Disclaimer: The characters of Xena and Gabrielle and others mentioned, belong to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No infringement on their rights are intended.

Subtext Disclaimer: This story contains references to a loving relationship between two consenting adults, who happen to be of the same sex and also contains sexually explicit scenes of two women making love. If this offends you, or you are under 18 years of age, or you reside in an area where this type of material is illegal, read no more. There is plenty of general fanfic out there for you. Go find it.

Timeline: This story is a sequel to A New Day and begins the evening following the end of that story. If you haven’t read A New Day, I suggest you do, before continuing, otherwise, you may not understand some of the references contained herein. Blah, Blah, Blah. Just don’t blame me if you get lost, okay. And I apologize now, for the length, but it couldn’t be helped.

To all you Plan D series readers: Break out your party hats, I’m heading back. This train ain’t stoppin till it get’s to the land of Grace and Faith. All abooaarrd! Woo! Woo! Chug, chug, chug, chug, chug. Woo! Woo! Who put that cow on the track?

Send all comments to asdease1@gte.net.

Enjoy, I hope.

Hot Bath And A Bed

By FlyBigD

“What do you think?” Scanning the fork in the road, Xena frowned.

“Which ever one is the quickest to a hot bath and a bed.” Wiggling in the saddle, Gabrielle tried to relive the soreness in her bottom.

Smiling, Xena nudged Argo to the left. “One hot bath and bed, coming right up.”

As Argo walked on, Gabrielle closed her eyes, wincing with each step the mare took.

The day had been a long one and they’d only stopped twice, once to eat some more of Xena’s rabbit and to answer the call of nature. Xena had pressed them eastward for half a day, before turning north, to avoid the Persian advance and now the sun was sinking toward the horizon and Gabrielle was hoping that, even if she didn’t get the bath and bed, that she’d at least be able to get out of the saddle before she had to scream. Opening her eyes, she looked around at the trees and then at the sky. The bright blue was deepening into purple, and was scattered with ominous looking clouds. Sighing, she let her mind wander, trying to put her aching body out of her mind and because there was little else to do. It didn’t take long for the events of the previous night to come to the fore and she smiled with the images that came with the memories. So close, she thought, and yet so far. Rolling her eyes, Gabrielle looked down at the arm wrapped securely around her waist and smiled a little smile. Funny, thinking again, two days ago I wouldn’t have paid any attention to that arm and now it’s all I can think about. Strange how things could change so rapidly in such a short period of time. If anybody had asked her what had actually happened, she’d was sure she’d probably be at a loss to explain. The difference was unimaginable, yet so subtle, like the way Xena’s fingers flexed against her skin with the swaying of Argo’s gait. It was the little things, that had changed more than anything. Or, she thought, maybe it was the fact that I’m paying more attention to those little things. I wish, thinking, she tried to finish the thought, but was interrupted when the fingers on her abs flexed and readjusted their hold. I wish, she tried again, that I knew what in tartarus, we are going to do next.

The night before, she’d tried, on several occasions to press the warrior into a passionate situation and each time, she’d been stayed in her efforts. Xena had tried as well, but Gabrielle had stopped that try and now that the day was coming to a close, the bard thought of what this night would bring. She wasn’t sure that this night would be any different than the last, because they were both still in quite bad shape, physically. Her shoulder ached, as did her ankle and Gabrielle could only imagine what Xena’s body was telling her, since the warrior’s wounds must be sore as well. They were definitely not in any condition to try anything romantic, but that knowledge didn’t stop her imagination from running over several interesting possibilities.

Smiling at those images, Gabrielle ran a finger over the arm around her waist.

Feeling the touch, Xena leaned her head forward and whispered in Gabrielle’s ear. “A dinar for your thoughts.”

Gabrielle’s smile rose on one side and she turned to face the warrior. “How much further?”

“About an hour.” Raising an eyebrow, Xena kissed the bard’s shoulder. “Why, your butt sore?”

Narrowing her eyes to slits, Gabrielle sneered and turned back around. “If you must know, yes.” Feeling a chuckle behind her, she jabbed the warrior with her good arm.

“Sorry.” Pulling the bard to her, Xena rested her chin on Gabrielle’s shoulder. “It won’t be too much longer.”

Closing her eyes, Gabrielle rested her head on Xena’s shoulder and rubbed their cheeks together. “That’s okay, I’m comfortable now.”

Xena smiled and nudged Argo into a quicker walk. “You’re not going to fall asleep on me, are you?”

Yawning, as if on cue, Gabrielle shook her head. “No.” Smiling.

“Good.” Straightening, the warrior stretched her back muscles and yawned. After a few minutes, she felt the bard’s head lolling about on her shoulder and rolled her eyes. “Liar.” Whispering to herself, then taking a more secure hold of the bard’s sleeping body, Xena shifted on the saddle blanket and yawned again. Not much further, she thought and concentrated on the road and keeping Gabrielle from falling out of the saddle. The latter being a chore she wasn’t completely adverse to and found rather enjoyable. The bard’s bare midriff felt warm under her hand and Gabrielle’s breathing matched the sway of Argo’s walk. Looking around, Xena smiled at the setting sun, taking in the beauty of the impending dusk and sticking her tongue out at the clouds, then noticed the first twinkle in the darkening blue sky. Chuckling, at herself, she shook her head. That’s good, Xena. She thought. Now she’s got you doing it too. Chuckling again, Xena smiled at the thought of how she’d changed since Gabrielle had entered her life.

Even without the events and revelations of the previous night, Xena knew that she wasn’t the same person she’d been three years ago. The bloodthirsty warlord had faded into a defender of the greater good and the woman sleeping against her was a big part of her success. The path she’d chosen wasn’t scattered with roses and sometimes she’d wanted nothing more than turn around and head back down the path of darkness, but she never had. Each time she’d come close, Gabrielle had pulled her back from the brink and when she’d turned on the bard, they’d both fallen. Sighing and closing her eyes, Xena thought about Solon. The bright, spirited young man that was her son and how he’d pulled them both back from self destruction, to give them the chance to heal and forgive. She had many people to thank for her salvation from death and darkness, but no one wanted, and made her want to follow the path of the greater good more than Gabrielle. The little naive blonde bard, who despite all the warrior’s efforts, had grown up and transformed into the woman she’d grown to rely on. Trusting her with her life and so much more. Her heart. Smiling, Xena kissed a sleeping cheek. You have my heart, she thought and tightened her grip on the bard again. “And my soul.” Whispering into a sleep deafened ear.

As the road wound onward, Xena spotted the town, she’d been expecting and sighed. Almost regretful to end the bliss she was experiencing and letting the little voice in her head start chattering, she listened to it awhile, hearing the same reasoning she’d heard the night before, but this time she didn’t resolve to abstain from following her desires. This time she simply told it that whatever happened, she’d do what she thought was right and face the consequences if she was wrong, which the little voice didn’t like much, but it shut up anyway, for now. When the voice grew quiet, Xena came out of her daydream and concentrated on the task at hand, which was a bed and a hot bath.

When they were still some distance away from the gates, Xena gave Gabrielle a little shake and then a harder one, until the bard’s body stiffened.

“I’m not sleeping.” Gabrielle mumbled and took a sleepy look around.

“We’re here.” Smiling, as the bard rubbed her eyes, Xena’s warrior instincts kicked in as they passed through the gates and she scanned the surroundings. Remembering the lay of the town, she kept Argo at a slow walk and saw several people giving her a wary glance and there were a few huddled whispers, but no one made an effort to stop them. Turning down a narrow street, winding slowly between crates and garbage, she brought the mare to a halt in front of a large building. Sliding out of the saddle, Xena patted Gabrielle’s thigh. “Stay here.” Looking up at the bard, Xena winked, then turned and made her way inside the stables.

Smiling at the warrior, Gabrielle followed her with her eyes, until she disappeared. Sighing, the bard looked around casually and wrinkled her nose. Smelling the pungent odor of manure and garbage, she frowned. “I hope we’re not staying around here.” Chuckling, she patted Argo’s neck sympathetically, when the mare agreed with her assessment. “Sorry, girl.” Taking another look around, she noticed several people to her left, giving her a suspicious stare. Nodding with a smile, she turned away and took a tighter grip on her staff, rotating it in her hand. “Anytime now, Xena.” Whispering without moving her lips, Gabrielle saw the people approaching, out of the corner of her eye and tensed, following them with her eyes and finally relaxing when they passed by and into the darkness. Still looking in their direction, she didn’t notice Xena’s approach and jumped when she felt a hand on her knee. Bringing her staff up in a defensive position, she rolled her eyes when the warrior smirked.

“A little tense, are we?” Chuckling when Gabrielle tapped her on the head with her staff.

“Warrior induced reflexes.” Laying the staff across the saddle, she leaned down. “Tell me we’re not staying in the stables, this time.” Wrinkling her nose, again, then taking it between her thumb and index finger.

Laughing, Xena smiled and raised her arms up toward the bard. “Not this time. Come on.” Taking the staff from the bard, she set it aside and helped Gabrielle slide out of the saddle, taking care not to do any further injury to the bard’s shoulder. With Gabrielle on the ground, she handed her the staff. “I’ll take Argo in and be back in a minute. Don’t go anywhere.”

“Like I’m gonna run off?” Leaning on her staff and keeping her sprained ankle off the ground, Gabrielle rolled her eyes.

Shrugging, Xena took Argo’s reins and led the mare inside the stables and handed her off to the owner. After exchanging the price of the mare’s keep, Xena removed their belongings and went back outside. Looking around, she panicked for a moment, then sighed when she spotted the bard sitting on a bale of hay. Walking over she smiled. “Now, are you ready for a good stretch of the legs?”

Feeling her eyes growing wide, Gabrielle closed them. “How far is it?” She asked, then opened her eyes again.

“Not far.” Holding her hand out with a smile, Xena wrapped her arm around the bard, helping her to her feet. “Just a league or two.” Laughing at the expression on Gabrielle’s face, she shook her head. “Sorry. Warrior humor.”

Raising on eyebrow, Gabrielle sneered, but kept silent as they started down the street. Using the warrior as a brace and her staff as a crutch, she managed to hop and hobble her way to the inn, which seemed as though it was a league away and sighed heavily when Xena stopped. Looking at the building, she raised her eyebrow again. “You’re kidding, right?” Noticing the loud noises, coming from inside and the distinct smell of sweaty bodies and ale.

“It’s the only one in town.” Shrugging, Xena smiled guiltily and opened the door, then helped the bard inside. They were spotted immediately and Xena quickly found a chair close by to deposit the bard in. Turning, she stood up straight and faced the crowd of people staring at her and cracked her neck, then walked slowly through the opening path of bodies to the bar. Signaling the barkeep, she smiled at a man standing next to her. “Can I help you?” She asked the man, who suddenly found something more interesting to look at and turned away. With that done, she turned to the barkeep. “I need a room for two nights and a hot bath.”

Wiping his hands on his apron, the barkeep gave the warrior a close study, then glanced over Xena’s shoulder at the bard. “We only got one room.” His gravely voice echoing loudly in the silence.

“That’s all we need.” Following his direction, Xena looked over her shoulder at Gabrielle, who smiled. “What about the bath?” Smiling herself, she turned back to the man and put the warrior mask back on.

“It’ll take time to heat up the water.” Shrugging, he showed no emotion. “And it’ll cost you extra.”

“How much?” Leaning on the bar, she picked up an empty mug, twirling it in her hand.

Thinking a moment and considering the warrior in front of him, the barkeep scratched his cheek. “Thirty dinars.”

Raising one eyebrow, Xena gave the man a half smile. “Throw in meals for the two days and you’ve got yourself a deal.” Leaning back, she put down the mug on the bar and held the man’s eyes.

Frowning, the barkeep shrugged, thinking it was better to agree than haggle, then sighed. “Done.” Pointing to the stairs, at the back of the room. “Last room at the end of the hall.”

Fingering her chakram, when he reached under the bar, Xena relaxed when a key was placed in front of her. Smiling, she took it and winked. “You can bring dinner up to the room and let us know when the bath is ready.” Turning, when his frown deepened, she went back through the path of bodies to the bard. “You’re such a lucky girl.” Whispering as she helped the bard stand.

“Why?” Glancing between the barkeep, the crowd and Xena, Gabrielle’s expression became one of curiosity.

“Not only do you get a bed and hot bath.” Following the new path of bodies, Xena chuckled. “You also don’t have to cook for the next two days.”

“What did you do? Threaten him?” Smiling at the barkeep, who was following their progression, Gabrielle whispered.

“Nope.” Smiling in the same direction, Xena stared at the man. “Just stared at him, a little.” Watching the man turn away and disappear into the kitchen.

“Sometimes people can’t tell the difference, ya know.” Chuckling, Gabrielle stopped when they reached the bottom of the staircase and looked up the long row of steps. “Uh, Xena?” Pointing to the stairs, then looking down at her ankle.

“Not a problem.” Swooping the surprised bard into her arms, Xena started up the stairs.

“Xena?” Wrapping her arm around the warrior’s neck.

“Hmmm?” Smiling with every step upward.

“Why do you always have to find ways to embarrass me?” Closing her eyes, Gabrielle didn’t fight being carried, but shook her head, knowing the display was going to be the talk of the town for sometime.

“It’s one of the perks of having a sidekick.” Flicking her eyebrows, when the bard opened her eyes and glared. “It adds an entertainment factor.” Cringing, Xena felt the skin on her neck being pinched.

“How’s that for entertaining?” Pinching harder, Gabrielle screwed her face into a vicious scowl.

“Ow. Ow.” Trying to hold onto the bard, go up the steps and somehow get her skin back, Xena conceded. “Okay. I’m sorry.” Shaking her head, when the bard let go, she felt tears welling up in her eyes. “God’s, Gabrielle. Whoever said my pinch was deadly, never felt yours.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment.” Smiling smugly.

“Whatever makes you happy.” Wishing she could rub her neck, Xena put Gabrielle down when they reached the top of the stairs and looked down the long hallway. Sighing, she looked down into amused green eyes. “Shall we?” Holding out her arm to point the way.

“Absolutely.” Using her staff, again, Gabrielle took a few steps, then stopped and turned around. “Well?” Giving the warrior a questioning stare.

“The one at the end of the hall.” Holding up the key, Xena winked.

That got an intrigued look from Gabrielle, but as she stood there, her body took the chance to remind her of just how sore and tired she really was. “Lead on.” Speaking softly and stretching a little, she followed Xena down the hallway to the end, then waited for the warrior to unlock the door.

Opening the door, Xena stepped in and took a look around. Seeing no danger, in the dark room, she stepped aside and allowed the bard to enter. Now I know why it cost so much. Thinking to herself as she took a closer look at the accommodations. It was a large room, with one large bed, a couch, table and chairs and a large fireplace against the far wall. Not bad, smiling, she stepped further inside, finding a candle on a table behind the door. Searching for the flint box, she dug around in the saddlebag until her hand recognized the small wooden box. Pulling it out, she lit the candle and took, yet another look around and smirked when she spotted the large tub in the corner and pointed it out to the bard. “We get a private bath.”

Glancing at the tub, Gabrielle hobbled to it and ran her hand along the edge. “I don’t care if it cost twenty dinars, it’ll be worth it.”

Grimacing, Xena turned, shaking her head, closed the door and locked it. “Evidently there’s a lot to be said for haggling.” Talking softly to the door and thinking of the dinars she had apparently wasted.

“What?” Looking up, Gabrielle gave Xena a funny look when the warrior faced her with an, almost, guilty look on her face.

“Nothing.” Waving her hand, Xena put the key down her cleavage and walked to the small eating table, putting down the saddlebags and the bard’s personal belongings as well. “Ahhh.” Rubbing her neck, Xena turned and joined Gabrielle at the tub. Giving it studious look and a frown, she bent down on all fours, staring underneath the large tub.

Sitting on the edge, Gabrielle looked down at the warrior. “Xena?”

“Yea.” Running her hand underneath the tub.

“What are you doing?” Lifting her leg when Xena’s arm got close to her foot.

“Trying to figure out where the water goes.” Smiling, Xena jumped up and went to the window, opened the shudders and stuck her head out.

Shaking her head, Gabrielle raised one eyebrow. “Doesn’t the water usually go in the tub?”

Looking back at the bard, over her shoulder, Xena raised two eyebrows. “After the bath, Gabrielle.” Pointing out the window. “I was wondering how they got rid of the water.”

Her curiosity piqued, Gabrielle joined Xena at the window. Following the warrior’s direction, she saw a small spout coming out of the exterior wall, just at floor level. “Hmm.” Seeing the spout quickly lit up, she snapped her head skyward as lightning flashed. Stepping away from the window, as rain started pelting her and a cold wind whipped up. “Yeow.”

Chuckling at the bard’s reaction, Xena stayed at the window until the thunder quieted down, letting the chilly air fill her nostrils and the rain drench her face.

“Brrrr.” Shivering, Gabrielle stepped further away from the window, wrapping her arms around herself to stave off the chill.

Smiling, Xena closed her eyes for a moment, enjoying the feel of the water and the wind, then closed the shudders, just as another flash of lightning lit up the room. “Looks like we made it just in time.” Securing the shudders, she turned around to see the bard shiver again. Running her hand over her wet face, Xena walked to the bard, kissed her on the forehead, then proceeded to the fireplace. “I guess it’s a good thing I got the room for two nights.” Squatting down, she started laying wood in the sooty hearth.

Still staring at the window, Gabrielle perked up with the news and turned slowly around. “You got this room for two days?”

“Yep.” Stacking more wood, Xena didn’t turn around, but smiled at the change in the bard’s tone. “I thought a little bed rest could do us both some good.” Smirking.

Glancing at the large bed, Gabrielle’s eyes drew wide. Nodding her head in agreement, though for reasons other than resting, she hobbled over to where the warrior was. “Yea, I can see the benefits of a little rest and relaxation.” Resting her hand on Xena’s shoulder, she ran it slowly up the warrior’s neck.

Striking the flint, Xena tried to concentrate on the task at hand and finally succeeded at starting the fire, as she felt another fire building and closed her eyes when a thumb ran over her earlobe. Putting the flint down, she stood, opening her eyes and looked down at the bard, who’s hand was still on her neck and felt it pulling her downward. “Um, Gabrielle?” Which were the only words she could get out before the bard’s lips met hers. Lightning flashed and thunder rolled, but neither were given any attention as the warrior’s mind concentrated on the blonde bard, holding her in a passionate kiss.

Tossing her staff aside, Gabrielle brought her other hand up to the warrior’s neck for a firmer grip and increased the passion, when she felt strong arms wrap around her body. Leaning into Xena, she ran her fingers through dark tresses and felt the warrior’s tongue pass lightly over her lips and opened her mouth, giving it entrance and sucking on the exploring probe. Somewhere south of the kiss, a heat started working it’s way north and the bard’s breathing became heavier and a little ragged. Neither of which stopped her from trying to meld their bodies together.

In a room, in the back of her mind, the little voice was jumping up and down and yelling quite loudly for attention and Xena happily shut the door to the room and silenced her conscious. Allowing the bard to have her way, she lowered her hand to the base of Gabrielle’s back, rubbing the taught muscles and working her fingers under the leather waistband of Gabrielle’s skirt and growling when someone knocked on the door, diverting her from her quest. Breaking the kiss, she removed her fingers and looked at the door with the most vicious of scowls. “What?” Yelling harshly.

Regretting that she’d ever been born, the barkeep’s daughter looked at the tray of food, she carried and rolled her eyes. “I’ve brought your dinner.” Hoping they’d just send her away, alive.

Smiling, Gabrielle sighed heavily and stepped out of the warrior’s arms. “Well it’s a start.” Smirking at Xena’s scowl, then making her way over to the table and sitting down as the warrior tugged on the door, then growled, pulling the key from it’s hiding place.

Unlocking the door, Xena opened it with gusto and glared at the girl who’d interrupted her moment of pleasure.

Taking a self preserving step back, the girl held up the tray as protection against the warrior and smiled sheepishly.

Sighing at the sight, Xena opened the door wider and pointed to the table. “Over there.”

Her worst fear coming to life, the girl entered the room, walking quickly past the towering warrior, to the table. Placing the tray down, she smiled at the bard.

“Thank you.” Gabrielle smiled warmly and winked, which elicited a giggle from the girl. “What’s your name?”

“Mira.” Whispering covertly.

“Thank you, Mira. It looks delicious.” Picking up a bowl of stew, Gabrielle put it in front of the other chair. “Xena, are you going to stand there all day, or are you going to eat?” Winking at the girl again and getting another giggle.

Hearing a growl behind her, Mira stood perfectly still until she heard the the door close and the warrior came into view. Staring at the table, she picked at the edge.

“Xena.” Nodding in the girl’s direction. “This is Mira.”

“Nice to meet you.” Being forced to render the girl some manners, Xena smiled a half hearted smile, pulled out the chair and plopped down.

Handing the warrior a spoon, Mira avoided eye contact. “My Dad told me to tell you that the water, for the bath will be ready soon.”

“Good.” Speaking gruffly, she took the spoon and felt a kick under the table. “Thank you.” Smiling a tad more sincerely, this time.

Taking the other spoon, Gabrielle tried the stew. “This is good.” Glaring at the warrior, who complied and took a taste as well. “Did you make it, Mira.” Trying to ease the girl’s obvious fright.

“Yes.” Raising her eyes, Mira looked from the bard to the warrior, then back at the table. “I’m the cook.”

“And a very good one.” Xena added, before she realized what she’d said and looked up from her bowl and saw two sets of surprised eyes on her. “Well it’s good.” Shrugging, she took another spoonful and chewed slowly. “Do we get anything to drink, with this meal?” Looking at the empty tray and feeling another kick to her shin, turned to smirk at the bard.

Realizing her mistake, Mira missed the visual exchange and snapped her fingers. “I knew I forgot something.” Smiling, now that she wasn’t in fear for her life, she turned to the door, then back quickly. “I’ll be back in just a minute.”

“Can’t wait.” Spooning another mouthful of stew, Xena ignored the third kick to her shin and waved the empty spoon at the girl.

Mira’s brow knitted for a second, then she smiled at the bard and left.

“Meanee.” Gabrielle chuckled at the warrior, who was glaring at her and poked her spoon at Xena’s face. “You don’t have to be so nasty, you know. She’s just doing her job.”

“I said it was good.” Dropping the glare, Xena pushed the spoon in her face, back at the bard. “What more do you want?”

“Nothing, I guess.” Sighing, Gabrielle stared at the warrior for a long moment, then looked down at her stew, stirring it slowly.

Xena looked at the bard curiously, watching her play with her food and cocked her head. “Gabrielle?” Her brow rose in question, when two green eyes met hers. “What is it?”

“I was just thinking.” Shrugging, trying to put the thought out of her head, Gabrielle smiled. “It was nothing.”

Pushing her dinner aside, Xena did the same to the bard’s. “Okay, tell me what’s wrong.”

Watching her food moving out of reach, Gabrielle tried to get it back. “I said it was nothing.” Giving the warrior a dissatisfied look.

“Yea, well your nothings usually turn out to be something.” Holding the bowl out of the bard’s reach and ignoring the look. “Now tell me.”

“If I tell you, can I have my dinner back?” Cocking her head with a disgusted look on her face, Gabrielle stopped trying to recover her dinner.

“Maybe.” Smiling wickedly, Xena raised one eyebrow. “Now tell me.”

“Oh, all right.” Sitting back, Gabrielle folded her arms across her chest. “If you must know, I was thinking about Perdicus.” Giving the warrior a studied stare.

“Oh.” Lowering her gaze, Xena lowered her tone as well, as a heavy sense of guilt filled her. “I’m sorry.” Pushing the bard’s bowl back, she brought her’s back also, but didn’t pick up the spoon. Instead she just stared at the bowl and watched the bard out of the corner of her eye, hoping Gabrielle wasn’t having second thoughts about their newfound relationship and wishing she’d someday learn to keep her big mouth shut.

Watching the warrior, Gabrielle immediately knew what she was thinking and smiled. Leaning forward, she took Xena’s hand in hers and waited for the warrior to look at her. When she did, she gave Xena’s had a gentle squeeze. “I was thinking that he must be happy for me.”

Letting her trepidation linger, Xena looked at the hand that covered hers. “Happy about what?” Putting her fear aside and her heart on her sleeve.

“Us.” Bringing the warrior’s hand to her lips, Gabrielle kissed it softly and winked.

Xena glanced away, then back to the bard. “Really?” Feeling her heart start pumping again.

“Yea, I do.” Releasing Xena’s hand, Gabrielle stood, moving behind the warrior and wrapping her arms around strong shoulders. “I think he’d be very happy.” Kissing a dirty cheek. “I know I am.”

“Hmmm.” Leaning into the bard, Xena smiled up into twinkling green eyes. “I guess that makes two of us.”

“Wise choice, Warrior Princess.” Bringing her lips to the warrior’s, Gabrielle’s gave Xena an gentle kiss and felt the embers beginning to flame up, as the kiss suddenly became more intense. Moving to the side of the chair, she leaned into the warrior, trying her best to cover every inch of exposed skin with her hands, then knitting her brow when someone knocked on the door. Breaking the kiss, she stared at the door contemptuously. “What?” Yelling harshly at the interruption.

“I’ve got your drinks.” Mira said, looking at the door cautiously. Hoping she’d not made a mistake by coming back.

Xena chuckled at the expression on Gabrielle’s face and got up. “I’ll get it.” Whispering and stealing a kiss. “You eat.” Moving to the door and opened it, giving the timid girl a warm smile. “Come on in.” Holding the door open wide.

Mira stood still for a moment, trying to figure out the change in the warrior’s attitude, but eventually shrugged her shoulders and entered the room. Walking to the table, she put down the tray and smiled at the bard, who gave her a somewhat disapproving look. Confused, she watched the warrior take her seat. “I brought you a pitcher of ale and one with water.” Pointing at the respective items and then at the two empty mugs. “I didn’t know what you wanted.”

“That’ll be great, Mira.” Xena smiled and kicked the bard under the table. “Right, Gabrielle?”

“Perfect.” Gabrielle frowned, but got the jest as another kick make contact and put on a warm smile, slowly getting over the unexpected interruption. “Thank you, Mira.”

“You’re welcome.” Finally feeling welcome indeed, she smiled. “Is there anything else I can get you?” Shifting her gaze between the two women.

Exchanging a knowing glance with the bard, Xena shook her head. “No, I thing we’ve got everything we need. Thank you.”

“Okay.” Turning, Mira went to the door, then turned back around. “I’ll be back for the bowls a little later. The water should be ready by then.” Smiling, she didn’t wait for a response and left, closing the door behind her and shaking her head. “Weird.” Whispering as she strolled down the hall.

Listening intently, Xena waited for the sound of the girl’s footsteps to fade before she broke out into laughter.

Gabrielle scowled and spooned a mouthful of stew into the warrior’s laughing face. “Shut up.”

Trying not to spit the food out and not to choke, Xena chuckled and chewed a piece of meat contentedly, giving the bard a wicked smile.

“You’re a bad influence on me.” Taking a bite of her stew and glaring at the warrior.

Xena shook her head and swallowed. “You can blame me for a lot of things, Gabrielle, but your temper isn’t one of them.” Picking up her spoon. “That’s something you’ll have to take up with your parents.” Taking a mouthful of stew and chewing through a knowing smile.

Gabrielle sneered and gave the warrior a raspberry, then went back to eating. Ignoring Xena and finding everything else to look at besides her.

Knowing better than to pursue the subject any further, Xena kept silent and only gave the bard a few smirks as she ate. When she finished the stew, she pushed the bowl away and rubbed her leather covered belly. “That was good.”

Finally turning to the warrior, Gabrielle took the last spoonful in her mouth and mimicked Xena’s actions. “She does have a way with food.” Leaning back in the chair, looking down at her swollen stomach.

Shifting, Xena leaned over and gave the bard’s belly a rub. “The beast sleeps.”

Smacking Xena’s hand, Gabrielle scowled. “Why do you do that?”

Taking her hand back, the warrior stared at the bard. “Do what?”

“Ruin a perfectly tranquil moment.” Sitting forward, she cocked her head. “Can’t you just sit back and enjoy something, without having to stir up trouble?”

Holding up her hands defensively, Xena shifted away from the bard. “Sorry, I was only teasing. What put you in such a grouchy mood?”

Frowning, Gabrielle realized she’d snapped a trifle harshly and rolled her eyes. “I don’t know.” Rubbing her injured shoulder. “Maybe I’m just tired.” Sighing heavily.

“I think we’re both a bit edgy.” Stretching, Xena yawned. “Maybe that bath will do us both some good.”

“Hmmm.” Gabrielle nodded in agreement, turning in her chair to take a look at the tub, she gave it a curious stare, then raising one eyebrow as a very sexy thought entered her mind. “Yea, I could definitely use a bath.” Smiling, she was not surprised to hear a knock on the door. “She’s got to work on her timing.” Whispering, she turned to see the warrior smiling wickedly. “You do not know what I was thinking, so wipe that grin off your face.”

“Right.” Flicking her eyebrows suggestively, Xena got up and went to the door, to avoid a slap to the arm. Opening it, she was not surprised to see Mira standing there, holding some towels and what looked like robes, but was surprised to see the barkeep behind the girl, as well as a line of people holding buckets.

“The water’s ready.” Mira’s father growled, not liking the way his daughter had hurried him along in his efforts.

“Great!” Gabrielle said enthusiastically, coming to her feet.

Xena glanced over her shoulder, at the bard and smirked, then turned back and held the door open wide, smiling as the train moved past her.

Mira went to the table and laid down the towels, then started stacking up the dirty dishes. “I tried to get him to hurry up.” Whispering to the bard and taking a furtive glance over her shoulder at her father.

“Thanks.” Whispering back, Gabrielle noticed the unhappy look on the man’s face. “But don’t get into any trouble.”

“It’s no trouble.” Smiling warmly. “He just gets a little huffy sometimes, he’ll get over it soon enough.”

“Still.” Placing her hand on the girl’s arm, Gabrielle’s expression grew serious. “I don’t want you to put yourself out our account.”

Chuckling, Mira’s smile grew wide. “Don’t worry, he’s not a tough as he looks.” Watching her father give directions, she winked when he looked her way, then turned back to the bard. “He’s just puts on that face for the crowd downstairs, so they don’t give him any trouble, but really he’s a big softly.”

Taking the girl at her word, Gabrielle smiled and looked at the warrior, understanding how looks could be deceiving. “So’s Xena.” Whispering and nodding at the tall, soft princess.

“Really?” Staring wide eyed at the warrior, Mira shook her head. “That’s not what I heard.”

“Well, she does deserve some of her reputation.” Nodding at the warrior. “Xena can be tough when she wants to be, but she’s not all bad.”

“Hmmm.” Remembering the smile, when she’d brought them their drinks, Mira could see a little of what the bard was saying.

“But don’t let that get around.” Gabrielle warned, touching Mira’s arm to get her attention. “Xena doesn’t exactly like it when her soft side becomes known, ya know?”

“My lips are sealed.” Smirking, Mira winked. “My Dad’s the same way.”

“Then my lips are sealed, too.” Chuckling, along with the girl, Gabrielle didn’t notice the curious stare she was getting from said, soft warrior and when she finally looked up, she grimaced when Xena came over. “Oops.” Waving a warning finger at Mira.

“I take it, by the fact that my ears are burning, that you two have found something interesting about me?” Putting her hands on her hips and giving the two females a steely glare.

“Nope, not me.” Gabrielle smiled and hurriedly started helping Mira with the dishes.

“Me neither.” Giggling, despite the warrior’s menacing stance, Mira concentrated on the dishes.

“I see.” Knowing she was being lied to, Xena let the matter drop, for the moment and went back to supervising the tub endeavor and only turned her head slightly, when laughing broke out behind her. “It’s not full.” Taking in the water level in the tub and turning to the barkeep. “Where’s the rest?”

“There.” Pointing to a box on the wall, above the side of the tub, the barkeep leaned over the steaming water. Removing the box, he exposed a nozzle with a cork in it. “That’s where the cold water comes from.” Looking at the warrior proudly.

“Interesting.” Leaning over, Xena took a closer look at the nozzle. “Where does the water come from?”

“The roof.” Smiling, when Xena gave him a puzzled stare. “I’ve got a barrel up there that catches rain water.” Running his hand up the wall, he pointed at the ceiling. “There’s a tube that runs down, from the barrel, between the walls and ends up here.” Standing he put his hands on his hips. “The sun keeps the water warm, except in winter and nights like this and it keeps me from having to haul water from the well.”

“Wow.” Nodding in appreciation, Xena found the arrangement amazing, then looked at the people standing around with empty buckets. “I guess not too many people want hot bath’s, huh?”

“Thankfully, no.” Handing the warrior the box, the barkeep rolled his eyes, but kept his pleasant demeanor. “I guess now I need to find a way to get hot water down here next.” Chuckling at Xena’s obvious self displeasure.

“Sorry about that.” Shrugging, Xena smiled, finding the once gruff barkeep a little amusing.

“Don’t be.” Signaling for his train to depart, he waved his daughter to him. “I’m sure Mira will be more than willing to help with my next invention.”

“Oh, gods. Not another one.” Holding the tray full of dirty dishes, Mira shook her head.

Gabrielle hopped over to the group and took Xena’s arm. “I guess we’ve created a little situation, Xena.”

“Apparently.” Chuckling at the father and daughter, Xena smiled regretfully at Mira. “Sorry, Mira. I didn’t know Gabrielle was getting you into a bee hive.”

“Me?” Looking up at the warrior with disgust.

“You’re the one who wanted a hot bath.” Smiling down at the bard.

“Like you didn’t want one either.” Nudging the warrior. “I don’t think so.” Folding her arms across her chest.

“I guess we’re not the only one who’s got a situation.” Chuckling, the barkeep took the tray from Mira and herded her toward the door.

“Apparently.” Repeating the warrior’s words, Mira smiled and waved at the couple, then closed the door after her father had exited.

Staring at the door, then at each other, Xena and Gabrielle laughed. “I think I like them.” Xena nodded.

“Misery loves company.” Smiling, Gabrielle leaned over, dipping her finger in the water and pulling it out quickly. “That’s boiling.” Staring at it with trepidation.

Tossing the box in the air, Xena caught it and smiled. “I know.” Looking down at the bard’s expression, she put her hand on Gabrielle’s shoulder. “You just get undressed and I’ll take care of the water.”

Seeing the grin on Xena’s face, Gabrielle eyes drew to slits, then she relaxed. “Okay.” Sighing she moved to back to the table and sat down. Leaning over, she started unlacing her boot and watched Xena pull the cork from the nozzle and stared as water came pouring out. “That’s amazing.”

“Pretty cool, huh” Squatting down, Xena ran her hand through the pouring water, then moved it down into the tub, testing the temperature. Smiling, she waited a few minutes more, then replaced the cork in the nozzle. “That should do it.” Standing, she went to the table, with the saddle bags and started shifting through them.

“What are you looking for?” Tugging on her boot, Gabrielle managed to slide it off and still remain in the chair.

“Something.” Not looking at the bard, Xena found what she was looking for and slid it between her breasts. Smiling, she casually walked back to the tub, pretending to test the water again and bought out the small vial. Pulling the stopper, she poured the contents into the steaming tub. Replacing the stopper and the vial, she ran her hand through the water, which slowly started taking on the appearance of the head on a mug of ale. When the bubbles had reached a sufficient level, Xena turned to the bard, finding a naked blonde where the clothed one had been sitting. Raising an eyebrow, she sighed heavily. “It’s ready.” Her voice a bit husky, she bit her lip, unconsciously.

Smirking, Gabrielle got to her feet and smiled wickedly. “Well?” Hopping a bit, to emphasize her sprained ankle, she got what she wanted when Xena immediately came over and picked her up. “Thank you.” Wrapping an arm around the warrior’s neck, she couldn’t hide the grin.

“Welcome.” Smiling herself, Xena brought the bard to the tub and lowered her slowly into the water. “How’s that?”

Feeling the warmth of the water and the warrior’s gaze, Gabrielle nodded in a satisfied manner. “Perfect.” Swooshing her hands through the bubbles, she peered up at Xena. “Where did you get the bubbles from?” Smiling appreciatively.

Pulling the vial from it’s hiding place, Xena squatted down and held it out to the bard. “I got it a long time ago.”

“Really?” Taking the small bottle, Gabrielle pulled the stopper and brought it to her nose, smelling the strong scent of Jasmine. Turning her attention to the warrior, she smiled warmly. “It’s my favorite.”

“I know.” Returning the smile, Xena rested her arms on the side of the tub.

Handing the bottle back to the warrior, Gabrielle brought up a handful of bubbles and blew them in Xena’s face. Laughing when they sprayed everywhere.

“Thanks.” Wiping the bubbles from her face, Xena reached in the tub, scooping up some scented foam and repaying the bard.

Feeling a fight coming on, Gabrielle grabbed Xena’s arm and held it out of the water, when the warrior went for another handful. “Okay. I give.” Wiping her face and staring into sparkling blue.

“Spoil sport.” Whispering, Xena leaned over kissing the bard’s forehead, then moved lower to place one on waiting lips.

“Mmm.” Gabrielle moaned softly, then smiled when Xena moved back. “So.” Running a finger over the warrior’s soapy arm. “Are you going to just sit there, or are you going to join me?”

Glancing at the tub, Xena shook her head. “I don’t think this thing was built for two.”

“Ya never know, till you try?” Moving the finger to the warrior’s cheek.

As her eyebrows disappeared above her bangs, Xena smiled. “Good point.”

Chuckling, Gabrielle watched with amusement as the warrior got undressed in record time. “Xena.”

“Huh?” Pulling off her leathers, Xena stood in her shift.

“Don’t forget the soap.” Pointing at the saddlebags, with a knowing smile and a wink.

“Right.” Moving to the bags, she fished around, finding the cake and tossing it at the bard. “Here ya go.”

Closing her eyes quickly, Gabrielle avoided getting bubbles in her eyes, when the soap splashed into the tub. Opening them, she glared at the chuckling warrior and reached under the water, finding the soap. “I’m almost afraid to ask for something to wash with.”

Flicking her eyebrows a couple of times, Xena pulled out a small rag and a large vial, then walked over to the tub. “Here.” Handing the rag to the bard, she put the vial beside the tub, just as a soapy hand slapped her thigh. Stepping back, she removed the last of her clothing and stood for a moment, contemplating the size of the tub again.

Gabrielle, who at the moment, didn’t give a damn about the tub, just stared at the warrior, like she was seeing her for the first time. Taking in the long tanned, toned and suddenly very sexy body, with great appreciation and just a little lust. Or vice, versa. “Get in.” She ordered huskily.

Glancing at the bard, Xena saw the wanton gaze she was getting and smiled. “Patience is a virtue.” Stepping slowly into the tub.

“Virtue is for losers.” Watching, with a tiny bit of regret as Xena’s body disappeared below a layer of bubbles.

Xena, who quickly discovered that the tub was definitely not built for two, had to almost fold up into a ball to fit, bringing her knees to her chest, so as to not squash the bard. “Oh, this is going to be fun.” Frowning at the predicament.

Taking in the situation, Gabrielle smirked. “Maybe you should turn around.”

Shrugging, Xena tried to do that, but sighed, when her legs got wedged as she turned. “I think I’m stuck.” Sideways, in the tub, she tried to wrench her legs out of the way.

“Here.” Rolling her eyes, with a soft chuckle, Gabrielle reached under the water and took hold of a leg and pulled “Gotch ya.” Successfully freeing an appendage, she pulled the other one free. “Now stand up and turn around.” She twirled her hand in a circle to demonstrate to the warrior.

Following the bard’s advice, Xena stood, turned then sat back down, between the bard’s legs, with her back to Gabrielle. Stretching out her own legs, she nodded. “Much better.”

“Definitely.” Kissing a bubbly shoulder, Gabrielle wrapped her arms around the warrior’s waist.

“Gabrielle?” Feeling the bard’s amorous embrace, Xena smiled.

“Yes?” Closing her eyes, Gabrielle placed another kiss on the warrior’s shoulder.

“We’re never going to get clean if you keep that up.” Splashing some water at the bard.

The mood broken, Gabrielle slapped Xena’s shoulder. “Thanks.” Sighing, she found the soap and began lathering up the cloth. Placing the soap on the edge of the tub, she tried to scrub her arm, but found that her wounded shoulder didn’t like the idea too much. Groaning, she tried again, but got the same results. “Xena?”

Hearing the groans, Xena put hands on the edge of the tub and turned around. “What’s the matter?” Giving the bard a worried look.

Rolling her eyes, Gabrielle handed Xena the soapy cloth. “I think I’m going to have to let you do this.” Rubbing the wound, she shook her head. “I guess I’m not as up to snuff as I’d hoped.”

Smiling, Xena stood. “Scoot up.” Stepping out of the tub, she waited for the bard to move forward, then took her place behind Gabrielle. Picking up the soap, she lathered the cloth again. “I can see why you liked it back here.” Leaning forward, she kissed the bard’s shoulder, but kept her arms to herself.

“Yea.” Sighing, Gabrielle tried to lean back, but was pushed forward. “It was nice.” Grumbling, she lifted her sprained ankle out of the water, looking at the bruise that had started to yellow. “I think, in a couple of days, I’ll be back on my feet.”

“Oh, joy.” Her tone lacking any humor, Xena started washing Gabrielle’s back.

Gabrielle’s eyes narrowed a bit, when she glanced over her shoulder. “Pardon me?”

Chuckling, Xena leaned forward, kissing the frown on Gabrielle’s face. “Just kidding.” Then continued her task, when the bard turned forward. Wrapping one arm around the bard’s waist, Xena pulled the blonde back toward her. “Give me your arm.”

Momentarily leaving the real world, Gabrielle shook her head and pouted when Xena’s arm slid away from her. Snapping out of her reverie, she obediently held up her good arm and was, again back in dreamland when Xena leaned into her, wiping her arm with the rag. Closing her eyes, she felt the warrior’s skin against her back and sighed as the subtle movements sent goose bumps over her body. Gods, she thought, this is going to be the best bath of my life, or the worst torture I’ve ever had. Opening her eyes, she watched Xena’s hand moving the rag over her arm. “That feels good.” Knowing better, but unable to help saying what was on her mind.

Smirking, Xena removed the rag, then tugged on Gabrielle’s injured arm. “Next.”

Doing whatever the warrior wanted, Gabrielle reveled in the feel of Xena’s touch. Then frowned when the washing ceased. “Hey?” Turning to glare over her shoulder, she saw a grinning warrior, washing herself. “I’m not done yet.”

“You can get the rest yourself, when I get out.” Ignoring the scowl, Xena continued to bathe, lifting a long leg, in front of the bard and washing it slowly.

Tempted, but resisting the idea of taking a chunk out of the calf at her nose, Gabrielle rolled her eyes and turned back around, before she had the chance to reconsider her decision. “This sucks.” Whispering to the bubbles, she squashed one, sending water over the edge of the tub. “Are you done yet?” Losing her virtuous patience. “I’m pruning.”

“Gabrielle, we just got in.” Lifting her other leg and giving it a good scrubbing. “And I’ll be done in just a few minutes, geez.” Taking her time, Xena sat up, washing the rest of her upper body.

Snapping her head around, ready to say something smart, Gabrielle’s lungs stopped their motion, when she saw what Xena was doing. Biting her lip, she turned back quickly and slapped another helpless and unsuspecting bubble. I’m never gonna make it, she thought. She’s going to drive me crazy. I know that’s what she’s trying to do. She’s trying to drive me nuts. Letting similar thoughts take control, Gabrielle almost shot out of the tub, when Xena whispered in her ear.

“Lean back” Noticing the bard’s startled state, Xena put her hands on Gabrielle’s shoulders. “I’m gonna wash your hair.”

Putting her hand over her pounding heart, the bard took a deep breath, before leaning back and bringing her head back, when she felt warm water pouring over her head. “Oh.” Closing her eyes. “Now that feels good.” Holding onto the side of the tub, with her good hand, she leaned back a little further.

Smirking, Xena continued to wet Gabrielle’s hair until it was soaked through, then she picked up the vial from beside the tub, pouring a small amount of thick liquid into her hand and rubbing it into the bard’s blonde hair. Massaging Gabrielle’s scalp, Xena had an excellent view of the bard’s chest and suddenly found it rather difficult to concentrate on what she was supposed to be doing. Especially with Gabrielle started to moan softly, taking deep breaths, which drew the warrior’s concentration even further astray and made Xena’s mouth water. Closing her eyes, in self defense, she finished washing the bard’s hair by memory and feel. When she was satisfied with the cleanliness, Xena opened her eyes and began rinsing Gabrielle’s hair.

“That was great.” Gabrielle whispered, feeling water being poured over her head again.

“My pleasure.” Coughing at the pitch of her voice, Xena smiled and finished her self imposed torture. “All done.” Gently pushing the bard back, she handed Gabrielle the cloth and soap. “Here, you finish your bath, while I wash mine.” Picking up the vial again, she poured out some shampoo and rubbed it into her hair, closing her eyes. “I’ll be done in just a bit and then I’ll be out of your way.”

Turning around, Gabrielle’s breath left her. Taking in the vision before her, she smiled. “Take your time.” She continued to stare at Xena’s exposed form, appreciating it in a new way, until she dropped the soap, which made a noise and she turned quickly, before she got caught gawking. Finding the soap, she lathered the rag with much gusto and finished bathing, just as Xena started to get out of the tub.

Stepping out of the water, Xena didn’t see the eyes on her, but felt the heat they radiated and took her time walking to the table to retrieve the towels. Picking one up, she dried off completely, taking more time than would normally be required, before she turned around and watched Gabrielle look for something else to look at. Smirking, Xena put the towel down and picked up one of the robes, securing it, before returning to the tub. Squatting down, she splashed the bard with a knowing smile. “You done?”

“Yep.” Trying to act innocent, Gabrielle succeeded in looking like a kid with her hand in the cookie jar and had no idea that her face was beet red.

“Good.” Standing, Xena reached out her hand. “Up you go.”

Taking the offered assistance, Gabrielle stood slowly. “Brrr.” Feeling the big difference between the temperature of the water and the chilly air in the room. Wrapping her arms around her, she shivered.

Letting the bard suffer a little, Xena leaned over, running her hand around the bottom of the tub and finding the plug, pulled it out, watching the water level slowly go down. “Hmmm.” Placing the plug aside, she returned her attention to the shivering bard. “Cold?”

“Freezing.” Wishing she about two inches from the fire, right about now. “Can you help me out?” Reaching for the warrior.

“Umm?” Tapping her chin, Xena laughed at the surprise on Gabrielle’s face then gave in and lifted the bard out of the tub, placing her on the floor. “Wait here.” Walking backwards, Xena gave the bard a good once over, before turning around. Reaching the table, she picked up dry towel and the other robe, bringing them back to Gabrielle. Holding them out, she smirked. “Need help with that too?”

Gabrielle’s eyes grew to slits as she snatched the towel out of Xena’s hand. “No.”

“Sure?” Chuckling as the bard began to try to dry off.

“Positive.” Ignoring the pain in her shoulder, Gabrielle’s stubborn streak kicked in and she managed to dry most of her body, before tossing the towel in the warrior’s smiling face and snatching the robe from her.

Pulling the towel off her head, Xena waited until Gabrielle had the robe on, before she tossed the towel on the floor and scooped the bard into her arms.

“Xena!” Startled at the warrior’s actions, Gabrielle tried to wiggle free, but was held captive, sighing, she allowed herself to be carried to the fireplace and even managed a sincere smile, when Xena laid her down on the rug, in front of the fire. “Thank you.” Tugging the robe tighter around her, she sat facing the flames, legs crossed in front of her.

“Better?” Taking a seat beside the bard, facing the opposite direction, Xena leaned against the hearth and stretched out her legs.

“Yes.” Gabrielle admitted, grudgingly and gave the warrior a sideways glance.

“Good.” Smiling, Xena closed her eyes and leaned her head back, ruffling her hair with one hand, allowing the fire to help dry it.

They stayed like that, for sometime, just sitting quietly and relaxing. With Gabrielle watching the warrior and Xena occasionally opening her eyes to take a glance at the bard. Each lost in their own thoughts and each imagining the other in various interesting scenarios, which included no clothes and tangled bodies, but neither Xena or Gabrielle felt the need to bring their dreams to the surface and were content to let things go, until they were both broken out of their reverie when the shudders swung open violently, sending in a gust of cold wind and a spray of freezing rain.

“Yeow.” Gabrielle yelped, turning to face the window.

“Damn.” Jumping to her feet, Xena dashed for the window, pulling on the shudders, trying to close them and getting a face full of freezing rain in the process. “Gabrielle, get me something to tie these off with.” Fighting to the wind, Xena managed to get the wooden slats closed, but held on to the clasps as another gust pulled them out of her grasp. “Damn.”

Getting to her feet, Gabrielle did a quick survey of the room, finding nothing of value and finally spotted her boot. Sighing, she picked it up and unlaced it hurriedly, bringing the laces to the warrior. “Here.” Holding them out as another gust blew in.

“You’re gonna have to tie them, while I hold it.” Yelling over the wind, Xena leaned out the window, grabbing the swaying shudders and pulled with all her might, fighting to regain control and barely succeeding, but brought them together and held them long enough for Gabrielle to wrap the leather lace around the clasps. When the bard finished the knot, Xena let go, stepping back and watching the shudders tug against their restraint, but fail in opening again. “That’ll hold it.”

Looking down at her soaked robe, Gabrielle smiled. “I guess the bath was a waste.” Holding the wet material away from her skin.

Turning her attention to the bard, Xena chuckled. “I think you’re right.” Doing the same with her robe, the warrior shook her head and saw droplets fall to her feet. “And I just got my hair dry.”

Gabrielle shook her head and spotted a few drops as well. Grimacing, she glanced up at the warrior. “We look like drowned rats.”

“Speak for yourself.” Moving wet hair out of her face with a flare of indignation, which lasted a second, before she smiled. “Come on.” Grabbing the bard’s arm, Xena sighed. “Back to the fire for us.”

Using the warrior as a brace, Gabrielle limped beside Xena, back to the fireplace and eased down onto the rug. “At least we’re not out in it.” Shaking her head.

Taking in their state, Xena sighed, then turned. Walking around the room, she picked up the discarded towel and brought them back to the bard. Sitting down, she held one out. “Here, we’d better dry off before we catch a cold.” Setting her towel aside, Xena pulled off her drenched robe and laid it across the front of the hearth.

Following the warrior’s lead, Gabrielle did the same with her robe and toweled off as much of the wet as possible, before she realized they were both completely naked, at which time she chose to stare at the flames.

Having realized the same thing, long before, Xena smiled, watching Gabrielle start to fidget. Chuckling, she placed several more logs on the fire, then turned to stare at the bard. “Gabrielle.” Whispering.

“Hmmm?” Keeping her eyes straight ahead.

Moving closer to the bard, Xena put her hand on Gabrielle’s shoulder. “Gabrielle.”

Closing her eyes, the bard sighed at the warrior’s touch. Opening her eyes, she looked at Xena. “Yes?” Speaking softly and being mesmerized by twinkling blue.

Nodding toward the bed, Xena removed her hand and smiled. “I’m tired. How bout we call it a night?”

“Works for me.” Smiling warmly, Gabrielle stoked the warrior’s cheek.

Taking the bard’s hand in her’s, Xena kissed the palm, then rose slowly, pulling the bard up with her. Taking the bard into her arms, once again, Xena made her way to the bed and set the bard down gently.

Shivering a little, Gabrielle crawled under the thick covers and held them up for the warrior.

Climbing in, Xena moved next to the bard, stretching out.

Smirking, Gabrielle snuggled up to the warrior’s long body, laying her head on Xena’s shoulder and resting her injured arm across the warrior’s stomach.

Pulling up the covers, Xena wrapped her arm around the bard’s shoulder, pulling her closer, then placed a soft kiss on the blonde’s wet hair. “Comfy?”

“Absolutely.” Closing her eyes, Gabrielle smiled, feeling the warrior’s chest rise and fall under her cheek. “I love you, Xena.” Taking a tighter hold on the warrior’s waist.

“I love you, too.” Giving the bard’s head another kiss, Xena closed her eyes and sighed. Maybe tomorrow, she thought, feeling the bard’s hold relax almost immediately. Chuckling softly, she rubbed the back of a knocked out bard. “Maybe tomorrow.” Whispering.


Somewhere around midnight, Gabrielle opened her eyes, hearing lightning strike a tree outside. Startled into consciousness, she turned to look a the window and felt the thunder shake the walls. Gods, she thought, hearing the rain pelting the shudders. Pulling the covers around her shoulders, she rolled back over and noticed she was alone. Searching between the sheets, she found only cool material and sat up. Rubbing her eyes, she searched the room, spotting the warrior in a chair in front of the fireplace. “Xena?” Whispering despite the noise from outside.

Looking over her shoulder, Xena smiled at the bard. “Hey.”

Climbing out of bed, Gabrielle picked up the robe lying on the table and wrapped it around her. Moving to the fireplace, she sat down on the edge of the hearth, next to Xena’s feet. “What’s up?” Rubbing her eyes again.

“Nothing.” Speaking softly, Xena stared into the fire.

Her vision cleared, Gabrielle took a good look at the warrior and noticed the expression on her friend’s face. “Xena, what’s wrong?” Resting her hand on the warrior’s outstretched leg, the bard rubbed it gently.

“Nothing.” Giving Gabrielle a smile, Xena sighed. “Go back to bed, I’ll be there in a little while.”

Watching the warrior’s eyes return to the flames, Gabrielle’s brow knitted. “Xena.”

Closing her eyes, Xena sighed, feeling the bard’s hand on her leg. She’d been awake the whole time and as she’d laid there, holding the bard in her arms, the little voice in her head had started whispering. After about an hour, she gotten up, put on her robe and settled into the chair for the rest of the reasons she was making a big mistake. Sighing again, she opened her eyes and saw the worried look on Gabrielle’s face. “Go on, Gabrielle.” Giving the bard a reassuring smile, she nodded toward the bed. “Get some sleep.”

“Not until you tell me what’s wrong.” Remaining in place, Gabrielle put her hands in her lap. “Xena, you can’t hide it from me. I know something’s bothering you.”

Leaning her head back, Xena stared at the ceiling. “I was thinking.” Closing her eyes as the little voice started talking again.

“About?” Giving the warrior a verbal nudge and waiting.

Opening her eyes, Xena looked at the bard for a second, then looked down at her hands. “I was thinking about you and me.”

“What about you and me?” Leaning forward, Gabrielle rested her elbows on her knees.

“Maybe.” She started then closed her eyes, trying to put words to her thoughts. “Maybe we shouldn’t do this.” Biting her lip, Xena opened her eyes. “Maybe this is a mistake.”

Studying her hands, the bard shook her head. “Why is it a mistake?” Feeling something start to tear at her heart.

“I don’t know.” Frustrated, Xena ran her hand through her hair. “This stupid little voice inside me keeps saying it is.” Sighing heavily.

“What’s the voice saying?” Looking up at the warrior.

Closing her eyes, again, Xena shook her head. “That I’m being selfish and stupid and that this will only end up tearing us apart again.”

Nodding, Gabrielle closed her eyes. “Do you believe that?” Almost afraid of the answer.

“I don’t know, Gabrielle.” Opening her eyes, Xena rubbed her forehead. “It seem so right, one second, then all wrong the next.” Staring into the flames, she saw the faces of the people she’d loved and felt the pain she’d caused them. “I don’t want to hurt you.”

Gabrielle opened her eyes and looked up. “Xena, you’re not going to hurt me.” Her voice taking on a harsh tone.

Glancing into the bard’s face, Xena sighed. “I’ve done it before.”

“Xena.” Softening her tone, Gabrielle sighed. “That was as much my fault as your’s. We’ve both made mistakes that has caused each other pain, but we’re past that, now.”

“Are we?” Leaning forward, Xena shook her head. “Are we really?”

“Yes.” Smiling. “We’ve learned from our mistakes. It’s time to move on.” Taking the warrior’s hand, she gave it a gentle squeeze.

Xena’s brow knitted and she looked down at Gabrielle’s hand. “But is this the right move to make?”

“I think so.” Lacing her fingers through the warrior, Gabrielle sighed, watching Xena closely.

Looking up, Xena stared into the flames, once more. Somewhere inside her, Xena wanted to believe that this was the right thing to do. Her soul called out for the love the bard was giving her and her heart ached to return that love, but the little voice picked at her conscious, reminding her of the consequences of taking this step. Not only was there the question of giving her heart to the bard, but also the fact that she’d be responsible for the Gabrielle’s in turn. Suddenly the faces of the past flashed in her vision and again she felt the pain of the people who’d entrusted their hearts to her. She’d failed them all, taking what she was given and ruining it. Destroying the dreams of those people, like she’d destroyed villages. Not caring for the havoc she caused and unwilling to take responsibility for the weakness of others. Weakness, that’s what she’d called love. Remembering the words spoken in the heat of passion and knowing they were lies. Using that weakness to her advantage, twisting the emotions of others, bending them to her will. Now she was faced with the prospect of doing the same thing. If she took Gabrielle’s love, could she keep it? Or would she find some way to use it, like she had the others, leaving the bard by the wayside, another victim of the Warrior Princess. Would Gabrielle become another nameless face in the flames?

No, she thought. I won’t do that. Not to Gabrielle. Looking at the bard, Xena felt her world turning upside down and shook her head. “I can’t.” Whispering the words as a tear slid down her cheek. “I won’t.”

“Xena.” Cupping the warrior’s face, Gabrielle wiped the tear with her thumb. “Why?” Looking deep into Xena’s eyes.

“I don’t want to hurt you.” Feeling her bottom lip quiver, she held it still with her teeth.

“You’re not going to hurt me.” Lowering her head, but holding the warrior’s eyes.

Sighing, Xena nodded her head. “Yes, I will. That’s what I do. What I always do.” Standing, Xena went to the table and grabbed her leathers and armor.

Gabrielle sat for a moment, her head down. Sighing, she looked up and saw what the warrior was doing and got to her feet. “Xena.” Moving to the warrior, she grabbed Xena’s arm. “What are you doing?”

“Leaving.” Taking her arm back, as tears flowed down her face, Xena picked up her boots. “It’s for the best, Gabrielle.” Gathering the rest of her gear, she headed for the door.

Gabrielle cut her off at the pass and stood in front of the warrior, holding Xena back with her hand. “The best for who?”

“Both of us.” Avoiding Gabrielle’s eyes, Xena looked down at the things she carried.

“Xena, listen.” Holding her ground, the bard tried to get the warrior to look at her. “Xena.”

Looking up, Xena shook her head. “It’s not going to work, Gabrielle. I can’t take the chance of hurting you again.” Trying to get around the bard, she was again held up and closed her eyes. “Gabrielle, please.”

“No, Xena.” Grabbing the warrior’s arms, Gabrielle shook her head. “Not until you listen to me.” Shaking her, the bard almost growled. “Look at me, Xena.”

“Gabrielle.” Xena pleaded, opening her eyes, she stared at the ceiling.

“Look at me.” Shaking Xena with every word, Gabrielle tightened her hold on the warrior’s arms and when Xena continued to stare upward, the bard lost her temper and ignored her injuries. Using her lower center of gravity, she spun Xena around and threw her up against the door. “LOOK AT ME.”

Finally, Xena conceded and looked down into angry green eyes. “Gabrielle, please. Let me go. I don’t want to hurt you anymore. I never want to hurt you, so please. Let me go.” Her voice just above a whisper, Xena felt her heart ripping and the flood gates opening as tears flowed down her face, like the rain pelting the walls.

“No.” Holding on to the warrior, Gabrielle shook her head and looked into Xena’s eyes. “Now you listen to me, Xena. I’m not letting you go, not now, not ever. Do you understand me?” Shaking the warrior again. “I understand where this is coming from and let me tell you something, it’s not going to happen. You’re not going to hurt me, because I won’t let you.” Easing up on her grip.

“Gabrielle.” Shaking her head, Xena sighed. “I . . .”

“No, Xena. Listen.” Letting go of the warrior’s arm, Gabrielle cupped Xena’s chin. “You’re afraid of hurting me, I understand that, but that’s not going to happen, because the only way you can ever truly hurt me, Xena, is by leaving me.” Letting the other arm go, her voice softened. “Xena, I love you and no matter what happens, I will always love you.” Wiping the tears from the warrior’s face, she felt her own falling. “I can’t say what will happen to us, because I don’t know, but I can tell you that nothing that we will ever face will hurt me more than you walking out that door.” Smiling. “Can’t you see that?” Placing her hand over the warrior’s heart. “Can’t you feel that?”

“Gabrielle.” Whispering, Xena lowered her head. “You don’t understand.”

“I understand.” Leaning into the warrior. “I understand that we could die tomorrow, or the next day and I understand that if we do, I won’t regret a single minute of my life with you. All the pain we’ve caused each other is nothing, compared to the possibility of living without you, Xena.” Resting her forehead on Xena’s chest. “You’re my best friend. You can’t leave me. You promised.”

Even in death, Gabrielle, I will never leave you. Remembering her own words, Xena closed her eyes, as her arms slowly lowered and she dropped her belongings. Wrapping her arms around the bard, she felt Gabrielle’s arms around her and she caressed the bard tightly. “Gods, I love you, Gabrielle.” Holding on to the bard, she opened her eyes and looked around the room, then down at the blonde head against her. Sighing, she kissed it and closed her eyes again. “What am I going to do with you?”

“Stay with me and love me forever?” Lifting her head, Gabrielle smiled into blue eyes, when they opened.

Smiling, Xena sighed. “Do I have a choice?” Raising one eyebrow.

“No.” Standing on her tip toes, Gabrielle encircled her arms around Xena’s neck and brought the warrior down for a kiss.

Sighing, again, Xena fell into the kiss and into the arms of the woman who loved her and that she loved. Somewhere in the distance, thunder rolled as Xena took Gabrielle into her arms, stepping over her gear and walking slowly to the bed. The bard held on to her and they kissed all the way and Xena groaned, when she bumped into the table, the turned and reaimed. Feeling the bed against her knees, she lowered her precious package to the covers, leaning over, still held in the bard’s embrace.

Gabrielle smiled, laying on the bed, breaking the kiss and looking up into the bluest of eyes. “Xena?”

“Yes?” Staring down into deep green pools, Xena brushed a stray lock of blonde hair from Gabrielle’s face.

“Is that little voice still talking to you?” Rubbing the warrior’s cheek.

“Why?” Smiling at the thought.

“I just need to know if I’m going to have to kick his ass, too.” Chuckling, Gabrielle winked.

“Oh, I think he got the point.” Smirking, Xena quelled any further questions and ass kickings with a passionate kiss. Feeling the bard’s hand start to wander, Xena lifted her head. “Gabrielle?”

Opening her eyes, Gabrielle smiled as she untied the warrior’s robe. “Hmmm?”

“What are you doing?” Knowing full well, what the bard’s intentions were.

Opening the robe, she ran her hands up Xena’s abs and wrapped her arms around the warrior. “Thinking of a hundred ways to kill you if you say ‘too much, too soon.’”

“Oh.” Wincing, Xena untied the bard’s robe and pulled the material way. “Never crossed my mind.” Smiling at the vision before her.

“Good.” Closing her eyes, Gabrielle felt the warrior’s hands on her skin and pulled Xena down to her, bringing the bare bodies together. Opening her eyes, she tugged on the warrior’s robe, pulling it off her shoulders.

Xena shrugged the robe off, letting it slide to the floor, then wrapped one arm under the bard, lifting Gabrielle and pulling back the covers, bringing them both to the center of the bed.

Gabrielle scooted up, until her head was on a pillow, then pulled her arms out of her robe as Xena tugged on it and tossed it over her shoulder. Smiling, she wrapped her arms around the warrior’s neck, again, as Xena brought the covers over them.

Lowering her body slowly, Xena avoided the bard’s bad shoulder and brought their bodies together, stretching out to her full length over the bard. Resting on one elbow, she rubbed her knuckles softly against Gabrielle’s cheek and looking down, saw the fire reflecting into green eyes. “I love you, Gabrielle.”

“I love you, Xena.” Running her hand down the warrior’s back, Gabrielle sighed. “Gods I wanted this for so long.”

Leaning down, Xena ran her lips over the bard’s shoulder, bringing them slowly up the soft skin of her neck. “I know.” Whispering, when she reached the bard’s ear, she kissed the spot behind the lobe. “Me too.”

Cocking her head, Gabrielle closed her eyes, as Xena plied her affections on her ear and the warrior’s hand made it’s way over her abs, up to her breast. Gasping, Gabrielle arched her back, as Xena ran her thumb over her nipple. “Gods.” Covering the warrior’s hand with her own, she held Xena’s hand in place, feeling the strong fingers kneading gently, sending shivers down her spine. Opening her eyes, she stared at the shadowed ceiling, breathing heavily and taking in the full plate of sensations coursing through her body.

Following the curve of the bard’s neck, Xena left the soft skin and raised up, bringing her tongue to the edge of of Gabrielle’s lips and flicking it until the bard parted the rosy flesh. Looking into the bard’s eyes, she smiled, darting her tongue in and out of the bard’s mouth, teasing it’s playmate to come out, which it did and they danced around each other. Bringing their lips together, Xena continued the dance and deepened the kiss, moaning softly as the bard sucked on her tongue. Moving her hand off the bard’s breast, she cupped Gabrielle’s cheek, running her fingers over the warm skin of the bard’s neck, teasing her earlobe and tangling her fingers in blonde tresses.

As the heat started to build, Gabrielle raised her knee, separating Xena’s legs and began to rub their calves together in long gentle strokes. Wrapping her arms around the warrior’s waist, she pulled Xena down further, until their breasts met and she arched against the warrior, rubbing the tender mounds together. Groaning into the kiss, she explored Xena’s body, running her hands over the warrior’s muscled back, up to her strong shoulders and down again, digging a trail to her waist and hesitating a moment, before continuing downward, to the firm muscles of Xena’s butt. Kneading gently, she drew the warrior’s hips to hers and brought her knee up, until she felt the warm, wetness of Xena’s center come in contact with her thigh.

Breaking the kiss, Xena took a deep breath as Gabrielle began moving her thigh against her sex. “Gods.” Whispering, as she let the breath out slowly, opened her eyes and arched her back, moving her hips slowly. “Gabrielle.” Looking down at the bard, she saw the passion there and closed her eyes, again, when strong hands dug their fingers into her butt. Keeping the rhythm slow, she rocked harder, letting the bard hold her hips in place. Biting her lip, she shook her head and moaned, spreading her legs further apart and sliding higher on Gabrielle’s thigh.

Lifting off the pillow, Gabrielle kissed Xena’s shoulder, running her tongue along the ridge, toward her neck and bit down gently, when the warrior buried her head beside the bards, moaning into her ear. Removing one hand, Gabrielle ran it slowly up Xena’s back and around to take hold of the warrior’s head and brought it up. Watching the warrior move above her, she pulled Xena down for another kiss, parting the warrior’s lips with her tongue and driving it deep inside.

Shifting to one side, Xena spread the bard’s legs, keeping the slow rhythm and bringing her hand down Gabrielle’s side. Reaching her hips, she continued downward, moving her hand under the bard’s thigh and pulling it gently outward. Lifting her head, Xena looked down, as if to question the bard, but was again brought down for another passionate kiss and ran her hand slowly around Gabrielle’s thigh, to the inside. Rubbing her fingers over the muscled leg, she slowly brought her hand higher, until she felt the blonde curls against her fingers.

Feeling the warrior’s touch, Gabrielle arched her back when Xena slipped her fingers between her folds and groaned into the kiss as Xena began to stroke her clint. “Oh, my gods.” Her hips thrusting upward, Gabrielle opened her eyes and threw her head back. “Gods.” Gasping harshly, she dug her fingers into the warrior’s butt and felt Xena respond by rocking harder and picking up the tempo. “Xena.” Looking at the warrior, she bit her lip, when Xena’s fingers found her nub and closed her eyes, as her hips matched the rhythm of the warrior’s against her thigh.

Taking her time, Xena moved her fingers around the bard’s nub, rotating them slowly. Watching Gabrielle’s expression, she lowered her head, kissing Gabrielle’s neck and licked her way up to the bard’s ear. Taking the lobe in her teeth, she pulled gently, then flicked her tongue around the hot skin, taking in the smell of Jasmine and the slight hint of sweat, tasting the salty drops on the tip of her tongue. Feeling the bard raise up, Xena closed her eyes and moved her finger toward Gabrielle’s opening, running them slowly around, while continuing to stroke the nub with her thumb.

Gabrielle let go the warrior’s head and grabbed the covers, squeezing the material in her fist and groaning. Thrusting her hips harder, she shut her eyes, feeling the warrior’s fingers edging nearing her core and responded by bending her knee further, bringing her thigh harder against Xena’s center. “Xena.” Growling through gritted teeth, Gabrielle tried to press her hips against the warrior’s fingers. “Gods.”

Moving her hips faster, Xena lifted her head and brought her lips to the bard’s, rubbing their bottom lips together and flicking her tongue over Gabrielle’s top lip as she slid two fingers deep into the bard’s core.

Raising her hips off the bed, Gabrielle threw her head back, as Xena started to slowly thrust her fingers deep inside her. “Xena.” A breathless whisper, Gabrielle brought her head back, staring into the warrior’s eyes, holding them with hers as their bodies matched each others rhythm, moving in unison. Releasing the covers, she returned her hand to the warrior’s butt, pushing Xena’s hips harder against her thigh.

Not wanting to rush the moment, Xena slowed the pace, moving her hips in long strokes over the bard’s thigh and smiling down at Gabrielle. Lowering her head, she teased the bard’s lips with her tongue and felt her butt being squeezed. Chuckling, she raised an eyebrow. “Is that supposed to be a hint?” Sliding her hips slowly upward.

“No, I’m practicing my tomato freshness test.” Squeezing the warrior’s butt again and smirking, Gabrielle closed her eyes, momentarily, when Xena thrust her fingers hard into her. “Is that supposed to be a hint?” Opening her eyes.

“No, I’m testing out a new pressure point.” Thrusting again and removing her fingers slowly. “How am I doing?”

Shifting her hips, Gabrielle smiled. “By comparison, not bad.”

Halting all motion, Xena gave the bard a frown. “By comparison?”

Chuckling, herself, Gabrielle rolled her eyes. “Xena. I’ve only made love once before. I don’t exactly have a lot of reference material to work from.”

Pulling back Xena eyes went wide. “Once?”

“Is that a problem?” Raising one eyebrow and squeezing the warrior’s butt.

“No.” Shaking her head. “I just thought that maybe . . .”

“Sorry.” Shrugging, Gabrielle smiled. “I guess compared to you, I’m just a babe in the woods.”

Staring at the wall, Xena counted to ten, then looked back at the bard. “I have many skills, huh?” Lifting her eyebrows skyward.

“That’s what I’m hoping anyway.” Closing her eyes, when Xena slid her fingers back inside her, she chuckled. “And evidently your reputation is well deserved.” Opening her eyes, Gabrielle saw a twinkle in Xena’s eyes.

“Hmmm.” Rotating her fingers inside the bard, Xena thought about it.

“Uh, Xena.” Closing her eyes, Gabrielle drew in a deep breath.

“What?” Peering down at the bard.

“Whatever you’re doing.” Biting her lip. “Don’t stop.” Gasping, Gabrielle began rotating her hips around Xena’s fingers.

Raising one eyebrow, Xena continued her technique and lowered her head, bringing their lips together and kissing the bard tenderly. “Many skills indeed.” Flicking her eyebrows a couple of times, she began moving her hips again, feeling the banked embers coming to life. Sliding her fingers out of the bard, Xena held them at the opening and rotated them around a couple of times, soliciting a moan from Gabrielle and brought another finger, to join the two. Hesitating a moment, she eased them inward, watching the bard closely.

“Oh gods!” Lifting her hips, Gabrielle’s eyes opened wide and she stared at the warrior, clenching her teeth. Groaning, she took a deep breath, pushing her head into the pillow and quickly covered the warrior’s hand, when Xena started to pull out. “No.” Pushing the warrior’s hand back, she felt the fingers slide slowly in and closed her eyes. “Gods, Xena.” Opening her eyes, she removed her hand and arched her back when Xena started to thrust slowly. “Yes, gods, yes.” Taking hold of the covers again, tugging them to her, she felt Xena’s body moving against hers. Replacing her hand on the warrior’s butt, she squeezed gently, running her fingers over taught flesh.

Keeping the rhythm slow, Xena continued moving her hand in time with her hips and closed her eyes, letting the feel of Gabrielle against her, send her senses into overload. Rocking forward, she felt a sheen of sweat between them and used it to glide over Gabrielle’s body, brushing their breasts together and feeling their nipples harden. Wanting to taste those breasts, Xena tried to maneuver her mouth in position, but was thwarted in her effort, when Gabrielle brought her hand up around the warrior’s neck and pulled her in for a kiss. Tasting the succulent lips, Xena pushed her desire aside and acquiesced to the bard, consuming her with a passionate kiss.

As her breathing came in harsh gasps, Gabrielle lifted her head off the pillow, crushing her lips against Xena’s, plunging her tongue deep inside the warrior’s mouth and running it along the top, flicking it madly. Her nostrils flared, as her lungs burned for oxygen, but she refused to relinquish her hold, needing to have Xena in every way. When, the warrior pressed her head down, she enveloped her, heightening the heat and making Gabrielle moan in ecstasy. Her hips responded to every thrust and her breathing picked up the cadence, coming in short bursts. Finally, unable to take anymore, she broke the kiss. Arching against the warrior. “Xena!” Her voice a scream drowned out by the rolling of thunder.

Closing her eyes, Xena thrust her fingers harder and deeper, feeling the muscles around them tighten. “Yes.” Moaning, she felt herself nearing the edge and pushed harder against the bard. “Gabrielle.” Gasping, she opened her eyes and stared into the heat burning in the sea of green. “Gods!” Matching her strokes with her hips, she plunged deeper, rotating her thumb over the bard’s nub and feeling Gabrielle’s muscles starting to contract. “Gabrielle!”

“Xena!” The veins standing out on her neck, Gabrielle’s hips started thrusting wildly as the orgasm took hold and the warrior continued to drive her fingers in and out of her core, pushing her further and further over the edge. Holding onto Xena’s butt, she felt the warrior’s hips start their own irregular motions and she arched as they both climaxed. “Xena!” Moving her hands higher, Gabrielle dug her nails into the warrior’s back and closed her eyes, letting herself go and allowing the warrior to push her to the limits of her endurance.

Lowering her head, Xena buried it beside the bard’s, bracing herself on one arm as her hips bucked of their own accord and she continued thrusting her fingers, feeling Gabrielle’s muscles pulsating around them. Holding the climax, she bit down on the bard’s shoulder as wave, upon wave of heated pleasure ripped through her body, making it shutter uncontrollably. “Gabrielle!” Shouting into the pillow, Xena gritted her teeth, squeezing her eyes shut as they passed over the top. Taking deep breaths, she felt the spasm’s lessen and as her hips bucked sporadically, she opened her eyes and kissed the bard’s neck, nuzzling it softly. Waiting for Gabrielle to relax, she continued moving her fingers in and out in a slow rhythm.

Arching, one last time, Gabrielle eased back down as her heart pounded in her ears. “By the gods.” Whispering, she felt the warrior’s kiss and turned her head, bringing them face to face. Looking into the Xena’s smiling face, she smiled as well and fought to regulate her breathing. Running her hands over the warrior’s back, she pulled Xena on top of her, lowering her leg and stretching it out. Feeling Xena pull out, she sighed and opened her eyes. Staring into a sea of sparkling blue, Gabrielle felt one side of her mouth going up and let it, as a grin played on her lips.

Smiling contentedly, Xena kissed the grin and eased to the side, shifting her weight off the bard and throwing her leg over Gabrielle’s, rubbing the bard’s thigh with hers. Feeling strong hands pulling her back, she leaned in, but stayed put. Resting her hand on Gabrielle’s abs, she broke the kiss and stared down at the grin that wouldn’t die. “Is that going to be permanent?” Brushing a finger across the bard’s lips.

Taking the finger in her mouth, Gabrielle bit it gently, then let it go. “If you keep this up, that’s a distinct possibility.” Feeling the grin broaden.

“If?” Raising an eyebrow in question, Xena kissed the grin again. “The only if, Gabrielle, is if I’ll stop.” Proving her point, she leaned down running her tongue over the bard’s chin, then down her neck. Lingering at the base, Xena kissed her way downward, pushing back the covers and making her way to the not forgotten items she wanted earlier.

Closing her eyes, Gabrielle gasped when the warrior ran her tongue over her nipple. “Oh gods.”


Late in the morning, Mira brought up a tray of food for the warrior and bard, but was surprised to find one sitting outside their door, covered in the remains of fruit and several bowls of stew. Confused, she knocked on the door and jumped back when something struck the other side. Shrugging, she picked up the tray off the floor and left, shaking her head.

Inside, Xena picked up her other boot and listened, until she heard the footsteps getting further away. Dropping the other shoe, she laid her head back and looked down at the sleeping bard. Gabrielle was half covering her, with her head turned toward her at the base of her jaw. Smiling, Xena pulled the covers up, as a chill blew threw the slats of the shudders and wrapped her arms protectively around Gabrielle. Closing her eyes, she sighed when she felt the bard move. Holding her breath, she opened her eyes when Gabrielle lifted her head and smiled when she lowered it again. Letting the breath out slowly, Xena closed her eyes again.

“Xena.” Nuzzling her head into the warrior’s, Gabrielle twitched her nose.

Opening her eyes, Xena bit her lip, then looked down. “Yes, Gabrielle?” Whispering.

“How many women have you been with?” Rubbing her itching nose.

Lifting her head, Xena stared down at the bard’s head in wonder. “Pardon?”

Sighing, Gabrielle got comfortable again. “How many women have you been with?”

Rolling her eyes, Xena shook her head. “Including you?” Feeling the bard nod, she chuckled. “Two, but the other one was my mother and I don’t include childbirth as a sexual experience.”

“Okay.” Sighing again, Gabrielle smiled and drifted back to sleep.

Fighting a chuckle, fearing that it would induce another bizarre question, Xena just smiled and closed her eyes.


Opening her eyes, Gabrielle looked around and sighed, then sat up straight, feeling nothing under her but the bed. “Xena!”

“Yea?” Popping her head up over the end of the bed.

Closing her eyes, Gabrielle caught her breath. “What are you doing?” Opening her eyes to stare at a smiling warrior.

Holding up the bard’s boot, Xena winked. “Putting your laces back.” Sitting up, she turned and tossed the shoe at Gabrielle, then waited.

Picking up her boot, Gabrielle glanced at the window and saw sunlight sifting through the slats. “The storm’s over.”

“Well, that one anyway.” Smirking, Xena rose to her knees, resting her arms on the bed and chuckled. “How do you like your boot?”

Taking a casual glance at it, Gabrielle shrugged. “It’s a boot, Xena.” Holding the shoe up, staring at it, then back at the warrior. Her brow knitting, she looked back at the boot, as her eyes grew wide. “You fixed it.”

“Yep.” Smiling triumphantly, Xena reached out and tugged on the bard’s toe. “Wanna try it on?”

“Maybe tomorrow.” Tossing it aside, Gabrielle crawled down to the warrior. “Actually, I’m thinking of trying something much more stimulating on, right now.” Smiling wickedly.

“Good gods! I’ve created a monster.” Leaning out of the bard’s lecherous reach, Xena got to her feet, wrapping her robe around her tightly.

Rolling her eyes, Gabrielle laid down and sighed. “So close.” Shaking her head, ruefully.

“I can see that I’m going to have to invest in some more body armor.” Smiling smugly, Xena made a wide arc around the bed, over to the table and picked up her chakram. Holding it in front of her, she eased back to the bed and sat down.

Rolling on her side, Gabrielle thumped the chakram, making it ring. “Xena?”

“Yeeesss?” Jabbing the metal weapon in the bard’s general direction.

“Last night, you were surprised that I hadn’t been with anyone but Perdicus.” Her expression getting serious, Gabrielle rolled back on her stomach. “Why?”

Lowering the chakram, Xena bit her lip. “I guess I just expected that you would’ve been around the block a couple of times.” Shrugging.

“You mean, like you.” Giving the warrior a curious stare.

“No, not like me, but . . . I don’t know. Something.” Tossing the chakram at the table, Xena watched it sink into the wall with a thud. Wincing, she turned back to the bard.

“But you knew I was a virgin when I married Perdicus.” Kicking her legs in the air.

Trying to grab the bard’s foot, Xena shrugged again. “Gabrielle, are you going someplace with this?” Missing, she tried again.

“Yes.” Sitting up, Gabrielle faced the warrior. “Does it bother you that I’m not as experienced as you are?”

“Pardon?” Raising an eyebrow, Xena stared at Gabrielle like she’d grown another head.

“Does it bother you that I’m not as experienced as you are?” Folding her arms across her chest.

“Of course not!” Sitting forward, Xena frowned. “Where did you get an idea like that?”

“I don’t know. You just seemed so surprised last night.” Wondering if bringing up the subject was a good idea.

“Yes, Gabrielle, I was surprised.” Leaning back, Xena scratched her chin. “Pleasantly surprised, if you must know.”

“Really?” Shaking her head, Gabrielle found the news hard to believe.

“What did you think I was expecting?” Seeing the expression on the bard’s face, Xena softened her tone. “Gabrielle, think about it. Half the people on the planet don’t have as much sexual experience as I do and the other half are dead.” Raising her eyebrows.

“You’ve got a point there.” Nodding in agreement, she looked at Xena expectantly. “So you weren’t disappointed?”

“No.” Shutting her eyes for a moment, Xena moved to the bard, smiling warmly. “Far from it, Gabrielle.” Placing her hand on Gabrielle’s knee. “You are definitely one of the best lovers I’ve ever had and do you wanna know why?”

“Why?” Whispering.

“Because, for the first time in my life, I was loved, not for power, not for profit, not for animal pleasure and not for any other reason than the person I held in my arms, last night, loved me for me. That’s why.” Stroking the Bard’s cheek, she kissed it softly. “What you think you may lack in experience, is nothing compared the way you make me feel when you look at me.” Smiling into green eyes. “That can’t be taught, Gabrielle, it can only be felt.” Taking the bard’s hand, Xena brought it to her rest over her heart. “And I feel it, everyday.”

Feeling the warrior’s heartbeat, Gabrielle smiled. “Thanks, Xena.”

“Thank you . . . for being stubborn enough to love me.” Leaning forward, Xena brushed her lips over the bards, then smiled. “And that was a compliment by the way.”

Chuckling, with a wry smile, Gabrielle pushed Xena backwards. Rolling her eyes, she slid over the warrior, bringing her body down on top. “You do take a bit of effort, you know.” Gazing down into playful blue eyes, Gabrielle stole a quick kiss.

“But I’m worth it, right?” Smiling big and flicking her eyebrows up and down a couple of times.

“Oh, you’re definitely worth it, Xena.” Bringing their lips together, Gabrielle pulled Xena’s robe open and ran her hand up the warrior’s body. “Definitely.”

“I thought so.”


The End.

PS. If you happen to find references to this story in future stories (wink, wink) it is purely coincidental.

Thanks for reading.


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