyes as the warrior lovingly caressed the bard's left cheek. Gabrielle pulled the warrior's other hand to her chest. "There will always be a light for you here, my love." Xena's hand trailed down to the valley between the breasts she so loved, teasing the skin, igniting a fire that threatened to consume them both. And that was what they both wanted.

Gabrielle felt herself losing control, her body aching for Xena to continue, but she playfully pushed her lover back and shook a finger at her. She then trailed fiery kisses and tender caresses down Xena's body. She nipped and licked her way up Xena's thighs before she parted Xena's legs. She then strode between Xena's thighs and began thrusting her hips into her. Xena was on the verge of the abyss now, Gabrielle's loving nature and beauty could always unravel her senses.

'How many more ways does she know to bring me to total submission?' The warrior thought. The sweet sensation of the bard's perfect breasts against her raised knee and thigh searing her blood to her very soul. 'I hope I will find out, everynight.'

Gabrielle felt Xena's stomach tighten and she stopped. She shook her head as she caught Xena's disappointed look. She rested Xena's thighs on her shoulders as she began her slow sweet torture up Xena's thighs again. Her hands caressing the tender flesh of her hips and sides. Bringing her right hand down, she used her thumb to stroke Xena's swollen clitoris. She felt every spasm of Xena's magnificent body, the muscles flex and relax. She listened as moans became soft sobs of ecstacy. The sounds escaping Xena were driving her on.

'Godess, I love you!' Gabrielle thought desire was going to kill her or render her insane. She began to lick and suck at her lover's wet entrance, feasting as though on the verge of starvation. Xena's vision went black as she felt Gabrielle gently tug on the gold ring, she tugged and released as she sucked and released on Xena's clitoris.

Gabrielle's tongue was not rushing, the long slow strokes were more devastating as Gabrielle slid her left hand around Xena's right hip, pulling her closer to her tender lips. The two movements were in time.

The emotions the sensation created was more than she could stand. She released and the blackness engulfed her. Gabrielle drank every bit of her lover's sweet fluids and rested her head against Xena's stomach, listening to her heart and breathing return to normal. She crawled up Xena's body and saw that her cherished warrior had fainted. The feeling and emotion, as well as the days without rest finally drug her down.

Gabrielle kissed her passionately as she traced her finger along the band of the ring and lay down on her lover's shoulder.

'If anything, this proves I own you as you own me.' She thought as she kissed the ring, wrapping her lips around the tanned nipple. She rested her right arm across Xena's breasts and her right thigh locked around her cherished warrior's. Both knew that there would never be an end of the feeling of discovery they felt in their love. Gabrielle felt it to her very soul.

Before exhaustion, worry, and elation claimed her, the bard made a slight poem:

"Cherished warrior, at night, after the setting sun? Let my love guide you, I've left a light on."


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