Morning at the Baths

By Phineas Redux



Summary:— Gabrielle leads Xena a merry dance through the largest Sports and Pleasure complex in the known world – The Baths of Trajan in Rome. Beware - there are multiple scenes of full nudity of both sexes throughout this story, though all done in the best possible taste.

Note:— I am aware of the fact that the Baths of Trajan post-date the usual ‘Xena’ chronology, but there is such a thing as artistic licence—and Xena’s timeline is so confused, anyway! Although holding generally to the plan and design of the actual Baths, I have simplified the lay-out and exaggerated certain aspects for dramatic effect and story necessity.

Disclaimer:— MCA/Universal/RenPics own all copyrights to everything related to ‘Xena: Warrior Princess’ and I have no rights to them.


The Baths of Trajan in Rome were built on the grand scale, being the largest building complex in the known world to date. They allowing the citizens of Rome, for a laughably small fee – one as, about 1/16th of a denarius – to spend the whole day luxuriating in fabulous surroundings attended by an army of servants and slaves present to do their every bidding. The place had been open for some years now, and so had become acclimatized to the needs and necessities of the moment; which is to say the many marble lined corridors and rooms of the main complex,—where 3 subsidiary water-pools were situated in separate Halls within the larger all-encompassing Thermae,—had been put to use for a variety of purposes all aimed at maximizing the pleasure of the customer: the natatio, the open-air pool of cool water, being placed outside in an enclosed colonnade just to the side of the main Hall.

These customers, as previously stated, were the ordinary citizens, politicians, aristocrats, military officers, and Senators of the City, all mingled together in hugger-mugger. Women too were included, originally on separate days, but nowadays at the same time as males; resulting in both sexes mingling in the pools, palestrae, and other areas without question or comment. The fact that everyone remained wholly naked during this intermingling and enjoyment of the various facilities having come to be a common understanding that no-one took any notice of from the moral point of view – if associating any Roman citizen of either sex, at this point in the Empire, with a moral point of view was not in itself an oxymoron.

Anyway, where were we? Ah, yes – Gabrielle, Queen of the Northern Amazons!

“Just as I expected!”

Xena, Warrior Princess of Amphipolis, not that anyone cared these days, had been wandering the dark candlelit corridors of the maze surrounding the main Hall for over a long clepsydra looking for her heartmate, and had finally struck gold. The small, open-sided room lay to the side of one of the lesser corridors, not to say that a great many customers didn’t wander past in either direction at every moment, and consisted of a small room-like chamber – one wall of which opened on the public thoroughfare, wherein a large stone table, almost an altar, took up the central space. On this the customer lay flat, still naked, while a masseuse worked on their bodies with oils, unguents, and a variety of flails, wooden rollers, small light whips meant to energise the skin, and hard pounding by the fists of the masseuse, all meant to ease those strained muscles.

Having found her prey Xena paused to examine the nature of her lover’s present treatment, casting evil glances at those passers-by who bumped into her from time to time.

“Well, he’s a man, as I dam’ expected!” This remark brought forth by the fact that on most occasions when the Amazon visited the complex she usually allowed a male masseuse to give her a long massage, much to the Princess’s consternation.

“They’re stronger, get down to all those inner muscles that need smoothing out.” Gabrielle generally replying to her partner’s criticisms. “Give an overall more capable treatment. Anyway, if ya pick the right time o’day they, the masseuses, are already so, er, played out from their earlier customers, you don’t need to bother about unwanted, ah, attentions or queries, so get the best of both worlds—a great massage without any needless physical attentions! Get with it, Xena! These are Modern Times, y’know—not the dry old days of Augustus! Live a little!”

Haarph!” Being the Princess’s usual reply to this feeble excuse; she often nowadays lost in wonder at the growing nature of her blonde gorgeous lover to embrace moral, and even sexual, attitudes she, the Princess, would have, and still did, cringe at.

“Found ya, at last, anyway. How long’ve ya been sprawled there, in view of everyone an’ their gran’mother, baby?”

Gabrielle idly turned her head, lying on her stomach as she was, to gaze out at the corridor while her masseuse did something complicated with both busy hands to her bare buttocks.

Ah, y’re there, lover. Where’ve ya been for the last clepsydra? Missing a good thing here; look, lie on the other table here, an’ Clovius’ll slap you around so good you’ll think you’re a new woman when he’s finished. Helius, get Clovius t’see t’my friend here, will ya?”

“Surely, ma’am – Clovius!”

A young man, absurdly young to Xena’s critical eye, popped his head round the curtained door of an inner chamber, looking rather flustered – he being naked too, and covered in sweat.

“Just finishing with a lady here, be with ya in half a clepsydra.”

“The ladies’, mostly the more mature, always like young Clovius,” Helius pausing in his administrations to Gabrielle’s butt to compliment his young student. “so full of energy, stayin’ power, an’, er, you know!”

Gods!” Xena in no mood for this form of relaxation. “No, thank you. Clovius can enjoy himself as much as he likes with whatever grandmother’s in there with him, don’t mind me.”

“Your loss, lover.” Gabrielle not put out in the least, as she turned over on her back so Helius could get to work on her front. “I took Clovius last week and, by the Gods, he did a splendid job. Even offered – ya know! But I turned him down; got’ta have limits somewhere, ya know!”

Great Hera’s —”

“Been t’the caldarium yet, lover?” Gabrielle’s mind already on an altogether more interesting matter.

“No, why?”

“—’cos that’s where I’ll be headin’ after this gorgeous massage.—hey, Helius, that tickles!”

“Sorry, ma’am, part o’the regime, y’know.” The masseuse’s hands criss-crossing the Amazon’s bare flesh like a musician their lyre strings. “Would you like me to—er? A little delicate, I know, but I’m used to such; purely professional, you understand. If your friend would like to take a stroll in the meantime—or she could have Clovius do similar for her?”

“No, thanks, Helius—not t’day, as it happens.” Gabrielle shading her definite refusal with this light repartee.

No!” The Princess’s response on the other hand far more vibrant, eyes opening wide, hand flicking mechanically to her right shoulder where, thankfully for everyone within range, her sword was not.

“Goin’ past the refreshment stalls on your way outside, darlin’?” Gabrielle again thinking of something important, as she wriggled gently under the ministrations of the man’s hands over her smooth golden flesh.

“Yeah, why?”

“Get a coupl’a slices of cooked meat an’ a hunk of bread for me, will ya. I’ll meet ya in the natatio palestra when Helius’s done with me. Oh, a flask of red wine too, OK?”

“Yeah, OK. Ya goin’ t’be long. Does he have t’caress ya quite so dam’ thoroughly, by the way? I’ve a good mind t’—”

Go, Xena—I’m enjoyin’ myself here—see ya at the palestra—go, gal!”

Oh, dam’mit!”


The natatio lay within a four-sided colonnade built on the side of the main building; in the centre was a large open-air marble-lined pool of clear water surrounded by a grassy lawn on all sides; the colonnade a shady half-open corridor lined with marble benches for the weary. At this time of day, late morning, there were few customers in residence, the afternoon and especially evening being the rush-time for activity throughout the huge complex. So Xena had the pool and much of the colonnade as her playground while she wandered around—feeling as naked as naked could be; which was curious for a woman well-used to swimming in rivers and lakes at every opportunity—and even not being much put-out by nudity in Public on occasion: but within the crowded area of the Baths she could never throw off a silly feeling of embarrassment amongst the otherwise uninterested multitudinous crowds.

Xena found a place on the bench under the colonnade from where she could see right along the long straight corridor leading out of the inner depths of the Thermae, so could spot her lover approaching from a distance when she finally did appear. But meantime there were other unwanted distractions and annoyances to be overcome. The Thermae as a whole, in all its complexity and convoluted corridors and rooms, had become over the years the appointed roaming place of various persons and individuals who were there merely on the lookout for activities of a purely physical and monetary nature. All sorts of scams or plain ordinary merchandising going forward along the near uncountable corridors and rooms; with other people, of both sexes, whose minds revolved wholly around the sexual, on a customer/seller basis. One of whom now sidled up to the Princess with merchandise of the most basic on her mind.

Xena glanced up—from examining and running her fingers over her right breast, the nipple of which was still a little tender from Gabrielle’s attentions the night previously—at the thirtyish looking woman, completely naked and so showing a body which most politely could only be described as well-aged, and sighed inwardly; a leather pouch on a long leather strap hanging by the woman’s side as only article of clothing, something inside this receptacle clinking metallically.

Hi’ya, lady!” the woman sitting close beside the warrior without the slightest encouragement. “Nice mornin’, ain’t it. I like it when there ain’t many folks around; more privacy for me—an’ you! Wan’na be a little friendly together; here, or in a nice little room I know back in the big Hall? Only two denarii, for you!”

Xena wondered for a moment if this was the perfect opportunity for her famous Death Stare, never known to have failed—but sighed again and smiled, if a trifle coldly, instead; Gabrielle’s influence coming to the fore when most required, apparently.

“Think not,—not in the mood. Waitin’ fer someone.”

Oh, that’s OK, I do doubles, or triples; all the same t’me.” The professional lady nodding understandably. “That’d be, oh, four denarii, o’course. Think we better go back in t’the room I was talkin’ about. Three gals goin’ at it out here would draw a crowd, y’know; not that I’m against Public exhibitions on occasion, though. Done all sorts of things in my time, y’know. Don’t think y’can shock me with anything, by the way. Tell me what ya want, whatever it is, an’ I’ll do it, no worries—just cost a little more for certain things, y’know.”

The Princess hadn’t blushed in over a decade, but now seemed a likely moment to break her habit; only a strong inner battle finally allowing her to overcome this retrograde slide.

“That’s very kind, sure, but I have other appointments to hand that won’t wait. Oh, look! Here comes my lov—my friend. Nice talkin’ t’ya, goodbye.”

If she thought this brush-off would be successful with such a hard-boiled opportunist as the woman by her side Xena found herself wholly defeated from the get-go. The woman simply glancing at the nearing Amazon and breaking into delighted approval without the least air of embarrassment.

Oh, what a gorgeous gal! She’s perfection! I just know she’ll want t’avail herself of my, er, aptitudes, too. Hallo! I’m Periwinkle! I’ve just been talkin’ with your dark friend here; gettin’ on famously! Talkin’ about, er, physical activities between us gals; she thinks you might wan’na join in? I got a nice room in the main complex where we can have as much privacy as ya want; or if ya jus’ wan’na do it here, that’s fine with me—I like doin’ it in Public too! What’d ya like? Two denarii for the usual, but for other things, two more. What’d ya like first?”

She echoing this question by blatantly reaching out an arm and gently stroking Gabrielle’s left flank from breast to hip with spread searching fingers. Xena nearly having an apoplectic fit on the spot as a result; Gabrielle only just averting disaster by giving her lover an icy glance whilst also smiling gently at the too pushy lady of the shadows—a duality only Gabrielle could bring off successfully.

“Thanks, but I’ve just had a massage that was more like an assault than anything else; I’m feelin’ a little delicate at the moment as a result—can I take a rain-check on your offer? Some other day, perhaps? I, an’ my friend here, come here often, y’know. Maybe see ya some other time?”

Shrugging her shoulders the woman rose to move off with a parting smile, in search of some other more pliable customer.

“OK, fair enough—look forward to it! See ya both later, then—‘bye!”


“Ya sound disappointed, lover!” Gabrielle sitting by her partner’s side with a wide grin. “Had something figured out between you an’ your friend, did ya, that included me in some convoluted manner? As long as it didn’t include too much pain I’d be up for almost anything, y’know! Have ya got enough money on ya, back in the apodyterium, t’have paid the gal, by the way? Hope ya didn’t think I’d be payin’ for everything?”


“Talkin’ about my massage,” Gabrielle taking up a point that hadn’t actually raised its head, at least in Xena’s mind. “Helius told me his friend Gordonius was coming to join him next week. He bein’ a famous masseuse from Lucania. Helius sayin’ he had hands twice the size of his an’ far stronger; perhaps I’d really enjoy a massage from him? Sounds good, think I’ll take up his offer next week, OK?”


“Don’t be such a glum-face, dear; it’s only a massage, meb’be a little more, er, delicate than usual, but I’m up for it: I have a much more open attitude t’these things than I used to, y’know. If he, Gordonius, gives me an, er, well, you know; well, why not? It’s only a bit of fun, after all. Think I’ll like it!”

I dam’ well won’t!” Xena making plain her opposition. “Let it happen, an’ the Baths’ll be swimmin’ in blood, not water, is all, dear!”

Oh, don’t be so silly, lady!” Gabrielle literally not taking no for an answer, with an accompanying scowl. “A massage is only a massage, even if its as personal as personal can get. Fancy, the more I look forward to it, the greater I’ll enjoy it. Just a warnin’ lover, get between me an’ my enjoyment, an’ I’ll rain down Amazon fury on ya that’ll make ya sit up an’ take notice, before ya lose consciousness, that is, OK?”


“If ya think, lover.” Gabrielle comprehensively refusing to be threatened or defeated on any level. “Where’s my meat an’ wine?”

“Haven’t bought it yet.”

“So much for pre-planning, with a Warrior Princess!” The Amazon shaking her head sadly. “I’m gon’na take a swift dip here, in the natatio, anyway; then we can go across t’the open lawns on the south side, t’mingle with the crowd. Comin’?”

“I suppose.” Xena rising wearily. “Only t’keep ya out of any more trouble, mind.”

“You’re so strict an’ tight-laced!” Gabrielle laughing sweetly as she took her lover’s hand to cross to the edge of the pool. “Come on, bet I reach the other side before you!”

Accompanying this with a gentle push against the unprotected flank of the Warrior Gabrielle darted forward, scything into the water like a dolphin the waves, leaving a spray of water-drops behind.

“What a gal!”

Xena diving in to follow the blonde, her arms raising waves as she cut through the water like a hungry shark.


The open ground surrounding the buildings of the Baths couldn’t be called a palestra in the ordinary sense of the term, being far too large for this; more an area of smooth wide lawns with a few small trees for shade within the high perimeter wall where customers, still wholly naked of course, could enjoy fresh air and sunshine. This area being used to its fullest by the crowds who had just experienced the rather tiring nature of the activities within the Baths and now looking for some well-deserved relaxation before putting on their clothes and going home.

Although still just late morning, within a couple of large clepsydras of midday, there was already quite a large gathering of small groups or couples wandering around talking amongst themselves. Here friends or relatives met to enjoy a period of chat and exchange of gossip in comfortable surroundings; and so it happened with the worthy Princess and her Amazon companion. Hardly had they strolled out onto the wide open lawn on the south side than they were approached by a group of three men—two mature, one still in his twenties.

Ho, Xena—Gabrielle! Well met!” The man who spoke clearly the leader of the trio, his long grey beard giving him the authoritative nature of a Senator, which in fact he was. “Did not expect to meet you two so early in the day; thought you were both birds of the evening?”

Xena, not being a mistress of light repartee, left her partner to reply for both.

“We thought a little early exercise would set us up for the day, Claudius.” Gabrielle taking the lead with consummate ease. “How are you today? Have we met your friends before?”

Both older naked men had complete control of themselves, having long been accustomed to their present surroundings; but the younger, while showing an air of self-acclaimed superiority, was much more—physically—responsive to meeting two beautiful women; a situation which, occurring far more commonly than one would imagine, customers at the Baths had come to more or less ignore as being just one of those things, taking such a situation as it was. The youth, however, after a close scrutiny of the two women, made no attempt to hide his physical response, to the absolute fullest. Gabrielle appeared to take no notice, while Xena, after one pitying glance at the youth’s loins, frowned darkly harbouring thoughts of rapine, destruction, and general mayhem that would have made a rampaging Assyrian jealous. It was, of course, Gabrielle who saved the day yet again.

“Timotheus of Sparta, and your son, Hadrianus? Nice to meet you both.” She, like a true Lady, also wholly ignoring the youth’s so obvious physical response to her presence. “Nice to meet you both. Here in Rome for any particular reason, if I may ask?”

One thing, much commented on by those who took note of such things, about men and women mingling socially whilst in a state of nature at the Baths was the propensity for underlying personality characteristics to surface along with the majority of a person’s skin. To wit, people’s physical desires came to the fore on a rather more frequent basis than one would think polite or necessary in company. Hadrianus, impelled by one knew not what underlying impulses, being a perfect example as he sidled up to the Amazon Queen, grinning in what he obviously thought a roguish manner and quietly, but with the aspect of a Master examining one of his house slaves, ran his hand up and down her front from hip to collarbone, only just avoiding glancing across her left breast in the process.

To say that Xena was offended would be the understatement of the century; World War on a scale never felt before, even by the Empire, was teetering on the edge of wholesale Oblivion when Gabrielle, yet again, saved the World by her calm recognition of the situation. Putting out one hand to restrain the seething animal by her side she inclined her head towards the too-ambitious youth, giving him a faint but still polite sneer.

“Hadrianus, we may have been introduced, but there are limits. Stand back, boy, you’re crowdin’ me, thanks.”

Ha-ha!” He not put out in the slightest, taking her rebuttal of his advances with another wider smile, that was more of a snicker of enjoyment at the level of discomfort he had produced. “Certainly; sorry, ma’am. Perhaps we can become more personally acquainted some other time, in more salubrious circumstances; at one of my Pater’s Symposiums, perhaps?”

Timotheus, all this time, had been observing the failure of his son to live up to the most basic of social etiquette standards with the air of a proud father overseeing his wayward but overall excellently behaved offspring. It was left to Claudius to try and soothe savage feelings; he obviously having taken note of Xena’s reaction, if not Gabrielle’s.

“My friends are just come from Lepidium in the north, y’know. Wonderful farming country up that way; was thinking of buying a villa and land there myself. Wonder if you might offer some advice on the matter?”

Gabrielle instantly perked up at this, turning to her still fuming partner with a light smile.

“Xena used t’be a farmer once, didn’t you, dear?”

The Princess, hardly appeased, scowled darkly.

“Saved a small village there from a giant once, if that counts.”

Uumph!” Claudius seeing clearly that conversation was going to be a trifle forced if he continued the present association. “Well, Timotheus, Hadrianus and I must dash, we have a meeting with a group of Senators at the Forum in a clepsydra or two. Goodbye for the present; come, friends.”

A moment later they were lost in the growing crowds now emptying from the main Baths to enjoy the midday warmth in the open.

“T’Tartarus with him, an’ his creepy son!”

Oh, just a youth with too much—you know!” Gabrielle ever accepting of people’s least nice propensities. “He’ll grow out of it.”

“If someone allows him the opportunity t’do so.” The Warrior speaking with an intent that hardly took any deciphering.

“Come on, lady.” Gabrielle turning back to the entrance to the Baths. “I want t’swim in the caldarium; ease my aching joints before we go back t’the Inn. No, wait; we’ll hit the snack stalls in the secondary corridor in the left wing first; my appetite’s been sparked by talkin’ with all these nice people.”

Nice people? When was this?” But the Amazon was already nearly half a stade ahead of the vacillating Warrior. “Hey! Wait fer me, can’t ya!”


It would hardly be imagined that the mere eating of a hunk of bread and a slice of meat, accompanied by a small flask of wine, could cause physical combat, but when the women hove up in the corridor of their choice, lined by a multitude of snack stalls, one was already in progress. Two men, wholly nude, were in the process of trying to knock each other into far Boeotia in Greece, accompanied by a flow of curses which were as educational as they were derogatory. Xena and Gabrielle having to step in as Nature bound. One hit from the Princess did for the big swarthy man, while Gabrielle sorted out the slightly lesser opponent with a slick over the shoulder throw learned from her Amazon teachers—both men hitting the flagstone floor at the same time—job done.

“Needed the exercise!” From a much more relaxed Warrior now she had been able to vent most of her pent up anxiety.

“Feel hungrier than ever.” Gabrielle smiling in her turn. “Look, you go over t’the wine counter—two small flagons of white, please. I’ll get the food—beef or pork?”

“Beef, of course.”

“Of course.”

Within a space of time hardly long enough to be measured, even by Euclid, the women were sitting comfortably at a nearby bench-table, digging into their vittals like starving sailors.

“What’s this yellow stuff spread over the beef?”

“Mustard, dear; you must know what mustard is, surely?”

“Yeah-yeah, suppose.” The Princess too intent on eating to pursue her query. “Nice, anyway.”

The trouble with wine is that, while warming the heart and soothing the anxious spirit, it also heats the loins of those in need of or appreciating such an outcome. Standing to the side of the table where the women were partaking of their repast were two men. One young, lithe, and handsome; the other dark-skinned, rather overweight, hairy across every inch of his body, and far more than half-seas over. He it was who first spotted Xena, her own dark skin and lusciously perfect form instantly ringing a bell in the man’s mind—or what passed for such on a good day, anyway.

Turning towards the women it could be seen, amongst the spreading undergrowth, he was showing his appreciation of so much nearby beauty in a wholly other form too; a position of which he seemed inappropriately proud, considering the amount of wine he already seemed to have imbibed.

“Say, woman, you look the type! I knows a nice dark room, not so far off; come on, let’s get over there an’ do it. What’s yer price? Gim’me yer hand, hetaira!”

The crash as his unconscious body hit the now becoming crowded flagstones didn’t cause the least reaction in the several other customers eating their lunches nearby; this sort of scene obviously being too common for much comment.

The accompanying youth, having decided that distance was an appreciable advantage in the circumstances, had disappeared with almost magical speed, leaving the women to contemplate Society on their own once more.

“Dam’ drunks!” Xena not impressed in the least. “If there’s one thing I loath, it’s a dam’ drunk!”

“Well, there ya go!” Gabrielle too intent on her own lunch to take much notice of her partner’s tribulations.

Half a clepsydra later they were once more treading the corridors of the vast complex, sated to their teeth with both wine and food.


“D’ya mind, darlin’?”

“Sorry, too full, can’t help it.”

“Where’re we headin’, anyway? This ain’t the way out.”

“The caldarium, I want a soothing hot swim t’relax after a hearty meal.”

Oh, do ya?” The Princess refusing to be soothed by this explanation. “Must ya? Can’t we just get dressed an’ hit the streets?”

“Not till after I’ve had my swim, dear.”

Oh, if ya must!”


The caldarium had the good quality of being the smallest of the three internal pools within the Baths complex; this because it was the one heated to the highest level, by underground boilers. The temperature was kept at a hot level, without being too scalding; the three pools being scaled to varying temperatures for the good of the swimmers—the frigidarium being the coldest, the tepidarium warmer, the caldarium hottest of all—they ranging in size as a direct result, frigidarium largest, tepidarium middle-sized, caldarium smallest; all contained within the over-arching curved roof of the  main Baths with its multitudinous corridors connecting the interior maze of rooms, Halls, and pools.

In walking to their destination Xena had the accompanying pleasure of striding along a few paces behind her lover, thereby viewing the Amazon in all her naked glory. Gabrielle had short blonde hair the colour of pale wheat, her shoulders were muscled like a wrestler’s, her waist astonishingly small while her hips curved in the most delightful manner into buttocks as rounded and smooth as rocks on the seashore. Her legs were strong enough to be the envy of runners at the Games, while her manner of walking—a kind of shimmying stroll that made her sway like a stalk of grass in a light Spring breeze, bare feet padding on the cold stone floor, made the Princess dry-mouthed with desire.

“Ya ever gon’na catch up, dear?” Gabrielle turning her head slightly to toss this enquiry back over her shoulder as they strode down yet another crowded corridor.

“Nah, I’m easy.”

“Suit yourself.”

On entering the small Hall containing the heated pool Xena was once again less than pleased to find a group of young men already in residence, happily laughing and joking as they splashed each other at one end of the small pool, steam vapor rising all round making the inmates sweat immediately on entering.

Gods, it’s dam’ hot in here. Sure ya wan’na swim?”

“Yeah, ‘course.” Gabrielle rather invigorated than otherwise, laughing herself at the antics of the young men not so far off. “You comin’ in, too?”

“Nah, I’ll sit this one out, enjoy yourself.”

Xena had hardly uttered this encouraging comment when she wished she could take it back, every word. Gabrielle had scythed into the pool in her usual swift manner, like a salmon in a river, heading immediately over to the playing men, to the Princess’s disappointment.

Gods, Gabrielle an’ men these days! What’s gotten in’ta her recently?”

As if to deliberately annoy, the Amazon rose to the surface beside the playing men, joining in their pranks and antics without the least embarrassment; they on their part accepting the presence of the young blonde with gusto into their activities.

While all this unashamed fun was going forward Xena stood against the near wall of the Hall, sweat pouring down her body, scratching her left toes on the rough marble of the floor, preparing plans of revenge for actions she could hardly as yet annunciate herself, but which she felt absurdly strongly; all the while Gabrielle’s screams of joy and roars of laughter hitting her like Amazon arrows straight to her heart.

Oh, sh-t!” She finally giving in to desire. “Got’ta save her from herself, again!”

With which ambiguous statement she too darted into the water, on what she sincerely took to be a mission of mercy.


While customers of the Baths generally took their physical exercise outside on the wide lawns encircling the complex there was also a large subsidiary Hall which, whatever its original purpose, had now long been taken over as a meeting-place for folk to chat and gossip under a roof. The noise created thereby, because of the high curved roof and marble walls, was extraordinary, even when few people were there to create the noise. The echo being virtually permanent and annoyingly long-lasting however low one tried to whisper.

“What was that?” Xena, on their arrival there after Gabrielle’s sporting with far too many men for the Princess’s comfort back in the caldarium, having missed whatever it was her partner had addressed to her. “Speak up, will ya, quit whisperin’.”

“I said, how about another flagon of wine? There’s a wine stand over there in the far corner.”

“Are ya determined ter get sozzled a’fore we leave, or what?”

“Idiot! One flagon of white; hurry up, I’m thirsty after the caldarium an’ playin’ with those great lads.”

Xena did as ordered, though with a frown that would have made the Medusa take stock of her health if she had experienced it.

“Here ya are, lady.” Xena returning in a not much improved mood. “One flagon, an’ a goblet, I had t’pay two as’s fer, on account; jus’ remember t’take it back before we leave, I get an as back if so.”

“Sure, remind me before we leave, doll.”


Hallo, there!” This from a middle-aged man with an incipient beard though otherwise hairless from top to toe, an unusual combination in Rome at this period. “I’m Flavius, a barber; I was going to ask if you might require my skills to heighten your, ah, sense of personal well-being, but I see you are already so accoutered, if I may be allowed the term.”

He unashamedly looking nowhere near their flowing locks as he spoke; indeed, taking rather more interest in Gabrielle’s particular region somewhere else than the Princess found acceptable.

“How we look down there ain’t anybody’s business but ours.” She laying down the Law with strict precision. “No, thanks, on your way.”

The man smiled politely, but beat a hasty retreat all the same, clearly having a strong feeling for his own safety.

“Did ya have t’be so sharp?” Gabrielle shrugging unconcernedly as they mingled further with the moving crowd around them. “Just ‘cause I’m bare there, an’ you have that sweet line above, er, above—well, there ya are!”

“Some people are too inquisitive fer their own good!” The Princess, as always, taking no prisoners.

Gabrielle was, however, reminded by the incident of something she had seen some short while ago.

“Saw, about half a clepsydra ago, a woman who was sporting various piercings, some, ah, there!”


“Piercings, metal pins an’ rings, in her —”

“I get the idea!” Xena finding herself teetering nearer to the crumbling edge of a feeling of discomfiture than she had ever experienced since childhood. “Perhaps we can change the subject? An’ don’’t fer a moment say you’re interested in that sort of thing—the answer’s no, all the way; an’ I’ll die opposin’ the least attempt you make t’do otherwise, lady, so there.”

“Only a thought, dear.” Gabrielle trying unsuccessfully to conceal her smile, she of course never having remotely harboured any such idea from the get-go. “Mmm, this wine’s good; want a sip?”

“Nah, I’m fine; when’re we leavin’? Feel we’ve been here all dam’ week; think I’m about t’catch a chill.”

“Look,” Gabrielle ignoring this plaint with Royal disregard. “there’s Sylvia over there—come on!”

The Lady in question was wife to a wealthy member of the Oligarch class, as he would have been referred to back in Greece; and so had immense power in Society, she being one of the leaders and prime movers of Roman polite Society. She clasping Gabrielle tightly as an old and dear friend; Xena, a little less enthusiastically.

“You must both come to my latest soirée, you know, in three days time; at my villa on the Esquiline Hill, you know the place. Small and ungainly, but mine own.”

This last spoken in a simper which grated on Xena’s nerves, while Gabrielle, immune to these sort of ambiences, merely smiled in composed agreement.

“Clothes, or no?” The Amazon referring to a well-known aspect of the powerful ladies social habits while at home.

“Without, of course!” Sylvia laughing like a happy turtle-dove. “Why anyone needs to go about swathed in clothes all day I’ll never understand. My habit, of nudity almost everywhere, is so much more—aesthetic, don’t you both think?”

The Princess didn’t; but the Queen, of course, did.

“Why not, yeah!” Gabrielle grinning from ear to delicate ear, much to Xena’s consternation. “Do so myself most o’the time, back in Amazon camp. We’ll both be there for sure, naked as newborn chicks; count on us!”

When the lady had left, disappearing in the crowd of other nude people all round, Xena prepared to be picky.

“This habit you’ve developed recently, of accepting all kinds’a outré invitations, without consulting someone dam’ close, I hope, t’your heart? What I mean is—”

Oh-Oh, look who’s approaching?”

Stopped in her tracks Xena looked up to observe a tall, athletic bodied man in his early forties heading straight for them with a cheesy grin on his almost, but not quite, handsome features.

Ho, Gnaeus, how are you?” The Amazon stepping in first with a cheerful welcome.

The man, though naked, was well in control of his, ah, physical being showing nothing untoward in his present, uum, appearance; he being, if nothing else, well-bred in the extreme and knowing his place in every possible scenario.

“Glad to see you both.” He speaking in a deep tone for all his lithe physique. “Just thought you both, especially you Gabrielle, might wish to attend a symposium I’m giving in four days time, in the evening, in the Greek manner for a few chosen friends? There’ll be fine wines, gorgeous food, some acrobats and dancers—and, as to the latter, I wonder if I might impose on yourself, Gabrielle, to dance for my friends’ entertainment. I so well remember the last time you did so, a month since. Senator Flavius said, afterwards, he had not seen such beauty in motion from a nude dancer in years.”

Gabrielle, much to Xena’s dismay, simpered like a little girl at this unexpected compliment.

“Well, after that I can hardly refuse! Yeah, we’ll both be there, and I’ll happily dance for you and your friends again.”

“Too kind; but I really must dash, my time is not my own these days, you know. Goodbye, till Thor’s evening.”

“Goodbye!” Gabrielle grinning as happily as a ferret in front of a sleeping rabbit.

Xena was less than pleased.

“Gabrielle! You’ve just gone and done it again!”

“Done what, baby? Oh, the wine flagon’s empty! Do you suppose—”

“No, you’ve had far more than enough wine t’day. This mornin’, I should say. Come on, lets head back t’the apodyterium an’ get back in’ta our togs.”

“Not so fast, Warrior.” Gabrielle not at all in the mood to be pushed around. “It’s only just past midday, I wan’na mingle for a while yet; all sorts’a friends here t’day, who’s t’say who we might yet meet? This way, think I see someone over there.”

And indeed she had spotted yet another acquaintance, Xena accepting this further defeat as well as one could expect.

“Quintus Atianus! Well met!” Gabrielle exuding rather more warmth than the Princess felt was required. “So happy to meet you; Xena was just talking about you, weren’t you, dear?”

Caught short, and not being able to construct an adequate reply off the cuff, Xena just stood dumb with a silly look on her face.

“Don’t mind her,” Gabrielle making it up as she went along. “it’s the warmth of the calderium where we’ve just been swimming; hot water goes t’her head, y’know. She’ll be alright when we go out to the lawns, again.”

Quintus was a rich man, though not excessively wealthy like some, unmarried, and could therefore do much as he pleased—and what pleased him most of all was women, frequently in numbers.

“A fair meeting indeed!” He smiling in a manner he sincerely thought of as sexy beyond compare. “I was just wondering what, or who, I could spend the afternoon with. I was thinking of going out into the Campagna to sit by the side of whatever stream and idle the hours away, in gentle talk, swimming, and perhaps other activities we could all three join in, if you catch my meaning? Something like the expedition we went on six weeks ago; though then you, Gabrielle, didn’t let me proceed as far as I thought you might! Perhaps today?”

Xena, who knew exactly how far he wanted to proceed, and in which direction, was having none of it, making her resolution plain from the start.

“I think not, Quintus; after all—”

“After all, I think it’s a great idea!” Gabrielle jumping in gleefully, her innate naivety overcoming any lingering worry over minor etiquette. “Swimming in a cool pool out in the country! I love the idea; come on, Princess, say you’ll come too? And you know how much Quintus likes to fool around; we’ll have loads of fun!”

It was exactly this likelihood of fun taking place unrestrained by any known moral worth that most worried the anxious Princess; but, she and her heartmate were two, and Quintus, randy as he was, was only one. What were the chances? Xena finally made her mind up, though with a great deal of mental weariness.

Oh, OK; suppose it might be enjoyable, meb’be!”

“Great, will we come to your villa this afternoon, Quintus?” Gabrielle already eager for the fray.

“Yes, please.” He, seeing the success of all his plans rapidly approaching in the near future, already fantasizing in his mind, what there was of such, about doing, er, it, with both Gabrielle and the renowned Warrior Princess at the same time. “I’ll have horses, and saddle-bags stuffed with food and wine for all three of us. Can’t wait, see you both at my house in, say, four clepsydra’s?”

“Fine, thanks!” Gabrielle nodding agreement as if invited on an Amazon spree instead of a randy man’s perfect dream outcome, little as she realised.

“Gabs, we could be making a big mistake.”

“On a picnic with one man? Get real, baby.”

“And will ya stop talkin’ in that childish street lingo nobody other than ten year old kids understands?”

Gabrielle shook her head.

“You know you often sound like a Boeotian farmer in the big city for a day once a year.”

Xena paused, non-plussed.


“Forget it—oh, here’s Antoninus. Good-day!”

Xena frowned wearily once again. Antoninus was a young aspiring sculptor who produced statues of naked women, of which presently Gabrielle was in the process of posing for one such, again much to Xena’s chagrin; but as it was destined for the square in a large Amazon village, what could she say against it!

The young artist, somewhere in his late twenties, seemed pre-occupied.

Oh, hallo! Coming for another session tomorrow?”

“Yes, sure, no problem.” Gabrielle grinning in reply. “Xena’s busy elsewhere tomorrow, but I’ll be there ready an’ willing. Did you put up a curtain over that window in your studio, like I asked. I don’t mind the customers and idlers wanderin’ through as I pose, but the draft nearly gave me a chill last week.”

“Yes, seen to; someone else complained, so I had to get it fixed; you’ll be as comfortable as a bug in a bed tomorrow, dear.”

“See ya then, Antoninus, ‘bye.”

Another point of order had meanwhile suggested itself to the hapless Warrior Princess.

“Just a mere thought, lover, but is there anywhere, anywhere at all in the next few days where either one of us, but mainly you, will actually be wearing any clothes at all—just askin’s all?”

“Fool, all friends together, remember?”

Xena wasn’t so sure, by a wide margin, but being only a lowly Warrior Princess what could she do?


“What was that? Didn’t catch it.”

“Nuthin’, dear.”

“Shall we head for the apodyterium? Need’ta get back in’ta my things, pronto. Got’ta get back t’the Inn for our late lunch, y’know.”

Caught short again by this sudden return to reality Xena could only frame a wordless noise that sounded like a drowning pig, lost entirely on the Amazon Queen who was already several strides ahead of her lover, as usual.

“Come on, Xena, stop wavering, you’re holdin’ me back!”

“Lady—Lady!” The Princess tripping over her bare feet in an effort to keep up. “Hey, where’d ya leave that dam’ flagon an’ goblet? It cost me two dam’ as; how’m I gon’na get my return as back? Gabrielle! Gabrielle!”


The End



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