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My First Time

by TrueBlue

posted on the Forum: 2/15/97
posted to Tom's Page: 3/12/97

So you want to know about my first time? Well, a deal's a deal and I did promise to tell you any story you wanted to hear. Actually, my first time was with my husband, Perdicus. I'm a widow. But I imagine that's not the first time you were talking about. You do realize that this is one tale that I haven't set to verse yet.

Before I tell you this story, do you see that big warrior seated by the fire talking battle strategy with those soldiers? The woman with the brass armor and the round blade at her side? Her name is Xena.

Yeah, she's gorgeous. Tall, muscular, long dark hair and bronze skin. You should see her eyes. They are the most intense blue you could possibly imagine. Once, when I was in Athens I went down to the docks at midday. It was the middle of summer. It was hot and there wasn't a cloud in the sky to block Apollo's glory. Standing on one of the piers, I looked out over the sea. The water was so blindingly bright it hurt to look at it, but I had to look because the sea was a such an extraordinarily deep, deep blue. That is the color of her eyes.

Anyway, I don't want her to hear me telling you this story. She'd get angry and you DON'T want to see her angry. If she glances over here we'll have to try to look innocent. No...wait. She always suspects something when I try to look innocent. She'll be over here in a flash and I can hear her right now saying to me in a deep, intimidating voice, "Gabrielle, what are you up to?" If she looks over here just act like I'm telling you a really good story. first time: I guess it starts on one dreary, wet night. Xena and I had been traveling to Amazonia to meet with the Amazon queen, Melosa. I'm an Amazon princess, see, but that's another story.

We had been traveling for days and it had rained the entire time. The rain started on the day we left for Amazonia and it didn't stop until after we arrived. And not just a little rain mind you, like a constant drizzle or frequent showers, but a drenching, maddening downpour that never abated. We walked in the rain, we ate in the rain, and we slept in the rain. I don't care what the survivalists tell you about building shelters, there's not a lot you can do with rocks and pine boughs.

By the time we got to the Amazon village everything we owned was completely soaked, even the stuff on the bottom of the saddlebags...especially the stuff in the bottom of the saddlebags. More than once I had watched Xena pour out the rain from those bags. They were supposed to be keeping our things dry, but instead the saddlebags just served as buckets for our belongings to slosh around in. We were cold, wet, tired, hungry and really crabby.

Now, you wouldn't think a land as rugged and dangerous as Amazonia and populated by such war-loving people would remind a person of the Elysian Fields, but when we walked into that village it was like walking into paradise. The Amazons stabled our horse, gave us good food, hot baths and dry clothes. One of our Amazon friends, Eponin, put us up for the night. The Amazons live primitively, but we would have been thrilled just to sleep on the dirt floor of Eponin's hut as long as we were out of the Zeus-forsaken rain! But Eponin had to pull guard duty for a fortnight, so she left that evening for one of the far borders of Amazon territory. We had her hut and her bed all to ourselves.

So there we were, in the little, comfortable hut. We were well fed and warm and dry for the first time in four days. It was late and very dark. The rain was still pouring outside and we were so tired we could hardly keep our eyes open. One little candle burned in the corner, and Xena agreed to let me keep it lit in case one of us had to get up at night.

Xena was wearing a short, one-piece outfit that belonged to Eponin, but she was much too tall for it. It kept creeping up on her and she was getting very annoyed with it. Xena doesn't have much patience with things that irritate her, so eventually she just ripped it off and climbed into Eponin's bed, naked. Then she ordered me to bed. I was wearing one of Eponin's outfits too, but Eponin is a lot bigger than me, and I had to keep a hold on the darn thing just to keep it on my body. So I figured, what the heck, and I took my clothes off too and climbed into bed beside Xena.

Now, I had seen Xena naked plenty of times before this. I mean, we travel together and you just can't avoid that sort of thing sometimes. On several occasions I had caught myself admiring the way she looked when she didn't have her clothes on, the way her muscles moved under her skin, and the graceful way she carried herself. Heck, sometimes I'd have to deliberately turn my head away just to stop myself from staring but it never really bothered me before. I mean, I never had a picture of a naked Xena burning itself into my brain. But that night, after a journey that had me weary right down to my bones, there it was, a picture of a naked Xena burning itself into my brain.

A minute earlier all I could think about was burying my head into the pillow and drifting off to sleep, but suddenly I wasn't tired at all. In fact, my mind was racing, but the only thoughts whizzing around in there were about how I could feel the heat from Xena's body on my skin and her breath on my shoulder. One large chunk of my brain was strictly devoted to how clean and warm she smelled while another part of my brain was busy with that burning picture.

It was rather disturbing, actually. I mean, this was another woman I was lying next to, and I wasn't "that way". I tried to push the thoughts down. If my mind needed something to think about then there were plenty of things I needed to ponder, like if I could come up with a better rhyme for "Callisto" than "nasty foe" in my new poem. But the thoughts of Xena were as persistent as the warrior herself when she had targeted a particular opponent. There was no ignoring or escaping those thoughts.

Xena, for her part, wasn't sleeping either. She started tossing and turning on the bed so I asked her what was wrong. She told me that her back was stiff from riding in the saddle so, although I knew she wasn't asking, I reached out my hand and started to rub her shoulders. Just light, gentle rubs, something to take a little bit of the soreness out, but I obviously wasn't helping because I could feel her tense up wherever I touched.

I asked her if I should stop and she told me, no, that she liked it, so I kept rubbing her shoulders. I liked it too. I liked the feel of her muscles and smooth skin under my hands. Pretty soon I was running my fingers through her hair because I liked the way the movement brought out the fresh scent of her dark locks. Then I ran my hand down her throat because I liked the feel of her pulse under my fingertips.

The next thing I knew she turned around to face me. She was stunningly beautiful in the dim light from the candle. I half-expected her to say something like, "Did you remember to take the knife out of the saddle bag so it doesn't rust?" or, "Tomorrow morning the first thing we should do is find some good tinder," but she didn't say anything. Instead she put her hand on my cheek and leaned in to kiss me. And it wasn't going to be a friendly, peck-on-the-cheek, sisterly kind of kiss. No, it was going to be a breath-taking, passionate, "Take me now, I'm yours!" kind of kiss. I knew it and so did Xena.

I know, you're thinking, "Yes! Yes! Now we get to the juicy part!" Well, that's not what happened.

Understand that at that time I had never kissed a woman. In fact, I had never even been presented with the opportunity to kiss a woman. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't naive. I was an Amazon, after all, and I had spent some time with these women. To say that Amazons don't socialize much with men is a powerful understatement, and relationships between women were common in Amazonia. They even seemed quite natural. But I, myself, had never been in a relationship with a woman; not a romantic relationship anyway and, actually, I hadn't even given it much thought.

I had thought about what it would feel like to kiss a woman. I had been thinking about that a lot since we met the Amazons and, for the first time, I had seen women kiss each other in passion. Sometimes, at night before I went to sleep, I would close my eyes and picture a woman coming toward me, and I would imagine what it would feel like to kiss her. Truthfully, that woman was usually Xena. So you would think after all those times I had rehearsed it in my head that when Xena finally did approach me for a kiss I wouldn't freak out. But I did.

I don't know what I was afraid of. Xena was my best friend. I knew she would never hurt me or make me do anything I didn't want to do, but there I was, suddenly and completely terrified. The physical effect my emotions were having on me alone was frightening. My heart was racing, my breathing fast and rapid, every muscle in my body felt like a coiled spring ready to release. Was this fear? Revulsion? Excitement? Passion? What?!

But behind the sensations lurked the thing that frightened me the most: the thought that I might really enjoy this kiss. If I liked the kiss...if I really liked the kiss...I would have to rethink my whole image of myself, of my relationships with other women, and men in general, and most of all, I would have to rethink my relationship with Xena. My friendship with Xena was the most valuable thing I had. And I guess, as happens with anything so treasured, I was afraid changes to our relationship would only diminish its value.

In the moment it took me to realize that Xena intended to kiss me, all these thoughts piled into my mind like an army of chariots charging over a cliff to crash on the beach below. I needed to sort out the chaotic, terrifying jumble of thoughts, but I didn't have time. Xena was coming closer. I could feel her hot, moist breath on my mouth, and happened. My whole body turned stiff as a board. I involuntarily yanked the blanket up under my chin and I heard a big gasp as I sucked in a mouthful of air. I stared at Xena in shock with eyes that must have been as wide as saucers.

Once Xena and I were in a battle and I had frozen up. I almost got us both killed that time but I thought I had gotten over it. I thought that was the last time I would ever freeze up in fear, but I was wrong because it happened again that night.

Xena...oh, poor Xena...a look of complete dread come over her face. Then, in an instant, her expression turned to stone. She jumped out of the bed, grabbed her weapons, and whipped on her own clothes which had been drying on a chair. She mumbled something like, "Sorry, Gabrielle," and she opened the door of the hut and left. Just like that. Out into the pouring rain.

It was awful. I was like a fly caught in tree sap in that damn bed, trapped in my own thoughts and unable to move.

"Think, Gabrielle. Think!" I chastised myself, pounding the heel of my hand on my forehead, trying to rattle my thoughts into some kind of order. When my mind finally did start to clear, I began worrying about Xena and wondering what the Tartarus was going on with me. I thought about how, at that very moment, Xena and I might have been making love in Eponin's bed. I intensely wondered what that would be like while at the same time I wondered if I even wanted to try it.

After a long time of lying in that bed and thinking I finally came to a decision. Just like the warlords, demons and monsters Xena and I had faced in the past, I would confront this fear head on. I pictured Xena in bed beside me, the shadows flickering across her lovely face in the dim candle light, approaching me for a kiss and this time, in my mind, I pressed my lips into hers, and threw myself upon her to ravage her body with kisses. I was going to find out exactly how I felt about a physical relationship with another woman, and to Tartarus with my fears of what that would make me. And then the little candle in the corner smothered itself out in its own wax. The hut went very dark, and I feel asleep.

I woke up late the next day to the sound of a commotion outside. I threw on my damp clothes and ran to see what was happening. The rain had stopped and a terrible heat had set in. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, but you could barely see the sun for all the haze from the steam of water drying off the soaked earth.

Amazon sentries by the entrance to the village had called out a warning at the approach of strangers. Women ran to line the road and I followed. I was toward the back of the spectators, so I couldn't see who was coming, but I could see my sister Amazons stand at attention as the new arrivals approached.

And then I saw Melosa, Queen of the Amazons, on her horse as she rode into the village. Directly behind Melosa was another regal rider; an Amazon certainly, but her dress was different from the Amazon attire I was used to. Instead of a small leather outfit and ceremonial feathered mask this woman wore a long, fur cape that covered a body scantily clad in a loin cloth and short woolen tunic. On her head was an ornate crest of animal fur that trailed from her forehead to her waist, and, most strangely, her face was covered with red- and white-painted "V's" which lent a fierceness to her features that must have been overwhelming to the opponents she faced in battle.

Riding beside the crested woman was another imposing individual who sat tall in the saddle and rode with one muscular arm cocked on her hip. She had on the same woolen tunic and fur cape as the rider next to her, but she did not have the fur crest and she sported only a few red- and white-painted lines on her face. This third rider had bronzed skin which was tracked with nasty white scars that looked like chalk marks on a brown piece of slate. Sheltered under her lowered eyelids were the two green flames she used to carefully observe the crowd. I got the distinct impression that nothing escaped those green eyes.

Behind these riders was a fourth woman on horseback. I recognized this Amazon as Melosa's personal guard, and behind her were the orderly lines of a dozen Amazon soldiers. Half of the soldiers I knew belonged to the village. The other half were strangers, their faces painted with one or two white stripes apiece.

Melosa's guards seemed quite happy to have returned home and I saw several, still at attention under Melosa's command, smile secretly to friends who waved greetings. The strangers in the procession, however, were women who seemed less comfortable to have arrived at this village. These Amazons eyed the crowd warily, and I noticed that they kept their weapons sheathed but within easy reach. We returned their wary gazes with equal suspicion. The women of this village were my sisters, and if they were uncomfortable with the arrival of these strangers, then so was I, even if their arrival was the whole reason Xena and I had trudged though four days and four nights of pouring rain to get to Amazonia.

Melosa led the group to the center of the town and we gathered around. I got a spot at the front of the gathering and, to my surprise, Xena suddenly appeared next to me. She didn't turn to say hello or even glance at me, but she was there and I was just glad she was safe.

Then Melosa turned to her audience and said, "My people, welcome these women and their Queen Heleva."

We all eyed the strangers suspiciously, and I saw Xena carefully glance around at the women of the village.

Melosa's eyes narrowed, and I heard the rebuke in her voice as she continued, "They are your sister Amazons and are to be treated as such."

Then Melosa's tone lightened. She smiled at the crowd and said, "Now we can thank the goddess Artemis for their safe arrival to our land and our celebrations may begin."

With a wave of her hand, Melosa released her guards from their duty and the soldiers tumbled into the crowd to hug their sisters. The village filled with the sound of chatter as tales of the journey were told. Then the followers of Queen Heleva were greeted as well with pleasant handshakes and careful smiles.

Melosa seemed to relax at the reaction of her people, as did Xena. Melosa dismounted her horse and walked over to Xena and me. She grasped Xena's forearm in a hearty handshake and told Xena that she was glad to see her. That's when Xena told her we had heard that she was planning to join forces with the tribe of Heleva, and we wanted to be there in case we could help.

Melosa said, "Xena, you are well respected by my Amazons, and any encouragement you can give for the union of these two tribes will be of assistance."

Then the queen looked down at me and said she was happy to see me too. She said, "Gabrielle, as my successor to the Amazon throne it is good that you are here. I want you to meet with Queen Heleva's Amazons and make them feel welcome. Learn what you can because someday the tribe of Heleva will be one of our most important allies."

See, Melosa controls the largest Amazon tribe in Greece, but there are other bands of Amazons scattered throughout the continent. Generally speaking, an Amazon will always protect another Amazon in a battle against outside forces, but the tribes themselves could never get along. I guess that can happen when you have warlike people with separate leaders. Eventually the warring tribes managed to put enough space between each other that they didn't have much to fight about, but skirmishes still happened. Pretty soon the different tribes weren't even coming to defend one another when wars with outside parties broke out. Melosa intended to put an end to the isolationist attitudes that had gripped all of the Amazon tribes, and the meeting with Heleva was going to be her first attempt at an alliance.

Anyway, then Melosa asked Xena to go with her for a personal introduction to Queen Heleva. Xena turned to me, put a hand on my shoulder, and calmly said, "We'll talk later."

As Xena stepped away with Melosa, I stood there watching the movement of the powerful muscles of Xena's legs and the womanly sway of her hips; I remember thinking, "Oh, we'll do a lot more than just talk, Xena."

Then, from just behind my shoulder, I heard, "Who's your tall friend?"

I just about jumped out of my skin because usually only Xena can sneak up on me like that. I spun around and found myself looking up at the warrior who had ridden in beside Heleva.

I told the woman my friend was Xena, Warrior Princess, and she told me that she thought Xena was a legend. I've been working hard at making Xena a legend by spreading stories of her adventures wherever I go, but I assured this Amazon that Xena was very real. I introduced myself to her and I remember those fiery, green eyes dropping from Xena's back to affix on me. A slow smile rose across her face to reveal straight, white teeth, and she said, "Hello, Gabrielle."

The warrior was named Gimzan and she was Heleva's personal guard. With some encouragement, I got her to tell me a couple of her war stories, and let me say they were stories that could stand your hair on end. But she had other people to meet, and she wanted to stay by Heleva's side, so we didn't have much time to talk.

When Xena was through with her introductions she walked over to me and put a hand on my arm to lead me away from the crowd. She was so very relaxed and calm that she was driving me nuts, because all I wanted to do was get her alone somewhere so we could finish what I had so rudely put a stop to the night before. But it wasn't to be.

When we were alone she said to me, "Gabrielle, about last night: I don't know what got into me. I was tired and sore and your back rub felt so nice. I guess I thought you were coming on to me, and I was just too tired to think straight about how I felt about that. The truth is, I'm not really attracted to you. I mean, you're my best friend and all, you always will be, but I just don't feel that way about you. I'm sorry if I led you to believe something different, and I'm sorry if that frightened you." She smiled sweetly at me and continued, "It was all just a big misunderstanding and I swear it will never happen again." And she patted my shoulder and smiled brightly as I weakly nodded. Then she turned around and strode away to talk to some of the Amazons she had met from Heleva's tribe.

I stood there in shock, as if my whole world had just collapsed around me. Melosa must have spotted the look on my face as I watched Xena walk away because suddenly the Amazon queen was beside me. She asked me if I was okay. But I couldn't speak because of the lump in my throat, so I just nodded and quickly walked away.

I spent the rest of the day in Eponin's hut. It was unbearably hot and humid outside, and I found the dim coolness of the little shelter comforting. At least it was someplace private where I could cry my eyes out and no one would have to see me. It was someplace where I could think.

What if I was in love with Xena? Physically, passionately in love? Could I go back to thinking about her as "just a friend"? Could I lie down beside her every night and not wonder what it would be like to make love to her? Would every time I laid a hand on her be a stolen touch? Every time I held her on the back of her saddle an unreturned embrace? Misunderstanding or not, my relationship with Xena had changed. My fear was that change would bind me even more tightly in our friendship and at the same time would make me profoundly miserable. I was devastated.

It began to grow dark and I could hear the preparations outside for the big feast that night in honor of the new arrivals. All of the Amazons would be there, and Xena too, but I had decided that I would be spending the evening in. I was in the process of digging the wick out of the hardened wax of the candle when Melosa approached the hut entrance and asked if she could come in.

She's the queen; it's her village, so I told her she could enter. I tried to act normally and I tried very hard not to look directly at her so she wouldn't see my red, puffy eyes. But it's tough to slip something past an observant Amazon, and Melosa wasn't Queen of the Amazons for nothing. Right away she noticed I had been crying.

I sort of expected Melosa to be irritated by my show of weakness, or at least try to ignore it, but, to my surprise, Melosa just looked at me sadly. She directed me to sit on the bed, and then she sat down beside me. She put a hard, muscled arm around my shoulders and asked me if Xena and I had been fighting. I told her we hadn't, which was the truth, and that, to the contrary, we had everything all straightened out. Melosa seemed a little skeptical of my remarks, but she must have decided not to push it. Instead she invited me to the party that night. I told her I really didn't feel like going, but she insisted that it would be a lot of fun. Still, I told her I didn't want to go.

Melosa finally relented, and then said that it was too bad because I would be missing out on a lot of good food. She talked about the fresh breads and aged cheeses that had been prepared, and she told me about the wild boar that had been roasting in a pit for three days for this event. She mentioned the prized pots of honey would be out for everybody to take all they wanted, and she spoke of the sweet jubilee berries, which were ripe for only two weeks in the summer. She said the berries were now in season, and an entire half-bushel of the fruits had been picked.

I thought I wasn't hungry when Melosa had come in that evening, but I hadn't eaten all day, and when she started talking about the feast I decided that it would be very rude of me to sit in Eponin's hut all night when there were important guests to entertain.

I showed up at the banquet and found the feast spread out on a long, decorative banquet cloth. The cloth was placed on the ground in the middle of the village, and a bonfire was lit nearby. The flames were intended to light the village square for the festivities, but the bright, full moon already filled the sky and provided plenty of light.

Melosa was seated at the head of the banquet cloth with Xena on her right, and Heleva on her left. Seated to the left of Heleva was Gimzan. Melosa waved me over and asked me to sit down between her and Xena. Xena casually slid over to let me in, so I sat down beside my warrior friend, even though I really couldn't look at her yet. Then the rest of the Amazons from both tribes sat down beside one another at the banquet like true sisters, and I could tell that Melosa was quite happy with the way the festivities were going.

"My people," Melosa announced. The chatter of many voices quickly died away as all eyes turned to the queen. Melosa lifted her goblet and said, "Let us drink to the new alliance with our sisters to the north."

Everyone lifted up the goblets of deep red wine that had been carefully placed at each setting. I surreptitiously pushed my goblet to the side and instead picked up the clay mug of cider beside my plate. With barely a glance, Xena removed the cup from my grasp and replaced it with the silver goblet. So I lifted the goblet to join in the toast. Apparently this was not the time to assert my preference for non-alcoholic beverages.

Heleva added, "May our union be strong and forever unbroken," and we all cheered and downed our drinks. The young girls waiting on the diners filled our goblets with more of the strong, sweet wine. I put my hand over my goblet to indicate that I didn't want the container filled too high, but the darn girl filled it to the brim anyway.

Then another high ranking Amazon added a toast. This one to "the historic efforts of Queen Melosa and Queen Heleva to bring our two tribes together." Again we all downed our drinks. After the fifth or sixth toast the taste of the alcohol didn't even bother me that much anymore.

Anyway, I was starting to feel a little better. The food was wonderful; Melosa kept asking me to tell my favorite stories to the visitors, and I can't be upset when I'm in the middle of a good story. I still felt unhappy and confused, but at least it was nice to have Xena at my side again. It was almost like everything was back to normal...almost normal. It seemed pretty clear to me that I would never be able to go back to exactly the same easy, relaxed friendship with Xena I had so treasured. Things would always be a little different now.

Finally, the appetites at the banquet cloth were sated. The young girls were allowed to clear away what was left of the meal, and the Amazon women began to break up into small groups. Queen Heleva asked Xena for a demonstration of the legendary chakram, the round blade Xena carries at her waist, and Xena agreed to show her what she could do with it. Melosa wanted to see the demonstration as well, so the three of them, Xena, Heleva, and Melosa, left to find an open area where no one would get hurt.

A couple of Amazons were rolling up the banquet cloth, so I stood up to get out of the way. This was the spot where the women would dance, and the deep beat of drums was already beginning.

Once again a voice was at my shoulder, "Hot night, tonight." At least I didn't jump this time, but I was surprised, and again I turned around to face the green-eyed Gimzan.

I replied that indeed I did feel hot, but that I could just be warm from all the wine I had drunk. I told her that I wasn't really used to alcohol, and that with three glasses I could be convinced to dance with a candle shade on my head. More than that and I would do anything asked of me. Then she asked me how much I had drunk and I had to admit that it was more than three glasses.

Oh my, but there was something about this woman. Something compelling and mysterious. Those eyes seemed to glow like a cat's in the firelight and she was standing so very close to me.

Now, I'm quite naturally a touchy-feely kind of person and normally I'm the one bothering people by standing too close to them. In fact, I used to drive Xena crazy when we first met by touching her all of the time and standing too close. It was months before she stopped flinching every time I laid a hand on her. And I can't tell you how many slow-motion pursuits we had around the campfire as I would step closer to Xena to tell her a story and she would step back for more space. For the last several months, though, Xena didn't seem to mind the way I touched her and stood close to her, and she even returned these actions with lots of touches and closeness herself. I wondered if that would be changing now as well to avoid any further "misunderstandings."

Anyway, Gimzan was standing very close to me and giving me her undivided attention. I felt downright shy under her gaze and I must say I was quite surprised by the effect this blond-haired, brown-skinned warrior was having on me. I was having a hard time keeping my head as I looked into those green eyes, so I turned to watch the Amazon drummers who pounded out a deliberate and intricate rhythm on the taut animal skins and hollowed-out logs, and I also watched the dancers who were starting to move with the beat.

Gimzan asked me how long Xena and I had been together, and I told her that we had met over a year ago and had been traveling together ever since.

She said, "Love at first sight, hmm?" and I told her we weren't lovers. That was definitely true.

After that Gimzan's attention really perked up. I knew she was flirting with me and normally I would have just politely backed out of that kind of situation, but things were different now. The almost-kiss of the night before had made me confront the possibility that I may be able to feel for a woman the same kind of desire that I thought I only had for men. This revelation was something I really wanted to explore, and Gimzan was there like a great big green-eyed opportunity for a little self-discovery. No complicated relationship. No intense friendship that could be jeopardized. So I let her flirt with me, and I even flirted back.

Now, I don't know if it was the wine or the drums or the wild dancing around me that made me do it. More likely it was the flood of new emotions I was feeling and having a very difficult time sorting out, but when Gimzan leaned in to kiss me, I closed my eyes and leaned in to kiss her back.

Like I said before, I had been imagining this moment for a long time. Gimzan wasn't Xena, but she was female, and I was about to find out if I would enjoy this kiss, dislike it, or possibly feel nothing.

Well, we could definitely dismiss the "feel nothing" possibility. That certainly wasn't what happened. Instead, her lips touched mine and the first thing that hit me was how very soft her mouth was. I guess I had kind of expected a kiss from a woman to physically feel like a kiss from a man, but that wasn't the case. Gimzan's skin was silk smooth compared to the rough, stubbly feel of even the most clean-shaven men I had kissed. And her lips and mouth were incredibly soft, and although she was big, her shoulders weren't as broad as most of the men I had been with, so she felt small in my arms.

What hit me next was the weakness in my knees and the way my stomach was doing somersaults inside my gut. Neither of these sensations was particularly pleasant, but they certainly were powerful. And then Gimzan slowly slipped her tongue past my lips and into my mouth, and, as I tentatively pressed my tongue into hers, I realized that I definitely wanted to try more of this kissing-women-thing in the future.

Suddenly, Gimzan was jerked out of my arms with incredible force. I opened my eyes to see Xena fiercely grasping Gimzan by the collar of her fur cloak and holding the Amazon less than an inch away from her face. I thought I had seen Xena angry in the past, but those times were nothing compared to the look of rage I saw on her face at that moment.

Gimzan slapped Xena's hands away and glared back at her with equal intensity. I was terrified. I could see the fight that was about to start, and I knew it was going to be nasty, but immediately Melosa was between the women, pushing them apart. Xena attempted to break away from Melosa and take a couple of steps toward Gimzan, but Melosa put her shoulder into Xena's chest and pushed her back. Heleva was on Gimzan who also struggled to get closer to Xena.

Melosa firmly shouted a couple of choice words in Xena's face to convince her to back off, or at least to distract the warrior. Heleva was also busy. Her hand was clenched on Gimzan's jaw as she tried to yank the Amazon's challenging stare off of Xena. Heleva shouted at Gimzan as well in an attempt to redirect the fiery green glare to her own eyes.

Several of Heleva's Amazons had already responded to the disturbance, as had a good number of women from the village, and I knew images of past battles between the two tribes were foremost in everybody's mind. Quickly, when it was safe to take her attention off of Xena for a moment, Melosa began to disperse the gathering crowd. Together, Melosa and Heleva managed to calm their respective followers, and the Amazon crowd backed off. Xena and Gimzan both turned to storm off in opposite directions, and I just stood there in silent shock.

Then Melosa stepped up to me and said, half-joking at a time like this, "I asked you to be friendly to Heleva's Amazons, Gabrielle, but I didn't mean THAT friendly."

I looked at Melosa but I was unable to get any words out of my mouth, so I just turned to walk away when Melosa put a hand on my shoulder to stop me. She turned me around to face her and she said seriously, "You and Xena don't have this straightened out yet."

I didn't know what to say to that either, so I simply lowered my head and walked away. I could see the Amazons around me as they carefully tried not to stare, and I could hear voices in gossip, voices intended to be just low enough that I couldn't make out what was said. I didn't want to return to the confinement of Eponin's hut, and I couldn't go back to the party, so I decided to take a walk in the forest. I picked up one of the torches that lined the perimeter of the village, and I followed an old hunting trail into the dark, dense jungle.

My intention was to find some open space where I would have room to think, but I soon realized I had forgotten how spooky a forest at night could be when Xena wasn't around. The lush canopy above blotted out the stars and the moon, and the nocturnal animals of the forest scurried through the underbrush just beyond the light of my torch. Creatures croaked, howled and screamed eerie calls that echoed through the blackness, and their strange voices sent shivers down my spine.

The confinement of the little hut was starting seem less unpleasant but just as I decided to turn around and head back to the village a form came leaping silently down from the tree limbs above me to land directly in my path. The dark shadow straightened itself and immediately the light from my torch caught a bright, green glint. Gimzan.

"You told me that you and Xena weren't lovers," she growled as she stepped into the circle of light from my torch.

"I...we're not. We've never even...kissed," I stammered, flustered from Gimzan's startling approach and her overwhelming presence.

"Why not?" was her reply and the question took me by surprise.

"Because..." I had to think for a moment. "Because she doesn't feel that way about me."

A low chuckle escaped the Amazon's throat. "Yeah. Right."

I shrugged. It didn't make sense to me either. The most logical explanation for what had happened was that Xena and seen Gimzan kissing me and assumed that Gimzan was forcing herself on me. But it wasn't like Xena to jump to conclusions. Not only that, Xena was nothing if not observant, and anybody could see that I was a perfectly willing participant in the kiss. Maybe Xena had seen the two of us kissing and got jealous. But to feel jealous, Xena would have also had to feel for me the kind of emotions she had denied only that morning. I just couldn't figure it out.

As I stood there before the Amazon warrior, pondering this puzzle, I noticed Gimzan eye me carefully. She paused for a moment and then spoke, "How do you feel about her?"

I didn't respond. I simply didn't know the answer. Gimzan saw my look of confusion and must have figured that her question was too complicated.

"Do you love her?" she asked slowly, over-enunciating the words as if she was speaking to a small child.

"Yes. I love her," I responded with forced easiness. "She's my best friend. We do everything together..."

"No. No," Gimzan replied and took several steps closer to me. She removed the torch from my hand and rested it against a large rock that marked the trail. Then she put her hands on my shoulders and started to draw me close.

"Do you LOVE her? Do you want to hold her and kiss her and feel her naked body next to yours?" Gimzan leaned in very close to me. She turned her face into my neck and spoke in a low, husky tone into my ear. "Do you want to hear her cry out your name in ecstasy as you touch her?"

My breathing was fast and shallow, and I trembled at the closeness of this intoxicating woman. Gimzan's lips brushed my ear as she spoke, and I nearly lost my equilibrium at the sensation.

"Do you want to make love to her the way I want to make love to you?" she breathed into my throat as her lips ever so lightly caressed my neck.

"I don't know how I feel," I choked in reply. Again my words seemed to give Gimzan pause. She moved her mouth away from my throat and backed up ever so slightly so she could capture my gaze with her green eyes.

"You don't know? Of course you know."

"I...think..." I began.

"Don't think, Amazon. Don't think," Gimzan interrupted. She released my shoulders and slowly began to run her palms toward my throat. Then she changed direction and moved her hands across my chest, over my breasts, and down my stomach. I inhaled sharply at the contact but I stood very still.

"What does this tell you?" And the location of "this" was unmistakable as she pulled my hips firmly into hers and ground herself into me.

The contact so startled me that, suddenly, the racing thoughts that had mercilessly plagued me disappeared. To fill the void of all those thoughts came a simple awareness of my surroundings. I could hear the strange sounds of the forest and my own breathing as I lightly panted. The smell of the damp vegetation of the jungle filled my nose and mingled with the warm, musky scent of the woman who held me. I could feel Gimzan's hard thighs, flat stomach, and soft breasts pressed against me. Her hands were low on my hips, and where her bare skin touched mine I felt an incredible heat. I was still afraid. Every muscle in my body was tensed, ready to make me bolt at the first signal, but "this" was signaling me to stay. So I did.

I saw laughing shadows dance like dark, little demons across Gimzan's face in the dim torch light as she lowered her mouth toward me. Involuntarily, I moaned in anticipation. I felt her soft lips touch mine. I hesitated for a moment, and then I tasted the sweetness of her mouth. I closed my eyes. Suddenly, I saw Xena's face.

The vision was so vivid I had to step back in surprise. My eyes snapped open to see only Gimzan as she watched me in expectation. I was speechless for a moment as Gimzan just watched me carefully with those burning green eyes.

"I've got to find her," I finally said simply. I could feel the disappointment flood through the Amazon, and then she bobbed her head once in acknowledgment.

I picked up the torch, took one last look at those flaming green eyes, and turned to run down the path toward the village.

By the light of my torch, I found Xena's tracks in the soft dirt of a trail which led away from the village. I followed the tracks down to the shore of a swollen lake where the footprints disappeared into a patch of grass.

It was cooler here, away from the heat of the jungle and the village. A refreshing breeze was blowing in from the lake and the area was fairly bright as the moonlight reflected off the water. The drums resonated in the distance with a deep, rhythmic beat and the stars filled the sky with such numbers that it seemed like an impossible task even for a god to have placed them all there.

"Xena?" I called quietly. I knew she had to be close.

"Go away, Gabrielle," was her low reply. Xena sat under the shadow of a large boulder not more than five steps away from me, but I had never seen her. I contemplated her request for a moment, but then I snuffed out the torch in the cool sand, and sat down in the patch of short grass at my feet.

Xena broke the silence first. "Why were you kissing her?" she asked, and I told her the truth. I said I wanted to know what it felt like to kiss a woman.

Angrily, she got up and strode over to the edge of the lake where she stood to look out at the reflections of the moon and the stars on the water. She stood with her back to me, and I could hear the deprecation in her voice as she spoke. "So it's just me you don't want to kiss."

I actually had to smile at that one. I slowly got up and went to stand behind my warrior. I put my hands on her shoulders and began to run my fingertips down her muscular arms. Her skin was cool and luminescent in the white moonlight, and her body went rigid at my touch.

"No. It's only you I want to kiss," I said, and I started to try to think of an explanation for why I had reacted as I had the night before. Then I remembered Gimzan's admonishment: Don't think, Amazon.

During our travels together Xena had taught me techniques of meditation to improve my fighting skills. She had taught me how to release my mind and feel the movement of my body through space. In combat, she had said, when attacks are coming from all sides and the confusion of battle takes over, one must clear the mind and use the body and senses to tell you what is happening and what needs to be done next. So, as my teacher had instructed me, I closed my eyes, cleared my mind, and I let my body tell me what to do next.

I pressed my lips into her broad back, and I felt her involuntarily suck in a lung full of air. I traced my mouth along the line of her shoulder, and then I nosed through her dark, fragrant hair to let my breath escape on the nape of her neck. She shuddered and I stepped around to stand in front of her. With my chin tilted up my mouth was level with her collarbone, so I took the opportunity that presented itself.

Her chest rose and fell heavily against my chin as I kissed the hollow at the base of her throat. My hands settled on the curve of her hips, and I felt her grip my shoulders tightly. I could hear the beating of her heart in the distant booming of the native drums that accelerated in rhythm as the cadence became more wild.

Her breath rustled my bangs as she spoke in a husky voice that struggled to well up from her chest, "Gabrielle, I don't think you know what you want."

"To the contrary," I breathed into the pulse on her neck that was pounding against my lips, "I finally know exactly what I want." And I trailed the fingers of my right hand up her jaw, behind her ear, and to the back of her neck where I pulled her down to my mouth. She trembled at my every touch but otherwise held very still, and when our lips met I felt her melt in my arms.

Oh, geez! She's lookin' right at us. Quick, try to look innocent!

Drat! That was the wrong one, wasn't it? Here she comes now! Xena's kind of a private person and if she knew I was telling you this story she would kill me so I'll have to wrap this up fast:

We made love all night long beside the lake and by the light of the moon. That was my first time but it wasn't my last. If I see you around I'll tell you more stories that I won't be setting to verse any time soon.

The End.

Author's note: A heartfelt thanks to my editor, Sonya, and another thanks to the folks at MCA for the giving us the marvelous characters of Xena and Gabrielle. I have been writing fan fiction for six months now. In that time, I have learned more about the art of writing than I did in my entire college career.

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