Disclaimers on part 1 and as for the episodes which I took bits and pieces are as follows but perhaps not in the same order...'IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE, DREAMWORKER, THE QUEST, DESTINY, THE PRODIGAL, CALLISTO, TIES THAT BIND.' Seven in all but one or more parts could be used from each I think. Words from *Two* EVENSCENCE songs taken and added here. See if you can figure out the commander that she's waiting for, for a report.



by Sarah Miller



Green eyes slowly opened, finding the room completely black. She sat up, her eyes turning to a window, the cover flapping in a rough wind, then slowly headed to it. Grabbing the cover, she peeling it back, her eyes searching for something that she wasn't finding. Her eyes closed as she relaxed, feeling the wind blow through her hair. She turned suddenly, something behind her drawing her attention.

The shadows revealed nothing as she glanced to each side moving forward, her hand reaching out, peeling back the curtain. As she stepped inside the other room her body stiffened as she felt warm breath hit her neck. Her eyes closed as she forced herself to concentrate. Opening them again, she found that the warmth had left and the room was still. About to blame it on her imagination, she listened to the wind raging outside, before it stopped and all was silent. She felt a hand slide down her arm and grab her wrist, a finger feeling her pulse. The warm breath was back and her nose picked up a hint of spice.

"Don't deny me."

Her eyes shot open and she sat up, surprised to find herself in her own bed. She laid down, closing her eyes, listening to the rain outside as her ears waited for a voice that would never leave her alone.


Xena raised her head as her doors opened. "What?" Her eyes fixed on a short, pudgy man, who shook rather noticeably. "Speak."

He bowed his head respectively. "He's here."

She smiled as she closed her book and strode out the room, her eyes returning to him before walking out, trying to remember his name. Salmon, Salomon, Salmoneous. 'Yeah that was it.'

As she entered, her eyes swept around the room surprised to find herself alone. Making her way to a small table, she poured herself a glass of wine as her ears heard the door open and close. "You're late."

"Depends on what your idea of late is." He moved further into the room as she turned.


He smiled. "All business as usual." He saw her smile and was encouraged as he grabbed the mug from her hand, turning to drink it himself as he headed toward the table to take a seat. "I've missed you Xena."

"Wish I could say the same for you."

"But you won't."

She smiled at this. "No. So what news?"

"I have men observing them as we speak."

She cocked her head with smirk. "I don't want an account, I want a report."

"She's not there."

Her eyes closed in silent fury. "Anyone see where she went?"

"No one but think she knew we were following her."

"Of course she knew." She waved a hand. "Go."

"Did you want me to return to the village?"

"No. I'll find her myself."

"Why this girl is so important? Does she have information that we need?" He saw her eyes flash blue fire and knew he had gone too far. Reaching forward, he grabbed her hand and raised it to his mouth to kiss the back. "As you wish." He bowed his head slightly before he left her to her thoughts.


Xena ran into a man as she rounded a corner, her eyes glaring down at him. "Better be good."

"Someone to see you my Lord." He bowed his head moving out of her way as she moved past.

"She's in your throne room."

Xena paused. "She?" She turned. "Did she give you a name?"

He shook his head. "No, my Lord."

Xena pushed open the double doors, her eyes searching for someone she hoped wasn't there.


Her eyes turned to her throne where Gabrielle sat, looking rather comfortable. Pillows surrounded her as a leg draped over an arm. "Don't look pleased to see me."

"That's because I'm not."

Gabrielle closed her eyes, shaking her head. "Shame."

"Get out."

Gabrielle smiled looking up. "Or what?"

The doors slammed behind her as she headed toward her. "Anyone else would be dead for showing me such disrespect."

Gabrielle rose, moving to where Xena stood. "You're the last person I need lecturing me on respect."

"Why are you here?"

"To see you." She stopped a good distance away from the warrior.

"I thought we settled this?" Xena asked as she folded her arms over her chest.

"You thought wrong." Gabrielle crossed the room to where a table sat with a pitcher of wine. Helping herself she flipped up a glass and filled it.

Xena drew a dagger at her side, her fingertips running over the tip before she flipped it up, grabbing the handle and throwing it at Gabrielle.

Gabrielle looked up to see it imbedded in the wall in front of her. Reaching out, she pulled it out and threw it to the floor. "Don't want me here just say so."

"What do you want?"

Gabrielle turned. "Loaded question." She made her way toward Xena. "Why don't you show me around."

"Tours are for guests, the door is for intruders." She turned to feel a hand at her wrist. Moving quickly, she reached out, grabbing the arm and pulling it behind Gabrielle's back. "I could break it in a second." To emphasize her point she pulled up making Gabrielle wince. She let go, backing up. "Don't ever touch me again." She moved to the door.

"So it's like that."

Xena turned. "You denied me remember."

Gabrielle tilted her head back in frustration as she headed to the door. "If you don't want me fine."

"I never said that," softly.

Gabrielle turned. "Then what?"

"Wouldn't understand if I told you."

"Try me."

Xena closed her eyes, before shaking her head and opening another door.

"Where's your chambers?"

"Gabrielle." A warning.

"I just wanna look."

"No." She closed the door behind her moving down the hall to stop at double cherry wood doors. She reached for the knob, hearing a door close off in the distance. Her eyes closed as she turned to see Gabrielle round a corner. "You never listen."

"Why start now?" She paused, her eyes showing her caution.

Xena sighed as she closed her eyes. "Why are you here?"



"I came to see you."

Xena shrugged as she took her hand from the door in front of her. "I'll show you to a room." She brushed past Gabrielle, heading down the hall.

Gabrielle watched her round a corner before turning to the doors in front of her. Biting her lip, she opened one, her eyes taking in the room as she gasped. This was the room from her dream. From the weapons and tapestries on the wall, to the large bed with the same blood red sheets.

Entering the room, her eyes turned to the expensive furs on the floor. Feeling a presence behind her, she turned to see Xena. "I was..." She was silenced when a hand grabbed her throat, pulling her forward, a hand in her hair tilting her head back.

"I don't remember inviting you." She increased her grip on Gabrielle's hair making her cry out.

"Stop!" Her arm raised to her hair trying to free it from Xena's grasp.

"Ordering me? I've lost my patience." She let go, pushing Gabrielle back, who lost her footing, falling to the floor.

Gabrielle stood and moved to Xena standing in front of her defiantly. She saw a small smile cross the full lips before she found herself down once more, a hand holding her stinging cheek. Looking up into Xena's smug face, she ground her teeth as she swung her leg out, knocking a surprised Xena on her ass. Before she had a chance to pull away, she felt herself being rolled onto her stomach, her hands held behind her back. Feeling cold metal against her wrists, she began to struggle. As she was pulled up, her back was slammed into the wall, an angry Xena holding her against it.

"You don't want to push me." Her eyes lowered to Gabrielle's body, a smile coming to her face as she peered into Gabrielle's eyes. "Love me now?" She raised

Gabrielle up, her hands working behind the bards back. Backing up, she headed toward the door.

Gabrielle shook her head as she moved to follow, finding herself secured to the wall. Turning her head to look behind her was useless and she glanced at Xena who paused at the door.

"Have a good night."

Gabrielle laid her head back against the wall closing her eyes before she felt Xena stand in front of her. Opening them again she could see hunger in the blue eyes. A hand ran up her side, stopping to caress and squeeze a willing breast.

"So soft." She looked up into Gabrielle's eyes. "How bout I let you down and we can go play."

Gabrielle spit in her face not surprised when her head slammed sideways as it connected with Xena's fist.

"Thought not." She lowered to kiss Gabrielle's bare stomach, her tongue diving into her belly button.

Her body's reactions against her, Gabrielle felt herself warming despite her best efforts. The warm mouth was soon gone and she turned to the door where Xena stood staring at her.

"Remember you started it." And she was gone.

Gabrielle laid her head back against the wall, closing her eyes. "Shit!" She kicked her foot against the wall in frustration as she thought of a way out of her predicament.


As the room grew dark, Gabrielle heard someone enter. A woman with long curly red hair walked toward her holding a round metal bar full of candles.

"My Lord has asked me to release you." She set down the candles and reached behind Gabrielle her fingers unlocking her from the wall. Pulling her away from it, she removed a key from her side and unlocked the manacles, setting them on a nearby table gently.

Gabrielle rubbed her aching wrists as she watched the woman enter another room. Hearing the sound of water, she followed to find several buckets surrounding a large tub. The woman kneeled to add scented oil to the water along with a dozen rose petals, and Gabrielle noticed a strange mark on her shoulder. A large X with a half circle on the left side. "Are you a slave?"

The woman turned, her amber eyes taking in Gabrielle before answering. "I'm the Conqueror's body slave."

"Oh." Gabrielle leaned against a wall. "Where is Xena?" She saw the woman's head raise sharply. "What?"

"You called her..." Her eyes quickly turned to the door before she continued to work ignoring Gabrielle who suddenly felt a warmth shoot up her spine.

Warm breath caressed her neck making her shiver. "Are you behaving?"

Gabrielle snorted. "She's probably too scared not to."

"I meant you." She moved into the room her eyes turning to the woman who walked to her. Xena's hand reached up to lightly stroke her cheek before sliding up into her hair and pulling her down to search out her lips hungrily.

Gabrielle turned her head at the display and focused her eyes on the water that looked so inviting right now.

"Leave us."

Gabrielle looked up expecting the words to be directed at her but instead saw the woman leaving the room, closing the door behind her. She turned back to Xena. "Why do you have a body slave?"

Xena turned, her robe sliding off to expose bare shoulders. "Jealous?"

Gabrielle rolled her eyes though for some reason she was. She looked up in time to see the black robe hit the floor before Xena slid into the water. She saw a look of pure pleasure cross her face as she rolled her shoulders. Blue eyes looked up at her.

"Bathe me?"


Xena smiled as she rose, walking to Gabrielle. Her arms shot out, pinning the blonde to the wall. "Never?"

Gabrielle shook her head. "Never." She jumped as Xena pressed her wet, naked body into hers.

"You might hate me but you still find me...." Her eyes swept over Gabrielle's form. "Desirable." Blue eyes met green as a hand lowered to slid under Gabrielle's shirt, fingers pulling at a hard nipple. She saw Gabrielle's eyes close. "Yes. Give in." She flipped Gabrielle around pushing her into the wall once more as a hand ran over her tight ass.

Gabrielle's mind screamed for control but her body was winning this battle. Gabrielle bit her lip as her head flew back barely missing Xena, who had expected it. Her hair was grabbed, and her head pulled back, as a warm mouth sampled her ear. "Bitch."

"You like it." She let go and slid back into her warm bath. "Bathe me."


Xena smiled as she nodded. "Because you're mad at me or because you might give in."

Gabrielle shook her head. "You're amazingly self assured."

Xena winked. "Because I know I'm good." She looked up, her eyes dark. "At everything I do."

Gabrielle visibly shuddered as she closed her eyes. Opening them again, she saw a pleased Xena still looking at her. She rose a hand to her bruised jaw seeing a strange look take over Xena's expression. "Don't look sorry, we both know you enjoy hurting people."

Xena nodded. "Yep." Though her face remained neutral, it was her eyes that gave her away. "You made me do it."

Gabrielle shrugged as she headed out. Her eyes noticed several candles lit about the room giving it a warm glow. Turning to the bed, she saw the slave naked and waiting. She glanced back at the bathing warrior before she headed out the door, shutting it behind her. Resting back against it, her eyes closed. Hearing footsteps she straightened just in time to see a woman heading her way.

"My Lord wishes for you to stay here and asked me to show you to a room." She didn't wait for a reply as she headed back down the hall, a confused Gabrielle following her.


The door opened slowly revealing bare feet. They slowly made their way across the room stopping at a large bed. A hand reached out pushing back golden locks from a sleeping face.

Green eyes opened taking in the form before them. "Xena?" She sat up, clutching the blankets to her naked chest.

Xena's finger was over her lip silencing her as she lifted the covers sliding in next to Gabrielle. Her hand slid up warm thighs and over a soft, toned stomach before resting on perfect breasts.

Gabrielle's eyes closed as she felt Xena slid over and lay her naked body down against hers. Spreading her legs, she groaned at the feeling as hips pushed down into hers. She felt warm lips trail along her neck as a hand continued to kneed her breast. She spread her legs wider as a hand slid between them to force first two then three fingers into her, making her cry out with pleasure.

Gabrielle opened her eyes looking around the room for any trace of the dark woman. Finding herself alone, she sat up, clutching the blanket to her chest, which was red with heat. Her eyes closed as she moved her legs, finding herself reacting to the dream.

A knock came to the door and before she had a chance to speak it opened revealing Xena. She bit her lip as her body ached at the sight of her.

"Still in bed?"

"Why knock if you don't plan to wait?" Silence answered her. Gabrielle rolled her eyes as she slid her legs out of the bed, carefully wrapping the blanket around her body as she made her way to a table, her robe on top.

"Why cover up what I've seen already?"

Gabrielle dropped the blanket and pulled on her robe feeling warm breath tickle her neck. Her head moved sideways against her will as lips sucked at her ear. It would be so easy to give in but she wanted more than sex. She slid out of Xena's grasp, tying the ties at the front of her robe. She felt Xena come up behind her. "Don't." She turned. "Don't touch me unless you mean it." She saw a confused look cross Xena's face. Gabrielle shook her head, walking to the balcony looking out into the surrounding hills, thinking of her home back with the Amazons. Hearing the doors close, she closed her eyes, a tear sliding down her cheek.


Gabrielle met the body slave the next morning as she ventured outside. Her eyes widened as she took in the huge garden that stood in front of her.

The red head was busy cutting flowers. She looked up as Gabrielle walked to her. "Morning mistress." She handed her a single rose.

Gabrielle didn't have time to correct her as she felt Xena come up behind her.

"Like it?"

"Not quite what I expected from you." Gabrielle turned.

"I like pretty things." She grinned. "You're still alive aren't you."

Gabrielle rolled her eyes. "What's her name?"

Xena didn't look surprised as if she knew it would be asked. "Nadia."

"Why is she branded?"

"My symbol. Want one?"

Gabrielle shook her head pushing the flower into Xena's hands as she headed toward the door.

"Why don't you join me for lunch?"



Gabrielle stopped. "Because I'm going home." She disappeared behind the door leaving Xena staring at the white flower in her hand.


Gabrielle was aware of two things as she woke. One, her head felt like a centaur had stomped on it and two, he wrists were bound up over her head. Movement somewhere in front of her drew her attention. The room was dark except for the candles near the bed and the corners were covered in shadows.

"Good to see you're awake."

Her head snapped to a corner as Xena walked into the light. "Why is my head killing me?"

Xena grinned, a small flash of perfectly white canines more like it as she shrugged. "You're not that deep a sleeper as I thought." She walked to the edge of the bed. "I can't let you leave."

Gabrielle rolled her eyes. "Always have to own everything around you."

"This isn't about owning anything."

"Then why keep me when you said yourself that you didn't want me here."

Xena raised a glass to her mouth, choosing instead to take a long drink as she thought of a way to answer. "I'm allowed to change my mind." She emptied her glass and made her way to a small table to refill.

"So what's the plan Xena?"

The warrior turned sharply, her eyes narrowed. "I am the Conqueror and you will address me so."

Gabrielle rolled her eyes before she felt Xena at her side. She looked over and opened her mouth to speak but felt a hand cover it.

Xena held up a finger. "I ask the questions and you will be silent." Taking her hand away she took a step back as her eyes drifted over the skin of the woman in front of her. She lowered her hand to run it up a creamy thigh pleased when Gabrielle kicked out toward her. She quickly seized the ankle, her fingertips pressing down hard enough to bruise. Feeling Gabrielle pull against her, she released her and smiled at the red marks already forming. "Don't make me hurt you."

"Where's the Xena I knew at the Amazons?"

The question took Xena by surprise and she paused slightly before answering. "Get over it Amazon, she was a dream." Her eyes drifted to her legs. "I'll tie them up to if I have to."

"I'm willing to give you what you want if you do the same."

Xena looked amused. "And just what do you want?"

"I'll give myself to you if you..." She stopped as Xena held up a hand.

"Why give what I already have. You're body is mine for the taking."

"I won't resist you if you wanting to....if this is about control I will never give in."

Xena snorted. "Enough!" She reached out and grabbed Gabrielle's jaw forcing her to look at her. "You are mine. I take what I want when I want." She released Gabrielle and backed up.

"Never." She kicked up, her heel connecting with Xena's jaw.

Xena shook her head, her hand raising to rub her jaw. "Feel good? Let's hope so." She slapped Gabrielle across the face, leaving a red hand print.

Gabrielle closed her eyes biting back the pain. "You'll never change."

"Shouldn't expect me to littleone. Have you forgotten who I am?" She roughly grabbed a breast molding it with her hand.

"Why must you take everything."

"Because that's who I am."

"I'll give in just be..." A hand covered her mouth.

"What? Gentle?" She laughed.

Gabrielle spread her legs bending her knees up. "You can have me but you don't have to take what I offer you willingly."

"Yes I do."


"Because you keep forgetting who is in charge here." Her eyes fell to Gabrielle's legs, taking in the way the muscles flexed in the inner thigh. Her eyes closed as she bit her lip, her control slowly leaving her.


Blue orbs snapped open at her name. "You don't listen."

Gabrielle rolled her hips in invitation. "Why do you have to take?"

Xena stepped around the bed, her eyes narrowing as she caught glimpse of Gabrielle's sex. Reaching up, she slid the robe from her shoulders, letting it pool at her feet. Climbing onto the bed, she was surprised when Gabrielle's legs remained spread. 'Might be easier than I thought.' She laid her body down over Gabrielle's, her eyes closing at the feel of soft skin against her. "How bout it Gabrielle, still want to give?"

"I give, you give."

Xena shook her head, somewhat disturbed by the turn of events. "Never happen."

Gabrielle nodded. "I know." Her voice was so soft and her tone full of sadness that it stunned Xena who rose and walked out of the room without another word.

Sometime during the night Gabrielle felt her arms being lowered to her sides and a blanket pulled over her chilled body. A hand smoothed back the hair from her face before they left the room.


Gabrielle woke the next morning slightly disoriented as she took in the room around her, her mind taking a moment or two to register that she was in her room. Sitting up, she rubbed her wrists pausing as she realized that they were free. She couldn't quite remember when I had happened but she was grateful as she swung her legs over the side of the bed. Rubbing the sleep from her face she heard the door close and looked up to see Nadia. "What does she want now?"

The slave paused for a moment to take in the woman before her. "She requests your presence in her chambers." She waited for Gabrielle to stand and when she did not move she crossed her arms behind her back. "Now."

Gabrielle turned to her. "Go away." She laid back on the bed and closed her eyes, jumping when she felt the covers pulled from her body.

"My Lord does not like to be kept waiting."

"Go tell Your Lord that she does not own me and never will."

"I could but what do you imagine her reply would be?"

"I don't have to imagine."

"And why is that?"

Gabrielle nodded toward the door where Xena stood leaned against the door frame, arms crossed over her chest, looking almost bored. She raised her arm over her eyes and groaned.

"Did I not make myself clear." Her eyes were on Nadia.

The slave lowered her eyes as her knees touched the floor. "I'm sorry my Lord I.."

Gabrielle spoke up, cutting the woman off. "It was my fault."

Xena rose a brow. "Why aren't you up?"

"Because I don't feel like it." She felt her leg grabbed before she felt the hard stone upon her ass. She rubbed it before her hair was grabbed and she was pulled to her feet.

"Do not make me wait any longer." She pushed her toward the bed, where the side table smacked her on the hip.

Gabrielle bit her lip against the pain. Only when she heard the door open and felt Xena leave did she release a soft whimper of pain.


Xena raised her head as a knock came to her door. "Come." She was pleased to see Gabrielle slowly enter and walk a few steps into the room. Xena crooked a finger and beckoned her to come forward. She handed her a glass as she approached. "For your headache."

Gabrielle looked into the cup cautiously as her nose took a small almost unnoticeable sniff. When she felt her hair grabbed and her face thrust forward to meet angry blue she knew it hadn't been too subtle.

"After all that you think I'd poison you." She released Gabrielle, pushing her away.

"As if the thought hadn't crossed your mind."

"I never said it didn't." She smiled. "But you're right. Have a seat."

"I'd rather not. I'm not staying." She saw Xena close her eyes and take a few breaths to calm herself.

"I won't tell you again."

"You can't order me around. I'm not a member of your guard or court and I'm certainly not your slave." She took a step back in reflex as Xena rose and moved toward her.

"What happened to submitting to me? Or what that just in my bed?" She grinned knowing she had struck a nerve.

Gabrielle sighed as she turned to make her way out. Feeling a warm presence behind her made her stop and as warm breath caressed her bare neck, she felt a small shudder pass over her body. Arms wrapped around her waist and soft lips kissed gently at her shoulder.

"This what you want?" She felt Gabrielle's heart increase before she released her. "I'll never understand you."

Gabrielle turned. "Meaning?"

"You ask for something you'll never get."

"Don't you think I know that." She made her way to the door. "That's why I'm leaving." Her hand grabbed the knob just before she felt her body being turned and somehow her back was pressed against the same door as Xena's body formed into hers. "You disagree?"


"Why don't you go release some of that energy."

"That an offer?"

"Of some sort but not for what you're thinking."

"Then what?" She smiled getting Gabrielle's point. "Only if you join me?"


"So I can knock you down."

"Can't do it here so you thought you'd try there." She was quickly released and as she looked up, she saw a momentary flash of pain cross the beautiful features before Xena pulled away and it was covered. 'What do you know, she does have feelings.' "Okay you win. I'll spar if you promise to take it easy on me."

Xena turned. "I promise nothing."

Gabrielle shook her head. "Very well." She opened the door and turned her head. "You coming?"


"Sure you want to do this?" Xena asked as they took stance.

"Having second thoughts?" She looked down at her hands, feeling naked without weapons.

"Don't even think about it."

Gabrielle looked up confused. "About what?"

"There's no way I'm giving you a weapon."

"Afraid I'd beat you?"

Xena threw her head back and laughed. "How'd you know?" Her voice was full of sarcasm.

"Just give me a staff."


Gabrielle folded her arms. "Expecting me to beat you hand to hand."

"Scared little Amazon?"

Gabrielle shook her head. "It'll be even more humiliating when I win."

Xena rolled her eyes. "Gonna get this over with or did you want to have a meeting first?"

Gabrielle rolled her shoulders. "Fine." She bounced on the balls of her feet, getting warmed up. Almost instantly she kicked up her leg aiming for Xena's stomach but it was blocked. Kicking her leg up to attack again she went up instead of down to catch Xena's jaw but was once again blocked.

"Gotta do better than that."

Gabrielle smiled as she closed her eyes before opening them again and walking toward Xena, who stood ready for anything. Surprising Xena, Gabrielle pushed Xena's arms out of the way and laid her head on the leather covered chest taking in Xena's scent as she wrapped her arms around the strong back. She could feel the muscles twitch underneath her and feeling the warrior tense up, she raised he head and winked. "No other opponent would get this close." Xena gave her a weird look before she was pushed away. Watching the warrior walk out of the courtyard, she picked up a rather large rock and hauled it toward Xena, who instantly raised a hand back to catch it, not breaking stride and not even bothering to turn.


This made Xena turn. "What is it you want from me?"

Gabrielle closed the distance between them placing her palm over the warrior's heart. No words were needed as she made her answer clear.

Xena shook her head, removing the hand. "If I was capable of love...." She let her words die, her sentence hanging, as she turned and strode out of the courtyard. Entering her chambers, her eyes turned to Nadia. "Hot water." The girl hastily exited feeling her Lord's mood. 'Who does she think she is? And why did I say that?' She hung her head in confusion. A knock at her door made her take a seat on her bed. "Come." She let out a breath as she saw Gabrielle. "Yes?"

Gabrielle's eyes twinkled. "Don't say yet till you know the question." She smirked. "Remember?"

Xena shook her head. "Well?" She watched Gabrielle come closer as Nadia entered. Xena watched a mixture of emotions cross the slaves face as she spotted Gabrielle before walking away to fill Xena's tub. 'Interesting.' "As you can see I'm about to take a bath." Her dark eyes rose to Gabrielle's. "Unless you wanted to join me."

"I will not bathe you."

Xena rose making her way to the small blonde. "I never said bathe, I said join. Perhaps I'll bathe you." Her eyes drifted over Gabrielle's clothed body.

Gabrielle swallowed a lump in her throat. "Not yet." She made her way to the door but her elbow was grabbed in a strong grip. Turning to it, she was silent.

"You get your way there. Here I get mine."

Gabrielle met her eyes. "I'm leaving now." She yanked her arm free only to have both her wrists grabbed and held behind her back, her body pressed against Xena's. "Don't." Her voice was low. She was let go as Nadia came in to undress Xena. Turning to the door she heard Xena speak and turned to her, hand on the door. "What?"

"Remember what I said at the Amazons?"

Gabrielle shrugged. "You said a lot of things." Her breathing increased as Xena crossed the room.

"In your hut." Her eyes were dark and her voice soft.

"Yes." She swallowed. "You said you'd come collect what was yours."

"Close enough." Her head lowered, her lips just short of touching Gabrielle's that their breath mixed. "I never did come back and collect."

Gabrielle turned to leave but felt herself wedged between the door and Xena. "Let me go."

"There'll be a party tomorrow. Just a few delegates and allies. You'll be there."

"Oh I will." The air seemed to returned to her brain as she glanced up at Xena, turning her head as Xena's lips grazed hers.

"Yes you will." She backed off and turned to Nadia who came closer.

Gabrielle watched as the warrior sampled a soft neck and raised to nibble at an ear. No, not nibble. As she looked closer she could see Xena whispering into the slave's ear. Watching Nadia rush off she felt the lump returned as Xena turned to her before walking into the other room.


Xena inwardly rolled her eyes for what seemed like the hundredth time as she listened to another tale of the many boring thing this man had done. Outside she smiled sweetly and motioned to the servants that her cup was empty. If she was going to get through this evening without killing anyone, she would need more wine. The conversation at her table ceased and she thanked the Gods above before she realized that there must be a reason. Glancing up, she saw her general turned toward the door. Her eyes followed his and she knew why the silence had fell. Almost immediately it began again and her eyes took in this new pleasantry.

Gabrielle clad in a silk white two piece outfit stood in the doorway drawing everyone's attention. The top was strapless, hugging her bosom high and the bottom V'd down toward her toned stomach. The sides hinted at a milky hip on each side. The skirt was long and fell to the floor hugging nothing and trailing slightly behind her. The front showing small sandal covered feet.

Xena rose to walk toward her and felt a lump forming in her own throat. In what she convinced herself was all for show, she raised Gabrielle's hand to her mouth letting her lips feel the soft silkiness of her skin. "Knew you'd come."

"Did you?" She wasn't going to but the thought was too good to miss. She had called upon the palace clothes maker and had made a design of the perfect outfit to pull Xena's attention.

"You look great." Her praise was genuine.

"Thank you." She pulled her hand free of Xena's.

"Care to join me?" She led her back to her tale and indicated the chair opposite her. "Allow me to introduce the Queen of the Amazons, Gabrielle."

Gabrielle found herself overcome with laughter as she listened to a certain soldier telling a rather funny tale. Turning her head she could see Xena was not very happy with a man that had or attention or didn't for that matter. Excusing herself, she made her way to her. "May I steel her away. We have some matters we need to discuss." She grabbed Xena's hand and drug her to an empty corner.

"Thank you."

"No thanks necessary."

"If I hear one more boring..." Her eyes turned to Gabrielle. "Tell me a story."


"No." She pointed to a small platform. "There."

"I have nothing prepared." She paused. "How did you know I was a bard?"

"I had one in my court. You can do it."

"And if I'm extremely terrible?"

"Then I'll gut you." She smiled. "Go." She tapped a finger against Gabrielle's nose. She saw her hesitate. "Don't make me throw you up there."

Gabrielle was about to protest when she saw a familiar twinkle in the blue eyes and knew she was playing. "All right." She turned to go but stopped and turned. "On one condition."

"Which is?"

"I'll name it later." She headed off before Xena could reply.


".....throwing them both into the river of lava below and saving her companion moments before her hand slipped and the bed of lave became her new home." She bowed at the cheers of approval. Making her way down to Xena, their eyes met just before the doors burst open and several soldiers crashing in holding onto three men.

Xena's gaze broke as anger flooded her face. "What is the meaning of this!"

One soldier bowed his head slowly. "These are the men you requested my Lord."

Xena's brow rose. "Really." She made her way to the group, drawing a dagger from her boot. Placing it underneath one prisoners throat she calmly asked. "Are you guilty?"

He spit at her feet just before he felt the blade slid across his skin before his mouth filled with his own blood. Falling to the floor he was still.

Turning to a second, she reached up opening his mouth. Her eyes met her soldiers and understanding instantly he grabbed the man's tongue, holding it as the blade lowered.


Xena turned as Gabrielle ran to her side. "Problem?"

"What are you doing?"

"Punishing those who need it."

"What have they done?"

Xena took a breath. "Why are you questioning me?"

"Isn't there another way?"

"I know you didn't just tell me I couldn't do this." Her blade lowered again.

"STOP!" She grabbed the warrior's wrist, pulling the blade further away from the man.

Xena pulled her arm free, knocking Gabrielle to the floor. "I'll deal with you later." She turned to her men. "Tie him." Turning to Nadia. "My whip."

"Xena." She saw every muscle in the woman's body stiffen as she turned her way.

"Gag her."

Gabrielle struggled as she was held and a silk napkin thrown over her mouth. She saw Nadia run into the room and as the man's cries of pain hit her ears, her eyes closed, tears falling down her cheeks. Opening them again, she focused on the various bleeding marks across the man's body as Xena turned to her.

"Judge his fate Gabrielle."


Xena pointed to the man. "This man and other that I have already dealt with are responsible for your family." She saw recognition cross her face as anger soon flooded only to be replaced just as quickly. "Why do you save him?"

Gabrielle turned her head. "I can't. You wouldn't understand."

Xena shook her head as she grabbed her knife cutting the man's tongue out in one fluid stroke and throwing it to the floor. "Put him on the cross." She moved to the other men who shook with terror as she approached. Her mouth curled up in a sneer as she saw the pile of his own vomit near him. "Pathetic." She turned to the soldiers holding him. "Deal with him." Hearing them hurry away her eyes turned to her guests who looked rather amused at the little display of entertainment. "Let's eat." A round of laughter filled her ears as she made her way to Gabrielle, who had her eyes closed. As she neared the green eyes opened. Xena's mouth opened and closed several times before she belted Gabrielle across the face, making the blonde's lip split, before walking away to the table. "Take her to her room and lock the door. Wait outside till I come." She took a seat, hearing them leave and turned to her general. "Never a dull moment." She heard him give a low chuckle as she turned to her pate.


Xena rounded a corner, a pleased look upon her face as she spotted the two men outside the door. "Any problems?"

They shook their heads and Xena doubted that even if they had they would not tell her. Entering, her eyes took in the dark room, her senses noting that something was wrong. Lighting a few candles, she realized what it was. The bard was gone.

One of the guards jumped as a knife was plunged into the chest of his companion. He felt the dark presence of the Conqueror behind him and started to sweat.

"Don't wish for the same fate, I suggest you find her." She watched him run off and turned to a passing servant. "Clean this mess up." She continued down the corridor toward her own chambers.


Xena listened to the rain throughout the night and as the first rays of daylight peeked in through her windows, she heard a knock at her door. A smile came to her face as she rose to open it. "Found her?"

The man nodded. "She's coming in the courtyard. Shall I fetch her?"

"No." She closed the door in his face and made her way to the balcony.

Cold, she was so cold. The rain continued to fall around her soaking her to the bone once more as she stepped out of the trees. She had lost her sandals who knows where or when and her feet felt like blocks of ice. Something drove her away last night and just as before, something drew her back. Stopping just short of the courtyard, she looked around expecting some kind of capture. When there was none, she continued suddenly feeling eyes on her. Looking around, her blurry gaze found no one there and as a shiver ran up her spine that had nothing to do with the cold, she looked up toward a balcony to see Xena leaned against it the railing. A small smile came to her face as she realized that Xena would soon kill her for last night but she didn't care as her vision grew worse and as her knees gave out, she found herself falling to the ground.

"She's dead."

"She is not dead. I wouldn't let her. C'mon Gabrielle wake up. C'mon wake you. C'mon wake. You're scaring me wake up. Wake up. Gabrielle breathe. C'mon....C'mon breathe. Maybe she just needs air. We need to get air into her lungs." She tilted Gabrielle's head back and breathed into her mouth. "C'mon breathe!"

Gabrielle was still.

"Xena stop it she's dead now. She's in another place." He tried to calm her down but it didn't help. If anything it only made her more angry.

"Get out of my way! You don't know anything!" Her voice was rising fast as she turned from him, back to Gabrielle. "C'mon I know you're in there, prove. Wake up and breathe." She blew air into her mouth again. She was cracking and she knew it. No wound had ever hurt this much. Her voice rose and she was yelling now. "C'mon, wake up and breathe." Softer now. "You never ran from anything in your life. C'mon fight."


"Fight!" She turned to him, tears in her eyes threatening to fall as her strong will, which was crumbling fast, held them in check.

"Xena it's time to stop now. Let her cross over."

"What do you know. You've killed so many."

"So have you. Let it go."

"No..no...C'mon Gabrielle. C'mon, don't leave. Don't you leave me." She was yelling again. "Don't you leave me, don't leave me. Wake up." She pounded on Gabrielle's chesk hard with both fists. "Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!"

Gabrielle gasped as she forced air into her lungs and Xena grabbed her pulling her to her in a bone crushing embrace.

Xena woke gasping for air as she sat up. Looking down at the pillow in her arms, she threw it across the room lowering her head into her hands. She angrily wiped a tear from her face and pulled the blanket off. Standing she made her way to the balcony, peering out into the dark night. Turning from the railing, she threw on a robe as she headed out the door.


"That weak feeling is the blood to your brain being cut off. You'll be dead in less than a minute...or we can talk."


"All right, the rules of survival. Number 1, if you can run...run. Number 2, if you can't run...surrender...than run. Number 3, If you're outnumbered, let them fight each other while you run. Number 4, is where you talk your way out of it."

"She's awake." The figure was gone and her ears ran with retreating steps. Her hand reached out. "Xena." Feeling a warm hand close around hers, she relaxed, closing her eyes once more. "He said you were dead."



Xena looked around the room for an answer but found the two of them alone.

"I saw you."

"Saw me where?" Xena asked confusion lining her features.

"Lying there, pale... Oh gods, don't die."

"I'm not going to..." She reached up to feel Gabrielle's brow and cursed to find her hot with fever. As she released Gabrielle's hand to grab some cold water, she heard a name whispered almost silently. Salmoneous?


Gabrielle opened her eyes aware of a dull feeling shooting down her spine. Seeing a dark silouette standing by the bed made her jump. A warm hand touched her forehead as if to check her temperature yet it was more of a carress. "Xena?"

"Shh. Sleep."

The warmth continued as she closed her eyes and fell asleep.


Gabrielle slowly opened her eyes to a room she thought she recognized yet she wasn't sure. Turning her head slightly to the right, she saw a bright white pillow and assumed the one under her was as well. The blankets were a dull blue and she closed her eyes again, realizing it was her own room she lay in. Her body ached as she began to fully awake and her vision was slightly blurry. A noise off in the distance drew her attention to the window and sensing someone near her she jumped as she turned to see an older man standing by the side of the bed.

"Wh..." Her voice cracked sending her into a full round of coughing. As if passed she was pleased to see a glass of water held in front of her. Taking a long drink, her throat rejected half and she embarassly spit it down her front. He was there again with a towel patting her dry as he handed her another cup, taking the first. She smelled it in reflex, wishing she hadn't and looking up, her eyes asked questions, reading his and knowing she had to drink it. Sipping gently, she felt a hand on her forehead before he moved from the bed. "What happened?" Though she already knew the answer.

"You cought a fever. You were out all night." His accent seemed strange to her. "Don't you remember?"

She shook her head.

"You were found in the courtyard. Apparently you had passed out." He applied a cold rag to her warm forehead and removed the blankets from her feet.

"Where's...." She was unsure what exactly to call her, not sure if Conqueror would be accurate to this man.

He smiled seeming to know what she wanted. "In her chambers." He walked away mentally adding to himself. 'She's been here all night looking after you.' He shook his head lost in thought.

"Am I in trouble?" She winced as he turned sharply.

"Why would you think that?"

"The fact that I ran from her. Not exactly a slave but....I...I embarassed her last night." She saw him hold up a hand.

"I would have been informed and as you can see you are not bound." He gave a reassuring smile. "Would you like some broth?" He grabbed her empty mug and moved to the door at her nod. Stopping he paused as she spoke.

"Thank you."

He turned to bow his head before walking out.

Gabrielle turned her head to watch the candle flicker in a small draft. A large smile came to her face as she looked around the room before pulling back the blankets, and swinging her legs over the side of the bed. She braced her weight on her arms, preparing to rise.

"Don't think about it," a voice called from the doorway.

Gabrielle sighed as she turned to the warrior. "Hey."

"Hey yourself. Feeling better?"

"Yeah. I'd like to get up."

"Go ahead. Might want to put pillows on the floor to cushion the fall though."

Gabrielle rolled her eyes as she stood, her knees giving out the moment she took a step. Raising her arms, she grabbed out for something as she came down. Strong hands wrapped around her waist and she was pulled back to the bed. "Guess you're right."

"Been hurt enough to know better." She lifted Gabrielle, placing her in her original position.

"What happened exactly? I remember bits and pieces."

"You fell."

"That I got. Who brought me here? I want to thank them."

"You're welcome."

Gabrielle turned her head sharply. "You!?"

"Yeah me."

"Sorry, I didn't mean it like that. It's just that I didn't..." She stopped herself.

"Didn't expect me to help you." The woman actually looked hurt.

"I saw you on the balcony and I know you couldn't have gotten down that fast. I felt arms grab me as I fell."

"Believe what you like."

"How long did it take you to get down?"

"Two seconds." She saw a confused look cross the pale face. "I jumped."

"Isn't that dangerous?"

"Not for me."

Gabrielle shook her head in disbelief before she paused. "Thank you."

Xena smiled. "You're welcome again. Lee's getting you some soup."

"I know."

"He's good." She paused thinking of her dreams. "Did...."

Gabrielle looked up. "Did what?"

"Nothing." She straightened. "Do you need anything before I leave?" She saw a dark coloring fill Gabrielle's cheeks. "What is it?"

"I might need your help."


"I need to go to the bathroom."

Xena's eyebrow raised. "Trust me?"

"I don't have a choice and right now I'd rather not pee the bed." She held out a hand. "Please."

Xena took a breath as she grabbed the hand and placed it over her neck, bending to pick Gabrielle up.

"I can walk."

"Yeah I saw."

Gabrielle closed her eyes bending to lay her head in the base of Xena's neck, taking in her scent which made her breathless. 'Gods but this woman smelled good.' She let out a breath.

"You okay?"

"Yeah, just lightheaded." It wasn't a lie really though it had nothing to do with the her condition.

All over too soon, she was placed on a seat and left alone as Xena turned and closed the door. Finishing her business quickly she anticipated the woman's arms again. A blush heated her face as she called out and Xena opened the door. "This is embarassing."

"I sympathize." She felt Gabrielle's breath fall across her neck and swollowed.

Gabrielle raised her head, her lips inches from Xena's. Her eyes read the warrior's and what she saw intrigued her. Her hand rose against her will to Xena's cheek, carressing the soft skin. Her thumb slid over warm lips before she found her back against the bed once more. Feeling the blankets pulled over her body, she found herself unable to stop her mouth. "I love you." She seemed more surprised than Xena, who found something interesting to look at on the wall before turning to the bard.

"It'll pass." She headed out.

"No...it won't." She saw Xena stop and turn her head.

"We'll see." And she walked out.


Gabrielle was disappointed to see Lee greet her as she woke. "Where's Xena?" The name flew from her lips so easily that she barely registered the fact that she had spoke it. "Sorry I didn't..." She was silent as he raised a hand.

"No harm in..." He turned to the door as it opened. "My Lord." His head lowered.

"Leave us." Her eyes watched him till he had closed the door. "You look better." She took a seat at the edge of the bed, raising her arms to press her wrist against Gabrielle's forehead. "Fevers gone." She took slow breaths staring at the window. "About what you said." Her eyes met Gabrielle's. "It's not a good idea."


Xena closed her eyes. "You don't really know who I am."

Gabrielle placed her hand over Xena's. "I know enough." She wasn't surprised when Xena shrugged it off and stood.

"When you are well you will leave."

"I won't."

"Then I shall have you taken there. Forcefully if I must."

"What's to stop me from coming back?'


"Why am I such a threat to you?"

"What makes you think you are?"

"You wouldn't have made it a point to send me away if I wasn't."

"You'll leave tomorrow." She walked to the door.

"I'm sorry." She saw the warrior halt. "I never should have left and more importantly I never should have embarassed you like that in front of your men." She sat up and pulled the blankets off, swinging her legs over the side of the bed, propping herself up.

"I understand why you did." Her voice was soft, almost a whisper. "Go home Gabrielle." She grabbed the knob.

"Could you ever love me."

Xena closed her eyes placing her forehead on the door. 'I already do.' She walked out.


The dreams that have plagued me before she arrived have returned. I see her now on a hill, sword resting over her shoulder as she calls to me with an open hand. A strong force that I can't quite describe always seems to draw me to her. Strange really how she can change. One minute she is the Xena I learned to love at the Amazons, the one that I can control. Yet, she can be heartless as her position demands and I find thta even as I fight this side of her I still find myself drawn to her. The Xena from my dreams haunts my memories even in the day now. Maybe it's impossible to yearn for things I'm sure will never be. She hold my heart but do I hold hers. Those blue eyes that hold me with such intense emotion sets my body aflame. It's like I have a sickness that there is no cure for and it has taken me a long time to figure out that she is the cure. I dreamt of her taking me, taking me with such force that I can't fight and I'm not sure I wish to do so. I crave at the same time her tenderness and her power to overcome me. Perhaps I just need to have her take me so there is no questions about my words. But if she does will it confirm my worst fears. Will she leave me after she has conquered me? My Conqueror oh I wish she were mine. If she knew what thoughts ran boundless through my mind I fear she would kill me, cause sending me away will not quench this need I have. I've had plenty of fantasies of her breaking me that I can no longer deny what I want and like from her. She is the answer to everything I seek and as I deny it I know she hold me, mind, body, and soul.

Gabrielle entered the hall to see Xena heading toward her. There was something about the way her eyes seemed to glow that it frightened her and it made her turn to enter a door seeing the hall where they had their party.

"Feeling better?"

She jumped as she turned realizing that she hadn't even heard the door open. "Yes."

"Good." She reached out quickly to grab Gabrielle's throat, twisting to slam the blonde's back onto the table.

"What are you doing?" Her hands fought to release the one holding her. "Let me go." Her throat was released as her wrists were grabbed and held over her head.

"Thought you wanted this."


"I know, gentle. You say that but you want this." She leaned down, her lips an inch from Gabrielle's. "You got me."

"Well if I have you, let me go."

"No, not falling for that."


Xena's eyes closed as she fought with herself. "Can't."

Gabrielle raised a leg to wrap it aorund Xena's waist pulling her down. "Let me go."

Xena looked back. "Not the best way to get me to release you."

"Don't do this."

"Give me a good reason why not?"

"You have me just don't....not this way."

"I can't give you what you want."

"Why? Why is it so difficult? Just release me."

"An order?"

"No." She placed her feet on the edge of the table, spreading her legs, Xena's body falling in between. Her eyes closed at the delicious feeling before she laid her head back. "See." Her arms were released as Xena took a few steps back.

"Why do you play these mind games?"

"I play nothing."

Xena ran a hand through her hair. "I'm done." She turned to go but found her arm grabbed above the elbow. "I wouldn't." She felt a warm body at her back, followed by soft lips at her neck. "Don't."

"Why? At least I mean it." As Xena turned, she reached up to grab raven locks, pushing the resisting lips against her own, not surprised when she was pushed away. "Who's the one denying now?"

"You'll be escorted home tomorrow."

Gabrielle shook her head as Xena walked out.


"Xena, I know you can hear me wherever you are. I know you always told me to be strong but I can't be not now. You can't leave me. I know it's not your time. I can feel it in my heart. I feel this emptiness thta I have never felt before and it scares me. Above all, remember your destiny, and fight. Just fight to come back. This world needs you. I need you."


"Xena look they made me Queen. Me, the little girl you found in Potiedaia. It's time that I let you go. See, I have to find my own life, just as you were searching for yours. You know, there are two kinds of tears. Tears for those who leave you, and tears for those you never let go. And, I won't say good-bye to you Xena, because we'll be together again...one day."


Gabrielle's head snapped up as she turned towards the trees, the familiar tingle spreading up her spine. "How did you find me?"

"Truthfully, you didn't make it that hard." Xena stepped into the fire's light.

Gabrielle nodded as she watched Xena take a seat by the fire. "Thought you wanted me gone?"

"Yes but you didn't say goodbye." She grinned.

Gabrielle threw her hands up. "I'm going home. You don't have to worry."

"Oh really." She grabbed a knife from her boot and speared the small bird over the fire.

"Help yourself."

Xena took a bite, her eyes closing at the mixture of herbs used to cook it.

"Don't get too comfortable. You're catching the next one."

"Why? I only need one." She grinned playfully.

"Are you ever serious?"

"Oh when need be." She pulled another dagger from her boot and threw it toward Gabrielle, the blade imbedding itself in a tree a few inches from her head. "Now that's serious."

Gabrielle reached behind her and drew the dagger throwing it at Xena.

Xena looked down to see it in the tree she sat on, right next to her pant leg. "Are you trying to make me mad?"

Gabrielle stood and walked to Xena, holding out her hand for the dagger, watching as the warrior slid the blad down a jaw before sliding it into her mouth to tap it against her teeth.

"You want it, come and get it."

"Kiss my..." She jumped as Xena rose to stand in front of her.

"Yes. Kiss your what?" She held the dagger out, handle first. "Take it."

Gabrielle rolled her eyes as she turned only to have her wrist grabbed, a finger pressing down on her inner wrist, making it go numb. As she was pulled back, her ass hit the hard wood of the log. Her eyes lowered to the ground as she felt Xena stand in front of her. She clenched her jaw as she felt the back of her neck held in a vice like grip. Taking a deep breath, she stood before being knocked back down. "Were you and Melosa ever together?"

This took Xena by surprised and she backed off. "What?"

"Just something that she said to me back at the village."

"Well young bard." She took a seat on the othe side of the fire. "Enlighten me then."

"She told me to watch myself."

"Because she told you to be careful you think this?"


"Then explain it cause I am losing patience."

"She said you have a way of getting to people."

Xena smiled as she shook her head, her eyes lowered to the ground.

"Am I missing something?"

Xena didn't speak as she rose and headed into the dark trees.

Gabrielle stared into the fire for a few candlemarks, not sure what to make of the sudden silence. There had to be something that she was missing.

She kept her eyes closed as she heard the woman enter camp a few hours later. Rolling onto her side, she threw the covers off her body, giving a small whimper to produce the sleep affect, before she laid on her back, her arms over her head. Peeking out from under her lashes she watched as Xena turned to her, her face hidden by shadows, before she laid down facing away from Gabrielle. Gabrielle gave a small sigh as she closed her eyes intent of getting some sleep.

"Does that ever work?"

Her eyes popped open as she rolled over to face Xena. "No." She smiled as she stared at the now dead fire. "I'm sorry."

Xena didn't say anything as she nodded and laid down, silent and still.

Gabrielle watched a few more minutes before closing her eyes.

"We all have families that we are born into, but sometimes families change and we have to build our own. For me our friendship binds us closer than blood ever could."

Green eyes opened before Gabrielle turned onto her side, facing Xena who appeared to be sleeping. Shaking her head, she closed them again.

"So Zeus, in his appreciation, turned the two lovers into oak tree. And then do you know what happened?"

"Somebody built a boat out of them?"

"No, their branches intertwined and they spent the rest of their days in each others embrace."

"What's the point?"

"Come on, Xena. I believe everyone will find their tree in the forest someday. Even you."

"I find the strongest trees in the forests stand alone."

"You don't have to be strong all the time, Xena. Sometimes it's good for the sould to be soft."

Gabrielle rolled onto her back, staring at the stars as the voices in her head quieted. Closing her eyes she sat up and turned to Xena who was still. Practically throwing the fur from her body, she stood, bending to grab it as she walked to a tree, leaning against it, her eyes on Xena. She smiled as her stomach growled and with a shake of her head she headed into the woods to find more food.

Stopping beside a small stream she rolled her eyes. "You never give up." She turned.

"I'm just out for a walk."

"Right, and you just happened to go the same way right." She nodded as her eyes narrowed and her nose crinkled up in a smirk. "I see." She moved foward where Xena was leaned against a tree. "Come to help replace the dinner that you stole?"

"Not exactly." Her eyes bore into Gabrielle's.

"Then why follow me?" She felt the fur being pulled open and a warm body stepping into it. "Cold?"

"Yeah, share some warmth."

"I did." She pulled back out of Xena's reach. "And I got burned by the flames, Xena." She turned to go but felt the fur being yanked from her shoulders. Turning her arms ran up and down her shivering body as she tilted her head in confusion.

Xena wrapped the fur around herself her eyes closing at the warmth from Gabrielle's body still left behind. "I was willing to share."

"Oh I know, you take what you want. I must have forgotten." She folded her arms over her chest.

"Come here."


"Come here and I'll warm you up."

"Yeah I bet."

"Just do it."

Gabrielle hesitated before she walked forward and felt a flutter in her stomach as Xena opened up the fur to pull her in. The warrior's body was so warm that Gabrielle felt herself melting into it. Laying her head down on a soft shoulder, she burried her cold nose into Xena's dark locks.

"See, I can be nice."

Gabrielle wrapped her arms around Xena's waist as she pressed her body closer to Xena's. "So it would seem." She took in Xena's scent without fear and suddently her lips were having their share as well as they trailed alone a bare shoulder. She felt Xena stiffen in her arms and pushed the strap from her shoulder to kiss there, sucking gently on the smooth skin before heading back to the delicious neck that made her mouth water. Opening her mouth, she nipped gently soothing the marks with her tongue and before Xena could stop to register what was going on, she had her mouth around said neck, sucking hard.

Xena pushed her away roughly. "What do you think you are doing?"

Gabrielle smiled. "What?"

Xena reached up to her neck, feeling the wet skin and wiping it off. "I had better not have a mark."

Gabrielle stepped closer. "And if you do, dear warrior, you'll just have to deal with it." She moved to head back to camp but was pulled back against a very upset Xena. "Something else?" She was pushed forward and a smile came to her face as she took on a bounce in her step. 'Almost warrior, almost.'


"No, look, you promise me..if something happens to me you will not become a monster. There's only one way to end the cycle of hatred and it's through love."

"Don't you go changing on me Gabrielle, I like you just the way you are. Go get some sleep."

"No. No, you promise me."

"I promise."

Xena rolled over, her eyes opening to spot Gabrielle asleep across from her. Sitting up she silently crawled toward the bard and the scroll that lie in her hands. Pulling slowly she backed up to her own blankets and looked down at the scroll, beginning to read: 'Sins of the past........

Gabrielle noticed one thing as she began to wake and it was the uncomfortable weight on her hips and thighs, and as she tried to open her eyes, all she saw was darkness. Moving her head left and right, she realized that a blindefold was the cause. "What is this?"

"Well lucky for me, you're still a deep sleeper."

"Xena, what have you done?"


It was then that Gabrielle found the weight was indeed the warrior, finding this out as the woman rose. "Why the blindfold?"

"People tend to tell the truth when denied the use of one or more of their senses." At this she saw Gabrielle temp to pull at her arms which were tied to a tree behind her. "Now I'm going to ask this just one. How do you know about my mother, town, and everything else you apparently seem privy to?" She waited. "Speak."

"I doubt you'd believe me if I told you and I'm not up for a fight."

"Wasn't a request bard." She saw a mixture of emotions cross the fair face. "Now!"

"I dreamt it," barely above a whisper.

Although she heard every word she felt herself asking. "What?"

"I dreamt it," she repeated.

"Yeah, I heard that. How could you dream it? Were you there?"


Xena took a deep breath obviously not believing her. "Truth now!" In an instant she had a dagger against the blonde's throat.

"I told you!" She hissed as she felt the blade sink in. "Told you you wouldn't believe me." The bite was gone.

"You're sighted?" Xena asked as she took a seat by the fire.


"Kinda? Either you are or you aren't. Which is it?"


Xena grinned. "Does it come often?"

"Only since I met you."

"Why's that?"

"You tell me, they're your life images."

"What else have you seen?"

"Bits and pieces."

"When did they start?" About me I mean?"

"When you left with the Amazon party."

"Why did you only tell me one? How many before....Aowyn?"

"Eight, and I told you about the first one."

Xena nodded having forgotten. "What were they all about?" She saw the blonde's cheeks color. She stretched out her legs and leaned her back against a log. "Don't be shy."

"I'd rather not, and since I'm free and have a will of my own I think I'll keep them to myself."

"Anymore about my family?"


"Good. Only one thing that doesn't make sense."

"What's that?"

"In your scroll..yes I read it. You wrote that you were there."

"In my dreams I was."

"Ah. Get some sleep it's late."

"Gladly but do you think you can release me?"

"I could."

"Please." She felt the slack in her arms and the blindfold being pulled off. Sitting up, she unwrapped the rope from her wrists and tossed them toward Xena. "Don't do that again."

"That a threat bard?"

"Take is as you like." She crawled to her bedroll and laid down. "That's a good look for you by the way."

"Don't start." Her tone was dangerous.

"Or what?" Gabrielle knew she was playing with fire. "Gonna hurt me Xena?" Before she had a chance to laugh, she found herself on her back with Xena's body over her arm.

"That an offer?"

"Not a chance." Her eyes closed as she felt Xena pry her legs apart. "There's no way you're going to give me what I want."

"How do you know?"

"Call it a hunch."

Xena smiled as her eyes wandered over Gabrielle's face, reading her eyes. "I might surprise you."

"Right." Her arms raised under her head. "If that's so then you wouldn't mind granting me a simple request."

"Which is?"

"Strip and you'll find out."

Xena laughed out right before she rose from Gabrielle to take a step back. "Not gonna happen."

"Why? Afraid of a little Amazon?" She inched closer to Xena's tense body. "Hmm? Right now I'm betting that you're more than scared, you're terrified. Terrified of what you might let me do." She wasn't surprised when she felt a cold blade against her throat. "You might fool other people but you can't fool me." The blade lowered as she was pushed back. Running a hand over her neck, she was slightly surprised to see a small bit of blood. Her eyes turned up to Xena's in question. "You would?"

Her eyes were calm as she pondered her answer before tilting her head slightly to the right. "I would." She sat down on the fallen log and grabbed her sword.


Gabrielle woke to bright sunshine on her face. Sitting up, her eyes glanced around a room she didn't recognize. Hearing steps outside the door, she tensed before it opened to reveal an older woman with kind eyes.

"Oh good, you're awake." She entered and laid a bundle of fresh laundry on the table. "Some towels for you."

"Where am I?"

"My inn."

"I mean what town." She grabbed for a cup by the bed.


Green eyes shot up to study the woman in front of her suddently feeling light headed as her head began to spin.

"You know what happened to her father?"

"He was murdered."

"Cyrene, do you know who did it?"


"I have to know we need to bring them to justice."

"Gabrielle, do you think Xena, even in this state, would kill her mother." A pause. "I killed him."

"You father came home from the Temple of Ares drunk and angry. He told me Xena had to die. He was very confuse, Xena. The priest at the temple must have told him to sacrifice you to Ares. Your father was very dedicated to the God of War. I told him I wouldn't let him do that. He said he'd kill me too then. He went to the stables to sharpen a knife. He was so methodical, the way he planned to kill his daughter. I took an axe and ... I stopped him."

"Xena, look, I know you're in there. Hey, we're going to get through this. You know, we always do."

"You're all in great danger!"

"Even if that were true, we would rather die before accepting help from you again."

"Not this time, Xena! We remember."

"Go away, Xena. This is not your town anymore. We are not your people. I am not your mother."

As the images faded, she became aware of a warmth at her side and a soft hand calmly moving over her hair. Raising, she looked into the eyes of Xena's mother. "Cyrene." She was expecting the look of surprise to cross the innkeepers face. "Too hard to explain," she answered as she held up a hand.

Cyrene nodded. "You all right?"

"Yeah, thanks. How did I get here?"

"I found you at my door this morning. Frozen almost to death you were." She handed her a hot cup of tea.

"Thanks again." A short pause. "I'm Gabrielle."

"Well you already know my name? Perhaps now is the time to tell me the reason." She sat down on the edge of the bed her warm eyes turned down to the floor as she waited.

"I know your daughter."

Cyrene smiled. "And she told you about me? Doesn't seem like her."

"No, I had a dream about you, this place, and her." She rubbed her forehead with the back of her hand. "Never mind."

"I believe you, don't worry. Where are you from?"


"Never met an Amazon before. How's...?" She stopped herself.

"She's fine. Should be here soon I imagine." She met the inkeepers eyes once more. "She'll follow me I'm sure."

"Are you in some kind of trouble? Not that I have any control over her but I can see to it that you're hidden."

"No, I'm fine, but thanks. She hunts me simply to control me."

Cyrene shook her head. "She could have been so much more. So much potential and look what she did with it." She looked down.

"She looks like you."

"Does she know you're gifted with sight?"


"How did you meet her?"

"She was forming an alliance with the Amazons." Simple enough.

Cyrene stood. "Hungry?"

Gabrielle simply smiled.






"Mother I will not argue with you now. Where is she?"

"She's sweet you know."

Xena ground her teeth at the changed subject. "Tell here I'm in the barn."

"Listen here young lady. You might be the ruler of Corinth but I am still your mother." She poked Xena in the chest.

'She did not just do that.' "Mom, don't start." She turned and headed toward the barn. Hearing Cyrene call out, she turned. "What?"

"You hungry?"

Xena smiled. "I could eat." She shook she head and turned once more.

Gabrielle looked up as Cyrene entered the kitched. "I heard yelling."

"Nothing to worry about."

Gabrielle nodded as she began to cut carrots, a deep shock running up her spine, making her cut down on her finger. Hissing, she pulled it back and ran to the sink.

"What happened?"

"Cut my finger." Her hand was grabbed as a rag was thrown over the wound. "She's here isn't she?"

"What makes you say that?"

"I can feel her."

"You what?"

Gabrielle held up a hand. "Really too hard to explain." She wrapped the rag tighter and untied her apron. "Where is she?"


"Thanks." She ran out cursing at the steady rain that began to fall. As she stopped at the doors, she rung out her wet locks with no use and opened the door, her eyes instantly spotting Argo. "Hey girl." She whirled around to face Xena. "Knew you'd follow me." She stepped forward, suddently feeling dizzy.

Xena reached out to steady her as she grabbed for the blood soaked towel. "What's this?" She shook her head as she pulled Gabrielle toward her saddlebags, shoving Gabrielle onto a hay bale. "Sit."

"Yes sir." She saluted and smiled wincing when her finger was dipped into a bottle of orange paste. "That hurts."

"I bet it does, but it'll stop infection."

"What is it?"

"Poison." She bit back a laugh as Gabrielle pulled back her hand. "Only if you drink it." She smiled.

"I cut it."

"Obviously. How?"

"I felt you and..." She paused. "It just happened?"

"It's not deep enough for stiches." She released the hand suddelntly aware of her actions.

"Why did you come?"

"Not sure."

"Your mother is great."

"Is she?"

"She believes in you, you know."

Xena stood and headed toward Argo to remove the saddle. Feeling Gabrielle come up behind her, she closed her eyes as she felt a hand on her shoulder.

"You don't have to be tough all the time." She felt Xena pull away. "Moments ago you took care of a woman who means nothing to you and you did it without thinking. Maybe you should stop thinking more often." She saw Xena turn to face her. "Not an insult I swear."

"Do you?"

"I do." She slid fingers down Xena's arm to her hand, which she held in her own. "Tell me."

"Tell you what?"

"Why you saved me."

Xena let out a breath. "That again?"

"I didn't get an answer last time."

"Yes you did."

"I want a real answer." She held her breath as Xena began to speak.

"Because I..."

They jumped as the barn door opened and Cyrene came in, looking very worried. "Everything all right?"

Gabrielle bit her lip as her eyes closed. 'So close.'

"We're fine." She turned to her mother. "I'm hungry."

"How's your finger Gabrielle?" Cyrene asked ignoring Xena.

"Sore." She held it up, laughing at the orange paste that looked more like a blob sitting on her finger than medicine. She felt a hand at her back and warm breath in her ear.

"You should be more careful."

"I wouldn't have cut it if you weren't here."

Xena looked confused before she remembered and nodded as she lowered her hand to brush past Gabrielle."Want me to leave?"

"Didn't say that." She watched them leave following soon after.


Destroyer of Nations

Perfect by nature, icon of self indulgence. Just what we all need. More lies about our wordl that never was and never will be. Have you no shame, don't you see me. You know you've got everybody fooled. Look here she comes now, bow down and stare in wonder. Oh how we love you. Only your heart lies when your preteneding. But now I know she never was and never will be. You don't know how you betrayed me. And somehow you've got everybody fooled. Without the mask, where will you hide. Can't find yourself, lost in your lies. I know the truth now. I know how you are. And I don't love you anymore. It never was and never will be. You don't know how you betrayed me. And somehow you've got everybody fooled. Never was and never will be. You're not real and you can't see me. And somehow now you're everybody's fool.


Xena laid down the scroll, her eyes staring at the sleeping form on the bed. Tucking it back into the blonde's bag, she slowly made her way to the bed. In a moment of weakness, she reached down to pull the covers up over Gabrielle's shoulders as she tucked a blonde lock behind the bard's ears before turning and leaving the room as silent as she had entered.


Her ears picked up quiet chatter as she opened her door. Slowly creeping down the hall she paused at the stairs to listen.

"...but you still need to learn."

"I haven't done anything."

"Yet." Cyrene's voice rang with warning causing Xena to stand from her chair. "I've seen her Xena and I know that look. You gotta stop it now."

"Don't like what I'm doing then leave me alone." She placed her hands on the table, leaning toward Cyrene.

"Don't you dare hurt her Xena."

"That's why she's going home."

"You go. I'll make sure she gets there."

"That's not a bad idea."

"I'm not going anywhere."

They both turned to see Gabrielle standing at the foot of the stairs. She walked into the room and took a seat at their table. "I've put up with you for this long." She took notice of the warrior's tense frame. She saw her head toward the door and rushed out of her seat, her hand reaching out to grasp Xena's elbow.


"Then stop trying to send me away." Blue eyes turned to her. "Please."

Cyrene stood and quietly made her way to the kitchen to give them space.

"Why am I a threat to you?"

"We've had this discussion."

"Yes, but you never answered that either."

"It's too dangerous around me."

"So it's for protection?"


"Xena, I"m an Amazon, not some poor peasant that can't defent themselves and I want to help."

"You can help by going home."

"No!" She closed her eyes. "Look. I'm in this and I'm not leaving till I get my answer."

"To what?"

"The question in the barn that you almost answered."

"I can't."

"Just tell me."

Xena's shoulders sagged as she took a breath. "Just had to be done."

"No." She shook her head. "Because you what. You said because I..because you what Xena?"

"Because I....I...I need to go." She pulled her arm from Gabrielle's grip.

Gabrielle reached up to touch Xena's cheek wincing as her hand was grabbed in a hard grip and forced behind her back.

"Don't forget who I am."

"Who you are isn't who you used to be. Only problem is that you can't admit it." As she was pulled against Xena's body, she looked up into the blue eyes gasping as she fought to look away from the cold gaze. "I'm going to go take a bath." As she waited she found that she was still held. "Can't do that with one hand."

Xena leaned down, her mouth just short of touching Gabrielle's as she spoke softly. "If you don't leave I'll be forced to kill you." And with that, she pushed her away as she walked out.


The door opened silently as a dark figure entered the room to head toward the bed closing the door behind them. A small hand reached out to move dark locks from a sleeping face but never made contact as they were grabbed and rolled onto their back with a very angry warrior hovering over them on the bed.

"I thought you knew better."

"Perhaps you don't know me at all." She grinned as her arms rose to lay behind her head. "But I'm not fighting anymore."


"You can have me."

"Explain." Her brow rose as the bard's hips pushed up against hers. Her eyes bore into Gabrielle's as she read her meaning. "Am I supposed to believe that you are suddently giving in? Just like that?"



"I already told you."

Xena rose and practically jumped off the bed. "Get out."

Not to be commanded, Gabrielle rose, her hands untying the front of the short sleeping shift she wore revealing an exposed line between her breasts. She saw Xena's eyes lower as a familar gleam came to them. "You want me, then come and get me. Don't believe me, then tie me up, we both know you have rope." She grinned as she slid the shift to the floor, stepping back till her legs touched the edge of the bed. "I didn't think you were one to turn down an offer especially one that you want."

"I still don't believe you."


"But I'm curious."

"I'm here on small terms because I'm tired."

"I thought you were here because you weren't tired."

"I'm willing to give you what you want."

"And the terms?"

"Tonight I want you to hold me. Tomorrow you can have your way." She saw Xena sneer and bent to pick up her shift, holding it to her chest. "That a no?"

"Not exactly."

The shift dropped as Gabrielle climbed into bed. "Then hold me my warrior." She held out a hand as her eyes read the uncertanty in Xena's. "I'm not here to hurt you. I promise."

"Perhaps I should tie you up."

"If you feel the need." She let out a breath as Xena climbed in. "You can do it." As the warrior laid onto her back she curled up to her side, her head cushioned at the base of Xena's throat. "Not too bad huh?" She could feel the body under her tensing as it fought to relax. Feeling an arm wrap around her back, she closed her eyes wishing it could be different.

"Why were you crying?"

Gabrielle opened her eyes quickly. "What?" She rose onto her elbow to look down at Xena.


"Because I can't have you. Is it really that hard not to hurt me?"

"It's what I know."

"You like it?"

"Sometimes. There's a thin line between pleasure and pain, princess."

"You called me princess."

Xena paused. "So I did."



"Could you ever love me?" She saw her eyes close. "No one but me to hear you."

Xena opened her eyes. "Honastly?" She saw Gabrielle nod. "I think I already do."

The green eyes turned from her. "Then why the game?"

"Don't know."

"You could leave it."


"Corinth. It only makes you miserable."

"I've worked hard for what I have now."

"I'll help you."

"What would we do?"



"I could tell stories."

Xena shook her head. "You should go to your room."


"Because I can' t be who you want me to be."

"How do you know unless you try?"

"Been there before."

"What happened?" She saw Xena close her eyes and knew she wouldn't get an answer. "All right." She laid down, taking in Xena's scent. 'I love you.' Just on the tip of her tongue but it would never come out.


'Damn sunbeams.' A sleepy green eye opened to stare at the pillow she was buried in. Breathing deeply, she took in Xena's scent still left on it. Even in sleep she drew as close to the warrior as possible. Rolling onto her back, she stretched her arms over her head groaning loudly as the muscles protested. Suddently hands held her arms down making her open her eyes to see Xena hovering over her. "Morning."

"I guess." Her eyes turned to the pillow. "I saw that."

"Saw what?" She smiled innocently.

"You remember our agreement?"

"Yes." She found it hard to breathe.

"I filled my part." Gabrielle was silent. "Still planning on letting me have you or should I have gotten it in writting?" Her voice was unusually calm even for her. She had woken up just before dawn and had taken a seat near a newly made fire to watch the bard sleep. That alone was enough to calm her. She felt a hand run over her cheek and found her eyes closing as she leaned into it.

"I'm yours."

The blue eyes opened. "Even if I'm not gentle?"

"Yes." She smiled softly. "But we both know that you will be."

"Really and how?"

Gabrielle spread her legs, her hands running over Xena's back. "I just do."

"How can you do that?"


"Look at me with such...trust? After all I've done to you."

"Because I love you." Her arms rose over her head. "Take me if you feel the need to." Her eyes met Xena's. Reaching out, she grabbed Xena, her arms wrapping around her back as did her legs. As Xena rose to sit, bard in lap, Gabrielle was shocked at the difference in the blue eyes facing her. "Do you want me?"

"Stupid question."

"Is it? I don't mean my body Xena. I mean me. Do you want me?"

"I do." Barely a whisper.

"Then tell me." She watched Xena fight with herself. "Please."

"I..I..I" Her eyes melted with deep green before she closed them. "I need you." It was a start. Feeling Gabrielle wrap arms around her neck and then the bards warm body pressed against hers, was too much for Xena and she fought hard to control the tears threatening to fall.

"I'm not going to ever hurt you." She placed her palm over Xena's heart. "All I want is this." She wiped a tear from Xena's cheek as the warrior closed her eyes. Laying her head down onto Xena's shoulder she just held her.


"How's that finger?"

Gabrielle turned to see Cyrene. "Doesn't hurt." She held it up.

"I'm glad she met you."


Cyrene simply smiled as she pulled Gabrielle to a window to show her the meaning behind her words.

Gabrielle held back a laugh as she smiled seeing Xena on top of a roof mending a tear. It wasn't the fact that she was on the roof that made her want to laugh, it was the smile that seemed to take over her whole face. "She looks happy." She turned to Cyrene.

"First time I seen smile so much in one day. You truly are an angel." She pulled her to her, kissing her gently on the forehead as she gave her a hug. "Thank you."

"No, thank you."

"What for?"

"Well, you made her." She smirked with a crinkle of her nose causing the woman to laugh out.

"Do you love her?"

"Yeah I do." She nodded, her eyes returning to the window.

"Be patient with her."

"Planned on it. She tried to run but I won't let her get away."

"Good. She needs you."

"No, I need her." She watched Cyrene head down the hall. Taking another look outside, she shook her head as she headed to her room.

Xena looked up and down as she heard a voice call to her. "Gabrielle?" She crawled to the edge of the roof and looked down.

"When you're done I need my shoes fixed." She bit her lip to keep a straight face.

"Yeah I'll get on that. Right after I fix the one in your head."

"Hey, now that's cruel."

Xena shrugged. "Well, you know. After all you're the one who....fell in love with a warlord."

"And I don't have a problem with it. Nothing wrong with my head Xena. Just my heart." A second later, she had Xena in front of her. "You have to stop doing that. One day you're gonna break a leg or something."

"Nah. Hard to bring down this warrior."

"That so?" She inched closer, close enough for Xena to feel the warmth from her body but not the body itself. "I think I could."

"So do I." She tucked a blonde lock behind Gabrielle's head as she bent to place a kiss on her forehead. "Go eat."

"I'll wait." She rose onto the tips of her toes to place a soft kiss on Xena's lips.

"I might be awhile."

"It's okay, can I help?"

"No, but thanks." She rubbed a hand over Gabrielle's shoulder before back flipping up onto the roof.

"Show off." She heard laughter as she walked away.



part 3

Return to the Academy