Dear Gabby





The forest was in its glory. Spring had arrived with its palette of colors and painted the world in pastels. Even sunsets seemed more beautiful, Xena observed as she rubbed her satisfied tummy and leaned back against a tree. She was content, a rare feeling for the restless warrior princess, and she smiled, hands behind her head, as she watched Gabrielle pace and fret. Amused blue eyes followed the bard as she shuffled through a pile of scrolls, read one or two, then tossed them to the ground and paced circles around the campfire. She often watched the pretty bard in the evening letting her thoughts trifle with pleasurable possibilities. This night her mind was mostly filled with curiosity.

“Writer's block?” Xena asked after watching the drama repeat a half dozen times.

Gabrielle stopped pacing and shook her head. “Sort of. I just don't know how to answer some of these people.” She wrapped her arms around her own waist and began to rock back and forth.

Xena sat forward and studied the distressed yet adorable little bard. “What people are you talking about?” She asked in a sympathetic voice.

Gabrielle nudged the pile of scrolls with her foot. “These people. There must be twenty of them.” She bent down and picked up two scrolls. “I got these yesterday while we were at that village and I already had a bunch from before.” She sank down on a rock and tossed the scrolls back into the pile.

Xena collected her sword and sharpening stone and chose a comfy seat on a fallen tree. “Sounds more like reader's block.”

“Oh, I have no trouble reading them. I've read them a bunch of times.” Gabrielle's head was in her hands. “I just don't know what to tell them.”

“Why do you have to tell them anything?” Xena asked.

Gabrielle rose and began to pace again. “Because these poor people need advice. That's the whole point.”

Xena slid the stone smoothly down her sword. She assumed the scrolls were fan mail like the occasional scroll the bard would receive since their travels together had begun a few months ago. The quantity of fan mail had increased in the past weeks, she'd noted, and the bard had become obsessed with it. “Is this one of those the pen is mightier than the sword situations you talk about, Gabrielle?” She asked, slashing her sharpened sword back and forth a few times as she spoke.

Gabrielle made a frown. “No, mighty warrior princess, this is far more important. It's about human feelings. It's about the heart.” She stopped pacing and faced Xena with a defiant look in her eyes. She pointed the quill in her hand at Xena's heart like a weapon. “And the pen IS mightier than the sword.”

Xena cut the quill in half with a quick slash of her sword. “I still don't get why you say that.”

“That's because you never read anything.” Gabrielle twirled the pen stub. ‘ That's emasculating even when one's not masculine ,' She thought. Then dropped the stub but held on to her bardly belief. “There's magic in the written word, Xena. You could do with a little fantasy time, between fights that is.”

“No, no. I prefer action, Gabrielle.” The warrior was not persuaded although she had no problem with fantasy. She had more than enough fantasies of her own to occupy her when action was unavailable, like the current situation. One of those fantasies queued up as Xena watched Gabrielle lean over and search her backpack for a replacement quill, her firm young breasts straining at the top of her BGSB.

Finding what she wanted, Gabrielle rose unaware of Xena's stare. “Well, I don't see how your sword could help the people who wrote these scrolls.”

“I might surprise you.” Xena said, surprising her. She set the sword aside and, stepping close to the bard, placed a hand gently on her shoulder. “Read me one of those scrolls. Maybe we can find an answer together.”

It was worth a try , thought Gabrielle. She scooped up a scroll and unrolled it. “Listen to this one, Xena. ‘Dear Gabby, my boyfriend wants me to…”

“Wait. WAIT!” Xena recalled a poster she has seen in a village recently. “Did you say Dear Gabby? As in Dear Gabby's advice to the lovelorn?”

Gabrielle smiled proudly. “That's me, Dear Gabby. Cute, huh.” Then the smile was replaced with a perplexed frown. “I had no idea so many people would want advice about matters of love.”

“Advice about love…” The warrior smiled. “…from you?” The smile became an irritating chortle.

Gabrielle, highly indignant, stared at her. “Yes, advice from me. Aphrodite thought it was an excellent idea.”

The laughing stopped abruptly. “Aphrodite talked you into this?”

“It was her idea. She's the one who puts up the posters. I didn't expect her to put a poster in every village we pass through. But it seems she did. I'm inundated with requests.” She pointed to her backpack. “I have many more.”

Xena's mouth was open but she was speechless.

Gabrielle tried to look confident as she explained. “Aphrodite puts up a poster that tells people to drop their questions into a box and wait for a reply. I've been doing this for several weeks now, Xena. I'm amazed you haven't noticed. You watch me night after night when you're sharpening your sword.”

Xena felt chagrined. What she hadn't noticed was that Gabrielle knew the warrior was watching her. And her evening musing had nothing to do with scrolls, instead Xena's thoughts were filled with ardent fantasies involving the nubile little bard. She cleared her throat. “How do you get your replies back to the villagers?”

“I just leave them behind in the morning and Aphrodite zaps them to the right people.” She broke into a grin. “It's a beautiful system, don't you think?”

Xena made a sickly face. “But Gabrielle what do you know about…love… or sex?”

The bard smiled sheepishly. “Okay, I admit I don't have any first-hand experience, unlike some people. “ She darted an admonishing look at the warrior. “But I've read a lot – romantic scrolls, I mean – and Aphrodite says I have a loving nature.”

Xena put her hands on her hips. “Aphrodite just wants to read the lurid details of the questions, Gabrielle. She gets a kick out of that sort of stuff.”

Gabrielle patted the warrior's cheek. “You're so cynical, Xena. Aphrodite said this would help me with my own little problem.” She hadn't really meant to add that last part.

Xena put her hand on top of the bard's and moved it away from her cheek. “You have a problem?” She said in a soft voice. She squeezed Gabrielle's hand before the bard pulled it away.

“Ah, well, that's how this whole thing started.” Gabrielle turned her head, preferring not to look the warrior in the eye. “We were in her temple, you and I, remember? And I was thinking about , well, I was thinking and Aphrodite popped up.” She turned her back to the warrior. “She said you couldn't see her and she said she had an idea that would help me…ah, learn what I wanted to know.” She was choosing her words carefully , trying to stick to the abridged version. “And I agreed to be Dear Gabby.”

Xena felt a competition of emotions. She wanted to strangle Aphrodite, but she was delighted that the bard had a ‘problem'. She dared to hope what the problem might be. She tapped Gabrielle on the shoulder. “Read the rest of that scroll.” She wanted to hear the specifics.

“Dear Gabby, my boyfriend wants me to have sex with him. I don't feel ready to, but he's so cute and I don't want to lose him. What should I do? Signed Timid.” Gabrielle lowered the scroll and looked to Xena for a solution.

“Dear Timid, a swift kick in the crotch should cool him off.” The warrior offered. “Write that down.” She folded her arms across her chest. “This isn't so hard. Read me another.”

Gabrielle retrieved a new scroll from the stack. “Dear Gabby, my girlfriend is wearing me out. She's always wanting to make love and I'm exhausted. How do I satisfy her so I can get some sleep? Signed Fatigued.”

Xena threw her arms in the air. “Well that one's easy. Fatigued, you and Timid need to get together and change partners.” She cocked her head and pointed to the scroll the bard had just read. “Write that down.”

Gabrielle was horrified. “I can't write that down. These people are asking from the heart, Xena. You're focused on the wrong, er, body parts.”

“There are no wrong body parts, Gabrielle.” Xena said frankly. “And they are talking about sex not love.”

“There's a difference?”

The warrior looked into Gabrielle's sincere green eyes. “Oh, yes.” She said softly. “There's a difference.” It was the difference that had kept the warrior at bay these past months. She loved the beautiful, young bard. And, in the paradox that is the human condition, it was love that prevented the warrior from acting out the fantasies that filled her thoughts.

“I don't believe you.” Gabrielle said dismissively.

“Maybe that's why Dear Gabby is having trouble giving advice to the lovelorn.” Xena pointed out. “Read me another scroll. I can see you need my help.”

Gabrielle searched for a moment then selected a scroll. “Dear Gabby, I am in love with a wonderful woman. I am also a woman. Does this mean we shouldn't be together? And if you agree we should, how exactly do we do it? Signed Naive.”

“That's absurd!” Gabrielle scoffed as she rolled up the scroll. “This is Greece, right? What a silly question.”

Xena felt her heart skip a beat and she released a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding. She cleared her throat but remained otherwise silent.

“I can handle the first part of her question. Of course they should be together.” Gabrielle continued. “But I'm not much help on the how.” She looked at Xena who was mysteriously busy studying the moon and the trees and had her lips pursed in a silent whistle. “What do you think?” The bard asked.

“Me?” Xena looked uncomfortable. “I agree with you. They should be together.”

Gabrielle raised an eyebrow. “And do you know the answer to how?”

Xena rubbed her chin and pondered a reply. ‘ How to love someone like yourself, Gabrielle, yes. How to answer the question, no .' She shrugged and didn't answer other than with her eyes.

“You do, don't you!” Gabrielle smiled as she spoke.

“I have many skills.” Xena nodded and set her mouth into a straight line. She stooped and picked up the sharpening stone. “Tell her to do what comes naturally.”

“That's a cop-out, Xena.”

Xena sat back down on the fallen tree and began slipping the stone along her already sharpened sword. “It doesn't require an instruction manual, Gabrielle. They'll figure it out.”

I never have ,' Gabrielle admitted to herself. She had plenty of hugging and kissing fantasies but images got blurry when she tried to envision herself actually pleasing the warrior. Her mental images ended right where her self-confidence died. She settled near Xena on the fallen tree. “She should probably start with a kiss. Call it step one.”

“Um, that's a good start.”

“A friendly kiss then, if that's returned, a longer, more passionate kiss.” Gabrielle scooted a few inches closer to the warrior. Her eyes were closed as if she were envisioning the scene in her mind.

Xena felt a warmth begin to smolder in her groin. She had a very clear image in her own mind - Gabrielle's lips on hers in a passionate kiss. She ventured a sideways glance at the bard and watched the light from the campfire play across her beautiful face.

“Then, step two, she should embrace.” Gabrielle continued, her voice innocent and romantic. Xena nodded and became intensely focused on her sword. “At some point they should undress. I'm not sure how they do that without losing the momentum.”

“They could undress each other.” Xena suggested then immediately wished she hadn't. But the images in her mind of herself and the bard were not waiting for instruction and were already naked.

Gabrielle inched closer to the warrior until their hips touched. “That's a great idea. Near the bed…”

‘B edroll .' Xena filled in the background of her own fantasy.

“…so they could fall lovingly together on to the soft blankets.” Gabrielle sighed.

Holding her breath, Xena listened intently eager for what Gabrielle would say next. The naked images in her mind were entwined in rapture. Her center was on fire. The bard remained silent except for a small hum-like moan. Xena bumped the bard with her elbow. “Go on. Then what!”

Gabrielle opened her eyes and grimaced. “I don't know. It gets fuzzy after that.”

Xena stabbed the sword deep into the ground between her knees. ‘You can't stop now !' she wanted to scream. ‘ I though bards had better imaginations. ' But all she said aloud was, “Really? You just go blank at that moment?”

Gabrielle sat up straight and put her hand on Xena's thigh. Xena looked at the hand and then at the bard with an ‘isn't that a clue' look. It wasn't. The exasperated images in her mind turned to frown at her. Things were going so well. What's with the abrupt stop , they chided.

Gabrielle pressed her hand down on Xena's thigh. “I've got an idea.” She said restoring the warrior's hopes.

So have I , several in fact' the warrior thought. ‘ And they all end the same blissful way .' She smiled expectantly. “What's your idea?”

Gabrielle jumped up and stepped to the bedroll. She lay down on her back, arms at her side and told Xena to join her. A thrill skittered up Xena's spine, albeit tempered by apprehension. “I'm not sure I get your idea, Gabrielle. You want to go to bed? ”

Gabrielle patted the empty blanket beside her. “No, silly. I think we ought to act it out. Come lie beside me and help me figure out what happens next for our clueless scroll writer.”

Xena felt a crush of disappointment, but she sank to her knees anyway and stretched out beside the bard. Instantly she sat back up and removed her armor which was poking her in the back. When she lay back down she could hear the lusty images in her head mocking her. ‘ I am out of my mind .' She told them. Unfettered by such mental drama, Gabrielle pursued the matter of the scroll.

“Okay, we – actually we are they right now – have kissed and undressed and landed on the bed.” She turned her head toward Xena. “Pretend this is a bed. It's called method acting.”

It's call insane .' Xena nodded anyway indicating that she would.

‘So what happens next?” Gabrielle asked wide-eyed and curious.

Xena's right foot began to wiggle back and forth a mere suggestion of the tension that consumed her. “Don't ask me, Gabrielle. This is your problem, I mean idea. You get to lead.”

Gabrielle turned on her side and cuddled close along the length of the warrior's body. “How's this?”

“Good. It's good.” Xena managed to utter despite her blood pounding at her temples. She was rigid as she fought back the desire to enfold the bard and kiss her.

“Well, do something.” Gabrielle insisted. “You have to help me figure this out.”

Xena put one arm around the bard's waist and the other under her neck and pulled her into an embrace, her fingers petting the bard's forehead. The images in her mind waved approvingly and returned to their amorous pursuits.

“I like this. This works.” Gabrielle snuggled. She placed her arm on Xena's tunic and began to lightly stroke taut warrior abs.

Xena closed her eyes. The images in her mind were back at their love making and she could feel her center melting. Each stoke of the bard's hand increased her desire. Then she felt Gabrielle's leg move across her hips and she came very close to losing it. ‘ One, two, three, four… '

“What are you doing, Xena?” Gabrielle asked the motionless warrior. “It's your move.”

“Counting.” Said Xena. “I'm just counting in my head.” ‘ Five, six, seven… ' It was the only distraction she could think of.

“Okay, you keep track of the steps involved.” Gabrielle turned her head up so that they were face to face less than an inch between them. “But I need you to focus, Xena. We're at step four. Come on, play along with me.”

Xena could feel the bard's breath on her lips and knew that if she just raised her head slightly she could place a kiss on that inviting mouth. She knew it was her turn to act, but it was almost too much. ‘ Eight, nine ten,… ' She raised her head and turned slightly delivering a quick kiss to the bard's cheek.

“Okay, that was good. Only don't you think it needs to be an actual kiss?” Gabrielle asked, then pressed her lips against Xena's and felt the kiss prolong as the warrior's hand pressed the bard's head closer. She felt a fire spread through her as Xena moved her leg between the bard's and pressed against her center. Then she felt strong arms lift her and pulled her atop the moaning warrior. Their lips remained locked in a kiss and Gabrielle parted hers to allow the warrior's tongue to explore. Her heart raced and she began to move her center against the warrior's toned thigh.

“We shouldn't have skipped step three.” She took a breath and whispered.

Xena's hands roamed the bard's sides. “What was step three?” The warrior asked softly and began to unlace the BGSB.

Gabrielle drew in a breath as the Xena removed the garment and toss it aside. “That was step three.” The bard said arching her back as the warrior's hands enfolded her breasts.

But who's counting. ' Abandoning the distraction and the images busy in her head, Xena focused on the comely bard atop her, then beneath her as she reversed their positions in a swift, smooth motion. Her knee against the bard's center and her weight on her hands, she looked down into the wide green eyes and saw desire born of love. “I believe the next move is yours.” She said with a crooked smile. “Don't tell me things are still fuzzy.”

Gabrielle helped the warrior shed her tunic along with her own skirt and undies. Then she yielded to the warrior's lead and learned the answers she had sought. Xena was tender as she made love to the young woman, reading her responses and producing sensations Gabrielle had never imagined. It was like a dance, the bard thought as her body moved in rhythm to each touch and kiss. It was bliss, the feel of warm skin against her skin and the wondrous sensations of being entered and stroked. Then it was an explosion with waves of pleasure coursing through her. She held the warrior, who found her own release moments later, and experienced a oneness and a love that even bard's have no words to describe.

The warrior cradled the bard in her arms, kissed her forehead and gazed into smiling green eyes that shined with the afterglow of love making. Gabrielle wanted her, she knew then, as a new kind of joy filled her heart. The doppelgangers returned to Xena's mind. They were similarly entwined and stirred from each other's embrace only long enough to give her a thumbs-up and an approving wink. She let them drift away as the current of her thoughts swirled around the real young woman in her arms. She would need fantasy no more.

“That was a great scroll.” Xena said after a while. “What do you say we read another, Dear Gabby?” She gently extricated herself for the bard's embrace and got up gathering her tunic.

The bard rose slowly and brushed her hair back with her fingers. She took a gown from her backpack and slipped it on. “I have to respond to that one first.” She gave the warrior a smile. “Now that I know the answer.”

Xena put a fresh piece of wood on the fire and banked it for the night. “What are you going to tell the women?”

“I'm going to tell them to dance.” Gabrielle replied.

Xena gathered the scrolls into a stack beside the fallen tree. “Where did all these come from?” She asked. “Did Aphrodite put a box in every village?”

“Oh, no. There's only one box.” Gabrielle explained. “The box is in the temple we visited when I talked to Aphrodite. All these scrolls came from there.”

Xena's happy after love making glow was instantly replaced by terror. She began opening the scrolls and reading the first few lines with warrior speed. ‘ It can't be here ,' she told herself to calm down. ‘ It mustn't be here. I didn't address it to Dear Gabby .' But the idea that she had put the note in that box in that temple still tortured her. ‘ What if Gabrielle were to read it? ' Xena's knees went weak.

She went through the entire stack of scrolls in minutes, trying to remember exactly how she had phrased the note. “ I didn't actually ask for a spell ,' she tried to reassure herself. ‘ I just wanted to know how to make one. ' She began to sweat as she remember that one weak moment, surround by the temple's graphic pictures of people making love, when she had asked for help to seduce the bard. ‘ I wouldn't have used it .' She knew, but would the bard believe her? That she couldn't predict.

She jogged over to retrieve the scrolls from Gabrielle's backpack. “These are all the scrolls deposited in the box that we saw in Aphrodite's temple, right?”

“As far as I know . But we don't have to return them. “ Gabrielle reiterated. “I write my answers on the back of the scroll and leave them here. Aphrodite will pick them up and return my answers to the right people.” She blew a wisp of hair from her forehead. “And then she brings me a fresh batch of scrolls.”

“Uh-huh.” Xena searched frantically through the scrolls. “What if we don't answer one?”

Gabrielle set her inkwell next to her on the fallen tree and began to pen an answer to a new scroll. “I intend to answer them all, but I can do this by myself, Xena. You've been an immense help,” she blushed. “Really. You can go back to your sword sharpening if you want.”

Xena continued to rummage through scroll after scroll at a hectic pace. The one she sought, the one she'd written, just might be there somewhere. The air sizzled and Aphrodite, in her trademarked pink negligee, appeared beside the warrior. “Looking for this?” She said holding up a scroll.

Xena tried to grab it, but Aphrodite giggled and kept it out of the warrior's reach. Xena gave her a pleading look.

“Dear Gabby needs to answer it before it can be returned.” The goddess whispered teasingly. “Those are the rules for all my mail. Even scrolls from desperate warrior princesses. As if there could be more than one.”

“Aphrodite, please. Have a heart.” Xena appealed in a barely discernable voice. “I didn't know Gabrielle was Dear Gabby. I didn't know there was a Dear Gabby at all.”

“What are you whispering about?” Gabrielle asked looking up from her work. “Oh, Aphrodite, I didn't hear you appear. I'm not nearly done yet. There are so many scrolls.” She stood to greet her friend. “And some of them take a bit of research to answer.” She grinned at the warrior who rolled her eyes.

“No need, little one. I'll finish them for you.” The goddess snapped her fingers and the scrolls around Gabrielle reappeared in the goddess' handbag. “I'm good at this love thing. It's my specialty. And some of the scrolls make quite stimulating reading.” She smiled a salacious smile and tapped the last remaining scroll in her hand. Xena gave her an imploring look.

“No chance, warrior babe.” Aphrodite tucked the scroll in her cleavage and turned to Gabrielle. “Dear Gabby, you've been such a busy bard. Have you leaned what you wanted to know?”

Gabrielle gave her a brilliant smile and took the warrior's hand. Xena, still nervous, gave her a crooked grin. Aphrodite laughed. “Hum. Just look at my favorite gal pals. I just love happy endings.”

She withdrew the scroll from her cleavage and handed it to Xena. “Here's a happy ending for you, warrior babe. “ She said and turned to Gabrielle. “It's for both of you, little one. But I'll let your warrior explain.” She winked. “She's shown a real aptitude for explaining things recently.” Then giggling as only Aphrodite could, she disappeared with a flash and a sizzle.

Gabrielle leaned her head against the warrior's shoulder. “Well, I guess you have to say she really is the goddess of love.” She looked at the scroll in Xena's hand and asked. “What does it say?”

The warrior took a deep breath and unrolled it slowly.

“It's blank.” The bard said surprised to see nothing written on the scroll. “How very odd.”

Xena pulled the bard close and prepared to kiss her. “It's not blank.” She said letting the scroll slip to the ground. “It says ‘Enjoy the dance'.” Understanding the scroll's meaning, Gabrielle whispered “Step One” as Xena's lips found hers.

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