Disclaimers: Don't own the characters, never did and never will.

Sex: Oh just a little. F/F, M/F. Sorry but the last one had to go in. Didn't like it myself folks. She is after all, well a way to put it kindly........very friendly. ;) Don't worry no M/F sex in this story just a little play to be exact so don't worry

Violence: Well let me remember who is in the story. Gabrielle, Ephiny, and oh yeah XENA. Her middle name is violence. Slicing, dicing to be expected with the occasional smacking and perhaps the necessary spankings?

Timeline: None. But Xena and Gabrielle never met and now Xena sits on the Corinthian throne while Gabrielle sits on an Amazon throne. There are clips and parts from different episodes and I'm sure you will know them but they aren't in this piece, they'll be in the second part and they will be labeled in the beginning disclaimers for fact. Thanks.

As always angeleyes_charmed@yahoo.com - Sarah Miller's new address.

Let the show begin.

by Sarah Miller


A blonde curly haired woman walked quietly through the village unnoticed as she approached a large hut that stood in the center. Not bothering to knock, she let herself in and proceeded to the bed where a figure was buried under a mountain of fur blankets. The woman tilted her head from side to side, chuckling softly as she reached down to grasp the edging. She threw the furs to the floor and bent down to study a young woman. Pulling a feather from her side, she carefully brought it to the small nose and slid it around watching as a hand rose time and time again to bat at the offending object.

"Time to wake, princess." She laid the feather down on a table. "Come on. Lot's to do today."

A green eye opened and studied the woman in front of her. "Can Amazons be tortured for waking their princess? A quiet sleep filled voice asked.

The other woman seemed to consider this. "Not if they're here on the Queen's orders."

"Figures." She raised her arms over her head to hide her face.

"Not today, Gabrielle."

"Eph..."She groaned out in protest, struggling to grab the blankets that were no longer there.

"No." She reached down and grabbed Gabrielle's wrists, slowly pulling her off the bed. "What was that?" She asked at Gabrielle's soft grumble.

"I said I hate you."

Ephiny nodded. "That's what I thought you said." She hauled her off to the bathing chamber and practically threw her in it. "I had better see you outside in half an hour." She grinned evilly. "Or I'll come in and get you."

"Yes mother," came a small reply from inside.

Ephiny smiled as she shook her head and headed out.

Gabrielle tilted her head up and scanned the ceiling in boredom. "Where is she?"

Ephiny elbowed her. "Feet down."

Gabrielle complied and turned her head to Ephiny. "You worry too much."

"I have every reason to. Assigned to you aren't I? I'm surprised I haven't any gray hairs."

"Wait longer." Gabrielle snickered into her tea.

"Nice to see you're both relaxed," came a voice from behind them.

Gabrielle almost dropped her cup as she turned to see Melosa. "My Queen." She bowed her head respectfully. "You summoned for me?" She asked in mild impatience.

"I did, yes." She sat down. "We will be signing the treaty." Her eyes were on Ephiny.

Gabrielle looked from one to the other. "What treaty?"

"We have been having trouble with the northern village of Siernok as you know and I have been encouraged to take on help. A party of warriors will be arriving in the morning to discuss a treaty."

Gabrielle watched Melosa from across the table. She knew how hard it was for her to admit defeat and here she was, doing just that. "Who are we working with?"

Melosa turned to her. "The Conqueror."

Gabrielle lost it and rose out of her chair. "Are you nuts?" She shook her head as if to clear stray thoughts and turned her focus back to Melosa. "With all due respect my Queen, but she is not to be trusted."

"I am aware of that fact." She leaned forward. "But we have no other choice in this matter."

"Can you give your word that she will not betray us?" She felt Ephiny grip her thigh in warning.

Melosa slapped her hand down onto her desk. "It's final and it will be done in a week."

"A week? Why so long?" Ephiny asked uncertain.

"She has asked for the chance to visit the Amazons. To see if we're worth protecting."

"That Bitch!"

"Gabrielle, your tone!" Ephiny laid a hand on Gabrielle's arm.

Gabrielle sat down and addressed Melosa. "I'm sorry my Queen. You are very much aware of her reputation and I will trust your judgment to not interfere." She sat down, turning her head to Ephiny at a sideways glance, who nodded. A pause. "Um...,"Gabrielle started. "...my Queen."

"Yes, you may go Gabrielle," Melosa interrupted her.

"Thank you." She rose and glanced at Ephiny before leaving quietly.

"She's been through so much."

"I know."

"Just watch out for her."

"I always do." She bowed slightly before leaving as well.

Gabrielle woke to a light tapping on her door. She rolled onto her side and covered her head hoping it would go away. No such luck. Her eyes turned to the window realizing that it had to be somewhere in the middle of the night. She flung the covers off and rose, walking quickly to the door. "I'm going to..."Her sentence died as she came face to face with the Conqueror herself. Her mouth opened a few times but she was unable to speak.

"Sorry to wake you." Her eyes bore into Gabrielle's and it was apparent that it was making the small woman nervous.

"Where is Ephiny?"

"With Melosa."

Gabrielle stepped back and realized that she was barely wearing any clothing. A small wrap covered her chest and underwear covered her bottom. Searching for her cloak, she felt a presence behind her. Turning she saw the Conqueror holding it out for her.

"Is this what you're looking for?"

"Thank you."

"No need to blush, nothing I haven't seen before." She turned and walked out the door.

Gabrielle waited for a few minutes before throwing on some clothes. She combed a hand through her hair as she threw a shirt over her head and walked out. There were several people that she did not recognize as she entered the meeting hut. A large man was sitting on the right side of the Conqueror while an oriental woman sat on her left. While taking a seat next to Ephiny, her eyes somehow found the Conqueror's and she blushed at the intense gaze that was fixed on her.

Melosa spoke up, "Agreed." She signed a piece of parchment. "But we will have no need for it this far south." She pushed the paper and it quickly made its way to the hands of the Conqueror.

Her eyes glanced at it knowing what it would say. Taking the quill in her hands, she signed her name, to seal one half of the treaty.

As the parchment passed by, Gabrielle saw there were already two paragraphs that were signed and she ached to know what had been agreed upon and who had favored in the deal. Her eyes caught the seal at the top and knew that the wax had been marked by the seal of the Conqueror. Turning her eyes to her, she noticed a rather remarkable silver ring that was on her index finger. Gabrielle watched as the Conqueror stood and left the hut followed by her two advisors. Taking a quick look at Ephiny, she found that she was in deep conversation with Melosa and figured she could slip away unnoticed. Stopping just outside she saw the Conqueror turn to her as the man from the hut raised a knife. The Conqueror shook her head and the man lowered it. Gabrielle subconsciously ran a finger over her throat.

"Yes princess." Her voice was calm and smoky.

Gabrielle took a step to the side, putting distance away from her and this dark woman. She noticed that the man that had stood next to the Conqueror was gone yet she could not remember where and when he had left.

"Something on your mind?"

Gabrielle looked up. "No, I just..."She stopped. "What do I call you? I don't know your name."

The Conqueror smiled, more like a show of teeth. "At a time I was called Xena. I suppose that would do now."

"Xena." Gabrielle rolled the name around her tongue. "It suites you."

"I've grown attached to it. Now is there something I can do for you?"

"No, why?"

"Generally when I'm followed from a room there's a reason." Her eyes again bore into Gabrielle's as if reading her soul, thoughts, and motives.

"No I just figured negotiations were over."

Xena nodded. "I see." She took a deep breath. "If you'll excuse me princess." She turned to walk away.

"Gabrielle." She watched Xena stop and turn her head. "My name. It's Gabrielle."

"I know."

She watched Xena disappear into the darkness and felt a hand on her shoulder that made her jump. "You scared me."

"Didn't mean to." Ephiny turned to where Gabrielle was watching the woods. "What are we looking at?"

"Xena was here."


"The Conqueror."

"I know her name," she said impatiently. "Why was she here, talking to you?"

Gabrielle turned and ran fingers through her hair in frustration. "Don't worry all the time. I was just talking to her."

"It's my job to worry about you. She's not the kind of person you want to be around."

"I'm not stupid and I never said I was going to be hanging out with her. Just stop okay."

"Stopped." She turned and headed into the hut.

Gabrielle's eyes turned to gaze out into the forest aware that eyes watched her but unable to see in the shadows, she shook her head and headed off toward her hut.

In the morning, Gabrielle woke again to a light tapping on her door. Rising slowly, she wrapped an available blanket around herself and walked to the door. Opening the door, her eyes took in the form of Ephiny. "Hey."

"You oversleep."

"No." She walked back in, knowing that Ephiny would follow which she did. Taking a seat on her bed she lowered the blanket and ran fingers through her hair to comb it. "What time is it?"

"Little after dawn."

"Oh." She sat there for a minute. "Dawn. How did I oversleep?"

"Just seeing how awake you were."

"its dawn. How awake did you expect me to be?"

Ephiny rose and grabbed a glass of water from the desk.

"They still here?"


"I thought Melosa said they'd be arriving this morning."

"Guess they came early."

"Where is she sleeping?"

"Near the north gate."

"And her men?"

"They've been spotted heading toward Corinth. Apparently she sent them home."


"Guess she didn't need the protection."

"Then why bring them?"

"Gabrielle, I don't know and I'd rather not sit here talking about that....woman all day."

Gabrielle smiled. "She's interesting though."

"How so?"

"I mean look at her." Her eyes took on a gleam as her mind wandered off. "I bet she could have anything she wanted," said softly.

"And did." She bent down to kneel. "Don't get involved. Just forget her, ignore her, and soon she'll be gone."

Gabrielle nodded.

"Get dressed." She threw her a package.

"What's this?"

"Just something to spice up your wardrobe."

"Uh oh."

"Just get dressed."

"Okay." She shook her head as Ephiny walked out. "Don't know about this." She unwrapped the package and laid the clothes out on the bed. A soft shirt of some kind of material that tied around one shoulder and left the other bare. There was a long skirt with a nice skin thong that went with it. She smiled as she grabbed a towel and headed toward the bathing chamber.

She entered the food hut and felt eyes on her. She sat down next to Ephiny and tried not to turn her eyes to Xena. It was near impossible till she saw the warrior leave out of the corner of her eye. "What do you think?"

"Looks great." She stood. "I have to go." Passing Gabrielle, her hand patted her on the shoulder.

"Where you going?"

"Melosa wanted to see me."

"Okay, I'll catch up with you later." She rose and walked to the food table. Feeling Ephiny at her side she turned. "Yes?"

"Just promise me one thing."



"On what it is."

"Stay away from her."

"Promise." She paused as she watched Ephiny turn to leave before adding, "For now."

"Gabrielle." Her voice held a warning tone.

"I know what I'm doing. I know what she is and what she's done."

Ephiny moved to say something but nodded and walked out.

Gabrielle turned her eyes to the food before her. She felt someone enter and was about to turn when she felt them walk up right behind her. A shiver ran up her spine and she knew instantly who it was. "What do you want?"

"What makes you think I want something?"

Gabrielle turned. "You've already eaten." She walked sideways out of her way. "Yet you come back." Her eyes met blue. "To annoy me?"

A shake of the head.

"To intimidate me?" She sat down.

Xena smiled as she took a seat across from her. "Don't want me here just say so." She leaned forward on the table. "Go on."

"That's not it."

"Then what?" She raised an eyebrow. "Nervous?"

"No, why should I be nervous?"

"You tell me."

Gabrielle broke the eye contact. "I'm not nervous."


"No, drop it."

Xena leaned back. "Then tell me something." She once again bore her blue eyes into Gabrielle's. "If you're not nervous around me then why does your pulse race? Why can't you keep eye contact?"

"My pulse does not race."

"I can see it from here."

Gabrielle sighed. "You've got it wrong."

"Do I? Then explain things to me."

Gabrielle turned to her serious. "I'd be stupid not to react when sitting next to a murderer."

There was a moment where their eyes fixed on each other in a challenge before Xena stood up and leaned forward on the table an unreadable look on her face. She snorted as she walked to the door.


"What does it look like?" She walked out.

Gabrielle laid her head down on the table.

Gabrielle was sitting at her desk when a knock came to her door. She laid down her quill and opened the door to see Xena. "Yes?"

"Don't say yes till you know the question." She held up something.

"What's that?"


Gabrielle unwrapped the package and her eyes widened as she read the note that was on the top. Pulling out a long white shift, silver beads and a pair of sandals. Her eyes glanced back at the note.

Meeting in half an hour. Under the tree at the north endof the field.


Gabrielle looked up at Xena. "I take it you've read this." She saw a twinkle come to the vibrant blue eyes before it was hidden once more. "Why did you get chosen to bring this to me?"

"I didn't." She held up a red sash that had belonged to a member of the guard. "She needed to take a nap." A grin came to her face that made her eyes even bluer.

Gabrielle shook her head.


"You should smile more often." She saw the smile drop instantly. "I only meant that..."She saw Xena back up. "Nevermind." She shrugged.

Ephiny watched the warrior walk away as she approached Gabrielle's hut. Not bothering to knock she walked in to see Gabrielle drop her skirt to stand unclothed in front of her. "Don't let me rush you...take your time."

Gabrielle turned suddenly. "Huh." When she saw Ephiny she relaxed and it showed in her body. "She was here."

"I know."

"So what's up with the secret meeting?"

"Not sure."

"Xena knows. She took out the messenger."

Ephiny ground her teeth. "I'll go tell Melosa."

"Does that mean the meeting is off?"

"I'd say so. No point in a meeting if she's going to be there now is there?" She lifted up a robe. "I'd put more clothes on if I was you." Her eyes turned to glance over Gabrielle's body. "Because from the looks of it, it's rather chilly in here."

Gabrielle folded her arms over her chest. "Funny."

"Wasn't trying to be." She grinned as she turned and walked to the door. "Oh yeah." She threw her a box. "Your tea leaves." And she walked out.

Gabrielle rubbed hands down her arms as she slipped a shift over her head. Pulling her hair up into a bun, she headed out.

She felt eyes follow her to the lake but each time she turned there was nothing. A thought occurred to her that Xena could easily follow her but a voice inside kept reminding her that a woman as powerful as Xena would have no reason to follow her.

Stopping at the bank she dropped her towel and slid off her shoes. Turning to look around she slid off her shift and slowly waded in. Tilting her head back, she wet her hair and wiped it back from her face. A soft contented groan fell from her lips as she lowered beneath the dark water. A spark shot up her spine and she surfaced gasping for air. Green eyes turned to the shore searching for something unknown but coming up empty. Relaxing slightly, she continued to swim.

A light rain began to fall and as she swam around, hoping it would go away, she noticed it fell harder and harder. "Just great." Shaking her head, she dived under and swam underneath for a few minutes before surfacing again. The sky flashed making her jump and the loud rumble of thunder soon followed making her decision for her. Glancing toward the shore she did a double take as she saw something move out of the corner of an eye. Watching for a few minutes she was relieved when nothing else moved. "Get a grip Gabrielle." The tingle in her spine grew stronger and she bit her lip. "Who's there?"

"You really want to know?" Avoice asked from the shadows.

Gabrielle paused recognizing that voice. "Xena?"

The warrior emerged from the shadows.

"You spying on me?"

"Yes." Her grin was all teeth as she leaned against a tree.

Gabrielle crossed her arms over her chest. "How long?"

Xena leaned forward. "How long have you felt me?" She watched the answer cross the woman's face.

"Are you staying?"

"No reason to leave." She tilted her head to the side. "Mind if I join you?"

"Not my lake."

"Is that a yes?"

Gabrielle swam towards the shore not getting out. She looked up expectantly almost hesitantly.

"Expecting me to turn." Her eyebrows rose. "Nothing I haven't seen before
Gabrielle." Her voice was soft and she paused before stepping forward. "As I said earlier." The falling rain had the warrior soaked and as she stood there in her small shift a shiver broke out. Her hands ran down her arms to warm her up as she turned back to Gabrielle who appeared to be focused on the water. "Can't stay there all night."

Gabrielle rose out of the water aware of the eyes scanning her body. Sliding on her shift, she grabbed her towel and headed off as fast as she could. She felt the now familiar tingle at the base of her spine and this time turned around to see a dark figure at the end of the trail, highlighted every few minutes with flashes of lightning.



Xena moved closer and watched Gabrielle back up. "Do the Amazons know they have a coward for a princess?" She watched the green eyes flash fire.

"I'm no coward."

"Yet you withdraw from me."

"Any sane person would."

Xena walked closer, knowing Gabrielle would back up. When the blonde had her back close to a tree she pushed her into it. "Some things should be feared more than others, don't you think." She leaned in to breathe in Gabrielle's scent.

"Leave me alone." Her eyes closed.

"An order?"

"No." She opened her eyes to see a familiar fire in the blue eyes.

Xena backed up. "Just admit it."

"Admit what?"

"You're scared of me."

"Never and I'll prove it."


"Sparing ring tomorrow. I'll knock the Warrior Princess on her ass."

Xena paused. No one had called her that for some time. She smiled leaning closer. "I doubt it."

Gabrielle smiled. "Can I go now?" She saw the warrior turn her eyes back to the beach before she was let go. Shaking her head, she walked into the trees.

Ephiny met her at the door. "Where did you go?"


Ephiny let out a breath. "She there?"

"Why would you ask that?"

"You're flushed."

"Just leave it alone."

"If you answer me."

"Yes, she was there."

"Stay away from her."

"Or what?"

Ephiny looked pissed. "I mean it Gabrielle."

"If she's so dangerous, why are we signing a treaty with her?"

Ephiny was silent.

"Thought so." She turned to enter her hut.

"She's staying till the next full moon." Her eyes were on the ground.

Gabrielle did not reply as she closed the door behind her.

Ephiny turned to see Xena break through the trees and headed over to her. "Stay away from her."

Xena stopped and fixed Ephiny with an icy stare. "I wouldn't be giving orders that won't be obeyed." She felt a hand on her shoulder as she turned to walk away. "Wanna lose it?" The hand was gone.

Gabrielle poked her head out of the door watching the scene. Xena turned to her. "You might want to tell your friend to use her brain."

"She doesn't listen to me."

Xena started toward Gabrielle but was blocked by Ephiny. "Don't start something you can't win Amazon."

"I have no intention of losing. I'll protect Gabrielle with my life."

"It just might take that. Let's look at the facts here. If I wanted her dead, she would be. I've had more than a few opportunities." Her eyes bore into Euphony's in a silent challenge.

Gabrielle spoke up. "Ephiny go."

Ephiny grunted as she brushed past Xena.

Gabrielle turned to Xena. "What can I do for you?"

Xena held up a pair of sandals.

"Thanks I forgot them."

"In your hurry to get away from me." She walked off without another word.

Melosa raised her head as a knock sounded at her door. "Come in."

Gabrielle walked in and stood before her Queen. "You wanted to see me."

"Yes." She laid down her quill and leaned back in her chair arms crossed over her chest. "Ephiny was here not long ago. She's worried about you."

"She's always worried about me." She smiled as she crossed her arms.

"She has every reason to by the sounds of it." She pointed to a chair indicating Gabrielle to sit. "I think you should limit your time with Xena."

"Not like I plan to run into her."

"I'll have Ephiny placed as your bodyguard till she leaves."

"There's no need."

Melosa smiled. "Watch yourself. Xena has a way of getting to you."

"Not me."

"We'll see. In the meantime watch your back."

"I will."

"That's all."

Gabrielle bowed her head. "Can I say something?"

Melosa raised her head. "Of course."

"I remember when my sister died. How the soldiers....beat...and...and." She closed her eyes. "I couldn't understand why something like that could happen or how I survived but I know now that I was meant to go on, carrying her with me." She looked up. "If there's one person who knows what she is it's me. She didn't lift a finger to help."

Melosa took a breath. "I sometimes forget how young you are. How much you've gone through."

"Are we done, my Queen?"

Melosa nodded. "Yes. I'll leave you alone but till she leaves, watch your back."

Gabrielle nodded then turned to walk out.


Her eyes closed at the sexy timber of that voice, and it was only her name. How could someone she hated so much, make her shiver inside? "Xena."

"I do believe we have a sparring match. Unless you planned on canceling." She held out a staff.

Stepping onto the training circle, Gabrielle looked around. "I would have thought more people would be here. Must be you." She grinned.

"I have that affect on people."

Gabrielle swung her staff around, warming up. "Shall we?"

Xena nodded and stepped forward, cracking her staff against Gabrielle's.

Gabrielle ground her teeth at the force of that blow as her hands began to sting. Taking a low swipe, she watched Xena jump over it. Her staff connected with Xena's and flipping one end up, she knocked Xena's staff out of her hands. Watching the warrior back flip to catch it left her breathless. Gabrielle was soon tiring of this game and her hands were aching. She threw her staff over Xena and somersaulted forward. Rising to catch her staff, she felt her legs being swept out from under her and soon she was flat on her back with an amused warrior pinning her down.

"I win."

"Looks like it." She flipped Xena behind her and now it was her turn to pin the beautiful woman down. "Then again looks can be deceiving." She watched Xena's eyes darken as she was rolled onto her back. "Or not." She laughed, but soon stopped as she felt cold steel against her throat.

"So easy."

"You wouldn't."

"You sure?"


"What makes you so sure about that?"

Gabrielle rose up onto her elbows. "You would have done it long ago if you wanted me dead. Your words."

Xena nodded as she sheathed her blade and got off Gabrielle.

Gabrielle brushed herself off and stepped back as she felt Xena walk in front of her. Hair was brushed out of her eyes and then the warrior was gone leaving Gabrielle very confused.

Ephiny ran into Gabrielle in the food hut. "You talk to Melosa?"



"And I have no need for a guard." She grabbed her plate and moved on.

"But I think..."

"Don't think. Just leave me alone."

"Oh I will." Ephiny ground her teeth and strode out.

Gabrielle lowered her plate, her appetite gone and headed outside, running into a pair of blue eyes. She took a step back and leaned against the side of the hut. Gabrielle pulled her hair to one side and started running her fingers through it. She watched Xena's eyes slowly and almost carefully look her over. Inside she shuddered. Her hands smoothed invisible wrinkles from her pants. A slight breeze blew past her bare stomach and she shivered.



"Maybe you should wear more clothing." Her eyes swept over the blonde's body, a grin formed as she saw Gabrielle shudder. Moving closer she raised a hand to Gabrielle's stomach running a finger over the soft hair. "Why don't you tell me why you ran after me this time?"

"No reason."

Xena leaned forward and her hand reached out to grab Gabrielle, pulling her to her body. She noticed the catch in the blonde's breathing. She felt hands against her chest as if to push her away. "I could take you with little effort." She paused, studying the green eyes for something. "I don't think you'd stop me either." She grinned and let go, pushing the small body away. "Go back to your Amazons." With that she turned and walked off into the forest well aware of the eyes that followed her till she was gone.

Gabrielle leaned back against the hut and closed her eyes. What was it about that dark presence that made the blood burn through her veins in more ways than one?

Gabrielle jumped up as lightning flashed outside her window. Closing her eyes she waited for the loud boom that soon followed. Sitting up, she leaned against the wall. Throwing her legs over the side of the bed, she slid them to the floor. Her eyes closed against the soft pleasurable feel of the rabbit carpet at her feet. Standing, she walked to the table and grabbed a brush. It calmed her somewhat and laying it down she walked into the other room to light a group of candles. Reaching up she untied the curtain and let it fall. Turning she walked out and headed for the door. There was a guard there as she knew there would be. There always was now that they had a problem on their hands, meaning Xena. The village was dead and she guessed it was somewhere in the middle of the night. Asking the woman for hot water, she watched her leave and her eyes glanced around the quiet village, closing the door behind her.

A familiar feeling appeared at her spine and she peeled back the window cover to see Xena standing there. "Figured you'd show up as soon as the guard left."

Xena grinned and leaned closer. "We both know that if I wanted in a guard wouldn't have stopped me."

Gabrielle cocked her head to the side. "That so." She raised her hands to tie her hair back into a long braid again turning to see if anyone was around.

"Looking for a way out?"

Gabrielle sighed. "Course not."

"Right." She reached forward and watched as Gabrielle flinched slightly. "Not going to hurt you." She pulled something out of Gabrielle's hair. "You afraid of me?"


She grinned. "Well I think..."She was cut off.

"Well you think wrong. Not everyone cowers at your feet."

"I haven't met one that hasn't yet."


"No, even you're afraid of me, yet you won't admit it. You flinched moments ago when I reached out to you. Or have you forgotten?"

Gabrielle groaned out in frustration. "Are you always this cocky?"

"You haven't seen anything yet." She turned and walked away.

Ephiny poked her head into the dark hut and looked around not seeing what she had come for. "Gabrielle?" She moved farther into the room and waited. "Hello?"

"Here." She watched the curly blonde jump. "I thought Amazons had nerves of steel."

"Yes well with you and your little tricks it's hard to keep calm." She advanced on the now lit candle near the bathing chamber. Gabrielle was sitting on a small sofa, lying back trying to relax.

"I saw her again."

Ephiny sighed. "Gabrielle, I wish you would get a grip. Just forget her." She took a seat on a chair next to the bed.

"I've tried Eph, it's just that no matter where I go, she seems to find me."

Ephiny laughed. "She stalking you now. Come on Gabrielle, just ignore her."

Gabrielle smiled. "Not that easy."

"Well try because I can't have you this unfocused. I do not know what has been happening between you two..."She was cut off.

"Nothing happened."

"Fine." She stood. "I'll be waiting when you want to talk." She walked out.

Gabrielle sighed and shook her head. A knock sounded outside her hut and she stood, walking to the window. Peeling back the cover she jumped as she came face to face with Xena. "You here again."

"I go where I want." She looked around. "Going to let me in."

Gabrielle sighed and looked down at herself. "I'm not dressed."

"I don't mind."

"I'm sure you don't." She laid down the cover looking around for her robe. She walked into the bathing chamber and grabbed it from a stool. Turning she entered her room and froze as she saw Xena lying on her bed. "I didn't...."

"I know."

"Okay I'll ask again. What are you doing here?" She raised the robe to slide it on but it was grabbed from her hands and thrown down. "Hey!"

"You don't need that." Her eyes scanned the form in front of her. The short brown shift that came to mid thigh. The shoulders were cut off and a thin strap held it on each shoulder. Her eyes narrowed as she took in the laces in front that were not tied and laid open, revealing a great amount of cleavage. "Nice."

Gabrielle crossed her arms over her chest to cover up. "Can I have it back now?"


"My robe."

Xena held it up. "You want it, come and get it."

"Forget it." She walked past the warrior to grab a blanket but was pulled back and thrown down onto the bed, pinned down once again by Xena. "Let me go."

"A command?" A knee tried to pry Gabrielle's legs apart.

"Going to rape me now is that the plan?"

"You can't rape the willing." She raised a brow.

"I think you should leave."

"I'll go when I want to."

"You might be used to people doing what you tell them but around here it won't work. I am second in command and you will respect me or leave."

Xena glared at her. "Fine." She rose off her and walked out, throwing back the robe in the process.

Ephiny noticed the change in Gabrielle had increased the next day. If she was quiet before, it was nothing compared to today. There seemed to be an unreadable look on her face, and the green eyes so full of happiness and cheer were now dull. Rising from her seat, she slowly walked to Gabrielle, who stood staring into the fountain. "It works if you throw a diner in before making a wish."

"How do you know I haven't."

Ephiny placed her palms face down on the cold stone fountain and leaned over it staring at Gabrielle's reflection. "There was a time when you used to be able to tell me everything." She turned to sit down. "What happened?"

Gabrielle sighed. "Don't know. She confuses me."


"I want her dead yet she draws me to her."

"Fight it."

Gabrielle turned. "I am." She nodded. "See you later Eph."

"Where you going?"

"To take a walk."

"To who?"

Gabrielle paused and curved her head around to observe Ephiny. "You're my close friend, and my dearest sister, but Ephiny, don't give me a lecture because right now I don't need or want one." She headed into the woods, stopping only when she reached the small caves. The cloak fell from her shoulders and pooled at her feet followed relatively close by the rest of her clothes. Kicking off her shoes, she slid one then two feet into the water. Farther in, she sank below, letting it surround her completely as if to wash away the last month and the stress that it had brought. Slowly surfacing she wiped the hair back from her face and opened her eyes, jumping slightly. "Why can't you leave me alone?"

Xena sat down and dipped a hand in, letting her fingers graze the surface lightly. "You don't command me."

"Excuse me."

"Oh I think you heard me."

"Why don't you just get this treaty over with and then leave us the hell alone." She rose out of the water, not giving a shit about her nakedness. It was when she saw Xena's eyes travel down her body that she flushed and grabbed her cloak.

Xena reached forward and grabbed Gabrielle by the arm slowly pulling her to her. "Why do we fight so much?" Her eyes looked up and for a moment longer than she perhaps wanted, they showed a certain level of vulnerability.

Gabrielle pulled Xena's hand off her. "Because you're no good for me." She started to head out but stopped and turned. "Why should I leave?" She raised a hand and pointed a hand towards the exit, a finger outstretched. "You get out."

"Is that an order?" Asked almost lazily.


"So you think you can order me around."

"Damn straight."

Xena reached out and grabbed Gabrielle's cloak, pulling it off the small shoulders, letting it fall to the ground. Catching Gabrielle's wrists as they lowered to grab it back, her eyes trailed down the creamy skin.

"Please leave."

"On one condition."

"What?" Gabrielle's eyes followed Xena as she got closer. Her breathing started to get faster and as she felt the soft mouth press against her, she let out a soft whispery gasp. Her mind was spinning out of control with that small touch. Feeling a tongue trail along her bottom lip, her mind turned on and she pulled back. "No." She felt a hand at the back of her head and was pulled back into another kiss. This time as the tongue touched her lips, it forcefully pushed through her resistance. She pushed Xena away and took a few steps back.

Xena smiled. "Didn't get this far by letting things come to me. I usually take what I want."

"Well I won't let you take me." She turned to walk out.

"I've already fucked you."

"Excuse me." She stopped, turning around arms at her sides, fists clenched.

"You've had me in your mind and don't tell me you haven't thought about it. I've seen you watching me. Just admit it and do us both a favor." She picked up the cloak from the ground and pushed it roughly into Gabrielle. "Let me know when you grow up." She brushed past her and walked out.

Gabrielle rolled her eyes as she bent down to grab her cloak. Slipping her shift over her head, she slid on her sandals and headed out.

Ephiny watched Xena as she left the caves. There was almost a pleased look upon her face and Ephiny rose, walking to her. "Why must you continually hurt her?"

Xena paused, turning dark eyes to Ephiny. "Why do you assume I've hurt her? Do you feel the need to protect her or do you just not like me." She was grinning as she said this. She leaned in toward Ephiny, taking a breath. "If I were you Amazon, I'd stay out of it before I have to make you."

"Are we threatening now?" Her hands were at her hips. "Leave her alone. You are signing a treaty with the Amazons and that doesn't mean that you can just take whatever you wish. Do I make my self clear?"

"Crystal." She brushed past Ephiny, a small smirk on her lips.

Ephiny turned to see Gabrielle walking from the caves and made her way to the small blonde. "You okay?"

"Yeah, why?"

"Oh I don't know. You go in for a dip and come back out moments later. Must have been some bath."

"Leave me alone Ephiny." She turned to walk past her and felt a hand on her arm, jerking her back.

"I don't want to order you around but you don't seem to be using your brain." That did it. She saw Gabrielle's eyes flash green fire.

"So I'm not smart enough to understand what I'm doing and need big bad Ephiny to protect little ol' me. Is that it?"

Ephiny closed her eyes, taking in deep breaths to calm herself down. "You know what I mean. I care about you and I don't want to see you get hurt."

Gabrielle shrugged her shoulders. "I'm sorry, it's just that it seems like you're telling me I can't do anything right."

"Not trying to."

"I know." She nodded. "Let's go to the circle. Work off this energy."

"I can think of another way." She bounced her eyebrows suggestively.

Gabrielle smiled. "I bet you can." She laughed. "Just let me go get changed and I'll meet you there."

Ephiny nodded. "Deal." She headed off.

Gabrielle rolled her shoulders as she neared, her body humming with energy. She twirled the staff in her hands and watched as Ephiny drew near. "Ready to lose."

"Not likely. Tell me princess, is your ass tender because I wouldn't want to bruise it when I knock you on it." She grinned.

"Oh all right. I'll get you." She entered the field and waited. "Come on."

Ephiny locked her staff with Gabrielle's turning sharply, to break apart. Slamming the back of her hand against Gabrielle's back, she forced the woman forward. Dropping she swiped for her legs but Gabrielle jumped over them. Ephiny shifted sideways, knocking the staff out of Gabrielle's hands.

Gabrielle flipped backwards onto her hands and pushed herself back onto her feet. Catching the staff, she twirled it around her body in figure eight's. Looking up at Ephiny, she saw a strange look on her regent's face. "What?"

"Where did you learn that?"


Ephiny shook her head. "Nothing." She walked forward twirling her own staff. She faked to the left and moved to the right, knocking the end of her staff against Gabrielle's shoulder. She circled around Gabrielle and landed a good hit on her back. As she turned to bring her staff up, Gabrielle's connected with her jaw, then her middle section. Feeling her legs being swept out from under her, she soon found herself on her back with Gabrielle straddling her hips.

"I win."

"Looks like it." She brought her elbows up under her head and closed her eyes. "First time for everything I guess." She laughed. "You're getting quite good."

"You trained me well."

"Did I?" She snorted as she recalled Gabrielle's moves and she knew that there was nothing in there that she herself had taught.

"So what do I get?"


"Well, it's the first time I've beaten you surely I get a prize."

"What would you like?"

"Don't know." She grinned and laid her elbows on Euphony's chest.


"Yes. For a tough Amazon, you're quite soft."

"That's what I wanted to hear." She shook her head. "Not good for the self esteem."

"Oh sorry." She smiled sweetly.

Ephiny raised up pulling Gabrielle against her. "Don't know about you but I know what prize I would want."

"Oh yeah." Her skin tingled where Euphony's hands rubbed her thighs.

"Yeah." She raised her brows and smiled.

"What is that?"

Ephiny looked down Gabrielle's body. "I think you can figure it out. You're pretty smart." She pulled her tighter so that no air passed between them.

Gabrielle tried to swallow the lump that had somehow lodged itself in her throat. "Ephiny I..."She felt a finger at her lips.

"Shh, I know." She lowered her fingers and pressed her lips against Gabrielle's. Pulling back she looked into the green eyes. "Had to." She leaned in closer but saw Gabrielle turn her head quickly to the left. "What is it?"


"Where?" Her eyes moved around the field, seeing nothing. "How do you know she's here?"

Gabrielle turned to her. "Cause I can feel her."

Ephiny looked confused.

"Too hard to explain." She turned her eyes to look towards the woods as the warrior stepped out.

"Please don't let me interrupt." Xena smiled as she walked toward them.

Gabrielle rose off Ephiny and stood to meet Xena. "What are you doing here? Spying on me again?"

"Yes, my goal in life is to follow you." Her eyes turned to Ephiny then back to Gabrielle. "I came here first. Hearing your racket interrupted me." She stopped walking.

Ephiny stood up. "So sorry to bother you." She crossed her arms over her chest.

Xena snarled as she stepped forward. Gabrielle stepped in front of her and she stopped. "Out of the way."


Xena looked down at her. "Now."

"I don't take orders from you Xena."

Xena looked over at Ephiny. "Later then." She turned around and strode out of the field.

Gabrielle wiped her brow and closed her eyes. "I just don't get it."

"What exactly don't you get?"

Gabrielle turned. "Her." She shrugged as she walked off.

Melosa raised her eyes as someone entered her hut. "Gabrielle."

"Treaty going well?"

"Almost done."

"She agree to your terms?"

"We had to change a few things but as of yesterday, the Amazons have Xena's loyalty and protection."

"That's great."

"Gabrielle do us both a favor and tell me why you're here." She saw Gabrielle shrug. "I know you better than you may think." She rose. "Ephiny told me what happened?"


"She said you two had a fight."

"Everything is all right now."

"So she said. May I ask what it was about?"

"Didn't Ephiny tell you?"

"Yes. I like to get both sides."

"Blame it on the stress. Siernok, Xena, just everything."

Melosa nodded. "What's going on with you and Xena?"


"Don't assault my intelligence Gabrielle. What's going on between you two?"

"Nothing anymore."

"It's over?"

"Completely. In fact it never really began."

"Good." She walked around the table to drape an arm over Gabrielle's shoulders. "Just promise me you'll be careful."

"I promise."

"And you'll stay away from her."

Gabrielle looked up into Melosa's face with a smile. "Of course."

"Why don't I believe you?"

Gabrielle reached up and grabbed Melosa's arm, moving it from her shoulder.

"Don't make me send you away from here till she leaves."

"Do you honestly think I'd go?"

"You'll do as you're told."

Gabrielle closed her eyes. "Yeah." She turned to Melosa. "I always do." She shrugged and walked out.

Ephiny found Gabrielle sitting by the lake. She knelt down and placed a hand on her shoulder.

"You leaving?" She did not look up.

"Yeah. Be back at the end of the week."

"Xena going on the hunt?"

"If negotiations go well."

Gabrielle threw a rock out into the water. "Good."

"Have you seen her lately?"

"Not since the field incident. She's avoiding me."


Gabrielle turned to her. "First, you don't like her and don't want me near her, now you're wondering why we aren't spending time together. I doubt if I'll ever understand you Ephiny." She stood. "I'll see you when you get back." She walked past Ephiny.

Gabrielle jumped as she woke up and looked around, taking a moment to take in her surroundings. When it hit her that she was in her own hut, safely in the Amazon village, she let out a breath. Her eyes turned to a silhouette in her doorway. The door was open and it appeared that someone was standing there. Gabrielle smiled and lit a candle. "Melosa? Everything all right?"


"Are you okay? Did something happen?" She pulled back the covers, pulling her feet out over the bed, tangling them in the process. Looking down to fight her way out, she looked back up but Melosa was gone and her door was wide open. Looking down at herself, she saw that she was once again covered. Scratching her head, she leaned back against the wall and tried not to lose it.

A green eye opened and looked around, seeing nothing but darkness. Sitting up, she raised a hand to her face, pushing back the hair. Wiping the sweat from her brow, she leaned against the wall and closed her eyes, trying to relax. There were a few times that things like that had happened.

She rose out of bed and slid on her robe. Walking outside, she noticed that no one was around and for some reason she found herself heading toward the stables. It was quiet inside, the light smell of hay and manure was familiar, calming her.

She heard a soft snort and turned to a light colored horse, a palomino. Walking gently forward, she held out a hand and slowly ran it up the horse's muzzle. "Hey."

The horse seemed to study her for a moment making her wonder whom it belonged to. Surely she would have recognized a fine animal such as this one and a part of her realized that it must be Xena's. It had a strong build and appeared to be well trained, but what confused her most of all was its silence.

She dipped her hand in the oat bucked and smiled when the horse gently ate out of her hand. Running a hand over the ears, she scratched gently and the horse raised its head to her. She saw a bridle hanging next to the stall and fingered a small engraving. "Argo huh." She bent and kissed it on the nose. Turning, she headed out and went back to her hut to get some more sleep.

It had started to rain and as she opened the door, a figure blocked her path. The figure wore a black cloak with a hood over the head, shielding the face from sight. A strong familiar scent reached her nose and it did not take long to register. "Seems I'm always running into you." She was pushed back inside and smiled when the figure pushed back the hood to reveal damp raven tresses. "I knew it was you."

Xena smiled. "Did you? And how?"

"Your scent." Xena arched a brow asking for Gabrielle to continue. "Cinnamon." She took a step closer. "Leather." Another step. "And something primal, untamable. Not that I'd want to. I love you wild."

Xena grinned. "I doubt you could handle it."

"I smell a wager."

"I only bet with my life."

"Things change."

"You better go. It's past your bedtime."

Gabrielle's jaw nearly dropped. Brushing past Xena she turned her head back. "Afraid you'd lose?"

"I never lose."

Gabrielle crossed her arms over her chest. "I highly doubt that. No one is that good."

Xena cocked her head to the side and raised a brow. "I have many skills."

Gabrielle shook her head. "I'm not going to stand here all night and argue with you." She moved past Xena but felt an arm wrap around her waist. "Xe..."


She closed her eyes as warm breath tickled her neck. "Why are you back early?"

"Trying to change the subject?"

"Merely making conversation."

"Mmm." She kissed Gabrielle's neck, biting just a little.

"Xena I..."She felt a finger over her lips.

"You said you could handle it."


"Take it back?"

"No." She was pulled backwards, falling onto Xena's lap as the warrior sat down. Her legs were spread and she felt a hand run along her inner thigh. "This could be bad if we start this."

"I've got news for you." She bit an earlobe hearing Gabrielle cry out. "It's already started."

Gabrielle woke at dawn as the hunting party came in, hearing them cheer wildly. Dressing quickly, she searched for Ephiny, finding her sitting at the fountain. "I take it things went well?"

"Yes your warrior, as much as I hate to admit it, is a great shot. And good at getting what she wants. Meeting went well."

"Good." She paused. "What do you mean my warrior? She doesn't belong to me."

Ephiny rose. "She doesn't?" She walked away.

Gabrielle spotted Xena moving toward the forest. A deep need rose in her to stand and go after her but something kept her planted. She slid down off the fountain and leaned against it.

"Melosa's missing," a voice called over her shoulder.

Gabrielle's head jumped up to see Xena. "Missing?"

"She disappeared the first night out. We waited but she never returned."

"So you just left her?"

"No. There is a small group still waiting."

"A great hunter such as yourself couldn't track down one Amazon." She was standing right in front of Xena.


"Did you try?"


Gabrielle pushed Xena backwards. "You didn't try hard enough."

Xena grabbed the fists that were using her as a punching bag. Pulling them to her chest, she held Gabrielle to her as she cried. "I tried."

"She was out there looking for her the whole week," Ephiny said breaking the moment.

Gabrielle pulled away from Xena and wiped her eyes. "And the festival?"

"Goes as planned," answered Ephiny. "If she's not back by the next full moon you'll be masked as Queen."

"She will come back," Gabrielle stated.

Xena saw a strange look cross Gabrielle's face. "What is it?"

"Nothing." She headed toward her hut. Shutting the door, she leaned upon it and cried. Lighting the candles around the bathing chamber, she sank into a hot bath. Closing her eyes, she laid her head back against the side of the tub. Hands at her shoulders made her jump.

"Just me," a soft voice purred in her ear.

Gabrielle relaxed and leaned against the hands.

"Something happened while we were gone didn't it?"


"Your face shows the truth."

Gabrielle sighed closing her eyes as the hands began to knead. Her head dropped forward as she groaned. Raising her head quickly she froze.

"What is it?"


Xena pulled her hands off the skin in front of her and rose.

Gabrielle turned and laid her arms across the side of the tub. "Wait." She saw Xena turn. "Stay."


"Because I ask you to." She bit her lip. "I'm willing to share."

Xena turned and grinned as she arched a brow. "I'll take a rain check." She saw Gabrielle's shoulders droop and held up a hand. "Has nothing to do with you."



She watched Xena leave and rose out of the tub. "Xena." She pushed past the curtain and almost ran into the warrior.


"I had a dream about you," she said fast then bit her lip as she looked down.

Xena hooked a finger under Gabrielle's chin and raised her face to see her eyes. "What was it about?" She grinned wickedly.

"Stuff," she said losing her nerve.

"Tell me."

"Well you. me...rainstorm."


Gabrielle looked away.

Xena smiled. "I see." With a catlike grin she disappeared out the door.

Gabrielle made her way to the edge of the clearing where she could see a dark figure moving fast. Edging closer she saw that the quick movements appeared to be drills.

A movement in the trees behind her made her turn sharply. Sensing nothing, she turned back and was shocked to find herself alone. Her head rose as she felt cold steel against the base of her throat. She held up her hands and willed her body to relax.

"Should be smart enough to know that sneaking up on me means death."

"I didn't think."

"Obviously." She lowered the blade, stepping away. "What are you doing here?"

"Not sure." She turned to meet Xena.

Xena shook her head as she sheathed the blade. "Next time shout or something."

Gabrielle smiled. "Why? Did I surprise you?"

"Something like that."

"Thought warriors like you were always on guard."

"I'm only human Gabrielle." She turned, walking away.

"I'll remember that." She got no response. "What are you doing out here?"

"Getting some space."


Xena turned giving Gabrielle a weird look. "Why are you here?"

"Taking a walk." She back up as Xena drew near.

"Scared princess?"

"Never." She paused, wrapping the fur closer to herself.

Xena grinned. "Cold?"

"Only obvious."

Xena looked down. "Not from where I can see."

Gabrielle pulled it tighter. "You never stop."

"Why should I?" She moved closer.


"Stop what?"

Gabrielle held her hands out.

"Are you a virgin Gabrielle?" She raised a brow.

Gabrielle closed her eyes. "I'm done." She turned but felt her arm being grabbed.

"Answer my question." She pulled her to her. "Hmm?"

"No," she answered softly.

"Not a pleasant memory I take it."

"No." She pulled away but was held firmly. "Let me go."

"No." She backed her up, pushing her into a tree. Holding the blonde's arms to her sides, she smiled.

"Xena, let..."She felt fingers on her mouth.

"Shh." She lowered her fingers and softy kissed Gabrielle, once, twice. Pulling back she searched the green eyes.

Gabrielle closed her eyes. The kiss from Ephiny paled in comparison to the way
this woman made her feel with a simple caress of her mouth. She felt a hand running up her side causing shudders to run up her body.

Xena leaned forward flicking her tongue out to touch Gabrielle's top lip. She was pushed away. "Why do you deny this?"

"You know why?"

"Don't know what you're missing." She took a step forward.

"I'll take your word for it." She moved around only to feel warm breath at her neck.

"If I had joined you for your bath?"

Gabrielle felt arms encircle her. "Don't know." She shuddered as Xena shifted to her ear.

"I could make you feel so good. Give in to me."

"I can't." The arms dropped and the warmth at her back disappeared. As Xena walked past her she grabbed an arm feeling the muscles twitch beneath her fingers. Her eyes searched Xena's not sure what she was looking for. As usual, it was looking at a brick wall, unyielding as ever. Letting her go, she watched Xena walk from her and something inside hurt yet she did not know why.

Ephiny expected Gabrielle to join her for lunch as she usually did but to her surprise did not see her future Queen.

The flap opened drawing the regent's attention only to lower her eyes again as she saw Xena. "Sleep late?"

Xena grinned saucily. "Me, never."

Ephiny shook her head. "Right." Standing, she walked past Xena and headed out the door. Leaning against the side of the hut she moved her eyes left and right scanning the grounds for Gabrielle. Closing her eyes, she paused only to have a dark movement flash in front of her making her open them yet again. Seeing the petite young woman calmed her. "You okay?"

"Never better."

"You looked tired."

"Couldn't sleep."

Ephiny laid a reassuring hand on her shoulder convinced that her lack of sleep had something to do with the disappearance of their Queen. If she knew the truth she would not be so calm. "Maybe you should take it easy today and stay in bed. Sleep will come. I'll go get some tea. It should help."

Gabrielle nodded as she yawned. "Sounds good." She turned and headed toward her hut. As she got closer she noticed that the window covers were down and she was sure she had left them up. Stepping inside her eyes immediately moved to the bed where a dark figure was lounged on top. "How could I guess." She unwrapped her cloak and laid it down on top of the desk. "What do you want now?"

Xena grinned as she stretched lazily and almost teasingly before Gabrielle who closed her eyes at the display. "What's the matter Gabrielle? See something you like?"

Gabrielle kicked off her sandals and sat on the bed. "Get out. I'm tired." She pulled back the covers, sliding into bed next to Xena.

Xena slid out of the bed and reached toward Gabrielle's exposed ankle fingering the handle of a small dagger. "How long have you had this?"

Gabrielle opened her eyes. "What?"

Xena pulled out the blade. "Remarkable." It was solid black in the handle for easy blend, a strong clean blade with a razor sharp edge. "Protection?"

"Never know."

Xena laid a knee on the bed. "Afraid I'd hurt you?"

Gabrielle rolled over. "Sleeping here."

"Oh I couldn't tell." She crawled onto the bed rising onto her knees.

Gabrielle opened her eyes, trying not to notice the way the muscles in Xena's thighs stood out. She realized her mistake a second too late as she saw Xena move toward her. Feeling the covers being raised at her side, she rolled to get out but was pulled back as Xena crawled over her. "No."

Xena grinned. "No?"

"Yeah." She felt her arms being raised over her head.

"The way I see it. Time has run out."

"Think so?" Despite her protest her back arched as a hand ran along the side of her breast.

"Seems your body disagrees."

"We disagree a lot." She was unable to hold back a groan as Xena's hips pushed into hers.

"You want me."

Gabrielle closed her eyes trying to block out the woman on top of her.

"How do you like it Gabrielle?"

The mixture of Xena's body on hers and the sound of her voice were too much for Gabrielle and she felt herself giving in. Xena's hands seemed to be everywhere at once. Gabrielle raised her arms to push Xena away but found her hands full of warm flesh. She felt Xena's hands enclose hers and force them to squeeze harder. A fire engulfed her entire body as she heard Xena groan.

A knock sounded at the door, making them both jump.

Gabrielle forced her eyes open. "What?"

"Ephiny wants you. She has your tea."

"Okay. I'll be there." She heard the messenger leave and took notice of her surroundings. Rising quickly, she fled to the other side of the room.

"Problem?" Xena crawled to the end of the bed.

"Yeah." She ran a hand through her hair and leaned back against the wall. Her eyes closed. "No."

"No? Again no." She edged forward and stood.


"Never." She moved quickly to cover Gabrielle's body with her own. "I'm going to fuck you and I'm going to do it now." She grabbed Gabrielle's wrists feeling the pulse. "Say it."


"Say it."


Xena pulled Gabrielle from the wall, turning her around so that she was leaned over a table. She bent down to nibble an earlobe. "I'll take you this way if you like."

Gabrielle's head flew up connecting with Xena's nose. "Bitch." She pushed forward on the table, sending them both crashing to the floor. She crawled backwards but her ankle was grabbed. She kicked up but missed and was dragged back under Xena. "Let me go."

"We're not done."

"Let me go." She rolled, pulling away from her. Standing she backed away. "To think that I was......forget it."

"You were what?"


Xena grabbed her arm forcing her down. "Tell me." She flipped her onto her back once more.

"Stop it."

Xena released Gabrielle's wrists but stayed resting on top of her. "You're a coward." She saw Gabrielle glare at her. "You fight what you want as well."

"You have the Amazon nation as allies. You have your prize."

"You know what I want."

"Don't they have whores in Corinth that you can run to?" Her head snapped sideways as Xena's hand flew. She felt Xena rise from her and rose herself to get up but
was grabbed by the throat and slammed into a wall. Her hands fought with the one at her throat before they were captured and held behind her back. "Tell the truth we both know that I'm just a whore to you. Go find another." She ground her teeth as she was slammed back against the wall again.

"I've used as much patience as I have with you. I get what I want, when I want."

"Must be good for you." She felt her own blade against her throat. "Do it." She saw Xena's eyes glance over her body before she heard a loud tear. Her hands were dropped as her shift was torn from her body. Pulling from Xena, she fell to the floor and crawled backwards from her.

"I won't tell you again. Get over here and do it now." She glared. "Trust me you don't want me to come over there and get you."

Gabrielle rose. "Want some of this?" Her left hand rose to her breast as she tilted her head back. "Want a taste?" Her hand dropped as her eyes opened. "Too bad." She turned and headed for the door.

Xena reached forward and grabbed a handful of Gabrielle's hair, sending her backwards onto the furs. "How dare you tease me." She lowered crawling to Gabrielle, hovering over her body. "I think I'll have that taste now."


Xena dug her fingernails into Gabrielle's inner thighs, forcing them apart.

The door opened as Ephiny entered. "What is going on here?" Her eyes scanned the room. "Get off her."

"Going to fight me Ephiny?" She rose, wiping the blood running from her nose. "Don't be stupid. We both know I can kill you in a second."

"Don't count on it."

"Gabrielle knocked you on your ass." Xena smiled. "Perhaps you would like to join us?" Her eyes turned to Gabrielle who was slowly making her way to Ephiny. "Don't go too far. I'm not done with you yet."

Gabrielle froze as she reached out for Ephiny. "Eph."

"Get behind me Gabrielle." She held an arm out to protect her.

"Yeah hide behind Ephiny, she'll protect you." She leaned back against the table, looking almost bored. "Can I have her back now?" Xena rolled her eyes as she held up a hand halting Ephiny from speaking. "Did I or did I not save you from losing a few hundred of your Amazons." She tilted her head playfully.

Ephiny drew her dagger. "Get out."

Xena raised a brow as she walked closer. Laying a hand on the blade, she pointed it to her heart. "Go ahead." She grinned menacingly. "Unless you lack the courage." She shook her head as the blade was lowered. "Thought so." She bent grabbing her cloak and headed toward the door. Her eyes met Gabrielle's. "We're not done yet." She raised her arm and licked the blood from the back of her hand.

"Yes we are." Gabrielle's voice was void of emotion as she watched Xena walk out.

Gabrielle laid her head down on the table with a loud thud.

"You'll be staying with me till she's out of our lands."

"Don't want to."

"Too bad."

Gabrielle raised her head, her eyes nothing but green pools of fire. "I don't remember giving you my right of caste." She stood. "And until that happens I'm in charge."

Ephiny glared at her. "Meaning?"

"Meaning....don't ever give me orders."

Euphony's tone and stance relaxed. "Shall I get the healer?"

"No." She held out a hand. "I would just like to get some sleep."

Ephiny pointed to the bed. "Mine is yours."

Gabrielle nodded as she lay down. Standing up quickly she headed off towards the next room.

"What are you doing?"

"I want to wash her off me first."

Ephiny nodded as she headed out the door.

Xena did not need to look up as she heard footsteps enter the stables. A smile crossed her face as she reached up to grab the bridle. "Come to say good bye." She turned as Ephiny stopped just a few feet from her.

"I never met an enemy I truly despised even in battle as I do you."

Xena pretended to look hurt. "What bothers you more? Is it that I got her or that I got her before you did? Well what are you waiting for Amazon." She threw down her sword sheath and chakrum. "Come and get me." She saw hesitation. "What's the matter? Lack the courage?" She drew her breast dagger and pressed it against her breast. "I'll help."

"You're not even sorry for what you've done?"

"Please. Have you forgotten who I am?"

"Why pretend to befriend her?"

"I never befriended her. She just got lost in her way."

Ephiny lowered her blade. "She's the most gentle soul I've ever met."

Xena turned. "Great. Hope you two are very happy." She rolled her eyes as she brushed past Ephiny, Argo in tow. Stopping she turned to see Ephiny right behind her. "What?"

"She's been through a lot."

"That's life." She raised the blade in Euphony's hand and slid it along her arm, watching blood run down the metal. "Go on. Got a taste of it now."

Lightning flashed outside highlighting both figures in the dim candlelight.

"What bothers you most Ephiny is that you can't seem to kill me." She grinned.

"One day." She waited till Xena turned. "I will kill you."

"I'll wait on it." She straightened. "Then you'd be doing us both a favor." She threw her dagger imbedding it in a beam an inch from Euphony's head.

"You missed."

"Did I?"

Ephiny drew the blade and pulled off the patch of hair it had stolen. Looking up, she was surprised to find herself alone.

Gabrielle woke to find herself in an open clearing. The night sky hung over her and the moon shone down onto the soft spring grass. A soft gentle wind blew through the trees ahead of her and somewhere off in the distance she heard a low cry of a lone wolf.

Her feet moved toward a dark figure hidden in shadows. As she got closer she could see that someone appeared to be knelt down with a black cloak around them shielding them from view. Her knees gave way and she found herself on her knees with her palms flat against the cold, wet ground. She ached to raise her head to see who sat in front of her. Her eyes closed as she took in the scent of fresh rain.

The figure in front of her turned so that they sat facing her but she was still unable to see a face. Her hand rose to push back the hood.

Gabrielle jumped as she heard her door open.

"Relax." Ephiny lit a candle and moved toward the bed. "You okay?"

"Yeah." She lay back and tried to calm down. "I had another one."

Ephiny sat on the desk. "Same one?"

"Yeah." Gabrielle shook her head to clear any stray thoughts. "Same field, and I almost get to see the face yet I always wake just before I do."

Ephiny blew out a breath in frustration.

Gabrielle turned to catch a weird look cross her face. "Did I miss something?"

Ephiny stood to walk slowly toward the bed, taking a seat at the end. "You said that dream...person had a dark cloak, possibly black?"

"So?" Gabrielle failed to follow the direction this conversation was going.

"Think Gabrielle."

Gabrielle threw up her hands in a mixture of impatience and frustration. "What Eph, what?"


Gabrielle frowned. "What about her?"

"Lone warrior in the middle of no where."

Gabrielle sat up, throwing an accusing finger toward Ephiny. "No, don't even think it."

"I'm just trying to make sense of all this."

Gabrielle shook her head. "She's gone, let's leave it at that."

Ephiny bowed her head. "Very well my Queen." She grinned playfully as she felt a pillow hit the back of her head as she left.

Gabrielle laid down, her strength to hold herself up, lost. Was she really dreaming about Xena and if so what did it mean?

Andros jumped as he heard the door close. Standing up, his eyes scanned the dim room, but found nothing. His nose caught a spicy aroma before he felt a hand close around his throat. He felt a warm presence behind him and soon felt a cold steel dagger pressing against his throat.

"Tell me why my second is sleeping." Her voice was strangely calm and somehow that made him worry.

"Will not happen again." His head was yanked back as she grabbed hold of his hair.

"Strike one," she calmly whispered as she lowered the dagger.

His eyes followed her as she brushed past him, heading toward her chambers.


He walked to her door in time to see a shift hit the floor. Guiltily his eyes wasted no time drinking in her body. A smile came to his face as she slid on a robe.

Her head tilted sideways. "Get me some water?"

He bowed his head as he left the room.

Xena crossed to the window, her eyes scanning the activity below. It pleased her that even without her there the army still found it necessary to drill. She heard Andros enter the room behind her. "Is everything in order?"


"Good." She turned. "Then get to it."

Andros bowed his head as he left the room.

Xena pulled a pouch from her side and spilled the contents onto her palm. The metal reflected the light from a nearby candle onto her face as her hand closed around the medallion. Turning from the window, she headed out of the room.

The room grew darker and darker as she staredat her quill unsure of what to write. Soon giving up, she laid it down and focused on the wall. Getting up she requested hot water and made her way into the bathing chamber.

It did not last long before she heard a knock at her door. Slipping a towel around her body she went to answer it.

"Ephiny is looking for you," a red haired woman informed her.

"She usually is. Tell her I'm not here."

The woman smirked. "Yes princess." She bowed and turned.

Gabrielle shut the door and slid on some clothes, knowing that it was only a matter of time before Ephiny came to find her. The quill remained where she had left it and as she sat down staring at the wall, she heard the door open. "No." Her ears waited for the sound of the door closing but instead she heard footsteps approach. "Don't make me get up." Her eyes closed as she took a drink of her wine. The footsteps stopped along side her chair. "Fine." She looked up to see Ephiny. "Can I help you?"

"No." Ephiny sat on the floor beside the chair. "Why are you sitting in the dark?" Her eyes rested on the near empty pitcher. "Raising your spirits?"

"Something like that." She set down her empty glass. "Makes me feel better." She hiccupped loudly. "I'm trying to get some peace. Can't even finish a bath around here." She turned to Ephiny giving her a glare that was a touch menacing. "Satisfied? Now leave me alone."

Ephiny stood. "As you wish. You're the Queen."

Gabrielle stood. "Actually I'm not and I never will be." She shook her head at Euphony's confused _expression. "Don't act surprised. We both knew I was never going to rule." She reached over and grabbed a staff that rested against the wall, twirling it in figure eight's. Swinging low, her staff connected with a floor vase, shattering it.

"Wanna talk about it?"

Gabrielle grunted. "I don't need to talk." She leaned the staff against the wall.

"Then what do you need?"

Gabrielle fingers through her wet hair. "I need to fuck."

Euphony's eyebrows rose. "Well I'm willing to give you a hand."

"I bet you are." She walked toward the regent who now sat in Gabrielle's chair. "I may need two hands." She stopped in front of her, her head cocked to the side.

Ephiny spread her legs her right knee rubbing against the side of Gabrielle's leg. "You have no idea how much of a hand I'm willing to give." Her brown eyes turned up to Gabrielle's.


"Are you giving me permission?"


Ephiny raised her hand to run her fingertips along Gabrielle's outer thigh. Raising the other, she pulled her forward before standing up. She brushed the hair out of Gabrielle's face as she leaned forward, gently brushing her lips against Gabrielle's. Her tongue swept out to graze a bottom lip before sucking it in. Pulling back her eyes met Gabrielle's. "Say stop whenever."

"That's not going to happen."

"Just a roll in the hay?" Her face turned serious.

"I love you." She paused. "Just not the way you want me to."

Ephiny smiled. "I'll take what I can then.'

Gabrielle stepped back and reached around to untie her leather halter. Sliding it to the ground, her eyes again met Euphony's.


A smile came to the full lips as Gabrielle reached up under her wrap sliding off her underwear. Kicking them aside she watched Ephiny walk closer a knot forming in her stomach. She felt hands slid from her waist up to the outer swells of her breasts. She almost stopped breathing as the hands closed over each breast, thumb casually running over a hardened nipple. Her eyes closed as she saw Ephiny bend down, pulling a nipple into her mouth, clutching it within her lips. Her head fell back and her hands instantly grabbed onto Euphony's hair. "Ahh."

Ephiny looked up. "Like that?" Her mouth crushed Gabrielle's as she steered her backwards.

Gabrielle felt the edge of the bed hit the back of her legs before she laid down, feeling Ephiny climb on top of her. The weight of her body made Gabrielle groan out in pleasure. "Yes." She spread her legs and felt Euphony's hips push into hers. "Uh."

Ephiny smiled. "Like that?"

"Oh yeah."

"I can't wait to taste you."

Gabrielle closed her eyes as a flood of wetness hit her center. She pushed her hips up into Euphony's begging for some kind of attention.

"What do you want?"


Ephiny smiled as her mouth lowered to Gabrielle's neck. She sucked hard wanting to leave a mark. As evidence of something she did not yet know. As she reached toward the bedside table, a light snore rose to her ear and she smiled looking down to find Gabrielle in deep sleep. She shook her head as she slid a blanket over Gabrielle's body before climbing in next to her. Taking her in her arms, she closed her eyes.

Xena stormed into the food hall just past dawn and held the doors open as she looked at her men. "Today's the day." The doors closed loudly as she let them go. Walking to the head of the table she took a seat. "Enjoy your mean men, for it's the last time you eat this good for a month." Her head tilted back as she scanned the mural ceiling in boredom. Turning to her right, she addressed Andros. "Was the scroll sent?"

"Yes my lord."

"And a reply?"

"You would have been informed." He watched her eyes darken.

She grabbed his glass of wine and gulped it down before setting it in front of him. "Armor hall." She grinned. "Don't forget your sword." She rose and walked out leaving Andros wondering what just happened.

He rose reluctantly and headed out, his hand traveling to the sword at his side. He cautiously approached the room stopping at it before opening the doors and entering to find Xena leaning against a wall with a look of boredom on her face. "You're late. Trouble finding the place."

She had not set a time and if she was purposely waiting for him to fight back it meant only one thing. The Conqueror had a lot of energy. He drew his sword and walked forward surprised to see that she still stood against the wall, her arms cross over her chest. Taking a minute, his eyes traveled over her body. To the long white shirt to the black leather pants. Her feet were bare and that meant that she was in a relatively good mood.

She smiled as she pushed herself from the wall. "Did I say to start?"

"No, my lord."

She shook her head. "No." She cocked hooked a finger telling him to approach. She closed the distance, pressing her body into his. "Andros." Her voice was cool and smoky.

"My lord?"

She unbuttoned the first three buttons of her shirt showing a great deal of cleavage. She watched him fight himself not to look down. "Shall we?"

He looked confused.

She moved to the wall and grabbed a staff. "Choose your weapon."

Since she had told him to bring his sword that was what he rose.

She nodded and advanced, almost knocked the sword from his hands at the force of the blow. A clean sweep under his legs made him jump and as he touched the ground, she lashed out at his head giving him plenty of time to duck. A quick twist of her staff to the handle of his sword made it jump up before he caught it. She wiggled her eyebrows as she threw her staff sideways.

He was unsure if he shook keep his weapon but decided against throwing it instead sheathing it at his side. She slammed his head sideways with a blow. He turned elbowing her in the jaw before flipping forward, his hands hitting the cold floor, catching the staff between his hands. As he flipped back up onto his feet, he saw that she had not moved but appeared to look mildly amused. He readied the staff expecting an attack but none came. He smirked as he saw her nod. "Going to stand there all night? I though you wanted to fight. You told me to bring my sword."

She slowly moved forward before kicking him in the gut sending him a few steps backwards. "That's not the sword that I meant." She reached down between their bodies, her hand gripping his warm cock through his pants. Feeling it harden in her hand, she closed her eyes before looking up into his.

He took a chance and pulled her body against his. The spicy scent of her enveloped him and he looked into her eyes reading the dark gaze. He grabbed the back of her head, crushing her mouth against his. He felt her gripping his hair and let go, pleased to see that her eyes had darkened to almost black. "Your orders?"

"My chambers now." She stepped away from him and headed out but felt her wrist being grabbed as she was twisted around. His mouth met hers hard and she pushed away. Walking to a rather large table, she backed up to sit on it.

He swallowed as he walked to her, running his palms up her strong thighs. Reaching up, he moved his fingers to the waist of her leathers, his fingers teasing the soft skin underneath. He felt a hand on his chest and was quickly pushed away.

"Get out."

"What?" He backed up and watched her eyes meet his.

"Get out." She stood and pointed toward the door. "Don't make me show you the way." She watched him slowly walk away before leaning back against a wall, her head tilting back as her eyes closed.

Gabrielle woke to sunshine on her face. Looking around the room, she tried to remember where she was. The events of last night came flooding back to her and she smiled. Raising her head, she tried to spot the Amazon but found herself alone. Her side of the bed was cold and probably had been for a few hours.

Sitting up, she pushed the hair off her face and got out of bed to get dressed. As she finished sliding on her pants she heard a knock at the door. "Yeah."

"It's Ephiny."

"Why are you knocking?"

Ephiny walked in and shrugged. "I always do."

Gabrielle smiled. "True." She walked to Ephiny stopping just short of touching her. "Thank you."


"You know what for."

Ephiny grinned as she licked her lips. "My pleasure." She sat on the bed.

Gabrielle walked to her noticing the way Euphony's eyes traveled over her body. She kneed Euphony's legs apart and moved to stand between them. She felt a hand running up the back of her thigh to grip a handful of ass. Her legs tingled as she was pulled forward. She felt a mouth slip under her shirt to suck at her belly button. Her eyes closed as the ties to her pants were pulled. She felt Ephiny slide her hand in and rub over her center. She was wet instantly and felt her knees go shaky. "I take it you want more?"

"Yes." She pulled Gabrielle closer and slid off her pants. She pushed aside the crotch of Gabrielle's underwear and brought her mouth up, to run her tongue along Gabrielle's wet lips. "So good." She sucked slowly at the hard clit.

Gabrielle tilted her head back and grabbed on to Euphony's head. "I need to sit."

Ephiny stopped and backed up onto the bed. "Lay down and take off your underwear." She pulled Gabrielle's shirt off and threw it and the underwear to the floor. "Spread your legs." She bent her head and spread Gabrielle's coated lips to open her mouth over her. She felt Gabrielle buck against her and felt her own sex flood with wetness. Pulling back she crawled off the bed and grabbed her bag she had brought. Pulling out an object she crawled back up onto the bed. Holding up a phallus, she slid it over Gabrielle's wet sex. "Want it?"

Gabrielle raised her head and groaned. "Yes."

Ephiny pushed it into Gabrielle's cunt, pulling it back out again only to push it back in. She slowly fucked the woman hearing her cry out and her hips start to roll. Her mouth lowered once again to Gabrielle as she lapped up her wetness thrusting the phallus harder and harder into her. She felt Gabrielle grip her hair as her hips rose off the bed. She looked up as she came down and grinned. "Like that?"

"Oh gods yes." She pushed back her sweat covered hair and gulped in air.

Ephiny crawled up onto the bed and straddled Gabrielle's face. "Want some?" She felt Gabrielle grip her hips and pull her down. A warm tongue penetrated her and she threw her head back. She was so worked up that when Gabrielle thrust a couple fingers into her, she came instantly. She fell back against the bed and pulled Gabrielle to her. "We should have done this long ago."

Gabrielle nodded as she snuggled into a warm shoulder. She rose a hand to run her fingers through soft locks but as she grabbed a handful of hair, her eyes popped open and she rose up to look at the dark ebony locks in her hand. Gasping she crawled backwards rubbing her eyes to focus on the body in front of her hoping they were playing tricks on her. "Xena?"

A knock sounded at the door making Gabrielle jump.

Ephiny raised her head. "Come in."

Solari entered looking rather surprised to find them in bed together. She smiled as she handed Gabrielle a scroll.

Unrolling it her eyes swept over the familiar hand writing. "Xena's meeting up at our borders tomorrow. Seems Siernok didn't go as planned." She looked at Ephiny. "We need her and you know it." She stood throwing a robe over her body as Solari left.

Ephiny got out of the bed, her eyes narrowed in annoyance. "No we don't."

"Really." She snorted as she headed for the door only to have her arm grabbed, pulling her back. She yanked it away, glaring at Ephiny, only to have her hair grabbed as she turned. Her teeth clenched as she reached up, digging her nails into Euphony's knuckles. The hold on her hair increased fueling her anger. "I'm warning you."

"Oh, you're warning me." She pulled harder, pulling Gabrielle to her to speak into her ear. "Now, try to pay attention cause I'll only say this once. She's Xena, the Conqueror. The same Xena who's men killed your family and left you barely alive. Who found you? The Amazons. Who took care of you and made you our Queen? The Amazons. You might want to remember that the next time you want to crawl to that heartless bachae that slaughtered thousands and who's armies flowed through these lands like a plague." She let go of Gabrielle's hair at the same time, pushing her forward. She paused watching Gabrielle's back before she shook her head and walked out.

Xena grinned evilly as she spotted an Amazon party approach her. She saw Ephiny and as she approached she dismounted, waiting. "We meet again." Her eyes were anything but friendly.

"I don't agree with this."

"Yet you have your orders." She pulled Argo forward. "Lead on."


Xena turned to her men. "They stay here." She followed Ephiny into the dark forest.

Gabrielle heard a loud commotion and peeked out her window to see Xena and Ephiny entering the village.

Xena spotted Gabrielle and headed her way when she felt a hand on her arm. "Thought we had this discussion already."

"We did."

"I only want to talk to her."

"It's all right Eph," called Gabrielle.

Ephiny looked as if she would disobey before she walked off.

Xena made her way toward Gabrielle's hut, noticing a fading mark along the base of her throat. "You look refreshed. Get fucked or did you just get a good nights sleep?"

Gabrielle bit back her reply and dropped the window covering. Turning to enter her bathing room, she heard the door open and knew who it was. "What now?"

"We never finished our discussion."

"And what discussion was that?"

Xena took a breath. "I don't think I have remind you." She walked forward pleased when Gabrielle did not step back. "I see you've learned a few things. Ephiny teach you?" Her tone was bitter, her eyes a touch playful.

"None of your business."

"You're right. So you fuck her?"

"Also none of your business." She pinched the bridge of her nose between two fingers, her headache worsening.

"A no then."

Gabrielle's eyes met hers defiantly. "Perhaps I gave her a taste of what you couldn't have." Her head slammed sideways as she was backhanded. Raising a finger to her mouth, she felt blood.

"I don't even know why I bother."

"Because I'm the only one you can't have." She wiped away more blood. "And it kills you." Her body sprang to alert as Xena moved toward her. She felt a thumb run over her split lip, wiping away the blood. "We both have a job to do so I suggest we get to it." She brushed past Xena only to be pulled back against a warm body. Feeling breath against her neck made her heart race.

"You belong to me....and when this is all over....I'll come to collect." She pushed her away and headed toward the door.

Gabrielle sighed as she watched one after another of her Amazons hit the dirt as Xena threw them off her. Propping her feet up, she turned her head sky word watching the clouds float by trying to make objects out of the various shapes. Looking up, her eyes met Xena's as the warrior threw yet another of her Amazons.

The warrior crooked a finger and watched Gabrielle shake her head. Xena smiled shaking hers as well. She held up a finger to let them know she'd be right back and made her way to Gabrielle. "Come and show your Amazons that you're not afraid to be knocked on your ass."

Gabrielle snorted. "Some day you'll have to work on that ego."

"Later." She held out a hand, waiting.

Gabrielle noticed that a few Amazons close by had heard their conversation and eagerly awaited her answer. She reached out grabbing Xena's hand very much aware of the small spark. Her eyes turned to Xena's wondering if she had felt it and remembered who it was that stood in front of her. Her face was as unreadable as ever.

She was pulled up quickly and dropped her hand from Xena's walking past her well aware of the cold blue eyes that watched her every move. She rolled her shoulders and neck before entering the circle. "When do we leave?"

"Before dawn."

Gabrielle rolled her eyes as she raised her hands. A staff was thrown to her and she twirled it around before standing ready. She noticed Xena was watching her with an amused look on her face. "Something wrong?"

Xena smirked as she stepped forward. "Been watching me?"


Xena licked her lips and a gleam came to her eyes. "I could teach you more."

"I don't want anything from you."

Xena looked down nodding. "Obviously." She looked up into Gabrielle's eyes, hers dark. "My moves."

"Prove it."

Xena grabbed Gabrielle's staff and twirled it around, mimicking Gabrielle's earlier moves with acute precision. Stopping, the staff flipped in the air as Xena pressed her body against the blonde. Catching it behind her back her eyes turned a nice shade of sky blue. She brushed past Gabrielle, stopping as she kicked out her feet hooking them behind Gabrielle's. Pulling the blonde under her, she held her arms down over her head. "Give up?"

"Never started how could I give up."

Xena looked down Gabrielle's body a weird look on her face. Taking a deep breath she lifted her arms and stood, walking off the field.

Gabrielle raised up on her elbows watching Xena's retreating back.

The night sky hung over her and the moon shone down onto the soft spring grass. A soft gentle wind blew through the trees ahead of her and somewhere off in the distance she heard a low cry of a lone wolf.

Her feet moved toward a dark figure hidden in shadows. As she got closer she could see that someone appeared to be knelt down with a black cloak shielding them from view. Her knees gave way and she found herself on her knees with her palms flat against the cold, wet ground. She ached to raise her head to see who sat in front of her. Her eyes closed as she took in the scent of fresh rain.

The figure in front of her turned so that they sat facing her but she was still unable to see a face. Her hand rose to push back the hood and stopped as she moved closer. Her eyes lowered to the cloaked figure's hands, studying them intently. There was something rather familiar about them yet she couldn't put her finger on it. Raising a hand to the hood to push it back, she heard a distant rumble. Seeing the figure turn to look, she followed and soon heard the rumble getting louder and louder and soon it was obvious that they were made by hundreds of horses. As a rider broke through the trees, she felt herself falling.

Gabrielle opened her eyes, her arm reaching out, fingers gripping the pillow. She rolled over onto her back, eyes closed, trying to hold tight to the fading images of her dream. The air was cold and as she pulled the fur closer to her neck, a cold chill ran down her spine. Sitting up, she grasped the fur to her chest, her eyes trying to focus. She slid her legs over the side of the bed and wrapped the fur around her body. Her feet touched the cold floor, a shiver running through her body. The fur trailed behind her as she walked into the bathing chamber. As she slipped past the cover, she felt a cold chill once again run up her spine. "Xena?" A sound behind her made her turn her head. "You can't sneak up on me."

"If I didn't want you to hear me, you'd be dead."

Gabrielle turned. "I felt you long before I woke." She backed up as Xena neared.

"That would be a first. Must tell me how you do it."

"Can't. Surely you know."


"You have the same ability when you sense the Gods."

"Do I?"

"I've heard the tales and even though I wish to ignore them, I must at the same time choose to believe them."

Xena nodded. "We leave in an hour." She turned and walked out.

Gabrielle reached out to grab Xena's arm but thought better of it, lowering it to her side. Moving to the window, she pulled back the cover, sighing at the sight of the heavy rain. "Great. Not only do I have to ride, I have to do it cold and wet." She spotted Ephiny and lowered the cover not in the mood to deal with her this early. She turned to get dressed when the door opened. "What?"

"Just making sure you're up."

Gabrielle turned. "Does no one knock anymore?" She turned her back to Ephiny and walked into the bathing chamber. Feeling Ephiny follow, she sighed as she sat. "I'm up."

"Grumpy this morning are we?"

"Yes!" She threw a sandal at her, jumping when Xena appeared through the curtain holding it.

"Please, don't let me interrupt," a calm voice said.

They turned to see Xena leaned against the wall, her arms crossed over her chest.

Ephiny nodded as she let go. "I'll meet you outside." She walked out.

"Lovers quarrel?"

Gabrielle rolled her eyes. "I'm really not in the mood for you."

Xena raised a brow. "Really."

"Yeah. We have a long day ahead of us so just go." Her eyes met Xena's as she passed noting the look upon her face. Her eyes were strangely calm and her lips relaxed. Gabrielle had to break the connection and as she looked away, she heard Xena move. There was so much she wanted to say but nothing would come out. She decided to just forget it and moved around Xena, feeling fingertips run along her arm as she left the room. As she stepped past the cover, she half expected Xena to follow her but as she turned, she saw no one behind her. Pulling back the cover, she peered into the room surprised to find it empty.

"Wanna lose them?" Her steel eyes turned to Gabrielle's coldly.

Gabrielle shrugged. "You're imagining things."

"Oh." She nodded, turning away. "I won't tell you again."

Gabrielle rolled her eyes as she dismounted and grabbed the reins trying to keep her hands busy.

Ephiny pulled her horse close to Gabrielle. "What are you doing?"

"It's hot."


Gabrielle pointed to the lake. "I want to take a swim."

"We don't have time for this."

Gabrielle snorted as she dropped the reins and walked toward the water.

Ephiny growled as she jumped down. She heard Xena laugh and turned giving her a glare. "You, shut up!"

"Going to make me, little Amazon." She held up her hands in defense. "Don't want any trouble."

"You are trouble."

Xena whistled signaling her men to pull off and stop a good distance away from the group. She dismounted and headed off to tie up her horse. Making her way slowly to the water, she stopped just short of stepping on Gabrielle's clothes. Ducking under a group of bushes, her eyes searched for Gabrielle, not spotting her anywhere.

"Looking for me?"

She turned to see that only Gabrielle's head and shoulders were visible in the water. She crossed her arms over her chest. "For a dip you'd stop everyone."

Gabrielle smiled. "You must be rubbing off on me."

"More than you care to admit," her voice no more than a whisper.


Xena raised a brow. "Well what?"

"Are you coming in or aren't you?"

Xena pursed her lips as her eyes narrowed. "Oh, you want me to come in there then."


Xena licked her lips. "On one condition."

"What condition is that?"

"I'll name it later."

"I don't think so."

Xena twirled a finger around the ties on her pants, shrugging. She squatted down, her eyes boring into Gabrielle's as a smile formed across her lips. "Why don't you tell me why you want me in there so bad."

Gabrielle rolled her eyes slowly. "I could care less. I just thought you might be hot."

"Oh I'm hot but I doubt any water will cool me down." She rose and pulled her long white shirt over her head. Slipping off a piece of cloth that was wrapped around her breasts, she unlaced her boots and slid off her pants. She headed toward the water, her moves slow and seductive.

Gabrielle's jaw dropped before she could stop it and she looked away. She jumped as she noticed that Xena was now in front of her. She swam backwards.

"Something the matter Gabrielle? Maybe I can help." She reached out, her fingertips trailing along the skin of Gabrielle's arm before she grabbed onto her hand, raising it to place the palm against her bare breast. "How bout that?" Her hand dropped and for an instant she was surprised to see that Gabrielle's hand stayed where it was put as if she did not know what to do. Xena moved forward, pressing the hand tighter against her. "Do what you want. No one here."

Gabrielle pulled her hand back as if she were burned, clutching it against herself.

Xena leaned closer. "Thought so. You can deny what you like." She licked her lips. "But you can't lie to me." She grabbed Gabrielle pulling her against her. Holding the blonde's arms behind her back, she let Gabrielle feel her naked body against her own. "Want to deny it now?" She could feel Gabrielle's heart beating fast against her. "Do us both a favor." She dropped her arms watching Gabrielle step back

"All right. You're gorgeous and I can't deny that. Happy? Well you can kiss my ass because I won't fall into your trap." She swam away leaving Xena alone.

Gabrielle had tried to meet Xena's eyes as they traveled on the next few days but the warrior was having none of it. In a way Gabrielle was glad that Xena had left her alone but yet at the same time she somehow missed the attention. It made her feel important, even if all Xena was trying to do was sleep with her.

Gabrielle raised her head as she woke to a room she didn't recognize. There were weapons on the wall along with various tapestries. A large banner hung on the wall in front of her. She looked down to find that she laid on a bed with blood red sheets. A white fur of some kind was draped over the bottom of the bed. Reaching forward, she wrapped the fur around her naked body, slipping slowly out of the bed. There two large doors on her right and what appeared to be a balcony to her left. Looking behind her she saw an open doorway and leaning to look she found that it was some kind of bathing chamber with a large tub. The double doors opened and she took a step backwards as Xena entered the room. "Where am I?"

Xena smiled. "My chamber where else?" She moved to a table and poured herself some wine, taking a deep drink. Walking toward Gabrielle she smiled slowly as her eyes took in the form before her. "I see you obeyed me for once."

Gabrielle looked confused. "Excuse me."

Xena reached forward to pull off the fur, throwing it into a nearby chair. "But I told you to be uncovered..."Her eyes swept over Gabrielle's naked form. "...completely." Her eyes darkened as she pulled Gabrielle to her pressing her warm body into her own. She learned forward to take in Gabrielle's scent. "Very nice." Dropping her arms from Gabrielle, she walked into the bathing chamber, slipping off her black silk robe as she entered. "Come here." She slid into the warm water, groaning in pleasure. The surface of the water was covered with scarlet red rose petals.

Gabrielle cautiously entered the room unsure of what was going on. As she neared the tub, Xena's eyes met hers. "Bathe me."

Gabrielle jumped as she heard her name being called. Looking ahead of her she saw that she was alone and turned in the saddle to see Ephiny looking amused as she watched Gabrielle. "Sorry I was...."She saw Ephiny hold up and hand and stopped.

"Used to it by now. But since we're on our way to Seirnok, it's probably best if you keep your mind on the present. Okay."

Gabrielle nodded, turning before they could see her face as her cheeks blushed crimson. If they only knew what she had her mind on, they'd never let her hear the end of it. Especially Xena. Ephiny pulled up beside her winking before heading off ahead. Gabrielle sucked in a breath as she saw Xena come in beside her. The warrior glanced her way for a moment before catching up to Ephiny. Her eyes turned up to look at the heavy rain clouds that would no doubt slow them down. A drop hit her and as it slid down her cheek, it took her mood along with it.

Soon the sky opened up and the armies were soaked. Gabrielle could see Xena signaling to her men to speed up and watched as her Amazons charged ahead trying to keep a large distance away. She saw Xena turn to her and for a moment forgot the last few months as she watched the rain fall down on the warrior. Her hair hung down around her face, soaked, and her leathers had to be uncomfortable. But what intrigued Gabrielle most was the fact that Xena was meeting her eyes for the first time in days. Even soaked in rain water that woman is delectable. Gabrielle straightened, breaking Xena's eye contact as she retraced her last train of thoughts. Delectable? Had she thought that? Shaking her head she moved faster, feeling eyes at her back.

As the night fell, they made camp to get some much needed rest. Gabrielle stayed close to Ephiny trying not to run into Xena. Her mind was a jumble of unanswered questions and as she tried to sort through them, they just seemed to get more and more mixed up. As she watched Ephiny make a fire, she stood, seeing Xena enter their firelight holding a sword. Their eyes met briefly as Xena stepped into the shadows.

Ephiny met her eyes as she stood. "Now you two aren't even speaking."

Gabrielle snorted as she sat down. "Guess not."

"What happened?"

Gabrielle turned to her. "Really want to know?"

Ephiny shook her head as she raised a hand, palm out. "Never mind."

Gabrielle stood and grabbed her staff before walking off into the forest.

Ephiny lowered her head to stare into the flames, her dagger between her hands.

Gabrielle stopped at the edge of a small clearing as she sat down on a fallen log.

"Can't stay away from me can you?" The warrior turned, sword resting on her shoulder.

Gabrielle watched as Xena lowered her sword and headed toward her. As she neared Xena raised the sword and pointed it toward Gabrielle's throat.

Her eyes met Gabrielle's. "Moment of truth."


"I stand before you. My army killed your family." She handed the sword to Gabrielle. "No one will blame you." She stepped back pleased to see that the blade was raised to her heart. She closed her eyes waiting only to hear Gabrielle stand. Opening her eyes, she looked down seeing her sword lying on the ground and she looked up in question.

"I can't you know I can't."


Gabrielle shrugged unsure as she lowered her head. She felt a finger under her chin forcing her to look up.

"After all I've done you still can't kill me."

Gabrielle pulled her chin free and bent down to pick up Xena's sword handing it to her. Without saying a word she turned and headed into the trees.

Her eyes flew open at the sound of loud thunder. As her eyes looked around the room as she drew in a breath starting to relax. A flash of lightning lit the room for a few seconds, which was long enough for her to see that her sister no longer slept in her bed. Getting out of bed, she slowly walked to the window. Her eyes switched from the front of the house to the barn across from her. There wasn't any sign of movement but as she turned, her bedroom flashed a brilliant shade of red. Turning slowly, her eyes watered as she saw the barn in flames. Without thought she flew out the door in a mad dash only to be knocked backwards as the front door burst open, slamming into her. Two figures shadowed her and she crawled backwards sensing an incredible fear she did not yet understand.

Her ankle was grabbed and she was pulled backwards to be hauled to her feet. There were more of them outside standing around her family, making her scream out to them. Her sister looked up slowly, her blue eyes full of tears, searching through Gabrielle's in an unbreakable bond before she was pulled into the darkness.

"No!!" Gabrielle's hands flew out grabbing for something that no longer was there. Her eyes opened quickly as she sat up looking around. Where was she? Woods, Amazons, and Xena. The fires had been extinguished long ago and by the looks of the camps nearby including her own had been packed up. She rolled her blankets and stood to tie them to her horse but they were grabbed out of her hands and a plate of meat and vegetables was placed in them instead. Looking up she saw Ephiny heading toward the horses. Gabrielle began to eat but soon raised her head to look behind her. Xena stood, leaned against a tree, her dagger digging the dirt from her nails. "What?"

Xena looked over. "Do I always have to want something?"


"I'm simply standing here." She pointed the dagger at her as she spoke. "Besides you were sleeping." She went back to cleaning her nails. "Bad dream?" asked softly.

Gabrielle laid down onto her side and stared into the flames of adying fire."Yeah."

Xena nodded. "You get used to them."

"Bet you get a lot with all that you've done." She closed her eyes shaking her head. Why did she say that?

"Like I said." She turned to the fire. "You get used to them."

Gabrielle looked over at Xena as they neared a ridge. The warrior turned to Ephiny and nodded toward Gabrielle. She saw Ephiny nod in agreement as she headed toward her. "What?"

"You stay here. We'll go in."

"No." She headed out but her horse was stopped by five Amazons on the ground. "I want to go."

"Too damn bad," Xena stated angrily.

Gabrielle grabbed for her reins but a hand closed around hers as they were yanked out of her reach. She noticed a silver ring and rolled her eyes. "Give me the reins Xena."

"You want to kill yourself fine. But I'm not letting you go out there and get hurt, taking several of your Amazons with you. Get down!"

"Excuse me." She saw Xena take a moment to glance at the ground hands at her hips. Then suddenly she was sitting on the ground as Xena stood before her. Her elbows rested on her knees as she lowered her head to her hands. "Have I lost all control completely?"

"Yes." Xena handed her reins.

Gabrielle stood and for a moment thought that they were playing a game with her when she took notice of the horse she held. "Argo."

Xena smirked. "You're not dumb enough to just walk into this. And Argo won't listen to your commands."

"Anything else?" She saw two Amazons at her side. "Guards?"

Ephiny mounted her horse. "Do me a favor and obey me for once."

Walking toward Gabrielle she smiled slowly as her eyes took in the form before her. "I see you obeyed me for once."

Gabrielle's eyes turned to Xena, a blush working it's way into her cheeks. "If I wasn't going then why bring me?" She got silence for her answer as she expected yet somehow it was okay because it really didn't matter. Her eyes met Xena's in defiance. "I'll stay here. For now." She knew she was in trouble as Ephiny threw her a glare as she rode ahead. Xena rode near her, making her sit tall in the saddle.

"Behave bard."

Gabrielle snorted as she dismounted. "Don't give me orders."

Xena rolled her eyes. "As you wish." She headed off toward Ephiny.

"Are you trying to make conversation?" Xena's eyes narrowed playfully.

"We have a long way to go couldn't hurt."

"As far as I'm concerned Ephiny, we have nothing to say to each other."

"And if the subject is Gabrielle?"

Xena closed her eyes as she shook her head. "What about her?"


"You wanted to talk Amazon so talk."

"Tell me the truth."


"Are you in love with Gabrielle?"

Xena snorted. "I'm incapable of love."

"And if you were?"

"Let's focus on the present here and not play the 'what if' game."

Ephiny nodded. "All right." A smiled appeared on her face as Xena rode ahead. "Think I've found something you're afraid of." She turned in the saddle to look behind her.

Her foot connected with a hard jaw as she kicked out from her horse. "I didn't ask for an excuse I asked for results. Just get it done!" She watched as he backed up, almost tripping over his own feet in his hurry to get away from her.

Her sword raised to strike as she felt an incredible pain at her side. A blade cut into her forearm, her hand released her sword no longer able to hold it. Her back hit the ground as her vision blurred. Shaking her head it refused to clear and soon everything started to fade. Seeing Argo before her, she cried out before slipping into darkness, fading hoof beats the only sound she heard.

"Lle quena i'lambe tel' Eldalie?"

She forced her heavy eyelids open, focusing on the figure in front of her. Blonde hair fell onto her as a woman leaned over to wipe a wet rag over her forehead.

"Mani naa essa en lle?"

"What?"Her vision blurred as she closed her eyes.

"Quel kaima?"

She threw the covers from her legs and rose, stumbling before heading toward a door.


Her legs failed as she fell toward the ground.

A hand on her shoulder pulled her to a stand, sword drawn and ready. Ephiny was on the ground, a hand rubbing a bruising jaw.


Xena shook her head as she sheathed her sword. "More like a memory."She headed into the forest.

Euphony's eyes glanced to Xena every once in a while watching the warrior's face. As a warrior she had to respect Xena's style in or out of combat. The thing that she most wanted to learn from the dark beauty, though she would never admit it out loud, was the way her face remained passive. Her eyes revealed her expressions if one knew how to read them. She herself lacked this particular gift and found herself once again glancing to Xena, who stared right back at her. Quickly looking away she pretended to be interested in the scenery.

"I'm guessing that you're bored.

Ephiny shrugged. "Bit." Her mouth opened to speak but she instantly closed it remembering who was in front of her.


She looked up hopeful. "How long have you been a warrior?"

"Almost fifteen years."

"Doubt I'll get a reason."

"You're right." She met her eyes. "You won't."

"Why settle?"

"Got routine." She took a deep breath. "Same thing over and over."

"Same thing as a ruler." She saw Xena stare off ahead. "That why you chose to help us?"

"Partly," a force of breath.

Ephiny knew when to quit but one thing still stuck at the back of her mind refusing to be ignored. "How could you do something like that to Gabrielle and her family?"

"Doesn't matter either way. People do and believe what they want."

"But why her? She was so young. Why not kill her as well?"

"I've had enough of this conversation."

Ephiny couldn't stop, she was so close. "Warrior to warrior. Do you care for her?"

"Why? Is that going to change things?"

"Tell me. Not like I'd run and tell her. I still don't like you."

"Oh break my heart."

"Then why hurt her and her family?"


"As is most things but that still doesn't answer the question."

"Warrior to warrior?"

Ephiny nodded.

"I never had anything to do with her family. I wasn't even there."

The night sky hung over her and the moon shone down onto the soft spring grass. A soft gentle wind blew through the trees ahead of her and somewhere off in the distance she heard a low cry of a lone wolf.

Her feet moved toward a dark figure hidden in shadows. As she got closer she could see that someone appeared to be knelt down with a black cloak around them shielding them from view. Her knees gave way and she found herself on her knees with her palms flat against the cold, wet ground. She ached to raise her head to see who sat in front of her. Her eyes closed as she took in the scent of fresh rain.

The figure in front of her turned so that they sat facing her but she was still unable to see a face. Her hand rose to push back the hood and stopped as she moved closer. Her eyes lowered to the cloaked figure's hands, studying them intently. There was something rather familiar about them yet she couldn't put her finger on it. Raising a hand to the hood to push it back, she heard a distant rumble. Seeing the figure turn to look, she followed and soon heard the rumble getting louder and louder and soon it was obvious that they were made by hundreds of horses. She felt a hand at her wrist and looked up to see that the figure had grabbed her. She gasped as she looked up into the solid black eyes. The figure pointed to something behind Gabrielle and when Gabrielle turned to look, she fell backwards. Rolling onto her back, she looked up at the three figures that stood in front of her in solid black robes. They lowered their hoods to reveal blonde hair that had dark red streaks in the front. What was most bizarre about them was that their ears were curved upwards. Her mouth fell open as the woman in the middle lowered her hand and helped her up.

"Lle naa vanima belegohtar. Vanimle sila tiri oio naa elealla alasse'."

Gabrielle shook her head and brushed herself off. Turning to look behind her, she found that the dark figure was no longer there. In fact her entire surroundings had changed to that of a lake background in the middle of fall, in which the leaves were bright red and gold.


Gabrielle woke gasping for air as the remnants of her dream fell away. She sat up and slid out of the bed, walking to the uncovered window. She laid her head against the side and closed her eyes.

Pale pink lips mouthed words she didn't understand. One word in particular interested her. "Xena."

A hand pointed down toward a field where bodies laid everywhere. Gabrielle's mouth dropped as her eyes watered. "Where?" She followed the elf's line of sight and saw a body half covered by another. Her feet fell instantly in a run as she raced toward the fallen warrior. Dropping to the ground, she pushed the soldier off of her and draped her over her lap. "Xena." She wiped blood soaked locks from a pale face and bent down to kiss a cold forehead. Her eyes closed as she tilted back her head and screamed.

Gabrielle gasped as she opened her eyes. "Xena."

Xena rounded a corner to see a group of people surrounding a burning house. Stopping beside a woman, she looked down onto the ground, seeing covered bodies that had apparently either got mixed up in their fight or had been inside the fire. By the smell she guessed the latter.

Ephiny ran up to her out of breath and bleeding. "I can't find her."



Xena paused. "She's back at the camp." Her voice wasn't as strong as she wanted it to be.

"She's gone."

"She's in there," a woman's voice flowed to them.

Xena turned to point at the fire. "In there?"

The woman nodded. "Ran in there a few minutes ago." She shook her head. "Poor thing."

Ephiny rushed forward to run into the house but was pushed backwards as Xena kicked open the door and disappeared into the flames. She fell to the floor, her damaged ankle no longer able to support her. Crawling toward the fire, she felt hands grab her and pull her back. "Stop, she's in there."

"Xena's got her."

At that moment the front of the house collapsed and Ephiny cried out fighting the hands that held her down.

A figure burst out a window and rolled away from the house. Standing they threw back the blanket to reveal dark locks. Xena laid Gabrielle down onto the ground and felt her pulse which was going weak. She lowered her head to Gabrielle's mouth to find that she wasn't breathing. Breathing air into her she banged onto her back smiling when the small blonde coughed out the smoke in her lungs. Xena stood and nodded to Ephiny who crawled toward her. Xena shook her head as her vision blurred and her eyes began to sting. She stepped toward a water bucket but her legs gave out and she fell toward the ground unconscious.

Gabrielle cautiously entered the hut scared of what she would find. There was little light in the room with the single candle she held. She lowered over to see Xena's face, noticing bandages covering her eyes. She reached for Xena's right hand to check on the bandage she had wrapped over her wrist. She had never seen Xena look so pale, so vulnerable. "We got them. We won." She smiled. "You helped us." She leaned over Xena, wiping a few dark strands out of her face. Feeling her pulse, she was pleased to feel that it was strong. Weak, but strong. "You'll pull yourself through this and when you do things are going to change." She headed toward the door and turned. "Thanks for saving my life." She walked out.

A bandaged hand reached out for something that was no longer there.

Ephiny found Gabrielle out in the practice ring working up a sweat. Taking a seat under a tree, she joined the group in watching their new Queen. The way she was twirling the staff was completely new to Ephiny. She saw sure she knew the young woman's moves, having taught them to her personally, but these were new. Her eyes widened as she watched Gabrielle back flip, grabbing a dagger that was on the ground. As the woman flipped back, she dropped to the ground, her hand going out. Ephiny watched the dagger as it sailed toward the target, hitting the center. Shaking her head she stood and walked to Gabrielle. "You okay?"

"Fine. Why?"

"Where did you learn those moves?"

Gabrielle shrugged.

"You know damn well who's moves they are."

"What's the problem? They work."

"Almost too good. Change the staff to a sword and they'd be killing moves." She let her words sink in. "She's a predator Gabrielle."

"She saved my life."

"Yes she did." A pause. "A wolf may act like a dog but it's still a wolf. She's dangerous."

Gabrielle scratched her chin. "So is a centaur but that didn't stop you." She brushed past her and headed off the field.

Gabrielle entered the healer's hut and immediately went to the bed to find it empty. She quickly laid down her candle and approached the bed. Her head rose as she turned, looking over at the window seeing Xena sitting on a chair her head down towards the floor. A bandage still covered her eyes and the wrist bandage had been changed to a smaller one. "You should be sleeping."

"Not tired." Her voice was soft and scratchy, lacking the familiar purr.

"More tea?"

Xena shook her head. "Why are you here?"

"Check on you."

"As you can see, I'm fine."

"I disagree."

She shrugged as she tilted her head back to lean it against the wall.

"I was just..."

"Get out," said softly.

Gabrielle drew her brows together in confusion. "I'm trying to..."

Xena stood. "Get out," said softly yet with a touch of warning in the tone.

Gabrielle threw up her hands. "Fine." She headed out the door, noting that Xena was sitting once again.

"Don't know why you bother," a voice called beside her as she shut the door. Her eyes met Euphony's slowly as she looked up. "Don't know why you care." She walked past her, feeling a hand on her arm. "Ephiny." Her cold eyes landed on the hand. "If you were smart you wouldn't start this." The hand dropped though Ephiny remained where she was. "What?"

"I think you should stay away from her." She watched Gabrielle roll her eyes and walk away. "She's a murderer." She raised her head confidently as she watched Gabrielle stop and turn hers. "Truth either way you look at it." Without waiting for a reply she turned and walked away feeling eyes burn into her back.

The cover on the window of the healer's hut lowered as a hand withdrew.


Gabrielle entered the healer's hut feeling the familiar tingle shoot up her spine. Turning she focused on a dark corner seeing nothing but knowing she was there. She walked into the corner to see Xena staring out the window. She reached forward to lay a hand on Xena's shoulder but it was quickly snatched and pulled behind her back. "You can break my arm, but I'm still going to kiss you." She watched confusion flash across Xena's face as her arm was lowered. She crossed the distance between them and pressed her body against Xena's looking into the usually expressionless eyes to see a touch of fear. "It's all right." She reached forward, winding her hair into Xena's wet locks. Pressing her lips against Xena's she closed her eyes and pressed harder. Feeling Xena respond, she flicked her tongue out to taste Xena's bottom lip, biting softly.

Xena pulled back to look into Gabrielle's eyes. "No."

Gabrielle drew her brows together. "No?"

Xena raised a brow. "The opposite of yes." She brushed past Gabrielle to stop at a table dipping her hands in to splash cold water on her face, trying to get her eyes to stop stinging. Grabbing her bandage, she slid it over her eyes and felt Gabrielle approach. "What now?"

"I thought you wanted this."

Xena wiped her face. "Yes did." She laid down the towel, running fingers over her wrist, feeling the skin before sliding the bandage back over it. "Leave." She turned and walked to the bed laying down. She heard the door close and smiled as she rolled over.

Gabrielle laid a hand on the door as she closed her eyes. A hand at her shoulder made her jump and turning she saw Ephiny. "Hi."

Ephiny smirked. "She still being a bitch?"

"No." She lowered her hand.

"Right." She shook her head as she walked away.

Gabrielle woke to utter darkness and for a moment, as she sat up, she closed her eyes searching. A steady rain fall could be heard all around her hut. Throwing the blanket from her legs, she got out of bed and wrapped a fur around her body as she walked to the window. There were several Amazons drinking and having a good time as music played. She couldn't remember there being a party but shook her head as she dropped the fur over a chair to slide on her brown leather pants with a sleeveless shirt that tied around her waist. Her feet were bare and as she stepped out onto the cold wet ground a shiver ran through her body.

Making her way to the music and lights, she saw Ephiny against a tree in deep conversation with several younger Amazons, possibly telling a tale of her many accomplishments no doubt. Her eyes scanned the party for Xena but came up empty and glancing up at the dark night sky, she knew where the warrior would be.

Her feet moved over soft wet grass as she made her way to the lake. Along the trail, her eyes glanced left and right for any sign of the dark woman seeing nothing. Even as she reached the water, there was no one to be seen. Her head raised and her eyes closed as she felt a spark shoot up her spine making her vision slightly blurry. "Don't dance?"

"Not exactly." The warrior pressed her body against Gabrielle's leaning down to take in the scent of her hair, rubbing her cheek against the wet locks. "You?"

"Just woke up." She felt warm breath at her neck before she was turned around to face Xena.

"Don't deny me." She slowly bent down, touching her lips to Gabrielle's in a silent kiss. Pulling back, she pulled Gabrielle to her as she pressed her lips harder against the blonde's. The mouth under her opened in silent invitation which she gladly took. A groan forced its way up her throat and she pulled back raising a hand to her lips, feeling them still tingle. She took a step away from Gabrielle, her breathing calm and her body on fire.

Gabrielle closed the distance, pressing her body against Xena's feeling her heat. "I can't be without you."

"Why the change of heart?"

Gabrielle laid her head against Xena's chest, her arms wrapping around a strong back. "Hold me." Her eyes closed as she felt warm arms encircle her, holding her tight.

"As you wish."

Xena threw her bandage on the table as she unwrapped her wrist, rotating it around to get movement back in it.

"I've seen others take less damage and still be healing."

"I'm a fast healer."

"Apparently." Ann sat down near Xena to get a good look at her eyes. "Any discomfort? Stinging? Blurred vision?"

"No. Good as new. Can I go now?" She grinned.

"Suppose so." Ann stood and handed Xena a bottle of ointment. "This is what I used for you. Take it. With your lifestyle you're going to need it." She patted Xena softly on the back before walking out the door. "Gabrielle."

Xena's eyes flew to the door as Gabrielle walked in.

"You're doing better?" She didn't get an answer as Xena just sat there looking at her. "What?"

Xena looked away. "Nothing. What are you doing here?"

"Checking on you."

"We've had this discussion before. I don't need a baby-sitter. I already have a mother." She stood as she finished lacing up her boots. Grabbing her armor, she headed toward the door.

"Xena wait." She saw the warrior stop before shaking her head.

"Are you leaving us?"

Xena turned. "A few weeks ago you couldn't wait to be rid of me."

"People change."

"Things change. People never do." Her hand was on the door as she heard Gabrielle come up behind her. Turning she saw the blonde holding out her breast dagger.

"Forgot this."

"Thanks." She opened the door only to feel a hand on her other arm. "Don't do this. There's nothing more to say Gabrielle. You said it yourself. I'm no good for you. We're different as night and day." She shook Gabrielle's hand from her arm and turned to the door once more.

"And if I asked you to stay?"

"Wouldn't do any good." She walked out leaving Gabrielle alone.

"And if I told you I loved you?" Barely a whisper.

Xena ran into Ephiny as she headed for the stables. "What do you want?" She noticed that Ephiny was rather pale as if she had been up all night. There were bags under her eyes and it was obvious that she had been crying. Her tone softened, "What is it?"

Ephiny met her eyes. "They found Melosa."

"Tell Gabrielle yet?"

Ephiny shook her head. "I can't."

Xena found herself nodding as she turned to walk back into the hut to see Gabrielle quickly wiping her eyes. "Guess you've heard all ready."

"Heard what?"

"They found Melosa."

Gabrielle stood quickly. "They did?"

Xena scrunched her brows. "You didn't know?"

"Know? How could I know?"

"Then why were you crying?"

Gabrielle shook her head as she headed to the door but her elbow was grabbed roughly.


"Don't want to talk about it."

"Too bad." She pushed her to the bed and made her sit.


"Ephiny can wait. Now, tell me."

Gabrielle snorted. "Since when do you care if I've been crying or not?"

"Since I pulled your ass out of that fire."

Gabrielle looked up quickly. "Still haven't told me why you did it."

Xena shrugged. "Spur of the moment."

Gabrielle closed her eyes. "Can I go see Ephiny first?"

"Then you'll tell me?"

"Yes." She stood and brushed past Xena, pausing at the door. "If you tell me why you saved me."


Gabrielle slowly walked into Euphony's hut afraid of what she would find. She found her sitting at her desk looking over papers. Ephiny didn't look up as she pointed to a woman sitting on her bed. Gabrielle recognized her as Lara, head of the guard.

Lara stood up. "We found her a few days ago in the forest. Obviously we got the bastard who did it but that doesn't make it any easier to take. You'll be masked tomorrow Gabrielle and tonight we'll say good-bye for the last time to our Queen."

Gabrielle nodded, not trusting herself to speak as she slowly let herself out. She saw Xena sitting on the fountain and made her way to her. "I can't do this."


"They want me to be Queen."

"I don't see a problem."

"I just don't think I can do it. It's too much. First Melosa, then Ephiny, and then....you." She saw Xena rise to stand in front of her.

"Calm down."

"Easy for you to say."

"Tell me."

"What? Tell you what happened?"

"Why you were crying?"

Gabrielle bit her lip. "Same reason I can't seem to hate you." Her eyes lowered to the ground before she felt a finger under her chin forcing her eyes up.

"Reason is?"

Gabrielle opened her mouth to answer but stopped. "Why did you save me?"

Xena hesitated before answering, "Because I had to."


Xena dropped Gabrielle's chin, stepped back, and turned her back to Gabrielle. She felt a hand on her arm and closed her eyes.

"Wait. Tell me why you saved me."

"No." She grabbed the sword at her side and headed toward an extra hut.

Xena laid her head back against the side of the tub, closing her eyes. Hearing the door open, she listened to the footsteps approach. "Can I help you?"

Gabrielle kneeled near Xena's head. "I brought you some candles and oils. She spilled some oil onto her hands and rubbed them over Xena's shoulders, massaging the last few days away.

Xena's head lowered and a groan spilled from her mouth. She reached back and grabbed Gabrielle's wrist, pulling her around the tub. "Join me."

"Don't think that's a good idea." She lit a few candles, lighting the room.

"Then don't think." Her fingers twirled around the ties to Gabrielle's shirt. "Don't trust me?"

"Truthfully, I don't trust myself." As she turned, she heard and felt Xena rise to stand behind her. Arms wrapped around her waist as a warm mouth sampled her neck. Her eyes closed as she felt a hand running over her exposed stomach and as she looked down she saw hands untying her shirt throwing it to the floor. She was turned around to face Xena as a knock came to the door outside. "Uh." Her hands grabbed onto Xena's back as the warrior's mouth captured a nipple. "I can't." She pushed Xena away and stood, slipping on her shirt.

Xena rested her arms on the side of the tub. "You can, just not with me."

"No. You make it too real."


"Didn't feel half as good." She made her way to the other room missing the self satisfying smirk. She stepped out and saw Ephiny as she closed the door. "Hey."

"Hey." She looked at Gabrielle's flushed face. "Caught you at a bad time?"

"Course not."

"Why do you even bother with her?"

"She makes me feel alive." She brushed past Ephiny and headed toward her own hut.

Gabrielle pushed open the door, her eyes closed, avoiding the inevitable. Turning to close the doors behind her, she glanced over her shoulder, a tear falling down her cheek as she saw Melosa's sarcophagus. Reaching forward as she neared, her palms slid up the cold wood, landing on Melosa's crest. "I failed you." Her head lowered before she felt a spark shoot up her spine. "She was the heart of the Amazons." She looked up to see Xena step out of the dark corner. "Thank you."


"Taking care of.....of...."She lowered her head once more unable to finish.

"Your welcome." Her eyes turned to the table.

"Tell me the truth." She saw the warrior's eyes meet hers. "Why did you save someone you care nothing about?"

"Just something that had to be done." Her eyes glanced to Melosa before she headed toward the door.

Gabrielle reached out, her fingertips grazing the warrior's arm, making her pause at the door. "Just tell me."

"Someday." Her hand reached out toward the door.

"Did you mean what you said?"


"Did I get lost in my way?" She turned to Melosa.

Xena lowered her head and took in a breath. "Yes."

"Tell me why you saved me."

"If you tell me why you were there in the first place." She turned her head slightly.

"I doubt you'd believe me if I told you."

Xena turned. "I'm willing to give it a shot."


Xena turned around a confused look on her face.

"Who is she?"

Xena shook her head staring up at the ceiling. "My past."

"Please. I need to know."

"She saved me. The only time I ever lost."

"She found you in a field didn't she?"

"She brought me back to life."

"What happened to her?"

"Don't know."

Gabrielle nodded. "What was she?"

"An elf. Only one I ever met."

Gabrielle turned to Melosa. "I thank all the gods of Olympus she was there." She felt Xena come up beside her. A hand moved under her chin turning her face sideways. Her eyes closed as she felt soft lips against her own. She opened her eyes and turned to Xena, who hesitated before walking out.

Ephiny poked her head in pleased to find a burning candle. Closing the door behind her, she looked around the room. "Gabrielle."

A blonde head poked through the curtain. "In here."

Ephiny pushed back the curtain and entered the other room. "What are you doing up so late?"

"Couldn't sleep."

Euphony's eyes lowered to the ground."She would be proud of you Gabrielle." She waited till Gabrielle looked up before continuing. "You turned into the woman she always knew you would be. It took her a second to see something in you that we're still finding out."

"I don't know if I can do it."

"Never know till you try." She watched Gabrielle lay out her clothing for tomorrow night. "Gab."


Ephiny held up a hand palm out. "I still don't like her." She lowered the hand, her eyes dropping to the floor.

"What are you talking about?"

"She wasn't there."



"Wasn't where Ephiny?"

Ephiny raised her head to meet Gabrielle's eyes. "She wasn't there when your family was killed."

Gabrielle shook her head confused.

"She was wounded and her army fled."

Gabrielle's mouth dropped. "Aowyn."


Gabrielle's eyes closed as her head lowered. "I've judged her badly."

"We all have." She watched Gabrielle head to the door. "She's at the lake." She took a seat on Gabrielle's bed, her eyes closing.

Gabrielle's bare feet moved through the trail towards the lake. Stopping just short of reaching the clearing, her eyes looked around for her lost warrior. Moving out of the shadows she entered the moon lit field. The breeze blew around her face, blowing her hair around her neck. The grass was wet as she walked through it and entering the woods yet again, she felt the too familiar spark and followed it to the lake where the warrior was no where to be seen. A hand covered her eyes and she smiled.

"Following me?"

"Yes." The hand was lowered and she turned to meet Xena. "I talked to Ephiny."


"You were hurt when your army moved through Potedia weren't you?"

Xena backed away and brushed past Gabrielle stopping at the water. "Would it matter either way?"

"It would to me."

Xena lowered her head. "Yes."

Gabrielle closed her eyes, a tear running down her cheek. "Why didn't you tell me?"

Xena turned. "Would you have believed me?" She watched Gabrielle's face. "Exactly." She turned once again to the water focused on it's black surface. "I've killed so many that I'll never wash the blood from my hands." She felt arms wrap around her stomach and pushed them away. "No." She turned. "I'm no good for you and I never will be." She entered the trees disappearing into the shadows.

Gabrielle turned her eyes up to the trees, a playful smile crossing her face before she headed into the forest.

Xena moved slowly across the field, her eyes turning back toward the lake almost unnoticeable before she stopped. A hand rose to her face and she wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. Her head quickly rose and she looked behind her before turning to head toward the lake. Her eyes raised to look into the tree tops, her eyes narrowed to see more clearly. Trained eyes picked up various shapes and movements but nothing that had alerted her. Her hand rose to catch a rock that sailed toward her head before she saw Gabrielle drop down in front of her.

"Seems I learned more from you than I care to admit." Gabrielle stepped out of the shadows.

"Tree line."

"Just one exercise I learned from you." She moved closer to Xena who had begun to take off her armor.

"Fine, you want to see if you can beat me. Let's go."

"I don't want to fight you...I...."Her eyes caught the playful twinkle in the blue eyes and she smiled as she slowly walked forward, pressing her body against Xena's. "I've already fought you and I won."

"You think so."

"Oh Xena I know I have."

"What makes you so sure?"

Gabrielle reached up and grabbed the back of Xena's head pulling her down to her where her lips sought hers hungrily. She felt a hand at her neck, pulling them closer and when a tongue touched her bottom lip, she opened her mouth giving in at last. Pulling back, her eyes still closed, she smiled. "That, my dear warrior, is my proof."

"That's not proof." She pulled away from Gabrielle. "That's just desire and want. Proves nothing."

Gabrielle pressed her body once again into Xena's, looking up into her eyes that were somehow open and rimmed with tears. "I love you." She stepped back. "That proof?"

"Yes that you're an idiot."

Gabrielle was taken back. "What?"

"No one can love a murderer."

"But you're not."

"Things change Gabrielle, people never do. Remember." She turned to leave but felt a hand grab her wrist. "Don't."

"I don't take orders from you." She was pushed against a tree so hard it knocked the wind from her.

"It will never happen."

"Just what are you scared of Xena?"

"I'm not scared of anything."

Gabrielle chuckled. "Oh yes you are." She was released and raised a hand to rub her back. "A coward even." She saw Xena's eyes flash fire. "Go on. You can hit me but I still love you."

Xena threw her hands up in confusion before walking off.

The fire warmed her face spreading warmth throughout her body. Still she shivered as the night drew in. Her head rose to the sky, her eyes glanced at the moon, high above them. She heard someone come up beside her and wasn't surprised to see Ephiny.

"You okay?"

"Fine." She crossed her arms. "Just sad to see it finally ending. At least when Melosa was missing I had hope. Now there's none." She turned to gobut felt an arm grab her elbow.

"You going to be all right?"

Gabrielle smiled. "You know, I think I will." She walked off toward the huts. Stopping just outside the firelight, she turned and clutched the mask in her hand, feeling the feathers tickle her wrist. She nodded before heading toward her hut to get a full night of sleep for the first time in what seemed like forever.


I'm so tired of being here
Suppressed by all my childish fears
And if you have to leave
I wish that you would just leave
Cause your presence still lingers here
And it won't leave me alone

These wounds won't seem to heal
This pain is just too real
There's just too much that time cannot erase
When you cried I'd wipe away all of your tears
When you'd scream I'd fight away all of your fears
And I've held your hand through all of these years
But you still have all of me

You used to captivate me
By your resonating light
But now I'm bound by the life you left behind
You face it haunts my once pleasant dreams
Your voice it chased away all of the sanity in me

These wounds won't seem to heal
This pain is just too real
There's just too much that time cannot erase
When you cried I'd wipe away all of your tears
When you'd scream I'd fight away all of your fears
And I've held your hand through all of these years
But you still have all of me

I've tried so hard to tell myself that you're gone
But though you're still with me
I've been alone all along

When you cried I'd wipe away all of your tears
When you'd scream I'd fight away all of your fears
And I've held your hand through all of these years
But you still have all of me

Evanescence: My Immortal

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