by JS Stephens
Disclaimer: The characters of Xena, Gabrielle and Argo are property of MCA/Universal Studios/Renaissance Pictures, etc., etc. I am merely borrowing them and will bring them back none worse for the wear. Any god or goddesses that might appear are in the public realm and therefore are not copyrighted by anyone. The story elements are mine and I do claim ownership of the story elements. Any lyrics appearing in this story are property of their owners and I mean no disrespect. k.d. lang has no idea that she is appearing in this story.
Copyright © 1998, revised 2013 by JS Stephens. All Rights Reserved. Readers may download one copy for perusal offline. Do not fold, spindle or mutilate. Tags may be removed only by the consumer. Please shake, do not stir. Coffee provided by Peet's of California. Please buckle up and read safely. Thank you and have a safe trip.
(Note the first: This story is dedicated to the fabulous ladies and gentlemen of the lang.)
(Note the second: the lang was a private chat room on AOL in the last century. It was full of k. d. lang fanatics.)
It was a beautiful day, crisp and cool with a hint of the coming spring. Gabrielle was chattering as she walked along side Xena, trying to work out her latest tale, based on their latest adventure. Xena was leading Argo, listening indulgently to her companion, smiling at the younger woman's enthusiasm for her trade. Argo was not listening, she was wondering when they would stop so she could beg for apples. All was well, all was normal (at least as normal as it could be around our heroes) and...
Whoosh! Xena plucked the arrow out of the air with ease, scanning the surrounding countryside for the culprit who send the arrow zooming their way. Gabrielle stopped her tale and asked, "Xena, who shot at us?"
"I don't know, Gabrielle," the tall dark warrior replied. "But I'm going to find out. Here, you duck into these woods on the side of the road until I signal all clear."
"But Xena--" her blonde companion whined.
"Do as I say, Gabrielle." The raven haired beauty stalked off, leaving Gabrielle to mutter under her breath about negotiating a new contract. A sidekick's life was always in danger, she mused, as if someone was trying to give Xena someone to rescue on a constant basis. At least she had her staff to fight back with, which is more than most sidekicks had and damn it, she was going to use it.
As Xena flung herself headlong into battle, Gabrielle slipped to the edge of the band of ruffians and started bashing heads, knees and backs with her trusty staff. "This should make a great story," Gabrielle thought as she swung her staff on yet another thug. "Sidekick bashes head, hey, maybe I can even get Xena out of trouble." As the man went down, clutching his knee, Gabrielle swung around, right into the arms of another thug, who managed to wrap her up in his arms before she could react. "Xena!" she screamed.
But even as Xena turned to rescue Gabrielle, another figure somersaulted through the air, landing beside the thug. "Allow me," said a mellow voice. The stranger chopped at the thug's neck, causing him to let Gabrielle go and turn to the stranger. The stranger lashed out a long leg, hooking the thug and tripping him. "Oof!" said the thug, sinking into unconsciousness.
"Thank you for saving me. My name is Gabrielle, and that warrior over there is Xena," the blonde battling bard said excitedly.
The stranger looked at Gabrielle for a long moment, then broke into a beautiful smile. "My name is Kaydus, warrior and poet. I believe I've heard of you before, are you Gabrielle, the famous bard and Amazon princess?"
Gabrielle was pleased as punch. "Why, yes, I am. How did you know my reputation, Kaydus?"
Kaydus kept smiling. "Let's just say that I'm friends with Homer. Are you okay? Did the thug hurt you?" she inquired tenderly.
Gabrielle laughed ruefully. "No damage to anything but my pride." She chuckled again, then turned on a full wattage smile as she sensed her travelling companion slip up behind her. She introduced the women, saying, "Xena, this is Kaydus, the warrior poet. Kaydus, this is Xena, the warrior princess."
Xena looked Kaydus over skeptically, but politely held out her arm for the other to clasp. "Pleased to make your acquaintance, Kaydus. Thank you for helping Gabrielle out."
Kaydus grasped Xena's arm and shook briefly, answering, "My pleasure, Xena. I am honored to be among such excellent and famous company. Would you two like to have supper with me tonight? I have fresh fruits and vegetables hidden in a cave not far from here, just a short walk. I had just finished putting it away when I heard sounds of battle, which I could not resist."
Gabrielle and Xena exchanged glances, then Xena said, "Sure, why not? We have some dried meat and some bread and cheese that we would be glad to contribute."
"I'll share the bread, but not the meat or cheese. I don't eat meat or animal products," Kaydus explained as the three started walking toward the cave. Argo followed, hoping that Kaydus had some nice apples to share with her.
"The Fates must have a reason, why else endure the season of hollow soul?" Kaydus recited to the audience of two. Gabrielle was rapt in her attention, Xena looked polite but bored. Gabrielle was fascinated by the depth of feeling in Kaydus' poetry, you could feel the tugging of the broken heart in the words of the poem. She applauded, calling, "bravo!" Kaydus smiled shyly at Gabrielle, then asked, "What new tales to you have, Gabrielle?"
Before Gabrielle could reply, Xena stood up, announcing that she was going to check on Argo. Gabrielle sensed that Xena was angry with her for some reason, but could not fathom what it was. Oh well, how often did she get to talk to another weaver of words? "Well, let me tell you about the time we helped the Trojans. No, maybe I'd better tell you about the time that Xena met up with Callisto, who is her mortal enemy. You see, Callisto claims that Xena made her, because Xena's army burned down Callisto's village when she was a small child."
Gabrielle stopped to take a breath, but found it hard to continue with Kaydus looking at her so, so, what was the word? Gods, Kaydus was looking at her like Perdicas had during their less than 24 hour marriage! Gabrielle felt Kaydus' gray eyes resting on her. She looked at Kaydus more carefully, noticing the sharply sculpted cheekbones, the dark hair tickling the collar, the square hands. Funny, Kaydus was similar in height and coloring to Xena, but Xena had never looked at her with such open admiration.
"A dinar for your thoughts, Gabrielle," Kaydus said softly. Gabrielle blushed, not knowing what to say. Kaydus laughed, a low musical laugh, then reached out for Gabrielle's hand. "Such sturdy hands, yet so graceful. Such fire in your eyes, so fierce in combat, yet I sense such tenderness in your soul," Kaydus said, gently rubbing Gabrielle's hand. Gabrielle felt like she was falling under a spell, gazing deep into those gray eyes, feeling an upwelling of desire, something she had not felt in a long time. Kaydus stood up, pulling Gabrielle up as well. "Care for a short walk?" Gabrielle just nodded, words still escaping her.
They walked along the nearby stream, hands intertwined. The stars were bright and the moon was a mere sliver, but there was enough light to see clearly. The stream babbled merrily, singing to them as the poet and bard walked along. Finally, they came to a clearing and Kaydus stopped and turned to face Gabrielle, saying, "You are so beautiful, Gabrielle, I feel like I can see to your very soul." Gabrielle shivered slightly, no one had ever talked to her like this. "I just want to drink in this vision of loveliness that you are, to have your image swimming through my veins, to dare to take you into my arms..." Gabrielle trembled, moving closer as the warrior poet spoke.
"Ah, Gabrielle, can it be? I long to kiss your soft lips..." Kaydus trailed off.. They stood there for a moment, not saying anything, until Kaydus finally slowly leaned down and kissed Gabrielle, first gently, savoring the sweet softness of her lips, then with more passion and desire.
Gabrielle felt herself melting into Kaydus' embrace, kissing back with a passion that she had never felt with Perdicas. She felt Kaydus' hands roaming across her back, pulling her into a tighter embrace, then trailing kisses down Gabrielle's neck, nuzzling her collarbones, stopping at the hollow of her throat, then rubbing smooth cheeks back and forth across her chest...
Wait! Smooth cheeks? Gabrielle pulled away abruptly, staring at Kaydus, bewildered. Without thinking, she tentatively touched the other's chest, feeling the swelling of breasts under the loosely laced leather vest. "You're a woman!" she exclaimed, horrified and embarrassed.
"So?" Kaydus tried to pull Gabrielle back into her arms, but Gabrielle resisted. Kaydus let go, throwing her arms up in surrender, moving away from the other woman. She stood by the stream for a long moment, clenching and unclenching her hands, then turned back to Gabrielle. "I thought you liked me, you liked my poetry, reacted to me, led me on. What happened?"
Gabrielle swallowed hard, trying to both slow down her racing heart and to gather a coherent sentence. Several thoughts flashed through her mind before she could finally say, "I'm sorry, Kaydus, but I thought you were a man."
"Does that make a difference? Love crosses all barriers, or should cross all barriers, whether they be class, religion, birthplace, or gender. Admit it, you liked kissing me until you realized I that I am a woman. I bet that wouldn't keep you from kissing your precious Xena if you had the chance." Kaydus shouted.
Gabrielle started to reply, but could not think of a proper rejoinder. Kiss Xena? Xena usually barely tolerated a friendly hug! Or, was there a reason that she barely tolerated affection from Gabrielle? Xena had seemed so happy for her when she married Perdicas, yet...
Kaydus stormed back, grabbing Gabrielle and growling, "You know that you need to be loved, you desire it. Why not take that chance with me? I'll make your head spin, desire spread like lava through your bones..." She looked deep into Gabrielle's eyes, then pulled her into another long, yet desperate kiss.
Gabrielle was torn, feeling raw desire raging through her body, yet anger at being taken. She tried to break out of the embrace, desperately trying to remember lessons that Xena had taught her when Kaydus was torn abruptly from her grasp. "Xena!" she whispered as the warrior princess ripped Kaydus away from her.
"Damn you, Kaydus, how dare you do this to Gabrielle! I'll not have a rapist sharing my camp!" Xena said, her voice soft and dangerous. She slapped Kaydus across the face, hard enough for the sound to ring through the woods. Kaydus just stood there, shocked, the pulled herself together to lunge at the other warrior, but Xena was too quick for her and slammed her fist into Kaydus' gut, following with an uppercut, knocking Kaydus out cold. Xena stared at the other for a long moment, then leaned over for a closer look. She straightened back up and looked at the trembling Gabrielle and asked quietly, "Are you okay?"
Gabrielle didn't say anything, she just ran to Xena and buried her face in Xena's leather covered chest, not crying, but just trembling hard. Xena wrapped her long arms around Gabrielle and held her for a long moment, then finally loosened her grip so she could look into the other woman's eyes. "You are aware that Kaydus is a woman, aren't you? Is that why you were struggling?"
Gabrielle looked into the warrior's blue eyes, seeing worry, concern, and a gentleness that was rarely there. She forced herself to answer, "I was not aware that she was a woman until she kissed me, Xena. I pulled away when I realized it, but she taunted me, saying that I would kiss you if I had the chance. But I never thought that you would kiss me or feel that way about me." As she spoke, Gabrielle noticed that Xena's face tightened into her emotionless mask, wondering what she said that was wrong. Xena dropped her arms and walked away from Gabrielle, leaning over the other warrior for a long moment. She finally said that Gabrielle should go back to camp for some rope so they could tie her up.
Gabrielle was confused, Xena had tied Kaydus up and forced her to march back to the camp, then tied her to a tree before they crawled into their bedsacks. Xena told Gabrielle that she would watch their prisoner for a while, then she would wake Gabrielle up for the next shift of guard duty. Kaydus just glared angrily at both of them, not speaking. Gabrielle dropped into an uneasy sleep, only to be awaken by Xena much too soon.
Gabrielle had taken over, watching Kaydus, noting that Kaydus finally fell asleep, leaving Gabrielle alone with her thoughts. Gabrielle shifted her gaze to Xena, watching the warrior's face as she slept. She had rarely seen Xena asleep, since Xena usually fell asleep after Gabrielle did and always woke up first. She noticed how the low fire threw shadows on Xena's face, bringing out her cheekbones, softening the harshness of her face. Gabrielle felt a surge of affection for her best friend and had to fight down the impulse to stroke Xena's raven hair. She wondered why she wanted to stroke Xena's hair, was it possible that Kaydus was right?
The next morning, Xena allowed Gabrielle to feed Kaydus, watching them both warily. Gabrielle felt two pair of eyes watching her every move as she tried to feed Kaydus without touching her. Kaydus tried to trap Gabrielle's fingers with her lips, but Gabrielle was too fast for her. Finally, Kaydus leaned back, announcing, "I'm full, thanks for breakfast. Now, are you going to untie me so I can attend to other business?"
Xena smiled nastily. "Why, of course! Allow me to attend you." She went over and untied Kaydus' legs and led her off into the bushes. A few moments later, them came back, Xena still smiling and Kaydus flushing angrily. Gabrielle didn't want to know what happened, so she started packing their belongings.
As Gabrielle finished packing, Xena finally untied their prisoner, telling her, "I expect you to travel in the opposite direction, Kaydus. You may be a fine fighter, but you do not have a warrior's honor."
Kaydus spat back, "Gabrielle was flirting with me, Xena, until she realized I was a woman. But don't let me get in your way, now that she's been kissed, very expertly, if I may say, maybe she will succumb to your advances." She grinned cruelly. "If, that is, you ever have the courage to approach her. I saw how you looked at her when she was asleep, and how Gabrielle looked at you when you were asleep." She rubbed her wrists as Xena untied the last of the rope.
"Just leave," Xena said wearily. Kaydus just shrugged, blew a kiss to Gabrielle, then started walking in the opposite direction. After she was finally out of sight, Xena turned back to find the camp totally packed up and Gabrielle holding Argo's reins, waiting for Xena. Xena walked over, grabbed Argo's reins and swung up into the saddle. "Let's go," she said.
The warrior and the bard walked along in silence for most of the day. Xena had ridden ahead for a short while, then trotted Argo back, satisfied that the road was fairly safe for the time being. By late afternoon, they approached a large village and Xena mentioned that they should stop at the local inn for a bite to eat. Gabrielle merely nodded, not bursting into her usual chatter. Xena was starting to be concerned, the last time Gabrielle was so quiet was when she was sick for three days. She sent Gabrielle ahead to order dinner as she led Argo into the stable, taking off her saddle but leaving the grooming to the stable boy, something she never did.
Gabrielle was still quiet through dinner, just making short replies to any questions Xena asked. Finally, the meal was finished and Xena asked quietly, "Would you like to stay here tonight?" Gabrielle looked up from her empty plate and nodded yes. Xena went off to make the arrangements, then came back to lead Gabrielle to their room.
A tub of hot water awaited them in their room. Xena insisted that Gabrielle bathe first, but Gabrielle demurred, saying that Xena should bathe first. Xena finally blurted out impatiently, "It's big enough for both of us, so why not bathe at the same time? I could sure use a good back scrub." To her surprise, Gabrielle agreed.
The bath was lovely; Xena could feel her muscles finally relaxing. She took her time, savoring the feeling, especially when Gabrielle scrubbed her back and washed her hair. Xena rarely allowed Gabrielle to help her with anything except cooking and fighting, but Gabrielle had such a wonderful touch, so relaxing. She turned around finally and motioned for Gabrielle to turn around, taking the sponge from the young woman. Xena scrubbed the bard's back, then washed her golden red hair. Even after she rinsed the last of the soap out, she continued to run her fingers through Gabrielle's hair, feeling the heavy silken texture.
But, even the best bath must come to an end. As the water started cooling too much, Xena stepped out of the tub and grabbed her towel, briskly drying herself off. Gabrielle followed suit, then finally turned to Xena and asked softly, "Was Kaydus right? Do you even want to kiss me?"
Without thinking about it, Xena gathered Gabrielle into her arms and rested her cheek on the bard's wet hair. "I never thought about it, Gabrielle. You are my best, dearest friend, and I do love you very much." She lifted her head and reached under Gabrielle's chin, tilting her head so she could see the bard's green eyes. She started to say something else, but got lost in the pools of green, slowly becoming aware of Gabrielle's hot naked body pressed to hers. Feelings she thought were buried deep inside bubbled to the surface, memories of watching Gabrielle sleeping, wanting to lay beside her and hold her through the night, times that they talked quietly by the fire, baring their souls to each other. The immense pain of seeing Gabrielle marry Perdicas, then the confusion when Callisto slew the young man, making Gabrielle a widow. Xena was becoming very aware of Gabrielle's sweet breath, how close her lips were, how hot the room was...
Gabrielle saw the confusion in Xena's eyes, feeling Xena's body pressed against her own. Kaydus was right, Xena did want to kiss her. Gods, how could she have been so blind? Now was her chance, with Xena's lips so close to her own, alone in a locked room, with an inviting bed waiting for them, the feelings so intense that the very air seemed to be crackling with desire. Taking a deep breath, Gabrielle finally closed the gap, closing her eyes as she made contact with Xena's lips, gently at first, then more firmly as the feelings of desire suddenly raged through her body and as Xena pulled her closer, her lips seeking and demanding surrender, total opening of the soul and body to each other.
Xena felt shock, then answering desire as Gabrielle closed the gap between their lips. She hungrily kissed her best friend, for how long she did not know. Finally, she broke off the kiss and stared into Gabrielle's eyes, pleased to see such naked desire swirling in their green depths. Time stood still for a moment, then she broke the spell by picking Gabrielle up in her arms and carrying her to the bed, carefully laying her down, covering her with her own body. She then covered her with her lips, trying to be gentle, leaving a trail of kisses down her throat to her small but beautiful breasts, feasting on Gabrielle's breasts as Gabrielle squirmed against her. She finally made her way to Gabrielle's legs, gently opening them...
Gabrielle woke up the next morning, shocked that Xena was still asleep. She grinned to herself, remembering the night before, the gentle, then fierce passion that overwhelmed her senses, how Xena made her feel like an earthquake had hit her. She had tried to follow the same actions, and was rewarded by the warrior's complete surrender to passion, to her hands and questing lips. As she remembered, she reached over and gently stroked Xena's face, watching Xena wake up slowly. "Gab?" she asked sleepily.
"Yes darling?" Gabrielle answered in a sultry voice.
Xena opened her eyes more, smiling lazily like a cat in the sun. "Think we have enough dinars for another night, or will you be too sore?" Seeing the surprised look on Gabrielle's face, Xena laughed, then pulled the bard on top of her, kissing her soundly. She finally let go, saying mischievously, "Now, that's a terrific way to wake up."
"Ah," Gabrielle tried to find something to say, but words failed her. Actions, she found, did not as she reached for the tall, dark haired beauty...
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