See Part 1 for Warnings and Disclaimers


Part 2 (Conclusion)

By Texbard


The loud sound of metal hitting metal rang out across the Amazon practice yard, as Xena and Eponin practiced some new sword drills the warrior had worked out. Xena was in her element, her eyes wide and her face in a taunting grin, as she danced circles around the flustered weapons master. The sun was sitting low in the sky and they had been sparring for the better part of two candle marks. The warrior’s forehead, neck, and chest were covered in a faint glistening sheen of sweat, while Pony was practically drenched from head to foot.

Xena decided it was time to quit for the day. Without warning, she tucked herself low and then sprang up and forward, flipping over Pony’s head. As she sailed by, she reached out with her sword and disarmed the surprised Amazon. Pony’s sword went sailing across the practice yard. As Xena landed, she spun around and pushed the weapon’s master to the ground with her foot. As Pony hit the ground, Xena rolled forward with the momentum and landed with her knees on Pony’s chest.

The smile left the warrior’s face and her features twisted in a grimace. She raised her sword over her head and with a loud war cry, swiftly embedding the blade in the ground a mere hair’s breadth from Pony’s left ear. At the same time, the weapons master screamed, certain that Xena had finally lost her mind and let the dark side take over for good.

"Zeus, Xena! What did you do that for? You trying to send me to the Amazon land of the dead before my time? What’s gotten into you anyway? You’ve been wound up tight as a drum for days now. Every time we spar you act like you’re fighting your last battle."

The warrior’s face fell as she realized what she had done. "Damn. I’m sorry Pony." She rolled off the beaten Amazon and stood up, offering the weapons master a hand up.

Pony slowly rose to her feet and dusted off her leathers. She walked over and retrieved her sword and returned it to her scabbard. She turned back and shaded her face with her hand against the setting sun, and just regarded the warrior for a long moment. Xena’s shoulders were slumped and she was absently drawing circles in the dirt with the tip of her sword. Pony cautiously moved toward her and finally rested a tentative hand on the warrior’s arm. "Hey. You want to talk about it?"

Sad blue eyes looked up and met golden hazel ones. "Yeah. I guess I ought to talk to someone. You got any more of that ouzo?"

"Yeah." Pony smiled. "Follow me over to my hut. Let’s get it and then go hit the bath house. Or is the common bath house too good for you? You too used to bathing with the queen to mingle with the rest of us?"

"No. Haven’t been bathing with the queen anyway these days. Although we do have an awfully nice tub."

"Ohhhh." Pony began to understand just what, exactly, might be ailing her tall dark friend.

A quarter candle mark later, Eponin and Xena were sitting in one of the large tubs designed for group bathing, enjoying the feel of the hot steamy water against their tired muscles. Pony took a long swig from her flask of ouzo and handed it over to the warrior. Xena took a short sip and then a larger gulp, smacking her lips as the liquid fire burned its way to her gut.

"Gotta hand it to you Pony, that stuff is just right for what ails me."

"Coulda fooled me." The weapons master took another sip and handed it back.

Xena took it and drank a long draught, and coughed before laying the flask down.

"Hey. Careful Xena. That stuff is meant for sipping. That’s not a mug of port."

The warrior snorted and took up her bathing rag and began to wash the dust and grime from her face and body. "Pony. The way I feel right now, there isn’t enough port in the whole village to cure me."

"Don’t suppose your ailment would be cured by some loving attention from a certain young Amazon queen, now would it?"

Xena sighed, and quickly finished her bathing before she leaned back and closed her eyes, draping her arms along the sides of the tub. "Pony. I don’t know what to do. I’m always afraid something I say or do is going to stir up bad memories for her. Or make her afraid. Sometimes she wants me to touch her and sometimes my touch makes her cringe. So I don’t hardly touch her at all unless she asks me to. I know she’s hurting and there doesn’t seem to be a damn thing I can do about it."

The weapons master had busied herself with her own task of bathing while Xena rambled on. She looked up from scrubbing a leg and tilted her head. "Xena. It still hasn’t been that long. Not for what she’s been through. Give her some more time. As for your own needs, well . . ." Pony gave her a wicked grin. "There are plenty of women in the village that would be happy, no deliriously overjoyed, to help you with that. I’ve even caught my own Raella giving you the once-over a few times. You know we Amazons don’t have much problem with trying new things in that area, and we often experiment. It doesn’t mean anything. Just a little innocent fun and a chance to relieve some frustration."

"No. That’s not for me. You know Gabrielle and I are monogamous. That would really hurt her and besides, I have no desire to be with anyone else. No one can do what she can for me."

"She’s that good, huh?"

"You have no idea."

"Wow. You know, Xena, you could destroy your own reputation letting information like that out. Everyone in this village sees you as the one with insatiable lust and wonders how on earth Gabrielle can be keeping up with you."

"It’s hard to explain. It’s not what we do. It’s what’s behind it. The love. There’s no substitute for what we have. Not anywhere on earth."

The weapons master gave her a questioning look and then shrugged her shoulders. "Well, I guess there’s always self-pleasuring."

"Believe me. I’ve become best friends with my left hand these days. But it’s only a physical release. It leaves me empty inside. Pony, have you ever been in love?"

"Well, sure. I think so. But not like you and the queen. You two have something very special. I’ve never seen anything like it."

"The love makes the difference. And that’s what I miss. I don’t know how to make her feel loved anymore. I can tell her but I can’t seem to show her."

Conversation gradually turned to other things, as the warrior and the weapons master dried off, put on clean tunics, and took the ouzo outside. They sat down next to a central fire ring that still had a few embers burning, and proceeded to finish off most of the strong liquor. A few candle marks later, a drunken Pony helped an even drunker Xena get back to the queen’s hut. Pony knocked loudly.

"Hey. Queen Gabrielle. Shena’s home. Open up."

Gabrielle opened the door and groaned inwardly. Oh boy. "Bring her in and see if you can get her to the bedroom."

A broad grin crossed the warrior’s face as she looked at her lover. Shorry, Gabrielle. Pony and I had jushhh a few drinksh. Don’t know how I got sho shloshed."

"Uh-huh." The bard shook her head in amusement.

The weapons master got the tall warrior to the bed, and Xena promptly fell across it face first.

"Pony. Just how much have you two had to drink?"

Eponin held up her hand, holding her thumb and forefinger close together. "Jushh an eensy bit. Not really mush at all."

Gabrielle spotted the flask. "Give me that." She snatched it out of Pony’s hand and uncapped it, taking a whiff and almost choking just at the smell.

"Gods. Was this full?" The bard shook the almost empty container.

"No. Well. Almoshhh." Pony’s eyes crossed and she was finding it difficult to concentrate.

"Pony. Go home. I’ll take care of Xena. Raella is going to be plenty pissed at you, rest assured."

Pony suddenly remembered her own lover, and a vision of very angry amber eyes and long thick auburn hair appeared in her mind. "Oh. Yeah. You’re right. I better go. Shee ya Gabrielle." The weapons master stumbled out the door toward her own hut.

Gabrielle closed the door behind Eponin and made her way back to the bedroom. Xena was still laying face down, humming some strange melody in a very off key. She rolled over when the bard entered the room. Gabrielle grabbed Xena’s healer kit from the desk and retrieved some herbs, mixing them into a cup of water.

"Here, Xena. Sit up and drink this."

The warrior sat up and took the mug. She took a sip and grimaced. "Ugghh."

Gabrielle stood over the warrior with her hands on her hips. "Drink it. Do you want to feel bad in the morning?"

"No." Xena held her breath and swallowed the rest of the foul-tasting mixture. She sat the mug down and unconsciously wrapped her arms around the bard’s legs, resting her cheek against Gabrielle’s stomach.

Gabrielle started to stroke the raven hair when the warrior suddenly withdrew and sat back, looking up. "Shorry. I touched you. Not allowed to touch you."

"Xena . . ." The bard’s voice trailed off sadly.

"Nope. Won’t hear it." The warrior cut her off and then laid back on the bed. "I’ll go to shleep now." She rolled away from the bard and faced the wall, closing her eyes.

Gabrielle sighed and changed into her own sleep shirt. She doused the candle and crawled into bed, laying on her side with her head propped against an upraised arm. She watched the warrior’s back as the ribs rose and fell with her breathing. Certain the alcohol had caused her lover to pass out, the bard closed her eyes and started to lay back when she felt Xena shift, fussing with the covers.

"Love you Gabrielle." Xena said softly.

"I love you too."

"Want you so badly." The warrior’s last words were so faint that the bard could barely hear them.

"I know." Gabrielle curled up against Xena’s back and rested her hand on a strong biceps. She quietly kissed the warrior’s neck. "Soon, love. I promise." And she closed her eyes to sleep.


The bard woke up to the first faint rays of dawn. A familiar weight rested against and partly on top of her, and she opened her eyes and looked down. Xena’s chest rose and fell with deep even breaths. She was pressed tightly against Gabrielle’s side. One of the warrior’s hands had wandered under the bard’s sleep shirt and on top of her right breast, while Xena’s left knee was curled over Gabrielle’s left leg and was pressed firmly against the bard’s sex.

Poor Xena. The bard realized that the alcohol had lowered her lover’s careful reservation, and the warrior’s body had succumbed in sleep to what it so badly wanted to do. Gabrielle smiled, and realized that her own body had obviously not rejected the nocturnal advances. In fact, she felt rather warm and cozy. She sighed and started to close her eyes and go back to sleep, and just enjoy the contact, when she felt the warrior stir.

Xena groaned, her eyes still tightly shut. "Is it morning yet?"

"Just barely." The bard stroked the raven head. "Headache, love?"

The warrior’s eyes remained closed. "Yeah. But not too bad. Thanks to you giving me those herbs last night."

"You remember that?"

"Yeah, vaguely." Xena’s eyes were still closed, and she slowly did a mental assessment of her facilities. Oh Gods. The warrior’s eyes popped open as she suddenly recognized the feel of her lover’s breast under her hand, and the place her knee rested. She jerked the knee back. "Gabrielle. I’m so sorry." She started to withdraw her hand.

"No." The bard captured the wrist through the material of her sleep shirt. "Leave it there."

Quizzical blue eyes met smokey green ones, and Xena’s breath caught. "Can I . . . ?" She tentatively caressed the nipple with her thumb, and smiled when Gabrielle whimpered and pressed her body into her touch. She continued with slow careful strokes against the rubbery skin and leaned in, brushing the bard’s lips several times with her own.

Gabrielle opened her mouth and drew Xena’s tongue in, moaning at the long-missed contact. Their tongues danced a primal dance, and she slowly pushed the warrior onto her back and gently rolled on top of her. She reached up and pushed a dark lock of hair out of Xena’s face.

"How’s your headache?"

"Gone." The warrior’s voice almost squeaked. "Fine. Never better."

The bard laughed at the near-desperation in her lover’s voice. "Xena. I want you. You have been very patient with me. And extremely gentle and loving. You’ve made me feel safe. And you’ve tried so hard to make me feel beautiful when I felt so ugly inside. I don’t know what I can let you do. How far I can go. But I want to make love to you. Can I . . . ?"

"Anything. You can do anything you want to do."

Gabrielle’s eyes looked into her lover’s for a long moment, memorizing the look of love and passion she read there, burning it into her mind. She lowered her head and captured hungry warrior lips with her own, biting and sucking at Xena’s lower lip before pushing her tongue between the warrior’s lips. With one hand she reached down and began to unbutton Xena’s tunic, thankful the warrior had worn one that buttoned all the way down. When the last button was undone, she moved away from the warrior’s lips to her neck and throat.

Xena lightly ran her fingers through the short blonde hair on her partner’s head, and sucked in a breath as she felt the bard’s teeth nip the sensitive skin at the hollow of her throat. Gabrielle latched onto the area and began to suck, drawing blood to just underneath the surface of the skin. She ran one hand up Xena’s side and across her stomach to the bottom swell of a breast. Almost shyly, the bard’s hand crept up until she began to run the flat of her palm back and forth across a very hard nipple. She kissed her way down and enclosed the other nipple in her mouth, and began to lightly flick it with the tip of her tongue.

The warrior moaned and rested her hands on the bard’s shoulders, careful not to dig in with her nails or do anything other than softly caress the fair skin. It was an exercise in careful control for Xena, but she wanted to let Gabrielle set the pace and not do anything to cause pain for her young lover. The warrior felt the first rivulets of moisture began to run down her inner thighs, and gratefully felt a small bardic hand begin to make its way down and across her stomach.

Gabrielle traced the taut stomach muscles and playfully tickled Xena’s belly button, eliciting a slight laugh from the taller woman. The bard slowly moved her hand down into the curly black hair and traced small circles with her fingers, enjoying the wiry texture. Finally she lowered the hand and ran her finger up and down the outer lips of Xena’s labia, collecting the moisture there.

Xena felt even more moisture gather as the bard caressed her pubic hair and her nether lips. She raised her head and gasped, as the bard removed her hand from Xena’s sex and began to suck her wet fingers, her eyes never leaving the warrior’s. Gabrielle moved back up and kissed the warrior, and Xena groaned as she tasted herself on the bard’s lips. As the kiss deepened, Gabrielle returned her hand to Xena’s center and pushed one finger between the lips, and began to caress the pulsing clit.

"Gabrielle, I love you." The warrior’s fingertips played lightly across her lover’s back.

"Does this feel good Xena?"

"Oh, yeah. Very good, love." The warrior felt her inner muscles begin to clench, drawing up tightly for pending release. She gave up and closed her eyes, only to open them again immediately as she felt a bardic finger push against her opening.

"Xena, can I . . . ?"

"Yes. Please. I would love to feel you inside of me, sweetheart."

The bard slowly pushed one and then two fingers inside, and began to pump them in and out. She watched as Xena bit her lower lip and her eyes closed, the warrior’s fists clenching handfuls of the blanket beneath her. Gabrielle began to massage the clit again with her thumb while she continued pumping her fingers in and out.

"It’s okay Xena. You can make noise."

The warrior blew out a breath and growled low in her throat. "Oh gods, Gabrielle. That feels so good. I’m very close, love. Please keep going." With a few more pumps, Xena’s inner muscles stilled and then tightened against the bard’s fingers, as the climax rolled over the warrior’s body. The warrior forced herself to open her eyes, sharing her orgasm with her partner, projecting as much love in her gaze as she could. Gabrielle used her fingers to draw out the orgasm. When the final shudders ended, she withdrew her fingers and placed her thigh between Xena’s legs and against her sex. She crawled up the warrior’s body and kissed her.

"I did it."

"Yes . . . you . . . did." Xena felt completely sated. She kissed the top of the blonde head and loosely wrapped her arms around her young lover. "Thank you, love. I’ve missed you. Missed your touch."

"I’ve missed you, too." The bard sighed and nestled even closer into her lover’s body. As she did, her leg shifted and she suddenly found her very wet heated center resting against the warrior’s firm thigh. "Um . . ." She raised up slightly, bracing her weight on her hands on each side of Xena, and began to rub her soaked underwear up and down the warrior’s leg. "Raise your leg, Xena."

The warrior quickly complied, groaning anew at the feel of the wet material against her heated skin. She reached up and carefully grasped the bard’s hips, to relieve her of some of the weight she was bearing. Gabrielle smiled and closed her eyes, enjoying the sensations that were coursing through her body as she rode her lover’s leg. After a while it wasn’t enough. "Xena, I need . . ." She paused, deciding just what it was she needed.

"Whatever you want love, I’ll do it for you." The warrior took the bard’s hand and kissed the inside of her wrist and then her palm.

"Xena. I want to make my memory of him go away. I know I’ll never completely forget, but I want to be able to think of you and not him. Can I ask you something?"


"You can’t go inside of me."

"I wouldn’t think of it without asking first or waiting for you to ask me to."

"Okay. And you can’t tell me I feel real good. He . . . um . . . kept saying that to me. You can talk to me, just don’t say those exact words, okay?"


"I need you to love me with your mouth, Xena. Please make love to me with your mouth."

The warrior smiled and raised up. She pulled the bard into a hug and kissed her just below her ear. "Gabrielle." Xena ran her hand up and down her lover’?+?+ E~@?ܵM3 P s)P ׻Mi$nl80=j?][=?O.?<{Z=n=Ye:RHj2}xr 4?0K`[Sl ojd`t{V]< [T>.k _~E?5%3(?`؄6I?9T7?~鼽쩵V~٢i(/C^0?Rxѯ|??k/\;vOe}^iX'<88ش?Y;z2 nK r\yVi>zb"a7΁⤑7!ݶO?T?rFy8?E1d!N=1Lfs+0@j3֝z]+ޜB6s(uOR?7N:s@$r?{W$@ d/z s~=?}?ss you?"


The warrior shakily unlaced her lover’s sleep shirt and pulled it down over her shoulders. She leaned in and kissed the top of each breast swell before she pushed the shirt back and off the bard’s body.

"You are so very beautiful, my love." Xena’s voice was soft and low. She reached behind her and took three pillows, arranging them next to the wall. She took another one and threw it on the floor next to the bed. She captured the bard’s lips and kissed her thoroughly, as she slowly shifted and lowered Gabrielle back against the pillows so that she was cross-wise on the bed.

Xena laid down on her side next to her lover, and allowed her fingertips to dance across the bard’s skin from her throat down between her breasts, and across her stomach. She leaned in for another kiss and hooked one finger inside the waistband of the bard’s underwear. "I need to take these off, sweetheart. Can I?"

The bard swallowed and placed one hand on the one that held her underwear. She kissed Xena and reached up and touched the side of the taller woman’s face. "Okay."

The warrior sat up on her knees and lifted her lover’s hips, pulling the soaked garment down Gabrielle’s legs and letting them drop to the floor. Xena looked down at the bard’s creamy skin and closed her eyes, willing away the hungry look she knew was in them. She hadn’t seen her partner completely naked in a long time. After a minute she opened her eyes again and allowed love to shine through the blue orbs.

Without resting her weight on Gabrielle, Xena leaned in on her hands and kissed and licked her way from the bard’s chin to one of her nipples. She kissed the puckered flesh and licked around it, and finally licked back and forth across it. Gabrielle moaned and grasped Xena’s head, urging her to make full contact. "Suck on them, Xena."

The warrior gently closed her lips around the nipple and suckled lightly, careful to cause pleasure but no pain. She flicked the nipple with her tongue and then moved to the other nipple, giving it the same treatment. Xena whimpered and rested her hand on the bard’s belly, feeling toned stomach muscles contracting in response to her mouth and tongue on the nipple.

Gabrielle kept her eyes open at first, but as the sensation in her body built, she gradually let them close, feeling Xena loving her. The bard focused in on the love she knew was in the warrior’s actions, appreciating the tenderness and gentleness Xena exhibited in her attentions. "Talk to me Xena. I need to hear you."

The warrior paused and kissed the valley between the bard’s breasts. "I love the way you react to me, Gabrielle." Xena licked the place she had just kissed. "I’ve missed the salty taste of your skin. It’s so soft. I love to taste you." Xena kissed her way down to the bard’s navel and circled it with her tongue before moving lower. She poked her tongue out and swirled it through the course dark blonde hair. She lifted her head. "Gabrielle, I’m going to move down on the floor."

Xena rolled off the bed and placed her knees on the pillow she had tossed there, assuming a submissive position below her partner’s level on the bed. She was prepared to stay on her knees for as long as the bard needed her to. "Gabrielle, baby, I’m going to pull your bottom to the edge of the bed." She grasped the bard’s hips and pulled her forward until the backs of Gabrielle’s thighs were resting on either side of Xena’s head on top of her shoulders, her lower legs dangling down Xena’s back. The warrior looked up. "Can you still see my eyes, Gabrielle?"

Due to the height created by the pillows on the bed, the bard could lean back into them and relax, but could still look down and see her lover’s face. "Yes. I see your eyes, Xena. So pretty."

Long dark lashes blinked over pale blue twinkling eyes. "You, love, are pretty. Beautiful." The warrior turned her head first to one side and then the other, kissing the insides of the bard’s knees. She faced forward and closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. "I can smell you." She said with a low growl. "So sweet." She kissed and licked her way further up the bard’s inner thighs, giving equal attention to each leg. "So very sweet." More kisses. "So soft." She gave the first tentative lick to her lover’s drenched labia. "Mmmm . . . wet." The warrior licked her lips. "Delicious." She moved her tongue up and down the length of the bard’s labia a few more times.

Gabrielle shuddered at the contact of the tongue on her outer lips. She moaned and shifted slightly.

"You okay?" Concerned blue eyes met half-closed green ones.

"Yes. Very okay. Please don’t stop."

"I need to open your legs wider, love." The warrior wrapped her arms under and around the bard’s thighs, parting them until her shoulders fit in between. She splayed her hands across Gabrielle’s flat stomach and pressed her nose into the pubic hair. "I’ve missed your smell. All musky and sweet." She rubbed her face and cheek into the hair and then kissed the bard’s mound. "I love you." She tenderly kissed the bard’s labia and took each lip into her mouth, sucking on them one at a time. She then parted the folds with the tip of her tongue, running it up and down the length, careful to avoid the bard’s opening. "So wet. I love your flavor, sweetheart."

The bard whimpered and pressed her sex against Xena’s tongue. "Gods, Xena. Your mouth feels so good on me." Gabrielle began to rock her hips as the warrior’s tongue explored her inner lips and finally circled the bard’s engorged nub. After she had tasted every inch of her lover’s folds, Xena gently closed her lips around the clit and swirled her tongue around and across it. She felt small hands on top of hers on the bard’s stomach, and she turned her palms face up, grasping her young lover’s hands and lacing their fingers together.

Xena raised up briefly. "Still okay?"

"Yes. Please put your mouth back on me. Pllleeeeasssee don’t stop."

The warrior was overcome with her lover’s need. She had feared Gabrielle would never want her in this way again. She lowered her mouth back down and continued, gradually increasing the pace of her tongue against the clit. She felt her lover’s breathing increase, coming in short pants, and knew she was very close to climax. "It’s okay Gabrielle, sweetheart, I’ve got you. It’s me. I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere. My sweet sweet baby. I love you so much. Let go. Come for me, Gabrielle." For me. The warrior used the very tip of her tongue to flick rapidly over her lover’s clit.

The small hands squeezed Xena’s tightly and the hips stilled for a split second before the convulsions wracked the bard’s body. The warrior kissed Gabrielle’s labia until the after shocks passed. She looked up and met luminous green eyes.

"Hold me, Xena."

The warrior scrambled back up onto the bed and enveloped the bard in a warm hug, wrapping herself around the younger girl. She nuzzled the bard’s head and squeezed her eyes closed, fighting back tears. Finally she dragged the bard up and turned so that they were once again length wise on the bed. She pulled Gabrielle against her side and tugged the covers up over their naked bodies. Kissing the fair head, she reached down and tilted the bard’s chin up so she could look into her eyes.

"How are you doing?"

"Just enjoying the feeling."

"Me too, sweetheart." Xena’s thumb ran idly up and down the bard’s arm. "Everything okay?"

"Everything’s perfect. It was you, Xena. I was thinking of you when I . . ." Gabrielle blushed and buried her face in the warrior’s shoulder. "Yours."

"Mine." Xena whispered softly. For the first time, she allowed herself to feel her own feelings about what Angus had taken, not from the bard, but from her. She tasted the anger and pushed it back down for another time. She had been so focused on Gabrielle’s feelings and needs that she had all but ignored her own. She looked down at the small body curled up against her and a bittersweet smile crossed her face. He can’t take this from me. He didn’t win.

Xena pulled the covers up more snugly and tucked them around their shoulders. With her arms firmly around the bard, she finally relaxed, letting weeks of worry and fear and hurt just wash away. She kissed the top of Gabrielle’s head once more and chuckled, as she realized her lover was already fast asleep. It was a good sign. The bard hadn’t slept this tightly against her since before the rape. Every inch of the younger girl was plastered along and on top of Xena’s left side, her face buried in a strong shoulder. The warrior sighed happily and gave in to her own body’s lethargy. They slept until lunch.


Warrior and bard spent a few days in the queen’s hut, not even coming out for meals, choosing instead to have food delivered. Occasionally Gabrielle would accept messages delivered by Kallerine, and issue various directives in writing, which the young Amazon would deliver to the council. The two lovers spent the time together becoming physically and emotionally reacquainted with each other. They gradually reached a place where casual touch between one another was automatic and subconscious, and where they were once again free to express love to each other without so much inhibition.

In between love-making, talking, and sharing meals, they also found time for the playful banter that had once been a part of their everyday lives. Many pillow wars and tickle fights were shared, along with playful splashing during baths, which were once again shared. They even managed a small snowball fight in their back courtyard.

"Hey. No fair. I can’t move!"

The bard was on her back in the snow where a large warrior had pounced on her and pinned her down. Xena grinned and laughed, scooping up a large handful of snow and washing her partner’s face with it. Gabrielle spluttered and in imitation of her lover’s famous pinch, she reached up and jabbed two fingers into each side of the warrior’s neck.

Xena gasped, sucking in a breath, and her eyelids fluttered. She released her hold on the bard and rocked back on her heals. "Release me," She managed to spit out.

"Very funny Xena." Gabrielle tickled the warrior’s belly.

"I’m . . . not . . . kidding . . ."

"Yeah, right. Like I could ever . . . Oh my gods!" The bard looked up and saw a faint trickle of blood coming from one of her partner’s nostrils. "You aren’t kidding." Gabrielle scrambled out from underneath the warrior, silently wondering how many seconds had passed. "Gods Xena, I hope I can undo this."

The warrior reached over and weakly took the bard’s hands, placing the fingers in the correct spots.


Xena shook her head as her eyes began to roll back in her head. Gabrielle drew the fingers back slightly and then jabbed them back in hard and swift. The warrior gasped again and coughed several times. She sucked in several deep breathes of air and wiped the back of her hand below her nose and looked at the smeared red blood. The bard was at her side in a heartbeat, wrapping her arms around Xena’s shoulders.

"Gods, Xena. I’m sorry. I didn’t know I could do that."

"S’okay." The warrior finally found her voice. "Guess you’ve been paying attention."

"Guess so."

Xena turned her head back and forth, wincing as the cervical vertebrae popped audibly back into place. She stood up and walked over to the chaise bench, collapsing into the comfortable cushion. "Com’ere." She patted the space between her legs and a cautious bard made her way over and sat down. The warrior tugged the smaller body back against her and then pulled her cloak around both of them, wrapping her long legs around Gabrielle’s waist.

"Are you okay?" The bard’s voice was very soft and forlorn.

"Yes. No permanent damage done. Although I did count twenty-eight seconds before you released me."

"Oh. Gods, Xena. I almost killed you."

"No harm done. Gabrielle, I’m proud of you. You’ve got a new skill you can use if you want to."

"Yeah. I guess so."

"Would you like me to teach you some of the other things I learned from M’Lila and Lao Ma?"

"Yes. I think I’d like that very much." The bard was very aware that Lao Ma and Xena had been lovers, and that Xena would probably have become lovers with M’Lila if she hadn’t been killed. It wasn’t a subject they often discussed. The warrior was reluctant to share a lot of her sexual past with the bard, but Gabrielle was content to merely benefit from her lover’s breadth of experience.

"We could start with some of the Taoist principles Lao Ma instilled in me. Or tried to instill in me . . . then we can move on to some of M’Lila’s fighting skills. And then . . ."

"Gabrielle? Xena?" Kallerine’s voice interrupted the warrior. "Are you back here?" The young Amazon opened the back gate and poked her head in. She noted the close positioning of the two lovers. "Sorry. The Amazon council sent for the queen. They said it’s extremely urgent."

"What is it?" The bard motioned for Kallerine to step inside the courtyard.

"Um . . . I think they captured that guy."

"What guy?" Gabrielle looked a bit put out.

"Um . . . the one that attacked you."

Xena felt the body she was wrapped around stiffen, and she instinctively tightened her embrace on the bard. A hundred emotions raced through the warrior’s mind. Chiefly that she had just been relieved of the task of hunting Angus down, something she knew she would eventually have been compelled to do. A part of her would never have let him get away with what he did to her lover. "Gabrielle. I can go over there for you. You don’t have to . . ."

"No. I do. But I want you to come with me." The bard stood up and straightened her cloak. She turned and held out her hand to the warrior, who grasped it and stood up beside her. Hand in hand, they walked to the dining hall and through the side doors that led to the council room. Most of the council had managed to assemble. Chilapa stood and made her way to Gabrielle’s side. "My queen. Would you like for me to preside?"

"Yes. No. Well . . . with the stipulation that I still have power to make or veto any final decision made."

"But of course." They sat down at the head table, Gabrielle flanked by the regent on one side and the warrior on the other.

Maniah, one of the older elders, stood and spoke up. "I must object to Xena being here. She’s not a member of the council. She’s not even a member of the Amazon nation."

"She’s my consort. And my champion. And my ultimate protector. She stays." The bard gritted her teeth and looked the elder in the eye. "Next?"

Maniah backed off and sat down in her chair in silence.

Chilapa stood. "First of all, bring in the prisoner for identification."

Two guards opened the door that led to the stairs to the holding cell, which was underground beneath the dining hall. They disappeared and in a few minutes could be heard dragging an obviously struggling prisoner up the stairs. They appeared in the doorway with a very dirty and tousled Angus.

Gabrielle clasped her chair arms so tightly that Xena could see the whites of her knuckles. The warrior barely resisted her first urge, to lunge across the table and just take out the thug. She also barely resisted her second urge, which was to scoop up the bard and take her in her arms. Instead, she casually reached across under the table and rested her hand on Gabrielle’s thigh, squeezing it hard. One of the bard’s hands covered it and held on. Gabrielle sat up straight and forced herself to look the prisoner in the eyes.

"That’s him. Take him back to his cell."

"Hey, Queenie. Xena." Angus leered at the bard. "You getting any from your little whore these days, warrior? Huh? I sure got me some from her." The thug’s head snapped back, as one of the guards backhanded him with the full force of her arm. His lip split open and blood began to trickle down his chin. He spat on the ground and looked up. "Hey, warrior. I like the way your little whore felt under me. Yeah. I really liked it . . ." Another hard slap effectively silenced Angus, bringing him to his knees.

Xena was halfway across the table with her chakram in hand before the bard managed to grab her arm. "Xena. No. We can’t do it this way."

"Please Gabrielle. Let me have him. Please."

"Xena. Sit down." Gabrielle’s voice was shaking, as was the hand on the warrior’s biceps.

"Gabrielle please. I can’t just sit here."

"I know. But you have to. At least for a moment."

The warrior’s shoulders slumped and she slowly took her seat, laying the chakram on the table in front of her, her fingers idly twitching against the cool smooth metal.

Angus was led back to the holding cell. A painful silence overtook the room and Gabrielle realized that Chilapa had quite forgotten she was presiding. The bard swallowed a few times and stood.

"Okay. Let’s set a schedule to try him for . . . crimes against the Amazon nation, specifically assault and battery and rape of the queen, me." Gabrielle’s voice trembled at the last statement.

"Wait." Xena stood and moved around the council table to the center of the room.

"Point of order."Maniah spoke up.

"To Hades with your order." Xena growled. "Please. Hear me out. My queen, please, may I speak?" She turned to her partner with pleading blue eyes.

The bard’s breath caught. Xena had never addressed her as her queen before. "Okay." The green eyes were soft and misty.

"This was not a crime directed at the Amazon nation. This was a crime aimed specifically at me. Please. You heard him. He didn’t go after Gabrielle because she is queen. Not this time. This time he went after her because she is my lover. He used her to try to get back at me. When he attacked your queen in Amphipolis, I turned him over to you for Amazon justice as a matter of respect and honor. Now I am asking you to turn him over to me in respect of my honor as a warrior."

"She’s right, you know." Eponin stood and addressed the room. "We’re all warriors here. Well. Most of us are. Or were at one time. It’s the way of the warrior. We have to allow Xena her revenge. We have to allow her to defend her partner’s honor." The weapons master sat down.

"Let’s vote." Gabrielle stood again. "All in favor of turning Angus over to Xena, raise your hand." The bard looked around, as every hand in the room went up, Maniah’s the reluctant last one to raise. "It’s unanimous then." She turned to her lover. "What do you want us to do with him?"

"Take him outside the village." Xena’s words were slow and measured. "Tie him spreadeagle between two trees and strip him down. I’ll be in the queen’s quarters. Let me know when it’s been done and I’ll handle it from there."

"Very well. Make it so." The bard nodded to the two guards. "And take an extra guard unit with you. I don’t want him escaping." Gabrielle looked up at her partner with a questioning look, the bard’s face white as a sheet and intense worry lines creasing her forehead.

"Come on Gabrielle. Let’s go back home. I need to talk to you." Xena put a protective arm around the queen and steered her toward the door of the council room.

They walked across the main courtyard in silence. Xena held the door open and motioned Gabrielle into their hut. Gabrielle whirled around and placed her hands on the warrior’s hips.





"Xena, I don’t want you to kill him."

"It’s a matter of honor, Gabrielle. He went after you because of me. You might have died if I hadn’t found you in time."

"But you did find me in time. Xena. I don’t know if I could live with the guilt of knowing you killed someone because of me. It’s too much. Promise me you won’t kill him."

"But . . ."

"Promise me." Firm. Unwavering.

"Okay, on one condition. I made a promise to Angus back in Amphipolis."

"What kind of promise?"

"I’d rather not say. It doesn’t involve killing him. Can you trust me? If I promise not to kill him, will you trust me to handle the rest of this the way I see fit?"

The bard pursed her lips and tilted her head to the side, peering up into sad blue eyes. Gabrielle ran one hand lightly across the warrior’s belly. Xena sighed, and drew her partner into a hug.

"Gabrielle, please?"

"Okay. Do whatever you need to do, as long as you don’t kill him."

"Thank you."

A knock sounded at the door and Xena opened it. Kallerine stood on the landing. "Xena. Eponin said to tell you that Angus is tied up, just as you requested."

"Thanks. I’ll be there shortly." Xena closed the door and turned to the bard. "Gabrielle. Stay here. I don’t want you to watch this. I can barely contain my dark side as it is. If you’re there as a reminder of what he did, I don’t know if I can keep that in check. If I have to watch your face I probably will kill him."

"Okay. Just please come straight back here when you’re done."

"I can’t promise that love. I’ll be back as soon as I can."

The warrior kissed her lover briefly and walked out the door. Had she turned back, she would have seen a very forlorn bard standing in the doorway watching her walk away. Gabrielle brushed an errant tear from her cheek and went back inside and out to the back courtyard. She curled up on the chaise bench and wrapped herself up in a blanket, and just stared up into the grey sky, which threatened more snow.

Get a grip, Gabrielle. You know she needs to do this. It’s for you. And for her. She’s been hurt too and this is her chance to get revenge. And for once, after all her years of fighting and hurting people, this time it’s completely justified. She drew her knees up to her chest and rested her forehead on one of them, letting the tears fall, crying for what Angus did to her. And how it had hurt both her and Xena. And how hard it was going to be to ever get everything back that he had managed to take away.


Xena strode purposefully toward the main gate of the Amazon village. Pony stood at the entrance waiting for her. "Xena, he’s about a quarter candlemark’s walk through the trees due west. Do you want someone to go with you?"

"No. I need to do this alone. Thank you." The warrior briefly rested a hand on the weapons master’s upper arm before she move on and disappeared through the trees. She walked noiselessly, wanting to sneak up on her captured quarry. Despite leftover fall leaves and loose twigs, she made not the least little rustle or snap as she carefully picked her way between the trees, ducking beneath low branches.

She reached a clearing and stopped, observing the back of the naked body. Angus was tied tightly in spreadeagle fashion, just as she had requested. "Hello Angus." She stepped forward and quickly moved in front of him. He spat on the ground near her feet. Xena turned away from him for a moment and suddenly spun back around, landing him first with a right hook across his nose and then a left upper cut to his jaw. She heard the crunch as his nose broke and blood began to spurt from one nostril, followed by the crunch of a breaking jaw. She grinned a feral grin as he shrieked in pain, and then she rested her hands on both of his shoulders as she kneed him in the groin. He yelped, unable to grab the painful area or even move.

"Let’s get one thing straight." Xena threw her cloak back over her shoulders and reached down, pulling a dagger from her boot. She pressed the flat of the knife against his lower abdomen, the point just above his manhood. "If it were up to me, I’d just gut you right now like the animal that you are." She slowly drew the flat of the knife up his stomach and chest and then up his throat to the tip of his chin. The fear was clearly visible in his eyes. She nicked his chin just enough to cause a single drop of blood to appear, and he winced at the sting of the small cut.

Xena put the dagger back in her boot and drew her sword. She grinned again and moved around behind the thug, until her face was inches from his right ear. "Or maybe I’d just cut your arms and legs off one by one and leave you here to bleed to death." She held the sword where Angus could see it in his peripheral vision, and then raised it over her head. Angus shrieked as the sword came down with a swift whooshing noise, and Xena embedded it in the ground directly between his legs.

The warrior stepped back and uncoiled the long leather bullwhip at her waist. Angus couldn’t see her, but could hear as she snapped the tool in the air a few times. "Then I thought maybe I’d just give you the traditional thirty lashes. She drew her arm back and with a loud hiss, landed first one and then two stripes across the bare back. With each hit Angus jerked and cried out. Xena recoiled the whip and moved where she could speak into the left ear. "But thirty lashes from my hand would kill you, trust me."

She again moved around in front of the thug, reading the terrified look on his face with satisfaction. She moved to within inches of his broken nose, daring him to spit again. "You see, Angus. I’m not a nice person. Your life means less than nothing to me. I would love to kill you. But I’m a person of honor. I may not be nice, but I do have honor. And I made a promise to Gabrielle that I wouldn’t kill you. So you have her to thank that you’re not already dead. See . . . Gabrielle . . . she’s a nice person. A decent and kind person. She’s full of light and love and hope, and everything that I’m not. She is a fragile soul with a tender heart, and she said she couldn’t bear the thought of you dying because of her. So, I’m keeping my promise to her. I’m not going to kill you." Xena’s lowered her voice to it’s deepest register and growled softly. "But when I’m done with you, you will wish you were dead, trust me."

The warrior stepped back and once again withdrew the dagger from her boot, along with a thin stip of leather that was wound around a small loop at her waist. She stood up and looked Angus straight in the eye. "I made another promise a while back. Remember?"

Angus looked at her blankly.

"Come on, Angus. Remember? Back in Amphipolis?" Xena’s face was unreadable. She stepped forward and took a firm grasp of the thug’s balls, wrapping the leather strip tightly around the stip of skin which held the organ to his body, cutting off the flow of blood. He took in a sharp breath and tears sprang to the corners of his eyes at the pain. "Wh . . . what are you doing?" He gasped through clenched teeth.

"Back in Amphipolis, you made some very disrespectful comments about Gabrielle regarding very private matters. Remember? And I kicked these?" Xena squeezed the balls until Angus let out another shriek.

"No. Please. No." Angus’ memory was coming back with great clarity.

"Yesss. You see, Angus, I always do my best to keep my promises. And I told you what I would do if you ever talked about her that way again, didn’t I? And what did you do back in the council room? You talked about her like that, didn’t you? And then there’s that rape. She told me every last detail. What you did to her." Xena squeezed the balls and twisted them sharply. Angus cried in agony. "What you said to her." The warrior held the dagger in front of the thug’s face. "And I have to make sure you never do that to Gabrielle or anyone else again. Which ties in nicely with the promise I made to you in Amphipolis. So, Angus, what did I tell you I would do if you ever talked about her like that again?"

"No. Please."

"Tell me." Xena squeezed and twisted.

"Please. Please don’t do this." Angus was weeping freely.

"Funny, Angus. I think Gabrielle begged you with similar words right before you raped her. You didn’t listen to her then and I’m not gonna listen to you now." Xena restlessly flipped the knife around in her hand. "Now, one more time, tell me, or you may lose a lot more than I’m planning on right now. What did I tell you I was going to do?"

"Cut them off." The thug’s voice was a low agonized whisper.

"That’s right." With one swift move Xena stretched the testicles downward and sliced through the strip of skin that held them to Angus’ body. The thug let out a cry that could be heard all the way to the Amazon village. He shuddered violently. Xena tossed his cut-off balls at his feet. He looked down and passed out. The warrior pulled her sword out of the ground and placed it back in her scabbard. She tucked the dagger back into her boot, stood up, straightened her cape, and without so much as a backward glance, made her way back to the Amazon village.

Eponin and Chilapa stood pensively at the gate. Chilapa had joined the weapons master in her wait for the warrior after she heard Angus’ cries. Xena stopped and looked down at her feet and then gestured back toward the trees. "Send some people to go cut him down. Lock him back up for a few days. As soon as he’s able to walk, get a guard unit to escort him back to his work crew on the coast. And get the healer to stitch him up."

"Stitch him up?" The regent gave the warrior a quizzical look.

"Um . . . It’ll be pretty obvious what the injury is."


"Make sure whoever goes to cut him down has a strong stomach."

"Gotcha, Xena." Eponin eyed the warrior, guessing what Xena had done.

The warrior brushed past the two Amazons and went to the stable where Argo was kept. She shuffled over to the palomino and buried her face in the thick mane, lightly stroking the mare’s shoulder with one hand. Finally she reached up on a shelf and dragged down the saddle and bridle that were stored there. She saddled the horse and adjusted the bridle buckles. In a fluid motion, she mounted the mare and landed softly in the saddle, placing her boots in the stirrups. She clucked to Argo and rode out of the stable. As soon as she was on the path that led out of the village, she let out a loud war cry and kneed the mare into a swift gallop, flying out of the village at break neck speed.


Candle marks later, Xena rode back into the village and stabled Argo. It was dark and a faint sliver of moonlight shone through snow-filled clouds. As she approached the queen’s hut, Kallerine stood up from where she sat keeping watch. "Thank the gods you’re back. Queen Gabrielle’s been worried sick. She didn’t even eat lunch. Or dinner."

"Yeah. I had to go think for a while. Could you stay here for a few more minutes? I’m going to go get Gabrielle something to eat."

"Sure." The young Amazon sat back down, drawing her cloak more tightly around herself.

Xena left and returned a quarter candle mark later with a large basket and a flask. "Thank you Kallerine. I don’t know what Gabrielle and I would do without you. Go on home and get some sleep. And stay warm, okay?"

"Okay." Kallerine beamed at Xena’s remarks.

The warrior entered their hut, which was completely dark save one small candle on the dining table. She shrugged out of her cloak and armor and leathers, and made her way into their bedroom. In the dark she could make out the form of her lover curled up on the bed asleep, and could hear the soft even sounds of the bard’s breathing. Xena sighed and set the basket on the desk.

She took the flask and moved into the bathing room and was grateful to see that Gabrielle had banked the coals, keeping the water in the buckets warm. She emptied a few buckets into the sunken tub and as an afterthought, poured some of the lavender oil into the water that the bard often used. She removed her underclothes and slowly lowered her body into the tub, willing the steamy water to wash away not only the outer dirt, but her own horrible inner turmoil.

She took a sip of port from the flask, feeling the warm liquor descend into her stomach. Did I do the right thing? She knew that Angus was a rapist. In many villages, especially in Amazon villages, rape was punishable by death. In that sense he had gotten off light. And Xena had met eunuchs in Athens. It wasn’t like there was no life for them. Though most of them had willingly become eunuchs as part of ritual service to the gods. Would Gabrielle be okay with what she had done?

Xena sighed and grabbed a bar of soap and a wash rag, and began to scrub away the bits of dirt and blood that clung to her skin. She looked up as soft footsteps entered the room, and the bard stood in the doorway, leaning against the frame. Gabrielle was wearing a light sleeping shirt and the candle light from the bedroom lit her from behind, outlining her lithe frame through the material.

"Hey." The bard tentatively moved toward the tub.


"Are you okay?"


"Can I join you?"


Gabrielle pulled the sleeping shirt over her head and stepped down, as the warrior wrapped an arm around her waist and lowered her the rest of the way into the tub. The bard sank in behind her lover, pressing up against Xena’s back and rested her chin on a strong shoulder.

"Where’d you go?"

"I went to the cave."

"Oh." The bard involuntarily shuddered. The warrior turned her head and kissed her lover through her hair above her ear.

"I had to see where it happened again. Had to think. I . . . I know we used to love that place, Gabrielle, but I don’t think I can ever go back there again. It hurts. I walk in there and all I can think about is how I found you there. And I hate myself for not being there to protect you from that."

"Xena. You can’t always protect me. It was such a fluke. How could anyone have known what was going to happen? All I did was go there to write. It seemed perfectly safe."

"Yeah. But I think from now on if you go out without me, you should take an armed escort."


"Gabrielle, I did some pretty horrible things today."

"I know. But you didn’t kill him, did you?"


"That’s all that matters to me. Thank you for honoring my wishes. What, exactly, did you do to him? That one scream was pretty awful."

"Let’s just say he won’t ever rape anyone again."

"You didn’t."

"I did." The warrior searched the green eyes. "Did I do the right thing?"

"Yes. Xena. Thank you." The bard moved around and melted into a warm hug. She buried her face into Xena’s neck and felt the first of the sobs start.

"Hey." The warrior hugged the small body tightly, rocking back and forth. "It’s okay. You’re gonna be okay. We . . . are going to be okay."

"Xena. It’s really over, isn’t it?"

"Yes, love. He can’t hurt you like that ever again."

"It was so hard to see him. Xena. Those things he said. It made me feel so dirty all over again. After you left, I sat outside for a while and then I came in here and scrubbed myself for over a candle mark. I felt the hate coursing through my body. I think for a short while I knew what it feels like to be you. To really feel the anger and hatred consume me. For the first time I think I understood what you must have felt when Cortese attacked your village."

"Mmmm. Maybe. Hope you didn’t feel it that strongly. That’s a pretty powerful feeling."

"Xena. We’ve never talked much about Cortese. Did his army . . . did any of them rape any of the women or girls in your village?"

The questions stung, and brought up thoughts and feelings Xena had left long buried. She stiffened. "Yes. They did."

"Oh. I’m sorry. Anyone you were close to?"

"They . . ." The warrior took several deep breaths. "They tried to come after my mother. I fought them off until she escaped with Toris. Lyceus was across the village fighting off some other soldiers. He couldn’t help me."

"But they didn’t get your mother?"


Gabrielle brushed back a dark lock that was plastered against Xena’s face. She looked into the pale blue eyes and read intense pain.

"Xe . . . what is it? Did they?"

"Yes." Small arms wrapped around her waist and Xena felt the bard’s fingers play across her back, as she planted light kisses on the warrior’s shoulder. Xena took a shaky breath and rested her cheek against her lover’s, speaking softly into the nearby ear. "There were three of them. They cornered me and managed to get my sword away from me. They dragged me into the woods. Ripped my clothes and threw me on the ground. They said they’d kill me and go find Mother if I didn’t cooperate. They took turns for a while and then let me go."

"Oh. Xena. You never told me."

"It was a long time ago. I got over it."

"I don’t think so."

"Well, I moved on anyway."

"Was that your first time?"

"No. I think if it had been I would never have slept with any men. Maybe not any women either."

The bard took Xena’s face in her hands and lightly kissed the warrior’s lips. "Xena. Thank you for standing by me. It must have been hard to watch after you had been through the same thing."

"Gabrielle. I love you. I had no choice but to stand by you. It would have hurt a lot more to leave."

The warrior inclined her head and pressed her lips against Gabrielle’s pushing between them with the tip of her tongue, and groaning when the bard took it into her mouth and lightly sucked on it. Xena ran her hands up her lover’s sides and around in front, cupping the bard’s firm breasts in her hands. She broke off from the kiss and leaned down, taking a hard nipple in her mouth and swirling her tongue around it.

Gabrielle’s breath caught as Xena’s contact on her breast sent jolts of pleasure straight to her groin. She wrapped her legs around the warrior’s waist and ground her hips against Xena’s stomach. The warrior stood up in the water and stepped out of the tub, the bard still wrapped around her, never breaking contact with her lover’s nipple. She half walked, half stumbled to where a pile of clean towels sat on a shelf. With one swipe of an arm, she knocked the towels to the floor creating a soft nest, which she lowered Gabrielle into.

Xena straddled her lover and pressed her heated wet center against the bard’s belly, undulating her hips in small circles. The warrior groaned as she felt the bard’s soft skin against her swollen nub. The bard placed her hands on Xena’s thighs and urged her forward. "Xena. Move up. Over me."

The warrior quickly scooted up and slowly lowered herself over her lover’s mouth. She whimpered and then moaned, as the bard first blew on her labia and then parted it with her tongue, swirling it around in the wet warmth. "Gabrielle. I love the way your mouth feels on me."

In answer, the bard did indeed close her entire mouth around the warrior’s nether lips, licking and sucking before she once again parted the lips and began to flick the swollen nub with her tongue. "Xena. You taste so good." Gabrielle placed one hand against an inner thigh. "Spread your legs more, love."

Xena splayed her knees out and placed her hands on the floor to help support her weight. Her hips began to rock, and she let out a low growl as she felt her lover push two fingers inside. The bard fluttered the fingers, stretching the warrior’s inner walls out, and then began to pump them in and out while she continued licking and kissing Xena’s clit.

Gabrielle felt Xena’s inner muscles begin to clench around her fingers. "I love you Xena. So much. I love when you come for me. I love to be inside of you when you come." She continued to pump in and out, and began to rapidly flick Xena’s clit with her tongue.

"Oh. Gods. Gabrielle . . . yes. Just like that. Feels so good. So close. Just a little more . . . Gabriellleeee!!!" The orgasm rolled over the warrior, and she shuddered as the bard withdrew her fingers and licked the full length of her labia, sending her quickly over the edge a second time.

The warrior collapsed backward, her head landing softly against the bard’s own soaked mound. Gabrielle’s knees were raised, and after Xena caught her breath, she turned and kissed first one inner thigh and then the other. "Mmmmm. I smell you, sweetheart." Xena sat up and then leaned forward, slowly lowering herself until she rested along the full length of the bard’s body. She stroked the top of the blonde head and leaned in for a kiss, moaning at the taste of herself in the bard’s mouth. She deepened the kiss and began lightly running a hand up and down the bard’s side. "Now. Where was I when we got out of the tub?" She moved down and once again took a hardened nipple between her lips, licking and sucking.

Gabrielle whimpered and pressed her body up against her lover, wrapping her arms across Xena’s upper back. Xena pushed the bard’s legs apart with a knee, and pressed her thigh up against the bard’s wetness. "Ooooo. So wet. So nice and wet." She felt her lover begin to grind her center up and down against her leg. "Gods. I love it when you do that."

The warrior moved back up and captured the bard’s lips again. At the same time, she reached down, dancing through the bard’s course hair with her fingers before reaching the wet labia. She lightly teased the skin of Gabrielle’s inner thighs with her fingertips, eliciting several whimpers from her lover. "Oh. I liked that noise." Xena cupped the bard’s sex, pressing against it before she parted it with her fingers. She explored the velvety wetness before she focused in on the bard’s sensitive clit.

Gabrielle dug her blunt nails into the warrior’s back. Xena broke off their kiss and the bard gasped as the warrior latched onto the skin just below her collar bone and began to nip and suck. She flicked Gabrielle’s clit with her finger at the same pace that her tongue teased the bard’s skin. Gabrielle felt her passion rise and needed . . . "More, Xena."

"More?" The warrior lifted her head. "Gabrielle, I don’t know how I can do more."

"Inside. I need you inside, Xena."

"Gabrielle. Baby. Are you sure?" The warrior softly stroked the bard’s cheek and searched the half-closed green eyes. They had done a lot of nice things since the rape, and had come a long way, but there were two things Xena had avoided. Biting the bard’s nipples or going in or near her vaginal opening.


"Okay. But I want to do this right." The warrior stood and scooped up the bard and carried her into their bedroom, lowering her onto the bed. Xena lay down between Gabrielle’s legs and kissed her almost reverently on her inner thighs and then on her mound. "You, my love, are incredible." She kissed her way up the bard’s stomach and chest, finally claiming her mouth. The warrior carefully reached down and pushed Gabrielle’s legs apart, and gently explored the wet center, gently teasing her lover back to the level of excitement she had been at just moments before.

Xena broke off from their kiss and leaned down until her lips were pressed against her lover’s ear. "You’re so damned beautiful." She placed one finger at the bard’s opening. "Gabrielle. Sweetheart. I’m going in. Very slowly. If you get scared or feel pain or want me to stop, just tell me, okay?"

"Okay." Gabrielle stiffened for a moment and then relaxed and sighed, as Xena slipped inside. It was just like the first time the warrior had ever entered her, Xena almost tremulous as she tentatively felt around inside, reacquainting herself with her lover’s soft velvety warmth. "Xena. I like the way your finger feels inside of me."

"My finger likes being inside of you." The warrior flicked the convenient earlobe and then took it between her teeth nipping at it and then sucking on it. She kissed the bard below her ear and at the same time began to slowly pump the finger in and out. "Is this okay?"

"More than okay." Gabrielle began to thrust against the finger, remembering just how good it felt when the warrior made love to her in this way. She whispered against her lover’s ear. "Xena. Put another finger inside."

The warrior growled low in her throat and complied, groaning as she felt the bard’s inner walls clenched tightly around her fingers. She continued to pump, gradually increasing the pace, and then began to tease her lover’s clit with her thumb. Xena felt the bard wrap her legs and arms around her. "Gabrielle, I love it when you wrap yourself around me." She whimpered as she felt the blunt nails digging into her skin, and lightly licked at the skin on the side of the bard’s neck.

"Xe . . ." Gabrielle began to feel her insides rise and tense, and then felt the inward explosion as her body reacted to Xena’s insistent touch. She bit down on the skin of the warrior’s shoulder and made little kitten noises in the back of her throat, riding out the exquisite pleasure. Xena’s skillful fingers drew out the orgasm and then she slowly withdrew her fingers and just cupped the bard’s sex again, feeling the little after shocks and nipping at the skin on her lover’s neck.

The bard gradually came down, and found herself enveloped in a warm hug, as Xena placed little kisses on the top of her head and down her jawline to her throat. "Gods. I love you so much." Xena’s voice was shaky, as she pulled the bard tightly against her. The warrior nuzzled her lover’s shoulder and curled up around her, drawing Gabrielle’s back up next to her stomach, spooning with her and wrapping her long arms around the small body. Xena kissed the exposed neck and felt the bard shudder.

"You okay?"

"Yes. He didn’t win Xena. None of them won. They can’t keep us from loving each other."

"Them?" The warrior was confused.

"Angus. And Cortese’s soldiers. We beat them."

"Yes. We did. Together."

"Always together." The bard laced her fingers with the ones against her stomach, and closed her eyes, feeling blissful peace for the first time in weeks. She peered across at the desk. "Hey. What’s that?"

"What’s what?" Xena’s face was buried in the short blonde hair on the back of her lover’s head, inhaling the fragrance of lavender and bard.

"What’s in that basket?"

"Oh. Dinner for you. I kinda forgot about it."

"What did you bring me?"

"Cheese. Bread. Fruit. You hungry?"

"Xena. I’ve not felt this satisfied in a long time. Let’s save it for morning. I don’t feel like moving."

"Good. Me neither."

The bard turned her head for a kiss, and after a brief contact both women sighed and fell fast asleep.


The warrior awoke to find her lover missing from her bed, along with the basket of food. She rolled out of bed and tugged on a thick tunic, some warm tights, and her boots. She was still chilled, so she grabbed a blanket off the end of the bed and pulled it around her shoulders, the ends trailing along the ground. She moved through the hut and then spied Gabrielle out the front window, sitting on the door landing also wrapped in a blanket, munching on some bread and cheese. Xena opened the door and stepped outside.

"Morning, love."

"Hey. Sit down. Eat breakfast with me."

The warrior moved in behind the bard and placed her legs on either side of her young lover, and enveloped both of them in the large blanket.

"Oooo. You’re all nice and warm."

"Well it is cold out here. It looks like it’s gonna snow. What made you decide to come out here?"

"Just wanted to watch the sunrise. Can’t see it too well from the back courtyard."

"You. Watch the sunrise? Who are you and what have you done with Gabrielle?"

"Give me a break, Xena. I do sometimes wake up before the sun comes up."

"Yeah. When I nudge you first."

The bard playfully slapped the leg against her side, and then held up a piece of apple. The warrior leaned forward and captured it between her teeth, biting down on the crunchy sweetness. She opened her mouth and was rewarded with another slice. The bard fed her several more pieces and she leaned forward again with her mouth open, expecting more apple but instead receiving her lover’s tongue. She groaned and closed her mouth around it, and they began the familiar slow teasing dance, the bard turning in her lover’s arms for easier access. As they came up for air, they were met by a pair of golden hazel eyes.

"Um . . . Mornin’ Pony." A sheepish warrior looked up.

"Hey, Xena. Glad to see everything’s okay here."

"Everything is very okay." The bard was practically glowing.

"My queen. Sorry to bother you. Just came by to tell you the guard unit will be moving out right after lunch to return Angus to the work crew on the coast."

"Thank you, Eponin. Can you tell Chilapa that there will be no council meeting today. We’ll start up again business as usual first thing tomorrow."

"Sure." The weapons master trotted off toward the regent’s hut.

"Not in the mood for meetings today, huh?" The warrior’s eyes twinkled at her lover.


"What are you in the mood for?"

Gabrielle reached up and placed her hand against Xena’s warm face, and pulled her forward until their noses were touching. "Like you have to ask. Let’s see. Where were we?" She tilted her head and brushed the warrior’s lips with her own, sighing as Xena deepened the kiss.

The warrior pulled back for a moment. "Spend the day with me?"


Xena stood up, picked up her lover, and carried her into their hut.



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