Disclaimer : Xena, Gabrielle, Argo, Joxer and other characters (unfortunately) don't belong to me, but to the lucky ones... back in MCA/Universal/RenPic etc. This was not written for any profit, but for fun and fun only, so help me Zeus. A single dinar, drachma or any other currency hasn't ended up in my pocket... This little piece of work can be archived for reading somewhere in peace and quiet, but it can't be edited (pretty please, my keyboard took all the torture) or use for profit.
Warnings : There's love and sex between women, violence, bad language and bad humor. If that's bothering you, read tabloids or Grimm brothers' fairy-tales. If you are underage, come back freely when you are 18 or more, depending on where you live; and if you're so misfortunate that this kind of love is illegal where you live (Aphrodite, help us), get outta there as fast as you can... If you're a pacifist, well, go and pick some daisies and play with bees and butterflies. ;)
"Love is the irresistible desire
to be desired irresistibly."
- Robert Frost
"I've heard that Bacchae can just like", snapping fingers, "that turn themselves into wolves and wander through the forest in their search for victims.", Gabrielle chatted walking down the forest, her staff thumping lightly every time it made contact with the ground.
"In that form they can smell human scent almost a league away and would follow it 'till they find their prey. And once they catch it, they would transform back into humans and drink their victim's blood.", she continued with her story.
Xena walked next to her, leading Argo in a slow pace and paying attention not so much to the girl's words, but to her melodic, relaxing voice and let herself loosen up a bit. She glanced down at the young storyteller beside her and smiled seeing how deep in the story her friend has sunk.
"But I've never seen one, though, so how can a girl be sure these are not just some tales? I mean, ya must stop and think how many..."
"Pssst.", Xena stopped and shushed her, then listened carefully when her keen hearing picked a girlish scream and a clatter of metal in the distance, getting their way.
Suspecting what that might be, the warrior stepped aside, but Gabrielle, so caught up in her telling, never even noticed Xena's shushing nor a playful gleam suddenly twinkling in those sky blue eyes, so she just excitedly continued her talking, emphasizing every word with animated gesticulation of her hand.
"...see them with my own eyes, y'know, so I can confirm it for a fact. But, you know what?", she put her free hand on her hip and leaned on her staff, "I'd say there are waaay too many tell tales in those stories. I mean, c'mon, they surely can't fly. They don't have wings, right?"
She remained standing there in the middle of the pathway, speaking to Xena who just folded her arms across her chest as a mischievous, lopsided grin tugged at the corner of her lips, knowing what would happen next.
'Wait for it, wait for it...'
True to the warrior's thoughts, the strawberry blond girl soon found herself sprawled on the ground when Joxer suddenly crashed into her trying to escape from the beasts hot on his heels.
Xena winced, grimacing when Joxer's and Gabrielle's foreheads collided in the crash, 'Oooh, that's gonna leave a nasty mark.'
Joxer hastily scrambled back to his feet and ran to a high piece of rock, frantically trying to climb on it.
"Bad doggies!", he squeaked when the animals had caught up with him.
Two out of three wolves that came after the wanna-be-warrior smelled the scent of their new prey and slowly began circling around the two women and the horse, allotting them warily. Xena instantly switched into warrior mode and pulled Gabrielle on her feet, moving them both closer to a tree behind their backs, standing protectively in front of the girl. Next, she pulled her whip out of the saddlebags and, lightly slapping Argo on her flank, sent the mare behind the trees. Never taking eyes off of the four-legged, furry predators, she unwrapped the whip, instantly ready to use the weapon if necessary. Looking down at the wolf from a currently safe height, Joxer began to taunt the animal which angrily growled in response, trying to grab its prey that was just out of reach.
"You slobbery sack of... Help!", he yelped when the beast pawed his leg, which slipped from the rock, and grabbed it with its sharp teeth.
"Unbelievable.", Xena grumbled, almost unwillingly unhooking her chakram from her belt and tossing it toward the animal.
Momentarily, the beast yowled in pain and released Joxer's boot when the sharp round weapon grazed its furry back.
"Beat it!" Xena snarled, dangerously lashing with her whip.
Furious, wolves growled, showing their big, pointy fangs when the warrior slashed their snouts with the tip of her whip. Xena narrowed her eyes and lashed again, growling back at the animals and looking as menacing as they were. Two wolves cautiously backed away and, after a few heartbeats of hesitation, the beasts decided this prey was too big of a bite and retreated back into the woods, the third one reluctantly leaving Joxer and hurrying after its companions.
"That's right. Run, ya cowards!", Joxer cockily raised his voice after the animals, pumping his fist in the air and jumping off the rock when the danger passed.
In the meantime, tall, dark and dangerous put her whip back in the saddlebag, giving wanna-be-warrior 'the look'.
He gulped, but still managed to plaster a grin on his face, "So, my warrior chums, how ya doin'?"
"Joxer, whatcha doin' here?", Xena sighed, just a bit irritated by his unexpected and definitely unwanted appearance. For now.
"Well, actually, I was looking for ya, guys.", first he looked at the warrior, and then the bard who gently rubbed newly formed, little reddish bump on her throbbing forehead.
"Sorry 'bout that.", he mumbled, absently touching his own painful spot.
Xena looked at him and raised her eyebrow in silent question.
"Looking for us? What for?", Gabrielle voiced that question, now dusting off her clothes.
"Well,", Joxer turned to the warrior, "he actually didn't want ya but I said that you're tha man... er...", he cleared his throat and Xena just rolled her eyes, "I mean, tha woman for the job."
"He?", the warrior asked, taking Argo's reins in her right hand and tugging it gently, "C'mon, girl."
She affectionately patted the mare's neck and led her back to where Joxer and Gabrielle were standing.
"Wet me expwain.", a muffled voice called.
Gabrielle, bewildered, looked around scratching her head behind her ear, 'I'm hearing voices now?'
Her brows furrowed and she gently felt her forehead with her index finger, 'It wasn't that hard of a knock.' "Did you two hear somethin'?"
"Yeah. That came from him.", Joxer answered, pulling the head out from the bag he was carrying on his back.
"Orpheus.", Xena was a little surprised, but her warrior mask firmly in place betrayed nothing.
"Uh huh. Not glad to see you."
Gabrielle's brows arched then furrowed as she stared perplexed at the black, shaggy head in Joxer's hands, "Hey, where's the rest of your body?"
"Bacchus hid it in catacombs, along with my lyre, after he cut my head off."
"Ouch.", she winced sympathetically, "But why would Bacchus want your lyre? And your body, for that matter?"
"'Cause Orpheus can put him and his Bacchae into sleep by singing and playing the lyre.", Xena explained.
God nodded, or at least, considering his condition, he tried to nod, "So he took my body and left me with eyes and ears so I can see and hear the terror he causes and do nothing about it."
"What we're waiting for, then?", Joxer asked enthusiastically, almost frisking around like a hyperactive little kid, and unceremoniously rammed the god's head back in the bag.
The god's loud yelp at the rough treatment was properly ignored.
"Let's go kick some Bacchae butts!"
Xena was just about to put her foot in the stirrup in order to mount Argo when her leg remained suspended in mid air on Joxer's last words. She slowly spun on her heel to face the man, then put her foot down on the ground rather hard, causing little clouds of dirt to fly up around her feet.
"We?", she drawled the word, both eyebrows disappearing far under her dark bangs.
"Mmhmm.”, Joxer bobbed his head up and down, causing his helmet to slip down and over his eyes, “I figure, two warriors are always better than one, so I'm dutifully offering my sword and my skills.", he pushed his helmet back on its place and puffed his chest proudly before he tried to pull his sword out, but as usual, it stuck in the scabbard.
Then, after third, much stronger tug, he managed to unsheathe his weapon and drive the pommel right into his nose.
"Ow!", he yelped, rubbing his painful part of anatomy, "Besides, I promised Orpheus I'll look after him."
On the mention of his name in vain, God of Music mumbled something that resembled to 'I didn't ask such a thing', but again, nobody paid any attention.
"Two warriors, eh?", Gabrielle snorted, appraising Joxer all the way up, from his metal-scrap-turned-helmet and the bottom of a frying pan he so proudly called a breastplate, down to his dirty, and now slimy, too, boots.
"Okay, two warriors 'n' a sidekick.", he reluctantly indulged her.
"A sidekick?", she sucked on her tooth and gripped her staff a little tighter.
Xena glared at the man from where she stood behind the bard, silently warning him, and shook her head no, making cutting gestures over her throat for him to stop yapping, but of course, he didn't took the hint.
"Well, when you think a bit, you sidekicks could be useful somehow, too.", Joxer continued, unaware that he once again pulled a minotaur for his horns in a very dangerous game.
"Uh huh. Is that so?", the bard tried to breathe normally as she began to seethe inside.
"Yeah. I mean, for your credit, you know a thing or two with that little stick of yours."
"With my...", Gabrielle had had it, "Why you little sh..."
Twirling her staff angrily, she took a hurried step toward Joxer, ready to whack him so hard his ass would fly all the way to Tartarus and back again, but before everyone knew it, Xena firmly wrapped her long, strong arms around the waist of one really pissed off Gabrielle, lifting her for a good hand span off the ground and effectively stopping her advance. Fortunately for Joxer, he was smart enough to take a few steps back, out of the staff's reach, when Gabrielle mightily swung her wooden weapon and almost smacked his already bruised nose.
The blond bard kicked wildly, trying to break free, and threatened the man with her weapon, "C'mere, you jackass, so I can show ya where I could shove this 'little stick' of mine!"
Joxer gulped and threw an insecure smile on his face, "Now, Gabby...", he unconsciously poured more oil to the already blazing fire, using a pet name she wasn't so... fond of.
In response, Gabrielle growled and bared her teeth, treating the man with closely selected words, of which some even Xena as Destroyer of Nations didn't use, and some of the phrases she never even heard of, and for some wasn't even sure were humanly possible. The warrior's eyes widened in astonishment at uncharacteristic outburst of so much foul language from her otherwise very well mannered friend.
"Gabrielle! Where did you learn that?"
"From Autolycus. Now, let me go!"
"Aut... Ooh, I'll deal with that thief later! But first things first... Y-- hey, easy there!", Xena clenched her jaw and slightly tightened her hold on her friend when the girl in all her squirming unintentionally kicked her in the shin, "Gabrielle, calm down.", she commanded quietly but firmly in her ear, then glared at Joxer for a moment, before she pointed with her chin toward that rock he climbed on earlier, "And you, go there and not another peep."
"Why should I go there? What did I do?", he whined.
"Just... go. Before I put her down.", the warrior loosened her hold on the still wriggling bard in her arms to emphasize her threat.
That did it, because Joxer vanished in front of them in a blink of an eye. Gabrielle still tried to break free at that point, cursing now and then, but after a few candledrops of useless struggling, she finally gave up and relaxed in the warrior's arms, sighing in defeat.
Xena tilted her head and with a tiny, hardly visible smirk on her lips squinted at the sullen bard, "You through?"
Gabrielle's shoulders sagged and she expelled a heavy sigh, "Yes. Put me down?"
"You won't try and kick his scrawny ass?"
Gabrielle pouted, "No."
Xena grunted in response, trying hard not to laugh, although the sight of her friend pouting like a kid whose pastry somebody just snatched from her hands was just priceless. Slowly putting the bard down, she motioned with her hand for Joxer to come back.
"You.", she wagged her finger at him, "Behave and try not to piss her off again cuz I ain't gonna stop her next time."
Joxer nodded looking down and absently kicked some pebbles in the dirt with the tip of his boot.
"And you,", she leaned down and looked her friend in the eye, "be nice."
Gabrielle muttered something under her breath and turned away from Joxer after she gave him one final stern look which, without a doubt, told him 'stay away or deal with consequences'.
The warrior sighed and, eying both of them, rubbed her taut neck in frustration, 'And this day was so promising...'
Knowing they wouldn't get rid of wanna-be-warrior no matter how hard they tried, Xena, even though it could prove very hazardous for everybody's health, physical as much as mental, too, made a hard decision to let the bungler tag along. With him around, she inferred, at least they wouldn't have to take care of the god's chatty body part, who obviously, after all this time, still shared the same sentiments for the warrior as she was for him. That is, they wouldn't have to take care of him if Joxer the Mighty won't strike the bard's chords again and, like a good boy, will keep his mouth shut. Grunting and grumbling to herself, Xena took Argo's reins, ready to move on.
"So, you're absolutely resolute to come with us, huh?", she turned to Joxer.
"Yeah.", he nodded eagerly, "I can help. I know the town near which the catacombs are."
"My, what a discovery.", Gabrielle grumbled.
Glaring at her, Xena mouthed 'be nice' . Then she turned back to their tag along, "Oh?", she cocked an eyebrow then bowed mockingly and extended her free arm, "Then, by all means, lead the way."
Joxer straightened to his full height, set his helmet and breastplate, and self-confidently strode forward.
Gabrielle just rolled her eyes at his baseless cockiness and fell into step beside Xena, "Why oh why, for the love of Zeus himself, did you let him come with us?! Did you hit your head or something? C'mon, give me one valid excuse why you did it.", the bard grouched, frowning at her tall friend.
She glanced ahead at the wanna-be-warrior, who walked five long strides in front of them whistling his 'Joxer the Mighty' tune, through narrowed eyes then snickered when he tripped over some root peeking out of the ground. He was a good friend with a good heart, that wasn't in question, but he was also so godsdamned annoying, not to mention clumsy, and definitely didn't know when, for his own good, to shut the Hades up. And on top of everything, somehow he always managed to, although not intentionally, push just the right buttons to make Gabrielle grumpy, thus making her day miserable.
"I thought you wanted him outta your sight, too."
"I do.", Xena replied, throwing glances in the direction of their subject of discussion, "But you know as damn well as I do that no matter what I say or do to him, he'd still follow us and get in our way anyway."
Gabrielle pondered over that thought for a few heartbeats, remembering more than one time when he followed them, all too eager to help even though Xena sent him away with her foot kicking his ass for a goodbye, him always jumping in the middle of the fight with the toughest of the bad guys, him losing the upper hand, of course, and ending up with Xena or Gabrielle saving his neck at the last possible moment.
"Hmm, gotta point there.", she sighed exasperatedly, "Gods, the guy's worse than a pup, would find us and follow us anywhere, no matter what."
The warrior chuckled, her lopsided grin shining on her face, "Ya know, it's you he follows. He has a thing for ya.", she teased in a singsong voice.
"Urgh!", Gabrielle grunted and rolled her eyes, "Don't remind me! I'm just waitin' the day when he's gonna hump my leg."
Xena laughed and patted her friend's shoulder, "Well, if it comes to that, allow me to be your champion and defend this young maiden's honor."
"How thoughtful.", Gabrielle retorted sarcastically, but her small smile told the warrior that she very much appreciated her companion's effort to lighten up her mood, and even more appreciated her, in the bard's opinion too rare, playfulness.
Xena quickly switched the reins from her right hand to her left before she turned to face her companion and started walking backwards right in front of her.
"At your service, m'lady.", she bowed and winked, then bounced a little as she promptly turned on her heel and continued walking forward again.
Gabrielle laughed at her friend's antics and she bumped her hip, "Ah, but you already are my champion.", she tilted her head and looked up at her tall friend, pointing at her with her staff.
"Oh, right.", Xena quickly placed her left hand over her heart, smirking the whole time, "Then apologies for using the wrong title... my Princess."
High spirits again, Gabrielle lightly backhanded the warrior's midriff.
"Ow.", Xena rubbed her leather-clad stomach feigning pain, "Is this how you treat your savior on a golden mare?"
Little blonde giggled, "Yes. But she'd come to this fair damsel in distress anyway."
Xena raised one eyebrow and looked sideways and down at her for a moment, trying to keep serious expression but a small smirk tugged the corner of her lips, anyway, "Pretty sure in ourselves, aren't we?"
"Mm.", Gabrielle shrugged with one shoulder, looking straight ahead.
"Aww, you're right.", Xena then smiled fully and ruffled the bard's hair affectionately, "What can I say? I'm a sucker for the short, blond bards."
"Hey!", Gabrielle's head snapped up and raising her finger in mock threat she glared at Xena, "Don't mess with the girl's hair. And I ain't short, I'm of average height."
Xena snickered and patted the blonde's head, "Uh huh, keep telling that to yourself. With that height of yours of five foot 'n a quarter of a strawberry, you'll definitely need a looootta positive thinkin' 'n pep talks."
"Ha!”, she snorted, “Look who's talkin'?! Any building we enter, ya need to duck, otherwise, by now we'd have a couple of dozens of roofs on our hands to repair, Stretch!"
Xena abruptly stopped in her tracks, turned to face the blonde and jabbed her in the chest with her long index finger, "Who do ya call Stretch, Shorty?"
"You, six foot of a broad-shouldered, strong as a minotaur, dark and deadly, 'not to mention gorgeous' , Warrior Princess.", Gabrielle answered, punctuating every word with a poke of her own.
Xena raised one eyebrow, looking with amusement down at the small finger poking her chest just above her armor, then at the smirking bard. Abruptly twirling around, she pulled Argo's reins, humph-ed and continued walking with somewhat hurried step, leaving Gabrielle behind.
"Hey!", Gabrielle yelled after her and sped up to catch her long-legged companion, "Truth hurts, eh, Stretch?"
Xena glanced over her shoulder and grinned impishly, "C'mon, Shorty, stretch those tiny legs of yours, we have some Bacchae to whack."
"Right.", the bard agreed, still grinning, and once again fell into step beside her tall friend, Joxer long forgotten.
"Tell me one thing."
"Does Amazon Princess beat Warrior Princess?"
Devilish grin adorned the warrior's face as she looked sideways down at Gabrielle, "Wanna find out?"
The girl squirmed, seeing the unmistakable twinkle in those blue orbs, which meant she better retreat or deal with consequences, “Uh, maybe not.”
Xena smirked, “Thought so.”
O O O O O
"Damn. These people definitely know how to throw a party.", Gabrielle commented, a little carried away by the rhythm of the music coming from the town square, which slightly tickled their ears when they entered the small town in the vicinity of Bacchus' catacombs.
"Well, they're celebrating.", Joxer remarked, "You know, Bacchanliae.", he added when both women looked at him blankly.
"Smart people, alright.", Xena scoffed, "Now, when Bacchus and his sluts are fully awake and free to roam everywhere, they needn't have bothered throwing a party... Instead, they could've just made a menu and hung it above the entrance into the town; 'Hey Bacchae, wanna suck some? Our blood is daily fresh. Today we offer: male, female, virgin... Just pick your favorite.'", she snorted and rolled her eyes, "Idiots. Parties are an open invitation for Bacchae to feast on drunken fools."
Joxer quivered nervously and felt a chill running down his spine, "So we'll have to be careful.", he remarked in a tiny voice and gulped when an image of Bacchae biting his neck and feasting on his blood clearly appeared in his mind.
Xena patted his shoulder lightly and chuckled when he squeaked and flinched away from the unexpected touch.
"Gabrielle,", she called and handed one saddlebag with their basic stuff to the blonde, "you go get us a room while I'm stabling Argo, and", she leaned a little closer and wagged a finger in front of the girl's nose, "at least try not to get into any trouble in the meantime, and you,", she turned to Joxer pointing at the bag with Orpheus, "watch the head."
"Ha ha.", came the dry, muffled reply from inside the bag.
"Say, Xena,", Gabrielle frowned and, putting her right hand on her hip and leaning her weight on her right leg, grumpily tapping with her left foot, "where d'ya get the idea I could slip into some kind of trouble the first heartbeat you're gone?"
Her only answer was the warrior's trademarked raised eyebrow and facial expression which said 'do ya really want an answer?' .
"Yeah, yeah, I'll just get a room. Without getting into trouble.", the bard sighed, resettling the saddlebag on her shoulder and heading into search for an inn, "Jeez, it's not like I'm deliberately looking for some mess to get into and you,", she lowered her voice so she wouldn't be overheard by a certain tall, dark, with keen hearing individual, "you smugly Warrior Princess, are not such a sunshine yourself, either."
"I heard that.", Xena smirked, directing Argo toward the stable.
"Damn! Is there anything your ears can't pick up?", the bard grumbled.
With a smug grin on her face, in smooth, velvety voice Xena drawled, "Nope."
"Okay, I'll be right here waitin' for you two.", Joxer looked left and right, yelling after departed women.
Then he returned his attention to the head he had pulled out of the bag, "So, Orpheus, what exactly happened between you and Xena? I mean, I can see the two of you are not exactly the best of pals."
The god sighed sadly as he remembered his past, "Seasons ago, when Xena was a warlord, she led her army against Bacchus when he was on his campaign to overtake the known world. The war was bloody, with many casualties on both sides, but fortunately, she was able to defeat him. I don't even want to think about how the world would look today if she had failed...”
If he had had his body at that moment, he would've shuddered.
“Yes?”, Joxer nudged him impatiently to continue.
“The only problem was the price of that victory. All the dead were soldiers, they're expected to give their lives for their commanders, that I understand. But in all that chaotic bloodshed, one innocent life was also taken that night on the battlefield, and I don't know if I will ever be able to forgive her that."
"Who was it?"
Joxer squeaked and almost jumped out of his skin on the sound of voice behind his back. He twirled around just to see Gabrielle standing there.
The god sighed and looked sadly at the girl, "My wife."
"Oh. I'm really sorry."
"Jeez, Gabby, don't sneak up on me like that.", Joxer puffed heavily, trying to calm his racing heart.
"Whatsa matter, jumpy?", Gabrielle teased.
"Noooo, it's just... I might hurt ya, y'know? My reflexes 'n all..."
Gabrielle almost choked with her own saliva in attempt not to burst into fits of laughter and smacked her forehead with her palm, "Rrrright, what was I thinkin'?", she drawled sardonically, 'Nitwit.', "Listen, I'm gonna look around for a bit, see if anything's unusual. You stay here and wait for Xena."
"Bu-- Hey, Gabby, watch out for Bacchae."
"Don't worry. Know one when see one.", she lazily waved him off and disappeared in the crowd.
Feeling a bit hypnotized by the music, the bard let herself enjoy and flow with the rhythm, when two girls pulled her in between them. They started deliberate, lewd movements around her, teasing her body with sultry, featherlight touches, and Gabrielle, not minding anything, unaware, simply let herself be seduced by that bewitched dance. She'd never seen these girls before, but she was immediately drawn to them. There was something familiar about the duo, something alluring, unusual, sexy, enigmatic and a little bit dangerous pouring out of their bodies as they danced around her. And that something beckoned her to them just like the flame beckoned the moth.
"Where's Gabrielle?", Xena asked behind Joxer's back, intentionally putting a hand on his shoulder to work his nerves again.
He didn't fail her prediction as he bounced two feet in the air, squeaking like a girl, but he sighed in relief and relaxed when he turned around and faced a pair of familiar, sparkling blue eyes looking back at him.
"Jumpy?", the warrior slowly spread her toothy grin.
"No. It's ju--", he frowned and put his hands on his hips, "Do ya guys always sneak up behind people's back?"
"Yup.", Xena answered with a saucy grin then grew serious, "Now, where's Gabrielle?"
"She's uh...", Joxer nervously scratched his head, "she's over... there somewhere.", he pointed in the crowd.
"Why, very helpful Joxer, thank you.", she smiled sardonically while scanning the people, looking for the familiar face.
"Anyt... Hey!", he scowled when he figured it was sarcasm.
Xena didn't pay a heartbeat of her time to him, but smiled warmly when her eyes finally caught the sight of the person she was looking for. But, that same smile instantly faded, for the scene that greeted her definitely wasn't one she expected.
"Ares' right ball.", she cursed gruffly and expelled a heavy breath, then drew her palm across her face in exasperation.
She spotted Gabrielle and two young girls that tried, in not so subtle way, to seduce her bard friend by dancing sultrily around her, clinging to her like leeches and touching her in a way they, by any means, shouldn't be touching her, and crawling all over her in general.
'Yeah, no trouble, my ass.', the warrior rolled her eyes and headed toward them, 'Just some fuckin' godsdamned girls droolin' all over ya and trying to get under your skirt.', she unconsciously clenched her fists and gritted her teeth.
'Whoa, wait.' , she stopped abruptly after three steps and mentally smacked the back of her head, 'Gods, that sounded jealous.'
Her eyes widened when the realization settled in, 'Sweet Artemis, I am jealous! D...ung.'
She again glanced toward her friend and gulped, watching Gabrielle's hips swaying, following the rhythm, 'By gods, you got it real bad, warrior!'
Xena shook her head to clear her mind from lascivious thoughts popping in regarding one little blond bard in particular.
Clearing her throat and gulping down the extra drool, she reined her raging hormones, 'You definitely need to get laid and get that cute little bard outta your head.' "Okay.", she took a deep breath, rolled her head on her shoulders to loosen her tensed muscles, and confidently strode toward the trio.
When she was merely an arm's length away, she stretched her arm reaching for Gabrielle, but one heartbeat before her long fingers curled around the small, sweaty palm, one of the girls kissed the bard fully on the lips. Both girls narrowed her predatory eyes on Xena when she gripped the bard's hand and yanked her away from them, but after short appraisal of the leather-clad warrior and few deadly looks directed from her icy blue eyes, they turned away and without words got lost in the crowd, leaving the slightly disorientated girl to her fate. Gabrielle, on her part, tried to climb out of the fuzzy feeling state and unconsciously licked her lips, tasting some strange, inexplicable taste.
"C'mon.", Xena pulled her along, indicating they should move.
"Whoa!", Gabrielle staggered after few steps.
"What?", Xena stopped immediately, her eyes darting around, looking for any danger.
"I, uhmm... I feel a little strange. Bit dizzy."
"Okay, I'll get ya to the room.", Xena twirled around to face the girl, "You did get us a room, right?"
Gabrielle smiled, "Yes."
"Mmm.", Xena grunted in response and, more rudely than was necessary, pushed several people out of their way.
They managed to break through a cordon of people celebrating on the streets to the tavern and headed to the first floor, to the other end of the corridor, where their room was. When they stepped into the room, Gabrielle leaned her staff in the corner next to the door and unexpectedly launched herself onto Xena, and they both thumped on the floor.
"Ooof.", Xena breathed when Gabrielle landed on her and knocked the air out of her lungs.
The bard straddled her hips and started to unclasp the halters, intended to take her breastplate off.
"Gabrielle, whatcha doin'? Get off me!", Xena was taken by surprise but then she rolled the girl onto her back and pinned her hands above the bard's head, trying to calm her wriggling body down.
'What's got into ya, girl?'
Gabrielle didn't say anything but smiled wickedly and kissed her on the lips, then grinned saucily when she noticed a surprised and somewhat stunned expression appearing on Xena's usually stoic face. The warrior quickly let go of the girl, jumped up on her feet and backed away. She unconsciously licked her lips and felt some strange taste lingering on her tongue, and the warrior inside her first thought of poison, but she quickly discarded that thought as her mind focused on more relevant things.
"Whoa there. Hey, Gabrielle, heh,", the warrior smiled nervously and pulled on her nose, "it's not that I mind, oh no, but, ahem, ya sure you know wha...", Xena suddenly felt that same dizziness Gabrielle experienced earlier.
She leaned her right hand on the wall to steady herself and, closing her eyes, took several deep breaths. Hearing the commotion behind her, she glanced over her shoulder and saw Gabrielle standing up and approaching her like predator would to its prey. Feeling just a little nervous by that fact, the warrior turned around and the girl stopped an arm's length away from her. Two women looked at each other and as blue and green locked, they both felt as their bodies started to overflow some unexpected heat and sensuality, which moved Gabrielle to take her top and boots off, while Xena began quickly taking off her breastplate, arm bands and gauntlets, boots and, of course, her weapons. Chakram and sword were soon neatly placed on the small table next to the bed, like always, within easy reach. Neither woman could resist to sudden, very strong, undeniable, uncontrollable desire, lust and need growing deep within their cores, and they both gasped for air. Sexual energy which coursed through their burning bodies and surrounding air was almost palpable in its intensity, and when Xena's eyes locked on her naked companion's chest, which rose and fell rapidly due to heavy breathing, she was immediately aroused to the point she couldn't think about anything except that beautiful, breathtaking, young blond woman in front of her and a million ways of how to ravish her. Gabrielle's body reacted exactly in the same way on the sight an smell of Xena's gorgeous, muscled, tanned body in her leathers. Crackling her neck, Xena slowly, almost predatory covered the distance between her and the bard and, taking the girl's wrists in her large hands, started slowly pushing her backwards toward the bed. When the back of Gabrielle's legs touched the hard wood and soft mattress, Xena started nuzzling and kissing the bard's neck.
"Mmm.", she hummed against Gabrielle's skin there before she gently bit down.
Panting and moaning into the bard's ear, Xena flicked her tongue in and nibbled on the little earlobe while her hands roamed freely all over Gabrielle's body, until they found two beautiful, inviting mounds on her torso. Xena cupped and caressed the bard's firm breasts, teasing both nipples with her long fingers before her mouth trailed the path from the bard's neck, over the red lips to the cleavage. Gabrielle groaned loudly, enjoying under the onslaught of the warm warrior's kisses and light, arousing touches. Xena slowly knelt on one knee and continued her descend down the smaller body until her lips reached the bard's lower stomach and her hands felt the belt holding the brown skirt in place. The blond girl shuddered and the fire within her grew hotter for one more notch when the warrior's wet tongue sneaked out its shelter and traced the contracted muscles around her navel, while busy hands peeled the hampering clothes off. When the skirt and undergarment were out of the way, Xena slowly ran her fingers up the bard's firm thighs down to her calves and up again, leaving goosebumps all over the girl's heated body. She put a light kiss on her pubic bone, inhaling the sweet scent and rose up, allowing Gabrielle to take off her leather battledress, along with her breeches. Finally, both women stood completely naked before one another, for several long moments just admiring one's beauty. Then Xena laid Gabrielle down onto bed and slowly crawled on top of her. Gabrielle groaned upon incomparable sensation of Xena's soft skin on her own, of warmth of the woman's body burning into hers, of the warrior's weight pressing into her. Xena smiled down at the bard and put, at first gentle kiss on her lips, then the kiss deepened, becoming more urgent and demanding. Parting her lips, Gabrielle allowed Xena's tongue to explore the softness inside her hot, waiting mouth. Soon, tongues fought for control and sounds of pleasure and passion filled the room. Xena's hands explored every texture, every curve of Gabrielle's body, enjoying the soft, sensitive skin underneath her fingertips, memorizing every inch of it. Positioning her leg in between Gabrielle's, she gently nudged it apart. Gabrielle complied and Xena fully parted the girl's legs with her knee, straddling her thigh. Gabrielle moaned loudly on the sensation of Xena's wet center pressing into her flesh and soaking her bare skin. The feeling was overwhelming. Gabrielle's hands weren't idle either. They traveled down the warrior's sides to her hips and then tentatively reached for Xena's buttocks. She cupped the firm flesh her hands found there and squeezed it gently, and was immediately rewarded by a throaty groan coming from the warrior. Xena instantly started the slow rocking motion and at the same time, she rubbed Gabrielle's moist folds with her own thigh. Leaning on her left forearm, the warrior's free right hand cupped the girl's breast and played with the erect pink nipple while her mouth and tongue cherished the softness of the sweet lips offered so willingly. In that exact moment, when both women were lost in the heat of passion, the door swung open and a familiar head peeped through.
"Hey guys, Orph...", Joxer started, but was abruptly interrupted by the absolutely unexpected action taking place on the bed in front of him.
Then, out of the blue, a chakram flew by, missing his neck by a mere hair's breadth and getting stuck into the wooden door. Joxer's wide eyes almost popped out and he gulped audibly. Dumbly drawing his eyes several times from naked Xena lying on top of Gabrielle in a very compromising pose to the 'round killing thing', his brain tried really hard to comprehend and accept what was going on.
"Out!", Xena hissed in a dangerously low, sulky voice through clenched teeth.
Joxer gulped once again, blinked a couple of times and without words quickly closed the door. He stood in front of their room for almost a quarter of a candlemark, eyes wide in absolute shock and was unable to move. He didn't take into the small sounds of pleasure reaching his ears, he just couldn't believe how close that damn chakram got to his throat. Suddenly, he felt thirsty. When he managed to walk on his shaky legs downstairs into the tavern, he crashed on the bench at the table in the dark corner where Orpheus waited for him, and ordered the strongest ale the barkeeper could offer.
"Hey!!!", Orpheus yelled and whistled to get Joxer's attention, "Yoohoo, you hear me?"
Once again, god sighed in frustration. If he had his body, he would've snapped his fingers in front of the numbskull's face.
At last, the man registered the voice shouting for him from the bag on the bench.
"Wha? Yeah... yeah, I'm with ya.", Joxer answered, putting Orpheus' head on the table.
"I-I'm... sorry. I was...", he trailed off, putting together all the bits and pieces in his turmoiled mind.
"By the mighty Zeus on Mt. Olympus!", he exclaimed after his brain finally processed all the information and pictures of Xena and Gabrielle started to flash.
'Xena kissed... naked... was on... and Gab...' “Hera's tits!”
"What's wrong?", Orpheus asked, concern obvious in his voice.
"N-nothin'. What were ya sayin'?"
"Did you ask Xena and Gabrielle to come downstairs so we can start working on some plans?"
"Well, they're... uhm... they're...", nervously clearing throat, "kinda busy."
"What do you mean, busy?", Orpheus questioned.
"They... uhm... ahem, having some fun.", Joxer muttered loud enough for God of Music to hear.
"Fun?! While Bacchae wander around?", Orpheus blurted in disbelief.
"Trust me, y'don't wanna interrupt them.", Joxer absently stroked his throat and raised his empty mug, "Barkeep, one more!"
"Why was I even thinking that Xena could possibly change.", Orpheus uttered sadly and tried to shook his head.
While Joxer was downstairs, trying to drown his shock, disappointment and sorrow in ale, upstairs in the room, the heat of passion had been rising to the highest level. While her hot center soaked the bard's thigh, Xena's committed mouth devoured Gabrielle's neck and firm young breasts all over again. She sneaked her right hand between their entangled legs and ran her long fingers along dampen nether lips.
"You're so wet.", she breathed excitedly and thrust her tongue into Gabrielle's mouth in a lustful kiss.
She teased the girl's slick opening with the tips of her fingers then slowly withdrew and Gabrielle's hips instantly jerked up in attempt to remake the contact with the dark haired warrior's mischievous digits.
"Xeeena... please, I want you so bad.", she panted.
Xena chuckled and kissed honey-sweet lips while she ever so slowly and gently pushed her middle finger inside the little bard.
"Ungh.", Gabrielle cried out, feeling a brief, uncomfortable sting when the warrior's finger entered the silky narrow path and broke the seal of her maidenhood.
"You okay?", Xena asked quietly in a husky voice, smiling warmly and putting featherlight kisses on Gabrielle's lips and forehead.
"I'm okay now. It just hurt a bit when you..."
"Don't worry, that's all the pain you'll feel.", Xena put one final light kiss on her cheek and lips, then nuzzled her neck and whispered in conveniently close ear, "Now relax and enjoy."
With that she slowly started to move her finger in and out but when after some time the girl began rising her hips for deeper contact and she caught a rhythm, Xena added another finger and quicken her pace to match with Gabrielle's. The bard groaned and panted with every thrust and bending her right knee, she allowed the warrior to press her engorged clit even harder against her thigh. That drove Xena to moan and rock faster while she trailed wet kisses up and down the girl's neck to her jaw and finally caught again those juicy, insatiable lips, pushing her tongue deep inside the bard's mouth. The warrior's low, melodic voice and warm breath tickled Gabrielle's ear when they broke the kiss to catch some air. Horny as Hades, Xena seemed like she just couldn't get enough of the girl, so she once more nibbled her earlobe, trailed wet kisses down her neck to the pulse point and traced her collarbone with the tip of her tongue, slowly moving toward those oh so tempting breasts. Her soft yet firm muscle teased the right nipple, before she took the puckered flesh in her mouth, gently biting it with her teeth then sucking eagerly like a hungry newborn. Loud hoarse moan escaped from deep within Gabrielle's throat and she arched her back, surrendering her flesh totally to the carnal pleasure and encouraging the warrior to take more of her into her waiting mouth. Soon, left breast got the same treatment as its twin so it wouldn't feel neglected. Knowing the bard was more than ready, Xena left her firm breasts and began kissing the bard's body all the way down where she knew she was needed the most. Reaching the blond curls with her lips, she pulled her fingers out, bent both of Gabrielle's knees and spread her legs more wider. Then she settled between those firm thighs, lowered her head and for the first time tasted the very essence that was Gabrielle. She hummed in delight and, closing her eyes, savored the salty-sweet flavor on her tongue.
The bard was stuck between dream and reality, and a shiver ran down her spine when the frisky, wet muscle passed over her swollen labia. She knew she wouldn't last much longer.
"Oooh... Xeeeena...", she drawled, gasping when the warrior's tongue touched her hypersensitive bud and Xena started to lick it and teasingly circling around it before soft lips sucked it maddeningly slow.
Gabrielle entangled her small fingers into the dark tresses and pushed Xena's face more closer into her need, indicating she wanted things to speed up a little. The warrior smiled at the bard's boldness, but continued her ministrations in a slow, tantalizing pace.
Gabrielle's fingers then deserted the warrior's silky hair and instead firmly clutched the sheets she was lying on.
"Are you... trying... to drive me insane?", she breathed.
Deciding to show some compassion to the poor girl, Xena started licking a little faster and then she suddenly plunged her tongue inside the girl's tight entrance, setting off a new flood of juices.
"Oh gods!!!", Gabrielle's scream filled the room.
Sensing her companion was very near, the warrior pulled away, wanting to prolong the sensation of approaching climax. The bard whimpered at the loss and opened her mouth to beg for some more when she felt Xena's lips capturing hers in a searing kiss.
The warrior's tongue sneaked inside her mouth and she could taste herself, 'So, that's my flavor? Hm, kinda sweet.'
"I wanna feel when you come.", Warrior Princess groaned, touching her forehead to Gabrielle's and gazing lovingly down into the passion filled, green eyes of her friend before she plunged two fingers back deep inside the girl's now familiar, drenched, warm center.
Gabrielle gasped as she was filled suddenly, and gripping Xena's shoulder with the right hand, and the warrior's neck with the left, she almost roughly claimed the warrior's lips for another series of passionate kisses. As her skilled digits easily slid through the bard's ever growing wetness, Xena felt her own fluid trickling down her thighs. She grunted and pumped faster and after four more thrusts, Gabrielle arched her back and the warrior heard the girl screaming her name as she crossed the line, and she felt the bard's inner muscles contracting around her long fingers, trapping them deep inside as the warm liquid bathed her hand. When the spasms ebbed, Xena gently pulled her fingers out of the still sensitive flesh, causing small jerks of Gabrielle's hips, and laid down on her back next to Gabrielle, taking the girl in a strong, loving embrace.
"I love you.", she whispered under her breath and kissed the blonde head settled under her chin.
After a couple of candledrops of resting, Gabrielle's breathing returned to normal and she straddled the warrior's hips, attacking her neck and lips with hungry kisses and finally nibbling her left earlobe. She sucked it in her mouth and released it with light *pop* sound.
"Now it's my turn.", she whispered in a hoarse voice and devilish smile spread across her sweet, cherubic face.
Xena smiled back and gave in to the sensual kisses of soft lips and tentative touches of the inexperienced yet determined little hands. She groaned loudly and arched her back when the bard's mouth found her sensitive nipples and started licking and sucking while small fingers caressed her inner thighs, discovering a sweet secret hidden beneath the dark curls thoroughly soaked with the warrior's juices. She panted and her hips bucked wildly when Gabrielle's curious fingers found her opening, so the girl straddled them more firmly, rocking against the taut muscles beneath the soft skin and spreading her renewed wetness over Xena's curly dark hair and lower abdomen. The warrior growled, pushing her head back in the pillow and slowly guiding Gabrielle's rocking hips. She bent her knees and spread her legs as wide as possible then positioned the girl in between. Gabrielle felt Xena's moisture painting her stomach and was slowly advancing toward it with her loving kisses, eager to taste the warrior's essence, its musky scent calling her like a siren's song. She just dipped the tip of her tongue in the warrior's navel when Xena stopped her.
"Not now, I wanna feel you against me.", she breathed and pulled Gabrielle on top herself till their centers met.
She sneaked her hands down and spread both their nether lips so their hypersensitive nubs touched. They both grind themselves into each other for better position and more contact, and friction they caused with that movement heightened their desire tenfold. Both women gasped at exquisite sensation of mixed juices and then Warrior Princess wrapped her long legs around the bard's hips so they can be even more pressed against one another. Xena just wanted to melt into Gabrielle when the bard intertwined her fingers with the warrior's, placed their joined hands on each side of Xena's head and slowly began rhythmic thrusting motions. The young girl's every groan was consumed by Xena's deep, relentless, passionate kisses. Gabrielle panted and her pace quickened with every passing moment and by now, both women's bodies were covered in sweat. She squeezed the warrior's hands harder and kissed her passionately before her back arched and she once again rode on the waves of release.
Both women screamed as they climaxed almost simultaneously. Completely exhausted, Gabrielle gasped for so much needed air and collapsed on top of Xena. The warrior kissed her forehead and stroked her long, sweat-soaked, reddish-blond hair, still trying to catch her own breath.
"I love you.", the bard whispered quietly into her friend's chest, nestling her blond head in the valley between the warrior's breasts.
She closed her eyes, sighed contently and let Xena's steady heartbeat beneath her ear lull her weary body into sleep. In the matter of moments, Xena could hear soft snoring. The warrior smiled fondly, covered their lower bodies with a blanket, kissed the sleeping bard's forehead and closing her eyes, she also let Morpheus to take her into his kingdom.
Meanwhile, downstairs in the tavern, Joxer drank his seventh ale and was just barely able to talk anymore.
"Joxer, I believe you've got enough for today, don't you think?"
"Yea, y'righ y'kno.", Joxer agreed, bobbing his head up and down, "Gon sweep now.", he mumbled almost completely incoherently before he, not too gently, threw Orpheus' head back in the bag, which invoked a few foul words out of the god's mouth, then accidentally dropped the bag, what once again invoked a few foul words, picked up the bag and tottered out of the tavern dragging the bag along, what now invoked constant cursing.
He dragged himself down the road, swaying like a little rowboat caught in the middle of a roaring storm, stumbling a couple of times but surprisingly without sprawling anywhere, just so he could finally pass out in the stable next to Argo's box.
"Hey! Wath it.", Orpheus grumbled when he hit the floor along with his drunk companion and that same companion landed on him, pressing him face down into the cold ground.
"Joxew? Can you move a wittwe, I fink my nofe if bwoken. Joxew?"
The mare, drawn by the noise, came closer to the door of her box to see who's disturbing her in this late, ungodly candlemark. Munching lazily, she looked down at the unconscious man and a strong stench of ale attacked her sensitive nostrils. She discontentedly stomped with her left front hoof and snorted loudly to expel the yucky smell out of her muzzle. She neighed, swishing with her tail, and shook her head at the blacked out human on the floor, as if in disapproval of such behavior, before she returned to her midnight snack made of sweet oat.
O O O O O
When Xena woke up the next morning, the sun was already up and she felt its morning rays warming her skin through the window. She turned her head away from the bright sunlight that attacked her eyes through her closed eyelids, and instantly the drums inside it began their rhythmic beat, but fortunately, it wasn't anything unbearable.
'I must've drunk some Hades of a port last night.'
Furthermore, she felt the weight of a small, soft female body nestled on top of her's and she sighed contently, smiling to herself, 'Guess I finally spent some of that pent-up energy.'
Then she froze when a thought had crossed her mind. She reluctantly opened her blue eyes and realized she was in the room she was to share with the bard, in the bed she was to share with her, a blond woman warming her from above was no one else but naked Gabrielle herself, comfortably sleeping in her definitely non-standard position; her head rested on Xena's chest, cozily tucked under her chin, the girl's light puffs tickled the warrior's sensitive skin, small but strong arms tightly wrapped around her broad shoulders and the girl's right leg in between Xena's.
'Whoa there! It's Gabrielle?!? Uh oh. That means... Hera's tits!!!'
Xena slowly removed her right hand which rested on the small of the bard's back, just above the curve of her bottom, and picked up the hem of the blanket. With one eye she peeked underneath, hoping against all hope it's not what it looks like, but musky scent of sex which left behind said it all. Slowly, she began to remember some of the last night's events when Gabrielle started waking up and stretching and, in her still half-conscious state, the girl unintentionally grazed the warrior's sensitive groin with her knee. Xena's eyes widened and her mouth formed a prefect 'O' as she muttered an inaudible sound.
"Mmm. Mornin'.", Gabrielle murmured sleepily and smiled to those baby blues looking back at her, using only one eye and not realizing yet that all the comfort and warmth was coming from Xena's body beneath her.
"Mmhmm.", Xena muttered and gulped while interesting flashes started to buzz inside her head.
Gabrielle stretched once again, "I think I've nev...", she abruptly stopped in the middle of stretching and the rest of her words vaporized when images filled her mind, images of Xena and herself doing something very naughty.
Her smile was quickly replaced by the expression of utter astonishment and her jaw hung wide open. Instantly, she succeeded to open both of her green eyes. She propped herself up onto her hands and, dumbfounded, first looked at her own naked torso and then down at naked Xena who just offered a weak, sheepish smile.
Gabrielle just stared at her as blush slowly crept up her face. She self-consciously averted her eyes and after a dozen long heartbeats of uncomfortable silence, avoiding eye contact and putting thoughts and memories into right places, Gabrielle nervously cleared her dry throat and broke the ice.
"Uhm... did we..."
"Y-you... and me... uhh...", Gabrielle once again cleared her throat, avoiding the essential words, and felt her cheeks and ears redden even more, if that were possible.
Xena nodded again.
"Oh.", moment of silence, "You sure?"
The silence fell again upon them while they both searched their minds for the right words.
Then, after almost full candledrop, Gabrielle found her voice again, "Well...", she began and then it fully struck her that she was still lying fully naked on top of her likewise fully naked friend.
Now aware of their unusual position, her modesty regained itself and she somewhat hastily crawled off of Xena and sat on the bed, turning her back to the warrior and covering her nakedness with her hands. Xena closed her eyes, trying to fight off the tears forming behind those baby blues, caused by the bard's such hasty retreat.
"We can forget that anything happened.", Xena offered after she composed herself, desperately trying to sound as calm and stoic as always.
She thought of maybe confessing to Gabrielle how she truly felt about her, but after Gabrielle's rather shocked reaction upon realization what they'd done last night and pretty embarrassed behavior, she thought better of it.
'By the gods, what have I done?!', she berated herself and mentally whacked her head in the wall, multiple times, but truth to be told, she liked every tiny bit and part of the previous night and knew she would never forget it.
But it was wrong. Spectacular, but very wrong. The best night in her entire life, but still wrong. Wrong because people don't sleep with their best friends! Shouldn't be sleeping with their best friends. And they especially didn't sleep with these friends when they were intoxicated and they didn't know what they were doing! People don't use their friends that way, even if they are truly, madly, deeply, down to the core, hopelessly in love with these friends. Cursing herself inwardly, Xena sat quietly on her side of the bed, hung her head down, with her forearms resting on her knees and got lost in her depressing thoughts. She convinced herself that Gabrielle slept with her only because they were both most probably veeeeery drunk and the bard could never ever actually love her that way.
The warrior glanced over her shoulder at the bard's back, 'Just look at her. Gods, she can't even look at me, that's how much she's disgusted with me. Nicely done, Xena! You just maybe lost your only friend.'
She sighed, turning her head forward and hanging it down again to blankly stare at the floor. She traced two small ants running to and fro with her tired eyes while her mind was rampant, 'It was a mistake! A mistake which could cost me my best friend. Damn it, I should never have let that happen, no matter how zonked I was. Gods, wha... SON OF A BACCHAE!!!', her head suddenly snapped up and she drawled her palm over her face, grabbing her chin and rubbing it pensively, 'Those girls hangin' 'round Gabrielle yesterday, they were Bacchae! They've probably gave her something to seduce her easier. Yeah, that's it! That funny taste I felt when she... Hades, I should've known!'
Now really frustrated, she closed her eyes and expelled a heavy breath, letting that new knowledge fully sink in. When that happened, she clenched her jaw so hard her teeth started to hurt.
'Fuck, so we weren't drunk, we were drugged!', she rubbed her eyes with the heels of her palms in aggravation, 'Great, even better.'
"Yeah, you're right.", Gabrielle murmured.
"Hmm?", Gabrielle's voice snapped Xena out of her musings.
"Said, you're right probably.", the girl repeated quietly.
Although somewhere deep inside she hoped for some different answer, Gabrielle knew which answer Xena would gave her, though.
She sighed, 'Oh, c'mon little farm girl, what were you thinkin' anyway? You were most probably drunk or something, so was she, it was the heat of the moment, that's all. Square your shoulders, pull yourself together and pretend nothin' happen. Yeah, right...' , she sniggered to herself, then sighed again, feeling like an Amazon drummer had settled inside her head, 'Freakin' headache.'
She massaged her temples a little before she decided it's probably a good idea to get dressed.
"Can you, uhm...", she pointed to her clothes next to Xena's leathers on the floor, on the warrior's side of the bed.
"Sure.", Xena answered, passing Gabrielle her top, belt, skirt and undergarment before she started donning her own leathers.
When she donned her breastplate, she attached the scabbard on its place on her back and drawn her view to her chakram, which was firmly nailed into the wooden door.
She looked at it and, puzzled, scratched her head, 'How in the...'
Then another image flew through her mind.
"Holy Athena!", she exclaimed, drawing a hand over her mouth to grab her chin.
"What?", Gabrielle was instantly alert.
"I-I've almost... uh... ahem... Let's go find Joxer.", Xena stammered and headed to pull her weapon out of the door.
"Okaaaay.", Gabrielle drawled, eying her usually stoic and steady friend, and trying to figure out how in Hades name Xena's chakram ended attached to the door.
Both women silently went downstairs and tried to act as normal as possible toward each other. They passed through the main room of the tavern, which was swarming with people last night but now stood almost completely empty, and headed toward the exit. It was still early morning, so it wasn't strange there weren't many patrons. When they came outside, they spotted Joxer staggering out of the stable, holding his head with both hands and looking like he's going to leave his whole digesting system on the road every heartbeat now.
"Oye.", he muttered to himself, willing his legs to hold his weight somehow.
He felt his head would roll off of his shoulders should he remove his hands, and his stomach dangerously stirred with every step he took.
"Joxer.", Xena called.
Joxer, totally dazed and out of balance, slowly spun around, doing the action which definitely didn't do any good to his head or stomach, trying to pinpoint the owner of the voice calling his name, and only when both women stood just barely two arm's length away from him, he was able to recognize them. He blinked few times for better focus.
"Hades, what happen to you?", Gabrielle asked, both eyebrows raised.
She had never seen her friend so hungover before. Joxer rubbed his weary eyes trying to adjust on the bright morning light and he somehow expected it would fix his blurred vision, but it didn't.
"Ale.", he grumbled, now adjusting his so called armor.
Xena fidgeted a bit, hoping his mind, with a little help of that ale, would forget the scenes from the room.
"Uh, Joxer, do ya remember anything what happened to ya last night?", she asked tentatively, fearing the possible answer.
"Uhmmm... I d--"
"Sweet mother of Zeus!!!", Gabrielle exclaimed before Joxer could say anything, and then firmly clamped both hands over her mouth in shock.
She just caught another tiny missing piece; Joxer standing mouth agape in the door-frame while Xena oh so eagerly played with her breasts, among other body parts, and then chakram buzzing towards the door and missing the poor man's throat by mere hair's breadth. She sheepishly looked at him and felt sorry for a numskull she called a friend because he was so unaware how damn lucky he was that Xena's chakram or a heart attack or way too much ale didn't end his life last night. Then her eyes landed on the warrior and her round weapon now harmlessly hanging on her right hip. Xena glanced at Gabrielle and momentarily knew just what exactly the girl remembered. She could do nothing but shrug and offer a weak sheepish smile.
"Don't yell, for Hades' sake.", Joxer rubbed his sore temples, "Have some mercy on me, woman, me head's gonna blow."
With that said, he felt the contents of his stomach rapidly approaching to the exit, but the wrong exit.
"Scuse me.", he mumbled through the fingers covering his mouth.
Looking frantically around, he caught a sight of a ditch four strides away. Quickly running to it, he leaned down and emptied his yesterday's breakfast, lunch, dinner and every snack in between.
"Eew.", Gabrielle grimaced and quickly turned away, trying to calm now her own disturbed stomach.
Xena gently but somewhat awkwardly patted her back. She wasn't sure how much her touch was welcomed after last night.
"Ya okay?", she asked.
Gabrielle nodded and fanned herself with her hand, "Will be."
"Mmm.", Xena acknowledged and looked over her shoulder to the spot where Joxer was still tossing his cookies.
To some degree, she felt sympathy for the poor mutt. Often in her past, after all night of carousing, in the morning she would found herself awake with such a hangover and even worse headache. Those days she prayed for someone to end her miserable life.
"You alive?", she asked with a light smirk when Joxer came back.
"Mmm.", he grunted sullenly.
"Soooo,", Xena clasped her hands and rocked on the balls of her feet, suddenly feeling a great urge to be very mischievous, "whaddaya say we all go get somethin' to eat and drink a couple of drinks, eh?", she suggested, then with a devilish grin addressed the man, "Now at least you have some empty space in there.", she winked and nodded toward his belly.
Joxer glared at her when his stomach started to rebel again at the mention of food.
"Say, Gab, are ya in for some lamb offal, huh?", Xena waggled her eyebrows, "Or maybe....", she hadn't had the time to finish her sentence when Joxer quickly turned and ran to his now marked spot.
"Xena!", Gabrielle glared at her friend and smacked her upper arm.
The warrior feigned complete innocent and gave the bard her best puppy dog eyes, "Wha?"
Of course, it didn't work and Gabrielle scolded her, "Can't you be more tactful?"
Xena pouted and kicked some tiny rock with her boot, "Fine!"
She actually found a way how and on whom she could work some of her frustrations she felt were building inside her from the moment she opened her eyes and realized what she'd done, and she could achieve that without actually killing somebody; through her wicked sense of humor cast on the available idiot, ergo Joxer, and it was so quickly taken away from her.
"There, there.", she not so gently smacked his back when he returned for the second time, "C'mon you two, we have all day to spend in the tavern, Bacchae won't get out of the catacombs 'till sunset."
Gabrielle agreed, she could never say no to food. Joxer reluctantly nodded but still didn't trust Xena wouldn't find some new way to make fun at his expense again. But after all, they slowly headed toward the tavern, and as they were getting nearer, Xena's nervousness heightened. She felt an uneasiness between herself and the bard starting to linger in the air. She just hoped they would be able to put everything behind them, and fast, before their friendship suffered an irreparable damage.
O O O O O
Half way to the 'Wild horse' , as was the tavern's name, Gabrielle figured something's not quite right with Joxer's picture here, like some tiny piece of him wasn't where it should be. She took a better look at him and then she noted something, or better yet, someone's body part was missing.
"Hey, where's Orpheus?", she pointed at Joxer's empty back.
"Who?", Joxer looked at her, confused, and tried to take a look at his back.
Then he remembered who she was talking about and figured he probably left him in the stable.
"Oh, oops. Be right back.", he said and waddled away.
Xena raised her eyebrow and Gabrielle sighed, shaking her head. Just when Joxer returned with a missing member, Gabrielle's stomach announced its presence, demanding food with very loud growl.
"We better hurry, the beast just woke up.", Xena joked, this time on the bard's expense.
Gabrielle just put some goofy smile on her blushed face and hurried toward the tavern.
There were some people in there now, eating their breakfast and drinking their first drinks of the day, but, fortunately, the table in the far, dark corner was unoccupied. Gabrielle took her seat fully in the corner, her back and left side protected by the walls. Xena placed herself down on the bench next to Gabrielle, by the passage leading upstairs to the rooms, with undisturbed view on the entrance and entire tavern. Joxer sat across Gabrielle and Orpheus' head rested on the large table, next to the man's right arm. After they'd settled, they all sat for five full candledrops in silence, waiting for the barmaid to come and take their orders. Here, in closed space, both women felt that uneasiness lingering around them intensified a little so they avoided eye contact and got lost, each in her own tormenting thoughts. Joxer just shrugged when Orpheus directed a questioning look at him and massaged his temples, praying to every god, from Hades to Hestia, to take pity on him and took that damned headache away. God of Music every now and then glanced at the uncharacteristically quiet bard and jumpy warrior across the table, then looked at his hungover companion. Gabrielle sighed and leaned on her forearms on the table, anxiously fumbling with her fingers and gazing at non-artistic, drunk-made carvings decorating the large table's surface while Xena propped her right elbow on the table, placed her head in her hand and traced that same non-artistic lines and holes with her blue eyes, her left hand resting on her nervously bouncing knee.
When the barmaid finally reached their table and took their orders, the God of Music decided to learn what happened last night that affected all gathered except him.
"So, Joxer said you two had some fun last night.", Orpheus stated casually, observing two unusually anxious women whose heads snapped up immediately at his statement.
Three voices rang at the same time and three sets of eyes, blue, green and brown, absolutely surprised, looked at each other.
"Well, uhm... it was nothin'.", Xena mumbled and returned her attention back to the table's surface, now tracing those lines with her left index finger, her knee still wobbling like a chariot on a bumpy road.
"Yeah, uhm... I... we, y'know... er...", Gabrielle tried to say something but, for a usually very talkative bard, failed miserably.
Then the salvation came. Food. Gabrielle ordered a bowl of hot soup and two big slices of nutbread, Xena took some bread and cheese and a mug of port while Joxer took just a mug of warm cider, his stomach still too queasy for any kind of food.
"So, you didn't answer me. How was your night?", Orpheus asked again gruffly, more than slightly irritated and a little bit envious, already four full days unable to feel the rest of his body, and not to mention his hands would come in very, very handy right now 'cause that itch in his goatee's gonna kill him or drive him insane.
Gabrielle somehow swallowed a mouthful of her soup before she spoke, "Well, uhm, it was, like... er... well, good, not bad, good night 'cause I... we... um, I was, well, sleeping."
"Sleeping?", the god raised his eyebrows, wondering what the girl wasn't telling him.
"Yeah, after... uhh... was sleeping, good, on...", catching herself, Gabrielle cleared her throat, blushing furiously, glancing at squirming Xena who sat right next to her chewing a piece of smoked cheese, and tried to figure out how to lie.
"On?", the god encouraged her to continue after she felt silent for almost two candledrops.
'C'mon, Gab, make something up, you can do it.' ' "On... the ground." 'And you call yourself a bard?!'
"You were sleeping... on the ground... in your room inside the tavern?", the god drawled, bewildered.
"Yes. I mean, no. I... I was sleeping on Xena...", choking sound from the warrior in question, "...'s fur.", more choking.
'Zeus, strike me now, please.' , Gabrielle pleaded inwardly then snapped back at the god, "Look, we've slept!"
She angrily ate another spoonful of her breakfast and cursed under her breath when she burned her tongue with the still pretty hot soup.
Orpheus blinked a couple of times, thoroughly baffled, "Girl, I'm a god, but I didn't understand one word coming out of your mouth."
Xena tried to breathe normally and, hoping she could somehow pull them out of the hole Gabrielle dug so deeply, added, "What Gabrielle here's tryin' to say is that it was a good feeling for a change to sleep on...", she cleared her suddenly very dry throat and pulled her nose, the act indicating her discomfort, "nice, comfy body--bed...", choking sound from the bard. 'Fuck.'
Joxer just scratched his head in total confusion, eying the strangely stammering duo and trying to catch some meaning in this very odd, senseless conversation.
"...with warm fur and blankets.", Xena finished, "Y'know, unlike the ground, on the soft b...ed the body can... relax."
'Good job, warrior.' , she cursed inwardly and mentally slapped the back of her head.
Finding right words just wasn't one of her many skills. Squirming nervously on the bench, the warrior glanced at her blushing friend every few heartbeats, just waiting the moment when her restless limb would finally jump out of its socket due to constant violent bouncing.
"I see.", Orpheus drawled, "Yay, good for you."
Xena breathed a sigh of relief when the long period of silence fell upon them after god's last quip, thanking to whomever that this inquisition was over without two men realizing what they almost did.
Then, out of the blue, Orpheus added sardonically, "Well, at least some of us enjoyed their bodies last night."
On that remark Xena's eyes widened, she paled considerably and spat out the port she just took a sip of all over the table, and Gabrielle coughed when a mouthful of soup she just tried to swallow had gone in the wrong tack. Part of her breakfast came back out through her mouth and part through her nose, both directly on her green top and into her cleavage.
Xena gently thumped her back, "You alive?"
Gabrielle nodded and coughed one more time.
"Seriously, guys, what's the matter with ya?", Joxer asked, suspiciously eying oddly quibbling women through narrowed eyes, "Are you catching some ill or somethin'?"
"Uh huh.", Xena blurted.
"Yeah.", Gabrielle croaked through her sore throat, "It's something we ate last night."
"Hm.", Joxer got lost in his musings, trying to remember what he ate for dinner yesterday.
"So, I'll just, uhm... go, y'know, wash off that soup...", Gabrielle stammered and pulled one long noodle out of her top, Xena's blue eyes followed it with great interest from the bard's cleavage back to the bowl, where it belonged.
Getting up off the bench, the girl tried to overstep Xena's long legs, but with her very first step, she tripped over some loosen board on the floor and sat straight into the warrior's lap. For the second time, Xena muttered an inaudible sound and gulped when Gabrielle's backside warmed her loins in more than one way. Closing her eyes, she unnoticeably nuzzled the girl's blond hair and inhaled deeply, catching her sweet fragrance before Gabrielle stood up and almost stumbled again when her weakened knees wobbled, but thanks to Xena's fast reflexes, that didn't happen. The warrior caught the girl's hips and steadied her but her mischievous hands, like with the mind of its own, started on their own accord to travel up and down along those firm buttocks and strong, prefect thighs, and only when Gabrielle gasped in surprise and looked down at her with her eyes widened as plates, Xena realized what she was doing.
She gulped audibly and quickly removed her hands, fighting against the blush threatening to color her face. Fortunately for two women, other patrons in the tavern didn't paid any attention to them, and the table was high enough so neither Joxer nor Orpheus were able to see what exactly took place under the table just mere moments ago, so the men just shared a puzzled look when they saw a wide-eyed bard. Gabrielle finally left and Xena cursed again on several different languages when she caught herself staring at that beautiful, shaped butt of her young, strawberry blond friend.
'Oh, Aphrodite's nipples, cool it!' , she scolded and again mentally slapped herself on the back of her head, 'You're acting like a horny 15 year old boy. Forget it, warrior! Last night wasn't real. But Tartarus, it felt so good...'
She just needed to close her eyes and she could once again taste those sweet, soft lips, touch those tempting, firm breasts, smell that lusc...
"Xena. Xena! Xena!!!"
"Yeah? What?!", she snapped back.
Joxer shook his head, 'I'm the one who isn't supposed to be functional today, considering all the ale.' "So, what do we do?"
"'Bout what?", Xena asked distractedly.
Joxer frowned, "Um, Orpheus. Lyre. Bacchae... Ring any bell?"
"I dunno.", Xena shrugged, "I'll figure somethin' out.", she retorted, standing up to pass Gabrielle safely to her seat in the corner.
This time, without any 'incident', Gabrielle sat back and finished the rest of her meal in peace and afterward, for dessert, she enjoyed her two slices of nutbread. After that, they ordered two more rounds of drinks which they drank in relative silence, just every now and then Joxer asked some stupid questions or threw in some stupid remark. Gabrielle and Orpheus listened halfheartedly, pretending they're interested in his stories just to pass the time, while Xena ignored him completely, contemplating about how she would deal with Bacchus once she learned where he hides his sorry red ass. She thought of a weapon she could use and where to find it, and all they needed now was to pick that weapon up and wait for Bacchae to show up and follow them to the hidden catacombs.
"Hey, Gabby.", Joxer called.
Gabrielle was rudely pulled out of her daydreaming into the cruel reality by the most annoying voice.
"Hm?", she mumbled, thoroughly absent-minded, her thoughts immediately returning back to her tall friend and the 'exercise' they were practicing in her fantasy.
"Are ya okay? You look kinda... weary."
"Nah, I'm fine, don't worry.", Gabrielle answered absently and, after that, once again heavy silence set upon the table's occupants.
They'd had two more rounds of drinks and, afterwards, Joxer and Orpheus stayed in the tavern, while Xena and Gabrielle went to the stable; Xena to check on Argo, Gabrielle to get some stashed herbs from the saddlebag for Joxer's obstinate headache.
"Hey girl. How are ya?", Xena prattled to Argo, lovingly stroking her muzzle and running her fingers through the mare's soft, white mane and stroking her golden coat.
Argo neighed in response and nuzzled her mistress' hand in respond.
"Did Joxer bother you last night?"
Argo stomped with her hoof and bobbed her head up and down, snorting loudly.
"He smelled of ale, huh?"
The mare neighed and nuzzled Xena's chest, offering her ears so the warrior could scratch her behind them.
Gabrielle watched the conversation between Argo and her mistress and giggled quietly, 'Smart horsie.'
"You could use some groomin', couldn't ya?", Xena asked and the mare bobbed her head up and down again.
The warrior chuckled and moved toward the saddlebag hanging on the back wall of the horse's box, to get the brush, and just at the same time Gabrielle took what she needed and decided to turn around. The inevitable happened; Gabrielle's face clung to Xena's ample bosom. For the third time that day, Xena muttered an inaudible sound. Gabrielle, again, froze in place, fearing even to breathe, lest she'd do something she definitely shouldn't. When she came around, she inhaled deeply and was really, really tempted to at least lay one little kiss on the small scar above Xena's right breast. She wanted so badly to kiss and taste that soft mounds where her lips rested, but somehow she found the strength to resist that temptation. On the other hand, Xena's eyes closed and her heart started racing like a wild chariot inside her chest when the feel of warm breath tickling her cleavage awakened other parts of her anatomy and she waited, prepared for Gabrielle's mouth to claim their prize. But it didn't happen. Slightly disappointed, Xena opened her eyes and looked down at her friend.
"S-sorry.", Gabrielle stammered instead, albeit reluctantly detaching her face, and backed away from the warrior a couple of steps.
"Nah. It's...", Xena stepped forward to pat Gabrielle's shoulder in order to show the girl it wasn't a big deal, although it was, and tripped over some stone lying on the ground, hidden beneath the hay, and stumbled toward her smaller friend.
At once, Gabrielle was eagle-spread on the floor, with Xena on top of her.
Xena looked up high toward the ceiling and sighed, 'Which god did I offend today to deserve such torture?'
Then, looking down into those beautiful emeralds, she just lost herself in their depths, and she put all her energy into her power of will to suppress the urge to kiss those soft lips underneath. But no matter how hard she fought, she felt her control slowly but surely slipping away. She just couldn't take it anymore, so she closed her eyes and let the feelings take over. Gabrielle trembled in anticipation of that kiss and like enchanted watched as sapphire eyes surrendered and disappeared behind close eyelids. Feeling Xena's warm breath getting nearer brought memories of their lovemaking, stoking the fire inside her anew. Her breath quickened and she parted her lips, prepared for the welcomed intrusion, but an inch before their lips met, the stable's door opened and someone approached Argo's box.
"Guys.", Joxer's voice was hard to miss, "Wh...", he stuttered on the sight.
Xena instantly jumped up on her feet and straightened her leathers, pulling few straws out of her hair, while Gabrielle remained on the floor, covering her eyes with her left arm.
"He certainly has a timing.", the bard grumpily murmured to herself.
"We... uhm... heh...", Xena pulled her nose in discomfort, "Tripped and fell.", she explained to the stunned wanna-be-warrior, waving her hands to emphasize how everything happened.
Joxer just looked at her completely dumbfounded.
"Huh. After all, I'm not the only one who's clumsy!", he finally exclaimed cheerily, "Who would say I and big bad Warrior Princess have something in common."
'Oh, you have no idea.' , Xena smirked ironically, knowing very well wanna-be-warrior also lost his head and heart for the young, blond haired bard, and without a word offered a hand to that bard who was still lying on the ground, to help her stand up.
'What an idiot.', Gabrielle snorted, accepting Xena's hand.
Xena was careful not to pull too hard so Gabrielle didn't end up between 'two fires' again but, unfortunately, distracted as she was, she miscalculated, pulled to easy and let Gabrielle's hand too soon, so the bard almost fell back on the floor. Then, Xena's reflexes came in handy again. Well, partially actually, because Xena caught the first thing in range and that was, unfortunately, Gabrielle's green top, which ripped apart at the seams on the sides and revealed its sweet secret. Xena gulped audibly, with her eyes, widened as wheels, firmly fixed on the girl's chest, and Joxer dropped his jaw to the floor along with his tongue, almost making a noticeable puddle of spittle. Only Argo politely turned her head away and whinnied. The girl's cheeks instantly burned hot red and she shook her head to shake off the astonishment before she quickly covered her exposed breasts with her hands. Xena blinked a few times and with effort snapped out from the trance and audibly snapped closed her hanging jaw. She cleared her suddenly parched throat and looked at the front part of the ripped green fabric dangling uselessly in her hand, then at the topless girl in front of her. She let used-to-be-top to slip from her fingers to the floor and turned to the open mouthed wanna-be-warrior, standing in front of him and effectively blocking his view.
"Joxer, out!", she ordered in no-nonsense voice, pushing the unwanted guest out of the stable.
"Uh huh.", he blurted before the door slammed in front of his face.
After few moments he came around and headed back to the tavern, completely forgetting why he came to the stable in the first place.
"Uhm... there.", was all the warrior could utter, handing over Argo's blanket from the saddlebag to the bard to cover herself.
Gabrielle crinkled her nose at the strong smell of a horse.
Xena looked at her apologetically, "Sorry, I know it's a bit smelly..."
Argo shot the warrior a horse's version of 'the look', utterly offended, and neighed in denial.
Gabrielle turned to the golden mare, "Nothing personal, Argo, but you do have a little... strong scent."
Argo snorted, stomping with her hoof on that insult and turned her head away.
"You're a pretty touchy horse.", the girl murmured and Argo whinnied in reply.
Xena chuckled at the exchange between the bard and the mare.
"Better we get back to the inn.", she said finally.
Gabrielle nodded in agreement and silently followed the warrior. Just as they walked out of the stable, the stable boy returned from his break and directed a puzzled glance toward the women.
'Whew!', Gabrielle relieved, 'Thank the gods he wasn't in there.'
"Now, stay here, I'll be right back.", Xena instructed when she accompanied her friend into their room.
"Where are you goin'?"
"To get you some clothes. Unless ya wanna stay half naked..."
"NO!", Gabrielle shook her head vigorously.
Xena chuckled inwardly and headed out of the room, 'Well, I certainly wouldn't mind.'
"Okay. So, I can write some of my scrolls in the meantime.", Gabrielle smiled to herself once she was left alone, and clasped her hands before she paddled to the saddlebag and took out her writing equipment.
Pulling the chair to the small table next to the bed, she comfortably placed herself in it and dipped the quill into the ink, ready to decant her thoughts into written words.
'Now I really have somethin' to write about. And very interesting at that, nonetheless. To bad it has to go into my personal scrolls.'
It was late afternoon when Xena came back. Gabrielle was still lost in words and realized Xena had returned only when the warrior stepped in front of her and put a green top on her parchment.
Gabrielle looked in wonder at the offered piece of clothing, then at the smirking warrior standing in front of her.
"W... How did you find exactly the same one?"
Xena smugly grinned from ear to ear, "I have many skills."
'You sure have.', Gabrielle smirked to herself, remembering the night, "Thank you, Xena."
"Go on, try it."
Gabrielle quickly jumped on her feet, shrugged Argo's blanket off of her shoulders and put on her new bilious green sports bra.
"Just like the old one.", the warrior smiled when Gabrielle made a private fashion show.
"Yeah.", Gabrielle returned the smile then frowned when she looked a little closer at her new attire, noticing something's amiss, "Hmm. Don't ya think it's just a wee bit shorter than previous?"
Xena nervously cleared her throat and offered the bard her irresistible, charming, lopsided grin, "Nah. It's prefect."
Gabrielle arched her eyebrow in almost prefect imitation of Xena, and tall, dark haired woman squirmed like a child caught with its fingers in honey jar. The warrior knew that change of subject is in order.
She clasped her hands and rocked on her heels, clearing her throat, "Okay, now you're dressed, so let's go get Joxer 'cause I have to do somethin' before tonight's party.
O O O O O
"What are we actually doin' here?", Joxer asked glancing around the graveyard.
"Bacchae can be killed with only one thing.", Xena explained approaching one of the stone coffins, "And here's where we're gonna find it."
"Do we have to dig?", Joxer asked again, not so fond of trifling in the dirt, especially when the dead were lying all around him.
"Not exactly. And watch your steps, you two. Don't stand on any graves."
"Uhm, oka--aargh.", suddenly, wanna-be-warrior shrieked before he was pulled under the ground from the grave he was standing on.
Xena scowled, "What did I just SAY?!"
The bard quickly knelt, laid her staff on the ground and started digging through the crumble soil, trying to find their foolish friend. Xena joined her, cursing the idiot under her breath.
"Joxer!", Gabrielle squealed when they succeeded, each grabbing one of his hands and pulled him partially out, but whatever was under the ground, was fighting really hard to pull him back.
"Help!", he cried, wriggling hard in attempt to break free from his captor's tight grasp, before he disappeared again.
Gabrielle dug faster and after a few moments, her fingers found something soft so she grabbed it and pulled hard, but she only got someone's decomposing forearm. She looked at it with disgust before she tossed it over her shoulder somewhere behind her and resumed digging. Xena, however, had more luck. She felt an alive man's hands reaching for her's. She pulled hard and finally got Joxer free.
"Tartarus!", he spat dirt out of his mouth, cleaning his tongue with his fingers, "You stinkin' son of a...", he started but bit his tongue when a skeleton figure flew out of the hole he just got out of merely moments ago.
"What is that?", he shrieked, stumbled backwards and fell flat on his butt.
"That's a dryad.", Xena answered tersely, unsheathing her sword and protectively pushing Gabrielle behind her, "Stay behind me."
This time Gabrielle didn't argue, but nodded obediently and clutched Xena's leather battledress. A figure uttered a high pitch sound and flew left and right, allotting the intruders before she decided to strike the tall dark warrior. Xena prepared herself for the upcoming assault and swung with her sword when the dryad came closer, but the skeleton figure easily dodged the blade and took the spurt for another attack.
"Come on, you bonehead.", Xena taunted, twirling her sword.
Dryad shrieked a frustrated high pitched sound and rushed towards the warrior. This time, though, Xena let the dryad come dangerously close and in the last possible moment she stepped aside, pulling Gabrielle with her and with one perfect blow, the blade easily separated the head from the rest of dryad's body, which fell apart in the air and all of the bones scattered all over the graveyard. Xena ducked, picked one of the bones and tucked it in the pouch on her belt.
"No wonder this can kill Bacchae.", Joxer commented, observing a spiky bone in his hands, "Thing's sharper than harpy's claws!"
"Okay, we've got what we need.", Xena motioned with her head toward the village, "Let's go back, it'll be dark soon."
Joxer nodded and quickly picked one of the bones for himself, then ambled after the already departed women, "Hey, wait for me."
When they got back, they observed that the locals had already prepared everything for another night of fun and drink. Music played in the same rhythm as yesterday and people started to dance. Gabrielle was once again falling into ecstasy when the familiar rhythm carried her.
The girl heard a voice calling her and felt tapping on her right shoulder, "Hmm?", she answered absently.
"Ya alright?", Xena asked, concerned.
"Yeah... yeah.", Gabrielle shook her head to clear it.
"Alright.", Xena was still eying her suspiciously, "Stick to Joxer, I'll go look around."
Gabrielle nodded and again let herself go to the music.
"Joxer, keep an eye on Gabrielle."
"Sure thing, Xena.", he smiled broadly.
As the crowd become thicker, Gabrielle was unaware of ever growing distance between her and Joxer as people pushed them further apart.
"Gabri... Gabrielle!", Joxer called and tried to grab the girl's hands but his words were lost in loud music and laughter and the blond bard slipped out of his reach when two girls pulled her deeper into the mass.
"Xena's gonna kill me!", wanna-be-warrior whined, firmly gripping his helmet with his hands.
In the meantime, Gabrielle couldn't or wouldn't resist those girls seducing her anymore. They both clung to the little bard like leeches and started touching and kissing her everywhere, causing goosebumps all over her body. She felt something familiar about them, and her gut screamed at her to run to Xena, but as she turned to go away, the taller of the two girls kissed her, hard, and when she licked her lips, she recognized the taste, but now it was too late, and Xena was nowhere near to pull her into her safe arms. Few heartbeats passed and the drug dulled her senses enough so she would become more responsive to the seduction. She could still feel something's not right, but she couldn't quite put her finger on what it was exactly, so she just discarded that warning, tingling sensation in her stomach and let the lust consume her body.
Joxer was frantically searching for Gabrielle when he felt a hand firmly gripping his shoulder. Frightened, he turned around and noticed a grim face of one tall, dark warrior standing behind him.
"Didn't I tell you to keep an eye on Gabrielle?", Xena growled, "Is that so hard to do?"
"It's Gabby we're ta--"
"Point taken.", she cut him off and went searching after her friend.
"Gabrielle!", she yelled in her most powerful voice, but the music was simply too loud.
After some time she finally spotted her friend and the sight left her speechless. Gabrielle looked... divine. That beautiful young body, those sensual moves, the way she swayed her hips with the rhythm, the way her blond hair fluttered on the light breeze...
'Sweet Aphrodite, she's gorgeous and I'm in love.'
Xena quickly dropped from the clouds and hard on the ground when two girls started very intimately touching her friend and kissing her neck, slowly advancing down the collarbone and shoulder blades.
"Gabrielle!", Xena yelled when she recognized the girls, but the bard didn't hear her.
"Bacchae.", she snarled in a low, throaty voice as she advanced toward them, roughly pushing aside everyone who stood in her way.
"Hey girls.", she called when she was standing four arm's length away, "Sorry to break up the party."
Both Bacchae twirled around to face their challenger and snarled at her. Xena pulled her sword out and twirled it in her right hand while she taunted a tall, short haired Bacchae, who was standing the closest to her, with her left.
"C'mere, you bloodsucker."
Short haired Bacchae hissed angrily and rushed at Xena, blocking her view with her broad shoulders and a cape hooked around her neck which fluttered wildly behind her, so the warrior didn't see other Bacchae biting Gabrielle's neck. Xena twirled her sword one more time before she thrust forward and drove it all the way to the hilt into Bacchae's stomach. That didn't kill her, though, so she continued to try and bite Xena's neck. The warrior just smirked evilly before she pulled the dryad's bone from her leather pouch and shoved it straight into unsuspecting Bacchae's chest. Bacchae's eyes widened in surprise and before she could utter anything, she crumbled into a pile of dust in front of Xena's feet. Xena just squeezed her eyes and sneezed loudly when some of the dust entered her nostrils.
"Eew, I inhaled a Bacchae.", she scrunched her face in disgust.
Seeing her companion was dead, other Bacchae shrieked, showing her fangs, and flew out of the crowd. Xena wasted no time and ran to Gabrielle, grabbing her wrist, and pulled her along. Joxer spotted both women and decided to go after them. When all three were out in the clearing, the Bacchae was already gone.
"Damn!", Xena cursed looking around.
Then, sensing her friend shiver, she faced the bard's back and put a hand on her shoulder, "Gabrielle, are you alright?"
There was no answer.
"Gabrielle?", she seized her upper arm and tried to twirl her around, but the girl didn't even budge so she stepped in front of her instead.
She took her chin to lift the blonde's head and the face she looked at was not of her friend. Instead of a pair of lovely emerald green eyes, she was observed like a prey with two yellow-red ones, and two very big and sharp fangs threatened to draw her blood. Before she knew it, Gabrielle knocked her down and flew away to the catacombs.
"Where'd she go?", Joxer asked perplexed and scared.
"To the catacombs.", Xena stood up and followed her friend to said Bacchus' habitat.
"Hey, wait for me!", Joxer called.
Xena turned and wagged her finger, "Stay put! I can't be saving your ass, too. Not this time."
"Uh huh.", Joxer pouted, utterly offended, "So, ya don't need someone who, hmmm,", he tapped his chin with his forefinger as if thinking, "I dunno, PLAYS the lyre!?!"
" You play the lyre?", Xena and Orpheus asked at the same time, completely stunned.
"I-I had a few lessons.", Joxer confessed, a bit ashamed, "Mother wanted me to be a musician. Ha! What an idea!? Me - musician? I'm a natural born warrior!", he puffed his chest proudly.
"Uh huh.", Xena snorted and nodded to the 'warrior', "Come on then, warrior ."
O O O O O
When they entered the catacombs, they sneaked up into the main chamber and carefully observed the sight, safely hidden behind one stone big enough to hide both of them with no problem. In the center of a large room stood a round, broad stony table, a big, roughly chiseled out, craggy bowl was placed in the very center of that table, and a yellow metal chalice rested next to it. A huge, blood red throne covered with a likewise blood red satin sheet and decorated with two big carved, curled horns, was set in recess on a rather high rock on the other side of the chamber. Xena's roaming blue eyes easily spotted Orpheus' golden lyre next to the throne.
"There's Gabby.", Joxer pointed at the fairly large row of Bacchae, waiting for the ceremony to commence, where they would drink their master's blood and become a full Bacchae for the rest of their lives.
Bacchus stood quietly at the table and raised his hands high up in the air so everyone could see what he was doing, before he cut his right wrist with his ceremonial knife and brought his hands down to fill the bowl with his blood. When his wrist healed, he reaved the blood with the chalice and raised it with both hands above his head. He trailed the chalice containing his blood with his eyes, and then he looked at all the Bacchae standing all over the chamber. Next, his eyes set at the row of new Bacchae who awaited patiently to taste his blood and trade their mortal lives for new, cursed, immortal ones. Finally, he lowered his eyes to focus solely on the first Bacchae in front of him.
"Drink.", he ordered and handed the chalice to that first Bacchae.
The Bacchae accepted the chalice and obediently drank up every last drop.
He addressed all Bacchae, "Drink, my children, and become my Bacchae forever.", his rasping voice echoed throughout the chamber.
He accepted the now empty chalice from his new 'permanent' Bacchae, refilled it and handed it to another Bacchae.
"Drink.", he repeated.
The Bacchae took the chalice and drank, just like the first one, to the last drop. Then she gave the empty chalice back to her new eternal master. Xena's eyes widened when she saw who's next. There, calmly, third in line stood Gabrielle. She accepted the refilled chalice from Bacchus and slowly drew it closer to her lips.
"Gabrielle, don't!!!", deep female voice boomed.
"Xena.", Bacchus growled and all Bacchae turned toward the intruder who now stood in front of the rock she was hiding moments ago.
He smiled, "You're too late. Your friend will soon belong to me for the rest of eternity."
"Over my dead body."
"That can be arranged. Get her!", he roared.
Bacchae hissed and proceeded toward the warrior, all showing their sharp fangs. Xena ran, cried her battle cry, somersaulted over a dozen of Bacchae and landed about four paces away from Gabrielle.
"Drink.", Bacchus ordered and tilted the chalice in Gabrielle's hands toward her lips.
"NO!!!", Xena screamed and reached for her friend, but it was too late.
Gabrielle drank up all the blood and put the chalice down on the table. Her world started spinning, her heart racing and head pounding. She closed her eyes and after a few heartbeats everything calmed and she felt that her whole body was now filled with extra power, energy and satisfaction. And hunger for human blood.
"Aiyiyiyiyiyi.", Xena cried, jumped up and high kicked Bacchus in the chest.
He staggered a little and that gave her enough time to pull out the dryad's bone from her leather pouch attached on her belt and drive it into his heart, simultaneously throwing her chakram, which knocked half of Bacchae out. 8 feet of a red creature, with big ram-look-a-like horns and poisonous yellow eyes, blinked in surprise, looked at his pierced chest and collapsed on the floor. The rest of the Bacchae gathered around Bacchus and, shocked, wailed for their fallen master. Xena took that chance and went for the lyre. She climbed up the throne and reached for the instrument when she heard a deep evil snicker. She quickly turned and saw Bacchus' vision standing up very much alive.
He laughed, totally amused by this mortal, "Don't you know that only Bacchae can kill me?"
Looking at Gabrielle he snarled, "Bite her!"
Gabrielle hissed, barring her fangs, and flew to the throne where Xena stood frozen. When she landed, she circled the tall warrior, evaluating her new prey. She deeply inhaled intoxicated smell of leathers mixed with unique scent that was Xena. Her hands roamed all over the warrior's body, exploring natural curves, feeling soft skin beneath her fingertips, smooth leather battledress and brass breastplate cold on touch. Somewhere deep inside she felt she knew and cared deeply for this dark haired woman and didn't want to hurt her, but she also couldn't suppress the urge to bite her, to taste her and make her one of them, nor could she disobey her master's request.
"Gabrielle, do it.", Xena whispered in surrender, offering her neck to the bard-turned-Bacchae.
The girl hissed and stroked the warrior's midriff, pulling the older woman firmer to her smaller body. She grasped Xena's throat with her free left hand, caressing it lovingly before she tilted her head and pricked her fangs in the woman's pulse point. Xena closed her eyes in arousing, bittersweet ecstasy when Gabrielle started to suck her warm, dark blood in her mouth. When she was done, the girl licked her lips, enjoying the metallic taste of the warrior's life fluid, along with the emotions she absorbed through the red liquid. She felt love, devotion and desire the dark haired woman cherished for her. For Gabrielle. When Xena finally opened her eyes, her beautiful baby blues were replaced by the same yellow-red eyes others Bacchae had. However, there was still enough of the warrior left deep inside her to pull herself together enough to do what she had to do.
"It's time for Joxer the Mighty.", Joxer sighed and climbed imperceptibly to the throne when Xena and Gabrielle came down between the rest of the Bacchae.
The man pulled Orpheus' head out of the bag, put it on the throne, took the lyre and set the strings.
"What should I play?"
"Anything.", Orpheus replied anxiously, "Just play!"
"Okay.", Joxer thought for a few heartbeats then began to play some childish tune and Orpheus accompanied him with his singing. Bacchus and his Bacchae immediately covered their ears troubled with unbearable, tantalizing music. Although her brain also screamed in agony, Xena managed to pick up the dryad's bone from the floor where the red creature threw it indolently away after her first unsuccessful attack, and with great force stuck it into Bacchus' chest for the second time. This time, however, Bacchus grabbed his painful chest and looked with wide yellow eyes at the warrior in disbelief.
"You.", he gasped before he fell to his knees, burst and turned into a pile of dust.
Momentarily, all Bacchae transformed back into normal women.
Joxer, still holding the lyre looked at Orpheus who was now standing next to him, "Hey, you're taller than I thought."
The god smiled at him and finally scratched his goatee, "C'mon, let's get these girls out of here."
Confused and disoriented, they all, without a question, followed Orpheus and Joxer, to whom the warrior for the second time explained where the exit was out of the catacombs. When two friends were at last left alone in the chamber, Gabrielle sighed heavily, sat on the edge of the table and ran her fingers through her tousled tresses.
"Hi.", Xena's soft voice urged her to lift her head and look up at her companion.
"Hi yourself.", Gabrielle replied with a smile.
"Listen...", Xena scratched her head, slowly approaching her blond friend, not knowing how to begin the conversation.
She was two paces away when she tripped over another dryad's bone left lying on the floor, and ended up on her knees in front of the bard, with her face neatly settled between Gabrielle's parted legs, right under her brown skirt. The only difference, this time Gabrielle was the one who inhaled sharply and muttered an inaudible sound with her eyes widened as plates. Her throat went completely dry when Xena's warm breath tickled her inner thighs, not to mention some other sensitive parts. Xena closed her eyes and sighed, desperately trying to ignore the musky scent which filled her nostrils and ignited the fire in her lower stomach then traveled downward and settled in her crotch.
'Is someone above trying to send me a message or somethin'?'
With that line of thoughts, Xena could swear she heard Aphrodite giggling up there on Olympus. Remembering where her head was, the warrior snapped out of her musings and nervously cleared her throat before she extricated herself out of the bard's skirt.
Still crouching, she carefully braced the bard's knees for balance, raised her head and looked Gabrielle directly in her green eyes, 'Never thought this one's ever gonna come out of my mouth...' "Think we need to talk."
Gabrielle nodded and watched Xena standing up and sitting next to her on the table.
"Some day, huh?", the warrior nudged her shoulder and looked at her with a crooked smile on her face.
"Right.", Gabrielle chuckled, glancing around the cavern.
"Look, about last night..."
Gabrielle immediately lowered her head, "It's all ri--"
"No.", Xena cut her off by putting her fingers on the bard's soft lips.
Then she gently cupped her chin and turned Gabrielle's head toward her so she could faced those magnificent emeralds. She lovingly stroked her cheek, advancing with her fingers toward her strawberry blond hair and put one loosen lock behind the bard's ear.
"That", she leaned closer to her friend and lowered her voice to almost a whisper, "was the most beautiful night in my life."
"It was?", Gabrielle's eyes instantly lit up.
Xena nodded and leaned even closer until their lips were but hair's breadth away, "Mmhmm", she lightly traced the line of Gabrielle's jaw with the tip of her forefinger, never breaking eye contact.
"Mine too.", Gabrielle smiled before their lips met in a loving kiss.
They both closed their eyes and enjoyed the gentle collision and the rejoining of two souls forever destined to be as one. When they broke the kiss, they looked at each other and smiled. Xena took Gabrielle's hand in her own and intertwined their fingers. Raising their joined hands to her lips, she kissed the back of the bard's hand.
"Sooo...", she began, playing with the bard's smaller, delicate fingers, "Whadda ya say we go back to the room?"
A mischievous smirk appeared on the warrior's face and her eyebrows wiggled, suggesting something devilish is brewing in her mind.
"I won't mind.", Gabrielle giggled and kissed the warrior one more time before she stood up and tugged Xena to get on her feet, too, "But, Xena?"
"Bolt the door this time, will ya? Don't wanna Joxer's face popping up in the middle of..." she cleared her throat, gesturing with her hands and properly blushing at the memory, "Ya know."
Xena grinned, "I know.", then seriously, "Who'd clean all that blood from my chakram!"
"Xena!", Gabrielle jabbed her in the ribs with her index finger.
"Just kiddin', just kiddin', she chuckled, then grinned evilly, "Although, maybe I'll have to kill him after all, don't mind the blood.", she folded her arms across her chest, "Still, he did see you naked, y'know? Twice, I might add."
"Oh, don't remind me.", Gabrielle moaned pathetically, "I'm gonna have nightmares for at least a fortnight."
Tall, dark haired warrior chuckled inwardly, 'He maybe saw a small glimpses of ya, but only I have the access to the whole real thing. Ha! Bite me, Joxer the Mighty.'
"Shall we?", Xena offered her hand and Gabrielle wholeheartedly accepted.
* * *
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