Warrior...Princess...Housewife

by Emily Mills (started 12-6-00)



DISCLAIMERS/LEGAL MUMBO-JUMBO: This is an uber of a different sort for me. The characters in this story, both in physical/mental description and names, borrow HEAVILY from the characters (Xena, Gabriella, Ares, Callisto, Ephiny, Alti)created by the fine folks of RenPic for the show, Xena: Warrior Princess. They are the sole property of RenPic/Universal/Creation, all rights reserved, etc. No copywrite infringement was intended by the writing of this story, it is not meant for sale of any sort, and copies/distribution should be limited strictly to personal/private use. I wrote this in fun, that is all.

LOVE/SEX DISCLAIMER: As always, I stick to PG-13 material here kiddies, so no rip-roarin' orgies (or plain old sex)to be found. However, there is an implied and sometimes acted upon sexual-and-spiritual-in-nature relationship between two consenting adult women depicted in this story. If love gets yer panties inna twist, turn back now, return to the land of "best friends make out all the time, it doesn't mean they're sexually involved" and of quaint denail, take a deep breath and stick your head inna hole in the ground. Consider yourself warned.

VIOLENCE/LANGUAGE DISCLAIMER: As this story is set in the home of a repressed 50's housewife, there really isn't much violence or cursin' in this one (aww, sorry folks). There's a few "hells" and "damns" thrown about, but methinks that's it. Mostly it's just cleverly veiled references and innuendos. As for violence, if the untimely and gruesome death of an innocent tomato bothers you...well, seek help.

STORY PRODUCED OF BOREDOM DISCLAIMER: OK, I am nuts. I am a dork. I started writing this one day while at work when I was absolutely bored out of my skull. Each "chapter" was basically one installment of the story, a single post made to a certain online message board of like-minded dorks. I was encouraged by these like-minded dorks to continue writing after I posted the first part, and so I did...a lot. Hell, it gave me something to do. It is meant as a mere boddice-ripper, good for a few grins, and not much more. I thought to myself, "Self? What setting and scenario have ubers not touched on yet?" and self replied, "Repressed housewife Xena in the 1950's". Fearing that it could fast turn into a trashy dime-store novel, I decided to go with it.

Mail any comments to: batgirl@agog.net



Chapter 1..."I Am Not A Cook"

The tomato was dead. Very, very mutilated and thouroughly dead. The tall, dark woman pushed an errant strand of her black hair behind an ear and sighed deeply in frustration. Cooking was something housewives were supposed to be able to do...with one hand tied behind their back. She, on the other hand, could throw a tomato into the air and then skewer it to the far wall with a large butcher knife...with one hand tied behind her back...but for the life of her, could not cook.

Focusing her intensely blue eyes on the defiled vegetable/fruit, the woman decided to at least give it a proper burial. Carefully scooping up all of its remainders, she brought them to the sink and then tossed them into the garbage disposal unit. Handy device, she mused, that her husband had simply insisted they have installed. Any new, top-of-the-line gadget was sure to capture her husbands attention. She glanced over at the little calender that hung on the wall, the one with pictures of happy homemaking women merrily cleaning the house, cooking food, and playing with children. She hated it, really, but it did keep the date. Friday, June 22, 1956. Almost the weekend. She smiled at the thought. Her circle of friends from the neighborhood always met for cards and conversation on Friday nights. Even more exciting this time around was that her friend, Effy, was bringing someone new. A woman who had moved in next door to her and was just getting to know people. Now if she could just cook a decent meal for her husband and get to preparing some snacks for the gathering.

"Hi honey, I'm home!" the cheery shout came from the front as she heard the sound of the door closing.

"I'm in here, dear," she called back. A tall man, dark featured and well-built, came strolling into the kitchen, his brown eyes a little red from an apparently long day at work. She reached up and stroked his finely cut goatee with long, tapered fingers and gave him a quick kiss. "How was work today?"

"Tough. We're in the middle of a hostile takeover," he said with a grin that betrayed how much he really did enjoy his work. "The company we're merging with tried to hold out, but we showed 'em who's boss."

"I'm glad to hear it," she purred into his ear, causing a visible shudder in the man's body. Her husband was the CEO of a powerful law firm that he had started years ago. They were notorious for smoking the competition, eating them for breakfast, and then buying them out in the morning. Frankly, it turned both of them on when he made a new conquest.

"You OK with takeout? I had some...trouble...with dinner tonight."

"More hapless food stuffs meet their end at your hands?" he inquired, raising a sleek eyebrow at her.

"Afraid so," she sighed and lowered her head. He looked up and noticed the knife still stuck in the wall.

"But you sure have a mean knife toss," he growled happily. "Besides, what I'm hungry for isn't something you can order take-out for." And with that, they proceeded to make wild, passionate, unhousewife-like sex on the countertop.

When they had both finished their respective business, they quickly redressed and went about their evening habits.

"Xena, be a dear and bring me a beer?" the man called to the woman in question from his position in the lazyboy and in front of the TV. Severly disliking being ordered around but having had the 'women are for keeping house' doctrine drilled into her brain for as long as she could remember, Xena grumbled softly but complied and brought her husband a cold, frosty-one.

"Don't look so enthusiastic," he said upon noticing the dour look on his wife's face. "The least you can do is bring me a drink at the end of a long day spent winning the bread. You owe me, anyway. Don't forget that I was the one who found you, took you in, and made you what you are today."

"You 'found' me threatening a football player from an opposing team who had knocked out my brother in a tackle...and unfair tackle...at the Homecoming game my senior year. How do I owe you for that?" Xena retorted.

"If I hadn't given you that cleet, you wouldn't have had anything to have bashed his face in with. And then I did marry you, making you the wife of the most powerful man in the state...next to the governor, of course."

She snorted in laughter and shook her head. "Ares, you are such a bastard sometimes."

"Yes, but that's why you love me," he shot back, then turned his attention on the television again. She walked back into the kitchen and made a phone call to a nearby Chinese takeout resteraunt. Did she love him? Sure, what woman in her right mind wouldn't love a tall, hunky, muscle-bound and powerful CEO with violent take-over tendancies. OK, so maybe she didn't love him in-so-much as she just was really intruiged by the man, but that was start, right? Besides, no one else had really been interested in the tall, dark, and sometimes tempestuous girl she had been...and still was. It wasn't 'becoming of a lady'--but then she couldn't very well get away with being unmarried, especially since she was already twenty-three. People would talk.

An hour later the doorbell rang, announcing the start of the ladies' card-playing night. Xena answered the door, brightly greeting each one of her friends as they marched through the entrance.

"Callisandra! Good of you to come. My, Altina, that's a lovely new eyeliner you're using. Effy, hello, I see you've brought our new neighbor!" Oh and she certainly had. Xena's eyes were immediately transfixed on the short, blonde-haired woman standing next to Effy. Her hair was well-coiffed in a bouffant style, eyes a deep shade of green, and when she smiled in greeting at Xena, tiny creases appeared around her eyes that just made her even cuter than she already was.

"Pleased to meet you, Xena, Effy has told me all about you. I'm Gabriella."

"Welcome to my home, Gabriella," the name rolled off her tounge like wine. "I do hope Effy has only been telling only the good stories. Come in, come in!"

The little blonde smiled endearingly up at Xena, some unspoken thing waiting just behind her expressive eyes, and the dark-haired woman neary choked at the intensity when their eyes locked. Finally, Gabriella walked into Xena's house, allowing her hostess to close the door behind them all.


Chapter 2..."Poker? I Hardly Know Her!"

Xena spared a fleeting glance to her husband, who was still reclining in the easy chair with attention fully on the flickering television screen. The dark-haired woman turned back to her guests, one of which was busy dealing out the cards for their game of poker.

"Poker?" Gabriella asked a touch skeptically. "And here I thought all suburban housewives played more sedate games like gin or bridge. I've underestimated you all."

"We used to play those until Xena here suggested something, like you put it, less 'sedate'. We've been playing poker ever since," Altina informed the blonde seated next to her. Gabriella turned her deep green gaze on the taller woman across from the table.

"Somehow that doesn't surprise me," she said, a rakish grin spread across her lips. Xena was somehow transfixed by those very lips--she was staring. Upon realizing this, however, she blushed slightly and desperately tried to focus back on the game at hand.

"Tonight," Callisandra piped up. "Tonight I'm finally going to beat you, Xena. I will simply destroy you at this game."

"You always say that," Xena shot back playfully. "And you never do beat me."

"This time is different," the platinum blonde growled out over the tops of the cards she now held possessively in her grip. Her chocolate eyes glared at Xena with competitive fire burning in them.

"Certainly getting worked up a lot for a card game, Callisandra," Gabriella observed. The other blonde shot a look at her briefly before shifting her view back to that of Xena.

"She's just upset because before Xe moved into the neighborhood, she was the reigning champion of card games," Effy added and pointed one finger at the brooding Callisandra. "Then, all of the sudden, she can't win a single game against our tall friend here."

Xena chuckled ruefully and examined her hand. Oh, Cally wouldn't be pleased with the way things were looking to turn out.

"Pretty cut-throat of you all," Gabriella suggested as she sorted through her own cards.

"Well, I suppose even us women need our time to let off steam," Altina added. Gabriella smiled knowingly, a mischievous glint to her eye that only Xena seemed to notice. The dark-haired woman was intrigued by this newcomer. There was something so familiar about her...and something...forbidden.

Xena mentally slapped herself at the notion. "You've been reading too many of those trashy romance novels. Cut it out," she scolded herself silently.

"All right ladies, lay out your hands."

Each woman spread their cards out on the table before them. Xena grinned as she laid hers down and proclaimed, "Full house." There was a round of groans, but then Gabriella cleared her throat and put her hand on the table accompanied by the smug declaration that she had a straight flush. Xena was shocked. Callisandra groaned even louder.

"Great. Now I have two opponents to smite."

"Settle down, Cally, at least someone beat Xena for once," Altina said out of the side of her mouth. Xena raised a smooth black eyebrow at them all.

As Effy shuffle the deck again, Xena decided to try out some small talk.

"So, Gabriella, where did you move to our happy little neighborhood from?"

"New York City," the little blonde replied nonchalantly. Xena was even more intrigued.

"Really?" she continued. "And why did you decide to come here?"

"I ran out of...challenges...in New York. I have a cousin who lives here who suggested it to me, so I came," Gabriella finished with what Xena could have sworn was a ghost of wink at her.

"And how do you like it so far?"

"Oh, it's really lovely. I think I will be very...challenged...here," she answered, staring directly at Xena, who nearly choked for some reason. It was, she noticed, very difficult to look the woman in the eye without either choking or blushing severely. She didn't know why. Nervously, she glanced back at her husband again, who by now had simply fallen asleep in the chair and was snoring softly.

"And your husband, what does he do?" Xena blurted out, realizing that she was assuming that this woman was married. Well, why wouldn't she be? It wasn't proper for a woman to run about the country at that age unmarried. Best to settle down as soon as one could, right?

"He's a businessman, works internationally so he's hardly ever home."

There was a round of sympathetic noises issued from the other ladies at the table, most of whose husbands were also home so little that their children assumed them to be just another pesky salesman come around to bother their mom about buying a new vacuum cleaner or something.

At the very moment that Xena was processing the exact inflection that Gabriella had used when saying 'hardly ever home' (it had been said in a very suggestive manner), she felt something at her foot. There were no pets in the house, so that possibility was right out. She'd had a pet cat once, named Argo, but her husband had forced her to let it go (or rather, abandon it) when they were first married because he was allergic to them. She missed that cat.

But as for this thing that was slowly rubbing itself up and down her ankle and leg, Xena was at a loss. It did feel quite nice though, just a tad bit disconcerting. When she looked up from her cards and found Gabriella's intense stare pinning her, though, Xena suddenly knew what it was. A foot. And not just any old disembodied foot, oh no, this one was attached to the little green-eyed blonde sitting across the table from her.

Xena tried desperately to pretend she wasn't noticing the caresses, forcing herself not to squirm in the chair or make any odd facial expressions.

The card game progressed, the only two people winning at all being Xena and Gabriella, and the other players were growing more and more politely cross at every defeat. Callisandra was fuming and finally, after the umpteenth loss to either Gabriella or Xena, she slammed her cards down and stood up in a huff.

"That's it, I quit. I simply cannot handle losing one more game, and besides, Theo should be home from working the late shift soon and he'll want his dinner."

"Of course, of course. Thank you for coming tonight, Cally. See you tomorrow at Betty's Tupperware party?" Altina inquired after her quickly exiting friend.

"I wouldn't miss it for the world," Callisandra replied before bidding the rest of the women a good night, grumbling the words to Xena, and then leaving. Effy sighed and glanced at the clock on the wall.

"It is about time to quit for the night," she said. The remaining group nodded their heads in agreement. Everyone stood and made their way to the door.

"Good to see you again, Effy. Be sure to say hi to your husband for me, OK?" Xena asked.

"Most certainly. Philip will be most glad to hear from you."

"You really must tell me who your makeup provider is," the dark-haired woman addressed the next person to leave. Altina smiled and nodded.

"I will, I will. She truly is wonderful, you'll love her makeup!" the woman answered brightly in her strangely low and raspy voice before making her way out of the house as well. Xena waved to them as they left, shut the door and turned back to face the inside of her home--only to find a patiently waiting Gabriella standing behind her.

"Oh! You nearly scared me half to death!" Xena declared a touch melodramatically. The blonde smiled endearingly and moved back towards the card table.

"I would never do that. Mind if I stay a little while longer? I'd like to get a chance to get to know you better."

Xena couldn't decide if she should choke or blush. Right now both seemed appropriate for what she was feeling. She concentrated hard on the cards left scattered on the table, which had suddenly become extremely interesting.

"Of course. You being new and all, I'd like to get to know you a little better as well," she cleared her throat and went on. "Coffee?"



Chapter 3, "You Know What They Say About Idle Hands"

The murky black liquid swirled lethargically in the cup held clasped in one slightly shaking hand. Would she take it black, or perhaps with cream and sugar? She was certainly not one of those women whose coffee drinking habits were easily discerned.

Xena popped her head out of the kitchen and addressed the woman in question, who was seated at the card table, absentmindedly playing with the Queen of Hearts card.

"You take anything in your coffee?" the dark-haired woman asked.

"One cream, one sugar, thanks," came the reply. Xena smiled uneasily and ducked back into the kitchen to add the said ingredients to one of the mugs of coffee. She would be drinking hers black this evening. Taking one cup in each hand, she made her way back out to sit across the table from the blonde-haired woman. They each took their time sipping at the hot liquid, neither one making any attempt to speak quite yet. Finally, after another awkward moment had passed, Gabriella smiled and started a conversation.

"So, what does your husband do?"

"Ares is the CEO for a law firm here in town. They're very big," she replied, a cheery note in her voice that she didní»t entirely feel at the moment. Something about the way this woman looked at her was...unnerving.

"Interesting. Is he good in bed?"

The coffee Xena had just been sipping nearly shot out of her nose and across the room. She choked and sputtered on the liquid, trying desperately to regain the ability to breathe as Gabriella just sat and watched her with an amused expression on her face, seemingly still waiting for an answer. The dark-haired woman wiped some of the liquid from her chin and took a deep breath before shooting a cross look across the table.

"That's a rather personal question."

"Yes, I apologize," Gabriella agreed. "That was a little too straight-forward of me."

Must be one of those big city things, Xena mused.

"Allow me to rephrase the question," the blonde continued. "Does he make you happy?"

Xena's brow furrowed in thought, her blue eyes flicking over to the sight of her husband snoozing in the chair. There was a bit of drool slipping out of one side of his mouth.

"He makes me...happy," she said, a touch unsure of herself. Gabriella picked up on the uncertainty and grinned slightly.

"But?" she prodded.

"But what?" Xena countered defensively. "I'm married to him, aren't I?"

"Yes, but I've noticed that a lot of women these days get married just because they think they ought to. They don't do it for love in-so-much as they do it for convention."

"Are YOU happy in your marriage?" Xena shot back. Gabriella paused at that, taking a minute to consider.

"Sometimes. Peter's a good man, he means well, but I guess you've got me there. I'm not really in love with him. But we work well together. We're good friends. In the end," here she paused, a mischievous glint in her green eyes. "It works out quite well for the both of us."

"How do you mean?"

"That would be a bit of a personal question," the blonde replied smugly. Xena looked down at her hands a touch sheepishly. This conversation wasn't getting them anywhere. Well, anywhere good, anyway.

"I'm sorry, I--" she began but Gabriella cut her off and placed a hand over one of Xena's.

"Don't be. I started it anyway. Let's move on, shall we?"

Xena didn't look at the hand that rested on her own, she just concentrated hard on the table before her. She was a little undone by the pleasant feelings the contact gave her, the warmth of that touch.

Before she could reply, however, Ares began to shift in his seat and wake up. He blinked and stretched himself awake and sat up. Upon noticing the other woman seated with his wife, a dark eyebrow rose in question and he along with it.

"Who do we have here?" he asked, moving to stand behind Xena.

"Oh!" the dark-haired woman exclaimed, caught a bit off guard by her husband's sudden presence at her back. "This is Gabriella, she's new to the neighborhood."

"Good to meet you," Gabriella said and extended her hand, the one that had been resting on Xena's, and Ares shook it wearily.

"Welcome to the neighborhood, Gabriella," Ares replied, his voice a low rumble. Xena knew that rumble well. She sighed and waited for the command to follow him into the other room for a moment. "May I speak with you in the other room for a moment, Xena?" he finished. She excused herself from the table and followed her husband into the kitchen.

"What is it?" she asked defensively. He pursed his lips and let his eyes roam from the bottom of her body to the top.

"I don't like her."

"What?" she asked, completely surprised.

"I said I don't like her. Something's not right with that woman and I don't think you should see her again."

"But Ares, you've barely said five words to her!"

"I don't care!" he declared, voice rising in volume so that Xena had to shoosh him to keep the disagreement from reaching Gabriella's ears. "I'm going up to bed and I expect you to be up there within the next hour. That gives you time to politely ask her to leave, clean the house up, and then come upstairs."

"But Ares--"

"No buts! Just do as I say!" he growled and then before she could voice another protest, he walked out of the kitchen and then up the stairs. Xena slowly made her way back out to her guest, who was staring at her bemusedly.

"Anything the matter?" she asked quietly. The dark-haired woman sat back down in her seat with a long sigh and shook her head a little.

"He just...no...nothing's the matter. It is getting late though, perhaps you need to be getting home?"

"It's not so late, and we still have a lot of getting-to-know each other left to do," Gabriella replied as she reached across the table and placed her hand back atop Xena's, a cheeky smile stretching across her face. Xena gulped in pure reflex.


Chapter 4..."The Mice Will Play"

"I really think you ought to be going," Xena offered impatiently. The blonde woman seated across the table from her just continued grinning from ear to ear.

"He asked you to make me go, right?"

"I...uh..." Xena muttered sheepishly, her face growing warm. She swallowed again and tried to get a hold on her somewhat tattered composure. "Well he just wants me to get enough rest is all, and it is late so--"

"A bit controlling of him, wouldn't you say so?" Gabriella cut her off. The dark-haired woman froze for a moment, caught off guard but considering the question.

"He is the man of the house," she said meekly to which Gabriella snorted indignantly.

"Please, Xena, you're better than that. Certainly you don't buy into the 'men are the breadwinners and therefor get to control the lives of their wives' crap, do you?"

"Well, I--" the housewife began, exasperated. Gabriella held up a hand and went on.

"No, really Xena. You are better than that and you know it just as well as I do. I can see it in your eyes. You hate living like this. You hate the standards of today that force women into submissive roles, that don't allow us to be who we really are!"

A silence passed then, nothing but the ticking of the clock filling the space, as Xena mulled this all over in her head while Gabriella watched her intently, green eyes blazing.

"I guess I do hate it, but what am I supposed to do?" Xena finally said quietly, head lowered in resignation. Gabriella squeezed her hand a little reassuringly and smiled warmly.

"I have a few ideas," she replied with a wink. Xena felt her face go completely hot.

"I don't understand," the dark-haired woman went on. "Why me? Why single me out to tell me all this? You met Effy first."

"I couldn't help it, I was...drawn...to you."

"Drawn?" Xena gulped.

"Yeah, the minute I walked in that door and saw you, I just knew that..." here Gabriella even seemed at a loss for once. "...that I had to know you? That you were the one."

For a moment, Xena lost herself in the green gaze that had locked onto her own. But then, shaking herself free of the spell, she stood up abruptly and held her hands up.

"This is crazy. This is absolutely crazy," Xena stated. Gabriella remained seated and stared up at the addled woman.

"Yes, it is. But crazy or no, it's the truth. I can't help that, and neither can you."

"You're sick," Xena countered and immediately felt terrible for saying it. The blonde took a sharp breath and looked down at her own hands. "I'm sorry, I didn't--"

"No, it's OK. It's not like I haven't heard it before," Gabriella said softly.

"It's not OK," Xena went on, learning forward slightly. "I shouldn't have said it and I'm sorry. I'm sorry if anyone else has said it too. I'm just...I don't know what to make of all this...of you," she finished with a sigh.

"Then you feel it too?" Gabriella asked hopefully. The taller woman glanced around the room uncomfortably before returning her gaze to the blonde in front of her.

"Yeah."

One of Gabriella's trade-marked rakish grins spread across her face at that and she stood up to walk around the table and come to stand directly in front of Xena.

"There's one thing I think you skipped over when you read your Housewife Manual," Gabriella started, a slow drawl in her voice.

"What's that?" Xena said breathily, the close proximity of the other woman having a strange affect on her.

"The part about what housewives do when their husbands are away all the time, or at least not in the immediate area...besides drinking, that is."

"Really? And what would that be?" Xena asked, a smooth black eyebrow rising in question. Her voice, the other woman noticed, had taken on a seductively low growl.

"You know what they say about 'When the cat's away'...?"

And with that, Gabriella leaned forward, effectively closing the remaining distance between them, and placed a long and heated kiss on the dark-haired woman's lips. Xena was so lost in the sudden embrace, in how completely wonderful it felt, that she forgot to open her eyes when Gabriella finally pulled away for breath. It never felt like that when Ares kissed her....

"Xena?" Gabriella spoke, a touch amused by the dreamy look on said woman's face.

"Oh...uh...something about mice, right?" Xena said, not completely aware of what was going on anymore. Gabriella just laughed.


Chapter 5, "Fallen Angel: The Awakening of the Warrior Princess Within"

"Are you all right?"

The dark-haired woman did not move, nor did she even flinch when the shorter woman standing in front of her poked her in the arm. Gabriella frowned slightly and glanced at the clock on the wall. A good five minutes had passes since they'd kissed and Xena hadn't moved or spoken. The taller woman's blue eyes were trained on Gabriella, but that was about it.

"Great. I killed her," Gabriella lamented jokingly with a shrug. Xena blinked then and appeared to be clearing some spider webs from her brain. She cleared her throat a touch sheepishly and finally spoke.

"I...uh..."

"It's OK, you don't have to talk yet. Maybe you should sit," the blonde offered and helped her companion take a seat in a nearby chair. "Would you like some water?"

Xena shook her head, which caused a few strands of dark hair to tumble across her shoulders. She took a deep breath and looked back at the blonde that knelt before her.

"I've...it's...never been like that before," she managed quietly. Gabriella smiled knowingly and placed her hand on the woman's knee in a comforting gesture.

"I realize it's probably a bit much for you all of the sudden like this."

"No, no...well, I mean yes it is pretty out of nowhere," the dark-haired woman began. "But what I meant was, it never felt like that with anyone else. That...good."

"Oh," Gabriella stated, a touch amazed. She sat back on her heels and stared at her own hands. Finally, after a brief moment of contemplation, she brought her green eyes back up to look into Xena's own blue eyes, a very mischievous glint to them. Xena shuddered just from the sight. "I can show you some other things that will feel a lot better than they ever have, too." Xena gulped.

"I...uh...think I need to...um...drink some water after all," she whispered hoarsely.

"Of course," Gabriella answered. She squeezed the knee that lay trembling under her hand and got to her feet intending to get the poor woman a glass of water when suddenly she found herself catching an unconscious Xena who had fallen out of the chair.

"Good Lord!" she grunted as she held onto the dark-haired woman. Carefully, Gabriella lowered Xena onto the floor and then rushed into the kitchen for water and a moist towel. She certainly hadn't anticipated Xena's passing out. Sure she had been a little straight-forward and perhaps a bit too coming-on, but had thought that certainly a woman like Xena could have handled it--one way or the other. Hell, even she had admitted that she had felt something between the two of them. Gabriella was sure her aunt had been right, that this was something more than "meant to be"--something timeless. A bond that had brought their souls together throughout time.

Oh geez, you sound like such a sappy romantic, Gabriella scolded herself mentally. But admittedly, there was something there. She had thought to treat this like all of her other conquests, but when she'd first looked into the fathomless depths of this woman's endlessly blue eyes--well, suffice to say that it was definitely not another conquest...or at least, not one anything like any of the previous ones. Who had conquered who, really?

Kneeling beside the prone form of her new friend, Gabriella placed the moistened towel on her brow, making sure to brush aside a few errant stands of hair. Then she took Xena's head in her lap and proceeded to lightly massage her temples. After a few moments, the dark-haired woman's eyelids fluttered open to reveal rather dazed eyes.

"Where...what...oh, hi," she mumbled. Gabriella smiled down at her and continued with her work.

"There's some water, if you still want it. You passed out." Xena took the cup in her hands and took a hesitant sip from it. "Thank you."

"You're welcome. You think you can get up?"

"Actually," Xena began softly. "What you're doing is really very nice, if I could just lay here a while longer...then I'd feel better." Gabriella laughed and continued with her ministrations as Xena closed her eyes and just enjoyed the attention. She still felt pretty dizzy, so getting up actually wasn't such a great idea, but the head massage definitely added incentive to stay put.

They were both so absorbed by their respective activities, that neither one heard the footsteps coming down the stairs. Ares came to the landing and stopped dead in his tracks when he saw the two women on the floor, the new one with his wife's head in her lap. One eyebrow rose in amused shock briefly before he decided that "enraged husband mode" would be more effective. He stomped across the room and stood hovering menacingly over the two.

"What the HELL is going on here?" he demanded. Green and blue eyes snapped open and stared up at him in surprise. Xena tried to sit up but had to lower herself again when a wave of dizziness came over her.

"She fainted, calm down," Gabriella explained reasonably. She'd dealt with jealous husbands before. Ares brow furrowed in thought.

"Xena's never fainted before in her life. What happened?" he asked skeptically.

"I was telling Gabriella about how great you are in bed, and when the memories flooded over me it was too much, I just--" here she snapped her fingers for emphasis. "--passed out!"

Gabriella tried desperately to restrain a fit of giggles that was threatening to overtake her. Xena smiled brightly up at her husband. Ares grinned handsomely and puffed out his chest a little in an unconscious gesture of pride.

"Well then, that's understandable. But why were you telling her about our sex life?"

Xena paused in thought for a moment and Gabriella looked down at her, a look on her face saying that she was wondering what excuse her companion would come up with now. After a split second, Xena's blue eyes looked back to her husbands, a great deal of mirth hidden in their depths.

"Well, I was asking her if she knew the meaning of a particular French phrase that I had heard earlier--she's so good with foreign languages!--and she told me it was something that could make a person's sex life a lot better. When I told her that mine couldn't possibly get any better, she asked why and naturally I had to explain things to her. That's when I passed out."

Gabriella had a feeling she knew where this was going and it was all she could do to keep from laughing out loud. How did Xena know about her love of languages though?

"Oh really? And what phrase was that?" Ares asked, his eyebrow hiked up so high it nearly touched his hairline. He crossed his muscular arms over his chest and waited for the answer. Xena grinned innocently and replied,

"You ever heard of a 'menage a trois?'"
------------

Chapter 6, "Destiny: Viva la Revolution!"

"Menage a--what?"

"Trois."

"It's French," Gabriella added for good measure. She beamed happily up at the dark man that hovered over her and the woman whose head was currently in her lap. Then she leaned down and whispered in Xena's ear. "How did you know about my love of languages?"

Xena answered her only with the elevating of a single black eyebrow and then turned her ice blue eyes back on her husband. The look of utter confusion on Ares' face was priceless.

"Oh c'mon, Ares, you've been around. Surely you know what it means," Xena asked teasingly. The executive inhaled sharply and shook his head.

"What on earth has come over you, Xena? I told you to make Gabriella leave, she's a bad influence on you."

Gabriella chuckled. "No, I'm afraid I can't take credit for this. If only." Xena decided then, a bit reluctantly, that she should at least sit up and take her head out of the blonde's lap. Both women stood then and faced the taller man at eye-level. Well, Xena was at eye-level anyway. Gabriella had a lovely view of Ares' clavicle unless she tilted her head up a little.

"And Ares," Xena began, lowering her voice to a seductive contralto. "She's my friend. You cannot tell me when she should leave."

"What's come over you?" Ares growled. He leaned in then and spoke directly into his wife's ear. "I thought we were going to play 'warlord and slave' tonight?" Xena chuckled softly and brushed the back of her hand against his cheek.

"I've got a headache," she offered mockingly. Ares stood back and straightened himself, eyes narrowing dangerously.

"You are MY wife, damnit! And you will do as I say!"

"See Xena, this is what I was talking about. What gives him the right to talk to you like that?" Gabriella interjected. Xena had been about to give in and throw herself at her husbands' feet, figuratively speaking, but when she felt Gabriella's reassuring touch on her back, her resolve strengthened and she looked the dark man right in the eye.

"I'm afraid you can't push me around anymore, Ares," she asserted. Her husband clenched his jaw tight and just about spat, he was so aggravated.

"You've lost your mind, woman. I'll not have you talking to me like that in my own house! The whore leaves, now!"

"Excuse me?" Gabriella shot back, a touch annoyed. Xena stepped forward so that she was in between her husband and the fiery blonde.

"Ares, listen to me. You've known since the beginning that I was no submissive housewife, that I was different from the other girls. That's why you claimed to have married me. But now that I dare to stand up to you there's a problem. You're a hypocrite."

There was a rather lengthy pause then as Ares' gaze steeled and he took a few deep breaths.

"So is this it?" he asked finally.

"You know as well as I do how difficult divorce is. I suggest you two work through this," Gabriella suggested rationally. Both Ares and Xena looked at the little blonde, and then back at each other.

"You 'friends' can work things out yourself tonight. I'm going to go get a motel room or something. I need to get out of here for a while...to think," Ares said, his tone cool. The dark-haired woman nodded slightly and sighed. As he turned to grab his hat and jacket from the rack near the door, Ares turned back to face the two women again, his expression serious and dark. "If you're at all interested in continuing this partnership, Xena, the irritating little blonde is to be out of your life by tomorrow. Otherwise..." his voice trailed off, leaving Xena to decide how the sentence would end, and he walked out of the house and shut the door behind him.

"I don't know if I'm ready to just leave him," Xena spoke after a brief silence had passed.

"It's not an easy thing, to have been taught to be dependent and passive all your life and then realize that it's not for you. It's especially hard to start over when you don't have much of a base to go off," Gabriella said reassuringly as the two found seats on the couch.

"Ares has been a part of my life for so long, he's taught me much of what I know. I realize that he's ultimately bad for me, but how do you just walk away from someone like him?"

"You just make up your mind to do it and than do it," Gabriella continued, her forest green eyes full of compassion. "Peter and I have an understanding. He's a good man, so I lucked out. Like I said, we're good friends but that's it; the marriage is a cover of sorts that lets us both do what's best for us without the rest of the world butting in and being it's lovely self."

"Sounds like a good deal," Xena said wistfully. Gabriella brushed a hand across Xena's jawline and looked her in the eye.

"It is, but I'd rather we not have to do that. I'd rather live in a society where being myself was OK. Wouldn't you?" Xena nodded. "That's what I'm fighting for, secretly right now, but soon there will be a revolution, Xena. A revolution for women. You could be a part of that. You could be a great leader, I see it in you."

"I'm no leader, Gabriella," the dark-haired woman replied softly.

"Yes you are, you just don't know it yet," the blonde went on. "You have to meet my aunt some time. She has this gift that allows her to see into peoples souls. She told me I'd meet you, Xena."

Xena said nothing, just gave a slightly disbelieving look to the woman seated next to her.

"That aside," Gabriella chuckled quietly. "Join me in this mission. Help our cause, help us make it OK for women to be themselves."

The beseeching look in the blonde's eyes bore right into Xena's very soul, searching out her true self and embracing it with great warmth. Xena was powerless to resist.

"All right."

Gabriella smiled beautifully and enveloped Xena in a hug. "Wonderful."

The decision made, Gabriella helped Xena to pack up some of her things and then offered to let the dark-haired woman stay at her house for a while.

"I feel so strange doing this," Xena said.

"You're strong. It'll be OK."

"He'll come after me."

"Then we'll face him...together," Gabriella offered and put an arm around the taller woman as they walked out the front door and down the walkway. The blonde lived about two blocks away. Xena took a deep breath, grinned slightly, and walked with as much confidence in her stride as she could muster.

"So what do you revolutionaries call yourselves?" Xena asked as the two strolled on down the dark and quiet street.

"Feminists."

"Interesting. So if I join you, do I get to fight the minions of evil and oppression with a sword and my sharp wit?"

Gabriella stopped in her tracks and gave her companion a thoroughly befuddled look. "What?"

"I don't know," Xena answered, shrugging. "Just sounded good."

"Well, you can use a sword if you like," Gabriella said, laughing. "But as for me, I prefer to avoid bloodshed."

Xena took a moment to consider something and then said, "You could just fight off the bad guys with a stick or something. Knock 'em over the head maybe."

"Sounds good," Gabriella agreed, grinning happily. They turned the corner that would lead them to her house. "Well, it's settled then. We're a team."

"Heh," Xena chuckled and smiled. "I guess we are."

The crescent moon cast its' silvery light down upon the sleeping Earth as it had done for centuries passed. The things it shed its' glow upon had changed quite a bit over the many years, but somehow the silver hue always found itself falling upon the shoulders of two women, reflecting off one set of green eyes and one set of blue, who forever walked side-by-side, planning a revolution.


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