The Best of Intentions


Disclaimer: Xena, Gabrielle and the Amazon girls don't belong to me any more than Mulder and Scully do, but I do enjoy taking them out for a spin every now and then. This little trip into fantasy land is by no means an attempt to gain monetary profits so please no one come after me, unless you want to sue me for the rights to pay off my student loans.

Subtext: Yes. If two women romantically/sexually involved with each other bothers you then you might want to trot off and find something else to read, open up your mind a bit or maybe re-evaluate what you deem offensive/inappropriate. If you continue on despite this warning don't flame me, cuz I warned ya.

Other Comments: . This story contains two points of view, it starts off with Gabrielle's POV and then switches back and forth, the changes are marked so it shouldn't be confusing. Hopefully. I set out with only one POV in mind, but alas it didn't work out that way. Also, this is the third story in a mini-series I am writing. It could stand alone, but it would probably be more fun if you read the other two. So, if you want to catch up with how the girls made it to this place you should read "Battling Herodotus" and "The Mitycene Expedition." I am hoping this won't be the end of this series, but we shall see if any other ideas strike me. Yes, I am still rambling…sorry…one more thing, it seems as though all my stories end with the girls heading off to sleep, I don't know why, but I guess it just seems like a fitting end. Maybe next time I will try and change that. Well I'm done, for now.

Warnings: I do tend to use the word Fuck a few times in this story, if that offends, sorry.

It just seems to pop out and besides where would the world be without that little word. It expresses so much in one vehement syllable. And FINALLY the location…I know the Amazon's is a popular setting and I really didn't get into the various lives of the supporting cast, but really I am just a Xena and Gabrielle girl, but once those two get going I hope it's entertaining enough. Now on with the show.

Did you like it? Hate it? Think that I should never write again? Let me know…Send Responses to:

Xena was packing her travel bag when I returned from the dining hut with a basket of breakfast foods. The hunting party was set to depart in a little less than a candle mark and I found myself saddened at the prospect of saying good bye to my wife so shortly after returning from our honeymoon. Just below the emotions on the surface, however, knew I was being silly. It wasn't as if she was leaving me forever. It was just a short trip and it wasn't like we had never been separated before and that I was going to be all alone. The Amazon village was teeming with life this time of year as all able-bodied members prepared the community for the up-coming winter season. I had more than enough to occupy me and keep me out of trouble, but I still felt the tug of sadness when she pulled out her worn leather backpack.

"Are you sure you really want to go?" I asked as I deposited my wares on our dining table and moved to wrap my arms around her in a loose embrace.

"Gabrielle…" She sighed. We had been over this subject before, numerous times, but still I had to ask one more time.

"I know, I know. It will be good for you to get away from the village for awhile." She chuckled as my attempts at a forlorn look.

"It's not as if I WANT to leave you behind, you know that." I nodded slightly as she placed a warm hand on my cheek. "It's just been so long since I lived in the confines of a village; all these people constantly milling about drive me crazy sometimes. Besides, Pony can really use my help managing the group. Some of them are experienced hunters, but the rest are no more than kids going on their first big hunt. It's important that we bring back as much as we can so that during the snowiest part of the season no one has to brave the cold to get fresh meat."

"I just wish I could go with you." I groused, unhappily. "Unfortunately duty calls. I have mandates to go over and winter storage to oversee." Our absence from the village had left me with plenty to do while my wife was gone.

"Tsk…the trials of being queen." Xena sighed dramatically. I laughed and pulled out of our embrace in order to cross over to the clothes cabinet.

"Gabrielle, Love, I don't think it is going to be THAT cold." She tilted her head, indicating the heavy weight tunic and leather pants I had pulled out for her.

"Well, you never know and I don't want you to be caught unprepared. How would it look if the Queen allowed her wife to leave without her winter clothes?" I teased. She sighed in relentment and I packed the garments in the bottom of her pack, tossing her remaining gear on top before tying it closed.

"Always looking out for me, huh?" I smiled at her softly before responding.

"Always. I do have an ulterior motive, though. I want you healthy when you get back. So we can celebrate properly."

"Ooh, are we going to have a party?" She asked in a sarcastic tone. She knew the Amazons really needed little excuse to throw a party.

"Mmm, most likely, but I was thinking more along the lines of a little private party. You know a guest list of only two." I lowered my voice and sidled up to where she was now leaning against the wall. I noticed her eyes had darkened in response to my comments. When I was close enough she roughly pulled me against her.

"Even better." She whispered hoarsely before covering my mouth with hers. Immediately I felt her soft tongue trace my lips, seeking entrance and deepening our contact. Breathless moments later we parted and I rested my forehead against her collarbone.

"You don't have much time, we should eat." I breathed when I once again had control over my vocal chords.

"We should." My dark-haired warrior answered as her hands began to softly trace my backside through my leather skirt. She made no indication that she was letting go anytime soon. I allowed her indulgence for a few moments.

"Ok." I sighed heavily as I reluctantly pulled away and backed away a few steps. "We need to stop this or else you are going to be late meeting Pony." I ran my hands through my short hair, still surprised at how quickly my body responded her hers. Even after a year of being together all she had to do was look at me right and I was raring to go.

"Wouldn't do for the Queen's consort to be late." She teased as she captured my wrist and drew me back against her body. "They might think I was up to no good, fraternizing with the Queen while I was supposed to be leading a hunting party." She spoke conspiratorially into my ear; her warm breath causing goose bumps to race up my arms.

"Xena." I moaned when I felt her callous-roughened fingers begin to slide up the backs of my thighs, under my clothing.

"Maybe we should give them something to talk about, huh? Think if I make you scream loud enough they could hear you?" She teased.

"Oh Gods!" Her explorations had led her beneath the edge of my breeches where she was softly stroking the tender skin where thigh became ass. I was rapidly becoming aroused now, my breathing beginning to hitch. Abruptly my traitorous wife pulled away and began gathering food items off the table. "Wha…What are you doing?!" I managed to choke out as I struggled to bring my body back under control.

"Packing some breakfast to go; can't be late meeting Pony." She smiled evilly.

"You are so bad! I can't believe you are gonna leave me like this." I walked toward an available chair on unsteady legs. Xena merely laughed. My wife knew my body almost as well as I did and there was no way she didn't know how much her attentions had turned me on.

"Hey, you started it, Baby." She ruffled my hair as she passed by, on her way to retrieve her travel gear.

"I did not." I protested.

"Um, yeah, you did. All that talk about 'private parties' Sure got me all hot and bothered so I figured it would only be fair if I left you in the same state, you know communal suffering." She reasoned before giving me a quick peck on the lips, shouldering her pack and heading toward the door. "See you in two weeks. Love ya!" She called cheerily as she opened the door and headed out into the predawn of the village.

"Warriors!" I groaned loudly before padding back into the bedroom for an attempt at a few more candle marks of sleep. Hopefully my libido will have calmed down by then. Sleep was not to be, however, as a rather loud knock woke me less than a candle mark later. Tossing on a robe I grumpily opened the door.

"Sorry to disturb you, My Queen," Joran, one of my guards bowed slightly, "but something has come up and Regent Ephany would like to see you."

"In her hut?" I asked, becoming more alert by the moment.

"Yes, My Queen." I shook my head in amusement--would I ever get it through their heads-- 'Gabrielle!!!'

"Ephany?" I called as I knocked lightly and opened the door to my Regent's hut.

"Come in, Gabrielle." I heard her voice and followed it back into her sitting room.

"What's up?" I asked as she indicated that I should take a seat. Gratefully I smiled as she handed me a steaming mug of tea.

"Sorry to wake you so early, but it seems as though this morning's scouts found a young woman unconscious just over our eastern border." Ephany's brow was crinkled with a combination of concern and anger.

"By the Gods! Is it anyone we know? Is she ok?" I asked in rapid-fire fashion.

"No, it's no one we know. As far as for the rest, she was taken into the healer's hut about a candle mark ago and treated for her injuries. I was told she is starting to come around. I figured you would want to be there when she wakes." The curly-haired woman rose and set her cup down on a small table.

"Yeah, I'd like to find out who did this to her and why?" I followed my friend out of her hut. With grim purpose we strode into the healer's hut.

"My Queen, Regent." Asia, the healer nodded and quickly made room for the two of us to approach the treatment pallet. A young, dark haired woman who I guessed was close to my own age was reclining on its surface, her face littered with bruises and one large cut over her brow that had been closed with several stitches.

"How are you feeling?" I asked gently.

"Better, thank you." She answered in a medium toned voice.

"My name is Gabrielle; I am ruler of this village. This is Ephany, my Regent." I indicated over my right shoulder. "What is your name?"

"Micah." She responded.

"Can you tell us what happened to you, Micah? How you got to the edge of Amazon territory." I settled into a chair for her story.

"I don't know how I got here; several men from the village must have brought me. We all know about the Amazon village that is less than a day's walk from our own. The cuts and bruises, however, I can tell you about. The villagers stoned me." She said, a touch of anger coloring her voice.

"Sweet Artemis, why?!" I asked, wondering what she might have done to make her own village treat her so harshly.

"I was having an affair with the Blacksmith's daughter. We were found out."

"I take it they didn't take the news too well." Ephany sighed, it was a familiar story, and one many non-native Amazons shared.

"No. Her father told everyone that I had molested her; that eventually I would tire of her and move on to another unsuspecting young woman. That all I wanted was to have my way with her. He made me out as some sort of predator, but it wasn't like that. We were both consenting adults, we cared for each other." She paused and I noticed she tried to hold back a few tears that threatened to fall before continuing. "When he had finished twisting around the story the villagers came as a mob to my house, dragged me outside and tied me to a tree. When I asked them why they were doing this to me they said they didn't like 'my kind' and that I needed to be punished for my ungodly ways. Even my own parents turned against me. Anyway, I tried to endure it for as long as I could, but I must have been knocked out, because the next thing I remember is waking up here." She shifted uncomfortably as she finished her tale.

"How awful." I sighed as I remembered my own family's reaction to the news that Xena and I were in love. My heart went out to the woman who had obviously endured a great deal of pain, both physical and emotional.

"What about the woman you were involved with?" Ephany asked.

"She was made out to be a victim. She didn't want to cause herself anymore trouble so she didn't speak out one way or another. Her father had already entered negotiations for her to marry before we were found out. I assume she will be married as soon as possible." Again I nodded in understanding, what is it with men, that they think they can just marry off their children whenever they see fit?

"Well, Micah," I sighed, "you are more than welcome to stay here with us, permanently or until you decide what you want to do." I looked to her for a response. It was pretty standard for the Amazons to take in women that were in trouble, or looking for a different life. Micah was no different. Provided she could prove to be a contributing member of the village she could stay.

"I'd like that very much, thank you."

"Ok, then. You are free to roam about the village. One of Asia's aides can show you to a guest hut whenever you are ready. And anything you need you ask Ephany and she will see to it that you get it." I finished as I stood and straightened my skirt. Smiling one last time at our newest member, I left the hut, Ephany right on my heels.

"I can't believe that people can be so cold and close-minded, especially to members of their own community." I vented once we were outside.

"I know, but it's a common story. Most people don't like what they don't understand." The curly-haired woman reasoned.

"What they refuse to take time to understand is more like it." I added. Sadly Ephany agreed. Knowing that we had done all we could we decided to meet for lunch and parted. Feeling a bit down about Micah's story and about my own Xenaless state I gloomily returned to my hut and attempted to tidy it up a bit before mid-day.

I didn't see Micah until lunch the following day. I was walking toward the dining hut when a slightly limping form caught my eye.

"Hello, Micah." I said cheerily as I made my way to her side.

"Hello, Queen Gabrielle." She responded and I rolled my eyes. It didn't take long, I guess.

"Please, just Gabrielle. I'm not that formal a leader during everyday life." I smiled broadly when she nodded in assent. "Care to join me for lunch? You can fill me in on how you're adapting and tell me a bit about yourself." I wasn't about to take no for an answer as I ushered her inside and urged her to take a seat as I flagged down a server.

Come to find out the winter preparations that I counted on to keep me busy while Xena was gone were further along that I had realized leaving me with the duty of merely signing off on work well done. With nothing else to do I found myself spending a lot of time with our newest recruit. She was healing quickly and as soon as she was walking normally I offered to take her on a detailed tour of the village, including the armory, where she could choose a weapon to train with, the practice fields and the stables. I found Micah to be a pleasant companion, she wasn't overly talkative, but she was inquisitive about the village, Amazon customs and me especially. Happy to indulge her inquiries I chatted on contentedly about my life in Potidaea, how I first met Xena and began traveling with her, my inheritance of Terrais' rite of caste and the death of the former Queen, Melosa. We spent many of the days of her first week just sitting somewhere or another in the village while I talked of Xena and my adventures. The time we spent together made my feelings of longing for my wife's safe return lessen as it made me feel closer to her when I spoke about her many heroic deeds. As the days past her many questions about my life, travels and how I came to be Queen should have been a clue that something was amiss with the newest Amazon.

Oblivious to her ever increasing tendencies to stay near me I didn't think it odd that she began to share all her meals with Ephany and me. I just assumed she felt most comfortable with us since we were the first people to really talk to her the day she arrived in the village. My Regent, however, had her own suspicions. At first Eph didn't say anything, she merely regarded Micah with a curious eye that I contributed to her newness in the village. However, when she noticed that Micah had been meeting me at my hut and "escorting" me to my meals for about a week straight she decided that she should bring it up.

"Do you think that there is something just a bit off about Micah's behavior when it comes to you?" She asked me when we were sparring and out of ear-shot of Micah and the others occupying the practice field.

"What do you mean?" I asked as I unloaded a particularly hard overhead strike with my staff. ::THWACK!::

"I think she has taken a bit of a liking to you, my Queen." She replied as she blocked my blow with her own weapon. ::THWACK!::

"That's ridiculous. I'm married for Artemis' sake! Besides, she hasn't even know me that long." I spun to my right and attempted to sweep her legs out from under her.

"Nice move." She complimented in mid-jump. "True she doesn't, but that didn't stop almost everyone in this village from becoming smitten with you after only knowing you for a few days." Now I was on the defensive as she thrust the end of her staff at my midsection. I jumped back.

"Missed." I laughed. "Come on, Eph, no one was smitten with me." I couldn't imagine a whole village falling for someone so quickly, especially a girl as young and naïve as I was back then.

"I swear, we were. We were just a bit more reserved about our feelings; after all you did have one tall, dark and deadly bodyguard." We were now trading blows, the sound of wood connecting reverberated all around us.

"True," I sighed, "Xena is quite impressive, but I've talked about Xena with Micah. She was interested in my life so I told her that we have been traveling together for a few years and about some of our more entertaining adventures."

"Did you tell her you two were married?" I thought about it for a moment as I concentrated on disarming my friend.

"I guess I didn't say anything straight out, but I pretty much talk about her non-stop and I wear a bonding bracelet. It's in plain sight for anyone to see. I would think it was obvious what our relationship is." I reasoned.

"Micah's not an Amazon; she might just think it's a nice piece of jewelry. And that you and Xena are just really good friends, since I assume you didn't tell her any of your more private stories." Ephany winked and reminded me.

"NO! Those are private moments." I felt myself begin to blush.

"You tell me some of them." She teased and smiled.

"That's different, you are one of my best friends and still I don't tell you everything. As for the bracelet, I didn't think about that. I guess I just assume that everyone knows." I admitted.

"Well, it may be nothing, but I just noticed that she spends a lot of time with you. She makes it a point to sit next to you at every meal. Solari tells me she is always talking about you at weapons practice. She is even taking up the staff, one of only two weapons that you use. We have at least twenty weapons to choose from, why that one? It's not a common choice." I noticed we were now drawing an audience, as our sparring had picked up speed. I lowered my voice as we now traded blows in a frenzied fashion.

"Could be a coincidence?" I asked, not really believing it myself.

"Could be, but just in case, be careful. We don't know her THAT well. And it seems to me that you could be getting more than you asked for from that one."

"Well the hunters should be back in a few days and if there is any sort of misconception on her part it will definitely be squelched by the afore mentioned tall, dark and deadly. You know how possessive she is." I smiled at my Regents emphatic 'do I ever.' "Until then, I will keep my eyes and ears open." I promised before engaging in one more spurt of hard hits. Sweating profusely, we both agreed that we had had enough and I wrapped my arm through my Regent's, allowing her to lead me back down the main path to the village. Physical contact between us wasn't uncommon, but I did notice one set of eyes that narrowed at our familiarity. 'Oh, boy.' I though as we weeded our way through the numerous Amazons that were also returning from the field.

A little over two candle marks later, a soft knock on the door surprised me, for I wasn't expecting any visitors. I had just emerged from my private bath and was clad merely in a towel.

"I'm coming." I announced as I tucked in a corner of my towel, securing it in place. "Micah, hi." I said a bit surprised to see her. Her unexpected visit made me feel a bit unsettled after my conversation with Ephany earlier.

"I…uh…" She stuttered and I watched as her eyes took in my scant attire. "I was wondering if you would care to join me for dinner." Her gaze shifted back to focus on my face. I sensed a bit more than a friendly interest from her.

"It's nice of you to ask, but I already made plans to eat with Ephany." I watched closely as her shoulders and jaw visibly tensed. I wondered at her changing expression, thinking that maybe she was thinking about the Regent and my behavior while walking back from sparring earlier.

"Oh, well, I thought…I didn't realize. Maybe tomorrow then?" Her tone was a bit sharp, but I let it slide.

"Yeah, that sounds fine. Breakfast, then?" I offered, knowing full well that I would ask Ephany to "accidentally" run into us on the way to the dining hut. I was also beginning to believe that my friend was right when it came to her observations about Micah harboring more than feelings of friendship towards me. I hoped that she didn't decide to confront me with them before Xena returned for I sensed that she didn't take kindly to being rejected and having Xena around to keep an eye on things would make the whole situation a bit easier to bear.

"Yes, breakfast." She agreed tersely and then abruptly turned and walked away.

"Phew, that should be a fun meal." I said to myself as I closed the door and padded back to my bedroom where I had already set out clean clothes.

My dinner with Ephany was pleasant and I told her about Micha's impromptu visit to my hut earlier and my plans to have morning meal with her as she walked me back to my hut.

"Are you sure that is such a good idea, given what you have just told me?" She asked as we reached my porch.

"Well, I was hoping that you could kind of happen by us as we are leaving. Then you could join me." I gave her my best please-won't-you-help-me smiles. She was helpless to resist.

"Fine. I hate it when you do that, you know that smile will get you just about anything." The Regent pouted. Sighing dramatically she hugged me and headed back toward her own dwelling. Happy to have snagged a "bodyguard" I waved politely at my guards and entered my home. Knowingly I walked through the darkness back to the bedroom. Quickly I lit a lone candle and placed it on my writing desk. Deciding that I was in no mood to write I deftly removed my tunic in preparation for bed.

"Keep goin' Queenie." A low voice behind me drawled. Surprised I turned around without remembering that I was now nude from the waist up.

"XENA!!" I practically shrieked before bounding onto the bed where my wife was reclining. "When did you get in? Why didn't you come find me?" I questioned as she repositioned me to straddle her legs and wrapped me in a strong hug.

"We rode in about a candle mark ago. Solari told me that you were with Ephany so I figured I could bathe and be all clean and fresh-smelling when you got home. Surprised?"

"Mmmm very, such a wonderful surprise. I missed you." I confessed.

"I missed you too, My Bard." My wife smiled before gently brushing her lips over my own. "Have any more plans for this evening?" She asked in between kisses.

"Nope. At least none that involve leaving this bed." I purred.

"Good cause I think I remember you promising me a private party." She whispered as her hands moved to gently cover my exposed breasts. While her tongue began to map the familiar contours of my mouth she lightly fondled my hardening nipples. Pinching and rubbing the sensitive flesh.

"Gods, that feels so good!" I moaned when her lips abandoned my own and headed south to kiss and suck the column of my throat and shoulders. Lost in the familiar sensations of Xena's wet tongue on my skin I dropped my head back, allowing her to keep me upright with one arm wrapped around my lower back. Her free hand had gone to work on loosening my belt so that she could remove my skirt.

"Lift." She commanded, urging me to come up to rest on my knees. In two heart beats my skirt joined my tunic on the floor of the bedroom. Clad only in my underwear I wondered how my talented lover was going to remove them without lifting me off her lap. Xena, the ever adaptable woman that she was decided that she would just work around them for now. Deftly she worked her hands under the leg bands and placed her warm palms on my behind, kneading the flesh rhythmically.

"Mmmm, Xena…" I groaned when her lips once again joined in the action; closing around one turgid nipple and sucking hard. Without conscious thought I tangled my hands in her hair and held her against my breasts. "More…" I breathed when she switched between breasts. Immediately she added little nips to her ministrations. I allowed her to lavish attention on me for a while before I decided that I wanted to get in on some of the action. After all I hadn't seen her in TWO weeks!

"Loose the shift." I stated as I yanked up on the thin fabric, forcing her to remove her hands from my ass. Obediently she lifted her arms so that I could remove the offending garment. "Yes, that is MUCH better." I purred as my hands found her achingly hard nipples. "I want to touch you, too." I added as my lover dropped her body back against the pillows, giving me free rein over her body. I loved Xena's breasts, Hades; I loved all of her body, but her breasts in particular. I loved to kiss and caress them, paying special attention to the small scar above her left breast. She never told me how she got that scar, but I liked to fantasize that I could banish it's memory with a few well placed kisses.

"Yes, Gabrielle, that's nice." Xena practically purred as I flicked my tongue over her left nipple before taking it fully into my mouth and adding some firm suction. Her right breast didn't go unattended. My knowing fingers pulled and twisted her sensitive nub with practiced precision. Inching my way down I nuzzled the soft skin on the underside of her fleshy mounds, evoking a groan from above me. Having loftier goals I adjusted my positioning so that I was stretched out between my lover's long legs, my lips mapping a familiar path past her navel and to the patch of curly hair that protected her sex. Fortunately for me, after her bath Xena hadn't put on any breeches giving me free access to the places I so wanted to visit. Running my tongue along the crease where groin met thigh I gently urged her to spread her legs a bit more. I moaned loudly as the scent of my wife's arousal assailed my senses.

"Gods, you smell so good, Baby." I groaned before lightly tracing the tip of my tongue along her outer lips, not hard enough for her to really feel any pressure.

"Gabrielle…don't tease…" Xena pleaded as she buried her hands in my short hair in attempts to steer me where she wanted my attentions. Knowing first hand just how long two week is when you are used to daily interaction I decided not to delay my wife's pleasure.

"Sweet Artemis!" My warrior exclaimed when I used my fingers to spread her open before running my tongue the length of her sex, stopping to flick at her engorged clit. 'Sweet Artemis, indeed' I thought as I lapped at the abundant wetness before me. I loved it that Xena was so responsive to my touch. My wife's hips began to rock against my mouth as I added more pressure to my caresses. Knowing that my mouth alone would probably not provide a quick enough release for my wife I traced two fingers around her tempting opening before slowly penetrating her.

"Gab-ri-elle, ahhhh! Harder, please." She pleaded. I was eager to please my beautiful wife so I added another finger and set up a hard and fast rhythm alternating my thrusts with quick jabs of my tongue against her clit. The response was instantaneous. My wife's hands latched more firmly in my hair as she ground her sex into my mouth. I maintained my ministrations as I felt the muscles in the thighs surrounding my head begin to tighten, signaling her impending orgasm.

"Gods! I'm….coming…yeeessss…GAB-RI-ELLE!!!" She roared as her hips surged off the bed, her inner muscles clamping down hard on my fingers. I happily rode out her climax, leaving my fingers inside of her until her fluttering muscles quieted. Softly I continued to lick at her, knowing that she would let me know when she had had enough.

"Come up here." My wife's deep voice beckoned when her breathing had quieted. Reluctantly I left my spot between her legs only to find another comfortable position when her arms wrapped around me and rolled us onto our sides.

"Phew, I needed that." I laughed at the comment before accepting a kiss for my efforts. I happily opened my lips to the tongue that sought entrance moments later. Eagerly we shared any remaining taste of her on my tongue. Warm tingles of arousal pooled in my belly as her hands worked in tandem with her probing tongue, lightly caressing my back and ass. Battling my wife for dominance of the kiss I was surprised when she pulled away and rolled to get off the bed.

"Where are you going?" I asked, confused, I thought we were just getting started on round two.

"I'm not going far, just to the trunk." She assured me as she padded to the end of the bed. "Take off your breeches, I want you naked." She sneered lasciviously from behind the open lid of our storage bin. Without question I complied, knowing exactly what she was searching for and feeling my sex tingle at the thought of using our recently christened phallus. I loved it when Xena and I loved each other with our mouths and hands, but it I also enjoyed it when we could use the sex toy as it freed up fingers and lips for other pleasurable activities. When she returned to the bed my warrior had already donned the leather harness and I knew that I was going to be on the receiving end of this round. Crawling on her knees, Xena positioned herself in the middle of the bed and sat back on her calves.

"Come here." She took my hand and pulled me up so that I was facing away from her, also on my knees. "Put your hands on the headboard, Baby." She instructed and I felt her hands urging me to widen my stance as I gripped the sturdy wooden frame of our bed. Glancing over my shoulders I took a deep breath when I felt her firm body come into full contact with my back, her breasts pressed against my shoulder blades, nipples hardened points rubbing against my heated skin.

"Nice." I sighed.

"Ummhmm," was her reply as she laved and sucked my shoulder and neck as her hands came to rest on my hips. They remained in place briefly so that she could circle the points of bone just under the skin before moving on to trace up the midline of my abdomen and split to cover each breast, squeezing firmly. Lulled into a warm haze of arousal I jumped slightly when I felt the cool material of the phallus as my wife slid it between my thighs, gathering wetness as Xena's hips began a slow thrust against my ass.

"You ok?" She asked.

"Yeah, it was just a bit cold." I wrapped one arm back around my wife's behind, pulling her against me to show just how ok our current position was.

"I missed you soooo much, Gab. All I could think about each night while I was laying in my bedroll was how much I wanted to touch you, taste you, feel you moving beneath me." Xena punctuated her words with a hard grind of her hips. The phallus must have been adequately lubricated by now as it felt as if my arousal was just pouring out of me. "Two weeks is too long for us to be apart."

"I agree. You are not allowed to leave me for that long, ever again." I instructed with a hiss as I felt her hips drop lower and the tip of the phallus prod my opening.

"Yes, My Queen." She acquiesced. "Lean forward a bit." My lover instructed as she placed her hands on my hips and tilted me forward.

"Oh, Xeeennnaah…" I moaned, loud and long as my wife penetrated me fully with one thrust. Quickly she set up a smooth rhythm, withdrawing till just the tip remained inside of me and plunging back in forcefully. Wanting more purchase so that I could thrust back against her and allow her to feel the pleasure I knew the nubbed end of the phallus could provide; I replaced my hand on the headboard and using my arms for leverage I moved in counterpoint to her thrusts.

"Feel that?" I asked.

"Yeah, that's good." She moaned and wrapped one arm across my chest and guided her free hand south, till she was able to stroke my pulsing clit in time with our movements. The white-hot bolts of pleasure that resulted from her multiple fronts of attack quickly propelled me toward orgasm.

"It's not…ahh…going to be…long." I warned her. My breath was now hitching in my chest and I could feel the flush of imminent release beginning to rise up my neck and face.

"Me," thrust, "either," thrust, "gonna," thrust, "come," thrust, "with you." She panted, picking up her pace even more.

"Gods, XENA!!" I called out as I came, pushing my hips back against her, forcing the phallus against her clit, propelling her over the edge with me.

"GABRIELLE! Gabgabgab…" The stuttered as she spasmed behind me. Knowing that my arms would not be strong enough to hold us both upright I released the headboard and allowed us to collapse onto the soft blankets Xena's long body covering mine. We lay there; content to just be together for a few moments before my wife gently withdrew from my body and discarded the phallus and harness at the end of the bed.

"Get under the blankets." She urged softly as she blew out the one candle in the room before rejoining me.

"Spoon with me?" I requested and she readily complied, wrapping her strong arm around me and cocooning us in our own warm, soft world, even if it was only for the night.

"I love you." My wife said in a sleepy voice.

"Love you too, Xe. I'm glad you're home." I yawned and entwined my hand with hers. Hearing her happy sigh, I smiled and allowed myself to be claimed by Morpheus.

X x x X x x X

A knock on the door startled me out of a light sleep the next morning. Grumpily I pulled myself free from Gabrielle, who let out unhappy sleepy noises as I covered her to her chin with a blanket. Pulling on my discarded shift I padded toward the door and opened it just after the second knock.

"Hello." I said to the unfamiliar woman who was standing on our porch.

"Hi." She responded tentatively, looking around the front of the hut in what I figured was an attempt to determine if she had the correct dwelling. "Is Gabrielle here?" She asked when she concluded she was in the right place.

"She's sleeping, can I help you?" I questioned while searching my brain to determine if I had ever met this particular Amazon. She had a cut above her eye that looked to be not that old, but other than that her face didn't spark any recognition.

"Ah, we were supposed to meet for breakfast this morning."

"Well, she was up pretty late last night so I don't think she will be up in time for breakfast. I can tell her you stopped by when she wakes." I noticed a stiffening of the woman's posture before me. She seemed confused by my presence and angry that Gabrielle was not going to be joining her.

"That's fine." She said curtly.

"I don't believe we've met, I'm Xena." I offered after a moment of strained silence.

"Micah." She paused before continuing, "Gabrielle told me about you, how you travel together, but I wasn't aware that you lived here, in her hut." I smiled, amused by Micah's obvious confusion. She was definitely new to the Amazons if she didn't know about Gabrielle and my marriage. Briefly I thought about our love session the night before and I wondered if we might have been overheard by Micah. The huts were not nearly soundproof and it wasn't uncommon for couples engaged in intimate moments to be heard throughout the community.

"Why wouldn't I live here, we're married, Gabrielle is my wife." I unconsciously stroked the bonding bracelet that circled my wrist. The action didn't go unnoticed by the woman before me. This time her displeasure was more obvious, her eyes narrowed a bit and her tone sharpened.

"No I was unaware that Gabrielle was involved." She bit off curtly and I sensed a bit of jealousy. Immediately an alarm started going off in my head. This woman was definitely feeling slighted for some reason and I intended to find out her story from Gabrielle when she woke. My protective streak when it came to my wife was beginning to surface and I wanted to ensure that I knew as much as possible about Micah so that I could employ appropriate action toward her if it became necessary. I had a feeling that My Bard and her charming personality had a sparked interest in Micah, who obviously thought she had some sort of chance with the Amazon Queen. I wanted it made clear that my wife and I had an exclusive relationship and I didn't appreciate any untoward attention by other people.

"Well then, I will inform my wife that you stopped by." I purposely added the endearment to see if I could elicit another response from the stranger.

"Good." She huffed then turned on her heel and left. I watched her walk away and noticed that although the tried to hide it she had a slight limp and that from the set of her shoulders she was angry, more so than she should have been over a canceled breakfast appointment. 'Wonder if I should talk to Ephany before Gabrielle wakes up?' I thought as I looked across the village to where the Regent's hut was located.

"Xena?" I heard a sleepy voice calling me from the back of the hut and I decided that my chat with Eph would have to wait, at least until lunch time. Happily I walked back through the hut discarding my shift along the way and rejoined my half-asleep wife in our bed.

"Tell me about Micah." I said to my wife as we sat at our dining table enjoying some fresh bread and tea.

"Oh, Tartarus! I was supposed to have breakfast with her today." My wife cursed and I nodded my head slightly.

"Yeah, she stopped by earlier, you were sleeping, and I told her that I would tell you she was here."

"What did she say when you opened the door?" My wife questioned, waving her slice of bread toward the front entrance of our hut for emphasis.

"Well, she didn't seem to impressed that I was taking your messages. In fact she seemed a bit pissed."

"That doesn't surprise me actually. She is new here and Eph seems to think she has taken a liking to me." I raised an eyebrow as she confirmed my own suspicions.

"Seems so. Didn't you tell her you were married?"

"When she first got here we spend a good bit of time together, trying to get her acclimated. During that first week I told her all about you, how we traveled together and how we met, but I guess I never came right out and said it, you know, I guess I just assume everyone either knows or can see that I wear a bonding bracelet." I shook my head, understanding her logic.

"But Micah's not an Amazon, so she doesn't recognize the symbolism, huh?" This time it was the Queen's turn to nod.

"Exactly, and Eph was really the first to notice something was up with her. She told me to be careful yesterday when we were sparring. I told her you would be home soon and that once she saw us together that she would drop it." Gabrielle took a sip of tea and waited for my response.

"Doubt it." I stated as I popped a slice of apple into my mouth. "What's her story, how did she get here?" I questioned, wanting to know what we were possibly facing.

"Scouts found her on the border, beaten and unconscious. They brought her here and she said she was stoned by her village for having an affair with the Blacksmith's daughter, but the daughter wasn't cast out. She was painted as a victim. I felt bad, you know, especially after how my own father treated me when he found out about us, so I told her she could stay. She started joining Eph and me at meals and then spending a lot of time asking me questions about Amazon custom and my life. I guess I should have recognized the signs." She finished with a sigh. 'My poor Gabrielle,' I thought, 'doesn't realize that everyone we meet falls in love with her to some degree.'

"Did anyone check out her story?" I asked, suspicious of the tale.

"No, I guess we didn't think that she could be lying. You think there were other circumstances surrounding her outcast?" I nodded.

"Maybe, think we can get Pony to send out a runner, you know get the other side from the villagers? Just in case."

"Sure, I think that's a good idea. I'll make sure someone is sent out today." She didn't hesitate.

"I'll see to it, don't worry about it, but until we know more about her I think that you shouldn't be alone with Micah. Don't give her an opportunity to corner you."

"Aren't you being a bit paranoid, Xena? She may just have an innocent crush, besides she hasn't shown any aggression while she has been here." I shook my head in the negative as memories of many similar situations that occurred during my warlord days wheeled through my mind.

"Maybe, but I still don't want her alone with you, just in case." I took her hand across the table. "Look, I'm just trying to do what is best, to keep you safe, until I know she is harmless. Odds are she is that she just doesn't know how to channel her emotions in healthy ways because of the environment she grew up in."

"I know." She sighed and squeezed my fingers. "It shouldn't be too hard avoiding her, especially with the celebration going on tonight, Ephany and I have lots to do today and tonight there will be lots of people milling around; not much of a chance of anyone being caught alone." She gave a short laugh, "at the party or in the huts."

"True enough." I chuckled knowing that once the Amazon ale was uncorked many would wind up waking next to someone they didn't expect to at the onset of the celebration.

Ephany came to collect Gabrielle around mid-day saying something about approving the menu for the evening's festivities. We chatted briefly about the Micha situation and Ephany agreed not to let Gabrielle out of her sight alone. As my wife was under the watchful eye of her Regent I decided to seek out Pony and have her choose her messenger.

"Pony! Wait up." I called out to the weapons master when I saw her leaving the armory. She slowed her pace, allowing me to catch up.

"What's up, Xena?" I cut right to the chase.

"I need you to send a scout to Micah's village, to see if we can get the 'whole story' about her, you know?" I steered us away from the main path so that we wouldn't be overheard.

"Yeah, I heard she was getting a bit possessive about the Queen's attentions. Think something's up?" I smiled as she casually grasped the hilt of her sword. One thing is for sure, the Amazons didn't take kindly to people threatening their Queen.

"Not sure, something just seems kind of strange. I want to get some background so I know whether or not to be concerned. Gabrielle has had her share of unwanted attention in the past. I just don't want this to get out of hand." I confessed, knowing that Pony would understand my suspicious nature. After all she had heard stories about Najara and a few others.

"Say no more, I will send out my quickest scout. She can be there and back before the celebration ends tonight." I nodded and we grasped forearms. Pony was one of my trusted friends and completely dedicated to my wife. I knew that she would be true to her word.

The day past without so much as a sighting of Micah and I for one was glad. Although it meant that she might be off brooding about my presence, it also meant that I could just enjoy being back in Gabrielle's company without seeming as though I was her bodyguard instead of her wife. As promised, Pony's scout returned to the village about halfway through the celebratory meal. Gabrielle had praised the hunting party and informed the nation that barring any unfortunate incidents that there should be enough meat to last the winter. Upon hearing the news the village broke out the 'party wine' and things really began to swing. I was relaxing and enjoying a drink up on the dais when the weapons master got my attention.

"Be right back," I said to my wife, "looks like Pony's scout has returned." Gabrielle nodded and I gave Ephany a knowing look. She nodded, taking over protective duty while I was gone.

"Well?" I asked as soon as we were within the confines of her hut.

"It's not good." I felt my stomach churn at the confession. I gave a hurry up gesture and she continued. "Seems that Micah didn't take kindly to her lover ending their affair; it's true the Blacksmith ordered it and that she was eventually outcast, but not because of the reasons she gave. She took the girl hostage, Xena." I dropped my head in my hands; this was not going to be pretty.

"She convinced her that they needed to talk, to end things amicably, but when they were alone she snapped. She tied her up and threatened to kill them both if they couldn't be together. A day later the townspeople rescued the girl but not without a fight. Apparently that is how she got all the bruises and the cut on her head, she took a club hit.

When she came to she was given an ultimatum leave or be imprisoned for kidnapping. She left. From what I can tell she came this way and eventually landed outside of our borders, she would have arrived sometime during the night so she must have tripped and knocked herself out while fumbling around in the dark. Then the scouts found her the next morning. Her being unconscious gave her more credibility during her explanation to Gabrielle" Pony finished and sat back in her chair.

"She figured she could make a fresh start here, knowing that if she said she was attacked because of her lifestyle that the Amazons would take her in. She fooled all of them." I shook my head, knowing how hurt Gabrielle would feel knowing that she was lied to about such a close to her heart subject.

"We need to tell the Queen." Pony stood to leave, but I placed a hand on her arm, stopping her.

"I will, tonight, after the celebration. Until then don't do anything that may allow Micah to be suspicious. I'll keep an eye on Gabrielle and tomorrow we can decide what to do about this problem." The weapons master agreed and we both ventured back out into the night. Pony took up position with the other warriors and I rejoined my wife, making sure I knew exactly where Micah was at all times.

X x x X x x X

I still couldn't believe that Micah had lied to all of us, played us for fools. I was furious when Xena told me what Pony had learned, but I knew we couldn't really do anything until Micah gave us a reason to. Thus far she had only showed interest, but hadn't confronted me about her feelings or about Xena. My wife asked that whenever I left the hut or traveled through the village that I have an escort. She informed me that like it or not she had made a commitment to Pony and she couldn't spend the whole day with me because she needed to help with storing the meat they had brought back from the hunt. Explaining to her that I would be fine and could take care of myself for one measly day I ushered a reluctant Warrior Princess out of our hut.

So around mid-day I decided to head to the dining hut for lunch. I opened the door expecting to see my usual guards in attendance, neither was present. Sighing in frustration and hearing Xena's voice in my head I walked down the steps thinking that it was a short trip to the food hut and how dangerous could it be for me to just walk there. Besides, despite what I had been told, I didn't really think Micah would pose much of a threat to me. Knowing that I would catch Hades if my wife found out I shrugged my shoulders and followed the well worn path through the village.

"Hello, Gabrielle." I heard a familiar voice behind me. 'Aw shit.' I thought as I turned around.

"Hi Micah, sorry about yesterday, Xena got home early I was up late listening to stories about the hunting trip." I lied casually, knowing that Micah didn't believe that I was merely talking with my wife.

"You're married. You didn't tell me that." She said coolly, her face set in a grim expression.

"I guess I didn't, I assumed you would have recognized the bonding bracelet. I was wrong, I forgot you weren't an Amazon, that you might think it was just a piece of jewelry." I apologized as I covertly looked to see who might be around, whose attention I could get. 'FUCK!' I cursed in my head, go figure that I just happened to be passing behind the healer's hut when Micah showed up. "Care to join me for lunch?" I offered taking a step away from her.

"No." Her tone was crisp. "You lied to me, led me to believe that I might have a chance with you." She accused.

"I did no such thing, Micah. I never indicated that I might be interested in you that way." I defended myself, taking another step backward; she mimicked my movement, taking one step forward. 'Why didn't I bring my staff?' I berated my sense of comfort when I was in the village.

"That's a lie! If you weren't interested, why did you spend all that time with me, alone, walking through the village, telling me about your life?" Her voice was getting louder and I hoped that someone would hear it and come to find the source.

"You asked me about my life and I wanted to be your friend; friends tell each other things about themselves." I explained, noticing for the first time how much taller Micah was than myself and how well built she seemed. This could be bad. I was good at defending myself with my staff, but barehanded I was at a disadvantage.

"You know what I think? I think you led me on on purpose. You knew that I was attracted to you and you thought that my interest could entertain you until your Xena got home." She spat, taking another step forward. She was really angry now, her eyes had gotten hard and her hands were balled into fists. 'Alright Gabrielle, it's time to get out of here.' Deciding that my best option was just to turn around and run past the healer's hut and into the center of the village I bolted. I didn't expect Micah to be carrying a weapon or for her to be quite as fast as she was considering her recent injuries. I think I counted three steps before I felt her body impact mine and the cool metal of a short sword at my throat when I hit the ground.

"Oh no, My Queen. I think you need to be taught a lesson." She hissed into my ear as she dragged me to my feet. "Go ahead, scream. Before anyone can get here I'll slit your throat and leave you bleeding here for your wife to find. So I suggest you cooperate, hear me?" I swallowed hard and nodded. 'Xena is really gonna be pissed.' I thought as my captor dragged me back toward my own hut. Unfortunately for me, my guards were still missing and it was prime lunch time so no one was around to notice as Micah pushed me through the front door of my home, closing and barring it with a chair behind her. 'How do I get myself into these things?'

"Ephany told me you were studying the staff." I said as I glanced at the shiny blade of her sword.

"What, you assumed that since I chose such a weapon that I didn't know how to fight? You shouldn't assume, Gabrielle, assumptions can get you killed out on the road. Oh, but I guess you wouldn't know about that, you do have the Warrior Princess to protect you." She sneered out Xena's wayward title. "There's a lot you don't know about me."

"Like what really happened in your village?" I taunted her, letting her know I did indeed know the truth.

"Ooh, smarter than you look, now sit down!" She demanded harshly and indicated one of our dining chairs. Obediently I sat not wanting to enrage her to the point where she would use her sword against me. I decided to try and keep her talking, hoping that if that went on long enough Xena or Ephany might come looking for me. "Now, tell me, was that your idea, checking up one me or Xena's? Was she feeling threatened by my arrival at your door yesterday morning? Did she ask you if there was anything going on between us that she should know about?" She asked as she roughly pulled my hands behind my back and tied them with a leather thong. I didn't resist as her short sword had been replaced by a dagger and it was poking into my back as she tied the knots. "Speaking of which, where is that imposing wife of yours. Did you tell her about us, about all the time we spent together? Does she know how you lead people on when she is not around? Walking around in that short skirt and that revealing top, does she?" She asked as she circled back around so that she was facing me.

"There is no us and I didn't lead you on, Micah." I said calmly as I tested the strength of my bonds covertly. I definitely didn't expect the slap that exploded across my cheek the next instant.

"Yes you did!" She said loudly as my head snapped back. I swallowed back the tears that threatened to fall from the force of her blow. 'Ok, its ok, Gabrielle, you've experienced worse, just keep her talking.' I coached myself. "Now," she started in a calmer tone, "I'll tell you what we're gonna do. I figure we got at least another two candle marks before that warrior of yours comes back, until then I think you need to be taught what happens when a bitch like you plays with someone's emotions. Then when she comes walking in here expecting to see her sweet little wife, she can see what kind of woman you really are." She laughed and I tried not to shudder as I though of all the things she could do to me. 'Please Artemis, send Xena home early, before this psycho and do any real damage.' I silently prayed.

"I never intended to play with your emotions; I just wanted to be your friend." I tried again.

"Now, how bout we stand up," she ignored my comments and yanked my bound arms, forcing me to stand, "and head back here. Let's see, one of these doorways must lead to the bedroom, she looked from room to room. Ah ha! Here it is." She pushed me forward and I stumbled back toward the bed. Regaining my balance I turned around to face her.

"You hurt me and Xena will kill you." I threatened with all the boldness I could muster, no effect.

"You know, after two weeks of watching you prance around in that outfit I really think I would like to see what you look like under there." She thoughtfully tapped the blade of the dagger against her lips as she circled the spot where I stood her free hand lightly dragging across my back and arm. "The way I see it, we can go about this one of two ways. The first, and oh so much easier way, would be for you to just agree to play along. I know you want me; I tell by the way you casually touched me while we talked." She stopped her circling when she came around to stand right in front of me, her hand dropping to caress my bare abdomen; instinctively I pulled away from her unwanted touch.

"I don't want you, Micah. I never did." I spat, loosing my patience and yanking harder on my wrist restraints, I felt the leather stretch slightly.

"I guess that means you pick option number two." She sighed dramatically before expertly sliding the dagger under my shoulder straps and slicing the fabric. I closed my eyes momentarily and took in a giant steadying breath as I felt the fabric fall to circle my waist.

"Mmm, very nice," she purred, as she stepped back and took in my naked chest, "I see the Warrior Princess likes the view as well. Tell me, is she rough with you, do you like it?" She focused on a series of bright red passion marks that had been covered by my top. Xena had been a bit overzealous after the celebration the previous night.

"That is none of your business." I said coolly, I was not about to talk about my sex life with this psycho.

"Think she would mind sharing?" She asked as she approached where I stood. Gauging her intent I waited until she was in striking distance again and lashed out with my foot, rotating to the side and kicking high in attempt to catch her in the face. She didn't expect the move and took a solid impact to her chest, knocking her back far enough so that her hand hit the door frame and she dropped her weapon.

"Don't fucking touch me." I had had enough of this and while I wasn't going to give her a chance to slit my throat I wasn't about to let her molest me either.

"Big mistake." She hissed and advanced on me again, the tenuous control she had over her anger snapping and causing her to forget her blade. The fight was on. Micah came in swinging. Fortunately I had the best combat teacher in all of Greece. Easily I ducked her initial blows, but with my hands tied I couldn't fight back easily. Frantically I pulled on the leather, feeling the skin at my wrists rubbing raw. Knowing that the damage to my wrists was already done I yanked hard letting out a wail of pain as I contorted my arms in attempt to free myself. Fortunately it worked. As a jolting stab of pain raced from my shoulder to my hand I felt one hand come loose, I was free, that was all I needed.

Remembering that she had barred the door I decided try and inflict as much damage as possible on the first blow so that I might have time to escape. Balling my fists I threw a hard left hook, making impact with her jaw. If she felt it she made no indication as she launched her body against mine, knocking me back onto the bed. Quickly she climbed on top of me in attempts to pin me down. I struggled even harder when I felt her reach for the belt of my skirt. 'XENA!!!' I screamed in my head as I continued to struggle against the heavier woman.

X x x X x x X

I had been working diligently with the rest of the hunting party so that we could get the fresh kills into storage and I could get back to my wife when a nervous flutter in my stomach got my attention. Passing it off as hunger pains, I hadn't eaten since leaving the hut this morning I continued to shelve the wrapped cuts of meat, but when it happened again, this time stronger I stopped what I was doing and tried to concentrate on what might be making me uneasy. Something wasn't right.

"Hey Pony?" I called the weapons master to me as I exited the storage cellars.

"Yeah." She looked up from her own work and headed in my direction.

"Something's not right, I'm gonna go check on Gabrielle." I tossed aside a rag I used to wipe off my hands.

"What do you mean?" She asked.

"I don't know, I just don't feel right, I think something may be wrong. I've had moments like this in the past and I just wanna check it out. Better safe than sorry." I shrugged, heading toward my hut.

"Want me to come with?" She asked, concern coloring her voice.

"Yeah, just in case." I called and began a quick jog across the village. I heard Pony's footsteps fall in stride. Quickly we reached the hut and I tried the door, it wouldn't open. 'What the…we never lock our door, we don't even have a lock!?' The sinking feeling in my stomach intensified. "Stand back." I told my companion. Taking one step back I spun around and kicked the door sending it crashing inward.

"GABRIELLE?" I called to my wife.

"XENA?? XENA, HELP ME!!" I heard her call and I was immediately in motion, charging into the bedroom with Pony hot on my heels.

"WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?!?" I raged at the woman I immediately recognized as Micah. She was straddling Gabrielle and attempting to cover her mouth. In one stride I was across the room. Grabbing her by the neck and shoulder I pulled her off the bed and tossed her in Pony's direction. "Get her out of here, Pony!" I growled before turning and taking in Gabrielle's half naked form on the bed. Obediently the weapons master dragged a struggling Micah out of our hut, kicking and cursing the whole way.

"Thank the Gods, Xena!" She cried and I was instantly taking shaking form into my arms.

"Did she hurt you?" I asked, trying to get a good look at her.

"No, I'm alright." She responded, but I saw her injured wrists and a red welt on her cheek and I went ballistic. "Stay here, I'll be right back." I told her as the venom began to seep through my pores. Walking through the hut I could hear Pony barking instructions. Stepping outside I saw that the weapons master had tied the hands of Gabrielle's attacker and was preparing to bring her to the holding cells. 'Uh uh, not without facing me first.' I thought as I charged out of the hut, jumped over the porch railing and was halfway across the clearing before I even realized it.

"Xena, wait!" Ephany, who had just arrived, called out to me. I ignored her. "Xena!" She stepped in front of me and placed her hands on my arms.

"Let me go, Eph."

"No, not like this. Wait till we get her into custody, then you can talk to her." She tried.

"I don't want to talk to her." I continued to stare at Pony's prisoner, the Regent understood what I was implying and attempted to steer me back toward my hut.

"Go take care of Gabrielle. Go on." She urged and at last I relented, realizing that I probably would have killed Micah if I had gotten a hold of her and that wouldn't have done anyone any good. Tamping my anger down to a controllable level I hurried back into Gabrielle. Grabbing the healing kit as I passed through the sitting area I entered the bedroom where my wife was just pulling on a shift.

"Gabrielle." I said gently. When she looked up I noticed that she was still crying. "Shh, Baby, it's ok, I'm here." I took the shivering woman into my arms and held her to my chest. Wrapping a blanket around us I let her try and compose herself while I protected her.

"Did she hurt you?" I asked again when she had finally stopped crying. Gently I put two fingers under her chin and lifted her eyes to meet mine.

"No, not in that way." She replied and I expelled a huge sigh of relief. I definitely would have ripped her limb from limb had she even touched my sweet bard.

"How bout this?" I asked as I brushed a finger over her swollen cheek.

"She slapped me." She explained as I placed a light kiss on the reddened skin.

"And your wrists?" I took her hands and gently rotated the wrists, examining the abraded skin.

"I did that freeing my hands. I wasn't about to let her molest me, not in my own hut." She said adamantly. I smiled at her, proud that she was able to break her bonds.

"They are going to need to be wrapped." I told her as I grabbed the healing kit and pulled out some ointment and two soft bandage strips.

"I think I hurt my shoulder, too." She informed me when I had finished tending to her wrists. "I was struggling to get free and I felt a stabbing pain down my whole arm." She explained as I gingerly felt around the afflicted joint.

"Its not dislocated or broken, I think you just pulled some muscles. Try and keep your movement to a minimum and soak it in some cold water and it will feel better in a few days." I instructed as I massaged the knots out of the wounded arm. "Are you sure you are ok?" I asked again.

"I'm fine, Xena, just glad you got here when you did. She was a lot stronger than I thought." My wife explained in calmer voice as she rotated in my arms and I wrapped her in an embrace. Noting that she was no longer crying I realized that her wellspring of tears were just a reaction to all the adrenalin surging through her from her struggle to protect herself and not because she had been badly hurt.

"What happened, Gab? How did she get to you?" I finally asked.

"I'll tell you, but you promise you won't be mad at me?" She questioned and I chuckled, typical Gabrielle response.

"I promise." I gently kissed the top of her head.

"I wanted to go to lunch, but when I went outside my guards were missing and no one else was around so I decided that I could at least make it to the dining hut alone, after all it's not that far…" She started her story and I prepared to check my reaction to what I was about to hear.

"I'm so proud of you, Gabrielle." I said to her when she finally finished her story.

"Even though I forgot my staff and went out without an escort?" She questioned disbelievingly before sipping the warm tea I had made in order to calm both of our nerves.

"Yes, although I must ask you to please, please, carry your staff with you at all times, even if we are in the village." I implored her with a raised eyebrow.

"I promise. Although I bet I won't get very far without armed guard for a while." She smiled sadly.

"Afraid so." I agreed. "Do you need anything?" I asked as I got up from my seated position on the bed and gathered our empty cups.

"No, I think I'm just gonna go take a warm bath. You know, try and wash away the day." She kept the blanket around her shoulders as she followed me out into the sitting room.

"Do you want me to join you?" I offered.

"No, actually, I'd kind of like some time by myself, if you don't mind."

"Of course I don't mind. You go ahead. I want to go talk to Ephany. We'll have a nice quiet dinner afterwards. Sound good?" I placed my hands on her shoulders and rubbed circles with my thumbs.

"Yeah, sounds good. Thank you, Xena."

"For what, Love?" I asked.

"For everything, for storming in here today, for not being mad when I told you what happened, that it was my own fault."

"Listen to me, Gab," I pulled her into my embrace, "this was NOT your fault, Micah is sick, and nothing you could have done could have prevented what happened, ok? I don't blame you one bit." I felt her nod. "Good, now go take your bath and I will see you in a while." I ruffled her hair playfully before she turned around and padded barefoot back to the bathing room.

Once I was sure that my wife was tucked away in the bath I left the hut and headed in the direction of the holding cells.

"I wanna talk to her." I said sternly as soon as I entered the hut.

"I don't think that is a good idea, Xena." Eponin said, standing up from her stool

"I don't care if it's a good idea or not, let me in there Pony." The weapons master relented and dug for her key.

"You know the rules, Xena, try and follow 'em ok?" She instructed me as she opened the cell doors. Nodding, but not providing a comment either way I stepped in the cell. Micah was standing, chained spread-eagle to the back wall of the cell.

"How's the jaw?" I asked sarcastically. "She packs a mean punch, don't ya think?" The prisoner raised her head and looked me in the eye. "She told me what happened, you're lucky I don't break every bone in your pathetic body for even thinking about touching her." I sneered, my hands balling into fists. "I know what really happened in your village, Micah; how you kidnapped the girl you claimed to care for when she came to break it off with you. It was during the scuffle to free her that you got clubbed and ended up with that scar as a souvenir. I would have beaten you as well if it had been my daughter, and it would have had nothing to do with the fact that you're a woman. You're a bully, Micah. You have a hot temper and when you don't get your way you try and force it. Guess what, you picked the wrong woman to try and force, not only is Gabrielle not interested in your pathetic advances she is married to one of the scariest women in all of Greece. Nobody wants to make me mad, Micha, and unfortunately for you, you really pissed me off." I paused, waiting for her to respond.

"Bet you're little wife didn't tell you all of what happened between us this while you were gone." She replied, arrogantly looking me in the eye. I noticed the slight tilt of her head and the gleam of madness in her brown orbs. I crossed my arms over my chest in annoyance.

"What in Tartarus are you talking about?" I snapped knowing that I shouldn't goad her on. That she would make up lies just to push my buttons.

"You sure she told you ALL of what happened, I mean before you came crashing in and she decided to safe face." I didn't respond and she took that as her cue to continue her story. "How well do you really know you're wife, Xena…?"

My anger was overwhelming when I left the holding cells; it took all the restraint I possessed not to rip the door off of its hinges as I stormed through. I had broken Micah's nose, of that I was sure, but what I wasn't so sure about was how I would tell Gabrielle about Micah's version of the day's events. I trusted my wife and was confident she told me the whole truth about what happened before I busted into our hut, but just the same I had let Micah get to me, let her plant images in my head that I didn't want to see and feelings in my soul that I desperately didn't want to feel. Knowing that I couldn't face my lover in this state, for I might say something foolish, I walked quickly to the stables. My anger and frustration exploded when I noticed Argo wasn't in her stall. With all of my might I put my fist through the side wall of her enclosure. The sharp pain in my knuckles as my skin and the wood split didn't calm me.

"Xena!" I heard my name shouted through the large stable.

"Where is my horse?" I asked with a voice that belayed a deadly intent if someone didn't give me an answer promptly.

"She is in the pasture, where you left her." Eponin said calmly. Apparently she was concerned about me for she had followed me from the holding cells after pulling me off of Micha. Curtly I nodded my head, remembering that I allowed my mare some time to roam that afternoon. Reaching for the tack that I kept hanging on a peg near her stall I grabbed her bridle and threw her saddle over my shoulder. The weapons master stepped into my path as I was leaving, forcing me to stop or run into her. Not wanting to hurt my friend I stopped.

"Get out of my way, Pony." I demanded, she didn't budge.

"Where are you going?" I blinked, realizing in my haze of emotion, that I didn't know.

"Out!" I snapped and tried to step around her, she moved once again to block my way.

"You know Gabrielle is going to follow you." She said calmly. "I just don't want her wandering around the territory looking for you after what happened today." I sighed deeply, knowing Pony was right, I needed to set a destination to leave for my wife and knowing Gabrielle the way I did I knew it was no use to try and stop her from following me.

"To the pond, the east-side camp site." I paused for a moment, thinking. "Keep her in the village for at least a candle mark, I need some time."

"Ok." Pony nodded, appreciating the state I was in, having witnessed both of my acts of violence. She knew I just needed a few moments to rein in my rage.

"Pack a horse for her. In our hut, at the foot of the bed there's a trunk; our bedrolls are inside. Get those and some dinner. Send it with her; we may be out all night. Her escort can come back to the village once they see her to the pond." She nodded and I walked around her and out of the stables. One sharp whistle and Argo was trotting into view. With practiced efficiency I saddled her and we headed out of the village in a run.

Just as I suspected I heard Gabrielle's horse walking into the campsite a candle mark and a half later. I was seated on a rock facing the pond, my knees drawn up to my chest, my arms wrapped around them. I had calmed considerably yet I still didn't trust my voice to be gentle, I didn't want her to think I was mad at her so I didn't greet her. I waited for her to make the first move.

"Hey." She said softly as she stepped up along side of me.

"Hey," my gaze never shifted from the horizon.

"Mind if I join you?" She asked tentatively.

"Take a seat." I gestured to the flat spot next to me.

"You ok?" Her soft voice caused my heart to clench. She was the one who had been held captive and yet she was still concerned about my well-being.

"I've had better days." I sighed and dared to look at her. She had changed clothes after her bath, discarding her torn skirt. She was now clad in one of my old tunics and the worn leather pants I had purchased for her out first winter together.

"Yeah, me too." She said sadly before reaching out and gently grasping my beaten hand. "I know what happened, Xena; with Micah and in the stables." I flinched as she ran her fingertips lightly over my split knuckles. "Wanna tell me about it?" I briefly thought about clamming up, but discarded that notion. She needed to hear what happened with Micah, what she had said, and I knew that I needed to be totally honest with her if I expected it in return.

"I went to confront her, let her know that I knew what really happened in her village. I also wanted to make it really clear that you were MY wife and I wouldn't tolerate her so much as looking at you from across the village after what she pulled. When I said all I wanted to I should have turned to leave, but I didn't and she started spouting off…" I trailed off hoping that she would leave it at that, she didn't.

"What did she say to you?" I shook my head.

"I don't think…"

"Please Xena, I want to know." She asked me gently and I caved, I felt my eyes sting with eminent tears as I remembered my earlier confrontation.

"She said that you came on to her while I was gone. That you let her know that you were interested in pursuing an intimate relationship with her and that you no longer wanted to be with me, that you didn't love me anymore, that you didn't know if you ever really did. She said that you wanted to be with her, that you told her as much before I returned and that is why the two of you were in our hut. She also said that you…" I had to stop as I was battling for control over my emotions. I wiped vainly at the tears that were now streaking my face.

"Please, go on." My wife beseeched and I could tell by the thickness of her voice that she too was crying.

"She said that you had already been together, before I broke down the door and that is why your clothes were torn. She said that she had fucked you in our bed and you called out her name when you…"

"STOP!" Gabrielle finally interrupted me. "Stop it right there." She said firmly before she removed my arms from around my knees and settled herself so that she was resting on her knees, straddling my bent thighs. Her face was now level with mine and that she was indeed crying.

"So you hit her." She said simply and I nodded.

"I knew that what she said couldn't possibly be true, but just the thought…it hurt so much that I just lashed out. I broke her nose, I'm sure of it." I dropped my eyes, ashamed that I had let Micah get to me.

"I would have done the same thing." I shook my head, knowing that My Bard rarely resorted to violence except to save her own life or the life of those she loved. "Yes, I would have. If she had said those things about you…I…I wouldn't have been able to control my reaction." She lifted my chin so that I was once again looking at her. "Xena, listen to me, it didn't happen, none of it. I know that in your heart you believe that, but I also know you, I know you need to hear it directly from me. I was never intimate with Micah; I don't ever want to be intimate with her. The only thing I ever felt for her was friendship and now I don't even feel that, not after what she did to me and especially not after what she did to you. I love YOU, Xena, only you. We are married, and like it or not you are stuck with me forever, and even that is not long enough for me. I don't want you to even think for a minute that I would be unfaithful to you. It will never happen; you are everything that I desire." My wife finished her monologue with large tears rolling down her cheeks. Sniffling back my own wave of emotion I gently wiped hers away with my thumbs avoiding the rapidly forming bruise from where Micah had hit her, wincing when my cut flesh came in contact with the salty fluid. I felt monumentally better after being reassured of her love and commitment to me.

"I love you, Gabrielle, forever." I whispered before gently urging her mouth to meet mine. At first the kiss was gentle, reassuring, but before long I deepened it, thrusting my tongue into her mouth and probing the sweet depths. Suddenly I felt the need to reclaim what I viewed as mine. Micah had threatened MY wife and now I wanted to stake my claim, make her scream my name in ecstasy; to make her forget all about the woman who attacked her and banish the images that had been maliciously planted in my head. Gabrielle, feeling the change in my kiss began to respond and untie the strings of her tunic.

"Off, take it off." She demanded when we parted for much needed oxygen. Eager to comply with her wishes I assisted her in getting the garment off and tossing it aside. Hungrily my eyes took in her full breasts, rosy nipples already hard and begging for my touch. Fighting a battle to be gentle I traced her turgid flesh with the fingers of my good hand. I couldn't contain a moan when she arched her back, inviting a firmer caress.

"Xena…" she breathed, "harder!" She cried. I obliged, letting my mouth and tongue attend to the breast that my injured hand was neglecting. Roughly I raked my teeth over her hardened flesh before sucking forcefully. I alternated between her soft globes as my hand trailed down across her taught abdomen and to the lacings on her pants. One-handed I attempted to untie the leather ties only succeeding in tangling the laces.

"Damn!" I cursed softly as I abandoned her chest so that I could focus on the knots I had made.

"Let me." She offered as she deftly loosened the ties and separated the front flaps, once free she surprised me by grabbing my hand and shoving it down the front of her pants. I gasped when I realized she wasn't wearing any underwear.

"Take me, Xena. Make me yours." She husked into my ear before running her soft tongue along the shell and blowing gently. Goosebumps instantly raced up my arms.

"Gods, Baby!" I moaned at her actions, as always my attentive wife had anticipated my mood and was obviously willing to accommodate me. I felt more than heard her long moan as I latched onto her neck and plunged two fingers into her depths unannounced.

"Yessssss." She hissed as she began riding my hand, her abundant wetness aiding my movements in the tight confines of her pants. Wrapping my unusable hand around her waist I guided her movements, adding a bit of lift to her rocking.

"That's it, feel me Baby. Feel you're wife fucking you. You feel soooo good." I panted into her ear. Her breathing hitched at my words and she picked up her pace a bit.

"Xenaxenaxena…" She chanted as her hands tangled in my hair and guided my mouth back to her chest. Flicking the tip of my tongue over her nipple I continued to torment her. Alternating between forceful sucking and sharp nips with my teeth I lavished attention on her beautiful body. When I pulled away to kiss her lips I realized that she would bear new marks of our passion in the morning, but that was part of the point of our frenzied coupling.

"Ahhh…I'm close…Gods! I'm so close Xena!" My fair-haired lover panted and I attempted to position my hand so that I could apply direct pressure to her engorged clit, knowing that it would bring her over more quickly.

"That's it." I encouraged as she dropped her head back, allowing me an unobstructed view of her breasts as they bounced enticingly with the force of her rocking. "Come for me, scream my name, Gabrielle." I deftly added another finger as I rapidly flicked my thumb over her clit. I felt her climax begin before she let me hear it, her inner walls clamped down my probing fingers as my wife reached orgasm.

"Xeee-nnnnn-ahhhh!" She screamed as she rode out the waves of pleasure. I felt my heart swell in my chest as she collapsed against me, her muscles still fluttering against my fingers, her breath coming in great gasps.

"Thank you." I sighed a few minutes later, before placing a sweet kiss to the top of my wife's head.

"Mmmm, I think I should be the one thanking you, My Love." She replied as she lifted her head from my chest.

"No, you knew what I needed and you gave it to me. I love you for that, for knowing me." I sighed, hoping that I got across the point I was trying to make.

"I do know you, and even though you don't believe me some times, I do like it when you get all possessive. It makes me feel special, wanted." I smiled, not quite believing that my wife liked to feel like a possession from time to time.

"You hate it when I get all jealous." I lifted one dubious eyebrow and she laughed.

"No, I don't hate it. Sometimes it's a bit infuriating when your feathers get all ruffled over something that doesn't deserve it, but I must admit when you truly feel threatened the sex is great." An evil smirk broke across my wife's face and I couldn't help but laugh.

"You little vixen." I teased her.

"Mmm hmmm, but I prefer pleasure hound." She teased right back and I was about to start round two when I heard her stomach growl. Up to that point I had forgotten that we hadn't eaten dinner.

"Did you bring a dinner basket on that horse of yours?" I questioned as I helped her straighten her pants and don her tunic.

"Yeah, how bout you start a fire and I will set up the blankets and lay out dinner."

"Sounds like a plan." I pecked her on the nose as we rose and headed back toward the now-grazing horses. Half a candle mark later the horses were de-saddled, a fire was blazing and we were finishing up a quiet dinner. It was a relief to just have some time to ourselves after the days taxing events.

"Leave it." I said as I beckoned my wife over to me from where she was attempting to clean up our dinner plates.

"But, you always say that we need…" My wife protested and I smiled.

"I know, but tonight we are going to leave them. Come here and relax with me." I patted the bedroll next to where I was lounging. Smiling her nose-crinkling smile my wife dropped the plates and eagerly stretched out beside me, wrapping my arm around her waist I pulled her closer.

"We ok?" She asked me as we gazed up at the stars.

"Yeah, we're good. I promise."

"I guess our winter isn't going to be as uneventful as we hoped, huh?" She asked as she repositioned us. Rolling up on her side she placed her head on my chest and her arm across my stomach. Sighing happily I thought for a moment.

"Well hopefully we've met our quota for a little while." I squeezed her gently, aware of her sore shoulder.

"Just don't leave me alone again, ok?"

"Ok." It was as simple as that, we could face anything together.

"We staying out here all night?" She asked, lifting her head to look at me.

"I thought we could, that ok?" I raised one brow.

"Perfect." She yawned and I gently stroked her back until I felt her relax into slumber. Quickly I sent up a prayer to Artemis that she would sleep through the night, without any nightmares to disturb her, but knowing that if she did as long as I was by her side she would make it through.

The End….For Now

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