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Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, Argo and all other characters who have appeared in the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess, together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.
NOTE: All works remain the (c) copyright of the original author. These may not be republished without the author's consent.
This story depicts scenes of violence and/or their aftermath. Readers who are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of depiction may wish to read something other than this story.
This story depicts a love/sexual relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state or country in which you live, please do not read it. If depictions of this nature disturb you, you may wish to read something other than this story.
A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:
I strongly suggest that, before reading this, you read my other story, "Soulmates", as it gives background needed for this story...
As always, I really appreciate comments and feedback about my stories. Please let me know what you think!
Xena: Warrior Princess
MY ENEMY, MY LOVE
By: Fu Bard
Chapter 1: INSEPARABLE
Gabrielle and Xena were standing together on a green ridge, overlooking a beautiful valley. A peaceful village lay below them and peasants went about the task of harvesting the abundant grain in the surrounding fields. At the moment, all was well - for a change. The two friends were traveling slowly, camping often - and making love even more often. Ever since they had finally become lovers, after their encounter with Tobias the dragon, the two women seemed to be trying to make up for all the wasted time that had come before. They couldn't get enough of each other - even when not making love, they were constantly kissing or at least holding hands.
Gabrielle was enjoying the feel of Xena's arm around her shoulder, as they watched the pleasant scene below them. She turned to look at the beautiful woman next to her - admiring the blue eyes and the lovely face of her Warrior Princess. Yes, HER Warrior Princess. The bard smiled as she thought about all the times that she had longed for Xena, knowing that she could not have her. Now, her fondest dream having come true, those days seemed so far away. Xena looked down into Gabrielle's eyes, picking up on her feelings and giving the young woman a smile. Gabrielle put her arms around Xena's waist and reached up to give her true love a kiss. The young bard still couldn't believe how each kiss thrilled her to her very core, as much as the first had. She pushed her tongue into Xena's mouth, where it was welcomed, and returned, by her lover. They held each other tightly, pressing their bodies together, as the lingering kiss went on. Gabrielle was about to break away and ask Xena if they could camp a little early tonight when, suddenly, the ground began to shake!
It seemed that Xena was growing taller as Gabrielle looked up at her. No, the bard realized that it was she who was getting shorter! She looked down to see a crack forming in the earth at her feet. The soil was sinking down into the rift, as smoke began to issue forth from the widening gap! Gabrielle tried to pull her feet from the dirt, but she couldn't seem to move her legs! The harder she struggled, the more she sank down, away from her friend! Xena had grabbed both of the bard's hands by now, and was pulling with all of her strength - trying to stop Gabrielle from sinking any further. The warrior's muscles bulged with the strain of her efforts, but it did nothing to slow the younger woman's descent! "GABRIELLE!" she screamed, as she continued to struggle to free her lover.
The soil was up to Gabrielle's shoulders, by now, and she continued to sink, as smoke boiled up from the fissure! Now, she felt something gripping her legs beneath the ground! A bony, taloned hand broke the surface, then another, and another - rotting flesh dripping from the ghastly appendages! They grabbed Gabrielle's shoulders, her hair, her head - pulling her down into the earth! She was completely buried now, except for her head, and her arms and hands - which Xena continued to hold as she tried to keep Gabrielle from being pulled further.
"XENA, PLEASE DON'T LET ME GO!" Gabrielle screamed. She continued to go under, her head was beneath the soil now, and only her hands were above the ground - locked in Xena's! The skeletal fingers began to pry at them, loosening her grip on the warrior. "NO!" the bard yelled, choking on dirt and sand. "XENA, HELP ME!" Suddenly, her fingers were jerked loose, and she began to fall down into the earth - rocks and soil cascading around her as the crack began to close overhead! She looked up, to see Xena watching her as she fell away from her lover. Gabrielle's anguished scream echoed off the walls, as she plunged downward, into a fiery, smoking pit!
"Gabrielle, wake up!" Xena shouted, as she shook her lover by the shoulders. Gabrielle jerked awake, sitting up quickly, and looking around in panic! Her body was covered in sweat, and her eyes were wild and unfocused. Xena pulled the frightened bard to her, as tears began to fall from the young woman's eyes. "Shhhh... It's OK. I'm here." Xena stroked the young woman's blond hair while Gabrielle sobbed, pressing her tear streaked face into Xena's shoulder. The warrior held her for a long time, rocking back and forth and whispering soothing words into her lover's ear. Finally, Gabrielle pulled back and wiped the tears from her face.
"Oh, Xena - Why am I having these horrible dreams?" she asked. "They just keep getting worse and worse."
"I don't know," Xena answered, "But they're only dreams, Gabrielle. They can't hurt you." Xena smiled, and tried to be comforting, but she knew that Gabrielle's dreams were often warnings of things to come.
"I'm always separated from you in these nightmares," Gabrielle said, "And I can't stand the thought of that! Xena, I don't wanna lose you. Please say that I never will." Her eyes took on a child-like, needful quality, as she gazed into Xena's - looking for reassurance.
"I swear, I'll never leave you, Gabrielle," Xena replied, locking hands with her lover. "Nothing, not the gods, not death - nothing - will ever separate us... I promise." She meant it too. She had, and would again, follow Gabrielle to Tarterus, oblivion, or wherever she had to. Her bond with her young soulmate was eternal. She would never allow it to be broken.
"Why don't you go back to sleep now?" Xena asked. "I'll hold you while you try, if you think that'll help."
"Would you, please?" the shaken bard asked, with lowered eyes. She looked up at Xena, and managed a weak smile. "I don't think I can sleep, but maybe with you holding me..." The look in her eyes would have melted Xena's heart, had the bard not done so long ago...
"Sleep now," Xena said, as she lay back down, pulling Gabrielle with her. Xena held her lover in her arms, pulling her close and draping one of her long legs over the still shivering bard. The warrior lay there for a long time, holding Gabrielle and rubbing her body and her hair. Xena began to sing quietly to her - a child's song about a foolish young rabbit who left home to find adventure. It never failed to get a laugh out of the bard, who always saw herself as the silly bunny, though she often said that the rabbit would have done better if it had met a Xena-bunny along the way. Xena sang until she felt the young woman relax and her breathing slow. The raven-haired warrior lay there the rest of the night, not sleeping, holding and watching over her lover, as she thought about what could be causing the bard to have such terrible dreams. Finally, when the sun began to break the rim of the horizon, Xena allowed herself to fall asleep - still holding Gabrielle tightly...
Chapter 2: AN UNPLEASANT MEETING
Xena woke a few hours after dawn and was pleased to see that Gabrielle was still sleeping very soundly, her face buried in the warrior's hair. "I'll just let her sleep as long as she wants," Xena thought. "The poor thing hasn't gotten much rest the last few nights. I wish I knew why she's having these accursed dreams." She wondered if the gods might have something to do with it. One could never tell what might amuse some of the Greek deities, though this didn't seem to be the work of Ares, at least. Perhaps it was just Gabrielle's gift of prophecy, warning her of some bad event in the future. Xena pledged to be extra careful and keep a close watch on her friend in the days to come.
Xena got up carefully from the blanket, smiling to herself at the wasted effort on her part - normally nothing short of Zeus' thunderbolts would wake the bard, once she fell asleep. Xena added some wood to the fire and began to prepare breakfast for her friend, despite the fact that her cooking left much to be desired. After about an hour, the gruel that the warrior had concocted was almost ready, and the scent wafted around the camp.
"Do I smell food?" Gabrielle asked, sleepily. She raised up and looked toward the fire.
"Yes," Xena replied, "I thought I'd give you a break from cooking for a change, though you may wish I hadn't." She grinned, and filled a bowl for the groggy bard. Despite Xena's warning, the food was pretty good, and Gabrielle ate her usual large portion, and then asked for seconds...
They then broke camp and began to walk down the road toward Larisa - Xena leading Argo and Gabrielle walking by her side. They'd heard rumors of bandits accosting travelers near the small village, and were heading there to see if the stories were true...
Suddenly, a woman's shrill scream split the air, coming from the forested path ahead of them! "HELP ME! OH GODS, NO... PLEASE!" They heard a loud slap, as of wood hitting flesh, then the shouting stopped. Xena had already drawn her sword and was running quickly in the direction from which the screams had come! Gabrielle was only a few paces behind, her staff held ready, as the two women hurried to help whoever was in trouble...
Twelve men looked down at the now unconscious woman lying on the grass at their leader's feet. They were clothed in a wide variety of ill-fitting armor and carried a rag-tag assortment of weapons - typical bandits. The leader looked around at his men, then began to undo his trousers. "Well, boys - I get first dibs, then you'll have to toss the bones to see who goes next." He gave them a nasty grin, then rolled the woman over on her stomach and got down on his knees...
An icy voice came from behind the leader, as he prepared to defile his innocent victim. He turned to see from where it came. "Speaking of bones, I think some are about to be broken," Xena said, as she stepped from the woods onto the grassy path. She had an angry snarl on her face and spun her sword several times as she locked eyes with the would be rapist! Gabrielle came out and stood beside her, twirling her staff and giving the men a look of utter contempt. "Didn't your mother teach you that no means no?" Xena added. She suddenly flipped forward, emitting her battle cry as she did!
"IYIYIYIYIYIYIYIYIYIEEE!" Xena caught the leader in the groin with a double kick as he turned and tried to stand. The blow crushed his exposed testicles, and jammed them deep up inside his body! He fell over and began puking up blood and his breakfast, lacing the green grass with a touch of crimson - before he died from the sheer shock of his injury!. Xena landed on her feet, as three of the bandits charged her! Three more men came at Gabrielle, and the others stood back, waiting for an opportunity to attack.
Xena immediately ran one of the men through - avoiding his sword and shoving hers deep into his guts, twisting then withdrawing the dripping blade! They were obviously no match for her, but she showed no mercy - rape was a crime that she detested! In the past, she had even killed her own men, at times, when they violated her orders not to rape women in the villages that her army attacked. The man on her right swung his mace at her, but she blocked it with her sword, then punched him in the face. He was staggered by the blow, and her follow up kick crushed his windpipe! He fell to the ground, gasping for a breath that he would never draw. The third man lost his nerve, dropping his weapon and turning to flee...
Meanwhile, Gabrielle had already felled one of her opponents with a series of sharp blows to his head. She spun around, blocking the sword of another attacker, and using her momentum to drive a solid kick into his midsection! He gasped loudly, as the air was driven from his lungs. Gabrielle's staff was a blur as she landed blow after blow all over his body, till he fell sideways and lay still! Another man swung a sword at her from the left, but she side-stepped it - almost! It left a shallow gash across her forearm. She dropped to her knee and swung her staff in a broad arc, catching him in the backs of his legs and sending him crashing to the ground. Gabrielle stood and cracked him over the head twice, quickly, knocking him out!
In less time than it took to describe the battle, half of the men were either dead, unconscious, or fleeing. The others, seeing the look in Xena and Gabrielle's eyes, decided that maybe they had better escape while they were still alive. They all turned tail and ran as fast as they could into the woods...
Xena sheathed her sword, then got down on her knees and gently rolled the woman over onto her back. She didn't seem to be injured too badly, she just had a lump on her head and was still unconscious. Xena was checking her over, just to be sure, when she heard a gasp from behind her.
"By the gods," Gabrielle said, as she walked up beside Xena, "I don't believe it." She knelt down, leaning on her staff, and took the woman's hand, clutching it to her bosom.
"Do you know her, Gabrielle?" Xena asked, looking questioningly at her friend.
"Oh, yes," the bard replied, "I know her very well." She lay her staff down and began to gently stroke the woman's long, dark hair while continuing to hold her hand. She looked over at Xena, then back down at the injured woman.
Chapter 3: A LOVING REMEMBRANCE
Gabrielle knelt beside Breanne and adjusted the wet cloth on the still unconscious woman's forehead. They had stopped here to give time for her former lover to come to, and recover, instead of proceeding on to Larisa. Xena was out hunting for lunch, since their food supplies were near exhaustion. Gabrielle took Breanne's hand in her own and held it, while memories of their past ran through her mind...
The other young people were all swimming and splashing around in the river - Breanne among them - but Gabrielle sat on the dock, her back to them, her legs dangling in the water, while she wrote on a scroll. She was recording a diary, putting her most intimate feelings down on the parchment. She often found it easier to write them down than to discuss them with anyone, though she usually could with Breanne - especially since they had become lovers. As the young wanna-be bard was writing, a few drops of water hit her scroll, causing the ink to smear and run down in several places. She reached into her pouch of fine sand and sprinkled some onto the wet areas, managing to save them from being totally ruined. She looked up from the parchment, in annoyance, to see who had disturbed her work - and saw Breanne watching her from the water on the other side of the dock. The pretty, dark-haired girl gave Gabrielle a wink.
"Serves you right," Breanne said, laughing. "No one should be writing on such a beautiful day as this." She swam beneath the dock and came up on the other side - away from the other young swimmers. She reached out of the water and began to rub Gabrielle's leg, beneath her skirt, being careful that no one could see. She moved her cold, wet fingers up between her lover's thighs, causing Gabrielle to shudder - and then to reach down, pull Breanne's hand out of her dress, and squeeze it tightly.
"Stop that!" Gabrielle said, in a harsh whisper. "Do you want someone to see?" She held her lover's hand in front of her, rubbing it gently with her fingers.
"I almost wish someone would," Breanne replied. "I'm tired of all these backward thinking people. Why should we have to hide our love, when nobody else has to." She pointed over toward the bank, where Kasius and Meria were locked in a passionate embrace. The young man and woman were almost to the point of going off into the woods alone, as they were prone to do lately.
"Because," Gabrielle replied, "Most people don't understand that two women can love each other just as much as a man and woman can. It's not fair, but it's an unfortunate truth. We just have to live with it, and do what we can."
"Now you sound like my father," Breanne replied. Metrikus, her father, knew all about his daughter's taste in lovers, and fully supported her in her choice. He did insist that she not be open about it, as he knew the kind of persecution that Breanne would endure, if she made her preference known to others. His wife had been a very special woman too. She'd had no preference in lovers, enjoying men and women equally - though finally deciding to settle down with Breanne's father in the end.
"You're father is a very wise man," Gabrielle said. "He knows how cruel and close-minded people can be."
"I know," Breanne replied, "But I get tired of not being able to be seen with you as I'd like." She motioned with her finger for Gabrielle to lean close. "Come here", she said. "I wanna tell you something." Gabrielle set her scroll on the dock, and leaned near to Breanne, turning her ear toward her lover's lips...
...And Breanne pulled hard on Gabrielle's hand, yanking her off of the dock and into the river! Gabrielle sank like a stone, before she overcame the surprise. As she began to swim up toward the surface, Breanne grabbed her and pulled the young woman close, wrapping her legs around Gabrielle and pressing her lips to her lover's own. Gabrielle had managed to take a quick breath of air when she realized that Breanne was dragging her into the water, so she decided to stay under for a moment. She opened her mouth and let Breanne's tongue come inside, pressing hers into her lover's mouth as well. They hung, suspended in the water, for several moments, caressing and kissing each other, before parting and swimming upward.
Gabrielle surfaced, spluttering, coughing, and making a show of being angry, before swimming back to the dock and climbing onto it! Breanne laughed and splashed water toward her, as Gabrielle grabbed her scrolls and moved out of range. "Thanks to you," she shouted, "I have to go home and change now!" She began to walk back toward Poteidaea, her skirt dripping water onto the sandy path.
"Oh, don't be mad, Gabrielle," Breanne called out, "I was just playing!" She swam to the shore, grabbed her towel, and ran after her lover, catching up with her quickly. Gabrielle shoved her away, pretending to be angry, while at the same time whispering, "Where can we go?"
"Oh, your just a big sore-head!" Breanne yelled. Then she whispered back, "My place. Father will be working until late in the evening at the smithy, and you have some dry clothes in my closet anyway."
The two young women had rounded the bend, passing out of sight of all the others at the river, so they dropped the act and began hurrying toward town, eager to spend some time alone...
Breanne fell back onto her bed, pulling Gabrielle on top of her as she did. The two young women had already removed their wet clothes and dried each other off. Now, Gabrielle bent down and started sucking on Breanne's neck, gently, while her lover ran her fingers through the honey-blond hair laying across her face. Gabrielle moved her lips around the soft throat beneath them, licking and sucking as she went. Her dark-haired lover began to gently run her nails up and down the young bard's back, causing her to moan quietly from between her busy lips.
Both women ground their hips together, as their ardor continued to build. Breanne moved her hand down and began to slowly circle Gabrielle's opening, brushing her fingers through the curly, red-blond hair found there. The young bard responded in kind, and soon both were very wet, and very turned on! Gabrielle raised up and turned herself around, then lowered her face down between Breanne's thighs. She immediately plunged her tongue into her lover's wetness, licking and sucking noisily as she rubbed her bare breasts against the older girl's stomach.
Breanne moaned loudly, squirming in ecstasy, then reached up and pulled Gabrielle's full, shapely hips down to her face as well. She began to lick the wet folds between her lover's legs, sucking them into her mouth and then releasing them. She found Gabrielle's swollen nub and began to suck it also, gently, slowly - not wanting to bring the orgasm too quickly. No - she wanted to hear her friend whimper and moan first. She continued to please Gabrielle with her tongue as she ran her hands over the sweet, rounded bottom that she loved so much.
The two lovers kept at this for quite a while, each trying to make the other wait as long as they could. It was a game they had - who could pleasure the other longest, without making them reach ecstasy. Since both girls possessed a stubborn will, and wanted to please their partner more than anything, sometimes this contest could last a long, long time. Such was the case today. They kept licking and sucking, rubbing and caressing each other for over an hour. Both were drenched in sweat, their bodies twitching in anticipation. It was Gabrielle whose body gave in first, and she moaned loudly as her juices flowed into Breanne's mouth and onto her face, even running down the girl's neck to soak the sweaty sheets beneath her. Seconds later, Breanne arched her back, and Gabrielle sucked up her sweet juices, still giving her pleasure as her dark-haired lover squirmed and screamed out in delight - then they both collapsed...
"You win," Breanne said, as she moved to lie beside Gabrielle, grabbing her hand as she did. She nibbled on her young lover's fingers, as Gabrielle nuzzled her neck. "You really are getting very good at this, you know," Breanne remarked with a satisfied grin.
Gabrielle laughed softly, as she nipped her lover's ear. "I owe it all to my teacher." She raised up, and her face took on a serious expression. "I think I'm falling in love with her too," she said. Breanne smiled and squeezed Gabrielle's hand tightly...
Chapter 4: WILL YOU HELP?
"Gabrielle, is that you?" Breanne said, as she opened her eyes, looking up from the bedroll she lay on. Her eyes still seemed a bit unfocused, and her voice was weak.
The bard broke away from her memories and looked down to see that her former lover had finally wakened. "Yes, it's me," she answered, releasing Breanne's hand. "How do you feel?"
Breanne reached up and pressed her hand against the wet cloth on her forehead, grimacing as she did. "I have a terrible headache. That man's club..." Breanne paused, listening to the hoofbeats that could now be heard approaching through the forest. She sat up suddenly, looking around in panic!
"It's OK," Gabrielle said, gently pushing her back to the blanket. "Those men are gone. They can't hurt you anymore. That's just my friend Xena, coming back from hunting." She adjusted the cloth on her friend's head, and gave her a reassuring smile.
Breanne lay back down, as Xena rode out of the woods, stopping Argo on the other side of the fire. She dismounted, and then began to untie the deer she had stretched across Argo's rump. "Well," she said, "It looks like your patient is getting better. A good meal of venison will help her regain her strength." She moved over to a large tree and hung the carcass from a low branch before moving to sit on the log beside Gabrielle.
Breanne watched Xena sit, noticing the way the warrior positioned herself so that she and Gabrielle's bodies were touching. Breanne was taken by how beautiful the woman was - the bright, blue eyes... the muscular, yet feminine, build... the long, dark hair... the leather. Yes, she could see why Gabrielle had chosen to travel with this striking female, whom, it was rumored, now fought for good. Gabrielle was even more attractive than before, Breanne thought, as she studied her old friend and lover. The hair was a little shorter, and much more blond than she remembered - Didn't it used to be more reddish? Gabrielle's body had changed a great deal since Breanne had last seen her, as her somewhat skimpy clothes revealed to good advantage. The rounded, soft figure she used to know had given way to hardened muscle. She saw the strength apparent in the bulging calves, the flat stomach, and the broad shoulders of the young bard. A life on the road with the Warrior Princess had apparently strengthened Gabrielle's body. Judging by the way they sat near each other, and the frequent eye contact between them, Breanne had no doubt that the nights were used by the two women for another kind of strengthening exercise...
"So, what brings you here, Breanne?" Gabrielle asked, interrupting the woman's vision of Xena and the young bard making love.
Suddenly, Breanne's face fell, and tears began to stream from her eyes, trailing down her face and dropping from her jaw. She covered her eyes with her hands, as Gabrielle knelt down and pulled the sobbing woman's head to her bosom. "What's wrong? What did I say that upset you so much?" Gabrielle was stunned at the sudden change her words had caused. Xena looked on, mixed emotions running through her mind, as her lover tried to comfort the old flame from her past.
"Oh, Gabrielle," Breanne sobbed, "Something terrible has happened - that's what brought me to this place. I've been searching for you."
"What is it, Breanne - What happened?" Gabrielle's face showed her concern as she waited for her past love to explain.
Breanne wiped away her tears and sat back, then began to tell them what had brought her here. "Two weeks ago, my father was taken from his smithy in Athens by a gang of outlaws. They said he was to be their new blacksmith at their fortress and that he'd be used to help them equip an army. If he refused to go with them, they said they'd kill me, so father went with them willingly. I tried to get help from the king and the militia, but with all the outlaws and rebels in the area, they said they couldn't spare any men to help. I didn't know what to do. Then I remembered hearing about you and Xena helping out people in trouble and I... I just didn't know who else to turn to, so I set out to find you... and then those men... Oh, father!" She broke down and began to cry again.
Gabrielle held Breanne as she cried, trying to quell some of the grief flowing from the distraught woman. The young bard turned to Xena, raising a questioning eyebrow. Xena saw the empathy for Breanne in Gabrielle's eyes, and the pleading look the girl gave her melted the warrior's heart, as always. She nodded her assent. "We'll help you get Metrikus back," Gabrielle whispered to Breanne, as she stroked the crying woman's hair. She turned and looked at Xena, mouthing the words 'Thank you' and squeezing her leather-clad lover's hand in gratitude.
Xena stood, moving over to the deer she'd hung, to begin cutting up the meat for the road. "We'd better get going, as soon as you're able to travel," she said, looking down at Breanne. "We should get to Larisa and get a room for the night. I can look up a friend I know in the area and see what information he might have about the men who took your father." She began to skin the deer as Gabrielle started to break camp. Within the hour, they had all their gear packed and they set off for town - Breanne riding on Argo as Xena and Gabrielle walked along beside the horse.
By early evening, they'd reached the edge of town. Gabrielle and Breanne had been chatting for most of the way, catching up on each other's lives and remembering their childhood as they traveled. As they approached the town, the bard inquired whether her friend had ever met anyone else after they'd been forced apart. The question went unanswered, however, as they reached the Red Deer Inn, and Breanne dismounted. Xena hitched Argo to a post and the three women went inside.
The inn was cozy, warm and well lit, with a fireplace in the corner glowing cheerily and a few patrons enjoying the food which, by the smell of it, was quite edible. Gabrielle got them a room, haggling with the old man behind the counter until he finally agreed to four dinars for a room with two beds. He looked unhappy as he took the money, grumbling to himself as he dropped it into a metal cash box under the counter. Gabrielle smiled as she rejoined the others. "I managed to get us a nice room for a good price," she said. "It's the second one to the right, upstairs."
"You two go out and get our gear off of Argo," Xena said. "I'm gonna take her to the stable and brush her down, then I'll be back and we can eat. I think we should get to bed after that, so we can get an early start tomorrow. I'll leave out before dawn, get the information we need, and then we can go from there." She walked outside, followed by the other two. In a few minutes Gabrielle and Breanne had all the things they needed upstairs.
Xena soon returned and the three of them sat in the dining room, by the fire, and ate a hot meal of deer steak and boiled potatoes. Xena had convinced the innkeeper's wife to cook up some of the venison for them, and to smoke the rest overnight - in return for half of the meat. Breanne seemed to be much quieter than she had earlier, and only toyed with her food, hardly eating a thing.
"Are you OK?" Gabrielle asked her. "You've barely spoken since we got to town." She reached over and lay her hand on Breanne's arm, looking into the dark-haired woman's eyes questioningly.
Breanne looked up, and managed a weak smile. "I'm just very tired, I'm worried about father, and my head is beginning to throb - That's all."
"Well, let's go on up and go to bed," Xena said. "I think we all can use some rest, especially you." They left a dinar on the table and then went upstairs to their room. Breanne took the bed on the right, stripping off her clothes until she was clad only in her shift, then slipping under the covers. Xena and Gabrielle did the same. As they undressed, Xena noticed out of the corner of her eye, that Breanne seemed to be watching Gabrielle, when she thought Xena wasn't looking. The warrior felt a twinge of anger, but quickly brought it under control. "They used to be lovers," she thought. "I guess I can't blame her for looking at Gabrielle. God's know anyone would, given the same circumstances." She knew that Gabrielle was in love with her, and they had spoken about Breanne many times now, so Xena knew that Gabrielle was over her former love, and committed totally to her present one. Still, Xena couldn't help watching Gabrielle too, trying to figure out if the bard might be... "No, Damn it!" she thought. "Gabrielle loves me and would never do anything to betray our relationship. I won't give in to petty jealousy over nothing."
Xena climbed into bed and pulled up the covers. Gabrielle started to get in with her, then moved over toward Breanne. Xena tensed up, as feelings of jealousy again began to take hold. Gabrielle checked the bandage on her friend's head, then moved back over and got in the bed with Xena, snuggling up to her under the cold sheets. Xena put her arm over her lover, and felt like an idiot one more time...
"Goodnight, Breanne," Gabrielle said, sleepily.
"Pleasant dreams, Gabrielle, Xena," the woman answered. "Thank you both again for helping me."
"No problem," Xena replied. "We'll get your father back for you."
Gabrielle hugged Xena close, silently thanking her again for agreeing to help her former love, though she could tell Xena was a little uncomfortable being around Breanne. Deciding to reassure her soulmate, she reached down and slid her hand between Xena's legs and began to stroke her lover's inner thigh, moving up slowly toward... Xena grabbed her wrist tightly! She lowered her lips to Gabrielle's ear. "Stop that!" she whispered, very quietly. Gabrielle giggled silently and gave Xena a soft kiss, then pressed her face into the warrior's ample bosom - her favorite way to fall asleep. Xena, feeling her jealousy slip away, buried her nose into the bard's sweet-smelling hair and drifted off to sleep...
Chapter 5: THE BETRAYAL
Xena rose early, several hours before daylight, and began to get dressed. She put on her armor and weapons, then moved over and gave Gabrielle a kiss on her upturned lips. The bard smiled, still asleep, and rolled over, snoring softly. Xena pulled the covers up over her soulmates shoulders, then turned and walked out the door. She crossed the street to the stables, saddled Argo, and rode out of town, toward the west, heading for her old friend's home. If anyone around here knew what might've happened to Breanne's father, it would be Aureleus...
>From the second floor room at the inn, Breanne watched Xena ride down the street and head out of town. She turned and watched her former lover sleep, remembering all the joy and memories they had shared years ago. As she got up and moved toward the sleeping bard, Breanne wondered if Gabrielle still felt the same way about her as she had back then...
Three hours later, Xena rode back into town. She'd been to Aureleus' home and spoken to him about the rebel activity in the area. According to her old friend, who had contacts inside every group of any consequence in the region, no blacksmith had been taken. Xena knew that it was possible that Aureleus was unaware of the event, but somehow she didn't believe it. She hurried Argo's pace a bit, eager to get back to the inn and discuss things with Breanne and Gabrielle. Something just didn't seem quite right about all of this...
Xena rode into the stable, left Argo in a stall, then walked across the street to the inn. She walked into the dining room and began to head up the stairs. Something was definitely going on that Breanne hadn't told them. She just had a feeling that something was wrong. She opened the door to their room...
Gabrielle lay in the bed, plainly visible in the early morning sunlight that streamed in through the window... Xena stood, unable to move, as she realized that Breanne was in bed with Gabrielle - Naked! She saw a huge wet spot on the bed, the sheets appeared damp and very disturbed, and Gabrielle and Breanne's hair looked damp as well... No, it couldn't be, and yet... It was! Gabrielle had betrayed her! There was no mistaking the signs of recent lovemaking on the sheets and on the two women... Xena noticed Breanne's arm and leg casually wrapped around HER lover! A hot tear squeezed out from between Xena's eyes and, as she stood in the doorway, her heart snapped in two. Suddenly, the room seemed very confining and she couldn't stand being here another second. Anger and jealousy overwhelmed her as Xena spun and went out the door, slamming it hard behind her!
Gabrielle woke up from the loud noise. She saw the door swing back open, strike the wall, and then rebound. "Wha... What's going on?" She asked, still not quite awake as she looked over at Breanne lying naked beside her. Breanne just stared back at her - her eyes beginning to mist as tears ran from their corners. Then, as if Zeus' thunderbolt had struck her, it hit Gabrielle who had slammed the door - and why! She leapt from the bed, moving quickly to the window! She saw Xena emerge from the inn and walk quickly toward the stable.
"XENA!" Gabrielle screamed, "WAIT... COME BACK! IT'S NOT WHAT YOU THINK!"
Xena continued walking and entered the stable. She didn't even seem to hear the bard's frantic yells. Gabrielle ran through the door and down the stairs as fast as she could, still clad only in her shift! She ran by the innkeeper's wife, whose eyes were wide at the sight of a half naked girl running through the inn! Gabrielle pushed the door open and ran outside, just in time to see Xena ride out of the stable on Argo, and send her mount into a run! The bard ran quickly toward her! As she passed, Xena didn't even look down...
"XENA, STOP - PLEASE!" Gabrielle screamed, with tears in her eyes. She grabbed desperately for the warrior's leg as Argo thundered by!
Xena swerved to the side, and urged her mount on even faster! She also had tears streaming down her face as she rode out of town, hearing Gabrielle screaming for her from behind! She kept on riding, faster and faster, her mind numb and her heart broken - aware only of the pain in her soul...
Gabrielle ran behind Argo, until she felt her lungs were going to burst, screaming for Xena to stop, as tears poured down her cheeks! She then collapsed in the road and cried uncontrollably, her breath steaming in the chill morning air. After a long time, Gabrielle gathered her wits enough to get back up and walk toward the inn. "How did this happen?" she kept thinking. "Oh, Xena - Please come back and let's get this straightened out." She began to cry again, as she thought of Xena riding away, angry with her, and her heart no doubt shattered at the thought of being betrayed.
Gabrielle approached the inn, ignoring the wolf-whistles from a group of men already hanging out near a tavern across the street. "Hey sweet thing," one of them called. "Come on over here and we'll make you forget your girlfriend. Ha-ha-ha." The other men all laughed aloud with him and began hooting and whistling again. Gabrielle just glowered at them and walked back inside the inn. She ran quickly up the stairs and into the room, ignoring the protesting shouts of the innkeeper's wife about naked women running crazy in her establishment.
Breanne sat on the bed, clad in her shift now, and crying quietly. As Gabrielle approached her, she looked up. "I'm so sorry," she said. "I should never have agreed to this, but she said it was the only way I'd ever see my father or Melina alive again. She said that if I made Xena jealous, she'd let them go." Breanne began to sob loudly...
"WHO SAID?" Gabrielle yelled. She was angry... angry at Breanne and crushed because Xena had left her - maybe for good. She reached down and pulled Breanne's chin up, forcing her to look Gabrielle in the eyes. "WHO SAID?" she screamed again, as tears ran down her cheeks.
"Th...The blond woman who took them," Breanne spluttered, through her tears. "She said that..."
"Blond woman!" Gabrielle said sharply, cutting her off. Then it struck her. "A thin woman - With leather armor?" Gabrielle asked.
"Y...Yes. Exactly. Do you know her?" Breanne asked.
"Come on," Gabrielle said, as she tossed Breanne the rest of her clothes. "Get dressed. We're going after Xena, and you're gonna explain to her what you..."
"I'm afraid not, Dear," a voice called from behind Gabrielle, cutting her off. She spun around... to see Callisto standing in the doorway!
"You see, I can't let that happen," Callisto said, smiling broadly. "I couldn't believe my luck when I discovered your old love kitten here. What an opportunity it gave me to hit Xena at her weakest spot - You! Now that her spirit is crushed, I intend to destroy her for good - and you're going to help me."
"I'll rot in Tarterus first!" Gabrielle replied.
"Oh, I wouldn't be so sure of that, my sweet." Callisto laughed evilly. "Oh, by the way, you never thanked me for getting rid of that ridiculous lout you married, so that you could have Xena. I'll accept some thanks now, if you like." She grinned sweetly at Gabrielle.
"AHHHHHHHHH!" Gabrielle let out a feral yell as she rushed toward Callisto, but before she'd taken three steps, the goddess brought her arm from behind her back, revealing a small bow in her hand. She quickly drew back the string and fired an arrow directly into Gabrielle's heart!
"NOOOO!" Breanne screamed, expecting Gabrielle to fall dead in front of her from the mortal wound.
Gabrielle didn't fall though. She kept running forward and threw her hands around Callisto's neck, then pulled the goddess's head down... and kissed her - very, very passionately! Callisto wrapped her arms around Gabrielle and returned the kiss with, seemingly, as much passion as she was receiving! Breanne stood back, shocked by what she was seeing...
"This was never part of our agreement!" Breanne said. "You told me that you only wanted to make Xena jealous."
Callisto broke from the kiss and looked over at Breanne. "I think she's even more gullible than you used to be," she said, smiling at the bard. Gabrielle hands were busy exploring Callisto's body, as she gazed lasciviously into the blond goddess's eyes. "We have to leave now, my sweet," Callisto said. "But before we do, I have something I'd like you to do for me - To prove your love."
The bard sighed. "Anything... Anything you want, my goddess," she said. "What can I do to prove how much I love you?"
Callisto giggled. "Oh, just an eensy-weensy little thing - Nothing really." She walked over and grabbed Gabrielle's staff from the corner, handing it to her. Then she whispered something into the bard's ear. Gabrielle grinned evilly and turned to face Breanne. She began moving toward her, twirling her staff as she did.
"Wha... what are you doing, Gabrielle?" Breanne asked - her voice tinged with fear. She broke and ran for the door, but Callisto motioned with her finger, and it shut loudly. The goddess stretched out on the bed, laughing wickedly, as she watched Gabrielle stalk her former lover with a look of sheer pleasure on her face!
"Gabrielle, please... I'm sorry." Breanne said. She turned and desperately began trying to open the door...
Chapter 6: MY LOVER, HER LOVER
Xena sat by the edge of a small lake, casually tossing pebbles into the water, as Argo grazed in the lush grass growing by the shore. She had stopped crying, by now, but her face still showed the streaks left by tears in the trail dust that she had not bothered to wash off. Her eyes still appeared glazed, and her expression left no doubts about the anguish she was going through.
"Why, Gabrielle, why?" The question kept running around in her brain, repeating over and over. She couldn't believe that her soulmate would do this to her, after all they'd been through, after all they'd shared. Having finally become aware of Gabrielle's unconditional love, it had been cruelly ripped from her by a memory from her lover's past. Xena's heart shuddered in her chest as she recalled the sight of Gabrielle and Breanne, snuggled together in bed with the sheets damp, their hair damp as well - Gabrielle sleeping so soundly in her old lover's arms...
A flock of doves suddenly flushed, noisily, from the bushes near the shoreline as Argo disturbed them with her grazing. Xena broke from her thoughts and watched them fly away, bobbing and weaving in formation, getting smaller and smaller, until, finally, they disappeared beyond the far shore of the lake. They seemed to stir something deep inside the Warrior Princess, and she got up, determined now to go and face the task ahead. She knew that she had to go back and give Gabrielle a chance to choose. Maybe it was a one time thing... Maybe the bard had been overwhelmed with her past emotions and given in to her old love - Or maybe she'd decided that Breanne still meant more to her than she knew. Either way, Xena had to find out.
She whistled for Argo, who came running and stopped in front of Xena, nuzzling her - sensing that something wasn't quite right with her partner. Xena mounted her horse and turned her towards town. "Well, girl," she said, "Let's go find out if we'll be riding on alone tonight." She urged Argo into a run, wanting to get back and get this over with as soon as possible, now that she had gotten a grip on her emotions and gotten some of her focus back...
As Xena rode away, disappearing into the forest, the flock of doves came back and settled on the shore once more, resuming their eating and bathing, as if nothing had ever happened to disturb them...
Xena slowed Argo at the edge of town, allowing the horse to walk and cool down, before she reached the stable. People went about their business as usual, and the town was alive with late-morning activity as the warrior guided Argo toward the barn, across the street from the inn. She glanced up at the window - the one she'd heard Gabrielle screaming to her from earlier. Xena felt a twinge of guilt, now, that she hadn't even allowed her lover a chance to explain. What explanation had been necessary though? Her actions had said it all - Hadn't they? She tossed the stable boy a dinar and asked him to rub Argo down and feed her, then she walked out the door and headed across the street.
Xena entered the dining room of the inn, and immediately something struck her as odd. It was just before noon now, and the dining area should be filled with customers, laughing and talking as they ate a mid-day meal... but it was silent - not even the owner's wife was to be seen. Xena walked toward the stairs, her senses again telling her that something was terribly wrong here. She started up, when someone whispered to her from across the room.
"Pssst - Over here." It was the innkeeper's wife, calling to her from the door at the back of the dining room. "I've sent for the constable, and kept everyone out. I wouldn't go up there if I were you," she said, with fear in her eyes.
"What happened?" Xena asked her. "What are you talking about? If this is about what happened earlier, I'm sorry, but..."
"It's about what happened after you left," the woman answered. "I've never heard such horrible screams before. That poor girl, yelling and begging for mercy she was, the whole time, but it just kept on and on..."
By now Xena had drawn her sword and was pounding up the stairs! She ran to the room that she'd left so abruptly earlier, her heart in her throat once more, but this time, for an entirely different reason. She reached the door and threw it open! "GABRIELLE!" she shouted, as she scanned the room, looking for her lover. Xena immediately noticed blood on the floor, in patches, here and there around the room. There was blood on the door and the doorknob too. Even the walls had blood on them, in places. "GABRIELLE!" Xena yelled again, frantic with worry now. A slight moan reached her ears, coming from behind the far bed. She ran over to it...
Breanne lay there. At least it looked like Breanne, as far as Xena could tell through the bruises, blood, and welts that covered her face. She was clad in only a thin shift and her body was equally covered in terrible bruises, blood, and swollen areas. She'd been horribly, brutally beaten, and Xena was amazed that she was still alive. She'd never seen anyone beaten this badly and still live - except maybe when she herself had walked the gauntlet, years ago...
Xena sheathed her sword and bent down to help the woman, who, just an hour ago, she might have beaten herself. She grabbed a cloth off of the nightstand and wet it in the wash basin, then cradled Breanne's head in her lap and began washing blood from her face. Amazingly, Breanne's eyes fluttered open.
"Xena... I... I'm so, sor... sorry..." she croaked.
"Shhhh... Don't try to talk," Xena said. She carefully lifted Breanne up and placed her on the bed, then continued to wash the blood from her body, as she checked the battered woman for internal injuries and broken bones. "HEY DOWNSTAIRS!" she shouted.
The innkeepers wife responded with a weak reply. "Is everything OK?"
"YES." Xena shouted. "GO TO THE STABLE AND LOOK IN MY SADDLEBAGS! BRING ME A SMALL, LEATHER POUCH WITH SOME HERBS AND MEDICINES IN IT... AND HURRY! The woman ran over to the stables to get the things for Xena.
"You're gonna be OK," Xena said, as she smiled down at Breanne. She wasn't at all sure of her words, but she knew that hope is a patient's best weapon for recovery. She'd realized, by now, that Breanne had a concussion, so she needed to keep her awake, if possible. "Breanne, what happened? Who did this to you?" Xena asked, just trying to keep the injured woman talking and conscious. Breanne had drifted off, so Xena shook her lightly, by the shoulders, and then splashed her face with cold water from the wet cloth. "Who did this to you?" she repeated. She then asked the question that had been burning in her mind since she'd entered the room. "Where's Gabrielle?"
Breanne opened her swollen eyes and looked up at Xena. She coughed up blood and then whispered weakly. "Ga... Gabri... elle... sh... she did this." The battered women then lapsed back into unconsciousness.
Xena was stunned! She couldn't believe what she'd heard! Gabrielle beating someone this horribly - especially her former lover? It was unthinkable! The bard would never beat someone like this, no matter what they'd done. Breanne must be mistaken. Just then, the innkeeper's wife came in with the medicines, and Xena took them from her. "I'll need some hot water, and clean bandages too," Xena told her, "And can you have people ask around about my friend, I'm worried that something's happened to her too."
The woman nodded assent and left to do what she'd been asked. She shook her head as she walked out. "That poor girl," she muttered, as she disappeared through the doorway.
Xena was torn. She wanted desperately to begin searching for Gabrielle, knowing now that her friend was in some kind of trouble, but, she also knew that if Breanne didn't get immediate attention, she'd die. Xena started mixing the herbs and medicines together for treating the woman's injuries. "Gabrielle would want me to take care of Breanne first," Xena thought. Knowing this didn't make it much easier to keep from leaving to look for her lover, but Xena made herself do what she knew Gabrielle would want...
Chapter 7: Den of the Goddess
Callisto stretched, cat-like, as she reclined on her pile of pillows inside her cave. A table, some chairs, various weapons, and a few odds and ends lay around the area. Through the entrance could be seen a weird, pink-tinted sky. This cave was on the same plane of existence as Mount Olympus, but located a long distance from it. It seemed the other gods didn't like to associate with Callisto, for some reason. "Oh, well," she thought, "I don't care for their company either, or their castles." Callisto had never been one for luxuries, so her modest cave home here suited her just fine. It was a sort of retreat for her, where she came to be alone, and bring her spoils...
Her most recent spoil snuggled up beside her, and started running her fingernails up and down the goddess's bare, flattened abdomen. The bard was still clad in only a shift, but she seemed eager to get out of even that. Gabrielle moved her head over and began to plant kisses all over Callisto's stomach and then she began to nibble it as well. The goddess giggled to herself, wishing that Xena could see her love kitten right now. Wouldn't that just make her day? The lovestruck bard began to move lower down, lifting the mail-covered leather flaps of Callisto's armor skirt. She started to move her face underneath them...
"Oh - no, no, Precious," Callisto uttered, as she pulled Gabrielle's head back up. "Remember what I said. You have to do something for me first, then we can become lovers - fully."
Gabrielle pulled back - an angry look on her face. "I did do what you asked. I beat the Hades out of that traitorous bitch for you, didn't I." She sneered evilly, then leaned forward to plant a kiss on the blond goddess.
Callisto stopped her, pressing two fingers to the bard's lips. "No, Sweetie, you didn't do all I asked. You left her alive, didn't you? I asked you to kill her, and you couldn't quite do it, could you?" She looked at Gabrielle accusingly, then got up, taking the bard's hands off of her thighs as she did.
"Next time, I'll kill her for you," Gabrielle said, as she stood to join Callisto. "I'll do anything you say, if you'll let me become your lover." She walked up behind the goddess and wrapped her arms around her, kissing her on the back of the neck. "Just give me another chance... Please?"
"We'll see, Dear." Callisto pulled away from her, then walked over and began to run her hands along the shiny surface of another of her new spoils - a golden bow that hung on the wall. "With my new toy, I might decide to make Xena become my lover."
Gabrielle's eye's filled with rage and jealousy, and a terrible look of pure hatred spread across her face. Her hands clenched into tight fists, she grabbed her staff from against the wall, and smashed it down on a small urn - breaking it and scattering shards across the floor of the cavern! "I'LL KILL HER BEFORE I LET HER HAVE YOU!" she screamed.
Callisto laughed, and moved over to Gabrielle, putting her arms around the enraged girl, and kissing her lightly on the lips. She smiled sweetly at the bard, looking into her eyes. "I was hoping you might say that," she said...
Chapter 8: LOVE MAKES AN APPEARANCE
Xena woke from a light sleep and leaned forward in the chair she'd propped against the wall of the room. Dawn was breaking outside, and somewhere close by, a rooster crowed, announcing the start of a new day. The warrior rose and moved over to check on her patient. Breanne was still breathing, at least, and her heartbeat felt strong as Xena checked it on the sleeping woman's neck. "The gods only know how, but I think she's gonna make it," Xena thought, as she checked and replaced the bandages on the woman's battered form.
Xena was very worried about her best friend, and lover. Something must be terribly wrong with the bard, if Breanne had been right, and it was Gabrielle who had beaten her so badly. Where had she gone? No one that the innkeeper's wife asked had seen her leave the building, or the town, and the woman herself said that no one ever came down the stairs after the screams stopped. Gabrielle hadn't even taken her clothes - her skirt, top, and boots were still laying on the chair where she'd put them last night. It was like she'd just vanished into thin air - and there were very few who could manage that except... "Gods," Xena said, quietly, to herself. "It has to be one of them - but who? Ares?"
"Guess again, Warrior Babe." a voice said, from behind Xena.
She spun and drew her sword all in one smooth motion at the sound of the voice. A beautiful blond woman, clad in a sheer, white outfit stood before her. Magnificent alabaster breasts bulged out of the open top and long, lovely legs peeped through the split robe, as the woman leaned against the wall, her left foot propped on her right shin. She gave Xena a smile, revealing perfect, white teeth.
"Aphrodite," Xena said, her voice icy. "I can't believe that you'd be mixed up in something this cruel and heartless. I..."
"Not me, Babe. I'm here to help you," Aphrodite said, as she walked over and sat on the empty bed, crossing her shapely legs as she did. "I wouldn't do anything to ruin one of my best love stories ever. I'm happy that you and Gabrielle have finally stopped denying what I knew was gonna happen all along."
"Then why are you here?" Xena asked, as she sheathed her sword. "Gods never do anything, unless they get something out of it - and don't give me that 'all for love' bull, cause I'm not buying it. What do you want, in exchange for your help?" Xena fixed her well known stare on the beautiful goddess.
"OK, Xena, here's the deal," Aphrodite said, as she leaned back on her elbows, showing a wonderful display of heavenly cleavage as she did. "Your little creation, Callisto, is the one who took Gabrielle. Well, I guess I should say, she's the one that Gabrielle went with - willingly."
"Callisto... I should've known. But why would Gabrielle go with her?" Xena asked. "She hates Callisto for killing Perdic..."
"Duhh... Reality check here, Warrior Babe," the beautiful goddess said. "Gabrielle used to hate Callisto - now she's, like, in love with her."
"What!" Xena was taken aback, for a moment. "Is this one of your stupid love spells gone awry again?" She stared accusingly at Aphrodite.
"No way," the goddess replied. "Listen - Callisto has stolen one of my son's bows, and she used it to shoot your little friend. Now Gabrielle is all head over heels for her... and that's not all. That upstart goddess had the gall to modify the powers of Cupid's bow, to suit her own evil, little scheme. Now, not only does it make someone fall in love with the first person they see, but it makes them begin to become like that person. The longer they're under the spell, the more like them they become."
"You mean, Gabrielle is becoming evil - like Callisto?" Xena was horrified at the prospect.
"That's right," Aphrodite said, "And here's the kicker. I've spoken to the Fates and they told me that Gabrielle's life thread is in danger of being woven as evil from now on. If Callisto can get her to perform a certain act, she'll become evil, and stay that way... Forever."
"What act?" Xena asked.
Aphrodite leaned forward, looking over at the sleeping woman on the bed next to her. "She has to kill her first love."
"Breanne," Xena said, softly.
"Or," Aphrodite continued, "Her GREATEST love - and I believe that's YOU, Warrior Princess."
Xena turned away from the goddess, wiping away a single tear, as she thought of what had happened yesterday. "I wouldn't be so sure about that. Yesterday, Gabrielle and Breanne were... were... I caught them..."
"Oh puh-lease. Get a grip." Aphrodite said. She rose from the bed and put her hand on Xena's shoulder. "Gabrielle didn't do anything with Breanne yesterday."
"But I saw them. The sheets were wet, their hair... I saw them in bed together." Xena wiped more tears from her eyes, angry with herself for allowing Aphrodite to see her emotions like this.
"You know," Aphrodite said, "I never thought I'd see the great Xena blinded by love for someone. Watch, Babe, and I'll show you what really happened yesterday." Aphrodite motioned with her fingers, causing the far wall to began to shimmer and change. An image of a room appeared in it - This room! Xena watched, as she saw Breanne come into focus, sitting on the bed opposite Gabrielle...
Breanne started, as she heard hoofbeats coming up the street! She got up from her bed, and looked out the window. There! It was Xena, riding into the stable on Argo. Breanne grabbed the pitcher of water off of the table by the window, and poured some into the metal washpan. She stripped off her shift and used some water to wet her hair. Then, she flicked beads of water over her skin. Next, she took the pitcher from the stand and carefully pulled the covers back on the bed, trying not to wake Gabrielle. Breanne wet her hands and smeared water over the sheets, dampening them and making a very visible wet spot in the center of the bed. She very carefully flicked drops of water over Gabrielle's skin, then, even more carefully, began running her wet hands through the bard's hair. After a few moments, Gabrielle's hair looked thoroughly damp. Breanne then wiped her hands over the sheet, which was the only thing she left covering Gabrielle, dampening it as well. As Xena's footsteps became audible, coming up the stairs, Breanne pulled the sheet back, along with the sleeping girl's shift, and exposed Gabrielle's shapely bottom. She then climbed into bed beside her, and draped her arm and her leg over the young bard. Gabrielle, always an extremely heavy sleeper, stirred slightly, but didn't waken. Breanne closed her eyes, and buried her face into Gabrielle's hair, moving over slightly - as if to make sure that the wet spot was plainly visible...
"You see, Xena," Aphrodite said, as she dismissed the image with a wave of her hand, "She wanted you to see them together - Or, I guess I should say, Callisto wanted you to see them together, so that.."
"So that I'd get jealous," Xena said, cutting the goddess off. "She wanted me to suffer before she set her plan in motion." Xena's eyes practically glowed with anger! "And with me out of the way, there was nothing to stop her. I let jealousy play me right into her hands - and now Gabrielle..."
"You're only mortal, Xena - and in love. That makes you vulnerable. Trust me - I know about these things." She gave Xena a reassuring smile.
Xena returned the smile, weakly. Sometimes, for a god, Aphrodite wasn't half-bad. "So what can we do to break this spell?" she asked.
"Well, if you can manage to get my son's bow back, we could fix it and remove the spell," the goddess replied. "Until then..."
"Until then, I've got to keep Breanne and myself from being killed by Gabrielle," Xena finished. "At least she'll have to come to us - that gives me an advantage."
"Well, if you need me, just give me a call. I'm gonna go bug the Fates some more and see what else I can get out of 'em." Aphrodite struck a sexy pose, then snapped her fingers. "Good luck, Xena," she said. She disappeared in a flash of golden sparkles, as rose petals drifted, slowly, to the floor of the room.
Xena looked over at Breanne, sleeping quietly in the bed by the window. Now that she knew Gabrielle hadn't betrayed her, she was regaining her focus quickly. "OK, Gabrielle - How am I gonna get you back." She moved over and looked out the window, watching the sun come up, as she began to make plans. "I need to find out where Callisto is hiding her - but how?" Then, as the golden circle of the sun broke the horizon, it came to her...
Chapter 9: A SNARE FOR MY LOVE
The room was dark and silent as Breanne lay sleeping. Xena had been working on her plan all day, waiting for Gabrielle to make an appearance. She knew that her love would be coming sometime to try to kill her, or Breanne - it was just a matter of when. For now, however, nature was demanding that she take a break from her vigil, so, since there was no chamber pot in here, she walked through the door to use the one in the next room.
A bright flash of light filled the room, just after Xena exited, and Gabrielle appeared beside the bed on which Breanne lay. She was no longer dressed in the shift she'd worn earlier. Instead, she now wore two-piece, black leather armor, studded with steel. Leather bracers adorned her wrists and mail flaps hung down in an armored skirt around her hips. The knee-high, black leather boots she wore were also covered in steel studs. Even her staff was wrapped, in places, with the studded, black leather. Her armor was an exact match of that worn by Callisto!
She leaned down, smiling wickedly, and began to nuzzle Breanne's neck, kissing her as she did. "Wake up, Lover," Gabrielle said. Breanne moaned softly, then opened her eyes. She recoiled in terror, as she woke fully and realized who was kissing her!
Gabrielle let out a evil, little laugh, as she drew back from the frightened woman. "Don't worry, Sweetie," she said. "I'm not gonna beat you anymore, unless you scream for Xena. I know she's not far away, but, if you call for her, you can say good-bye to your father and Melina forever."
"Melina... My father... Where are they?" Breanne asked. "Are they OK?"
"For now," Gabrielle replied. "I have a deal for you, assuming you want your precious little Melina and your father to live."
"Anything," Breanne said. "Please, don't hurt them."
"Here's the deal," Gabrielle said, as she sat on the edge of the bed, and began to stroke Breanne's hair. "You come with me and I'll get Callisto to let them go. They can go back to Athens and will be fine. I need you to help me win over my new love, but I promise it will be over quickly - in memory of all the good times we had." Gabrielle stopped caressing Breanne's hair and slid a hand along her jawline, lightly, finally grabbing her chin and tipping it up, as she stared into the shivering woman's eyes. "I need an answer."
"Alright, I'll go with you," Breanne said, in a quivering voice. "Just don't hurt them." The bard stood and extended her hand to Breanne, who reached out to take it...
"That's not gonna happen, Gabrielle!" The bard clutched her staff in both hands, whirling quickly to look in the direction from which the voice had come. Xena stood in the doorway, her sword in her hand. "I won't let you kill Breanne." She sheathed her sword and began to walk slowly towards the bard, speaking gently to her as she did. "Think, Gabrielle! You know that you don't want to hurt her, or me. We both love you! Please, try to remember how you used to be and fight Callisto's spell!"
Gabrielle stared at Xena, then she looked confused and seemed to struggle to regain her control. She raised her hand to her face and shook her head from side to side, as if trying to clear her mind... She looked down at Breanne's bruised face and body, then she looked at Xena... The bard's face took on a look of shock and sadness. "Oh, gods. What have I done?" Gabrielle began to cry, as she extended her arms toward the warrior. Xena moved to embrace her beloved friend...
Suddenly, Gabrielle raised her staff and swung it in a vicious arc! Using her near godlike reflexes, Xena managed to draw her sword and block the blow, but, as she did, a blinding flash occurred where her weapon and Gabrielle's connected! Xena was hurled to the side, crashing into the wall and then smashing right through it! She hurtled across the next room and smacked into the far wall as her sword flew from her grasp! The warrior slumped to the floor at the base of the wall - stunned!
Gabrielle looked into the jagged hole in the wall and saw Xena struggling to clear her head and stand. "Fooled ya," the smiling bard said, with an evil laugh. "By the way - how do you like my staff? Callisto enchanted it for me. Pretty neat, huh?"
She turned and extended her hand to Breanne. "Now let's go - Callisto is waiting!" Breanne reached up and took Gabrielle's hand. "OK, my love - we're ready to go!" Gabrielle called out, as she looked up towards the heavens...
Suddenly, Gabrielle went flying through the air, over the bed, and crashed heavily to the floor on the other side! Xena landed on her feet, recovering from the kick she had just delivered. "I told you," she said, "I won't let you kill her."
Gabrielle rose to her feet, brandishing her staff as she did. She let out a wild war cry and charged at Xena! The bard swung her staff, aiming for her lover's head, but Xena ducked to the side, avoiding it! She dropped to the floor and did a foot sweep, knocking Gabrielle's legs out from under her! When the bard fell, Xena knocked the staff from her grasp, then grabbed her, pinning her arms behind her back. She reached into her bodice and pulled out a piece of leather strapping she'd placed there for just this reason and began to tie Gabrielle's hands behind her, as the bard screamed in rage!
Strong, feminine hands grabbed Xena from behind and hurled her across the room, where she smashed into a table, breaking it as she fell to the floor! "Uh-uh, Xena... I can't let you do that to my Sweetie," Callisto said. She bent and caused a small flame to spring from her hand, burning through the leather strap and freeing Gabrielle. The bard retrieved her staff and stood beside Callisto, wrapping her arm around the blond immortal. She pulled the goddess's head down and began to give her a passionate kiss, pushing her tongue into Callisto's mouth. Callisto returned the kiss, watching Xena with one eye as she did. "As you can see," the goddess said, breaking from the kiss, "Your little friend is my love kitten now."
"That's right," Gabrielle said, pressing against Callisto and running her fingers through the immortal's blond hair. "I love HER - Not you. And I'm gonna to prove it to her - Right now!" Gabrielle raised her staff and moved toward Breanne...
Xena drew her Chakram, raising it to throw. "I'm sorry, Gabrielle, but I can't let you do this. Even if it means killing you, I won't let you become evil!" She hurled the weapon toward the bard - directly at her neck!
The razor sharp circle was just about to slice Gabrielle's throat open, when a hand snatched it from the air! Callisto had reached over, quickly, and caught it - inches before it ended the bard's life! She turned to look at Xena, and a smile spread across her face. "I can't believe you'd kill your lover, rather than see her turn evil," the goddess said, letting out a laugh. "How wonderful! Oh, Xena, I think I'll let this game go on a while longer - it's ever so much fun! Now I have your lover and your toy too." She attached the chakram to her side and motioned for Gabrielle, who snuggled up to her side. "Let's go, Sweetie. We'll come back and play some more with Xena later." She motioned with her hands and they disappeared in a flash of orange flame...
"Are you alright?" Breanne asked, as Xena limped over and sat on the bed.
"I'm fine. A little bruised, but OK." She turned and looked toward the far corner of the room. "How's the tracking spell working?" she asked.
Brilliant sparkles filled the corner, as Aphrodite appeared, leaning against the wall. "It's working just great," the beautiful goddess replied. "Smart idea, Warrior Babe - having me place that spell on your chakram. Now we know exactly where they are - but how'd you know that Callisto would catch your chakram, and not just let Gabrielle die? She had to know that would have messed you up, big-time, if you'd killed her."
"No, that's not what she wants," Xena replied. "She wants Gabrielle alive, and with her, so she can continue to torment me. Killing her now would be too quick, and Callisto wants me to suffer a long time. She knows that my seeing Gabrielle live with her and become evil like her would be a far worse thing for me to endure than watching her die."
"So what happens now?" Breanne asked, as she sat up, slowly.
Xena turned toward Breanne, her face a mask of determination. "Now I go get Gabrielle back... By the way," she asked, "Who's Melina?"
Breanne lay back, staring at the far wall of the room. "She's my lover. I met her about a year after Gabrielle and I were separated by my moving to Athens - and we've been living together ever since. At least we were - until Callisto took her and my father and said she'd kill them both unless I cooperated with her."
"I thought as much," Xena replied.
"I'm so sorry," Breanne said. "I just didn't know what else to do. I thought that she only wanted me to make you jealous. If I'd known what would happen, I ..." She began to sob, and buried her face in her hands.
Xena moved over and pulled the crying woman to her, hugging her gently. "It's OK. We'll get through this, and they'll be fine - Gabrielle too. You'll see." She looked down at Breanne and smiled confidently.
As she looked into the beautiful warrior's eyes and felt the strength and determination emanating from her, Breanne realized why her ex-lover had been so attracted to this woman. If she weren't committed to Melina, and if this weren't Gabrielle's lover... Well, anyway, she could certainly see what her old love saw in Xena...
"OK gang." Aphrodite said, letting out a sigh, "I hate to be the one who spoils the moment here, but what are we gonna do now?"
Xena stood, covering Breanne with a blanket as she did. She turned to face the lovely goddess. "Well, Breanne is gonna get some rest. I'll get the innkeeper's wife to keep an eye on her. Meanwhile, you and I are gonna go find Gabrielle, and your son's bow."
"Whoa. Wait a minute now," Aphrodite said, backing up a step. "I'm not gonna take on some homicidal, new-goddess-on-the-block just so you can get your girlfriend back. I'm the goddess of love, not suicide!"
"You won't have to fight Callisto," Xena replied. "I just need you there so we can make a quick getaway once we have Gabrielle and the others. Callisto won't know where we are once we disappear. Afterward, you can go back to Olympus and I'll find a way to keep her off my back... Somehow."
"Well, it's your funeral, Babe. I'll get you there. With that spell in effect, I can take you right to 'em, but after that, other than me getting you out, you're on your own." The gorgeous goddess put her hands on her hips and looked at Xena. "Deal?"
"Deal," Xena replied. "Just get me close to them, but out of sight - I'll do the rest." She moved to stand next to Aphrodite and the goddess grabbed her by the hand. "We'll be back soon," Xena said to Breanne, "With all of them... I promise." She nodded at the goddess, who waved her free hand, and they both disappeared in a burst of golden sparkles...
Chapter 10: THE CHOICE
Metrikus looked over at the slim, red-haired woman chained to the cavern wall beside him. She was slumping down, hanging limply by her wrists. He knew that she wouldn't survive much longer, as they hadn't been given much water and hardly any food at all for the past two weeks. He was weak himself, but Melina was certainly much weaker - She'd never been too strong to start with. "Stay with me, Melina," he said, "We'll get out of this - Somehow." She raised her head and gave him a weak smile, but her strength was almost gone, and she slumped down at once.
The dim torches in the room suddenly burned brighter as Callisto and Gabrielle walked into the small cave, which was attached to the goddess's main cavern complex on the plane of the gods. "Look, Sweetie," Callisto said, smiling merrily as she spoke, "They're still alive. How nice. Now we can have some more fun, and you can practice on them for your ceremony to prove your love for me. I know it won't count, but killing them will give you some experience, and make it easier for you when the real thing comes."
"Let the girl go," Metrikus said. "She's done nothing to you. If you must kill someone, kill me."
"Oh, how brave and noble of you," the goddess said. "But I'm afraid that killing her will be better practice for my love here. You see, it's your daughter that she's gonna kill next." Evil laughter spilled from Callisto's lips as she saw the man strain against his chains, trying to reach her.
Metrikus finally quit struggling. He looked at the pair of women standing before him. "Gabrielle, I don't know what's happened to you," he said, "But I know that you don't want to kill us, or Breanne. She still loves you, you know, and I... OOOOMMMPPHHH!!!" Metrikus sagged in his chains as the air was forced from his lungs by a sharp blow from the end of Gabrielle's staff!
"SHUT UP!" Gabrielle screamed. "I don't want, or need, her love or anyone else's, except Callisto's. She slammed the staff against the side of the gasping man's chest, not a killing blow, but hard enough to produce the sound of cracking ribs, from the force of the magical staff.
"We have no more use for him. Kill him." Callisto said. "Then kill the girl, and you'll be ready to go and finish off your old flame - And maybe Xena too, though I might want her to live a while longer. It would be nice for her to see us living happily together as we conquered the world, don't you think?" She laughed and leaned down to kiss Gabrielle...
Her lips never touched the bard's. Instead, Callisto's head dropped from her shoulders and bounced once on the stone floor, before stopping face down at Gabrielle's feet. The goddess's body fell to lay beside it...
Xena recovered from the sword stroke and reached down, taking her chakram from the headless figure beneath her. She had already grabbed Cupid's bow from the wall of the next chamber and given it to Aphrodite. After that, it had been a simple matter to sneak up behind the immortal, as she'd been concentrating on watching Gabrielle torture Metrikus.
The bard stared for a few seconds at the headless corpse lying at her feet, then she looked up at Xena, her eyes filled with rage! "I'LL KILL YOU!" she screamed, as she swung her staff at the warrior, determined to exact vengeance for this sacrilege against her goddess! Xena ducked the blow, but Gabrielle came around with a back-swing and caught her in the side! The blow hurled Xena backward, though it had only been a glancing hit! She fell heavily on her back, and Gabrielle charged toward her with murder in her eyes!
"We don't have time for this," Xena said, as the bard swung down at her head. Xena dodged the blow, but the staff hit a rock beside her head, shattering it, and sending chips of stone into the side of her face! Xena ignored the stinging wounds and kicked outward, catching Gabrielle in the solar plexus and causing her to double over!
"I'm sorry, Gabrielle," Xena said, as she reached up and jammed her fingers into the girl's neck, shutting off the flow of blood to her brain and partially paralyzing her. "I can't have you fighting me - We're in a hurry." Gabrielle fell forward and Xena caught the gasping girl, gently, in her arms. She stood, holding Gabrielle close, and moving to stand between Metrikus and Melina. "OK, Aphrodite. Get all of us out of her - Now!
Suddenly, Xena found herself falling toward the rocky floor! She hit hard on her back, and Gabrielle rolled from her grasp as Xena's breath was knocked out of her. Callisto's body had reached out and jerked her leg from under her!
The immortal stood up quickly, and then bent down, retrieving her severed head from the floor. She placed it on top of her shoulders, where a grin spread across her face as the head re-attached instantly. "Xena, Xena, Xena... You know that you can't kill a god." Callisto bent down and touched Gabrielle, who immediately stopped gasping and picked up her staff, moving to stand beside the goddess.
"Maybe it didn't kill you," Xena said, as she got to her feet, "But it sure did feel good." She drew her sword with her right hand and her chakram with the left. "I'm taking Gabrielle and the others, Callisto. You can either let me, or try to stop me - It's up to you."
Callisto let out an amused giggle. "Xena, you don't seem to get it. I'm not gonna stop you. I'll let Gabrielle take care of that for me." The bard moved forward, coming between Callisto and Xena. She twirled her staff a few times, then stood her ground. "So Xena," Callisto continued, "We have an interesting little contest here. Either you kill your precious little Gabrielle, or she kills you. Either way - I win!" The goddess lapsed into twisted laughter as Gabrielle launched an attack!
Xena parried the bard's blow, intended for her midsection, but the force of the magical staff again threw her back hard, slamming her into the smooth, stone wall of the cave, and sending her chakram flying from her grasp. As she shook her head to clear it, Gabrielle swung at her once more. Xena leapt over the bard, spinning as she did, and landed behind her. Instinctively, she raised her sword to strike, but paused as her mind took over from her reflexes. This was her love, whom she cared for more than her own life! She couldn't kill her. There had to be another way.
Gabrielle spun around and swung once more at Xena, who dodged back out of the way. "What's the matter, Xena," she said. "Your little sidekick too much for you now?" The two women circled each other, each looking into the others eyes, trying to judge the next move. "I've always been your follower, always watching you win the battles and get the glory, but not anymore. Now, I'm gonna go out and conquer the world - Your death will be just the first of many. With my new lover, there's no limit to what I'll do." An absolutely evil grin spread across her face. "Maybe I'll kill your mother next. Of course, I'll have my fun with her first - make her really suffer." She laughed a wicked little laugh.
Gabrielle suddenly charged at Xena, who turned quickly and jumped forward, pushing off the wall with her feet and flipping over the armor-clad Bard once more to land behind her. Gabrielle spun around and lashed out, not at Xena, but at a rock on the floor. As the staff hit it, it shattered into hundreds of splinters, many of which pelted the warrior and caused her to bleed from dozens of small wounds. She turned her head to protect her eyes from the deadly spray and, as she did, Gabrielle attacked! The bard connected with a hard swing, as Xena was turned away, and the sound of bones breaking could be clearly heard! Xena was hurled to the side, flipping through the air and landing heavily on the cavern floor, face down!
Gabrielle moved toward the warrior, watching her warily, as Callisto laughed with evil glee. The bard approached cautiously, expecting a trick. She moved up and prodded the warrior with her staff, then stepped back, assuming a defensive posture. Xena didn't move.
"KILL HER, GABRIELLE!" Callisto called, loudly. "KILL HER, AND I'M YOURS!"
Gabrielle walked up to her fallen lover and raised her staff high. She swung overhead, aiming for the defenseless warrior's neck...
Xena quickly rolled to the side, at the last second, and entangled Gabrielle's feet as she did! The bard fell to the floor, losing her staff, and Xena continued to roll right on top of her. She straddled her lover, pulled her breast dagger, and held it to Gabrielle's throat. Xena's left arm dangled at her side, obviously broken from the blow she'd taken.
"Well, Xena," Callisto said, "What's it gonna be? You gonna kill her - because if you don't, she'll certainly kill you... Oh, this is just too much fun."
Xena looked down at Gabrielle, as she pressed the blade against the young girl's neck. She looked deep into the bard's eyes - then removed the dagger from her neck and handed it to her! Gabrielle jumped up from the floor, standing over Xena, the dagger in her hand.
Xena stayed on her knees, but turned to face her love. "Go ahead, Gabrielle - Kill me!" Xena said, as she looked up into her soulmates eyes. "You've told me many times before that love is the only way to end the cycle of hate. Well, maybe now's the time to see if you were right." She reached out and grabbed Gabrielle's hand, placing the dagger's blade against her own throat. "I love you, Gabrielle. I love you more than I thought I could ever love anyone - More than my own life. You are my love, my life, my soulmate. If Callisto's spell can break that love, then what do I have to live for anyway. Go ahead - Kill me. I won't try to stop you." She continued to look into her lover's eyes, and a single tear trailed down her cheek, dropping onto the bard's hand, as she held the dagger to Xena's throat.
"KILL HER! Callisto screamed.
Gabrielle looked back at the goddess, then back down at Xena. Her teeth ground together and her hand shook against the warrior's neck. Her forearm relaxed, then tensed, then relaxed again - As she dropped the dagger to the floor! Tears suddenly filled the bard's eyes and she knelt down and pulled Xena to her, crying as she did so.
"Oh, Xena - I'm so sorry," she sobbed. "I love you so much! Oh gods, how could I ever have hurt you?" She continued to cry, her chest heaving with sobs as she hugged Xena tightly. The warrior wrapped her good arm around her lover, nuzzling her as she did.
"It's OK, My Love," she said. "The spell is broken - Everything will be alright now." Xena pressed her lips to Gabrielle's and they exchanged a passionate, but gentle kiss, then pulled back and stared into each other's tear-filled eyes.
"How sickeningly sweet," Callisto said, as she walked up behind them. "But things aren't gonna be alright, I'm afraid. Seems I'll just have to kill you both myself... Good-bye Xena - It's been fun, but now it's over." She raised her hand, pointing a finger at them...
"Hold on Babe - not so fast," a voice called from behind the triumphant goddess. She spun around, to see Aphrodite standing behind her.
Callisto laughed aloud. "What are YOU going to do to stop me?" she asked. "Hit me with a love spell?" She continued to laugh as she turned back to Xena and Gabrielle.
"No, I'M not gonna do anything," Aphrodite said. "But they are." She pointed to a dark corner of the cavern as three robed figures emerged from the shadows...
"Callisto, you cannot do this," one of the figures said, in an young voice.
"She chose not to kill - so you must let events proceed as we foresaw," another said.
"Even gods may not go against fate, Callisto," the final figure said, in an ancient voice. "She chose of her own free will. If you try to interfere, the punishment will be severe - I warn you!"
"You warn me?" Callisto said, as she turned to face the three figures. "I don't care what you Fates say. You allowed my family to be killed. You decided the course of my life. Well, now I'm gonna decide the course of these two's lives." She spun around and emitted a burst of flame from her fingers, which engulfed the two women on the floor...
At least it seemed to engulf them, for a second. Then, the flames withdrew and began to shimmer and change. They turned an icy, blue color and took on a spherical shape. The glowing, blue-white sphere suddenly shot toward Callisto and surrounded her! It had become a solid globe of energy which trapped the goddess inside. She screamed with rage and pressed her fingers against it, emitting bursts of energy, which crackled and danced around the inside of the sphere, but had no effect on it! The globe began to shrink rapidly, collapsing in on itself, as Callisto continued to scream and hurl her energies against it! Within seconds, the sphere had shrunk to a pinpoint and then, with a flash and a clap of thunder, it disappeared - Along with the goddess inside!
The cavern was now very quiet as the three figures walked over to stand by the still prone lovers. "The gods themselves cannot change what the Fates decree," one of them said. "Callisto will be punished for her actions."
Another of the Fates spoke. "Your love has been known to us for a long time - And it will continue. Love is a great power - Even we Fates do not fully comprehend its limits."
The third Fate again spoke. "Good luck to you Xena and Gabrielle - And may your love continue forever, if fate allows it." The three Fates all smiled as they faded from sight...
Chapter 11: ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL
Gabrielle knelt by the bed and held Breanne's hand. "I'm so sorry," she said. She looked at the still bruised body laying before her as tears streamed down her already red cheeks. "I'll never forgive myself for what I did - And almost did, to you."
Breanne smiled at Gabrielle and stroked her hair. "You didn't do this, Gabrielle - Callisto did it. She was in control of you, so I don't want you to feel guilty. Besides, thanks to Xena, I'm gonna be just fine. Isn't that right?" she asked, as she looked up toward the warrior standing at the foot of the bed - her left arm in a sling.
"That's right," Xena replied. "In a few days, you'll be able to head back to Athens, and so will your father and Melina." She looked over at the other two beds which held Metrikus and Melina. Both of them were eating and regaining their strength after their long ordeal.
"Well, I'm gonna stay right here and care for all of you until you leave," Gabrielle said, through her tears. "It's the least I can do." She leaned forward and kissed Breanne on the forehead.
"You bet you are," Breanne said, smiling. "I wanna catch up on all you've been up to. I also want you to get to know Melina and I want to get to know Xena better too." She gripped Gabrielle's hand tightly as the two of them exchanged a knowing look.
"I've thought about you so much, since we parted," Gabrielle said. "It'll be good for us to see that we both ended up with people who make us happy."
She looked down at the leather armor that she still wore. "But, if you'll excuse me, I need to get out of this stuff and get cleaned up before we talk - OK?" She squeezed Breanne's hand and grabbed her clothes from the table, before walking out the door...
Xena was walking down by the river, looking for Gabrielle. The innkeeper's wife had said that she saw the bard grab a bar of soap and head this direction, but that was some time ago. "GABRIELLE!" Xena called out.
"Over here, Xena," came the reply.
Xena walked down to the riverbank, between some bushes and saw the bard standing in the water, soaping herself vigorously. Gabrielle scrubbed her skin, then ducked down into the water, raised up, and began soaping herself up again - even soaping her lips and the inside of her mouth, Xena noticed. The bard dunked under the water, raised up and spat out the suds, then proceeded to scrub herself once more.
"Don't you think three hours of washing is enough?" Xena asked. "You won't have any skin left, and Breanne and the others are asking about you." Xena smiled as she saw Gabrielle wash off and start scrubbing a new body part, one more time.
"I just feel so... soiled!" Gabrielle said. "I still can't believe that I was actually kissing Calli... that woman! And I was all over her, touching her - Ughh!" Gabrielle began to scrub herself with even more vigor than before.
"Well, if you won't come out, I'm gonna have to come in and get you," Xena said.
Gabrielle turned around and smiled. "You can't do that. You've got a broken arm, and I don't want you hurting it any more than it already is. Besides, you can't get undressed very easily with your arm in a sling."
Xena proceeded to take off her boots, with her right hand, of course.
"Xena, I mean it. I don't want you hurting that arm," Gabrielle said.
The warrior continued to take off her clothes, finishing very quickly, in spite of her arm. She then waded out and stood next to her lover, grabbing her with her good arm and pulling her close. She leaned down and the two women's lips came together as Gabrielle carefully put her arms around Xena and pressed her bare body against the naked warrior. After a few minutes, the two broke from the kiss and just stood looking at each other.
"I'm sorry about your arm," Gabrielle said, as she rubbed it gently. "It seems I'll be apologizing to everyone for a long time now."
"Gabrielle, you don't owe any of us an apology," Xena replied. "I should apologize to you for thinking that you betrayed me with Breanne. I wasn't there when you needed me because of my jealousy, and my lack of faith in you. It won't ever happen again."
The two women hugged each other close and stayed that way for a long time. Finally, Xena pulled back. "We really should get back to the others now," she said. "They'll be worried."
Gabrielle waded back to the shore with her, and then they both began getting dressed. When they'd finished, they headed back for the inn - Gabrielle carrying the studded leather armor that Callisto had given her.
"What're you gonna do with that?" Xena asked.
"I'm gonna give it away," Gabrielle replied. "I sure don't wanna keep it."
"Oh," Xena said, with what sounded like disappointment in her voice.
"You want me to keep it?" Gabrielle asked.
"Well, not to wear all the time," Xena replied. "But I just thought that maybe, when my arm is better we could..." She leaned over and whispered in Gabrielle's ear as they walked...
"THE WARRIOR BARD AND THE CONQUERED PRINCESS!" Gabrielle exclaimed, in a shocked voice. "Xena, I never knew you could be kinky like that!" She laughed and gave her lover a hug as they walked toward the inn.
"Remember," Xena said, "I have many skills."
They were still laughing as they walked into the lighted doorway of the inn, arm in arm...
Let me know what you think...
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