**See disclaimers in Chapter 1**

Side Note: Sorry it has taken so long for this chapter to be finished. I started a new job and fortunately/unfortunately depending on how you look at it, it has taken up A LOT of my time. I am still planning on at least two more chapters. Hopefully I can get them finished before the end of the year. Thanks for your patience and I hope you enjoy it. Send feedback to xfbard@yahoo.com


Chapter 3.

Families and Old Flames

"I was thinking about going to New York this upcoming weekend." Xena said almost casually one night after dinner. We had been talking about my book, I was telling her that the initial writing was about halfway done and that I needed to make an appointment to go over the first fifteen or so chapters with my editor when she suddenly changed conversational directions.

"Well, that was an unexpected change of direction." I laughed as I plopped down next to her on the couch, tucking my legs up underneath me. Xena merely shrugged. "What brought this on?" I questioned her.

"I went to my apartment on the way home from work Friday and I had several messages from my mom. She was concerned that I hadn’t called her in a couple of weeks and that I was never home when she tried to get a hold of me. I think it’s time." She explained simply.

"Are you ready for that?" I asked. Xena had come a long way in the two and a half months that we had been together. She had survived a somewhat embarrassing visit by my mother very early into our relationship and she was beginning to become more comfortable with showing affection in public, but was she ready to explain to her parents that she was, for all intents and purposes, living with another woman?

"As I’ll ever be, I guess." She admitted. "I mean, Friday was the first time I had been back to my place in over two weeks. I want them to know where I am, how they can get in touch with me, aside from my work number." She paused for a minute, "and I want them to meet you."

"I would like to meet them, too." I said sincerely. "Also, it would be nice to have someone to tell me embarrassing stories about your youth so that when my mom launches into yet another story about me I can have some ammunition to fight back with." I teased her.

"Is it my fault that she called one day while you were out and simply INSISTED that she tell me about that little skinny dipping incident?" She asked, trying her best to look as innocent as possible.

"Yes." I pouted for a minute. "She should have asked me first."

"Awww, poor baby." She soothed, pulling me to lean against her lanky frame. "I think it’s unbearably sexy. All I have to do is imagine you naked in that hot tub and I get all tingly inside." She drawled into my ear and I failed to suppress a shiver.

"You know I wasn’t alone in there." I reminded her, still a bit embarrassed that my mom had revealed that little bit of my sexual past to my lover.

"Yeah, well I’ve pretty much repressed that part. In my mind you are all alone, just waiting for me, all hot and wet." She husked.

"God, Xena!" I sighed, feeling a slight tingling of my own as I imagined the two of us in the hot tub behind my parent’s house. Steam rising off the water and Xena’s hands dipping below the bubbling water to touch my… ‘Stop!’ I chastised myself mentally. Here my lover was, trying to let me know that she wanted to finally tell her parents that she is gay and I am conjuring up sexual fantasies. I gave myself a good internal shake and tried to focus on the subject at hand.

"So you wanna go home this weekend?" I steered the conversation back into cooler waters, so to speak.

"Yeah." She sighed deeply, wrapping her long arms around my waist and positioning us so that I was leaning back against her chest, my legs stretched out between hers. "Can you get away?" She asked hopefully, her chin resting on my shoulder.

"Yeah, sure. I’ll just call my editor next week, that’s not a problem."

"I’ll make reservations at the inn this week then. I figure I can take half a day off Friday and we can head up, it takes about six hours to get there. And we can spend the weekend, coming back on Monday afternoon since I already have that day off. Sound good?" She questioned and I nodded.

"You going to tell them that you’re coming?" I asked, turning my head to the side so I could see her face.

"No, I think it would be best if I just showed up. Otherwise they are going to expect me to stay at the house and if things don’t go well then we are going to need another place to crash." She explained.

"Won’t they think that’s strange, you just showing up at the door unexpectedly?"

"Probably, but not much about my life is crystal clear to them anyway, so they will just chalk it up to another one of my quirks. Besides it’s not as if I am going up there just for a friendly visit. They will know something’s up as soon as I walk in the door." She reasoned.

"Big decision." I sighed and squeezed her hand.

"Yeah, but at least if they disown me or something I have you to come back to. It’s been a long time since I have been able to say that; that someone besides my family cared about me."

"I’ll always be here for you, and I do care about you, very much, Xena." I admitted.

"I know, but hearing you say it makes it more real." She smiled softly and I couldn’t resist placing a small kiss on her upturned lips.

"Come on." I said standing and pulling her to her feet along side of me.

"Where we goin’?" She asked.

"It’s late, let’s go to bed." I gently pulled on her hand, urging her to follow me. She didn’t resist.

"I’m not tired." She whined, playfully wrapping an arm around my waist and pulling my body back into her much taller one.

"Who said I was?" I teased and smiled when she arched one dark eyebrow.

"Lead on then." She released me with a knowing grin and eagerly followed me back into the bedroom, kicking the door shut behind us.

 ξ 

I could tell Xena was nervous as we navigated the scenic highway up to Albany four days later. Her fingers insistently tapping on the leather steering wheel of her Volvo was one of the more outward signs. She had been increasingly quiet as the week had progressed and I decided not to push her too much, I knew that she was trying to figure out what to tell her parents when she arrived and now that we where less than thirty minutes away from her hometown she had dropped her speed from about ten miles over the posted speed limit to exactly sixty-five. I think she would have gone slower if the traffic around us wasn’t passing her navy sedan at every opportunity.

"It will be ok." I tried to soothe her, taking her drumming fingers into my own and resting our entwined hands on her denim clad thigh.

"Huh?" She asked, eloquently. I could tell she had been absorbed in her own thoughts for a while now.

"You were going to wear holes in the leather if you kept on with that tapping." I teased gently and I watched as she realized what I had been talking about.

"Sorry," she smiled sheepishly, "I guess I am more nervous than I thought." She explained.

"You don’t need to be sorry, I understand." I explained, not mentioning that I had noticed her speed decrease. "Are you sure you don’t want me to come with you?" I asked her and she shook her head.

"No, I think this is something I need to do on my own, but thank you." She gave my hand a squeeze. "We can get settled at the inn and then I will head over and tell them tonight, I think I want to get it over with." She said as she steered the car off of the highway and onto the exit ramp that lead us toward the north side of the state capital.

"Ok, but you know that if you need me I will find a way to get over there."

"I know." She whispered, and turned her full attention back to the road ahead of us.

An hour later Xena was pulling her black leather jacket back on and gathering her keys from on top of the entertainment center that dominated one wall of our spacious room. Watching her from my position on the end of the king-sized bed my heart ached. She was fidgeting as she checked her hair in the mirror and ran her fingers through her bangs. She wasn’t even this nervous when we had our little run-in at the FBI parking garage after I had kissed her.

"Well…" She sighed deeply.

"Good luck." I said softly as I rose from the bed and wrapped her in what I hoped was a comforting hug, my arms sliding around her waist, beneath her coat.

"Thanks, hopefully I won’t need it." She returned my embrace and I smiled when I felt her place a kiss on the top of my head.

"Call me when you are on your way back and I will order us some dinner, ok?" I straightened out her shirt where my hug had wrinkled it a bit.

"I will." She promised and gave me nervous grin before turning and walking out of the room. Feeling a sympathetic flutter in my stomach I returned to the bed and flipped on the TV in hopes of finding something to distract me until Xena returned.

 ξ 

The two hours between Xena leaving the room and my cell phone chirping seemed like an eternity. Just my luck there had been practically nothing of entertainment value on any of the hotel provided eighty channels. I was practically sitting on pins and needles waiting for my lover to call me. Flying off the bed at first ring I glanced at the clock as I flipped open the phone, it was nearly eight thirty.

"Xena?" I said by way of a greeting.

"Yeah, it’s me. I’m on my way back." She said and I tried to determine how her meeting had gone by the tone of her voice. I couldn’t tell, she just sounded tired.

"What happened, are you ok?" I asked, concerned.

"Yeah, I’m alright. I’ll tell you all about it when I get there." She explained.

"Want me to order some dinner?" I asked, not really feeling hungry although I had been famished before the phone rang.

"Ok, just order me a burger or something."

"I’ll see you when you get here then." I said softly as I fiddled with a pen that was on the long dresser.

"I’m only about ten minutes away."

"See you then."

"Ok, bye." I bid her goodbye and pressed the disconnect button on the phone. Absently I placed a call to room service and ordered two burgers, fries and a couple of beers. Just in case.

Almost exactly ten minutes later I heard Xena slide her key-card into the door. Jumping to my feet I waited near the entry. The moment she walked in I noticed that her eyes were red-rimmed, she had been crying. Before the door had even closed behind her I was pulling her into an embrace, my own eyes stinging with tears. We hugged quietly for a few moments and as I pulled back I noticed that I wasn’t the only one whose tears went unchecked.

"Oh, Xena." I sighed, brushing lightly at the wet trails on her cheeks. Taking her hand I led her to sit on the bed and I positioned myself so that I was standing between her knees.

"How did it go?" I chanced to ask, automatically thinking the worst because of her emotional state.

"They want to meet you." She said, the smallest of smiles tugging at the corners of her lips despite the new set of tears that rolled down her cheeks. I let out the breath I was unaware that I had been holding.

"God, Xena," I paused, gathering my thoughts, "I thought, because you had been crying, that they had…" I couldn’t finish not even wanting to consider that my lover’s parents had been cruel to her.

"No, no…they were alright. You were right, they had suspected, just never brought it up, I guess they were afraid that if they asked then it would be true." She reasoned.

"Are they disappointed?"

"Not disappointed, relieved I guess." She tried to explain.

"Relieved?" I asked.

"Yeah, relieved that I finally told them why I have been so distant since I graduated from college. They were hurt when I didn’t let them in on what was bothering me. I had always had an open relationship with them and then I just shut down. They were confused. They understand now why I never told them anything about my life. I think they accepted the fact that I might be gay years ago and were just waiting for me to confirm their suspicions. So it wasn’t the shock I thought it might be. I guess it helps that we aren’t really a religious family, they don’t have any deep-seeded beliefs about it either way." She paused when there was a knock on the door. Moving from my spot I opened the door and paid for our dinner. Xena joined me at the small table and we continued talking once we had started eating.

"What did they say, when you told them?" I asked as I took a bite of French-fry.

"Ahh, not much really. They asked how long I had known, and why I didn’t tell them sooner." She shrugged.

"What did you say?" I was curious.

"That I was uncomfortable with it; that I was struggling with my sexuality when I graduated and that I basically shut myself off from the world once I started working, but that I had met someone and I wanted them to meet you; that you make me happier than I have been in a long, long time." She reached across the table and squeezed my fingers; I felt tears threatening to fall once again.

"I’m glad, Xena. I’m glad that they were understanding and accepting, and you make me incredibly happy as well." I confessed, feeling the nervousness that I had been feeling since we left Georgetown fading away.

"They want us to go over for breakfast in the morning. You up for that?" She asked and I laughed. "What?" She cocked her head in a most endearing way.

"Am ‘I’ up for that, Xena it’s me who should be asking that question of you. Are you ready for that?" I asked and she nodded.

"Gabrielle, if they don’t like you than they wouldn’t like anyone I happened to bring home." She said and I felt a blush at her implied compliment. "So yes, I am ready. I don’t think it will be one hundred percent comfortable, but I know that I will try and make it easier on all of us."

"What time’s breakfast?" I asked in between bites.

"It’s more like brunch, I told my mom we would be there at elevenish. That way we can sleep in." She winked at me.

"You are fabulous." I smiled brightly; she knew I hated to be up before nine on the weekends.

"I know." I laughed when she blew on her fingernails and polished them on her shirt.

"So, why the tears, if things went so well?" I asked sometime later when we were snuggled up together in the large soft bed.

"Relief, I guess. I was so nervous when my mom answered the door tonight. And then they were so happy to see me and I just felt awful, knowing that the reason I was there was to basically turn their world around. When my dad asked me what the occasion was, why I showed up unannounced I just started to cry."

"They must have been confused." I ran my fingers gently over her face, remembering how I felt when she came into the room and I realized she had been crying.

"Yeah, they were. They thought I had lost my job or that someone had died. Eventually I managed to get it together and I just blurted it all out. Basically it came out as MomDadI’mgayandI’vemetsomeoneandIwantyoutomeether." She laughed and I chuckled as well.

"Yep, I remember that well, it’s about how I told my mom, almost the exact same words." I chuckled a bit more at the memory. "I bet that wasn’t quite what they expected."

"No, they just looked at me for a few minutes, not saying anything and then my mom was like ‘okaaayyy.’ And then they pretty much launched into the why didn’t you tell us soon speech. I explained it all as best as I could and when we were finished I was surprised when I looked at my watch and realized that almost two hours had passed. I told them that I had to get back, that you were waiting. Mom was a bit upset that I hadn’t brought you with me; that I had left you here in a hotel in a strange town. I explained that I felt I needed to speak with them alone first and then she asked me if we would come over for brunch." She finished with a yawn.

"You should sleep; it’s been a long day." I urged, tucking the blankets more firmly around us and flipping off the bedside lamp.

"A good day." She mumbled and I agreed. As we lay there, slowly drifting off to sleep I thought about Xena’s parents and how our brunch with them tomorrow would go. For Xena’s sake, I hoped that they liked me and that they were as open-minded as they had made my lover believe. I guess I would find out soon enough.

 ξ 

"Mom, Dad?" Xena called out as she led me into a moderately sized Tudor-style house.

"In the kitchen Xena." I heard a female voice call out. Giving me a quick, encouraging smile, my lover took my coat and hung it in a small closet before she took my hand and led me down a short hallway into a modernly furnished kitchen. I don’t know what I expected my lover’s mother to look like, but it certainly wasn’t an almost carbon-copy of the tall FBI Agent. Although Xena lacked the few gray hairs and was an inch or two taller she mirrored the elder Demakis female.

"Good morning, Mom." Xena let go of my hand and walked over to where her mother was standing behind a butcher block island and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek.

"Same to you dear, now are you going to introduce me or must I do it myself?" She asked, her warm blue eyes coming to rest on me, suddenly I felt the nervous stomach twitch of the night before return with a vengeance.

"Of course," my lover held out her hand and I took it willingly, drawing strength from her seeming ease with the situation. "Mom, this is Gabrielle Channon. Gabrielle, my mother Alexandra."

"It’s a pleasure to meet you Mrs. Demakis, Xena speaks very highly of you and her father." I reached out and took her offered hand, feeling her firm handshake.

"Please, call me Alexandra and it’s nice to meet you as well, Gabrielle. I can’t believe that this daughter of mine didn’t bring you with her last night. I scolded her about her manners, leaving you alone in a strange town." She said warmly, with a hint of teasing and I couldn’t help, but feel a bit more relaxed. At least I hadn’t stuttered.

"Where’s Dad?" My lover asked.

"I sent him to the store for some hot rolls."

"You could have called; we would have picked some up on our way over." Xena told her mother.

"Yes I could have, but then I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of meeting Gabrielle and having a few moments to talk to you girls alone first." She smiled at her daughter and patted her gently on the arm. "Now, would you like some coffee?" She asked, already retrieving three cups from one of the cabinets. Agreeing heartily we fixed the caffeinated beverage and with warm mugs in hand we all settled down at the kitchen table.

"So Gabrielle, tell me how did you and my daughter meet, since Xena has barely told us anything about you and I assume that she knows more than just your name after all of the time the hasn’t been spending at her apartment lately." She teased and I felt a blush similar to Xena’s color my cheeks at what her mother was implying, truth or not.

"Well, I was doing research for a book when I approached the FBI for an interview. Xena just happened to be the lead investigator on the case I was interested in. It all went from there, I guess." I tried to explain after taking a second to get a handle on the blush, leaving out the parts about the first few skittish meetings between the dark-haired FBI agent and myself.

"So you are a writer then?" She questioned.

"Yes, I write fiction novels."

"Wait…Channon, that name sounds familiar now…you write crime novels!" I smiled as I saw recognition flash over Alexandra’s face. "I’ve read your books, they are wonderful! Xena, you didn’t tell me that she was a famous author!" She gently slapped her daughter on the arm. Xena merely chuckled.

"Does it matter?"

"No, of course not, but at least then I wouldn’t have suddenly sounded like an idiot when I made the connection." I smiled as my lover laughed.

"Mom, this is Gabrielle Channon, the famous author." Xena re-introduced us playfully.

"Stop teasing your mother, Xena." I chided her, but I couldn’t keep the edges of my mouth from turning up into a small smile.

"Thank you, Gabrielle." Alexandra said as she gently swatted her daughter’s hand. "Now, since Xena seems content to keep you a mystery how about you tell me about yourself while we wait for Xena’s father to get back." She smiled warmly and I nodded, deciding that I liked Alexandra Demakis, for through her I could see where my lover got her personality.

 ξ 

"So, what do you want to do now?" Xena asked as we settled into her car and headed out of her parent’s driveway.

"Mmmm, I think I need to walk off a bit of that meal. Your mother is a wonderful cook." I groaned, patting my abdomen.

"We can do that. How do you feel about outlet malls?" She asked, with a smirk.

"Shopping? You want to go shopping?" I asked, surprised.

"Sure, it’s a nice day and besides outlets mix shopping and strolling all in one. I think it’s a ruse to lure in the unsuspecting mall hater, but I’m game if you are." She raised one eyebrow in question.

"Hey, a girl knows better than to turn down a shopping invite. How far is it?" I asked, already getting excited by the possible bargains to be found.

"Twenty minutes or so." She replied as she pulled onto a busier highway. "Oh, and I know for a fact that there is a Yankee Candle somewhere amongst the throngs of stores. I know how much you love to stockpile those things." She teased.

"Hey," I protested weakly, "those candles come in handy, what if there were to be a power outage; it’s always good to be prepared." I tried lamely to excuse my candle fetish.

"Uh huh." She tossed me a grin before turning her attention back to the road.

"Besides, those candles come in pretty handy when one certain FBI agent I know decides that she wants to create her own little oasis in the shower." I teased, blushing a bit as I remembered one particularly steamy evening involving a couple of Midnight Storm candles, a steamy bathroom and a really plush bath mat.

"Yeah, well, I never said I didn’t like having all of those options at my fingertips." She husked as she slid her hand from the gearshift and lightly drew her fingertips up my thigh. I couldn’t stop the shiver even if I had wanted to.

"Maybe we can find a couple of good ones and test them out later. After all, it would be a shame to waste that big old bed back in the room." I teased her.

"Yankee Candle here we come." She sing-songed as she deftly maneuvered the car into a parking spot and turned off the engine. I couldn’t help but smile when Xena took my hand in hers as we exited and headed toward the outlets.

"What?" She asked innocently when she caught me glancing at our intertwined fingers.

"Nothing." I smiled, giving her hand a brief squeeze and tugging her toward the first store.

 ξ 


I was standing waiting for the food order I had placed to come up when I heard a foreign, feminine voice speak my lover’s name. Curious to who she had met up with I moved so that I could see her where she was reclining on a bench, waiting for me. I was a bit surprised to see a rather tall, lanky red-head standing just to the side of Xena.

"What a surprise, the Xena I knew would never be caught holding a shopping bag, let alone lounging around an outlet mall."

"Yeah well things change." Xena explained, a touch of hardness in her voice. I was even more curious as to who this woman was after I heard my lover’s tone.

"Not that much, you are as statuesque as ever."

"You look well, Sarah." Xena said although I could tell that she was merely being polite. Gathering up my order I edged just a bit closer although not close enough for Xena to see me, I wanted to watch her interact with whom I assumed to be the same Sarah that had broken her heart over a decade earlier.

"I didn’t realize you were still living in Albany." Sarah said.

"I don’t, I’m just here visiting my parents." Xena’s responses were short and to the point.

"Oh, where are you living these days? In the city?" She asked with a bit too much interest for my liking.

"No, we live in D.C." I smiled when I caught the very obvious we in her explanation. Sarah obviously caught it too.

"We? So you are dating someone?"

"Yes, what did you think, that after you I would pine away never finding someone to fill your shoes?" Xena asked with a bit more venom than before.

"I want to apologize for that, Xena. What I did to you was wrong, I should have never hurt you that way, I should have told you about Lisa, not let you find out the way you did." Sarah tried to explain.

"Yeah well, times change, people change, I’ve moved on with my life." Xena shrugged her shoulders as if to say, ‘so what, I got over it,’ although I knew first hand that her experience with the red-head had scarred her deeply. It had taken her years to get over Sarah’s infidelity and we had almost lost the chance of being together because of Xena’s hesitance to get involved with someone intimately for fear of being hurt again.

"So I see, so how long are you in town for?" Sarah deftly changed the subject. Avoiding, what I assume, was any further attempt at pointing out her shortcomings while she was in college.

"An extended weekend." She said simply. I rolled my eyes at Xena’s obvious lack of interest in the woman before her.

"Well, maybe we can get together, for drinks or something." I bristled at the tone Sarah was suddenly using. The way she said ‘or something’ really raised my hackles, it was a blatant come on and it took all I had not to walk up and sit down next to Xena on that bench, just to see how the tall woman would react.

"I don’t think so, Sarah." I nodded my head smartly at my lover’s reply. ‘Damn straight, like she would make that mistake again.’ I reasoned to myself.

"Oh, come on, you aren’t in D.C. now, your little friend never has to know, just a friendly dinner." She attempted to persuade. Ok, now I was getting pissed.

"Gabrielle, her name is Gabrielle and she is not my ‘little friend,’ she is my girlfriend and I don’t work that way, never have." I mentally high-fived my lover. ‘You go Xena, and take that, bitch.’ I thought with pride.

"Well in case you change you mind." Sarah replied and began digging her purse for what I assume was something to write her number on.

"Ok, that’s enough. I guess some people can’t take a hint." I said to myself as I approached the two women. Xena saw me almost immediately after I exited the little restaurant I was in. I winked at her and I saw her visibly relax. "Hey Babe, I got your dinner." I said sweetly, taking a seat immediately next to my lover. Glancing up at Sarah I could tell that she was surprised that I had accompanied Xena to her hometown.

"Gabrielle, this is Sarah. Sarah this is Gabrielle Channon." Xena introduced us as she threaded the fingers of her left hand through my right.

"Nice to meet you Sarah." I said as I placed what I hoped to be a genuine looking smile on my face.

"You too, Xena was just telling me about you, how you live in Washington. Do the two of you live close to each other?" She asked me and I mentally rolled my eyes, ‘God this woman is a Bitch!’ I once again thought.

"Actually yes, close enough in fact that we share the same apartment." I played along and I felt Xena squeeze my fingers. I knew that I was being a smart ass, but I couldn’t help it. I didn’t like this woman for what she did to Xena and for what she was attempting to do to me before I made my presence known. I felt a bit victorious when Sarah failed to mask her surprise momentarily.

"Xena didn’t tell me that the two of you lived together, how nice." She gave me a fake smile. "So Xena, have you stopped by to see your parents? They still living in that house on Bradly St.?" She turned her attention back to her former girlfriend and asked with a touch of malice.

"Actually we just had breakfast with Alexandra and Hal this morning isn’t that right Xena?" I quickly deflated any sort of plot Sarah was attempting to create. She knew that Xena was in the closet back when they were in college and apparently assumed that she remained there. I knew how Xena had struggled with telling her family and now that she had, I wasn’t going to allow this woman to try and bully her.

"Yeah, Mom was glad to finally get us up here, what with work being so hectic and all." Xena played along and I was grateful. I could tell that Sarah was beginning to squirm as she checked her watch uncomfortably.

"Well," she sighed, "I have to be getting along, but it was nice to see you again Xena. And if you are ever in town for a few days drop me a line so we can catch up." She handed Xena a business card and without even a look in my direction walked away. I scowled at her as she retreated into the crowd in the courtyard.

"No offense, Xena, but I really don’t like that woman." I said as I began to eat my dinner.

"No, I can’t imagine that you would after that. Not that I wanted you to anyway." My lover laughed as she began unwrapping her meal.

"Can you imagine the nerve, to come on to someone after she has blatantly told you that she was seeing someone?" I questioned, shaking my head in disbelief.

"Were you spying on us?" She asked teasingly, bumping her shoulder into mine.

"NO! I mean no, I just happened to overhear her invitation." I said a bit more defensively than I intended. I knew I had been caught.

"Hey, I was just kidding its ok; I would have done the same thing." She informed me and I felt my defensiveness leave as quickly as it came.

"Sorry, I just don’t like the fact that after what she did to you she has the nerve to hit on you." I explained sheepishly.

"Well thank you for defending my honor. My hero." Xena teased and I couldn’t help but laugh. We finished our dinner over pleasant conversation and as I gathered up the trash I smiled when I saw Xena crumple up the card Sarah had given her and toss it into the pile.

"What?" She asked when she noticed my smile.

"Nothing, nothing." I sighed and kissed her quickly on the head as I crossed the courtyard to the trash bin. "Ready?" I asked, holding out my hand to her.

"Yeah." She replied and accepted my offer of a help up from the low sitting bench. Gathering up our purchases we headed off toward the parking lot, having finished perusing the quaint shops.

 ξ 

"Gabrielle, I’m gonna run down to the vending machine and get a Coke. You want one?" Xena asked me through the bathroom door.

"Yeah, get me one too, and when you get back come in here." I requested as I checked the temperature of the bath I was running. The hotel room had come with a rather large garden tub, complete with Jacuzzi jets and after our little run in with Sarah the afternoon before I began planning a scene that would make Xena forget all about her former girlfriend. It had taken me all day to come up with my little scheme and now as I stripped off the shorts, tank and boots I had worn while Xena and I romped along some of her favorite old hiking spots I couldn’t help but smile. This was going to be good.

Satisfied that the water was hot enough and the bubbles sufficient enough I turned off the water, placed a few of the jar candles I had bought on the vanity and flipped off the lights just to add ambiance. Smiling at my handiwork I settled in the tub, just waiting for Xena to return with our drinks.

"Gab, I’ve got your dri…" Xena trailed off as she entered the bathroom and took in the scene. The candles were lit and I was reclined in the tub, the water/bubble combo just high enough to cover my breasts. "What’s all this?" She asked with a curious smile.

"Why don’t you hit play on that CD player, put those in the sink and come find out." I beckoned with a tilt of my head. Xena didn’t have to be asked twice, she quickly deposited the Cokes she was holding and began undressing as she made her way over to the vanity. She tossed a grin in my direction when she hit play on the stereo and Josh Groban’s voice filled the spacious bathroom.

"My favorite."

"I know." I replied, scooting back a bit to make room for her in the more than large enough tub. "Now, if I remember correctly you enjoyed quite the little fantasy after hearing about my hot tub incident." I began as she settled her lanky frame into the water.

"Mmmm, yeah, that was a good one." She husked, beginning to get the gist of what I had planned.

"Hit that button right there and we can have our own little hot tub." I lifted my eyebrows suggestively as I made my way through the bubbles to settle myself across her lap, my weight coming to rest on my knees and her thighs. "Nice." I whispered when I felt the jets begin to circulate the water.

"Indeed." She agreed, her hands coming to rest on my waist, pulling me a bit closer the warm skin of our stomachs brushing together.

"Now, why don’t you show me just what you imagine when you think about me in that hot tub." I husked as I gently gathered up her hair and pinned it back with a jaw clip.

"Hmmm, let’s see, I think it starts with this…" She whispered before leaning in and capturing my lips with her own. I willingly returned her kiss, happily acquiescing when she began to gently probe my mouth with her soft tongue.

"Mmm, great starting point." I agreed when we parted, our breathing a touch more labored than before.

"I thought so." She hummed, and released a small moan when my hands trailed over her shoulders and disappeared beneath the water to caress and pinch her rapidly hardening nipples. "Ooh, that’s nice."

"Yes, very nice." I agreed, placing wet kisses along her neck and throat, stopping to suck on her exposed collarbone; smiling when I felt her hands begin to wander along my hips and back. "What mom didn’t tell you about that night she caught me was that I wasn’t having sex with the girl I was with." I began to explain between kisses.

"You weren’t? But she said that you were…"

"Naked? Yes, we were, but I wasn’t ready to go quite that far yet so we were just engaging in a bit of…" I paused for a moment so that I could look up at her, "mutual self-gratification."

"Oh, God," she groaned deeply, her eyes closing momentarily, "that is even better than what I imagined." When she once again returned my gaze I noticed that her pupils were even more dilated and her normally crystal eyes had gotten impossibly bluer. When I decided to tell her the whole truth about that night I realized what an opportunity it could present to us. Although we had been sleeping together for two months and had enjoyed many steamy sex-sessions this was not something we had experienced together and I figured that it was time to test those waters so to speak.

"Yeah, I thought you’d like that." I wagged my eyebrows at her briefly and reclaimed her soft lips. ‘Yes, this is going quite well.’ I thought to myself as I felt her hands cupping and kneading my breasts. Never breaking our kiss I took one of her hands in my own, entwining our fingers and began lowering it down to my tingling center. "Can I confess something to you?" I asked in a whisper, my lips only a hairs breadth from hers.

"Uh huh." She breathed, her voice hitching a bit when our fingers brushed lightly over my sex.

"If you haven’t already noticed, I am quite willing to ‘go that far’ with you." I smiled at her gasp as I pressed two of my fingers to the back of hers and gently penetrated myself with our combined digits. "God, Xena that feels really good." I hummed in the back of my throat as I began to raise and lower myself, riding our entwined fingers.

"Gab…God that’s hot!" She moaned and I dropped my head back, my short hair tickling my shoulder blades.

"Yeah." I agreed, grinding harder against her lap. In response she placed her free hand on my hip, guiding me, and captured one erect nipple in her mouth, sucking forcefully. "Yes, Xena…" I moaned as I felt each tug on my sensitive nipple send shock waves down between my legs. Wanting more pressure on my clit I rotated our hands a bit so that on each downward thrust I was grinding against the heel of my lover’s hand, the effect of the added stimulation was immediate, I felt my inner walls begin to tighten and a slow burn ignite in my lower belly. "I’m…close…Baby…" I struggled with the words as I pushed our hands harder against myself and increased my pace.

"That’s it," Xena coaxed, her lips and tongue painting my neck and chest with kisses and small nips, "come for me, Gabrielle."

"Xena, God, yes…yes…yes…" I panted as I felt my climax overtake me, my body clamping down on our invading fingers. Whispered endearments brought me back to reality a few moments later. I had collapsed onto my lover after my climax and was now leaning comfortably against her soft chest. Somehow she had withdrawn our fingers and was now rubbing her thumb soothingly in small circles over the back of my hand. Lifting my head from her shoulder I met her blue gaze.

"That was…" I trailed off.

"Amazing." She finished for me and I felt a smile tug at the corner of my lips. "Thank you."

"For what?" I asked.

"For sharing that with me, for playing along with one of my fantasies." She replied.

"Anytime, Baby, anytime." I winked at her and began to stand up.

"Where you going?" She asked, a bit of confusion in her voice.

"We’re getting pruney. Come with me, I’ll make it worth your while." I replied, tugging on our still entwined hands. Obligingly she stood and I watched with lust filled eyes as the water sluiced off of her toned body. Grabbing a large towel I wrapped us both in it and began backing out of the bathroom, pulling her along with me. "As I said yesterday it seems a shame to waste that big ole bed." I explained to her as I spun us around so that she was now walking backwards.

"Well, now that you mention it…" She replied with a tilt of her head.

"Besides," I started as I dropped our towel and pushed her back onto the already turned down sheets, "I do believe it is your turn." Smiling predatorily I climbed up onto the king sized bed and crawled on all fours to where she was sprawled out on her back.

"Do with me as you wish." She smirked and folded her arms behind her head.

"Oh, I will, believe me." I assured her before lowering my mouth to envelop her already hard nipple. As I sucked greedily on her soft flesh I trailed my hand down her abdomen to her hip, grasping her upper thigh gently and pushing her leg outward to make room for me to slide down.

"Mmmm, yeah…" She moaned as I scattered kisses along her taught belly, brushing my nose around her navel before dipping lower to that small recessed area just below it. I loved that spot, so soft and sensitive. Gently I blew cool air across it after dampening it with my kisses. Goosebumps immediately broke out across my lover’s skin.

"Like that, huh?" I asked, she nodded, her breaths coming in more ragged gasps now. Continuing my journey I moved lower still, my shoulders coming to rest between her thighs. Smiling as her scent hit my nose I draped one of her legs over my shoulders and lowered my mouth to gently blow on her exposed sex.

"Gabrielle! Please…" She pleaded, her hands coming from behind her head to tangle in my hair. I was happy to oblige. Flattening my tongue I ran it the length of her sex, gathering her abudant moisture before concentrating on her engorged clit. Not wanting to send her over right away I didn’t apply direct pressure, instead circling the sensitive bundle of nerves and flicking over it lightly on each pass. Xena’s hips began to rise off the sheets, thrusting against my movements.

"More…" she moaned and I quickly filled her with two fingers. At this unexpected invasion her whole body jerked forcefully before settling back into a constant thrusting. "Yes, yes…" She continued to moan, her hands now pushing me harder into her flesh. She was getting close; her body was loosing its rhythm now, thrusting more erratically against me. Knowing that she wouldn’t hold out much longer I focused more directly on her clit, flicking it hard before taking it fully into my mouth and sucking hard once, twice and then she exploded.

"Gab-ri-elle!" She cried out as I continued to tease her, drawing out her release for as long as possible. Once her body had quieted I crawled back up to lay beside her, my body half on hers. Smiling at her sated expression I gently brushed an errant lock of ebony hair out of her face before running my finger lightly over her high cheekbones and nose.

"I love you." I said softly for the first time, not quite knowing how my sometimes skittish lover would respond to my confession. Her bright smile and the tightening of her arms around me soothed my sudden nervousness.

"I love you too, Gabrielle." She echoed and I fought the urge to cry. "Thank you for coming up here with me this weekend." She added after a few moments.

"There is nowhere else I would rather be." I said, honestly. Smiling at our newly exposed feelings I brushed my lips over hers briefly, then with more urgency as she pulled me to lie completely atop her. Gradually our kisses deepened and rekindled our desire. Murmuring our feelings of love we pleasured each other until we were too exhausted to continue and could only snuggle in for some rest.

 ξ 


"Move in with me." I interjected into our conversation about half-way between Albany and D.C. I think Xena was as surprised as I was that the statement had made its way past my lips.

"Really?" She asked, alternating between looking at me sitting sideways in the seat next to her and the road in front of her.

"Yeah, I mean you already have stuff at my place and you barely spend anytime at your apartment. It’s pointless to pay two rents when we really only use one place." Suddenly I realized how much her moving in with me would mean to her at the F.B.I. "I know that means that you would have to change your address and phone number at work so if you think it’s too soon for that…" I was rambling a bit now trying to give her a way out if she needed one.

"Yes." She said, smiling brightly at me. I was momentarily confused.

"Yes what? Yes it’s too soon or yes you want to move in?" I asked.

"Yes, of course I want to move in with you. I hate it when we spend nights apart; I just sit in my apartment wishing I had never left your place." She confessed.

"Really?!" I practically shrieked and leaned forward to kiss her cheek. "I’m so glad. I’ve been wanting to ask you for a week or two now, I just never seemed to find the right time and then we came up here to talk to your parents and when that went so well I figured why not now?" Again I was rambling. Why was it that this woman could reduce my normally eloquent speech into long babbling sentences? ‘It must be love.’ I thought to myself.

"When do you want to do it?" She asked me, a grin matching my own pulling at her lips.

"How long do you need to pack and settle up with your landlord?" I asked, trying not to sound too eager even though I knew she could tell that I was.

"We could probably do it next weekend. I’m paying month to month and I really don’t have that much stuff to bring over. My living room set and the larger furniture could go into storage until we decide what to do with it." She explained and I nodded happily. I could see the wheels in her head turning and it made me smile, glad that she seemed to want this as much as I did.

"It’s a date then." I nodded my head firmly.

"Most definitely." She agreed and took my hand, resting our entwined fingers on her thigh.

"What a weekend." I sighed, resting my head against the headrest.

"A good weekend." She agreed.

"One of the best I have had in a long time." I confessed and allowed my mind to wander to the next weekend when we would be moving all of Xena’s stuff into ‘our’ apartment. Just the thought made me smile, even when I realized that I would have to clean out half of the closet so that she would have room for her clothes. Oh what a girl will endure for love, losing half of her clothing space. I can’t wait.


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