DISCLAIMER: Xena, Gabrielle, Argo, etc. are ©copyright MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. I don't own them, I just play with them for a while and, like the good girl I am, I put them back when I'm done…okay, they get a little worn, but hey…I play hard! Absolutely no Copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fiction. It's intended as flattery toward the creators, writers, and actors of the characters. All other characters that appear are ©copyright Devlin@xenafan.com. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies may be made for private use only and I'd appreciate if you included all copyright notices and this disclaimer.
VIOLENCE WARNING: There is violence (come on it's the Conqueror). The nature of the story is not nearly as dark as some Conqueror fiction, but it's essence is still the slave / master relationship that exists between Xena & Gabrielle.
TIMELINE: My own making. Xena is the Lord, Conqueror of Greece, but she is almost forty-five years old when she meets the slave, Gabrielle. Many of Xena's evil ways have been sedated, but not all. I call this Xena the "thinking woman's" Conqueror. She is a woman who wants to try to do the right thing, but doesn't always know how.
SEX: Yes, I'll have some, thank you. Ooops! I mean, yes there is. It is our favorite two Soulmates, after all. It's not gratuitous, but it is quite explicit when it gets going. This story shows consensual as well as non-consenting love (master/slave), sex and yes, even some light bdsm between two adult females.
HIGH ANGST WARNING: I was threatened within an inch of my life if I didn't start putting this disclaimer on some (all?) of my work. I will henceforth rate the angst content with sad faces, one being the lowest and four being the highest. This story earns: L L (2 sad faces for those without TT Fonts)
UNDERAGE WARNING: Hey, the Supreme Court said in Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union (1997) that laws against making available, online, certain "indecent" materials for those under 18 was unconstitutional…look it up! Besides, this is perfectly "decent." J
I only know how others feel about my stories from feedback. Let me know what you think...homophobes need not apply, however. I'm at: Devlin@xenafan.com
**Special thanks to Jim Kuntz for his permission in using any Lion of Amphipolis references.
The Conqueror Series
Tale One: Journey's End
By LJ Maas
Our evening meal was a quiet affair; both of us lost in our own private thoughts. My young slave seemed as pensive as I, on this evening. I told her I had a little work to do and the next couple of candlemarks were her own. I kissed the top of her head and sent her off to her scrolls. When she looked back at me, I thought I saw disappointment written on her face.
Sometime later, I sat at my writing table, within the silent confines of my study, surrounded by the ceiling high shelves packed with scrolls and parchments. I pulled the silk robe tighter around my body, as if to ward off the chill and damp that always settled in the castle, once the sun was drawn from the sky. I meant to get some work done writing letters, a seemingly never-ending task. All I could do, however, was to ponder all that I learned from Gabrielle's scrolls.
So many thoughts and emotions seemed to be racing around in my head; I can scarcely remember my own name. Does Gabrielle feel anything akin to what I feel for her? She feels something, her scroll made that much apparent, but what if it was nothing more than friendship? Yes, she feels pleasure from my touch, but I am basically giving her no choice, am I? Gods, am I forcing her into feeling these things? Is it similar to training a falcon to sit on my hand in order to receive its reward, when it's not what the bird would do naturally? All these doubts and self-recriminations came at me until my head began to pound.
I saw a movement to my right and saw a tentative blonde head peek into the room. Gabrielle was never to interrupt me in my study, in case I was in a meeting. I purposefully left the door open to this room, hoping she would eventually find me.
"My Lord?" she asked, standing in the doorway.
"Come in, little one, I'm alone."
Gabrielle smiled and walked up to my desk, standing beside the large chair that held my long frame. I slipped an arm around her hips and just as easily she ran her fingers through my hair, brushing back the dark locks, that fell forward into my eyes. It seemed such a natural movement, and I squeezed her in response.
"What is it Gabrielle?"
"You said that you wanted to teach me, My Lord. The game…King's Men?" she reminded me.
"Ahh, so I did. Are you still interested? It's a complicated game."
"I'll do my best, My Lord." She answered.
When I walked into the outer room, I was pleasantly surprised. A warm fire burned brightly in the fireplace, a number of large candles and a lamp were lit, and moved close to the playing table. Finally, a goblet of sweet wine rested by my favorite chair, which was positioned in front of the marble table.
Gabrielle looked up at me expectantly and I couldn't resist reaching over to place a light kiss on her forehead. "This is lovely, thank you, Gabrielle."
Nearly a candlemark later, we were hunched over the table, beginning the first real game. Gabrielle memorized the moves that each distinct piece was allowed to make, and it became apparent to me why she was as intelligent as she was. The young woman possessed a remarkable memory, easily remembering the sometimes, complicated pattern of steps each piece took, to effect a turn.
I made my first move and Gabrielle quickly moved a piece after me. I looked up at her and she never took her eyes off the board, hovering there as if she couldn't wait for me to take my turn. After a few moments of deliberation, I again moved one of my front warriors forward a step. My hand was barely off the piece, when Gabrielle's hand shot out and moved one of her warriors on the far left. An arch to my eyebrow was the only clue that I was becoming perturbed. Still the young woman focused only at the playing field. On my third move, I pushed a different warrior into the fray, before I raised the goblet of wine to my lips, Gabrielle moved her Centaur in to take the Warrior, and I frowned. I didn't like losing the first piece.
"Gabrielle, why would you make a move like that? You took my Warrior it's true, but now you've put your Centaur in harm's way. See?" I pointed out, plucking the centaur from the table and putting my Castle down in its place. "You should only sacrifice a piece to get an opponent's piece that is of greater value."
"Yes, My Lord, I remember that you said that, but that was my intention." She said, as she deftly picked up her lavender Mystic from the corner of the board and moved it through the spaces vacated by two of my Warriors and one of hers. She knocked my castle to one side and placed her own piece in its square. She quietly picked up my fallen piece and set it off to her side of the table.
"How did you--" I leaned forward in my chair and scanned the table.
"Is that wrong?" Gabrielle looked at me earnestly.
How could I let my temper flare when she looked at me that way? Okay, it's just been a while since I've played the game, that's all.
"No, Gabrielle, that's not wrong. Actually, you did very well." I answered, even if it was somewhat grudgingly.
I eased myself back into the chair and we began again. I would study the table and the game pieces, and then with deliberate care, I would make my move. Gabrielle seemed not to even care, but the girl got the best of me for three moves in a row.
"Gabrielle," I began, trying not to let my scowl become any deeper, "We're not in any hurry here. I mean, you can take your time and think about your moves before you make them."
"Have I done it wrong?" Gabrielle looked startled and stared at the board again in confusion.
"No, no. I simply meant that this type of a game is a contest of wits, not speed. I've known great battlefield strategists who have taken days to make one move."
"Days?" Gabrielle finally looked up at me.
Suddenly I felt like a complete fool, mostly because my young slave was looking at me as if I'd just said the most idiotic thing she ever heard.
"Well, maybe not days exactly, but a long time." I quickly recovered.
"Yes, My Lord." She answered.
I went through two more cups of wine before I realized that must be what was throwing my concentration off. In reality it was that and the fact that Gabrielle never slowed her style of play, she was kicking my ass, and I was getting as grumpy as a child whose favorite toy was just torn apart by the family hounds.
Gabrielle began do notice my darkening mood, which must have been why she suggested we quit for the evening. It took me a while, being caught up in my own petulance, but I finally realized that Gabrielle was slowly losing pieces to me via moves that she hadn't been foolish enough to make in the beginning of the game. Gabrielle reached over to move her King into a spot even a beginner wouldn't choose. The light of understanding finally made it's way to my thick head. Gods, why do people bother with me! I'm as bad as any ill-tempered child.
I calmly sighed and reached out my hand, covering Gabrielle's under my own, before she had a chance to lay the jade playing piece down.
"Gabrielle? You see I hate to lose, don't you?" I asked.
"Yes, My Lord." She answered softly.
"Do you know what I dislike, even more than losing at anything?"
Gabrielle shook her head and brought a solemn gaze up to meet mine.
"When someone lets me win a contest because I've intimidated or bullied them. I hate that about myself and now I feel I may have committed that act with you, and that was never my intention. Now, you realize that once your hand leaves this piece, this move will be final?"
"Yes, My Lord, I remember." Gabrielle nodded her head.
"Then I'll ask you…do you still want to place your King there?" I looked across at the girl and grinned, telling her I knew of her ruse.
"No, My Lord?" she phrased it as a question just to be sure.
I laughed aloud. "All right then, please continue."
My mood cheered considerably after that, although it was short lived. I thought I had a plan, but four moves later, Gabrielle moved her King again and looked up at me. I'm sure the tentative smile on her face was from my open mouthed expression as opposed to any real joy she felt. I could be wrong, however.
"I believe, My Lord, that you are cornered."
"No, Gabrielle, that's called dead." I looked up from the table with a wry smile. "By the Gods, girl, how did you do that?" I was still scanning the table trying to figure out where I went wrong.
I sat there and listened as Gabrielle explained the method behind her moves. I had always been taught to think a few moves ahead, but this young woman amazed me. Gabrielle was at least six moves ahead of me, during the whole game. I knew that some possessed a skill such as this, but for it to be my young slave, that astounded me.
"Come here, you." I grabbed her hand and pulled her into my lap, squeezing her tightly and covering her neck in a shower of teasing kisses, that to my delight, made her laugh in my arms.
"Remind me to do something, Gabrielle." I told her.
"What, My Lord?" she responded.
I pulled back and put as intent a look on my face as I could muster. "The next time I go into battle, to take you with me. You're the greatest strategist I've ever been acquainted with."
The young woman giggled, as I hoped she would, but somewhere, deep inside my brain, that tiny voice was back, telling me I finally met my match. Boadicea, Caesar, Alexander, Antipater, they all challenged me and, eventually, they all lost. Could even the Gods have known, that a small and loving little slave would be the one to cut me down to size?
This time was different and I don't know why. Gabrielle lay against me in our bed, actually, more on top of me, her breasts pressed firmly against mine, our legs entwined, both of us pushing our bodies into the other, just a little bit further each time. The kisses weren't nearly as raw as the ones we shared last night, tonight, it seemed as if it was all about softness, slow touches, and gentle arousal. Tonight the fire wasn't roaring out of control, rather it was building slowly, with a need to see it burn throughout the night. Gabrielle touched me, then I touched her, and soon we were simply trading caresses, each igniting burning trails along the other's skin.
I felt Gabrielle's body slide along my own, positioning herself more fully on me. When she leaned over my face, reaching down to kiss me, I kept my eyes open to watch as she teased, first with the tip of her tongue. I watched as she ran her small pink tongue along my lower lip, tugging gently with her teeth. She continued by running the tip along my upper lip, continuing to stroke the cleft there in a subtle motion that hinted at regions of my body much lower, that would soon feel that same stroking tongue. I could stand the arousing torment no longer and wrapped my arms around her waist, crushing her against my body. I sucked that tongue into my mouth and we both began a rocking motion with our hips, in response to the oral exploration.
Everywhere…I simply wanted to touch her everywhere at once, and Gods know, I tried. The silky smoothness of her skin, the way she urged her hips into mine, the scent of her, all combined to fill my senses to the point of overload. I kissed her shoulder and ran my tongue along the corded muscle of her neck. I breathed in her aroma and sighed. Gabrielle smelled of the delicate soap from her bath, the light rose oil that reminded me of the deep red flowers in my garden, both mixed with the bouquet of our mingled desire, that rose up and threatened to overwhelm me.
I slid my hands between our bodies, wanting to touch that wetness, aching to feel the young woman tremble against me with every stroke of that sensitive flesh. Gabrielle intercepted my hands and grasped the wrists firmly, drawing my hands over my head. I could have stopped her with sheer strength, but I was curious to see where my slave was going with this. She wrapped my fingers under the wooden headboard, her eyes, never leaving my own.
"If you let go…I'll stop." She whispered into my ear, before sliding her tongue along the outer edge, letting her teeth tug at the flesh of my earlobe, all the while I could hear a low whimper coming from the back of my throat.
"Gabrielle…" I drawled out in warning. Gabrielle's past episodes of domination came at a time when I couldn't think, but this was slow and calculating, and I wasn't sure if I was prepared for this conscious decision.
I still had my hands wrapped around the lower post of the carved wood, when Gabrielle pulled back and looked into my eyes. She stroked my cheek with fingers that seemed to burn my skin with their fiery caress.
"Please, Xena…let me?"
Gods, was there a man or a woman alive who could have ignored that passionate plea? I certainly wasn't one of them, as I white knuckled it around that wood and concentrated on keeping my grip.
All I could say later was that Gabrielle's tongue certainly made a meal of me. I knew I was in sincere trouble when I was literally shaking, my muscles jumping in tiny convulsions, before Gabrielle's lips ever enclosed a rock hard nipple. When she licked her lips and covered the aching bit of flesh a loud groan flew unbidden past my lips, my back arching into the pleasurable sensation.
Fighting to take in normal breaths of air, I felt that tongue as it slid down my abdomen, gliding repeatedly over the muscles of my belly that rippled and fluttered as small tremors of desire shot through me.
I cried out in the middle of pleading with the young woman. Gabrielle moved her body against mine as she positioned herself between my thighs. Moments ago her tongue was creating teasing patterns along my skin, but when she reached the thick patch of dark curls, I felt the coolness of her skin skim along my heated center. By the time I called out her name, I felt her run a hard nipple along the length of my sex, grinding the stiff nub against my sensitive core.
"Yes, Xena?" she responded brazenly.
"You are such a wicked woman." I panted, my hips pressing forward in an attempt to feel that delicious sensation once more. "Please, baby…ohhhh…" I wasn't disappointed, as Gabrielle slid the hard point of flesh back and forth against my swollen clit.
It seemed to take an eternity for Gabrielle to use her lips, teeth, and tongue to blaze a trail along my inner thighs. She teased and then she pleased, holding me on the brink for longer than I thought my control could hold out. I was so very ready, that I swore the next time she even blew a breath of air across my hypersensitive sex; I would explode in ecstasy.
Her tongue finally made gentle flicks against my nether lips and I could feel my legs spreading further apart, the muscles in my thighs taut and trembling with anticipation. That first lingering touch, as her tongue gently separated the engorged folds, and I felt that warm wetness slide inside of me, caused the back of my head to press into the pillow and a long, drawn out groan to be released from my throat.
"Oh, yes!" I responded to the touch.
Gabrielle seemed to take great delight in this slow torture. I seriously began to wonder how long she could keep me, hovering along the edges of orgasm, without actually effecting my release. It seemed like time was passing so slowly. Every one of my senses was screaming out with need, while Gabrielle slowly and relentlessly used her tongue to explore, taste, relish all that I was.
"Baby…please…I need…" I groaned again.
Gabrielle paused to speak, but not before taking a long stroke against my heated flesh with her tongue.
"What, Xena…what is it you need?" she asked, before quickly returning to the slow strokes of her tongue.
"Oh, Gods…I need…I need…" I felt as if I were being turned inside out. "I need…you!" I was finally able to blurt out.
It was as though Gabrielle knew that this was my breaking point, so to speak. Perhaps in some way, it was what she was waiting to hear or maybe she realized that I wasn't going to say what she wanted to hear. Whatever it was, it spurred her to action, and after what seemed like candlemarks of being so lovingly ravished, I was about to find my release.
She wrapped deceivingly strong arms around my thighs, holding them open and to the bed at once, and I could do no more than give in. Suddenly, it was happening, her tongue, those teeth, and her lips…everywhere at once, first sliding through the swollen folds of my sex, reaching up to flick against an enlarged clit, then entering me with deep penetrating thrusts. I couldn't concentrate on one area of pleasure, it was simply everywhere at once, licking, sucking, and prodding. I felt as though my orgasm started the moment she buried her face against me and it was simply taking all this time to well up from some hidden depths to swallow me whole. I felt my body jerk and twitch as I lay there waiting for my climax to devour me. When at last I felt the penetrating warmth and the spasms begin in my groin, I realized it was too much, too much emotion, too much feeling, all at once. I tried to pull my legs closed, but Gabrielle's embrace was deceptively powerful and she kept me spread open, the pleasure flowing over me in waves, threatening to pull me under and drown me.
The roaring in my ears was surely the pounding waves, trying to drive me under. It was only as the next release took me higher; that I understood the roaring sound was coming from my own throat. There wasn't enough left in me to fight and I eventually let the waves pound me to the bottom. I let the blackness settle over me and felt a contented satisfaction that was new and strange to me, as I floated along, more than confident that Gabrielle would pull me back to the surface.
"It's all right…I've got you."
I felt the words whispered close to my ear and as I felt myself slip back into my own skin again, I told myself that I already knew that. I already knew that Gabrielle would not let me drown. Here she was, whispering words of comfort and brushing her fingers through my hair.
"By the Gods, woman…what you do to me."
It was the first thing out of my mouth and it made Gabrielle smile.
"You frightened me. Are you all right, Xena?"
"I didn't mean to scare you, but you…Hades, I can't even explain what it felt like. Come here," I beckoned her into my own embrace and suddenly our positions were reversed.
I felt an odd sort of strength when I held Gabrielle in my arms. What she wrote in her scroll was not only insightful, but also true. I would do anything for this small woman. I would go to any lengths to keep her warm and fed, and safe. I wanted her to know this and I looked into her face, but my tongue instantly froze in fear. What does one say when revealing your heart…how do I go about it? There was only one recourse for a warrior like me, and that was action, not words.
I reached out a hand to touch her face, running it lightly across her cheek, letting my fingertips glide across full, smooth lips. I bent my head and when I'd bridged the small distance between us, I pulled back ever so slightly, merely brushing my lips against hers. I wanted to do what my words could not, let my body tell Gabrielle what I felt in my heart.
I pleasured her body as tenderly as I could, gently stoking a fire in the small woman until she could no longer hold back the moan that rose up in her throat. My hand cupped a breast, the thumb lightly rubbing the taut nipple, again, that delightful sound from Gabrielle. That became my goal now, to elicit more of those sounds from the young woman's body.
That's when I froze.
I literally stopped all movement and nearly stopped breathing. What sounds? Gabrielle never makes noises, of any kind, when I touch her. Even in orgasm, if I weren't so completely attuned to her body, I would never know when she achieved her release.
I pulled back a small way, enough to look down into Gabrielle's face. It was there; the girl might be able to hide many things from me, but not this. I searched her eyes; hoping that it was my imagination, and that she would smile and it would be fine. Gabrielle's eyes filled with tears and she pulled her gaze away.
"I'm so sorry, Gabrielle…I suppose you must think me an old fool." I said sadly, easing my pain with a bittersweet smile.
"No, never My Lord" she answered softly, her tears escaping from the corners of her eyes. "It…it seemed to mean so much to you. My silence bothered you and I only wanted to please you."
I reached up and pressed my fingertips to her lips, realizing now that she must have felt nothing as I was just kissing her. What a fool I've been, thinking a young woman, especially a slave could ever come to care for me. Of course, she feels something for me, I'm the first master she's ever had that's been decent to her. She's grateful and confused, and very young. She is my slave, and I foolishly misled myself into thinking there was more…feelings…emotions…love.
I suppose if I knew how to cry anymore, I would. Gabrielle was a slave and she had no feelings for me, beyond serving me well. Why didn't I see that before? I am her master…Xena the Conqueror…I am the Conqueror, and it's all I'll ever be.
I pulled away from Gabrielle and moved to the edge of the bed. The small blonde wrapped a hand around my forearm.
"Please, forgive me, My Lord." Gabrielle pleaded.
I hadn't the heart to be angry with the girl. She only did what she knew best, to intuitively serve her master. It wasn't her fault if her master happened to be a lovesick old fool.
"It's all right, Gabrielle." I answered, gently pulling her hand from my arm. "You've done nothing wrong."
I rose and pulled on my robe, crossing the room and stepping into the outer room. I walked to the window and pulled back the tapestry, tying it in place. I turned and eased my frame into the chair that always faced the window. I watched the stars shimmer in the blackness, even now wishing I could cry. I had to smile at that. I spent my whole life learning how to ignore my emotions. I remember crying on the day I gave my son away, but not once, since then, have I allowed myself what I perceived as a woman's weakness. Oh, an occasional drop or two when overcome by emotion, but it was rare, and you could count the seasons on both hands between the occurrences.
I've cried real tears on more than one occasion since she's been with me. Funny, but now, when I think a good cry might be a welcome relief, I am unable.
I felt Gabrielle's presence and turned to see her with her robe pulled around her, fear or sorrow in her eyes, I couldn't tell which. She moved to me and dropped to her knees in that familiar pose of subservience.
"Forgive me, My Lord. I didn't mean to anger you."
I touched her cheek with the back of my hand, smiling as tenderly as I could muster. She gently grasped my fingers and kissed the scarred knuckles. I extricated my hand, slowly pulling away. It felt too good and Goddess knows, I felt enough of a fool already.
"I'm not angry with you, Gabrielle. I told you, you've done nothing wrong. Go on, go get some sleep." I turned away to look back out the window. "You may as well sleep in your own rooms tonight, little one. Leave me now." I added.
I turned one last time, before she left the room, and I thought I saw an incredible sadness in Gabrielle's face. I knew that is was my own imagination, and so I rested my chin in the palm of my hand, preparing for a sleepless night.
The sky was beginning to turn that soft gray color, just before Apollo's light breaks through. I sat in much the same position as I had the whole night. Thinking of my life and what an awful mess I've made of the whole thing. Wondering what I was to do with my little slave now. Do we keep on, she giving, and I taking? Do I continue with our nights of mutual gratification, or do I merely let her pleasure me and keep a respectful distance?
I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and when I turned, Gabrielle was standing in the doorway, between the two rooms. She wore a small silk shift that I gave her as a present, but no robe.
"Gabrielle, are you ill?" I asked, taking notice of her swollen, red-rimmed eyes. It was quite obvious she'd been crying all night, and the sight stabbed at my heart.
She rushed to fall to the floor before me, her sobs shaking her body.
"Gabrielle," I picked the girl up, pulling her into my lap. "You're freezing…you're going to catch your death.
I rose, with the young girl in my arms, and settled onto the large lounge, pulling a heavy blanket from the back and wrapping it around the young girl's body. She looked up at me and her cries grew in intensity.
"Gabrielle, has someone hurt you?" I asked, only to have her shake her head. "Have I hurt you?" I asked again, thinking that must be it.
"N-No, I hurt y-you." She stammered.
"Gabrielle, you haven't hurt me." I reached down and wiped the tears from her eyes, holding her closer until her shivering and tears both eased up a bit. I thought it odd that she would be so overwrought at the mere thought of causing me pain.
My young slave wrapped her arms around my neck, and burrowed her face against the warmth of the skin there. I held her tightly, knowing that she deserved some explanation from me, no matter how big an idiot it made me look. She served me well and I was traumatizing her with my inability to put a voice to my stupidity where she was concerned.
"It's me, Gabrielle…you've done nothing to displease me. I…I thought…Gods this is so stupid."
Gabrielle pulled away from me, tears still glistening in her green eyes, but she had a look so full of compassion, that it gave me the strength to continue.
"I thought…that perhaps you…felt…more…" I stumbled.
"More, My Lord?"
"Felt more…for me, I mean. I…oh, it was a foolish notion I had…I never meant to cause you pain with my own weakness." I turned away from her; I could feel my cheeks getting hot. It's been quite some time, since I felt this kind of embarrassment.
I felt soft fingertips guiding my chin back to face her.
"Do you…feel something…something more…for me?"
Should I lie? Should I laugh it off? Should I remind myself that masters don't fall in love with their slaves? I knew that none of those options would be fair.
"Yes, Gabrielle." I answered, truthfully.
"What?" she asked. "What do you feel?"
"I don't know…just…more." I answered vaguely, still wondering if I could have fallen in love with the girl.
"I thought you would know." She began and I looked down into her serious face. "I thought you could tell me what it was, since I feel it, too."
"You?" I was confused. "For me?"
Gabrielle nodded, and the look in her eye told me it was true and she was as confused as I.
"What do you think you feel?" I asked her, not even daring to hope that I would hear her answer one way or another.
"I'm not…I'm not sure…just…more."
I leaned over to kiss her forehead and she smiled in surprise.
"Does this…does this bother you, My Lord, my feeling this?"
I wrapped her in my arms once more, resting my chin upon the top of her blonde head. "I have to admit, Gabrielle, it does scare me a bit, but it certainly doesn't bother me. How about you…doesn't this scare you at all?"
I felt those small arms tighten their hold about my waist as I felt Gabrielle shake her head back and forth. For the first time in candlemarks, I felt like laughing at the absurdity of the situation. I chuckled aloud and gave the small blonde in my arms a squeeze right back.
"It would if you had any sense, trust me."
I felt much better feeling Gabrielle's lips turn up into a smile against my skin. Neither of us said another word until the sun rose, then we slipped back into bed and fell asleep holding tightly to one another, uncertain as to exactly how to describe what we felt for one another, only knowing it was more.