Callisto's Challenge

by My OSage

Disclaimers: The characters of Xena: Warrior Princess do not belong to me. But once again I'm stepping in to relate what really happens after the final credits roll. And as farfetched as the idea of body switching may be, when the two bodies in question belong to Xena and Callisto……well, think of the possibilities……

References: to the episodes "Return of Callisto", "Intimate Stranger" and "Ten Little Warlords" from Season 2. If you aren't familiar with these episodes, this story may be somewhat confusing.

WARNING! The premise for this story involves a sexual deception. However the women participating do so by mutual consent, although for different reasons. As such, I don't think this storyline breaks my "no rape or sexual violence" rule. Of course, this story also contains, explicit, consensual sex between women for all the right reasons. And as usual, it contains romantic involvement between women. Because that's the way I like it. If this kind of thing is not to your liking, then go away. It's still a big Internet out there.

That night, when she woke me up, there was something very different about her. I could see a fire burning in her eyes. And she looked at me in a way that I had never seen her look at anyone. It was lascivious, carnal. It shocked me to see the lust and passion emanating from her. My response, however, was not nearly as surprising. I had wanted Xena for so long. My unfortunate marriage to Perdicus had only confirmed my feelings. As she reached for me, I knew I would deny her nothing…….

It had taken several days, but Callisto was finally back in Tartarus were she belonged. Unfortunately, after all the trials it took to put her there, she still possessed Xena's body. Gabrielle knew that the woman she would accompany now was Xena in heart, mind and soul. But she was still entrapped in Callisto's body. Gabrielle had almost killed her dearest companion before she understood the switch. It scared her how close she'd come to losing Xena no matter who's body she inhabited. But what unnerved her more was knowing she had to tell Xena about what had transpired the night the switch took place.

Gabrielle approached Xena as she was bridling Argo. "So this is it. You're just in there… stay?"

"Looks like it," the warrior replied. Sadness and sympathy filled the brown eyes that looked into the bard's face. "Gabrielle, this can't be easy for you. If you don't want to come with me, I understand."

"No, I….it's just…..Xena, I have to tell you something."

The bard was clearly nervous. Xena knew her appearance was unsettling to her friend. It broke her heart to have Gabrielle flinch whenever she looked at or touched her.

"What is it, Gabrielle?" questioned Xena. "After all we've been through, you know you can tell me anything."

Sitting down near their dying fire, Gabrielle gestured for the blonde warrior to join her. When she did, Gabrielle said, "It's about the night that Callisto switched bodies with you during your nightmares."

Xena watched Gabrielle closely. She felt an uneasiness come over her. After she had allowed Callisto to die in the sands, she'd had horrible nightmares of guilt. She would be jolted awake in the middle of the night to find Gabrielle holding her, soothing her. And while the bard had comforted her, she could offer no solace in return. She had avenged the murder of Gabrielle's husband. But it hadn't seemed to relieve the bard's despair. And then before she knew it, she was in Tartarus, living inside the body of her nemesis.

"That night, when you woke me up, Callisto had taken your place. I didn't know it until the next morning." Gabrielle faltered, obviously relating the evening's events was difficult for her. "You…she…."

Xena fought against the urge to enfold the bard in her arms. She wasn't sure she could encourage Gabrielle to confide in her while she was still in Callisto's body.

"Tell me, Gabrielle. Let me help you with this." The face was concerned, the brown eyes sincere.

Gabrielle took a deep breath and said. "You came to me that night, wanting to touch me. I…..we….."

"What?!" The blonde warrior stood abruptly, anger evident in her eyes and her stance. "What do you mean she touched you?!…….Are you telling me she raped you, Gabrielle?" Xena's fists clenched repeatedly as she started to pace. She wanted to kill Callisto a hundred times over.

"No, Xena!" Gabrielle stood and crossed over to the livid warrior. She put her hands on the blonde's shoulders and made her stop and look at her. "She didn't rape me, Xena."

Gabrielle could feel the anger dissipate from the warrior's body. But confusion soon took it's place. "Then what are you saying, Gabrielle?"

"There was no force, Xena," assured the bard. "When she came to me..…. I….I encouraged her."

"You…..why, Gabrielle?" Xena could hardly believe what she was hearing. "Why would you do that?"

The reason was so obvious to Gabrielle, but she knew that Xena was completely unaware. She sighed audibly. "Because I thought she was you."

"Because you thought….." Xena stared into the sea green eyes of the bard trying to comprehend Gabrielle's motives. Slowly she realized what the bard was saying. The impact of the revelation hit her like a slap in the face. It was not that she hadn't considered a sexual relationship with her lovely partner. She'd thought, dreamt and fantasized about it for months now. Callisto must have known how maneuvering Gabrielle into such a compromising position would affect the warrior.

"Oh Gabrielle." The pain in Xena's voice was palpable. "I'm so sorry. Callisto is so very clever at wounding me. Yet I'd always hoped she wouldn't hurt you to cause me pain. But look how wrong I've been about that…"

"Xena, it's alright. It wasn't like that." Gabrielle wanted to reassure Xena that she had not been mistreated. "It wasn't what I would've expected. But she didn't hurt me." Gabrielle dropped her gaze away from the warrior's eyes. "And because I thought you were loving me….. I wanted it…. enjoyed it. At least until the next morning when I discovered she'd deceived me."

"But you would've welcomed my advances, Gabrielle?" Xena asked incredulously.

"Yes….for a long time now," answered the bard. "I've come to realize that you're the person I'm meant to be with in this life. My marriage to Perdicus was a mistake. I know now that the people you care about can become targets to be used against you. I understand how hard it must be for you to let yourself love someone when you know you may not be there to protect them. But I have loved you since we met. I can't stop or change how I feel about you. And I would do anything in my power to bring you happiness."

Xena stood stunned at Gabrielle's confession. The bard's bravery in admitting her actions and feelings amazed her. She was the one who was supposed to be so courageous. But she knew that by baring her soul, Gabrielle had taken the first step in bridging the gap between them.

"She didn't hurt you?" she asked gently as she led the bard back to the fire and sat with her.

"No, she didn't." Gabrielle searched for the words to explain the experience. "She was intense, aggressive. But I think she wanted the encounter to be a success. She must've known that if she'd hurt me, I would've realized that she wasn't you." Gabrielle hesitated. "And I think that in a way, she was also issuing a challenge."

"What do you mean 'issuing a challenge'?"

Gabrielle wasn't sure that she should reveal what her instincts told her now. But she trusted Xena. And together they would deal with all the consequences of the deception. "Xena, please remember that I relished the idea that you were finally making love to me. That thought in itself was terribly exciting." The bard dropped her eyes again as she felt a blush overtake her features. "I think that Callisto wanted to satisfy me, please me. Because I believe that she wanted to put me in a position to compare you both, if you and I ever became intimate."

Xena studied the bard's face for a moment. Then she too dropped her gaze. 'How like Callisto to know how to damage me,' she thought. Her enemy had pleasured Gabrielle's body first. And now it would be impossible for Xena to make love with the bard without the specter of Callisto hanging over them. Xena put her face in her hands. "Damn her."

Gabrielle could feel the torment emanating from her warrior. The bowed blonde head, the slump of the slender shoulders may have been foreign to her. But the despair of others being hurt on her behalf, the pain of Callisto deceiving her dearest friend were clearly recognizable to Gabrielle. Callisto would've been unable to feel any such emotions. The woman sitting across from her might be in the body of someone she loathed. But amazingly she realized she loved her just as fiercely. The bard reached over and engulfed her warrior in loving arms.

When Xena felt Gabrielle's arms around her, she was somewhat surprised. 'How can she hold me in this body she must hate?' she asked herself. But she allowed herself to sink into the embrace, feeling instantly comforted.

"It doesn't matter to me who's body you're in, or who's touched me in the past." Gabrielle stroked Xena's hair as she spoke. "I love you, Xena. And if we ever become lovers, I'll cherish your touch above anyone else."

Xena smiled for the first time that evening. She stayed in Gabrielle's arms for a long time. Both women reconnecting after ordeals that would've shattered a lesser relationship.

In the morning, Joxer arrived with the apparent invitation to Callisto from Ares. That sent them on another escapade to rescue the displaced God of War. The experience had taught Gabrielle a lesson in uncontrollable rage. It had also demonstrated her love for and loyalty to the Warrior Princess. The heart of the woman she loved was clearly evident in the small blonde warrior. Gabrielle found herself desiring Xena despite her still being in Callisto's body. But then, astounding them both, Ares kept his word. And Gabrielle was once again face to face with Xena, Warrior Princess, in all her previous physical splendor.

The next day, having finally divested themselves of Joxer's company, Gabrielle and Xena finally found themselves alone. They'd not had a chance to further discuss Callisto's deception. But the event and it's ramifications had remained in the back of their minds. Making camp in uncharacteristic silence, both women were still lost in their own thoughts by evening.

Gabrielle looked up from her scrolls where she'd been recording their latest adventure. Seeing Xena sitting across from her, sharpening her sword, brought her a feeling of comfort and familiarity. This was her warrior, back to her old self. Or was she? Gabrielle watched Xena's hands for a moment gliding in a well-known pattern across her sword. It's rhythmic sound had often helped her story concentration or lulled her to sleep. Yet only a few nights ago, those same hands had engaged her in a completely different rhythm. It was a cadence to which her body had eagerly responded. But Xena knew nothing about that sweet seduction. Nor was she aware how badly Gabrielle wanted to feel it again.

Xena continued to tend to her sword. She was aware that Gabrielle was watching her. Actually the bard had been watching her on and off since she'd returned to her own body. What was her partner thinking? Xena couldn't quite understand the covert glances, or the unusual quiet. She wanted to ask. But she was uncertain whether or not she could handle the answer. Xena had been trying to tame her reaction to Callisto's apparent challenge ever since Gabrielle had told her about it. Reining in her rage at her enemy was exacting a tremendous toll on her self control. Even now, if she were to stop the constant motion against her sword, she knew her hands would be shaking.


The warrior looked up quickly, apprehension flashing briefly in her eyes, before it was just as quickly extinguished.

"What is it, Gabrielle?"

"I need to talk about that night with Callisto," the bard stated hopefully. "I don't want it to come between us." She watched a range of emotions register in the sky blue eyes of the warrior. Gabrielle could tell that Xena was in more turmoil then she was. At least she knew what she'd done and felt. And she also knew now what she wanted. It was a luxury Xena didn't share.

Xena seemed to reach some kind of decision in the war she was raging inside herself. "You know I'd do anything for you, Gabrielle. Whatever you need, I'm here."

For a few moments, Gabrielle just quietly stared at their fire. Where was she to start? There was so much she wanted Xena to understand about that night.

"I would have known….." she said finally.

"Known what, Gabrielle?"

"That it wasn't you…." The bard looked up at her companion. "If the switch hadn't been revealed the next morning, if I'd had even a moment to think clearly…" Gabrielle knew this accounting was hard for Xena to hear. But she wanted them to move past this incident. She tried again.

"I was overwhelmed by the situation, Xena. When I was with Callisto it was completely about power and possession. And it was as exciting as it was unexpected. But in time, I would've realized what was missing that night. As many differences as there are between you, there is one particular thing you do that Callisto couldn't possibly imitate."

Xena watched her partner carefully. "And what is that, Gabrielle?"

"You love," the bard said gently. "More specifically, you love me."

When the warrior didn't respond, Gabrielle continued. "There was no tenderness, Xena, no devotion. She knew I wanted you, she touched me, and my body responded. I can't apologize for that. But there was no opposite side to the coin. No real affection to balance the demand. I realize now why I didn't feel your love. She didn't know how to convey that emotion. And that fire I felt burning inside her wasn't even for me. It was all about you."

When the bard said no more, Xena got up and crossed over to her cherished friend. She sat down next to Gabrielle and embraced her. She held the bard for a long time, occasionally rocking her slowly.

Gabrielle melted into Xena's body. She rested her head against the supple leather covering full breasts. The smell of Xena's leathers was so familiar, as was the sound of the heart beating steadily underneath. This was the woman she had loved for so long. There could be no doubt. Xena's compassion, affection, and devotion soaked into her heart like rain into parched land.



The bard looked up at Xena. For a moment she studied the attractive face, the unbearably blue eyes. Her hand came up to softly stroke the warrior's smooth cheek. Then she brought her lips close to Xena's. And with only the slightest hesitation, she kissed her as gently as she knew how.

The warrior remained perfectly still. She felt the bard's soft lips connect with her own. Gabrielle explored tentatively, kissing her slowly, and even nibbling occasionally at her lips. Her fingertips brushed across the smooth skin of Xena's shoulders and arms. Gabrielle marveled at the silkiness that belied the strength and energy inherent in the muscles she stroked. Her touch paused as Xena brought her arms from around the bard's back, letting her hands glide down Gabrielle's sides until they rested on her hips.

Gabrielle stopped kissing Xena as she felt the warrior's hands descend her body. She could feel a warm, melting sensation beginning inside her. As much as she wanted to stay focused in the present, her body obviously still remembered the past.

Xena noticed the bard's momentary lapse. "Gabrielle, did she let you…."

"No!" Gabrielle spoke more abruptly than she intended. "No," she repeated in a softer tone. "She wouldn't allow me to enjoy your body, even though I wanted to so badly." She could see the empathy in Xena's eyes along with something a bit more amorous. She reached up and ran her fingers through the raven tresses. "Can I touch you first?"

"Yes." Xena closed her eyes at the feel of Gabrielle's caress. "Oh, yes….."

The bard reacted to the subtle consent by framing that beautiful face with her hands. She reached up and kissed the warrior with more ardor. And this time Xena responded. They shared kisses that heightened their mutual hunger. Xena let Gabrielle set the pace and direction. Relinquishing control to her companion would allow Gabrielle to initiate a seduction that was entirely of her own design. Xena's heart and body were Gabrielle's to command.

Gabrielle felt the warrior's surrender as surely as if Xena had spoken it aloud. She stood abruptly and pulled the warrior to her feet. The prospect of loving Xena thrilled her both physically and emotionally. Anxiously she started to remove Xena's clothing as well her own. Gabrielle didn't ask for assistance and Xena gave her none. The bard's usual grace deserted her as she struggled with belts and buckles. She stretched laces and ties as well as tore at fabric that would normally have given way easily. But she didn't notice or care. Finally they were both naked and sinking down onto their bedrolls.

Slipping behind Xena, Gabrielle intentionally maneuvered her into a prone position. She then covered the warrior with as much of her body as her smaller frame would allow. She lay on top of that exquisite back for a moment, running her hands up and down Xena's arms. Gabrielle wanted to merge into the woman lying beneath her. She completely understood why someone would want to inhabit such a magnificent structure. If she'd had the opportunity to possess the Warrior Princess, she would have taken it gladly.

Moving Xena's hair away from her neck, Gabrielle kissed the bared shoulder tenderly. Then she continued down the shoulder blade, to the ribs below. Sliding her body over Xena's stirred her desires. She purposely lifted herself slightly as she brushed her body back up the warrior's torso. Her nipples sensuously grazed Xena's skin from hip to shoulder. While the warrior's responding movements were involuntary, they were indicative of her growing arousal.

"Turn over, Xena," purred the bard close to Xena's ear.

As the warrior turned, Gabrielle slipped off her and waited at her side. Looking into those incredible eyes, the bard searched for the soul she'd so desperately wanted to touch that night. There was complete surrender and need looking back at her. This time it really was her warrior.

Gabrielle contemplated the body lying next to her. She ran her hand down the sculptured cheekbone and graceful neck. She wandered cross the smooth chest, over generous breasts, and a firm abdomen. Xena's hips couldn't seem to stay still during the bard's exploration. And Gabrielle kept looking back at those blue pools of love and desire.

Xena's control was not at it's strongest. The stimulating caresses of her body were exciting her unbearably. She struggled not to take control of the situation or to climax too soon. Yet with the most desirable woman she'd ever been intimate with examining her so sensually, that control was vanishing quickly.

For a brief moment, Gabrielle thought of Callisto. She had unintentionally taught Gabrielle how one woman could intimately touch another. She'd verified what Gabrielle had suspected since her wedding night. That she would never find sexual enjoyment with a man, no matter how much she might care about him. Most of all, Callisto had confirmed in Gabrielle's mind the belief that Xena was her chosen love, above all others. Beyond life itself, if that was what was required to be a part of the warrior's heart and soul. And the vixen had been almost right about the inevitable comparisons. Gabrielle was powerless to dismiss the resemblance inherent in making love with another woman. And yet in her mind, there could be no possible comparison to what she was feeling now.

The amazon bent her head down to the closest breast and kissed the relaxed nipple. She marveled at it's softness as she nuzzled against it. Her hand reached over to stroke the opposite breast. The sweet flesh molded itself into her palm as she took the first nipple into her mouth. In a moment, she felt Xena's hand cup the back of her head, gently holding Gabrielle to her breast. The warrior's other hand covered the bard's and followed the delightful fondling.

"hmm…..Gabrielle…'re making me feel so good…"

Gabrielle looked up from her administrations. Xena was watching her with eyes slightly unfocused. She could see the blaze starting to smolder in those eyes. But this was not a dangerous flame trying to consume her. It was a burning urgency to be loved.

Quickly the bard ascended to Xena's lips. She kissed her with an authority she hadn't known she possessed. Her tongue gained entrance and she made sure the warrior knew that she shared her needs. The warrior let Gabrielle's tongue play sensuously in her mouth. Occasionally she would catch the dancing muscle and suck on it in a quick, strong motion. This seemed to delight the bard and further push her seduction into motion.

When Xena felt Gabrielle move to her ear, she knew she was in trouble. If the bard started nibbling and talking in her ear, she would surely lose what little self control she had left. She was certain that her enchanting, inexperienced lover had no idea how wet and excited Xena already was.

"You're enjoying this, aren't you?" accused Xena.

"Immensely…...aren't you?"

"If you'd move that busy hand lower, Gabrielle, I won't have to answer that."

Xena could feel Gabrielle smiling against her neck. And indeed, the

co-operative bard reached down and caressed a smooth, muscled…..thigh.

"Like this?" The bard relished the playful teasing.

"Not quite….would you like me to show you?"

Gabrielle appeared to consider the offer for a moment, then said. "Not this time, warrior. I think I'd like to find my own way tonight." Then she pushed the strong legs apart and zeroed in on the source of Xena's heat and arousal. When she encountered the flooding at her warrior's center, she was truly stunned. She looked back up into the exquisite face of her lover.

"You're really mine, aren't you?" The question was serious.

"Completely." The response was equally heartfelt.

The sensual stroking of Gabrielle's fingers destroyed the last of Xena's willpower. Her hips tilted up and her leg muscles went rigid as an orgasm began to build in her body. If the bard was surprised by the immediate sweep of sensation going through the warrior, she didn't show it. She'd always been a quick steady and she played Xena's passion with an expertise that negated her inexperience. As Gabrielle brought Xena to the pinnacle of release, she invaded the unknown territory of the warrior's sexual core. The pleasuring, the penetration, the intimacy of the act shattered any remaining doubts Gabrielle may've had about giving herself to Xena. Nothing else in this world could compare to loving this woman.

Xena soared to one of the most searing climaxes she had ever achieved. She cried out to her lover, words and endearments she had never expressed before in the throes of passion. The bard's fingers felt like magic against her sex and inside her inner walls. They stroked, they fondled, they pushed her beyond her limits. And when she came, they held her tightly, owning her pleasure and her love. As she calmed, she had no words to accurately convey her true feelings.

"By the gods, Gabrielle, if I had known you could make me feel like that, I would've seduced you long ago."

The bard smiled down at the spent warrior. Her fingers remained resting inside Xena, stilled against the warrior's spasms. "If I had known we could have this," Gabrielle intimated the remarkable love making with a sweep of her eyes up and down Xena's delicious body. "You wouldn't have had to."

When Gabrielle finally released the warrior, they held each other for a long time. Xena felt she had to be very careful with the precious woman lying on top of her. She wanted to love her, to touch her in return. What would she be ready for tonight?

As if the bard could hear Xena's thoughts, Gabrielle lifted herself up and gazed into the gentle blue depths of the eyes below her.

"I know what you're thinking."

"Oh, I see. One night of magic with me and now you're a sorceress as well?"

Xena grinned up at the smug face above her.

"I want you to touch me." The bard's smile became soft and certain. "I want to feel you this time. For the first time."

Xena turned the willing young woman onto her back. She brought her hand around to cup the nape of the bard's neck. She kissed her gently, repeatedly. There were so many ways they would be together, so many things they could do to each other. Xena's mind was reeling with possibilities. She may not be able to show Gabrielle everything this first night. But she could certainly try.

"I love kissing you, Gabrielle. I can't believe how wonderful your skin tastes, how it feels against my lips."

The warrior was speaking from Gabrielle's neck, close to her ear. She wouldn't have thought that the normally stoic warrior would be so communicative when she made love. But to her amazement, Xena continued to murmured her desires, her ideas, her intentions. The hands that she knew to be talented in so many different situations, did not disappoint her. She could feel them wander over her body. They brushed softly across her breasts and down her waist and hips. Xena's reach was longer than Gabrielle's had been. And she could easily explore the bard's toned, muscled legs with her caresses. Gabrielle tried to focus on the path of the ardent hands. But she was having difficulty concentrating. Xena had moved to her breasts and had found better things to do with her mouth than delight Gabrielle with her words. She felt the warrior suck her breast into her mouth. The tongue that stroked her nipple into a hardened peak moved tantalizingly slow. But the bard's body was beginning to make demands of it's own. She arched against Xena's mouth and brought her own hand up to fondle her other breast.

Xena was amused at the bard's efforts to accelerate events toward completion.

"Are you in such a hurry, my sweet bard?" Xena asked as she released the nipple she'd been enjoying.

"It's just…. it's so much, Xena." The bard's eyes pleaded with Xena. She was beginning to ache with a need for the satisfaction only her lover could provide. "Please….."

"Ok……ok." Xena reached up and quickly kissed Gabrielle. "I'll give you everything you need." Then she parted the bard's legs and descended to lay between them. She spread the moist folds covering Gabrielle's sex and gave her a long ardent kiss there. The bard gasped at the sensation of Xena's lips against her delicate skin. And she was in no way prepared when the enthusiastic stroking of Xena's tongue began at her ravenous sexual center.

"By the gods, Xena!" exclaimed the overwhelmed bard. "She certainly didn't do that!" She hadn't meant to bring up her encounter with Callisto. But it shocked her that she was experiencing emotions and passions so far beyond the night that vixen had controlled her pleasure. She'd thought she was being loved by Xena then. And she was definitely being loved by Xena now. Why were the events so incredibly different?

Xena continued to work her 'many skills' on Gabrielle. Her tongue lavished attention between the bard's legs, while she added her fingers to the passionate adventure. They slipped inside the bard, searching for the right pressure and penetration to drive Gabrielle toward the finish she craved. Gabrielle's hips fell into a demanding rhythm. And Xena matched it with each lick of her tongue and with strokes of her fingers against the bard's warm, smooth inner walls. Then it was only moments before Gabrielle, after climbing to an incredible peak, shattered into a breathtaking release.

Xena climbed up and covered Gabrielle's body as she struggled to recover from the exquisite orgasm. The warrior held her lover tightly as Gabrielle tried to regain her composure and normal breathing. Xena smiled against the blonde head as the bard kept murmuring partial sentences into her chest. "By the gods….." and "I can't believe……" and "wherever did you learn……"

If Gabrielle could've written a story as passionate as what she had just experienced this evening with Xena, she knew she'd be as famous as the poet, Sappho. But there was no way that the bard could possibly capture on parchment or publicize the beauty of this night. If possessing someone's body felt like this, than she and Xena were truly one in heart, body and soul. As she calmed in Xena's arms, Gabrielle could not have been more content.

The two women spent the evening making love to each other, sharing their deepest emotions and imagining their future. By dawn, they were wrapped up in each other more closely than mere embraces could achieve. Neither of them remembered nor cared that Callisto's challenge had gone unanswered.

Callisto passed her hand back and forth over one of the thousands of flames that burned throughout Tartarus. Boredom was one of the worst things about being stuck in this dismal place. Suddenly she heard articulations normally uncharacteristic in this horrid abyss. 'What is that?' she wondered, tilting her head toward the new sound. Then she smirked. If she didn't know better, she would've guessed the sound was of a woman approaching orgasm. Surely no woman in her right mind would be getting it on with any of these pathetic losers. Yet that's what she could swear she was hearing. And as she cocked her head to try and pinpoint the sound, she heard another woman's voice join the first. The second voice was deeper, sexy and erotically coaxing the other woman toward her release. The urging was full of love and desire. And as Callisto began to recognize what she was listening to, the first woman's voice became clearly familiar. It was Gabrielle crying out her unconditional love for the warrior who was obviously thrilling both her body and soul.

"NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!" Callisto raged as she grasped the full meaning of the joined voices. And her cries of frustration echoed throughout the chambers of Tartarus.

Aphrodite snapped her fingers and the tunnel of sound that connected the two lovers to Callisto slammed shut. "So much for Callisto's challenge," quipped the Goddess of Love. 'Imagine that vixen thinking she had the means to come between Xena and Gabrielle,' fumed the female deity to herself. 'Hardly'. Aphrodite had personally sanctioned the loving relationship between the two mortals. And she hated it when some vindictive creature tried to interfere with her own design. So when the lovers started to make love again for the second time that night, (or was it the third time…. whatever) she had opened a passageway of sound to notify the blonde siren just how miserably she had failed to destroy that unique love.

She couldn't wait to get back to Olympus and inform Ares that she'd punished the traitor who'd played him like a jester. Of course she'd also re-enforced the union between Xena and Gabrielle. Which would put the Warrior Princess securely out of his reach as long as she had one devoted Amazon Princess/Bard at her side. And that would definitely piss her brother off. Well, maybe she would just leave that last part out….for now.

The first fingers of light woke Xena slowly the next morning. She lay on her back without opening her eyes and sensed her surroundings. Normally she would awaken to find Gabrielle sleeping close by, fully clothed. But today she could feel the pleasant, light weight of her naked lover wrapped securely in her arms. Xena nestled her cheek against the smooth forehead and blonde hair. She could feel the bard's soft breathing caress her throat. What an incredible night they'd just spent together. It would appear that they'd finally found a physical activity in which they were equally matched. Memories of their passionate love making flashed through her mind and she could feel herself grin.

"You're smiling…." announced a sleepy voice.

In response, Xena turned and kissed the bard's forehead.

"Yeah, I am. By the gods, Gabrielle…….I do love a challenge."

Gabrielle froze mid kiss at Xena's neck. She pushed herself up and searched the warrior's face.

"You were thinking of Callisto last night?" Gabrielle was stunned. But she didn't know if she had the right to be disappointed and hurt.

"Callisto…?" Xena seemed puzzled. "Uh…no, Gabrielle. Actually, I was thinking of that third round when you wanted me to……"

"Oh." Gabrielle blushed a furious shade of red and immediately dropped her eyes away from her amused partner. She recalled vividly the last time they'd made love. She had asked her warrior to do several things to her, all at the same time. And Xena had been able to accommodate her……..splendidly.

"Did you?" Xena asked tentatively. "…..think about her?"

Gabrielle looked back at Xena's concerned face. She had to admit when they'd first gravitated toward each other, the challenge had come to mind. Callisto had been the catalyst that allowed them to alter their relationship to include sexual expression. Clearly this had not been Callisto's intent. But because of her interference, they were lovers today. Whether they would've been intimate now or in the future without the challenge, she couldn't say.

She brushed her fingers feather light against Xena's cheek and said truthfully. "Once I had you in my arms, Xena, there simply was no room for anyone else."

Gabrielle kissed the warrior gently, then lay back down into the comfort of Xena's embrace. "Wanna go for round four?" she asked innocently as she nibbled at the soft skin under Xena's jaw line.

"Gabrielle!" Xena groaned good-naturedly. "I can barely move now!"

The bard smiled as she kissed her way up to Xena's ear. "Well then, I'd love the chance to completely incapacitate you."

As her fingers started a slow dance down Xena's body, Gabrielle assessed her incredible good fortune. She felt as if she'd been granted a portion of Xena's spirit to carry in her heart. The bond they'd made through their intimacies forged a connection that would be forever strong. And no matter what they would face in the future, she would always have Xena's love imbedded in her soul. And where Xena's love was concerned, no one… one would ever be able to fool her again.


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