written February 1997
Xena couldn't beleive it, she and Gabrielle had been married for a month. She still touched the Kamfar necklace at her throat to remind herself that it wasn't a dream. Things were quiet, Gabrielle had settled back into her old routine. Even more enthusiastically telling her tales, regaling her with stories, epics, poems. She knew this is what she had always wanted. To wake up in the amazon bard's arms every morning, and to make love to her every night. The problems of the outside world seemed fewer and fewer, and one morning, it hit her. She opened her eyes and looked down to see her wife, still sleeping, head resting on her shoulder. She smiled as she traced her forefinger over the young woman's lips and was surprised when Gabrielle's lips closed around her finger. After a few slow, arousing, sucking motions Gabrielle released it.
"Morning,Love. Did you sleep well?" Xena smiled lovingly at the woman who had transformed her from a hated, unfeeling war machine and into a compassionate, caring hero.
"Everynight I fall asleep in your arms I sleep well." Her smile made Xena's heart melt. She rose to her knees, still naked, and Xena leaned up to kiss her quickly.
"I'm going to the stream for a bath. Join me?" Gabrielle smiled teasingly. Xena shot to her feet, grabbed their robes and her sword. They made their way to the stream and began bathing one another. Gabrielle couldn't beleive how gentle Xena could be when washing her hair, her body, making love. They finished and headed back to the campsite. They saw the man petting Argo, the horse was letting him pet her, so Xena figured he wasn't all bad. He waved to them and Xena smiled as he took her hand in greeting.
"Michus! It's good to see you! How have you been?"
"Good, Xena. In fact, I've got something to talk to you about. In private?" Xena looked at him, trying to see if this was trouble. His good humor said 'No.'
"Gabrielle, this is Michus, an old friend."
"I'll go check the snares, and get breakfast ready." Gabrielle leaned in and kissed Xena on her cheek as she ran her hand down Xena's back. Michus watched Gabrielle smile at him as she left. He smiled at Xena.
"So, it's true. Xena, Warrior Princess, is traveling with an amazon bard."
"Yes. Yes I am." She looks at him as an old friend.
"I wonder, are you lovers?"
"Jealous?" She sees him smile at her genuinely."No, we're more than lovers. We're married."
"Excellent!" He pats her on the back, smiling. "I'm glad. Now, for a belated wedding gift. Remember the old Hog's Leg Tavern and Inn at Krylos?"
"Yes, what of it?" Xena's curiousity was picqued.
"Well, you're talking to the owner. I won it in a game of Toss. I've run it these past few months and realize I don't have the heart, or the head, for it. But you and Gabrielle could make a go of it. Just think, a village that doesn't fear you, income, and a place to call home. What could be better?"
"What will this cost me?" Xena is still unsure of the offer.
"Nothing. Xena, we've been friends for eight years. I've waited a long time to see you happy. Your wife does that, thankfully. Now? I want to add to it. Here's the contract. Farewell, I'm sorry I won't be able to stay for breakfast." He starts walking north and is on his way. Gabrielle has returned and started preparing the two rabbits for their breakfast.
"I hope you're hungry, I've got enough to feed an..an.. mmmm" Xena has knelt down behind her, grasping her shoulders lightly, kissing her shoulders and neck. She took a deep breath of air as she leaned back against Xena's chest as Xena pulled the robe down Gabrielle's shoulders. She placed her left hand behind Xena's neck."Where's Michus? I thought he was.. was..." Xena's kisses moved between her shoulder blades as she spoke.
"Michus won't be joining us for breakfast. Which is fine with me. that means I have you all to myself."
Through labored breaths Gabrielle gasped;"Xena? What about breakfast?"
Xena laid her back on the bedrolls, smiling as she took Gabrielle's left nipple in her mouth, sucking and gently nipping at it. "Oh, I'm hungry, but not for rabbit." She smiled wickedly as her tongue left a whitehot trail down Gabrielle's tight abdominals. She then brought Gabrielle's legs up to rest on her shoulders as she kissed the insides of the amazon bard's thighs. She ran her tongue along the length of her wife's sweet entrance, tasting the nectar of her essence. Her index finger was stroking her hardness until Xena began sucking on it. Gabrielle's hips matched the rhythm of Xena's tongue and she literally exploded with release.
Afterwards, Xena spoke softly as she lay against Gabrielle's stomach;"Gabrielle, remember when you promised the road wouldn't go on forever? Well, how would you like this to be the last camp we break?"
Gabrielle pulled her warrior into her arms, looking her in the eyes. "What do you mean?"
Xena leaned down and whispered in her ear; "I mean this is the end of the road, Gabrielle."
They had rode all day and finally reached Krylos at dusk. Gabrielle's eyes were everywhere. People waved and smiled. No one looked at Xena with hatred or fear. She knew they could make it here. Peace. She and her beloved had finally found peace.
They reached the Hog's Leg and the barmaid in charge waved them over.
"Hello, my names Lyza. You must be Xena, our new employer, and the Inn's new owner. You have four more employees." She waved to a woman in the back and two more women joined her and the three approached.
"The blonde is Shyra, the cook. The petite redhead is Minosa, a barmaid. The twin brunettes are Randa and Thera. Barmaids. Forgive my manners, who is your companion?"
"This is Gabrielle, my wife. She will be the bard for the inn." Gabrielle sits and takes Lyza's hand, smiling. Lyza smiles back and goes to the bar for them a drink.
"Well, what do you think, my love? Do you think we should make a go of it?" Xena places her right hand over Gabrielle's left.
"Oh, Xena. This is a decision we should both make. The question is, can you be happy here?" Gabrielle reaches across the table and places her right hand behind Xena's head and pulls her into a passionate kiss. After Xena has caught her breath she smiles.
"As long as you are here. I'll be happy."
"Then it's settled. But we have got to come up with a better name for the inn." Gabrielle chided.
Xena stood and held her hand out for Gabrielle, she helped her up and led her to the stairs.
"Your room is under the stairs." Lyza pointed to the staircase.
Xena opened a door behind the staircase and led Gabrielle inside the room. A lovely canopy bed was against the far wall. "Tonight we make love in our bed for the first time and forever."
They had been running the inn for a month, times were good. Xena and Gabrielle would leave at dawn, practice their weapons skills and return. At night, Xena tended the bar as Gabrielle spun her tales for the crowds. After closing they returned to their bed, making love till they fell asleep, spent, in one another's arms. They had even renamed the inn, The Broken Comedy. The crowds assembled enjoyed the best in food, drink, and entertainment. Yes, times were good until Torus showed up. He had heard from their mother that Xena and Gabrielle had married. He had been part of an army and was kicked out for shirking responsibilty. He never could take orders. He had made a tour of every inn and tavern drinking to the point of passing out. Telling all who would listen about his sister's wedding to 'the woman of her dreams'.
Xena saw him enter and was happy, until he staggered over to a table and threw up all over a couple of amazons. He leered at them. The way they held hands, kissing, it turned his stomach. One of the amazons stood.
"Sit down, amazon whore!" he spat. "So, not only does Xena make a fool of the natural order of things, she caters to others who do the same too!" The amazon didn't know what to make of this foolish drunkard, but when he began fondling her mate's breasts, she had had enough! She drew back her fist to backhand him, when Xena gripped her hand and smiled. "No. You don't want to ruin a good evening for Nadria? Do you, Sia? I'll handle him." The amazon sat down with Nadria. Xena gripped Torus' arm and led him to the back room.
"Let me go! Dammit, Xena! Why did you go and do that? I was having fun!" He was trying to stay upright, but passed out. She helped him to his feet and took him to a room, put him to bed, and locked the door.
The next morning he awoke to Gabrielle bringing him breakfast. "Morning, did you sleep well?" No answer, Torus was sulking. "I hope you're hungry, Shyra's a good cook." Still no answer. She sat the tray on the table and started to leave.
"Gabrielle?" She turned and he looked at her so sadly. She walked back to her brother-in-law and sat down.
"Why? Why did you marry her? It-It's not right. You should be married to a man."
"I don't love any man. Xena is the one I love and nothing, no one, can compete with that."
Torus was angry now, he grabbed Gabrielle's wrist and spoke through clenched teeth. "But, I wanted you."
She looked at her wrist and saw that his knuckles were white, "Yes, but as I said no one can compete with Xena for my love. I'm sorry Torus, but that will never change. Nothing can change it."
Torus is still hung over and this statement doesn't help his logic at all. "Really? How about this?" He pulls her down to the bed and rolls over on top of her, kissing her to stifle her screams and protests. He begins running his hands over her hips, but Gabrielle brings her hand up in a palm strike to his nose. He falls back and she gets up.
"Torus, I'm not going to tell Xena about this, you're drunk, and being self-centered. I pity you." She stormed out of the room, unaware that Xena had seen everything. She walks into Torus's room and slams him against the wall. One-handed, she lifts him up and speaks,"If you touch her again, Torus? Brother or not I'll--" Xena releases him and slams her fist through a solid wood table, shattering it. "Eat and get out. Don't ever come to my tavern again." Later, Gabrielle returned to the room to find the food uneaten and Torus gone.
Outside the city walls was the army Torus had been kicked out of. They had followed him. They had heard his drunken yammerings about Xena, Warrior Princess, being married to an amazon and settled down in Krylos.
Byros, the warlord that Torus had followed, had assembled his eighty-five men outside the city walls and was waiting for nightfall. When it came, they went into town. Byros led his group to the inn and stood at the door, eight armed men at his side.
"People of Krylos! I have come for Xena, the Warrior Princess! If you give her to me now, you're town will be spared. If not, we'll destroy every building in this city. You have until morning." With that, Byros is gone. The armed men then torch several small buildings as a warning. After the fires had been contained, and the injured and dying cared for, the people stared at Xena accusingly. "Xena? How do you know that man? Why does he want you?" Gabrielle is afraid of what she might hear.
"Gabrielle, that was Byros. He leads the Scarlet Hydra, a formerly sacred order. When he took over leadership, their sacred ways were left behind. He seeks only the power his order can gain. I stopped his army once. My forces stopped him from gaining the Orb of Delphi. A holy relic. I fought until I was on my knees killing soldiers barehanded."
"That was very brave." Gabrielle could imagine her warrior fighting against the odds for what was right. "Gabrielle? I wanted the Orb too. It was a tithe to Ares." The younger woman is stunned, but remembers the changes in her beloved.
"That was a long time ago, my love." Gabrielle whispers as her hand caresses Xena's cheek. The city council is called and they hold a meeting. At midnight a decision is made. They are going to hand Xena over to him and let it be over with.
"No! You can't do this! We came here in peace and friendship. Agrivon! She helped you when your horse was foling. Nebitar, she loaned you the money to rebuild your farm after your crops burned in that lightning storm. Meinos, she helped your wife deliver that beautiful son of yours! This is how you repay her friendship?" Gabrielle is begging for someone to help her wife, but the fear of Byros's army is too great. They have made their decision. Xena will be handed over to that butcher and his army. Nadria and Sia have witnessed all this and are gone. The council men have Gabrielle locked in a room at the tavern and she watches from a window as the only person she has loved more than life itself is led to an uncertain fate. After an hour the two guards are unconcious and Gabrielle is releived to see Ephiny, Queen of the Amazons, and Nadria and Sia walking in the door.
She runs up to hug the three of them. "Ephiny, I mean, your highness! I'm glad you came, but how?"
"Shhh! Gabrielle, Nadria told me everything. Xena is fine, but we have to get moving if she's going to stay that way."
Gabrielle pulls off the gown she's been wearing and pulls on a short tanned skirt, and the turquoise colred top she made. Nadria tosses her the staff in the corner.
On the feild, Xena is wearing her shift and is handed over to Byros. Just as she begins to walk to him, a flight of arrows peirce the sky and a third of the horsemen in Byros' camp fall. He looks in the direction the arrows came from and sees not only a tangent of Amazons, but centaurs as well. One amazon gives a warcry and they attack in unison. Xena uses this distraction to kick the two soldiers holding her. Byros looks at her, smiling. He raises his sword and begins twirling it as he walks around her.
"Xena!" Xena looks up to see Gabrielle standing on a hill as her chakrum whizzes overhead to shatter Byros' sword, ricocheting off a tree and heading for her. She instinctively raises her bound wrists and the chakrum slices through the ropes. Byros rushes in and smashes into Xena, full weight, and in leather armor. She's momentarily stunned, but reflexively rolls back and vaults him in the air. He lands hard and doesn't move, an arrow has peirced his heart. Nadria, the best archer the Amazons has ever produced, holds her bow aloft in salute.
She had tracked Byros through the air, his angle and fall, and nailed him in his heart. Xena takes into account the distance and smiles, raising her arm in salute to the amazon. She suddenly feels a familiar presence at her back and smiles as she turns to see her amazon bard. She tosses Xena her sword and together they wade through the forces surrounding them. After the battle is over, the couple wave good bye to their friends and head home. What they get is not what they expected.
"We won't let you stay here. The damage done here was minimal, but we won't take that chance again. We would be thankful if you left."
Xena starts to protest but Gabrielle speaks first; "Cowards! You are too afraid to stand together to help one person. But you're not afraid to take advantage of her kindness and generosity. You people make me sick! When we first came here? I thought I had found the dream, a place where my beloved could be accepted for who she is, not ostricized for what she was. To Tartarus with you all! Come on, Xena." Xena is dumbfounded, Gabrielle had really lost her temper with the elders, something she had never seen.
Gabrielle walked to their bedroom and withdreww a pouch and tossed it to Xena. It had two hundred dinars in it. She then looked at the bed. The bed they had shared these past few weeks, the bed that should have been theirs til they day they went to the Elyssian Feilds. But it wasn't to be. She held her tears as she walked out, head held high, a true amazon. Xena just stared at the bed. They walked out after an hour, they had transferred ownership to Shyra and were on their way. They walked down the road that took them out of Krylos and into the wilderness. They made camp and Xena went fishing. Gabrielle did not speak the entire evening. Xena felt her heart breaking, this was it, her past had cost the woman she loved one thing too many, and now? She would leave. Xena looked at her and tried to speak, but Gabrielle collapsed in her arms, crying shamelessly. "I'm sorry, love. I'm so very sorry."
Xena couldn't beleive this! Gabrielle was apologizing to her! Why? "Sorry? I should be apologizing to you."
Gabrielle looked up to her cherished one shaking her head,"Xena, how could they do that to you? You helped them, and they just handed you over to them! I hate them for that! I think if Ephiny hadn't helped me out of that room? I would have destroyed the entire town to get to you!"
Xena's shocked; "No, Gabrielle. Hate is the one thing you are incapable of. They were scared, they had a right to be. No one had ever attacked them. Please let this go. I never want to see you in the grip of that kind of hate."
"But, Xena, they took everything from us. Our home! That was your home. Now we're out here again. The road has beaten us again." Gabrielle is still crying.
"Gabrielle, my darling, YOU are my home. Without you? I'm lost and alone. The road can't beat us, if we have each other. Now, are you ready for bed?"
Gabrielle nods, the emotions Xena's words have brought make her mute. Xena gets up and ties a blindfold over her lovely amazon's eyes.
"What is this?"Gabrielle begins to remove the blindfold, but feels a hand stop her.
"No, my sweet. It's a surprise." She feels her warrior's strong arms cradle her and pick her up. It's a short walk to the bedrolls and Xena gently lays her down on the surprise.
"You can take that off now." The warrior says playfully. Gabrielle sits up and removes the blindfold. The joy in her eyes was all Xena had to see to know that this was what she wanted to see every moment of their lives. "Oh, Xena! It's beautiful!" She pulls the warrior down on top of her.
"I thought this way, we could still have our first real bed. The first bed we made love in." Gabrielle ran her hands over the comforter that Xena had so carefully hidden until this moment. She looked up into Xena's eyes and saw all the love she needed, all the passion she knew was for her and her alone.
"Gabrielle? I'm making the promise now. The road can't go on forever, and someday? this pallet will be on our bed, in our home."
Gabrielle kissed her beloved warrior's exposed throat as she pushed the shift
over those broad, sculpted shoulders and whispered so softly Xena could barely
hear: "I am home."