Sin of Omission

by Lady Savay

Disclaimers: The characters in this story don't belong to me, I'm not really sure who does own the rights to Xena: Warrior Princess, anymore. I'm making no profit from writing this about them and I'll put them back when I'm done using them.

Violence: This story contains brief references to violence in battle.

Sex and sexual violence: This story contains graphic descriptions of sexual intimacies between two women as well as consensual sexual violence of the BDSM genre. If this is not your cup of tea, please feel free to stop reading here.

Timeline in the Xenaverse: This story takes place after the X:WP sixth season episode "The Abyss" however; references are made to various shows prior to it.

Incidentals: Just FYI, this story was started as an entry for the "Snowed In" bard's challenge at the Bard's Village. Well, it's taken well over a year, but here it is.

Feedback: Any and all feedback is welcomed and appreciated, but if you hated the premise AFTER reading the disclaimers and still complain, you will be ignored. Please feed at this address:

She stood there, one hand on each side of the small cave opening watching the snow fall by the dim light of the fire behind her. Soon it would be measured in hand spans instead of finger widths as the storm increased. There was nothing she could do about it.

They were going to be snowed in.

She felt her heartbeat increase at the thought and realized the fear she'd been holding back. She swallowed hard and ran a quick check of her available options through her mind. The list was short and the options really boiled down to two. She wasn't happy with either of them. She hated not having a choice. She hated not being in control of her body and she hated most of all, what this could mean when it was over.

It hadn't happened for a long time. Not more than a dozen times since she met the bard, so it had always been easy to take care of. They'd always been within a few candle marks of a town or village, and often they were already in it when it struck. That wasn't the case this time.

She recognized the feelings for what they were instantly. Her palms were sweaty, her breath was coming in short, heavy pants, her blood rushed in her body so hard she could hear it in her ears, her labia was swollen and her clit pulsed rhythmically against the seam of her leather breeches. She just didn't know what to do about it.

She did know she had no chance to keep her condition from Gabrielle. The last time this happened she was almost found out, but now, she was surely going to be revealed. This was no naive, village girl, anymore. This was a grown woman, an Amazon Queen, a seasoned warrior who had killed and would again if necessary, and she couldn't see any way of keeping her condition a secret in this small cave.

Worse, this was her lover.

She'd been close- just on the edge of it, fighting the cannibals. She could feel the twitchy, hypersensitivity in her skin and scalp, but before she could come down from it they literally ran into that slaver band. Then the storm began before they could finish.

The slushy mud made her footing undependable and she lost sight of Gabrielle when the horses pulling the wagon shied and the smaller woman ran it down and freed the women inside.

Only when she caught sight of her unharmed did she fully concentrate on the thugs in front of her, which was why the two behind her, caught her unaware. Only the fact that her left leg slid out from under her as she jabbed her sword into the gut of the slaver to her right saved her from decapitation - and it infuriated her.

Letting loose all restraints, she gave into the part of her that Ares fostered and felt the rage filled adrenalin pump through her. Mentally berating herself for her loss of focus, furious that her slide left her left knee sprained, angry at the damn weather and pissed at the world in general, she let the berserker rage take her and within minutes the ground was piled high with bodies bleeding out their last heartbeats. Over thirty slavers, she guessed, had bought a one-way ticket to Tartarus by way of her blade or chakram and she was glad to see it.

That's when she felt the feeling full on and knew she was going to be in trouble.

The storm intensified in near synchronicity to the most obvious and last symptom of her affliction as they fought the wind and blowing pellets of snow to find shelter. Hours later, well after dusk they stumbled blindly into the cave they found and felt warmer instantly by comparison.

She knew part of that was her condition and threw her cloak off moments after she lit the first torch. Needing the cool air and as much time away from the blonde as she could get, she handed Gabrielle the torch and lit another, mumbled something about firewood and left again without her cloak to hinder her.

Thinking back on it now, she realized that the action would only draw attention to her but she wasn't thinking that clearly at the time. She only knew she had to leave and she needed the cool air and falling snow on her skin to help quell the fire within her.

It didn't work.

When she returned after the fourth trip, she dropped the firewood with the rest of it near the circle of stones the smaller woman arranged in the back of the small cave. She felt the draft from the hole in the rock above it and told the bard "Good job" in her head, but she didn't speak. Gabrielle was speaking to her, too, then. She registered some words about "freezing and fever" and understood the anger and concern in the younger woman's voice but knew she couldn't respond to it. If she spoke now it would be to demand, to insist, to command, and she fought that as much as she could.

She lit the small bundle of tinder she found waiting in the fire circle and blew on it, adding small branches and blowing carefully until they caught. The added heat was a double-edged sword. The heat on her face made her already sweating body feel like she'd stepped into a lava field, but it did allow the flush on her face and chest a viable excuse. She knew she couldn't hide that for long and as soon as she knew the fire was burning well she turned away from the bard and her voice, carefully keeping her head down and not allowing eye contact. She gathered her smaller saddlebag and moved to the side of the cave near it's opening and began her ritual of weapon cleaning and sharpening.

Gabrielle kept talking and she kept ignoring her. She knew when this was over; if she hadn't alienated the woman too much she would have to ask for forgiveness. A few years ago, three or four as they counted them, over twenty eight or nine as the world saw it, she would never have hesitated to ignore the bard and it would not have been expected that she would apologize.

But one night things had changed.


After she defeated Lucifer and they said good night to Eve and Virgil, they started to walk toward the rooms they prepared earlier to sleep in. Stopping at the door of the room Xena had previously begun to seduce the angel in, Gabrielle turned and began to say her good nights.

Then they had seen it.

It was there, clearly, in both of their eyes and there was no denying it. They'd been flirting for years with each other but they never took it beyond that. As though each of them were enjoying the game and didn't want the other one to see how seriously it was meant. They just didn't speak of it. The world saw them as lovers already and they'd used it more than once to their advantage.

Often, in the early days, Gabrielle was seen as the Warlords pleasure toy and given short shrift in all things, and that suited the warrior fine. Until the bard could take care of herself in a fight, Xena wanted her overlooked and underestimated.

Since the crucifixion however, they both had an intensity of feeling for each other that was getting harder to deny. Xena dealt with it by suppressing as many of her warmer feelings toward the bard as she could. She'd transferred all of those to her child. Gabrielle took on some of the warrior's more stoic nature and spoke less and fought more, but that night was different.

Getting so close to the darkness in them both whisked away their inhibitions, and the spectacle on the dance floor was not a tease. They both knew it and reacted to it. The jealousy each held for the men they were to entertain couldn't be hidden either, and even though they joked about it afterwards, the message was clear to them both. Now, when their eyes locked, they couldn't look away and they knew they had to end the games.

"Should we talk?"

"Yes." Taking the bard's hand in her own, she led them into her room.

The conversation was brief and succinct and the outcome a forgone conclusion.

They consummated their relationship that night and neither one looked back on it with regret.

Their lovemaking had been, at different times, tender or passionate or fun loving. It had been magnificent every time, however, they hadn't dealt with this situation before and Xena had never discussed what would happen if it did.


Xena put down the sword and laid it next to the polished chakrum. She made her way to the mouth of the cave and peered into the darkness seeing only the snow nearest to the opening by the light of the fire. It was much deeper than before. They were going to be snowed in. Any other time being snowed in with her new lover would have delighted her, but now it only made her angry. She would have no release except with her love and if she did that, she could very well lose her.


Gabrielle watched as the silent woman made her way to the cave mouth. She new something was very wrong and ran through her list of clues given by the warrior's body language since they'd left the women on the road to their home village.

She knew that the woman had a sprain in her left knee: the slight limp gave that away, but she could see no other signs of hidden injury. Xena hadn't said more then ten words to her in all that time and hadn't even defended herself when the bard berated her for leaving her cloak behind to gather wood. She wouldn't make eye contact. She was flushed and sweating and had wiped her palms on her polishing cloth a number of times as she cleaned and sharpened her weapons. Her heart rate was up. Gabrielle could see the pulse jumping in her neck.

She closed her eyes and tried to remember if she had seen the warrior this way before, trying to determine what the cause was. She had a vague sense that she had.

The slavers had no idea who they were when the battle began and no one called out Xena's name in fear or challenge, so it couldn't be a run in with an old enemy or army member. The symptoms were there, nonetheless and the bard couldn't dismiss them. She was undecided on whether to call her on them. Xena seemed somehow tonight to be more than irritable. Energy of a less than benevolent sort washed off her in waves and Gabrielle was a little frightened by it.

She also found herself oddly stimulated by it.

Noticing that the soup was finished she determined to table her questions and see if things calmed down a little after they ate. She poured the soup into two mugs and turned to find Xena back in her spot by the farthest wall of the cave, near it's opening.

Xena didn't need her natural senses to see or hear the bard approaching; she felt it the moment she moved from across the room. That was part of the battle lust, she knew, this nearly kinetic sort of attention to stimulus around her, and most especially to the object of her desire. The closer Gabrielle came the more she felt it. It was worse than it had ever been and she knew it had to do with the fact that they were so close, emotionally.

They shared a kind of connection that had served to aid the bard from the beginning. Xena always had a sense of where the woman was and what she was doing or feeling, like she had adopted part of her and made her an appendage. Now, with the battle lust raging through her and the knowledge of the way the blonde's skin felt under her hands and what she tasted like, it was close to maddening … and the closer Gabrielle got the more intense and painful her own response.

As Gabrielle approached the warrior she saw the goose flesh rising on the warrior's arms and the pulse in her neck start to quicken. Her previous decision to leave her partner alone until after they ate was forgotten. She felt the cold breeze drift in from the cave mouth and jumped to an erroneous conclusion.

"Xena, you're going to freeze over here by that opening. Come sit by the fire." She handed the warrior her soup mug and moved to place her hand on the warrior's forearm to test its temperature.

Before she could make contact Xena stood and whispered harshly. "Don't touch me!"

She hadn't meant it to come out so brutally but she was barely holding herself in check and knew if the blonde made contact with her skin she'd be undone.

She moved further away and gulped down the soup as quickly as she could staring deeply into the mug or the floor- anywhere but her partner's eyes.

Gabrielle stood as well, slack jawed and confused. She should have been hurt by the remark but she was more concerned than anything.

"Okay," the bard was trying hard to maintain her composure and ensure her words held none of the anxiety and anger she was feeling, "Do you wanna tell me what's going on. You sound like you're mad at me and I have a pretty good idea of when I've pushed your buttons, but this time I'm clueless. Just what did I do to make you so angry?"

Knowing there was no way out of this -only through it- left the tall woman feeling angrier than before. She had to say something to her. She had to tell her and she had to get relief. Sparing only a moment to say a single one-line prayer, Aphrodite, don't let me lose her over this, please, Xena tried to control her breathing and her voice and began.

"Gabrielle, I'm in trouble." Her voice was deep and raspy-horse, like she'd screamed too long and the bard again jumped to the wrong conclusion.

"Xena, you're hurt.." She instinctively stepped forward and moved her arm to touch the warrior.

"STOP! " This time the voice was commanding and furious and made the blonde freeze in mid action.

"Listen to me Gabrielle and don't touch me. Do you understand?" The warrior took in the emotions passing over her lovers face and saw fear, confusion and concern. She knew she wouldn't be ridding her of any but one of those with her explanation and hated herself for it but had to go on.

"We've never talked about this. I know you have some idea about it and even though I've been like this before, we've never been stuck in a cave and snowed in when it happened…and we weren't lovers before." A breath and another. "But now we are and that changes things."

Xena couldn't stand still any more so she strode quickly to their saddlebags and dropped the empty mug by it then slowly began to pace the length of the small cave, alternately wiping her sweating palms on her thighs or tugging at the hair at the back of her neck, trying to keep it together until she could make the words come.

Until she could make her partner understand.

Gabrielle just stood watching, tilting her head in confusion and willing her warrior to tell her what was happening. Her fear for her was growing in direct proportion to the warrior's curious behavior. Something about it felt familiar but she couldn't place it.

"Sometimes in battle." She huffed out another quick breath and knitted her brow. "Sometimes when the stakes are very high or when I'm facing a very powerful enemy, I lose myself. You've seen me do that. It just…I just start to lose control. I know you've seen that." She paused long enough to look a question at her mate. Gabrielle started to speak and then thought better of it, she just nodded in acknowledgment. Xena nodded back and continued her narrative and her pacing.

"The rage and fury I feel then has a name. It's called battlelust. I know you've heard of it but you've never seen the full effects it has on a warrior. It's a gift or a curse of warriors favored by Ares. It allows for great strength and speed and a narrowing down of the senses to a near inhuman level. When it happens I can see, hear, and smell more acutely. My reflexes react in the space between moments and I'm aware of everything going on around me in exquisite detail and all at once. It's a very useful thing when you're fighting and you need to win at all costs. But you can't force it and can't make it happen for you. It happens when it will and where it will and you have to deal with it. As useful as it can be, like today, when we fought those cannibals and then the slavers, it also has a side effect."

Now it was clear to her. All the symptoms Gabrielle was observing and the edgy energy she could feel from the warrior. She'd seen it all before but never knew what it was. It was the same feeling she'd gotten around the warrior when they fought the Horde and for those first couple of days after Xena fought the Persian army. She hadn't seen it as clearly then, still recovering from the poison arrow, but she remembered moments here and there as she drifted in and out of consciousness during the ride to Thessaly. She wasn't quite herself as a result of the poison and maybe the antidote, so she'd dismissed a lot of what she thought she saw and felt from the dark haired woman as part of her own sickness. Then after they got there and Xena left her in the healers care the warrior was gone for nearly a full day. When she came back she was different.

"When the battle ends I'm left with intense feelings. They manifest …"

"Sexually." The bard answered. It was clear now. How had she not seen it before? All those other times Xena had left her behind to manage this on her own. Had she truly been that stupid or had she just not wanted to think about it?

"Yes," Xena made a point of stopping and for the first time, looked directly at her partner, "sexually. It bleeds off and ends only after orgasm." She paused and swallowed, Aphrodite, help her to understand this next part. Saying it to her may be just as hard as…she let that thought trail off before her mind could conjure the lie fully.

"But to reach orgasm, requires conquest. Sexual conquest." Once again she had to stop and swallow. She found herself battling not only the raging feelings of battlelust, but also the sickening shame of needing to do this to the bard. She'd never been able to overcome these feelings on her own. She'd heard of men who tried. They always wound up dead. At this point in time it didn't sound so bad, but she knew Gabrielle would never allow it to happen. Now that it was out there, she had to tell her all of it. She had to warn her. In her heart, she knew what the bard would do about it and the conflicted feelings in her caused, simultaneously, a wave of nausea and a flood between her legs.

"It is a thing that feeds off of conquest. Sex isn't enough. To get through this I have to feel the power of conquering another human being-- of bending them to my will…of total submission to my every sexual whim. And when it starts there is no stopping until it's over." She felt its hold on her strengthen and she battled a moment to hang on until she finished speaking. As she closed her eyes to concentrate, she heard the question she was hoping most not to hear.

"What do I need to do?" The small woman's voice was gentle, but held a solid resolve.

Refusing Xena this never entered her mind. She may have fooled herself about this affecting the warrior when she was younger, but she did know about it. More than even the warrior thought she knew.

She knew as soon as Xena spoke the word 'battlelust' what all it could entail and what she might have to endure. She knew too, that no one afflicted by it had ever successfully controlled the after effects without dying or going mad and having to be put down like a rabid animal. It was the price for the gift, or the curse, that Ares gave those he favored.

Suddenly, like a scroll unrolling before her she remembered all the other times she had seen her lover affected by this and how each time Xena had made some excuse, well, in the beginning, she never even had to do that, then she left the bard somewhere, always somewhere safe, only to return many hours or even a day later, less edgy but quieter. She remembered now, too, how the warrior would avoid looking at her for a day or so after.

Shame. It shames her.

To know her love as she did and to know how helpless this must make her feel; how ashamed to have to ask it of the bard, made her heart ache for the warrior. No one she had ever met valued their feelings of self-control, as did Xena. To know that this feeling was something she couldn't control or contain must make her furious. She was resolved to help her before, but now, she knew she would do whatever it took to ease this for Xena-to help her through it.

Anything, Xena. Anything.

"Gabrielle," the warrior said slowly, trying hard to think and speak clearly. She must understand what this is…and she must understand how this will be, "you are a very brave woman-a very determined woman. Your bravery shows most clearly when you refuse to be intimidated by men or even gods. You are very assertive. Before you agree to this you must understand what is required of you. In this," she paused again, "until I say otherwise, you must be completely submissive. You must not question me or fight me in any way. Doing so could cause you…" she swallowed hard, not wanting to say the words but knowing she had to give the woman a clear picture of what would happen. "If you fight me or question me or decide once we've begun that you want to stop, you could be hurt." That's not what you mean…say it all! "I could hurt you. This isn't a game or something I can control. It's a need held so deeply inside myself that once I let it out… once I give in to it, it controls me. It's not about lovemaking. It's not even really about sex except that is where it manifests its hunger. It's all about control and power and the absolute necessity of dominating another person for my own gratification. It's desire at it's basest and most raw and to quell it, get past it, means I have to dive into it, wallow in it and swim through it until it's satisfied and that leaves no room for considering your needs or your comfort. Do you understand?" She swallowed hard and stared at the floor of the cave, recognizing that time was growing shorter for her. Her vision was narrowing. She saw the black edges of the darkness as it began to ring her pupils. It was one of the last stages before she lost herself and she fought against it.

Her words were pushed out quickly, angrily, on a single breath.

"Think about it long and hard Gabrielle, I will not be your lover in this."

Gabrielle ran quickly through all she knew or read about battle lust and remembered, verbatim, the long talk she had her last night with Meleager in Poteidaia.

Evidently her actions in defeating the invading warlord impressed him enough that he began to treat her like an equal. He answered every question she had and when he brought up the subject, accidentally, she pursued it. He said since she was traveling with a warrior, she ought to know about it. His descriptions of the effects were very detailed and Gabrielle was grateful the conversation took place outside the inn where the light was dim so he wasn't able to see the blush on her cheeks.

He graphically described the various methods of domination used to obtain that 'high' required to finally reach climax. He also admitted when she questioned him that he had been affected by it himself. She also remembered him saying he'd seen the victims of several warlords afterwards and all he could do was put them out of their misery.

The thought of it brought an involuntary chill down her spine, until she once again raised her eyes and looked into the depths of the cobalt fire across from her and saw who asked this of her. It was easy then. Finally, she put voice to her thoughts.

"Anything, Xena. Anything."

Just saying the words out loud helped her relax into it and she began to react to the situation as though she were born for this very time. After she spoke she dropped her eyes and bowed her head demurely, waiting to do whatever the warrior asked of her. Aphrodite, help me to be all the things she needs me to be.

Gabrielle's words broke her heart, but when her love automatically assumed a position of submission she lost the hold she held on herself and felt 'it' take over as she felt Gabrielle's lover slide away to somewhere deep inside.

The supernatural quiet of the snow falling and the sudden ceasing of the wind blowing felt appropriate for the moment at hand. Even the fire had the good sense to still it's crackling and popping. The stillness seemed to last forever and just as Gabrielle thought to look up at her lover, she heard the former warlord speak.

"Take off your clothes."

As Gabrielle complied, Xena watched and realized that her peripheral vision had left her. She focused on the women in front of her as everything beyond and around her faded to quiet grays and blacks. The only shot of color was the golden form of the woman undressing before her. Gabrielle finished with her boots and halter and had just finished removing her skirt and breechcloth as a violent shudder racked her body.

Xena was standing in silhouette to Gabrielle as she was between the fire and the bard, who had taken the warrior's place standing near the cave opening. Watching the naked body before her shiver violently and seeing the accompanying goose bumps cover her body and her nipples harden had a dual effect on the former warlord.

At once, she felt the jolt from the gloriously sensual site of the naked woman reacting to her command. That was usual and expected, but following instantly was the thought, She must be freezing, and that wasn't expected. She never before gave even a passing thought to the feelings of comfort or discomfort of the body she used to sate her, except in how it affected the warriors libido and swelled her feelings of control. That Gabrielle's lover was exerting this kind of control gave her the briefest feeling of surety. Maybe she could be both.

"Move to the sleeping furs."

Gabrielle was still trying to process that shudder. Her mind told her it must have been the cold that caused it but the tightening in her lower belly belied that. She swallowed hard again and stifled her need to raise her head and see Xena as she ordered her to their furs. She thought about that.

Resistance. Will I resist this? What is she expecting of me? I told her anything. Do I mean that?

She too, was torn. On the one hand she loved this woman more than the air she breathed but on the other, it sounded as though maybe, this Xena didn't care for her at all. The bard was, simply, the only reasonable outlet for her battle lust. Even the warrior's voice was different. She remembered it from before. This was the voice of the warlord, not the Xena she knew and loved.

If we hadn't been snowed in- would she have chosen me? We've had no formal commitment ceremony but I never thought we needed one. I would never have expected her to sleep with another once we gave ourselves to each other, but now, I don't know. This isn't about love or even sex, she said, but that isn't really true. The sex is the key- the doorway to get through this feeling for her. Would she have done this with a stranger if she hadn't been forced into sharing it with me? Would I have allowed it, if I'd known? Would I have known? Would she have told me? After all the damage they'd done to themselves and each other with the lies they'd told and the half-truths, Gabrielle still wasn't sure if Xena would have lied about this, or hidden it, if she could. And what does that say about us? About me?

She was so lost in her thoughts that as soon as she reached the furs she started to sit.


The staccato burst of that word and the menace laced into it brought her bending knees to an immediate halt and she straightened as though she'd been struck. Without thinking, her head came up and she looked into her lover's face for the first time since she'd agreed to help her. She'd seen this aspect of the warrior only seldom and never happily. The first time was when they fought the Horde. She'd hated it because it meant that the warrior was losing herself to the darkness she carried within. She had to also admit to herself, it was very sexual in it's intensity and she felt a new jolt of response to it deep inside. Still, she saw no trace of the woman she loved there and her heart clenched.

For the first time in years, she was a little afraid of Xena.

She was also incredibly aroused. She couldn't deny it and somewhere in the back of her mind all those thoughts and feelings she'd been trying so hard for years to hide from herself rushed forward. Automatically she tried to banish them as she always had.

Xena saw the fear on Gabrielle's face and couldn't fight the rush that pulsed through her. A tiny portion of her mind tried to object to it, but it was overpowered by the wash of intense gratification and arousal that flooded her.

Her tone was low-almost quiet, but very firm.

"You do nothing without my permission. You don't move or speak unless and until I tell you to. Do you understand that? This is the last warning you will have."

The words came out unbidden by rote, just as they'd done a thousand times before and even the knowledge that this was her beloved did nothing to stop them or their truth. The warrior knew she'd be helpless- powerless- to keep from enforcing the consequences of Gabrielle forgetting or neglecting those rules.

That tiny portion that was still Gabrielle's lover tried to find a way to impress this on the bard but the battlelust had a strangle hold and wouldn't allow her to speak another word.

Once again, the bard caught herself just as she opened her mouth to answer and stopped quickly; nodded, and lowered her head again. She realized she was starting to sweat and knew it had little to do with the minimal heat of the fire. She was also starting to shake and began to use a breathing technique she learned in India to calm her out-of-control body.

Deep down she felt the warning Xena had given her and knew if she disobeyed or forgot she might not like the results, and that might put their union at risk. Nothing was worth that. No matter what she had to endure. There was no alternative.

With her attention so finely tuned to the blonde, it was easy to be aware of everything that was going on with her. Xena smelled the sweat the second it began to glisten on her skin and noticed the use of the breathing technique the bard began, knowing she was trying to maintain control. She watched for a few seconds as Gabrielle's body gained enough control to stop the trembling and that tiny part of her rejoiced for thinking of it.

The greater part of her; the one being controlled by the battlelust was angry. This will never do. I'm in charge here and it's time she knew it.

Gabrielle had no warning. She'd been concentrating so hard on the breathing technique she hadn't heard the warrior move and when she felt her left nipple pinched hard, she sucked in a surprised breath and let go a squawk. At first it was in pain and surprise but the moment the pressure was released she was hard pressed not to moan at the after effects as she felt the grab in her groin. Instead, she let out a deep exhale, audible, she was sure, across the cave.

"That's better." The warrior whispered, as she stepped behind the naked woman. "Remember who's in charge here, Gabrielle. This is my scene and I control it and you. Don't try to manipulate me like that again."

She bent her right index finger at the knuckle and ran it down the spine of the blonde from the base of her neck to just a whisper above her buttocks. A slow smile formed as she watched the goosebumps re-form on the blonde's skin and saw her ribcage expand as she heaved in a breath.

Gabrielle realized for the first time this might be more than she could do. Her reactions to the warrior's advances had always been intense and immediate. Already she felt the moisture start to form at her center and had to firmly remind herself not to speak. She was hoping the warrior would overlook the way her hands formed into fists at her side.

The warrior did notice though. She noticed and it pleased her greatly. She knew as her lover, she'd always had an instant, powerful effect on the smaller woman and she wondered how long it would be before the blonde forgot herself and tried to reach out for her…to touch her.

Gabrielle had been, from the very beginning, very tactile and it had taken the warrior years to get used to being touched without her permission. Then, after they'd become lovers, the touches were nearly constant. The bard only restrained herself when they were in a dangerous situation or among large crowds of strangers. This didn't qualify and Xena knew that sooner or later the younger woman would lose control of herself and reach out for her. The lover inside worried about it and the warrior in the madness of battlelust looked forward to it.

Xena gave her a few seconds to absorb that and then silently slid down to just below her knees. Curling her hands, she slid her nails up the backs of both of the blonde's legs slowly. She watched carefully for Gabrielle's every reaction.

Once again she was very pleased.

Her knee's nearly buckled the moment she felt Xena's nails begin to rake along her skin. At first they moved lightly against her: almost a caress, but as they got higher, the pressure increased and by the time they were touching the very base of her cheeks she knew they were pressing hard enough to leave at least a mark and perhaps, if the coolness she felt on them as they moved on wasn't air, scrape the skin off. Her breathing became more and more ragged and the closer those fingers came to her center, the tenser she became. Without conscious thought her thigh muscles began to tighten and she instinctively tried to draw her legs together to relieve the aching in her vulva.


Her tone was shrill with surprise and pain. The slap that hit her at the base of ass cheeks was hard enough to force her forward and without the hand on her arm steadying her, she would have fallen.

"No! You were warned. There will be no movement and no relief until I say so. Try it again and get worse."

She knew she shouldn't feel so good about Gabrielle's resistance, but she did.

Placing her foot between the bards leg she pushed to her left. "Step out, Gabrielle. Four hand spans." The dark haired woman watched her comply. "Do not reduce that space between your legs unless I tell you to."

Gabrielle was surprised that she'd complied. It must have been automatic for her to do as Xena asked after all these years, because she knew she hadn't really heard what the warrior said. Yes, that must be it. It was just… habit. That's all. She was still trying to process that slap to her ass and the roaring fire of arousal it lit in her. Her attention was narrowing to her skin alone, and she had no interest or care about anything else happening around her.

Xena peered over the bards shoulder and was pleased and surprised at the amount of excitement glittering in the smaller woman's eyes. Her mouth was open slightly and her breath was audible. Not wanting to lose the momentum, she gave into her immediate urge and touched the red mark on the smaller woman's cheeks with the backs of her fingers. It was very warm, and the reaction to her touch of the bard flexing that muscle was very gratifying indeed.

She felt the slow grin edge onto her face and quickly brought her index finger down and forward. It was coated in thick liquid instantly and the bard clenched her cheeks again in reaction.

This time she couldn't suppress the "Ungh" as Xena touched her. Dimly she recalled she wasn't supposed to speak, but knew that was a noise she couldn't have suppressed. She was floating and drifting in fear and arousal so strong she couldn't think.

Xena reached around and lifted Gabrielle's left hand, placing it high on the bard's breast. "Now, touch, it. Gently, softly, everywhere." As the bard began quickly to comply, she added. "Everywhere but the nipple."

Xena watched as the small woman's shoulders slumped slightly and her head dropped just a fraction in disappointment and frustration. When she noticed the speed with which the bard was fondling herself, she added again, "Slowly," as her left hand pinched her leg hard at the base of her ass cheek.

As the younger woman gasped and complied, slowing her hand Xena felt the flush of her own growing arousal as it spread from her chest up her neck. This had always been something the bard had shied away from. As satisfying as their lovemaking was, Gabrielle was never able to be comfortable pleasing herself in front of the warrior. Just a few weeks ago, Xena came into their room at the inn where they were staying and caught an abashed Gabrielle abruptly dropping her hand from under her top. She asked, as she always did, for the bard to continue, finding it deeply erotic, but the bard just shook her blushing head and made a comment about wanting the real thing, then she grabbed the warrior. They'd made love of course, but Xena was a little disappointed and couldn't help but see that flash of the bard touching herself every time she closed her eyes that night. And now, she would get what she'd wanted. Even the lover in her, hidden away in the furthest part of her consciousness was happy about that.

Taking the woman's other hand and stepping close enough to share body heat and still not touch, Xena brought it forward to the top of the bard's leg.

She forced the fist open and laid the hand flat on Gabrielle's thigh.

"Touch yourself. Touch yourself like you want me to touch you. I know you want me to, Gabrielle. I can see it in your eyes and smell it in the air. Do it. I want to watch." She whispered, placing her hands on the bards shoulder and brought her head over enough to see both hands as they lay on her lover's skin.

Gabrielle's mouth was as dry as it had ever been. She tried hard to swallow, but couldn't. She was more than embarrassed. This went beyond that.

Then it hit her. An understanding of herself that was new and conflicted came to her and she wished fervently that it hadn't. She'd never been able to do this in front of Xena or anyone else before and she'd always blamed it on her inherent shyness or her upbringing, but she knew now that was a lie. To do this- to pleasure herself in front of her lover- would mean she had to take responsibility for her own pleasure.

Always before someone else had done it to her. Only rarely had she even thought about masturbating and even more rare were those times she allowed herself to do it, making excuses that it was a biological imperative for someone her age in good health…just something to get by until that person who was meant to bring her this release arrived.

Of course for years, she'd prayed it would be Xena and was overjoyed when it finally happened, but even then, with all they'd played at in bed, there were a few things they'd never done. No, that's a lie. I've never done them and she tried to swallow again and…I wanted to. I just couldn't get over the fact that I felt they were wrong-sick- twisted, or that Xena would think I was all those things if I asked for them, but most of all that I didn't deserve pleasure like that. I couldn't ask for it…not even from her. Especially from her. What would she think of me?

She'd never really allowed herself to think of herself as a sexual being. Her inhibitions stifled her and she felt for some time now that her interactions with her lover were suffering as a result. Xena never complained and never pushed her. Now, she was, she had to finally admit to herself, glad she was being pushed. It felt really, really good.

She knew this was her chance. This made it okay. She wasn't asking for it, she was submitting to it. This wasn't a request of her lover, it was a command of a bloodlust driven warrior and she had to obey it. It made it all right to do it.


This thing she wanted.

This and maybe other things she could never ask for on her own. It at once filled her with excited arousal at the possibilities, and self-disgust at her own cowardice.

"Do it!" This time with the words came a painful grab at her ass cheeks again. Xena let her fingernails imbed themselves in the rounded flesh as she spoke and nearly gasped in surprise at the whimper of desire her lover released.

Interesting reaction, that. Was it to the punishment or was it the part of her body I was punishing. This will need further study. Soon. Xena let the thought go as she watched Gabrielle slowly comply with her demand. She watched as the bard drew her hand further to the inside of her leg and clench the skin there much more tightly than the warrior would have imagined.

Maybe my ideas…my fantasies of what my bard does to pleasure herself are wrong.

The warrior had always pictured her lover in a mildly unrealistic way. Thinking to her self that the small village woman had so little sexual experience before her and her own weak night with Perdicus, that in her pre intimate days with the blonde, when she found her own release and thought of the bard, it was often of what she supposed the blonde looked like as she sought her own pleasure.

She always imagined it to be slow and subtle. She imagined the closed eyes of the blonde as she fantasized about some pretty boy courting and loving her with sweetness and time consuming gentleness. She never saw the bard dig her own nails into her leg and growl.

Xena was fascinated by the sight and her own arousal increased. Part of it was the sight of the young blonde fulfilling a long denied fantasy for her but part was the warlord watching an unwilling woman acquiesce to her desires.

Gabrielle was getting more and more lost in her own excitement. Only tiny remnants of embarrassment filtered through as she brought her hand to her wet, swollen crotch and found herself clutching at it hard. Once again she let out and 'Ungh' of pleasure only this time she was wholly unaware of it. Forgetting everything for the moment, she went with the feelings, spreading her fingers and beginning to stroke harder and faster than ever before. She forgot, too, Xena's other instruction and found her nipple with her left hand and pulled, pinching it hard as well.

Until she was reminded, that is.

The bite was hard and was meant to be. It broke the skin and it stopped all movement from the bard. Xena took a lick to keep the blood from running down the blondes' neck toward her chest.

"I gave you warning. Nothing without my permission. If it happens again I'll deny you any movement and take you myself for as long as I please, any way I please and I'll deny you the release you crave until you weep for it."

Gabrielle felt her eyes begin to fill and the conflicting feelings of intense arousal, shame, fear and guilt left her reeling. She didn't know what to do and what not to do. She was afraid to speak and afraid to move and the pulsing of clitoris wouldn't leave her alone.

Xena watched it all as it played across her face.

It was gods be damned glorious.

She could feel her own excitement escalate and thought for a fleeting instant that she might be able to reach orgasm without putting her lover through much more, but then it plateaued and she knew she had to have more. More of the bard's fear, more of her shame and passion.

More of her submission.

"Again. Do it again." Then, without warning she slid her hands around and pinched both of the beautiful rose nipples so hard the very tips whitened. Gabrielle gasped and jerked. She almost raised her arms up to touch the warrior but stopped herself with an effort and dropped her clenched fists to her side.

"Touch yourself, woman. Don't make me say it again."

Gabrielle was lost to the sensations and like a being without free will she did as she was told. Her hand found her clit and she pinched it between her fingers. Her left hand began it's own advance and began to slide toward penetration. She was just about to plunge two fingers inside herself when she was stopped.

"No. Only I go there."

Once again Xena brought the bard's left hand to her breast and told her, "Stroke it. Fondle it."

As soon as the blonde obeyed, the warrior brought her own left hand down behind the bard and silently removed her own leather breeches. She kept watching the smaller woman as she pinched and stroked her own clitoris and noticed the increase in her breathing. She was getting close. Too close.

Without warning Xena brought her right hand behind the Amazon and slid three fingers into her.

Over and above Gabrielle's shock at the invasion, her arousal jumped several notches. She found herself almost standing on her toes by the forcefulness of the pressure filling her. Before she could bear down on it to her advantage, they were gone. She had to bite her lip to keep the disappointed scream inside. As she tried to take a steadying breath and continue with her self-stimulation, she felt something she'd never felt before.

It caused her eyes to widen and her mouth to fly open. She was beside herself with how good it felt and at the same time she was as humiliated as she had ever been. She could hardly breathe.

It was something she never knew, or at least acknowledged, she wanted, until now. Great Gods on Olympus is felt good. So good she was shaking on the verge of climax before she could even think, and the thought of it feeling so good scared her more than any enemy she faced on any battlefield.

She whimpered and keened and swayed with the feeling as Xena kept stroking her finger in and out of her ass. Then, before she could even think about it, she came with a pounding fury.

Her knees gave out and her head swam. She couldn't hear a thing over the pounding of her blood in her head and the guttural scream she exhaled.

Xena was on automatic as she felt the battlelust take her over. As soon as her fingers entered the bards soaking center she withdrew them. She knew she would tease her like this before she entered her with purpose. What she didn't think about was that as she withdrew them they would return and fulfill another of her fantasies.

As her fingers slid back, drenched in Gabrielle's obvious desire, they glided almost of their own volition past that one point, that secret, sensual place the bard had never allowed her before. Before she could think about it, she slid her middle finger deeply inside


The fit was so tight; she knew she was the first to have ever been here. Her finger slid in easily with the bard's own lubrication and the powerful feeling of taking her rushed straight to her clit. She was almost there.

Especially when she felt the blonde push back against her thrusts. She knew Gabrielle wasn't even aware she was doing it…that this was something she wanted. Maybe she always had and now she was getting it.

Then the younger woman was crying out and collapsing. She'd come so fast and hard that Xena hadn't seen it approaching. The rush it gave her was two sided.

On one hand, watching the bard succumb to her invasion brought her own arousal up another notch.

On the other hand, the warlord in the grip of battle lust was even more aroused because now she could punish her for her obvious lack of control.


On her hands and knees and panting as though she'd run for miles, Gabrielle's head was spinning and she couldn't seem to focus her eyes. The pulsing of the aftershocks of her powerful and unexpected climax didn't seem to be stopping anytime soon. She found her legs spreading further and further apart and each time her brain had a chance to remember what happened she felt a new wave begin. All she wanted was to lie down and thrust her pubis into the nearest hard object. She never knew what was happening behind her until she felt the first blow.

Xena was nearly brought to her own knees by the bards climax. In a moment the woman was out of her arms on her knees and the sight of it caused her own clit to spasm so close to orgasm she was in pain. Then in a rush it was gone, but her resolve wasn't

Making her way painfully across the cave to her tack bag she had to walk with caution in order to avoid the hyper stimulation between them. She knew she wasn't able to come yet. She needed more of the fantasy. More of the submission and conquest and the slide of her legs against her swollen and glistening sex would only make her ache.

She grabbed the bag that held her saddle tools and searched to the bottom of it where she kept the few things she kept secret from her lover. The few things they hadn't discussed. The things she knew she needed now, to get her off.

With only the palest hint of reservation about what she was about to do, she stepped forward and seeing the still quivering body on its knees slowly sinking toward the floor, she acted.

The first strike of the short whip across the rounded cheeks of the blonde was so loud as to be shocking to them both.

Gabrielle was so inside herself that it took a full second for the sound and the strike to register, as it did she started to move and the second strike happened.

She forgot everything and screamed, starting to roll away completely confused. Confused both by the sudden pain and the sudden rush of extreme excitement in her groin.

"Don't do it! Stay on your knees!"

The tone of that voice cut though everything. It was the voice she heard when they fought the horde. She froze and waited for the next blow, knowing she had no choice but to take it, and realizing with a shudder that she wanted to. The pain was intense, that was true and against her will her body tried to subtly undulate away from the blows but her mind was clear. She couldn't ignore the command in that voice and she couldn't ignore the building throb of arousal that was causing her clit to pulsate and her lips to swell and her fluids to spill down her legs. She tried to still her voice but she couldn't quite keep the sobbing inside as the feelings of both intense pain and intense need caused her eyes to tear.

Xena was almost there. The color of deep red, nearly purple stripes decorating the round perfect golden globes, the sheen of sweat that suddenly covered the bard and the wailing sound of her voice in agony had her so close.

When she saw the body below her try to undulate away from her torment and heard the quiet sobs her passion began to cool and her anger began to escalate… then, almost against her will it seemed, the small woman started to arch into her strikes and the noises became more wanton then despairing. Instantly the warlord was again on the razor's edge.

Gabrielle was as close as she'd ever been to an orgasm she felt she might not survive.

With the speed and grace of movement the battlelust enabled, the warrior dropped the whip and strapped on the phallus.

She quickly inserted the second end into her own drenched cavern. She swallowed hard at the sudden stimulation and nearly lost her footing. She took in a ragged breath and then she was hitting her knees behind the bard and over her. Thrusting in without warning she gave herself over to the flash of pure erotic rapture raping the girl with the toy provided. They'd never used one before and as far as Xena knew, Gabrielle had only had Xena's fingers and tongue and Perdicus' less than regal member in her before.

She'd seen his supposed manhood the night before they married while he jerked himself off in the woods. She was hunting and hidden in the tree he chose to hide behind.

It was nothing compared to the length she wore.

The thought brought her great satisfaction and her thrusting increased causing her to hold the woman who was jerking and trying to crawl away from her. She did nothing about correcting the girl as she screamed and begged. She liked the sounds.

She was nearly there.

At first, Gabrielle couldn't seem to get hold of a coherent thought. Everything was sensation.

The agony and heat of the lashes and the constant pulsing of her clit.

The liquid sluicing out of her in spurts and the need to find a way to draw more air into her lungs consumed her. Xena was beating her. Whipping her like an animal.

Like a slave!


Oh, goddess it felt so good! So bad. Sooo big!

It was swallowing her whole and she was bereft and confused. She was feeling Xena… HER, everywhere. Part of her heart hurt for her mate. Part of her mind rejoiced at this secret fantasy finally coming true. Part of her heart swelled at the love she felt for and from the woman behind. Because she knew Xena was loving her. Part of her mind remained humiliated at her own reactions to it and then, OH MY Goddess! She was filled up and stretched and scared and her only thought was to get away but she couldn't. Xena held fast. Her arms were covering her waist and the warrior was bent over and lying on top of her back, forcing her legs to open further and her ass to raise higher. She screamed in fear first and then within seconds in pure carnal reaction.

Somewhere in Xena's mind she noticed the change in the woman she held. Instead of trying to thrust away from her she was now pushing back into her thrusts in perfect rhythm even as her own motions increased in speed.

She pushed down on the blonde's head until she was lying with her cheek on the furs and her ass in the air. Then she saw the stripes again. They were swelling into welts and she knew she had to feel them with more than her hands.

Keeping one hand on the back of the bard's head and slowing her thrusts, she used the other to strip herself of her armor and leathers, leaving only her boots, bracers and wrist bands. She noticed that Gabrielle was pushing back onto her cock harder and faster than her own rhythm dictated and smiled. It wasn't a nice smile.


Xena knew she'd have to shout the word. The girl was so outside of herself she probably wasn't aware of anything but the dick pushing inside her and her own excitement. She knew Gabrielle was close again.

The word spoken was so familiar to her, the voice so ingrained in her that she stopped all movement instantly. She realized it must be conditioning that made her do so because everything else in her wanted so much to keep riding her lover that if it hadn't been the command voice that Xena used only when she was deadly serious, she would have ignored it.

She couldn't help but whimper in misery anyway.

"Good." Xena purred. "Don't move."

She knew without seeing it, from her voice alone, that Xena was smiling. That same smile she smiled before she took off someone's head. Gabrielle felt the fear of it ripple though her and the goosebumps were back. Her cunt clutched involuntarily and she couldn't stop the small jerk of her hips as she closed her eyes and imagined it.

"I'm close, Gabrielle. So close."

Her voice was smoky and rough and Gabrielle felt the purebred sensuality of it almost as a living thing as it slid over her skin. She whimpered again and felt the moisture start to gather in her eyes. She couldn't imagine why. Why, now, of all that happened before, she started to cry, she just couldn't seem to stop. Everywhere in and around her thrummed with something. Something dangerous and primal and carnal and it terrified her and aroused her so much.

So much.

She began to shake with the need to move. The need to thrust and touch and clench and receive, but most of all, the need to do and give and please. She would do anything for release. She'd never been so stimulated before, so aroused, but she knew even more clearly and for the first time in her life, she would die if need be, to give Xena what she needed.

Somewhere from so deep inside of her she never even knew it existed came the words. So true and right and sincere that she didn't even realize on a conscious level what she said when she spoke them, but she was sure of the feeling of finally, finally getting it right when she did. She felt relieved and that part of her that had always been afraid of what she was and what she needed, was gone. Gone.

"Please, Mistress, let me serve your needs."

Ooooh, gods. What that did to her. Xena had been enjoying her little bard's misery and arousal. It brought her a tremendous rush to see how conflicted she was at first and now, how compliant.

She'd broken her and now the blonde would do anything to get off. She had to take a few short, shallow breaths to contain herself when she told Gabrielle to stop and stay still. She was so close and she wanted to take that leap, just jump into the climax that was just a breath away, but it was sooo good, this feeling of total domination and she had to take a moment to just revel in it. Just feel the bard complying. Submitting. She looked at her and saw the sweat trickle down the blonde's back to pool and run at the curve of her spine as it swam downward to darken the hair at the nape of her neck.

She delighted in the deep rose blush on the normally golden face of her lover, as her tears washed her cheeks. She couldn't stop herself from tracing with her thumbnails the edges of the welt lines criss crossing that full round bottom so proudly thrust up behind her and she growled involuntarily when she heard the whimper of need and pain the bard couldn't help but release. She'd just bent to rub her breasts on the swellings of the bard's ass…just felt the heat and unevenness of the swollen skin against her nipples when she heard the words and they echoed endlessly in her ears.

Please, Mistress, let me serve your needs. Please, Mistress, let me serve your needs. Please….

Like lightning from a clear sky; like a rockslide it was upon her as she grabbed the hips in front of her and pulled out only to thrust her cock hard and deep into that hot, welted ass as she came. Her throat was ripping and aching from the scream that tore through it. Her head flew back hard enough to whip her own ass with the mass of wet hair that slapped it and she knew without a doubt she was going to black out and welcomed it. Just one more push, another, another… forcing herself as she rolled with the waves of painful pleasure. She finally gave in to the lack of air and dropped forward onto the already unconscious woman beneath her.

Gabrielle never knew anything could hurt so much and at the same time bring such bliss. She screamed and screamed and even years after, she would never know whether the sounds were caused by the pleasure or the agony, she only knew they were perfect. Vaguely, as though she were in another room she heard Xena come and the sound of it seemed to release her from the rigid hold she was keeping on her awareness. She fell into the cool darkness, smiling.


It felt like hours but Xena knew it was only minutes before she came back to herself. She could hear Gabrielle beneath her, breathing shallowly and realized her weight was impeding the smaller woman's efforts. With a complete lack of energy, the kind that always hit her when the bloodlust was satisfied, she rolled to the side, finally disengaging the phallus from it's dark home and feeling the air cool the copious sweat that drenched them both. Lying on the furs with her left leg still draped between the Amazon's legs and her left arm lying flaccid at the base of the bard's spine, she closed her eyes again and tried to regain a bit of rational thought.

She knew Gabrielle was now deeply asleep. She could tell by her breathing, easy and even.

As always, much of what had just happened was a blur. She knew within minutes it would come back to her and she would relive it in her mind. Usually it was something she looked forward to. Kind of like a second dessert after a rich meal, but today she was afraid of it. She had yet to fully look at her lover.

Suddenly it was there. Every moment of it and she couldn't help the visceral pull at her vulva as she felt her body nearly repeat her climax.

The orgasm she felt when she finally sated her bloodlust was always so much stronger than any other time, but this time, it was enormous. She knew it had to do with her feelings for her lover and the fact that she'd never wanted anyone as much for as long or had better sex with anyone but her, but by all the gods, she really wasn't prepared for the shockwave of sensation that enveloped her a few minutes ago.

And it worried her.

Now that the cage door is open, how do I ever cage the beast again?

As true as it was that the sex she had with Gabrielle was the best she'd ever had with anyone, it was also true that she'd been holding back.

A lot.

Since her earliest days she realized her gifts. As a child she was faster, stronger, smarter than her peers and many of her elders as well. Many of the latter knew it and went out of their way to repress her and put her in her supposed place. It wasn't until Cortese that she started to come into her own.

When she'd begun to build her army she realized for the first time the thrill of being in control and realized too that by her very nature, she was dominant.

When she first experienced the rage of battlelust at the ripe age of fifteen summers she realized it also applied to her sexually. She was good at it. It suited her and she loved it.

For all those years she waged war in Ares name she threw herself into all her sexual encounters with abandon knowing her natural gift for domination assured her partners, both men and women would experience sensations and pleasure like none they'd known before. Unfortunately, not all of them went there willingly. At least until they screamed out their release, then she was often hard pressed to get rid of them.

She'd had willing submissives anytime she wanted them for a full ten turns of the seasons until she'd thrown off Ares yoke and walked away.

Since she'd met the bard there had only been those moments of battlelust satisfied with a paid whore or a few stolen hours with a prostitute when the need for domination came upon her on her own. Gabrielle knew of none of it, at least not until last night.

She knew they'd need to talk about it and it worried her.

Lately it had been getting harder and harder to resist dominating the bard in bed. Especially when the little Amazon Queen had done something dangerous or foolhardy. And even more often when she hadn't. Just watching the woman fight now that she was so gifted at it, had inspired her lust and need for control. She'd often had to grit her teeth during their normal lovemaking to keep herself from tying the wench down and having her the way she wanted her. Even then she'd had to wait until afterwards when the Amazon slept and take off in the woods or ride out of town in order to quell the feelings with another climax or two on her own hands fueled by her fantasy.

She knew she had been slipping lately as she'd found herself becoming increasing forceful and more aggressive when they fucked. She also knew, her lover was a great many things, but she wasn't stupid. When she woke up she was going to put it all together and realize that this change in their relationship, at least the change in the bedroom aspect of it, wasn't only going to happen when Xena was affected by Ares curse.

Yes, it worried her, for as much as she wanted this with the bard, and she wanted it mightily, she knew that this arrangement had to be voluntary. She'd have to make Gabrielle understand that it was up to her to gift the warrior with this. It would need to be a choice made with knowledge of all that it entailed and then there would be a bonding between them that went beyond what they shared now.

It was that that worried the warrior most of all.

For she knew herself well and she knew deep inside that what she shared with Gabrielle was forever, and once that new rope tied them to each other, nothing short of death would cut it. Not even if Gabrielle wished it so.


Xena slept only a few candlemarks and was up well before dawn. She'd dressed in her leather pants and shirt knowing she'd need to gather more wood in the snow and try to hunt a bit.

It was just a candlemark after dawn when she'd accomplished her goals and was sipping tea when the warrior bard began to stir.

Xena watched her awaken and took stock of the woman. Her eyes were still puffy from her crying of the night before. She'd briefly examined her when she first woke to make sure the whip marks were not going to leave permanent injury. She was relieved to see she hadn't lost her touch. Not that she hadn't scarred others with the whip, but that had always been by design.

As the blonde sat up and pulled the fur wraps around her shoulders, Xena saw the bite mark on her neck was still swollen but the ointment she'd applied this morning while the bard slept had reduced the redness and removed the few drops of blood that had crusted over it. As she tried to move into a sitting position Xena couldn't help the small smile that came to her face when she watched the bard wince and move into another position more amenable to her recently abused bottom.

She also took note of the deepening green in the woman's eyes as the memory of the cause of the injury surfaced.

Without words, the warrior handed her lover a cup of warm spiced tea and waited for the conversation she knew would come. But she did not wait without worry.

Gabrielle found it hard to look Xena in the eye this morning. Physically she felt wrung out. She was sore in places she'd never been sore before and she felt grungy and, of all things, unworthy. She was just so embarrassed by her own reactions of the night before she couldn't bring herself to say anything. She simply nodded when she handed the cup of tea and tried to find a way through all she was feeling in the dancing flames of the fire.

She noticed that the warrior had been busy while she slept. The dishes from last night's dinner where clean. A couple of quail were sitting off to the edge of the fire wrapped in a clean skin, more wood was stacked and their clothes from the night before were folded on the saddlebags.

It all looked so normal - mundane, as though the epic changes in their lives that happened last night never happened at all.

Maybe if I don't talk about it, we can just forget it. Maybe if I just pretend everything is the same as before, I can somehow make it be so.

Xena realized after a few a minutes that Gabrielle wouldn't look at her and her worry began to escalate. She started any number of times to try to begin the conversation but could never think of a way that didn't feel too jarring: too challenging, to what they had always been to each other. Finally she too settled for the mundane.

"Would you like me to cook the birds?"

Gabrielle only glanced at her as she tried to speak. She had to clear her throat and then searching the bottom of her teacup out she answered.

"Nah, I want to be able to eat it. I'll do it." She tried to keep her voice light and even but she wouldn't look at the other woman.

She moved to put word to deed and realized she was still undressed and for the first time since her first year with the warrior, was ashamed to reveal her nakedness to her lover. Xena saw that too and realized this had to end. They had to speak about it or it would change even what they had before.

"No, we'll eat later. First I want to tend those whip marks and that bite mark on your neck." She got to her feet and grabbed her kit as she moved to sit near the bard.

"Lay down."

Gabrielle opened her mouth say she was fine. She didn't want the warrior that close to her right now. She knew if she did she'd be revealed and then things would change and she could lose her lover forever. But the tone of voice Xena used when she'd told her to lay down wasn't one she could argue with. She lay down on her back and held the fur to herself tightly, looking only at the cave ceiling.

The warrior hadn't known exactly what to expect from her lover this morning, but this reaction never crossed her mind. She studied the prone woman before her trying to figure out just what she was thinking. She'd expected fear, anger, disgust or even a kind of excitement in the change, but she never expected to see…what was it…shame?

It made her angry. How dare the bard take this on herself? It was much more her fault than Gabrielle's. She knew the bard had no idea that many people, many women, found this kind of rough love what worked for them. For Gabrielle, she realized, this need and desire was nothing less than perverted. Xena should have talked with her about this long ago. She shared nearly everything else with her, but this aspect of her life and her own needs she'd kept secret.

Xena pulled the furs firmly down and tossed them aside as she started to treat the bite. When she'd finished with the ointment she pushed Gabrielle's shoulder and told her to turn over.

The bard did it but made sure to turn away from the fire and her lover. She wasn't sure if she could stand to have Xena's hands on her there and not reveal herself.

As Xena spread more ointment on the criss crossed marks on Gabrielle's buttocks she heard the tiniest of whimpers and watched as once again the bard involuntarily clenched her cheeks. It must have aggravated the injury of her other assault because she jerked a bit.

Xena watched carefully as the flush rose on her lover's upper back and neck, climbing over her ears.

She'd have to be the one to bring it up. The bard wouldn't. Still, first things first.

"Don't move I'll be right back."

Xena moved enough to grab their packs and rummaged around until she found the soft chamois strips and ties they used for their cycles. With that and a small piece of silk she went to the cave opening and filled the strip with snow. She covered it with the silk and secured it with a small tie.

"This is going to be cold but it should help with the bruising."

With that, she carefully parted the blonde's cheeks and placed the breechcloth between her legs and brought the straps up to tie it in place.

Gabrielle couldn't help the shriek she let out. It was very cold and she was also so very embarrassed. To have Xena not only acknowledge her pain but also examine it and treat it, blew all to Tartarus her plan of ignoring last night.

She wanted to say something to stop her, but couldn't find the words and by the time she did, the straps were in place and Xena was covering her with the furs again.

Slow, quiet tears started to leak from her eyes and she was very grateful she was facing away from the warrior.

In a totally uncharacteristic move for the warrior, she asked the question that she usually had asked of her. The same question she so often ignored. She knew of no other way to do it.

"What are you feeling, Gabrielle, about last night? Talk to me. Tell me what's on your mind."

It was then the warrior realized the bard was crying. She lifted the younger woman and set her down gently on her lap, being careful to let the blondes weight rest on her hip.

"Shh, Baby. It's all right. Talk to me. Come on. Tell me why you're crying?"

She rocked her slowly and kept kissing her and petting her head and back until the younger woman finally ran out of the energy required to weep.

She tried to speak and failed twice, then just buried her head in her lover's neck.

"What is it, Baby?"

"I'm so embarrassed. I don't know why you're still holding me. You must think I'm disgusting."

Xena had to think that one through. When she did she was amazed she hadn't thought of it first. Given her lover's previous solitary sexual past and her rigid and puritanical upbringing, how else could she be feeling just now but humiliated that she had allowed the woman she loved and respected more than anyone, to see her undeniable response to what the bard must surely have been taught were perverted and forbidden acts.

Xena tried to think of a way to say what she needed to reassure the woman that this was not only alright with her, it was welcomed and delightful. All the while she was trying to frame the words to speak, her body was reacting to the news that the love of her life was a submissive at heart and liked it rough.

She wasn't even aware of the fact that her rocking and comforting had changed. Instead of just running her hands in soothing circles on the smaller warrior's back she had begun a sensuous glide from her nape to the edge of her spine and somehow, her hand turned so that instead of her palm, she was scratching the skin with her nails. It wasn't until she noticed her lovers breathing change and the unmistakable scent rising from between the bard's legs that she realized what her own body was doing.

Maybe we don't need all the words. Maybe we can cut to the chase.

She opened her own legs a bit more and felt the bard shift as a result. Now the younger woman was breast to breast with her, both arms wrapped around the warlords neck and her right leg was bent forward at the knee. Her ass was lifting and arching just a bit each time Xena's nails grew near it. She wanted Xena there.

Guess it wasn't just my body talking.

"Feels good, doesn't it?" Xena's voice had fallen into it's lowest register as her own arousal increased. She swiped a thumbnail firmly over a raised welt just below the bar's ass cheek and felt as well as heard the swift indrawn breath she knew so well. The one anyone else might mistake for surprise or pain. The one only Xena knew meant her lover was asking for more.

"Hurt's sooo good." She brought her hand down to Gabrielle's gluteul fold and watched as her bard separated her legs a little more, turning her body further in toward Xena's torso, burying her head in the warrior's neck and pushing her ass out a little more. The warrior brought her thumb and forefinger together at the fold just at the junction of her crotch. She slid the thumb forward and underneath the strap to catch the hot liquid she knew was running from the blonde's opening and bent her knuckle as she swiped it over Gabrielle's now bruised anus. She watched in fascination as once again her lover opened her legs and presented.

She smiled and pinched the skin between her finger and thumb. Hard.

She was rewarded with a whimper of need and all her suspicions were confirmed.

But she had to set the rules and she had to hear the words.

Once again, Gabrielle was in that scary place. That place where her body over ruled her mind. She was reacting before she could talk herself out of it when just a moment ago, she was swamped in an agony of humiliation and self-disgust. How could she…what could she say to her lover, now? It was as though, once she walked through the door and allowed her body to have what it really wanted, she couldn't go back. She was close to getting off Xena's lap and running out of the cave naked, just to get a way from what she knew was coming. She expected any minute now that Xena would either throw her off her lap or start laughing at her. She was in no way prepared for the words or the actions of her mate.

When the pinch came she had no choice but to react to that, too. She started shaking then. True fear coursed through her from head to toe as she realized truly, that Xena had found out her secret, and that the warrior was getting off on her arousal. That last night might be just the beginning, not a means to an end of a once-in-a-blue-moon situation. That everything would change from here on in. She wasn't sure she could handle that. She wasn't sure she could ever face what that said about her. She wasn't sure she could ever face Xena again.

Then the warrior was talking to her. No, not the warrior: the warlord. She knew it in the tone of voice that she'd heard so seldom and that always, always, had affected her that way. The way she was feeling right now. Erotically charged, over powered and dominated.

"Look at me, Gabrielle."

She couldn't do it. She shook harder and tightened her grip around Xena's neck. It would change everything. She couldn't take that step. She couldn't admit it.

"I said, look at me, Gabrielle."

The bard just shook her head.

The slap on her ass was so powerful and so loud she nearly jumped out of the warrior's arms, but Xena didn't let her, and in the next instant, with a handful of blonde hair she ripped the younger woman from her safe haven and forced her to meet the warrior eye to eye.

"When I give you an order, girl, you better do as I say. Things have changed this day, now, and forever." The warlord hissed at her.

As she looked into those ice blue eyes, the eyes of the Warlord she realized the fear was growing and she realized as well, so was her excitement. All those times she'd seen Xena angry, all those times she'd watched her fighting mad, she'd felt just like this. A part of her that never wanted to say the words aloud knew that was why she had waited for her to come to the Amazon village after Solon's death. She'd wanted Xena to take from her what she knew she had coming. That was why when she saw those same eyes she looked into now when Xena sat on her horse and stared at her that day, she couldn't run away. It was only Joxer urging her to do it, that made her feet move. Even more, she'd convinced herself, she felt responsible for the safety of the Amazons. She needed to get Xena away from them. To keep them safe from her righteous wrath, but she knew that was a lie. She wanted what the warrior needed to give her; she just wasn't prepared to have it viewed by her sisters. If she could only get Xena away she'd gladly submit to her, just as she'd always dreamed in her secret dreams of doing.

It was only the realization that Xena meant to end her life that made her fight back. That made her angry. The more honest part of her realized that most of the anger stemmed from finally having a chance to get from the woman she'd always loved and wanted exactly what she desired, only to lose it in death that propelled to her act.

Now, here it was, staring her in the face and the excuses of betrayal or battlelust wouldn't serve. Now she was expected to face up to her own needs and admit it.

To own it. Xena would accept nothing less.

"Listen to me, my love, and listen well." Xena moved her hand from the bard's bottom to her face and held her cheek and jaw firmly as she used her thumb to stroke the remnants of tears from it. Once she was sure Gabrielle was paying attention and she had eye contact, she continued.

"There is no shame in the love we share. There is no shame in the way we love. That you have waited so long to show me this part of yourself is the only shame and that is for me to bear alone." Gabrielle tried to interrupt and was stopped with a single word.

"Hush! It was my own fear of losing you that I never shared my need with you. That was my fault and for that I beg your pardon."

"No, Xe…"

She was interrupted by another swat to her damaged bottom.

"Will you be quiet, woman! When I finish talking you may have your say, but for now, it's your job to listen and to truly hear me. Is that clear?"

Gabriele's thoughts were tumbling and falling over each other. She was surprised at Xena's words and so ashamed that Xena would take the blame for her needs it was hard to really hear and make sense of what the warrior was saying. Just as she'd gathered herself to protest, she'd felt the slap and was brought back to an odd feeling of calm. Her emotions were so raw that she knew she couldn't speak, so she just nodded and pushed all her will toward really hearing what her lover was saying.

"The way we love is ours alone. It requires only two things. Absolute trust and agreement. You must trust me absolutely to be in charge of your pleasure. YOU must decide to do this, Gabrielle. You must think it over and decide if the kind of loving we shared last night will happen again. Though it is true that the battle lust doesn't affect me every time I fight, we both know it will happen again. It must be your choice, now, as to whether this kind of loving is something I can share with you or if I must seek release elsewhere." Just saying the words hurt in a way she didn't expect, but she knew it was all up to the bard. She had to choose. "It must also be your choice if our making love without the battlelust to drive it is flavored by this same passion…gained through pain and submission. We won't always need this kind of loving or even want it, but it must be your choice to agree to allow it between us when ever we choose to make it so." She brought her hand back to her lover's face and stroked her cheek. "I love you, Gabrielle, always, and in all ways. Do you understand what I've just said to you?"

Did she? She wasn't sure. She closed her eyes to think. She had to apply all of her concentration to what Xena was saying. With the bard's natural gift for memorizing words, she replayed each one and it's significance over, and over, again. Suddenly she got it. Xena wants this, too! As the words occurred to her, she finally opened her eyes and for the first time since she woke today, tried to see the emotions hiding in the eyes of the woman she loved. There it was. She wasn't repulsed. She's excited. She wants this too.

Gabrielle wasn't quite ready to speak, so she just nodded.

"Good. Do you understand that all that is required for this to be, is your permission?"

The bard nodded again.

"Now, listen my bard. I want you to understand this most clearly. Once that permission is given, you may never take it back. If you agree to allow me the burden of your pleasure, it will be forever, and 'no' will never stop me from what I'm doing when I'm loving you. You must trust me enough to know that I will always give you what you need." She leaned in and kissed her lover gently. "Can you do this, Gabrielle? Can you give me that trust, now, and always?"

It was odd, in a way. Just as Gabrielle released the breath she had been holding. Xena held hers.

The warrior knew they were at a turning point in their relationship that could change, materially, everything between them. This question she'd asked, if not agreed to by her lover, meant they would never again share this kind of passion, but more, it would forever imply a lack of trust between them that might always interfere in how they related to one another. Xena knew her bard wanted this. The question was, did she trust Xena enough to allow it.

For Gabrielle, it was a much easier thing. All she had to do was say yes and she would have her love, as she had always wanted her, not only in her heart but also in her most secret desires. She would have permission, not only from her partner but herself, to give into the needs she always thought of as wrong. She understood without being told that this change in how things were between them would apply only to their lovemaking. She would still be free to be as assertive as necessary in the rest of their life. That was a good thing, because she would always, only be submissive, sexually, and only with Xena. The strong, proud, woman she'd fought to become would go on. It was easy.

"Yes, Xena, I agree." She leaned in to give Xena her own kiss. One in which she truly gave herself over to her lover. This kiss sanctified the act for them both. "Yes."

With the small queen's first words, Xena released the breath she'd been holding. She drew the woman to her hard. Once again they'd found a way to see to each other's needs and found each other in the process. She didn't know why she should be surprised, as they'd done it so often before.

She pulled back and kissed her lover, letting her know in that kiss that everything between them would change and yet stay the same.

Her body remembered then, where they had left off and her hand slid down to insert itself between the strap. Realizing her lover was still very sore, she decided to make the encounter they both needed brief, but worthy, as she manipulated the hardening clit between her fingers.

Gabrielle once again drew herself up and held onto the warrior's neck, arching into the caress that made her breath quicken. Her soft panting and whimpering fueled the fire the warrior felt growing in her belly.

With no more than a few quick, hard, strokes as she rubbed the thumbnail of her other hand against the welts on her lover's cheeks, the warrior brought Gabrielle to a gasping climax that stole her breath and seemed to last forever.

Seeing it and feeling Gabrielle's obvious reaction to her manipulations gave the warrior a sense of satisfaction beyond what she usually felt for her lover. She watched in fascination as the bard clenched and arched and fought for air.

As though a weight she had never known she carried was lifted from her, she felt lighter. She also felt very wet. She grinned and sighed as pulled the head of the recovering blonde back once again, and laid her carefully down on her side on the furs.

She stood and before the Amazon could even find her way to opening her eyes, Xena had unlaced her pants forcing them down to her ankles and knelt over her, pushing the smaller woman onto her back, reminding her again of the whip marks that sang out to her. Her eyes flew open and she gasped once again as she saw the warrior descending to straddle her face.

Xena knelt over her face making sure to trap the bard's arms with the constricting leather of her pants. The effort also insured that the bard was unable to raise her own hips off the furs. Xena knew any movement or none at all would remind the bard of the stripes on her ass and create new points of pleasure/pain in her small lover.

"Do it. Please me." The voice was the Warlord's again, smooth and deep, but it was tinged with a desperation she couldn't quite conceal. Her blue eyes locked on the glassy gaze beneath her and Gabrielle was hard pressed not to break her neck in an effort to rise to the warrior's hot, wet flesh.

Gabrielle heard her warrior's demand…and obeyed.

The End

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