One of Those Nights

They had returned from getting the ambrosia, and the bard had managed to get the warrior into the privacy of the queen's hut. It was then that Xena had revealed just how exhausted she truly was. The bard had helped her strip out of her clothes, and her nude form had collapsed onto the bed. Gabrielle had gently tugged the linen up over her friend, and excused herself to go take a bath.

Just over a candlemark later Gabrielle placed a large earthenware bowl of warm water on the bedside table, and gently reached out to touch her partner's bare shoulder. Blue eyes fluttered open, and a soft smile appeared.

"If you're up to it, I thought you might like a bath" Gabrielle said.

"You trying to tell me something Bri?" the warrior asked.

"Way to go big mouth!" Xena's inner voice screamed, because she'd just let the name she used for the bard in her fantasies slip past her lips. She hoped the bard hadn't caught it. But Gabrielle had, and although she didn't show it, her insides quaked. Bri was what the warrior called her in her fantasies.

Outwardly, the bard smiled. She knew the warrior would never be honest about her feelings if left to her own devices. And now that she had the slightest chance that their feelings were mutual, there was no way she was gonna let that happen.

"Actually Xena, I think there's something you better know before your bath" Gabrielle said.

A dark eyebrow arched, as the bard stepped back from the bed.

"For the past several months, I've been keeping something to myself. But after what happened tonight, I can't keep quiet any longer" she said.

She took a deep breath, untied her robe, and let it fall to the floor. Blue eyes widened, as they tried desperately to keep from straying from the bard's face. Gabrielle sighed, as she noticed the warrior trying not to give into her feelings. Since one name had already been revealed, perhaps using the other would completely convey what she wanted her partner to know.

"There's that look again. To be honest my warrior, I'm tired of seeing it" she said.

Xena couldn't believe what she was hearing. She knew that the only place she'd ever heard Gabrielle call her that was in her fantasies. And she knew she'd never told the bard even the slightest hint as to what they were. Then, the only way that Gabrielle would know to call her that would be…

"I'm tired of catching you sneaking glances at me, only to have you quickly turn your eyes away. I want you to look anytime you take interest, and without worrying I'll catch you. And I want to be able to do the same thing to you" the bard murmured, looking at her bare feet, suddenly shy.

Xena felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from her shoulders. They only think that kept her from jumping out of bed, and wrapping the bard in a crushing embrace was the fact that she doubted very seriously that her legs would hold her.

"Hey" she burred gently.

Gabrielle looked up, slightly worried that maybe she'd gone to far. The warrior stretched out a hand towards her, blue eyes shining, and a genuine smile gracing her face. The bard took it without hesitation, and sat down on the edge of the bed, as the warrior propped herself up with the pillows. Xena held the sheet open, and Gabrielle grinned and climbed into bed, snuggling up against the warrior's long frame.

Xena wrapped her arms around the bard's waist, sighing at the feeling of finally holding the bard in her arms. Until now, the only way she had been able to touch the bard as she was now, was in her dreams.

Leaning down, she captured Gabrielle's lips in a soft kiss. When they parted, Gabrielle sighed happily.

"That wasn't like my dreams at all" she said.

"Oh?" the warrior asked, worried.

Gabrielle shook her head. "It was better."

Xena breathed a sigh of relief, and kissed the bard again. It deepened, and the warrior groaned when she felt Gabrielle's tongue gently stroking her lower lip, asking for entrance. She parted her lips, and their tongues danced in both mouths. This time when they separated, they were both breathing heavily.

Gabrielle smiled, and traced light patterns against the warrior's bare skin.

"As much as I don't want to, I think we should give your body the chance to rest, after what we just went through" she said.

Xena sighed heavily. She knew the bard was right.

"I mean after all, we don't want to have to stop in the middle because you're worn out, now do we?" the bard said, placing a soft kiss against the skin her cheek was pillowed on.

Xena chuckled, and kissed the top of the bard's red-gold head.

"So, how about that bath?"

Both of them laughed, and the warrior hugged the bard closely to her, as they snuggled down beneath the linen, to sleep and dream of each other, and what was yet to come.

The End

*for now*

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