Tired of Hiding


Disclaimers: Cyrene, 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: Not much in the way of spoilers for this one, it is pretty much a stand-alone piece. Oh,

and this is only my second Xena piece, I normally write X-Files fiction so be nice J, but please let me know what you think. If you like it maybe I will post the first one I wrote or write new ones maybe even a Xena/XF crossover. J

Feedback: XFBARD@yahoo.com

I received word from Xena's mother two days ago and it has seemed like the moments since I first read her words have been an eternity. Xena had gone to Amphipolis to assist her mother in fixing the roof of the Inn while I was engaged in border expansion talks with the Centaurs. She was supposed to return to the Amazon village in time for the harvest festival, but now here I am, making the three-day journey to Xena's home with ten of the best Amazon warriors I could assemble in such short order.

Cyrene's scroll had been short, but it had still made my heart clench tightly in my chest. Xena had been taken prisoner by an unknown warlord. Now I know what you are thinking, Xena doesn't get "taken prisoner" by anyone and have them live to tell about it, but Cyrene's Inn had been overrun by thugs while they just happened to be passing through and like those type often do, they began to make trouble. Xena heard the commotion and came down from the roof to find one of the unkempt men giving her mother trouble over the price of a meal. The moment she entered the main room she was recognized and the fight was on. Normally she didn't have to worry about defending anyone but herself in battle, since it has been many a season since I have mastered the staff. However, her mother needed protection and while Xena was taking out the garbage so to speak one particularly ugly thug was able to get close enough to put a knife to Cyrene's throat. Not seeing any other method of keeping her mother unharmed Xena decided to surrender herself in exchange for the men never setting another foot in Amphipolis.

So they came to an agreement, after all who wouldn't want the mighty Warrior Princess as their captive, so Xena would be their prisoner and Cyrene would be safe. Xena was then promptly shackled and lead out of town weaponless, as she had left her sword behind when going up on the roof, knowing that if she couldn't escape on her own that her mother would send word to me and a rescue mission would be afoot. So now, as I made my way into the village of Amphipolis I prayed that she had been able to escape and would be sitting at the bar drinking an ale when I arrived, but deep down the sinking, twisting feeling in my stomach told me otherwise. Barely waiting for the borrowed horse to slow down I dismounted and ran full tilt to the Inn.

"Cyrene?" I called out as I came through the front doors.

"Gabrielle? Gabrielle is that you?" I heard Xena's mothers voice coming from the kitchen and I headed back in that direction meeting her in the adjoining hallway.

"Yeah, it's me, I'm here and I brought an Amazon search party with me." I saw relief wash over the older woman's face, but it couldn't mask the worry that still reflected in her eyes.

"We'll get her back, I promise." I said as I drew her in for a hug. 'I just hope we are not too late.'

The sound of my fellow Amazons entering drew me from my thoughts and I followed Cyrene out to the main room.

"Has there been any word? Any sign of her?" Eponin asked upon seeing Xena's mother.

"No, nothing."

"Ok, we'll gather as much information from you as you can give and then tomorrow I will take the rest and we will begin searching."

"What do you mean YOU will take them? I am going with you." I said, as I walked to stand face to face with the Amazon's most revered warrior and my friend.

"Gabrielle, my queen, you need to stay here with Cyrene." I just shook my head.

"No, no way Ep. I am going with you, Xena is my life, I need to help you look for her, if only to keep myself sane." I felt my anger rise.

"Gabrielle, I know how you feel, believe me, but consider this, what if when we find Xena she has been injured and during the course of the rescue something happens to you? You know she would give her life to protect you, and if she is not at her best she could be killed, do you really want to put her in that situation, to take that chance? It's not fair to her or to you." Eponin's hands came to rest on my shoulders. Immediately I felt my anger melting away.

"No, you are right, I'll stay." Eponin was right, Xena would protect me at all costs and I wasn't prepared to take the chance that she would have to defend me if she were badly injured.

"Ok, now that that is settled, let's hear how all of this started. The sooner we know the whole story the sooner we can all get some rest and the sooner we can bring Xena home." Cyrene nodded and began to retell the events of nearly a week ago.

* * * *

At first light Eponin had her search party ready to depart and they were anxious to get moving. Securing her weapons she turned to retrieve a waterskin that I was holding for her.

"Now promise me that you will stay here." The auburn haired woman had heard many a story of when it came to Xena she was quite capable of getting herself into danger.

"Only if you promise to bring her back to me quickly." I said as I clasped her forearm in agreement.

"I promise, no matter what, I will bring her back to you." Releasing Eponin's arm I watched as she mounted her horse and signaled to the others to move out. As they galloped away from the Inn I sent up a silent prayer to Artemis that they have a safe and successful journey. Only after they had disappeared from sight did I turn and allow myself to be led inside to have a cup of tea and begin the torturous wait for their return.

center>* * * *

Two days passed and already the Inn had enough wood chopped to last through the winter and I had cleaned the main room and kitchen, twice. I had to force myself to concentrate on something else besides my ever-nagging concern for Xena and the Amazons. The day after Eponin left I found a young boy in the village square and offered to pay him a dinar a day to sit and keep an eye on the road for me. He had a watch glass and was to keep vigil and as soon as he saw the Amazon's returning he was to let me know immediately.

Knowing that I would be altered as soon as they were in sight I began to let my mind wander. It wasn't long before it wandered down that well guarded path that led to the feelings I kept hidden about my travelling companion and best friend. Five years we have been travelling together, gods, it seems like just yesterday I had been a young girl in Potadiea and I begged a mysterious warrior woman to take me out of that small village. We have been through a lot since then and somewhere along the line we had abandoned any need to be in anyone else's company. Sure we visited the Amazons and occasionally our families, but deep down I think we both knew as long as we were together it didn't really matter if we were in the Amazon village or somewhere deep in the woods, life was good.

We had long ago given up the pretense of sleeping together for warmth, now we did it because we wanted to, it filled a void within that we never really talked about. She is my best friend and I am hers, but it goes beyond that. We love each other deeply yet we have never moved beyond simple touches and an occasional kiss. Only when one of us is in mortal danger do we allow ourselves to indulge thoughts of a more intimate nature. There was more between us than friendship and we both knew it, but neither of us had built up enough courage to change the status quo. However, this most recent event bolstered my desire to change our relationship on an intimate level, it was about time for us to allow ourselves the physical contact and release we had both wanted, but denied ourselves for so long.

"Gods, Xena, when you return, things between us have got to change. I can no longer bear the torture of sleeping next to you each night, but not feeling your touch, your hands on my skin, your lips on mine." I whispered into the darkness as I waited for Morpheus to claim me, as I lay in bed alone.

A full week passed without word and I was beginning to loose hope, and to realize that I was going to owe my watch boy a fortune before this was all over when he came bursting through the door to the Inn.

"They are coming! They are coming!" He shouted as I practically vaulted over the bar on my way out the door.

As I made my way to the stables I began to shake. 'What if Xena was badly injured? What if she is...' I couldn't allow myself to finish the thought. When I began to think that I would never reach the stables I rounded the corner and froze. Eponin had kept her word; she had brought my warrior back to me. Xena was barefoot and wearing a dark shift, her back was to me, but I could tell by the tightness in her shoulders that she was in pain. My legs felt as if they were chained to trees as I forced myself to walk toward her. I knew the moment she realized I was there. Bracing herself on Eponin's shoulder she slowly turned. A gasp escaped my lips as I took in her appearance. Her lip was split and one eye was swollen shut. Her beautiful cheekbones were mottled purple with healing bruises. When her one blue eye came to rest on my own I couldn't hold back my tears of relief. It was my Xena, beaten and bruised, but not broken. She had come home to me.

"Gabrielle…" I heard my name whispered and I felt my body move forward once again. As I drew closer I hesitated, I wanted to embrace her, but I feared causing her anymore pain. She sensed my indecision and made the decision for me. I felt her body lean into mine and her arms come to rest around my shoulders, pulling me closer. Choking back a sob I wrapped my arms around her waist and laid my cheek against her chest.

"Thank the gods, I was so worried." I sobbed.

"Shh, it's ok, I'm here, I'm ok." She said as her arms tightened around me.

After a moment I pulled back and looked up at her face. Noticing a crowd beginning to gather, I instinctively wanted to shield the beaten warrior from their gaze. Xena seemed oblivious to anyone but me.

"Your mother is waiting, and you look like you should sit down, can you walk?"

"Yes, but I will need your help." Her eyes looked down and mine followed. Her feet seemed unharmed, but her ankles were cut and deeply bruised. She had been restrained, but had not gone quietly causing the metal shackles to cut into her flesh. With me on one side and Eponin on the other we guided her into the Inn and onto a chair.

"Xena!" Cyrene cried out when she saw her daughter.

"It's ok, mother. It looks worse than it feels, honest." I knew it was a lie, but I didn't contradict her as her mother calmed considerably at this statement.

"Are you hungry, do you want anything?" The older woman asked as she headed back to the kitchen.

"Um, some hot tea and whatever you have to eat will be fine." Cyrene nodded, Xena knew better than to try and argue about food with her mother.

"Do you want to tell me what happened?" I asked as I placed my hand over hers. Xena interlaced our fingers and gave me a small squeeze.

"I will, later." She said as she gave a small nod toward the back of the inn, I understood. She didn't want her mother to know.

We ate in silence, Xena's hand never releasing mine. When she finally convinced her mother that she had eaten enough she asked me to help her with a bath.

* * * *

Closing the bathhouse door behind us I turned to look and steeled myself for the injuries I was about to see. Raising my eyes I watched as Xena removed her clothing. The tunic she had been wearing was long-sleeved and now I understood why. Her wrists were as cut and bruised as her ankles and her arms and shoulders were covered with scratches and bruises. One look at her chest and I knew that she had been shirtless when Eponin and the Amazons found her. Her breasts were covered with a sunburst of bruises that distinctly resembled hands and fists and her stomach contained more bruises and what appeared to be a relatively deep cut that had been expertly stitched. My eyes continued their journey down her body and I couldn't help the sigh of relief when I noticed that she was relatively unharmed from about her navel to mid-thigh. At this point my eyes went back to hers.

"They didn't…" I couldn't finish, I knew she would understand.

"No, that is about all they didn't do. I got the impression that they were waiting for someone. Probably their leader, I assume that would have been his honor. Eponin arrived first." Another moment of relief washed over me and I thanked Artemis for sparing her from that abuse.

"Do you want me to get in with you?" She nodded, but made no move to enter the steaming tub.

"Yes, but before I do, you need to know that they also whipped me." Ok, that cleared that up, she wanted to warn me before turning around. Quickly I shed my own clothing and stepped into the tub, relieved that it wasn't too hot. Once submerged I turned and took hold of Xena's hands, helping her to steady herself as she climbed in. A sharp hiss emerged from her lips as she sank into the water.

"You ok?" I asked as I sat down.

"Yeah, just stings a bit, it's only been a couple of days, it will take a few more before the water doesn't hurt." I nodded.

"Want me to wash you hair and back?" I reached to grab the soap and work up a good lather. She nodded and turned.

"I will try not to hurt you." I said as I got my first look at her back. This time I was able to hold my response in check.

"Is it really bad?" She asked without turning to look at me.

"Who stitched you up?" I examined her slashes looking for any sign of infection, I found none.

"Eponin, she told me that they are not too bad, but I know you will tell me the truth." I smiled at her faith in me.

"She didn't lie, they are not too bad, we have seen worse. They are healing nicely, some will scar though." Xena nodded. Softly I cleaned the dirt and grime from her back and moved to slowly massage her shoulders, she groaned.

"I'm sorry, did that hurt?" I asked, stopping my movement immediately.

"No, feels good." Her head rolled forward as I continued to work the knots out of her tight muscles. I finished with her shoulders and washed her hair and any place else her soreness wouldn't allow her to reach. Two candlemarks later we emerged from the bath and headed to our room. Closing the door behind us I turned and watched as she tried to detangle her hair using her fingers.

"Do you want me to braid it for you?" Crossing to our bags I searched for our comb.

"That would be nice, thank you."

Hair braided and wearing clean shifts we crawled into bed. Xena slowly rolled onto her back, careful not to irritate her healing wounds and I settled in a few handlengths away from her.

"Gabrielle, come here." She said as she motioned for me to move closer, to our normal sleeping position with my head on her shoulder and one arm draped across her abdomen.

"I don't want to hurt you." I said hesitating.

"You won't, just go slow. Please?" I could never resist when she used the word please. Slowly I settled on her shoulder and she wrapped her arms around me, letting out a contented sigh as she did so.

"I love you, Xena." I said as we laid in the dark. Ok, so it wasn't how I had dreamed about professing my feelings, but somehow it felt right.

"I love you too."

"No, I mean…" Her soft voice interrupted me.

"I know what you mean, Gabrielle. And I promise, as soon as I am feeling better we will explore that together." Propping my chin on an upraised arm I searched the dark till my eyes found hers. I was surprised that she would finally acknowledge this thing between us.

"Why now, Xena? Why after all this time?"

"When those men were beating me all I could think about was what if when you came it was too late? It tore me apart to think about how I would feel if the roles were reversed. So I fought with all I had to stay conscious and when I was rescued I decided that it had been long enough. That I, we, couldn't go on like we were, we both know how we feel about each other, but we had never crossed that line, it was time, I had to say something." Well since we were sharing and talking about these things, I might as well go for it all.

"I know this may be a bit ahead of the game and forward of me, but will you join with me Xena?" I held my breath, dropping my head, hoping that I hadn't just ruined the moment.

"Yes." My head shot up to look at her, she was smiling as much as her split lip would allow.

"Really? You really want to join with me, be with me forever?" Xena chuckled deep in her chest.

"More than I want to take my next breath. I don't ever want to be apart from you, Gab." Slowly I felt myself smile and I leaned up and brushed my lips across hers, then pulled back; Xena looked up at me confused.

"Why did you stop?"

"There is lots more where that came from once you are healed up."

"Why wait?" She asked as she moved to join our lips once more.

"Cuz, once I start I won't be able to stop and you are in no condition for that, my warrior." Xena groaned in disappointment.

"You are a tease, Gabrielle." She sighed in defeat.

"Well, you will just have to heal quickly." Sighing I relaxed against her shoulder again.

"I'll try, I'll try."

"Goodnight, Xena."

"Goodnight, love." Smiling at the endearment I relaxed and Morpheus took us both within minutes.

* * * *

I awoke before Xena the next morning and for a moment I contemplated going downstairs and seeing if Cyrene needed any help. The selfish side of me, however, won out with the argument that it was more important to lay here, warm and content with two strong arms around me and listening to Xena's deep even breathing. I didn't lay there long before she started to wake.

"Good morning." I whispered as I ran my fingers lightly over her bruised cheek.

"Hmmm, yes, much better than yesterday morning, or any morning since I last saw you in fact." Xena mumbled in a sleep-roughened voice.

"How do you feel?"

"Surprisingly good, considering. You must have the healing touch." A smile pulled at the corner of her abused lips.

"Well, I try. Want to go get some breakfast?" I asked as I gingerly got out of bed and began to dress.

"Yeah, sounds good. Think maybe we can find something else for me to wear? Something with a bit more material."

"Oh, yeah. How about your old blue tunic and those black leather pants?" I asked as I dug them out of our bags along with some soft bandages to wrap her ankles so her boots wouldn't irritate the wounds.

"Yeah, those should work, but we are gonna have to…"

"Wrap your ankles, I'm way ahead of you." I smiled as I helped her out of her sleeping shift and into the soft tunic.



"What happened? I mean how did you end up…" I didn't finish.

"Surrendering myself?" I nodded.

"I was working on the roof when I heard the commotion. So I came down to check it out and as I walked into the main room I saw mother being shoved around by some dirty ruffian. So I got angry and shouted for them to leave her alone. Needless to say, they recognized me and the fight was on. I could have handled all of them, there were only about ten, but one grabbed mother and put a knife to her throat. He told me he would kill her if I didn't surrender. I had no choice. I figured that I could surrender to them and then beat the crap out of them once we left the village. So I made a deal with the headman, that I would go with them, but they were never to set foot in Amphipolis again. He agreed.

"I didn't realize I was in trouble till they pulled out the shackles. Had it only been wrist restraints I could have still escaped, but they cuffed my ankles too and pulled me along behind one of the horses. We traveled for two days before we came to their camp. It was backed up against a cliff wall where there was a small cave. That is where the put me. I was bolted to the back wall and they each took turns beating on me. They punched, kicked, and whipped, whatever they felt like doing. I think I made it worse for myself by refusing to cry out or loose consciousness. I fought back as much as I could, even breaking the nose of the leader.

"Like I said last night, they were waiting for someone, I never heard what his name was, so they didn't touch me in any sexual way. This continued non-stop for a few days. I knew that it would take time for mother to get word to you so I just set my mind to waiting it out, but I was constantly looking for an opportunity to free myself, none arose. Eponin came on the third day. You should have seen them. They tore through that camp like the furies were on their tails and in no time I was freed, tossed on a horse and we were out of there. I don't think the men left standing knew what hit them. The rest you know." I looked up from bandaging her wrists, not even bothering to hide my tears.

"I'm sorry, Xena."

"For what?"

"For not being here."

"I don't know if it would have made a difference, Gabrielle. And who knows, we may have both been taken at that point and I didn't, don't want that to ever happen." I merely nodded my understanding.

"I do have one question."

"What?" I asked.

"Why didn't you…why did you stay here?" A small bit of hurt crept into her voice.

"Eponin made me stay. She told me it would be more dangerous for you. That if I got hurt you would try to protect me and if you were injured badly that could cost you your life. I didn't want to put you in that situation, so I stayed. I was in agony with worry, but I stayed. I'm sorry I wasn't there for you." A strong hand on my shoulder caused me to look up.

"Thank you for listening to Eponin. I don't know what would have happened if you had gone and been injured. She is right, I would give my life to protect you." Xena's one open eye locked on mine.

"I would do the same for you." I whispered as I felt a callused finger rubbing slightly over my ring finger.

"I didn't forget."

"I didn't think you would."

"I promise, Gabrielle, as soon as I am well we will go to the Amazons to be joined."

"That sounds wonderful, besides, who wouldn't want to be bonded with a queen?" A smile tugged more firmly at my lips.

"Hmm, there have got to be perks involved in that." Xena's low voice drawled seductively. I felt heat begin to rise up my cheeks.

"Oh yeah." I replied in my most passion-laced voice.

"I can't wait."

"Neither can I, but for now you need sustenance so you can heal. So up warrior princess cuz you know the sooner you heal…." I let the sentence drop as I escorted a now frustrated Xena down to breakfast.

* * * *

Xena and I spent the next two weeks at Cyrene's Inn. We helped out; well I helped out, as much as I could while Xena concentrated on healing her body. I was surprised at how well her whip marks healed. Only two left scars after the stitches were removed. The bruises on her body and face faded into yellows and greens and were soon to be nothing but a memory along with her black eye. It remained swollen shut for four days, but then began to slowly open till a week after her return I could finally look into both of her azure eyes.

I had managed to keep her sword hidden for the first week, but a stir-crazy warrior was beginning to get on my nerves so I relented. So for the last week Xena has been drilling constantly. She says she is regaining strength. I think she is working off all her sexual energy as we have only shared a few searing kisses and a bout or two of suggestive and highly arousing touches and I informed her that is all we will be sharing till our joining. After all we had made it five years, what was two more weeks? Poor Xena, I think she drilled for an extra three candlemarks that day.

I sent a scroll to Potadiea to inform my mother and sister of our upcoming joining and inviting them to the Amazon village, but asked her to wait until a formal escort could reach them before they headed out. I also invited my father, but I doubt he will come. He has come to tolerate Xena and her presence in my life, but I don't think he would ever accept his little girl marrying "that woman" as he used to call her. Oh well, I've gotten over it, I think.

Cyrene called on Toris, Xena's brother to watch the Inn while she accompanied us back to the Amazons. And I for one was glad she will be there as a chaperone, I don't know how much longer I can resist six-feet of totally healed, amorous warrior. At least with her mother sleeping across the fire she will be more inclined to keep her hands and her lips to herself. I mean what self-respecting queen can be joined with a hickey on her neck? I hope it heals before I have to face Ephiny or Eponin.

* * * *

We arrived on Amazon lands as the sun was setting on the third day. We were greeted by Eponin and her sentries and escorted regally into the village, their queen had returned. I had sent word to Ephiny that Xena and I wanted to be joined, but I asked her not to mention anything to the nation. I didn't want all the regalia and I was sure Xena didn't want all the attention. Being the true friend that she is, she kept our secret, only sharing the news with Eponin and Solari who greeted us warmly when we were settled in the relative privacy of the Queen's quarters.

"Thank you Ephiny, for not telling everyone." I hugged my regent warmly.

"It was tough, let me tell you." The curly-haired woman replied.

"So when do we get to make the announcement?" It was Solari's turn to pipe in.

"Well, Gabrielle's sister and mother are expected tomorrow, everyone will know something is up when they arrive." Ephiny looked expectantly at Xena and me.

"One Hecuba and Lila arrive you can make the announcement. I will then approach Artemis and ask for her blessing." Xena stated, knowing that she just couldn't walk up to the temple, as their secret would be out if she did. Xena never prayed in Artemis' temple.

"Great, then just leave the rest to us. Xena, Eponin will see to anything you need and Gabrielle I will be at your beck and call. Now, Cyrene has been settled into a guest hut and you two will be allowed to stay together tonight, but after morning meal tomorrow you will be separated till the joining. Is there anything you need till then?" Eponin smiled as I turned to look at Xena.

"Shackles for Miss. Wandering hands over there." The Amazons laughed as Xena's scowl and my raised eyebrow.

"Uh…" Ephiny stammered.

"I'm kidding, Eph. I will just have to fend her off on my own." I chuckled as my regent sent me a look that said there would be some explaining to do later. Bidding goodnight to our friends Xena and I prepared for our last night together before our joining.

"You know, Gabrielle, you are a cruel, cruel woman." Xena joked as she changed into her sleeping shift.

"Patience is a virtue, my warrior." I too changed into my sleeping attire.

"Aw crap, leave it to me to fall in love with a stubborn, lyrically talented bard." The warrior grumbled.

"Just think, two nights from now our, and I do mean OUR torturous wait will be over and you will have me all to yourself forever and ever." I stated as I crawled over my bedmate and got under the sheets, rolling over on my side. It didn't take long before I felt Xena's warm body curl up behind me, her arm encircling my waist, her breath tickling my neck.

"You had better rest the next two days, my bard cause you won't be getting ANY sleep that night." Xena purred in my ear and I made no attempt to suppress my shudder.

"I'm counting on it warrior, after all, I have heard you have many skills." Now is was her turn to shudder.

"Goodnight, Xena."

"Goodnight, love." My last thoughts before succumbing to Morpheus was 'I don't think I will ever tire of hearing her say that.'

* * * *

The next day started with a bang, literally. I was awoken as Ephiny knocked rather loudly on our door far too early for my liking. Reluctantly I rose to see what all the commotion was about, leaving Xena to procure some breakfast for us both.

"Good morning, Ephiny." I grumbled as I opened the door just enough to allow her to enter.

"I'll go get some food." Xena said as she placed a quick, but passionate kiss on my neck before leaving me alone with my regent.

"Well it looks like it's a good morning, but I have to say I expected the village to be far less quiet last night, what it being your last night together and all…" The regent let the sentence drop.

"Xena and I are waiting." I answered simply with a shrug.

"What? I thought you two would have…gotten together long before now."

"No, we never have. We actually just really started expressing our feelings when she returned. We decided we didn't want to hide from each other anymore so…"

"Full speed ahead?" I nodded.

"Yeah." I couldn't help the smile that crossed my face.

"So, how did you get her to agree?" The blonde asked.

"To what? The joining or the sex?"


"Well, the joining was easy. I asked, she said yes. As for the sex part, well she was too injured at first and then I decided that two more weeks wouldn't kill us. I almost feel bad, the poor woman has drilled with her sword almost constantly since then." A small chuckle escaped both our lips.

"So that is what that comment about the shackles was all about?" I nodded.

"Yeah, she is relentless. Let me tell you, thank the gods Cyrene was with us on our way here, that woman is very hard to resist when she turns on the charm."

"I can tell." I raised my eyebrow in question.

"Your neck." Unconsciously my hand raised to cover the healing mark.

"No use covering it up, I've already seen it." Ephiny smiled.

"Yeah, well I was hoping it would have healed."

"Hoping what would have healed?" A tray laden Xena asked as she re-entered the hut.

"That passion mark you left on her neck, you beast!" Ephiny joked as Xena waggled her eyebrows suggestively.

"Bet she didn't tell you about the one she gave me. Fortunately my clothes cover it up." Now it was my turn to respond, I simply blushed.

"No, she didn't." The blonde winked evilly.

"Can we eat now?" I asked, desperately trying to change the subject.

"You two go ahead. When you are done it will be time to separate. So enjoy, but not too much." Ephiny drawled as she left our quarters. Xena and I both groaned.

* * * *

After breakfast Eponin arrived to take Xena away. Knowing that this was my chance to tease the warrior a bit before she left, I pulled her to me and gave her a very passionate kiss. I underestimated Xena though, she gave as good as she got and when Eponin thought we our little scene had gone on long enough she pulled Xena away. As they left I tried desperately to control my breathing and get some semblance of strength back to my knees. I have a feeling Xena had to do the same.

"Phew, it's going to be a LONG two days!" I mumbled as a left to seek out Ephiny.

"Gab! Gab….Gabrielle!" I was pulled from my self-imposed trance at the sound of my name. Recognizing the voice immediately, I turned to see my sister running towards me.

"Lila, you're here." I said warmly as I pulled her into a warm embrace.

"Yes, mother and I arrived moments ago and when I saw you walking I just had to say hi." My younger sibling smiled at me.

"I can't believe you're getting married, Gab!" Lila practically shrieked. I saw a pair of younger Amazons drop the buckets they were carrying upon hearing my sister's exclamation. 'Well, the secret is out now.' I thought to myself.

"Yeah, imagine that." I could no longer hide my smile.

"Where is Xena? Why isn't she with you?" That was my sister, always full of questions.

"Amazon custom, she is with Eponin, we are not allowed to see each other till tomorrow night." I explained as I took my sister's arm and we headed to find my mother.

"Oh! Well, can I see her? I'd like to say hi."

"Yeah, of course. Just talk to Ephiny, she can take you to see her. You remember Ephiny, right?"

"Yeah, I remember her. Ok, I will find you later then ok?" Still smiling I let my sister run off to find my regent. Shaking my head I marveled at the change in my sister and mother. None of my family had been too pleased when I left with Xena, but over the years Lila and mom have gotten to know Xena through my scrolls to them. And in the past two years they have made a real effort to get to know her personally and they have grown to like her. And I believe they have started to see what it is that draws me to the stoic warrior. For that I am grateful.

"Mother, hello." I said as I approached, suddenly I was feeling a bit nervous.

"Gabrielle." One word and immediately my nerves settled. There was a glint in her eye and the slightest hint of a smile, both letting me know that my decision to marry was all right with her.

"Will you see that my family's things make it to their hut?" I asked the stable hands that were settling in their horse.

"Yes, my queen." They nodded and set to work as I turned my attention back to my mother.

"You must be thirsty, would you like to get some tea with me?" I asked.

"Of course, but that is not all I would like to do. I believe you and I have a few things to discuss." A smile pulled at my mother's lips.

"Yeah." I chuckled, "I guess we do. Were you surprised?" I asked as we made our way back to my hut.

"No dear, not at all." I looked toward my mother with what must have been a confused look because she laughed.

"Gabrielle, you are my daughter. I know you pretty well, dear, and the last time you and Xena visited I knew something between you was changing. I wasn't able to put my finger on it at first. The day you were to leave, however, she let you drag her all over the village and I saw the way she looked at you when you were saying your good-byes. I knew then that she loved you very much. And when she was packing that huge horse of hers you looked at her the exact same way, and I knew that you were in love with her. So, no, I was not surprised. It did take a little bit longer than I expected though."

"We were a bit reserved at first. We didn't want to rush into anything. Actually, we didn't even say anything to each other about how we were feeling till recently. It just became too much to hold in any longer." Closing the door to Xena and my hut I motioned for my mother to take a seat as I heated the water for tea. Now that we were alone I knew the big questions were coming.

"So, have you two…. been together? I mean, I know you were married before, but…" I immediately felt my ears begin to burn with a blush. My sex life is not something I wanted to be discussing with her.

"Uh, no. Xena was injured when we decided to join and at that point I decided that we should wait." Suddenly I found the contents of my steaming cup fascinating. My mother laughed.

"Do you even know how…"

"Mother!" I exclaimed, now wondering if embarrassment could be fatal.

"Well, it's a valid question, Gabrielle. Xena is not a man and neither are you so there are bound to be some er…differences in the approach." Now my mother was beginning to blush.

"I am an Amazon, mother."

"Meaning?" Oh gods, there had to be a corner I could sneak into somewhere.

"I have read all the scrolls in the library concerning the subject at hand."

"Well, at least you are prepared, dear." I looked up and caught my mother trying her hardest to suppress a grin.

"What?" I asked, not able to hold in my own smile.

"Nothing, I just find your modesty amusing. I'm sure you and Xena will feel your way through just fine." I was shocked at my mother's blatant innuendo.

"Ok, I think that is enough of this conversation." I stated with a hint of pleading in my voice.

"So, where is this future daughter-in-law of mine? I would have expected her to be glued to your hip." My mother stood and straightened out her skirt. I breathed a sight of relief that our little "sex-talk" was over.

"We have been separated, as per custom. We won't see each other till the ceremony. If you would like to see her Ephiny can arrange it." I stood as well and led my mother outside.

"Yes, I should like to speak with her. Shall we meet in the dining hut for evening meal?" I nodded.


"I hear that there is an announcement to be made at that time."

"Yeah, Ephiny will announce to the nation that their queen is officially taking a consort."

"Sounds big, after all it's not everyday that the queen is married, is it?"

"No." We both smiled and I watched my mother head off in search of my regent. I shook my head slowly; I had a feeling Xena was going to be subjected to the same type of conversation I had just experienced. 'Good luck, Warrior.' I thought as I made my way to the practice field where I was sure I would find Solari, maybe I could get in a good workout before dinner.

* * * *

By the time evening meal rolled around every member of the nation had heard about my sister's statements that morning. I didn't make any comments, save for a small lift of an eyebrow whenever someone approached me to inquire about the truth or falsity of the statements. I think my Amazons were frustrated with my lack of response, but that didn't stop each and every one of them from packing in at dinnertime, filling the large hut with an air of expectancy.

Taking a seat at my usual table, I was soon joined by my mother, Lila and Ephiny. I was told that Eponin and Solari had taken Xena out of the village on an impromptu camping trip, ensuring that we wouldn't "accidentally" run into each other. The news quashed any ideas I had entertained about a secret rendezvous after dark. Gods, I wanted to see her so badly, and we hadn't even been apart for a full day! 'Yep, you got it bad, girl.' When the silence in the hut became unbearable Ephiny finally stood, eliciting a rush of whispers throughout the dining crowd.

"I have an announcement to make to the nation." She paused, letting the anticipation build.

"You all know that our queen, Gabrielle, has chosen Xena of Amphipolis as her champion." A murmur of acknowledgement went through the crowd.

"Well, as of sundown tomorrow night that arrangement will change. Gabrielle and Xena have come back to the Amazon Nation to be joined!" Ephiny couldn't help the smile that crossed her lips as a cheer rose up from the crowd.

"Now, you all know the custom. Is there anyone here who would like to challenge this joining? To challenge Xena for Gabrielle's hand?" I held my breath momentarily.

"Yeah, right! Xena would beat anyone hands down!" Came a light retort from the back of the hut.

"Or with both hands tied behind her back!" Another voice interjected, jokingly. The room joined in with the hecklers till everyone was laughing and joking. I began to breathe again.

"Ok, then, it's settled. Rest up, Amazons for tomorrow our queen is joined and we party!" Ephiny declared as the room burst out in cheers. Retaking her seat my regent clapped me on the back warmly.

"See, not so hard."

"Nope." I said as I took a sip of my wine and continued to enjoy dinner with my family and friends.

I wasn't allowed to leave the dining hut that night without first accepting the multitudes of congratulations from the various members of the nation. And by the time I actually made it back to my hut the moon was almost high in the sky. I bid goodnight to my mother and sister as I entered my hut and I wondered where Xena was, and if she was having a good time with Eponin and Solari. Changing into my sleeping shift I blew out the candles and stoked the fire before crawling into my empty bed. Laying there on my back I missed Xena's presence, I didn't realize how difficult it would be to be separated, even if it was for such a short time.

"Goodnight, Xena." I whispered to the empty space beside me and my mind filled in the response to our nightly ritual, 'goodnight, love.'

* * * *

Much to my surprise I slept peacefully that night, not waking till Lila came to rouse me and tell me that Ephiny needed me to begin the preparations for the joining. As queen, I had participated in a few joining ceremonies so I knew what to expect. The first task, however, was pushed back to make time for breakfast; after all I couldn't start the day of my joining off without first satisfying the monster that was my stomach. Having eaten I was much more relaxed and willingly let Ephiny lead me to the baths so I could be "purified." It was well known that most of the Amazons were not virgins when they were bonded, and as a result the ritual bath was enacted as a means of purifying the spirit if not the body for a bonding before Artemis and the nation. In most instances the ones being bonded were washed by helpers, but being the queen had it's advantages as I was able to convince them that I was capable of bathing myself. So, with my spirit purified and my hair squeaky clean I was led to the main hut where along with Lila and my mother's help my hair was fixed, the front being pulled back in six twist-like braids and the back being left to fall as it normally did.

My regular attire was exchanged for a new pair of mahogany boots, a gift from Solari, and a matching skirt. The skirt itself was basically a leather flap in the front and the back, leaving the sides open to show a second layer of deep green fabric that matched the beadwork of the belt that held the whole thing up. On my arms were placed the ceremonial queen's armbands, each made of silver with a swirl of gold winding around in an intricate design. My top was also classic Amazon. Cut much as my usual top was, it revealed a vast amount of skin, covering only what was required for decency's sake. Fortunately I spend most of my time outdoors and travelling so I was fairly tanned and fit enough to pull off such an outfit.

Finishing off the look was a regalia of royal guards. Each was armed with a highly polished sword and shield. Their outfits were fringed in the same green as my skirt. The protection was unnecessary, but it looked good for ceremony's sake. I looked around at the people surrounding me and realized that while we were all getting dressed dusk had settled upon the village. A steady beat of drums began just outside of the hut and Lila and mother took that as their cue to take their seats. Ephiny gave me one last smile and pat on the back and she too left to take her place on the platform with Xena.

"It's time, Gabrielle." Solari whispered as the guard took their places in front of me. I nodded and took one last deep breath before the doors to the hut were opened and the drumbeats got louder.

Walking through the crowd of seated Amazons with my guard ahead of me I couldn't see Xena, but as the women in front of me stopped and stepped aside creating a corridor I saw her and she took my breath away. I had expected her to be wearing her leathers so it surprised me to see her dressed as an Amazon with a delicious amount of abdomen showing. Dragging my eyes away from her midsection I looked up and locked eyes with my soon to be bondmate. Her bruises were all gone and her strong features were set in a small smile as she read the surprise in my eyes. Continuing to walk, I passed my family and Cyrene. Ephiny had prepared me for what was about to occur but now as I looked at Xena for the first time in what seemed like an eternity everyone else disappeared, leaving the two of us and my regent.

"My Amazon sisters, tonight we are here to bear witness to the joining of our queen, Gabrielle and Xena of Amphipolis. An Amazon bonding is a union for eternity and is not a matter to be taken lightly." At this point Ephiny looked to us.

"Do you, Gabrielle, enter this union freely and commit yourself to Xena for eternity?"

"Yes, I do." I breathed out, my eyes never leaving the blue of Xena's.

"And do you, Xena, enter into this union freely and commit yourself to Gabrielle for eternity?"

"Yes, I do." Xena's words were spoken loudly and clearly.

"Since Gabrielle is Queen of this nation do you pledge your life and your sword to protect her?"

At this point Xena drew her sword and placed it across her palms, offering it to me.

"My life and my sword are yours for now and forever." These words were spoken directly to me.

"Do you accept this offering, my queen?"

"I do." I smiled slightly as Xena playfully breathed out a mock sigh of relief. Resheathing her sword Xena turned to Eponin who handed her two silver rings.

"As a sign of your union and to show all of those you meet your commitment to each other these rings are offered. They have been blessed by Artemis and signify the goddess' acceptance of this union." Ephiny took the larger ring from Xena's palm and handed it to me. With shaking fingers I took it and placed it on Xena's finger. She then repeated the process by placing my own ring on my finger, clasping her warm hand over my shaking ones when she had finished.

"Artemis has blessed this union and what the goddess has seen fit let no mortal or immortal put asunder. Amazon sisters, may I present to you Queen Gabrielle and her bondmate Xena!" The Amazon nation rose to it's feet to cheer the new union as Xena stepped closer so that I could feel the heat of her body on my exposed skin.

"You ready?" She asked me as she moved her hands to my bare waist.

"Bring it on." I smiled as our mouths descended, making contact as the cheers around us grew louder.

Our kiss deepened immediately and I felt Xena's tongue run along my upper lip before entering my mouth and dueling hotly with my own. An eternity of moments passed before we finally broke, breathing heavily. The sounds of a fledgling celebration assaulted my ears as I rested my head against Xena's chest.

"If we keep that up we will never make it to the party." Xena said in a low voice that only I could hear.

"Umm, we had better behave, at least for a candlemark or two. Then we can sneak away and the real fun can start." I raised my head and quirked my eyebrow suggestively.

"Let's go get something to eat, you are going to need your strength." Xena teased as she slid her hand down to interlace her fingers with my own.

"You had better eat too, my warrior cause I don't intend on letting you out of my bed till at least mid-day tomorrow." Two could play that game.

"Promises, promises. C'mon, your adoring public awaits." Tugging slightly she pulled me toward the celebration area.

Now, never let it be said that the Amazon Nation didn't know how to throw a party. In the past two days they had organized a celebration that will forever be remembered. There were numerous bonfires and dance circles, tables upon tables of food ranging from fresh game to baked goods and more than enough nutbread to feed all of Potadiea. Not to mention the barrels of Amazon wine that was being consumed by most everyone, including Cyrene and my own mother. Tugging Xena by the hand I filled a plate and headed over to join our imbibing families.

"That was a beautiful ceremony, Gabrielle." Cyrene commented as we sat down, my mother and sister agreed around mouthfuls of their favorite treats.

"So did you show her yet, dear?" Cyrene continued, looking at her daughter who feigned ignorance.

"Show her what?" She drawled.

"Yeah, show me what?" I echoed as I turned to Xena who was suddenly very hungry by the looks of the way she attacked her plate. My eyes roamed over her once again, studying carefully to see if I had missed anything.

"Nothing." A guilty smile betrayed her.

"Look at her back, Gab." Lila piped in then expertly dodged a piece of flying nutbread playfully launched in her direction by a certain warrior princess.

"Hey! One should not waste good nutbread." Lila commented, laughing.

"You Potadieans and your nutbread." Xena groaned as she finally relented to my attempts to turn her around. Her choice of attire for the evening allowed me to immediately see what she had done.

On her lower back, where there had previously only been a tattoo of a black letter X enclosed in a circle now contained an elaborate design. She had added a black G in the same fashion as the X. The letters were close enough so the circles were intertwined and surrounding the letters was a rendition of the North Star inked in various shades of blue to highlight the lettering. The design was breathtaking in its clarity, and it's meaning.

"When did you do this?" I asked in wonder as I gently traced the healing tattoo.

"Eponin did it the morning we separated. When your sister and mother found me I was sprawled out on a table in her hut. Do you like it?" She asked with a bit of nervousness in her voice.

"It's beautiful, thank you." I stammered as she turned around and retook her seat. Taking my hand in hers she squeezed gently. I knew she didn't like public displays of emotion so I merely squeezed back, silently telling her that I loved the implications and her for declaring them so publicly on her body.

The table was quiet for a moment as we began to eat again. It wasn't often that others saw the softer side of the Warrior Princess so they each took a moment to absorb what they had seen before moving on and sparking up another conversation. After eating our fill Xena and I excused ourselves from our families, promising to meet up with them later and headed to go visit with Ephiny, Eponin and Solari. All of which had been consuming their share of wine and were feeling pretty good.

"Hey guys!" Ephiny said, a little louder than necessary.

"Hi, having fun?" I asked, obviously knowing the answer.

"Yeah, y'all should get hitched more often, it makes for a great party." My regent stated as Solari stood and began dragging her out to one of the dance spaces.

"If you will excuse us, I think Regent Ephiny promised me a dance."

"Have a seat." Eponin said cheerily as she moved over to make room on the small bench she was occupying. Throwing one leg over the wooden bench I lowered myself so that I was straddling the seat, leaving enough room for Xena to take a seat behind me. She got the hint and scooted up to my back, wrapping her arms around my waist and resting her chin on my shoulder.

"You did a beautiful job on the tattoo, Ep." I stated as I took a sip from my cup of wine.

"Thanks, I always wondered when she was going to let me alter it, what having its original purpose being pretty much unnecessary now." I waited to feel Xena stiffen at the mention of her tormented past, but the woman behind me didn't flinch.

"Yeah well, that part of my life is over, has been for a long time now and it just took me a while to figure out what to add. Then one night while we were on the road we had a conversation about the North Star and how it guides sailors when they are at sea. I began to think about that again while we were on our way here and the design just came to me. Gabrielle is the north star for me, she guides me down the path to a better life and when we are together I feel that my path is right and my life balanced, the tattoo signifies that. It shows everyone who might see it how I feel about her." Eponin and I remained mute; not even I was used to such a personal statement coming from my bondmate. As a response I leaned back into her a bit more and covered her arms, which were around my midsection, with my hands.

"Wow, Xena. I don't think I have ever heard to you say so many words at one time." Eponin smiled at her friend and raised her wineglass in a toast-like gesture.


"Thank you, Ep. For everything." Xena was on a roll.

After our chat with Eponin, Xena and I made our way around the celebration. Talking to groups of Amazons saying hello and accepting more words of congratulations. When we made it back to the table at which we had started we had surpassed our two candle mark pledge and I decided that it was time for the Queen and her Consort to head back to their hut for the evening. Try ended up being the operative word because as soon as we even started to back away from the festivities we were surrounded by groups of smiling Amazons who successfully lured us back to the party. I noticed our families watching the activities from their table, smiling amiably and chatting amongst themselves. After our third attempt to get away I beginning to think that we would never get away. It was at this point that I remembered all the other joinings I had attended and realized what these raucous women were attempting to do. They were trying to get one of us to admit that we were headed off to "consummate" our joining. Xena must have realized that I had put two and two together because at that point she approached me from behind and swept me up in her arms. Turning to our friends she spoke loud enough for the majority of the party to hear.

"Goodnight all. Feel free to continue to enjoy the celebration. At this time I think that it is time for me to take your queen to bed." A roar of cheers and catcalls rose up from the mostly drunk women and I buried my face in Xena's neck to hide the instant blush that had accompanied her statement. I didn't emerge from my hiding place till I felt my weigh shift as Xena attempted to open the door to our hut. Softly I began to kiss and suck on her neck, making my way slowly to her pulse point, which had suddenly started to throb more rapidly.

"Gods, Gabrielle! Unless you want me to put you down and take you right here against the wall, where everyone can see us, I suggest you stop that." She groaned out.

"So let them see," I mumbled, then changed my mind. "On second thought, I want you all to myself. So hurry up warrior, get that door opened." I purred into her ear, abandoning her neck for the moment.

Once we were safely inside Xena put me down and we went about lighting candles and stoking the fire. As soon as the soft light permeated the hut I was able to see what had been done to our residence. The bed had been made up with fresh sheets and there was a vase with wildflowers on the small table. Next to the flowers were a bowl of fresh fruit, a pitcher of water and a skin of wine.

"Did you do this?" I asked as I turned around to look at her. She just shrugged her shoulders, like it was no big deal. Smiling I crossed the room and wrapped her in a tight embrace.

"Thank you." I said, not releasing her from the circle of my arms.

"For what?" She mumbled softly, her hands playing with the loose strands of my hair.

"For everything. For tonight, for the room, for this…" I ran my fingers lightly over her healing skin.

"You don't know what that means to me."

"If it means as much to you as it does to me, then I think I do. I kinda like having your mark on me, it lets everyone else know where they stand. Besides, knowing it's there gives me this sexy feeling." I chuckled at her eyebrow waggle.

"Dance with me?" I asked, suddenly realizing that we hadn't had the chance at the party.

"Sure." She replied, beginning to sway to the music we could hear still coming from the party.

"Did I tell you that I really like this look on you?"

"Hmmm, I thought you might."

"Yeah, all that exposed skin. I think I was the envy of all the girls tonight." I teased.

"You think? Cause I thought that I was." Again she gave as good as she got.

"Mmmm, I think anymore skin and you might have scandalized the small children." I felt more than heard her deep laugh.

"You know, there are no small children here to scandalize at the moment."

"Does that mean you are willing to show off a little bit more?" I asked as I began to place light kisses on any exposed skin I could reach.

"Oh I think I am up to that challenge, how about you, my bard? I'll show you mine if you'll show me yours."

"Are you saying that you want me naked?" I teased.

"That was the general idea."

"I think that can be arranged." I said as my hands snaked up her back and untied the lacings of her top.

At this point Xena released me and stepped back, releasing me from our impromptu dance so she could watch me watch her undress. Reaching behind herself she unclipped the restraints holding up her top and let it fall to the floor. Next went her skirt and boots till she was standing in front of me wearing nothing but her breeches.

"I do believe it's your turn." She said in a tone I had never heard from her before, it practically dripped sex. Without saying a word I began removing my own clothing, removing first my boots and armbands. Only after setting the delicate metal bands on the table did I reach behind myself to untie and unclip my top and drop my skirt. Now we were both standing in our undergarments just looking at each other. Now there had been countless times when we had seen each other in the nude, but this was the first time we openly looked at each other as lovers. Reaching out I took one strong hand in my own and pulled gently till we were skin to skin.

"You feel so good." I groaned softly, "so soft and warm against me."

"The feeling is very mutual." Xena whispered.

"I have to confess something to you."

"What?" I felt Xena's breath on my bare shoulders; it sent a shiver through my body.

"I'm a bit nervous." My eyes dropped and I felt gentle fingers raising my chin till we were looking at each other again.

"Why?" 'Yeah, Gabrielle, why are you nervous?' My inner voice asked.

"Well, I haven't been with anyone since…well, you know. And that was my first time. Also, I've…never been with a woman before. I mean I know how it's done, I am an Amazon, but I haven't ever…" Two soft fingers stopped my babbling.

"It's ok. Just do what feels right. We can go as slow as you want."

"You'll let me know if I'm not…"

"I'll let you know, but don't worry there isn't anything you could do that I wouldn't enjoy." The love in her eyes made my frazzled nerves calm somewhat, only to be replaced by the realization of how naked we were and how very close we were standing. The feeling of her skin against mine sent tingles of warmth through my veins. Feeling bold I pulled her back until I felt the bed at the backs of my thighs. Crawling up onto the platform I kneeled so we were face to face, our height difference erased. Now it was my turn to experience the assault of her kisses. It seemed as though her lips were everywhere at once, my neck, my shoulders and face were all burning from the heat of her touch.

"Xena?" I sighed.

"Hmm?" Came the muffled reply from my neck.

"Kiss me."

"I am, Gabrielle." She teased.

"No, I mean," removing my hands from her waist I tangled my fingers in her hair, dragging her face up till our lips were a hair's breadth apart, "here." I completed and then crushed my lips to hers, immediately requesting entrance for my probing tongue. I felt my own legs begin to loose strength when her tongue slid roughly over my own, probing, mapping my mouth and hers. When my need for oxygen finally made itself known I broke away, but didn't go far, I nipped and gently sucked on her lips, eventually bringing my forehead to rest against hers as we both breathed heavily.

"Do you want to join me up here?" I asked as I stretched out on the cool cotton sheets.

Without saying a word, Xena crawled up on the bed and laid out on her side, her head propped up by one hand, her other coming to rest on my stomach and began to draw small circles.

"Tell me what you want, Gabrielle." She said as her circles began to expand, her fingers barely coming up to brush against the underside of my breasts before retreating back to circle my navel.

"Touch me, please." I whispered.

"I am touching you." She countered, playfully.

"More, please." Another forced whisper.

"Yes, my queen." I had to smile at the endearment, but that smile faded into a gasp as her teasing fingers began to circle my sensitive breasts, my nipples hardening as she came closer and closer with each circle. I groaned, loudly, when her callused finger and thumb gently squeezed the taught flesh.

"You like that?"

"Yessss…" I hissed.

"How about this?" She asked as her head descended and I felt her hot, wet tongue gently flick over my neglected nipple.

"Gods! Yes!" I panted.

"More." I pleaded. She rewarded me by taking my flesh into her mouth and sucking hard. My hands immediately found themselves purchase in her dark hair. Xena continued her assault on my breasts, alternating between squeezing with her talented fingers and long hard sucking that caused me to squirm beneath her.

"Xena, I want to touch you!" I moaned when I could take it no more.

"Patience, love, patience." She responded as her mouth left my breasts and captured my lips for another searing kiss. Her hands where not idle as they made their way down over my stomach, touching and exploring my body for the first time. When she reached my breeches she paused. It took a few moments before I realized why. She was waiting, silently asking my permission. I gave it willingly.

"Yes, take them off, please." I said as I lifted my hips allowing the now damp fabric to be dragged down and off.

"Yours too." I added as an afterthought. Quickly my hands joined hers at her waist and I pushed the offending garment off her hips and down her legs so she could kick them away. Recognizing this moment for what it was, I used my legs to roll us over so that I was straddling her waist, bringing my now aching sex into intimate contact with her abdomen, we both groaned at the feeling.

"Gods, you are so wet! So hot, Gabrielle." A wanton side I never knew existed then made its presence known.

"You make me this way. Your touch makes me wet for you. Only you can do this to me." Xena's eyes closed and her head tilted back on the pillows as I began to rock my hips firmly against her.

"I have never felt this way about anyone. Everytime you look at me you make me want to take you. I don't care who is around, I want to drag you to the ground and feel myself inside you, feel you inside of me." I whispered hoarsely as I felt two strong hands come to rest on my thighs, two work roughened thumbs rubbing so closely to the source of my arousal. I was on a roll, so I kept coaxing her, seeing how far I could push before she snapped. Her breathing was ragged and I could feel her hips rising up to meet me with every thrust I made.

"I want you to take me, Xena. I want to feel your mouth on me, your fingers in me. I want you to fuck me!" That did it, before I could continue I was on my back with a very aroused warrior princess settled on top of me, her mound pressing rhythmically against me, her irregular breathing matching my own. One of her arms supported her weight on her elbow while her other hand worked its way down to part my thighs, moving one up and out of the way so she had better access to my dripping center. And suddenly she was touching me.

"XENA! Gods, that feels so good." I moaned as I tried to blink away the stars that flashed before my eyes.

"You want me to fuck you, huh?" She asked as her hand covered my sex, her fingers just lightly brushing against my opening, circling, but nothing more.

"By the gods, yes!" I exclaimed as my hand shot down to cover hers, attempting to add more pressure to ease some of the throbbing between my legs.

"How? How do you want it?" She panted in my ear as she swirled her tongue around the sensitive outer shell.

"Do you want me to use my fingers?" To emphasize her point she added a little pressure, sinking one finger into the first knuckle.

"Or my tongue?" Another flick of her hot tongue against my ear and throat. I moaned, loudly.

"Well?" She coaxed.

"Has your voice left you my chatty bard?"

"Please, Xena…do…do something!" I begged. And that she did, she moved her hand out from between my legs.

"NO!" I cried out in frustration.

"Open your eyes, Gab." She whispered, I hadn't even realized I had closed them, what I saw made me close them again as a hiss was dragged from my throat. Xena had moved her hand to her lips and she was now sucking on her fingers, which were currently covered with my excitement.

"Mmmm." She moaned as she removed her fingers.

"Taste." She whispered before sealing our mouths together. I could taste myself on her tongue and it only inflamed me more. While I sampled her mouth I didn't feel her hands return to my center till two long, tapered fingers entered me quickly. My moan was swallowed as we continued to kiss. When a third finger was added, however, our kiss was broken.

"Ungh…" I moaned as Xena's fingers pumped in and out of me rhythmically until my hips were meeting her every thrust.

"More….harder…" I begged until I felt her hand pick up it's pace, her thumb finding my engorged clit and began to stroke it, hard. I felt a wave of heat roll over my body and I knew I wouldn't last much longer, Xena knew it too as she curled her fingers forward slightly, bringing them in contact with the front wall of my sex, hitting just the right spot with each stroke.

"Ahhh…Xena…don't stop…" I was beyond coherent speech at this point.

"Let it go, come for me love. Come for me, Gabrielle." The sound of my name rolling off her lips began my climax. It coiled in my lower back and I felt it explode through my body.

"Xena…I'm close…I'm gonna….XEENNAA!" I screamed as my love continued to pump in and out of me steadily, prolonging the pleasure. Slowly she came to a stop as my hips returned to the bed.

I opened my eyes when my breathing began to approach normal. I wasn't prepared for the sight above me. Xena had returned to her previous position above me, she supported her upper body on her elbows, her long hair was tousled and her breathing was irregular, but it was her eyes that got me. They were the deepest shade of blue I had ever seen them and they shone with a mixture of want, love and devotion. She was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen.

"You are beautiful." The words spilled out.

"I believe it is you that is the beautiful one, love." I shook my head as my fingers rose to trace her features. When I got to her lips her hand grasped my wrist and she placed soft kisses on my palm and the tips of my fingers. I shuddered.

"I want to make love to you." I whispered, afraid to speak to loudly, that it would break the spell we were under.

"I want you too." She replied just as softly.

"There are a few ways we can go about this." I reflected her previous tactic back at her. An ebony eyebrow arched in surprise; that wasn't what she had expected me to say.

"I can take you the way you just took me, I can use my mouth, or I can use the gift Eponin gave us for just this occasion."

"Eponin gave us a gift?"

"Yes, she did, do you want to see it?" A slow nod was only answer. Rolling Xena onto her back I got out of the bed.

"Roll over, and close your eyes." I instructed as I crossed over to our bags. Feeling around inside I grasped what I was looking for.

"No peeking." I warned gently as I adjusted the soft leather harness around my waist, keeping a beautifully made phallus concealed in my hands. I had done a little research about the effects of the phallus on the Amazon sex-life and I decided that it was definitely worth a try. Although I had to admit I was a bit apprehensive, having never used one and not knowing what Xena's reaction would be. I knew she was an extremely sexual creature who had many diverse tastes as a left-over from her past life, but we had never discussed what exactly she liked; so I was taking a chance with this little plan, hoping against all hope that I could bring her as much pleasure as she as just brought me. Crawling back on the bed, I settled myself between Xena's outstretched legs. Leaning over I began to plant wet, open-mouthed kisses between her shoulder blades, her muscles twitched with the effort to stay still as I moved my way down.

"Get up on your hands and knees." I whispered in her ear before backing away. Moaning loudly she complied. I think my warrior was beginning to get the idea. Gently I massaged her lower back and firm rear end before reaching around with one hand to slide my fingers through her slippery sex, stopping briefly to apply pressure on her tight clit. I was testing her readiness; she was more than ready for what I had planned.

"Oh Gods!" She moaned as I removed my hand and brought it around to the now in place phallus, slicking it with her own juices.

"Ready?" I asked as my hand came to rest on her firm hip.

"Yessss." She hissed. Slowly I ran the phallus through her wet folds then back till with one hard thrust I entered her fully.

"Gab…AHHHH!" She screamed. With both hands now on her hips I coaxed her to sit up so her back was against my chest, her legs straddling my own as I sat back on my heels. Placing a kiss between her shoulders my hands moved to cover her breasts, her hard nipples digging into my palms. Her own hands came up to cover mine. Slowly she began to pump up and down, riding me.

"How does it feel, Xena? My cock inside you." Another loud groan was torn from my dark haired lover.

"Gods, Gabrielle, so good, you feel so good." She sighed as I used my body to lean her forward a bit more, giving myself more room to thrust against her.

"Harder." She pleaded as her hands reached back and grasped my hips, pulling me harder against her and deeper within her again and again.

"You feel so good, Xena. I love the feeling of you pressing down on me, riding me." Xena's cries were coming more frequently and urgently as one of my hands left her breast and descended down and weaved a path through the curly hair at the apex of her thighs, searching for her center of pleasure. When I found it she nearly jumped off my lap.

"Ahh…more…ungh…Gab." Her deep voice assaulted my senses causing the throb between my legs to begin again. Spreading my legs slightly I adjusted my angle so that the base of the phallus rubbed against me with just the right pressure. Picking up the pace of my stroking and combining it with a few hard thrusts and a long lick between her shoulders and Xena climaxed.

"Ahh, GAB-RI-ELLE…YES!" She roared loud enough that I knew the rest of the village heard. Oh, well, let them hear us, I shrugged mentally. My attention was quickly drawn back to our present situation as Xena began to collapse down on the bed, her movements thrusting the phallus back and against me, causing my second climax to begin.

"Oh…Xena….Gods!" I moaned. Riding out the pleasure until I let myself come to rest on Xena's back. Pulling my arms to the side I lifted myself up and withdrew, quickly discarding the now christened phallus, to lay down beside Xena who adjusted her position so we were face to face. Suddenly I was a little shy about my wantonness and averted my eyes, feeling a blush begin.

"That was amazing, Gabrielle. Absolutely worth the wait." She said gently as the used her finger to raise my chin to meet her gaze.

"Was it ok? The phallus…" I faded off.

"It was more than ok, a little surprising, but definitely ok. Anything you ever want to do is ok, Gabrielle." She said softly before brushing her lips over mine giving me a kiss that was so full of love and devotion that all my shyness faded away.

"I love the way you talk to me, your voice is so sexy." She purred.

"I think the whole village heard us." I said as I scooted closer and draped my arm over her waist.

"Mmm, probably. Are you ok with that?" She asked.

"Uh, I guess, not so much with my mother and sister hearing, but everyone else is ok."

"You know, its considered good luck for the future of the joining if the nation hears the newly joined on their first night together." I laughed.

"You are making that up." Xena smiled.

"Yeah, well, it sounded good, didn't it?" I nodded, laughing.

"Yes, yes it did." I said sleepily.

"We should sleep." Xena said, rolling herself onto her back, bringing me with her so that I was half on the bed, half on warrior princess.

"Tired?" I asked.

"Yeah, but a good tired. Can I ask you something?" I sighed as I felt Xena's hand gently stroking my back.


"Where did you learn…that technique?" I raised my head, resting my chin on the arm draped across her chest.

"Eponin." I didn't elaborate, waiting to see what her reaction was. Her eyes opened and searched my face for more explanation.

"But, you said…" I placed my fingers over her mouth to silence her.

"When she gave me the phallus she also gave me a scroll from the library that described it, she said that I should read it." I saw her features relax.

"Phew, for a second there I thought…"

"I know what you thought. What I told you was true; you are the first woman I have ever been with, and only the second person I have ever been with."

"Well, I will have to thank Eponin for the suggestion." Xena smiled her completely relaxed state returning.

"I think we will have to try it in reverse sometime." After Xena's reaction to the phallus I desperately wanted to have a turn.


"Sounds like the party is still going strong." I commented as I heard the music still playing out on the field.



"Wanna try that position now?" I couldn't help but grin.

"Oh, yeah." I husked before I was swept up into another kiss that kept our party going long into the night.

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