Disclaimer: you know the drill…don’t own ‘em, Renaissance does (wish I did), not making any money from them, Renaissance does (wish I did). No infringement intended.

Love/Sex Warning: This was originally supposed to be a sexy little PWP. The idea was created in the incredibly sensual mind of my friend Karon, who flattered me immensely by asking me if I would write it. Well, much to our surprise, our little PWP became a rather lengthy (though still amazingly sexy) study of Xena’s sexual dark side and Gabrielle’s attraction to it. We do flirt a bit with ‘almost’ non-consensual sex and what I suppose would be considered rape fantasy, so if that’s not your cup of tea, you’ve been warned. Don’t be flaming us later.

Feedback is welcome and appreciated:


Xena closed the door of the hut, leaning back against it with a sigh of relief and a satisfied smile. She folded her arms across her chest and watched with affection as the young bard puttered around their room.

"I don’t care what they say about the bond between a mother and child," the warrior stated. "Sometimes you just need a break."

Gabrielle picked a saddlebag up off the bed, peered beneath it, then set it back down, wrinkling her brow. "Well, the Amazons certainly couldn’t wait to play babysitter. Chalapa and the others will have Eve climbing trees before you know it."

Xena chuckled at the thought, moving the length of the room to stretch out on the bed. She rested her back against the wall and crossed her feet at the ankle. Lacing her fingers behind her dark head, she watched as Gabrielle folded clothes on the pallet next to her hip.



"Are you okay?"

The bard peeked into the now-empty saddlebag, then scratched her head.


"I’m sorry. What?"

"I asked you if you were okay. You’ve been awfully quiet today."

Xena blinked in surprise as the bard suddenly dropped to her knees and bent to look under the bed. Bringing her head back up, she muttered, "That’s weird." Then, as if remembering something, she met Xena’s gaze. "I’m fine. Really."

Swinging her legs around so her feet were on the floor, Xena grasped the bard’s wrist.

"Come here," she ordered, pulling Gabrielle sideways to sit on her lap. Resting her chin on the bard’s shoulder, she took a deep breath. "Okay, listen. I know I haven’t been the most…attentive partner lately." She looked down, toying with the fringe of Gabrielle’s top as it hung teasingly over her abdomen. "I know you didn’t bargain for Eve or how she would change things."

"Xena –," the bard began, but Xena interrupted her with an upheld hand.

"No, let me finish."

Knowing that speaking about emotions and relationships was very hard for her warrior, Gabrielle remained quiet, nodding.

Xena licked her suddenly dry lips and continued. "I brought us here because I thought it would be good for us. You and me. I knew the tribe would be more than happy to take Eve off our hands for a bit and I thought it would be a great opportunity for us to spend some time together, just the two of us. I know my hormones have been all out of whack and I thought maybe I could make it up to you." She abandoned the fringe and began to fondle the soft skin beneath it as she nuzzled the bard’s neck. "Take care of those frustrations you’ve been having."

Gabrielle sighed quietly, leaning into the contact. "What makes you think I’m frustrated?"

Xena gently nibbled an earlobe, chuckling. "You forget how well I know you, my bard," she whispered. "We’ve never gone this long without. I wouldn’t want you to get cranky or anything."

"Cranky? Me?" Gabrielle fought to be indignant, but was distracted by the warrior’s hand as it encased her breast, halter top and all, and kneaded it firmly. She gasped softly.

Xena’s other hand blazed a trail up the side of the bard’s neck to cup the back of her head and pull her in for a searing kiss. The majority of the time when they made love, Xena’s kisses began softly, sensuously, coaxing the bard’s mouth, earning the right to enter. This time, however, there was no pretense of foreplay. It had been far too many weeks. The warrior plunged her tongue into Gabrielle’s willing mouth, delving into the moist warmth with reckless abandon, eliciting a deep moan from the bard.

The blonde whimpered in protest when Xena pried her lips away. She turned the bard on her lap so Gabrielle was leaning back against the warrior’s chest, her legs dangling on either side of Xena’s knees. Xena circled her arms around the younger woman, cupping a full breast in each hand, pulling Gabrielle tightly against her. As the bard’s eyes drifted shut, she dropped her head back against Xena’s shoulder, her ear very near the warrior’s lips.

Xena took the opportunity to run her tongue all around the little curves of soft flesh, smiling as she felt the bard’s hardening nipples, even through the leather of the halter.

"Oh, it’s been a long time, hasn’t it?" she whispered directly into the bard’s ear.

Suddenly, she felt Gabrielle’s body stiffen and her eyes flew open.

"What – what is it?" Xena asked, confused, as the bard extricated herself from the warrior’s grasp and climbed off her lap. "Gabrielle?"

The blonde didn’t answer immediately, instead crossing the room to rearrange the fruit in the bowl on the table. "It’s nothing," she said finally, not looking at Xena. "I’m just not in the mood, I guess."

Xena raised an eyebrow. "You were certainly in the mood about a minute and a half ago."

The bard swallowed.

"Gabrielle." The warrior’s voice softened. "Did I do something you didn’t like? Did I hurt you?"

Gabrielle turned to the warrior and her eyes filled with affection at the look of anxiety on her face. She sighed. "No," she reassured the darker woman. "No. You would never hurt me. I know that. I…" She glanced around the room and seemed to be having some sort of internal debate.

Xena watched with concern, knowing she could do nothing but wait the bard out. After several minutes, she seemed to make a decision and spoke very softly to her partner.

"Last night, I had…a dream."

When more failed to follow, Xena held out her arms expectantly, raising her eyebrows and shrugging.

The bard grimaced. "You know. A dream."

"Oh," the warrior smiled knowingly. "An erotic dream. Everybody has them, Gabrielle. What’s the problem?"

"You weren’t in it."

Xena’s smile faltered slightly. Okay. She could handle this. Erotic dreams were perfectly normal and they didn’t always involve the dreamer’s spouse. Of course, she liked to think that she kept Gabrielle satisfied enough that her mind didn’t have to make stuff up. Keeping the smile pasted to her face, she noticed Gabrielle was watching her closely, worriedly gauging her reaction.

"Who was?" the warrior asked. She knew she probably shouldn’t have asked, but if it was bothering her bard so much, she needed to know.

Gabrielle pressed her lips together and looked away.

"Gabrielle?" Xena was getting nervous, although for the life of her she couldn’t explain why. "Come on, sweetheart. It was just a dream, right? It’s okay."

Gabrielle managed a small smile. "You’re right," she said, stepping forward and allowing Xena to wrap her in strong arms. After several long, comfortable minutes, she sighed against Xena’s chest.

A beat of silence went by.

"So, who was it?" Xena tried to ask the question casually.

"Who was what?"

Xena quelled her frustration, annoyed at herself for prying for information she wasn’t sure she really wanted. "In your dream, Gabrielle. Who was in your dream?"

"Oh." The bard nestled back into Xena’s arms. "It was Ares."

Another beat of silence went by as the warrior absorbed this tidbit.

"Ares?" Xena’s voice was as cold as her embrace suddenly became. Gabrielle stepped back. "You had a sex dream about Ares?"

Gabrielle blinked. "Well, yeah, but it was just a dream, Xena. You just said so yourself."

"Why would you dream about him?" Xena managed to keep her voice calm. "Is something missing from our relationship? Am I not giving you what you need? Do you have a thing for him or something?"

"What?" Gabrielle was shocked by Xena’s sudden insecurity, as well as the anger she was trying hard to hide. "Of course I don’t have a thing for him. Xena, what is wrong with you?"

"Why don’t you tell me, Gabrielle? Obviously, something is wrong with me if my wife won’t sleep with me because she’d rather fuck a manipulative son of a bitch like Ares in her dreams." Again, her voice was deceptively calm. Xena knew she was being completely unreasonable, but she was unable to stop the rage bubbling within her. She knew what dreams of Ares were like and by no means did she want Gabrielle having them.

Gabrielle rubbed her forehead, squeezing her eyes shut. Just when she thought Xena’s mood swings were abating, something like this would happen and Gabrielle would have not choice but to wait until the warrior returned to the Land of the Rational People. "I don’t believe this," she muttered.

Xena said nothing, simply burning a hole in the bard’s chest with her icy hot stare. Gabrielle was frustrated to realize that she was actually starting to feel guilty.

"Xena, it was a dream!" Gabrielle shouted, exasperated.

"Well it must have been a good one," Xena hissed back.

They stood for a heated moment, eyes flashing at one another, chests heaving. Suddenly, the light of realization dawned on Xena’s face. "That’s it, isn’t it?"

"What’s it?"

"That’s it. It was good, wasn’t it? That’s why you stopped me. What? Wasn’t I as good as that rat bastard?"

"What?" Gabrielle could not believe the direction this conversation had taken. "Oh, Xena, come on! This is ridiculous."

"The only thing that’s ridiculous is the fact that I’m still standing here. I need some air." With that, she slammed out of the hut, leaving the bard near tears in the middle of an empty room.



Xena was pissed. Any idiot could see that.

Mara brushed a stray lock of red hair out of her eyes as she leapt down from her tree perch and watched the dark woman approach. She had always been in awe of the warrior princess and whenever she and Gabrielle had come to the village to visit, she’d always been too shy to say hello. Now that she was a bit older, gaining self-confidence and growing more proficient with her weaponry, she’d made a pact with herself. The next time Xena came to town, she would work up the nerve to ask her for a few pointers.

One look at the snapping ice chip eyes was all it took for Mara to know that now was not the time to spar with Xena. Not if she valued her limbs.

"I’m relieving you of your watch," the warrior said crisply, effectively dismissing the young Amazon. "Have a nice night."

With that, Xena disappeared up into the tree, leaving Mara blinking in bewilderment.

"Okay," she said uncertainly. "Could I have --." Her waterskin dropped at her feet before she had a chance to finish her sentence. "Um, okay. Thanks, Xena." She suddenly wanted to put as much distance between herself and the warrior as possible, making record time back to the village.

Xena scowled as she settled herself as comfortably as one could on a tree branch. Leaning her back against the sturdy trunk, she scrubbed a hand roughly across her face, reflecting on the previous conversation with her bard.

Was she being irrational? Becoming angry with Gabrielle because of a dream? She remembered her own dream of Ares and absently licked her lips. Gods, she could remember it like it actually happened…the smell of his sweat mingling with her arousal, the sound of their respective leather creaking, the feel of his rough skin on hers, the taste of his tongue in her mouth. Her own level of excitement had annoyed her. She’d become further annoyed when she realized that Ares had actually planted the dream in her mind, helped it along.

A vision suddenly appeared unbidden in her brain. It was a vision of her own dream with Ares, except she wasn’t in it. Gabrielle was. Xena tried to shake the image away, but it wouldn’t go. He was kissing her, thrusting his tongue into her sweet, delicate mouth, the mouth that belonged to Xena. His hands were exploring her baby soft skin, slipping around behind her to unfasten her top, coming back around to the front to cover her breasts with his meaty fingers. She arched herself into his touch and moaned loudly as he pinched each nipple.

Xena growled loudly in frustration, banging her head back against the tree trunk until the vision finally melted away, only to be replaced by stars of pain.

She sat for several minutes, rubbing her head and breathing heavily. The thought of anybody else – but especially Ares – touching her bard that way, in those places, made her angry and nauseous. Gabrielle belonged to her.

"She moans like that under my hands," the warrior hissed to nobody in particular. "Nobody else’s. Her breasts, her lips, that ass, her pussy, they’re all mine!"

Xena had never felt such…what in Hades was this feeling anyway? Possessiveness? Nah. Well, okay, maybe. Jealousy? Absolutely not. Was it? She was not a jealous person. Was she? She’d never gotten so worked up over something like this. And it didn’t even really happen. It was a dream! It’s not like the bard had control over something like that. It’s not like anybody had control over something like that…unless…

"ARES!" Xena shouted at the top of her lungs. She jumped down from the tree to pace in a small circle, seething. "Ares! I want to talk to you! Right now, you son of a bitch!"

He appeared almost immediately in a shimmer of blue light, smiling smugly and looking irritatingly handsome.

"Wow. That was quite a summons, Xena. What can I – oof!" He was cut off by a sharp punch to the stomach that caused him to double over. Coughing, he straightened up, only to be met head on by the flying fist of a very pissed off warrior princess. He sprawled backwards to the ground.

He stayed on his back, blinking up at the growing dusk, deciding it was safer to stay right there and let Xena cool off. He had to admit that he didn’t always mind being thrown around by the warrior. She was so magnificent that he actually found it a turn-on at times. This was not one of those occasions. Had he been mortal, he was sure he’d have a couple broken ribs and be minus three or four teeth.

After several minutes of observing the warrior pace and seethe, he spoke. "Are you finished?"

"Not by a long shot, you bastard," she snarled at him. "Get up."

He did so, cautiously. True, he was a god, but she could still hurt him, especially now that his existence was fading. He had felt himself growing slightly weaker over the past weeks and he didn’t want her to know that. He held his hands in front of him, palms facing Xena.

"Before you begin pummeling me again, you want to tell me what this is about?"

Xena’s eyes flashed and Ares could feel the anger rolling off of her in waves. "You can mess with my head, Ares, but you stay away from Gabrielle’s."

He stared at her blankly. "What are you talking about?"

Xena snorted. "I suppose you’re going to deny planting a dream in her mind like you did in mine?"

A small smirk turned up one corner of his mouth. Furrowing his brows, he said, "I can only assume from your violent reaction that Gabrielle had a dream very similar to yours, no?" His stress on that one word made Xena’s blood boil. She snarled and took a menacing step toward him.

He chuckled. "Xena, please. You’re a brilliant woman in general, but when it comes to that little blonde, you are completely transparent."

"You stay away from her," she whispered.

"I have to say, I’ve never seen you quite so jealous. Green is really not your color, Xena."

"Fuck you!" she snapped at him.

"Apparently that’s Gabrielle’s job now. And, much as I’d like to take credit for her…bedtime fantasies, I have to be honest and say that I didn’t plant them. They appeared all on their own." He examined his nails and shrugged nonchalantly. "Can I help it if she misses me?"

Xena turned her icy gaze on him. "What do you mean, misses you?"

He didn’t look up. "Well, obviously, she’s missing our time together and making up for it in her own mind."

A sickening dread had begun to form in the pit of Xena’s stomach. "What time together?"

Ares face became suddenly cold. "I’m dying, Xena, thanks to your little brat. My only hope of continued existence is to plant my seed and ensure that my line will carry on before I become extinct. You have refused me time and time again, though my offers have been sincere. I decided that if the great warrior princess wouldn’t give me a child, I’d choose the next best candidate."

"Gabrielle?" Xena choked.

"That’s who I came up with, too!" he applauded. "Great minds, huh? And I’ve gotta tell ya, you’ve got great taste. What a little spitfire she is. Who knew?"

Xena took a minute to absorb what Ares was telling her. Gabrielle sleeping with Ares? Giving birth to his child? No. It was an absurd idea. She set her jaw and leveled her gaze at him with a smile.

"Nice try, Ares. No way. Gabrielle would never agree to be with you."

"No?" He strolled casually to a tree and leaned against it, folding his arms across his broad chest. "Well, to your credit, it did take some convincing. She’s pretty head over heels for you. But, I’ve been working on her for some time. I had to have a backup plan in case you said no." He tsked at her. "You’re getting predictable in your old age, Xena."

"I don’t believe you, Ares."

"All this time I’ve been asking you what you see in her. Now I know." His eyes widened in wonder. "Those breasts. Mmm. Bigger than one first anticipates. And, if you squeeze them just right, you can feel the shudder run through her entire body. She’s got great skin. And when she wraps those legs around your waist…hoo-wee! I can’t believe you’ve managed to keep her to yourself all these years. She’s something else in the sack. And talk about insatiable. She can’t get enough!"

It took every ounce of strength Xena had to keep from launching herself bodily at the god. Speaking through clenched teeth, she fought to keep her voice calm. "Like you would know."

He sighed. "Let’s see. There was that whole Mavican disaster. I had a lot of opportunity to be with the little bard while you were busy fighting that bimbo. Then, we spent some time together after Eli died."

"You killed Eli, you shit. You think that endeared you to Gabrielle?"

"She has needs, Xena, just like everybody else. She has urges." He cocked his head to the side and regarded her curiously. "Have you been taking care of those? A good partner makes sure his or her spouse is…satisfied."

Xena swallowed, a sliver of guilt spearing her heart.

"Cuz if he or she doesn’t, their beloved may end up looking to find that satisfaction elsewhere, if you catch my drift."

"You’re trying to play on my guilt and it won’t work," Xena said calmly, sounding much more confident than she felt. "Gabrielle understands the strain we’ve been under, having to fend off you blasted gods, taking care of Eve…" Her voice trailed off as Ares pulled a wad of soft, white cloth from inside his vest, held it to his face, and breathed deeply. Heaving a satisfied sigh, he reached for Xena’s wrist and tucked the cloth within her fingers.

"Be a dear and give these back to Gabrielle, would you, Xena? She left them in my temple a couple nights ago." He winked at her, then twinkled out of sight.

Xena stood alone in the woods blinking rapidly while her guilt and insecurities began to slowly chip away at her confidence and surety. She looked down at her hand, ran the soft, familiar cloth through her fingers.

She couldn’t believe Ares. Couldn’t. Wouldn’t. He was a conniving, manipulative, piece of Centaur shit and he would do anything to get what he wanted. There was no way she would believe Gabrielle would turn to him, turn away from her.

"I know I haven’t been a very…attentive partner lately…"

Her own words echoed back at her tauntingly.

"Xena, you were gone. I did what he asked me to do."

"What about what I asked you to do?"

Xena shook her head savagely.

"So Ares is right? The whole future is shaped by warriors!"

She squeezed her eyes shut.

"I know I haven’t been a very…attentive partner lately…"

Growling in frustration, she raised Gabrielle’s favorite pair of underpants to her nose and inhaled. The scent of the bard’s arousal was distinct and unmistakable. Xena’s upper lip twitched and she narrowed her eyes.

She and Gabrielle had not been together intimately since before Eve was born.

Like a fog sweeping across the sea, all rationality drained from her body to be replaced by a haze of red. All reasonable thinking was clouded over by hurt, betrayal, and jealousy, seeping into her body like liquid fire. The muscles between her legs twitched erratically, making their presence known and she brought the cloth back up to her face. Breathing in the clinging scent caused goosebumps to erupt across her skin and a deep, urgent need to blossom in her core. There was only one way to alleviate it.

She needed to reclaim what was hers.

Gabrielle sat staring at the same piece of blank parchment she’d been staring at for the past two hours. She finally sighed and tossed her quill down in annoyance. She dropped her head into her hands and massaged her own scalp, trying to ease away the barrage of emotions she was dealing with.

She was furious with Xena and worried about her at the same time. She knew the warrior well enough to know that she’d been hiding how angry and jealous she really was about the dream. The best thing to do was let her blow off steam. She’d come back when she was ready. The waiting was the hardest part for Gabrielle. She could never fully concentrate unless she knew exactly where Xena was and that she was all right.

What had made her storm out like she had? True, Xena was a very possessive person and she didn’t like when others tried to step into what she considered her territory, but this was simply unreasonable, not like her at all. How could she be so upset about a dream?

Gabrielle lifted her head as comprehension suddenly dawned on her. Of course! Xena had had her own dream of Ares; this the bard knew, although the details given to her had been sketchy. When Xena had told her about it, Gabrielle had gotten the distinct feeling the warrior was leaving something out, but she’d decided not to press the issue. Now, she began to realize that the dream must have effected Xena much more than the warrior had let on. Why else would she be so upset about Gabrielle having a similar one?

A small bit of relief allowed the bard to breathe a little easier. At least now she knew the source of the problem. All she had to do was wait for Xena to return and get her to discuss this rationally. They’d both had similar visions of Ares and though Gabrielle felt a tiny pang of jealousy, she knew that feeling threatened by a dream was simply silly. She managed a small smile, then began rolling up her parchment and putting her writing materials away. There would be no storytelling tonight. She needed to think of how to broach this subject without scaring Xena away again.

As if on cue, the door to the hut opened and the warrior strolled slowly in. She closed it behind her and leaned back against it, much as she had earlier that day. This time, however, she said nothing and there was a look in her eye that Gabrielle couldn’t quite describe. The only thing she was sure of was that it frightened her just enough to cause her heart rate to increase.

"I was wondering when you’d come back," she commented lightly to the taller woman, who folded her arms over her chest, making her seem even more menacing than usual. Gabrielle felt an inexplicable chill run down her spine. "Can we talk?"

The coldness in Xena’s eyes seemed to force the temperature in the room down by several degrees. "Is Ares fucking you?"

The question was so calm, Gabrielle wasn’t sure she’d heard correctly.

"Excuse me?"

"I said, is Ares fucking you?" Again, cool and quiet.

Gabrielle felt a tiny seed of annoyance mix with her fear. Maybe this talk wasn’t going to be as simple as she had hoped. "No, Xena, Ares is not fucking me," she said firmly, unconsciously raising her chin.

"Are you sure?" Xena saw the subtle challenge and relished it. She began to slowly cross the room toward the smaller woman.

"Am I sure? What kind of question is that? Of course I’m sure."

"Because he says you are."

"Oh, he does, does he?" The bard’s face was flushing with anger and she knew she couldn’t hide it the way the warrior could. "Well, I’m glad to know your faith in me is so strong."

The warrior stopped when she was only a couple inches from the bard. Gabrielle bravely stood her ground, though it was difficult, given their size difference. Xena was intimidating in general, but when she was mad, she was downright scary. She reached into her cleavage and pulled out the underwear Ares had given her. She dangled them in front of Gabrielle’s face and arched an eyebrow in question.

Realizing what they were, Gabrielle gasped and made a grab for them, only to have them snatched from her reach by Xena.

"I’ve been looking for those. Where did you find them?"

"Seems you left them in the temple during your last tryst," Xena said, her voice icy, her eyes boring into the bard.

"Ares had them." Gabrielle shook her head in disbelief. "Oh, Xena, come on. Don’t tell me you believed him. He’s a god, for crying out loud! He can destroy villages with the wave of his arm. Don’t you think he could find a way to sneak away a pair of my panties without me noticing?"

Xena’s fašade didn’t even crack and Gabrielle got a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach at the predatory glint in the warrior’s eye. Xena wasn’t listening to reason. She’d let her jealousy eat at her and now it didn’t matter what the bard said. Xena didn’t hear her. Gabrielle took a step back, her eyes darting quickly around the room, something she knew immediately that she shouldn’t have done.

A corner of Xena’s mouth quirked up for a split second. "Looking for an escape route?"

Gabrielle swallowed hard, taking another step back, holding up her hands in a placating gesture. "Xena, please listen to me."

"Oh, I have to do something to you, but listening isn’t what I had in mind." Xena followed her step for step until the bard’s back hit the far wall of the hut.

Xena smiled a smile that chilled the bard’s blood. Gabrielle tried to use her speed to dart past the warrior, but Xena simply caught her around the waist and slammed her back into the wall with a thud that knocked the wind out of her.

"Going somewhere?"

"Xena," the bard replied breathlessly. "I can’t talk to you when you’re like this."

Xena stepped closer, placing her hands on the wall on either side of Gabrielle and pressing her body fully against the bard’s. "I told you, Gabrielle, I’m in no mood to talk."

Gabrielle fought off a twinge of excitement and pushed hard against the warrior’s chest, her fear blossoming into real anger. "Get off me! I am not kidding, Xena!"

The warrior allowed herself to be pushed back a step, chuckling coldly at the action.

Gabrielle’s anger burst forth like a river through a broken dam. She stepped toward the warrior, poking a finger at her – the only person in the world who could do so and still live – her eyes flashing. "How dare you come in here and accuse me of cheating on you? Without even giving me a chance to reason with you? You just dangle my underwear in my face and assume I’m guilty?" Her voice rose as she went on, her anger flaring at the unfair situation she’d been put in by the woman she loved most in the world. She was also growing annoyed with herself for the tiny spark of arousal that always ignited within her whenever Xena looked at her the way she was looking at her now. Ferally. Hungrily. Like Xena was hunting and she was the prey.

This was the part Xena loved. She stood quietly, allowing Gabrielle’s anger to surface, as she’d known it would, her mouth salivating at the pink tint flushing the bard’s skin. It was the first step in the process of staking her claim and she felt her thighs twitch at the hint of wetness between her legs. Damn you, Ares! How dare you touch what belongs to me?

They stood facing one another, both breathing faster than usual. Just as Gabrielle opened her mouth to add a footnote to her rampage, Xena had a sudden flash, brought on, she assumed, by her thought of Ares. It was another vision of the God of War with his mouth fastened to the bard’s, his tongue invading what belonged to Xena. With a vicious growl, she grabbed the wrist of the hand that was poking her in the chest, pinning it against the wall over the bard’s head, quickly catching the other and doing the same.

Gabrielle was able to get only the warrior’s name from between her lips before her mouth was attacked by Xena’s. She turned her head from side to side, trying to avoid the warrior and doing so quite successfully until Xena shifted both of Gabrielle’s wrists to one hand and captured the bard’s face with the other. The warrior’s kiss was demanding and possessive, and Gabrielle found herself responding to it before she knew what was happening. Her tongue met Xena’s with equal fervor even as the warrior’s mouth controlled her.

"Does he kiss you like this?" Xena whispered harshly between assaults on the bard’s mouth.

"Xena—," the bard began, trying again to wrench her mouth away. She gasped as Xena pressed her body fully against Gabrielle’s, pinning her against the wall.

Still keeping a hold on the bard’s wrists with one hand, Xena backed off just enough to run the other roughly over the leather halter top.

Gabrielle swallowed hard, caught between her arousal and her fear. "Xena, please."

"Please? Is that what you say to him? Do you beg him like you beg me?" Her voice was cold and full of contempt. She continued to rub at the bard’s breasts through her top until her nipples became visible even through the fabric. She pinched one lightly, causing the bard to inhale sharply.

The sudden jolt re-ignited Gabrielle’s anger and she bucked fiercely, trying to free her wrists from the prison of Xena’s grip.

"I did not sleep with Ares!"

Her words seemed to fall on deaf ears. There was not enough room between the two of them for the bard to kick at the warrior. Instead, she continued to squirm, knowing in the back of her mind that she was no match for Xena’s strength. It wasn’t long before the muscles in her arms were burning with fatigue and a fine sheen of sweat had begun to coat her neck, her breath coming in quick pants.

"That’s right. Fight me. It will only make my victory sweeter." Xena bent to sample the salty taste of the bard’s skin, humming her satisfaction. She fastened her mouth tightly to the spot where the bard’s shoulder and neck met and quickly left her mark, causing Gabrielle to yelp in surprise. With her free hand, the warrior easily divested herself of her breastplate, knowing it wouldn’t be long before she would need to feel the bard’s skin against her own.

As the armor hit the floor, Gabrielle once again began to struggle, frightened by the arousal blending with her fear and anger, Xena’s intentions becoming clearer and clearer to her. Xena took the opportunity to use the bard’s movements against her, slipping her free hand behind Gabrielle, grasping the strap of her halter, and yanking, snapping the ties with ease. In the next instant, the warrior gripped the front of the top and pulled it away, leaving the bard topless, her creamy breasts heaving under Xena’s animalistic gaze. The positioning of her arms raised them slightly and Xena licked her lips unconsciously.

"Those breasts. Mmm. If you squeeze them just right, you can feel the shudder run through her entire body."

Xena’s upper lip twitched as she heard the war god’s voice echoing tauntingly in her head. A rumbling growl issued from deep in her throat. Gabrielle’s heart skipped a beat and she unsuccessfully tried to twist her wrists from Xena’s grasp.

"Xena?" she whispered.

"These are mine! Understand me? Mine!" She closed her hand fully over one mound of flesh. The fit was perfect and she squeezed possessively, groaning as she felt the nipple pushing against her palm. Still keeping Gabrielle’s hands pinned above her head, Xena bent her own head, at the same time lifting the breast in her hand. Gabrielle watched with wide eyes and when Xena’s lips closed on her nipple, the bard whimpered. Xena almost allowed herself to be caught up in the sensations and forget her own anger when something happened.

A shudder did indeed run through the bard’s entire body.

Xena jerked her head up to glare into the jade eyes that were both wide with fear and clouded with desire.

In a flash of movement, the warrior let go of Gabrielle’s arms and spun her so her back was against Xena’s chest. Wrapping a strong arm around the bard’s waist, Xena half-dragged, half-carried her across the room. Gabrielle grabbed onto the forearm imprisoning her and tried to turn herself, but her arms were almost useless from lack of circulation and Xena never allowed the bard’s feet to touch the ground long enough for her to get her balance.

When they reached the table, Xena sent the items on it flying with one swipe of her arm.

Then she turned and deposited her burden at the edge of it, capturing the blonde between her own body and the table. Once again, the bard was a prisoner, the edge of the table hitting her just between her belly button and her hipbones, Xena’s body pressed tightly against her back.

Xena’s hands came around the bard’s stomach and up to cup each breast, kneading them firmly, using her grip on them to hold Gabrielle tightly against her. "Did you let him touch these? Hmm?"

Gabrielle closed her eyes in exasperation. She was not going to win this argument. She knew that now and it pissed her off. "Xena," she said, trying to keep her voice steady, to keep from groaning under the relentless fondling of her breasts. "I told you, I did not – gods!" She slammed her head back onto Xena’s shoulder as the warrior grasped both nipples simultaneously and squeezed. She continued to do so, pumping them firmly, causing Gabrielle to dig her fingernails into the warrior’s forearms.

"Does he make you feel like this?" the warrior whispered in her ear, following the question with the swipe of her tongue.

Gabrielle felt like she would cry at any minute. Her senses were on overload. She knew she needed to straighten out this Ares matter with Xena. Why on earth would she believe something so preposterous? At the same time, Xena was making it impossible for her to concentrate and it irritated her to no end. She began to struggle again, pulling at Xena’s hands, attempting to use her feet to push herself away from the table, trying to ignore the electric sizzle shooting from her nipples to her groin.

"Oh, no you don’t," Xena snarled. "I’m not finished with you, girl." In a heartbeat, Gabrielle’s skirt was yanked from her body and tossed across the room. She was still pinned tightly against the warrior’s chest, the grip around her waist like a vice. The power Xena exhibited caused a spurt of arousal from the bard and she growled in frustration with herself and the betrayal of her own body. Xena smiled as the bard squirmed in her grasp. She slid a hand quickly over the crotch of Gabrielle’s underwear, noting their dampness with satisfaction and causing the bard to jerk in surprise.

"Xena, please," Gabrielle begged, knowing it was futile. "Can we please just talk about this?"

"Now is not the time for talk, Gabrielle," the warrior stated calmly, the tone of her voice cold and commanding. "Now is the time for action. Ares says you’re insatiable, I see that you’re more than ready."

The realization that there was no way she could escape the warrior, coupled with the continual mention of the god of war, brought Gabrielle’s anger to the boiling point. She seized the forearm wrapped around her and pushed mightily, kicking her feet in an attempt to gain her freedom. Xena merely lifted the bard off the ground with a mocking chuckle, further angering the small blonde.

"Xena! This is not funny!"

"Oh, no," the warrior agreed. "It certainly isn’t."

In the blink of an eye, the warrior pushed herself against the bard, hard, her weight giving the smaller woman no choice but to bend over the table. Her feet were on the ground, her stomach flat against the tabletop. When she realized the vulnerable position she was suddenly in, Gabrielle tried to use her hands to push herself up. Xena simply swiped the bard’s arms out from under her, forcing her breasts back down against the table, the warrior’s body pressed closely against her, Gabrielle frightened by the level of her own excitement.

Xena was quiet for a moment. If Gabrielle had been able to see her, she would have noted that her ice blue eyes closed as she inhaled deeply, taking in the distinct and familiar scents of Gabrielle -- her hair, her sweat, her fear… her arousal. She ran her palms possessively up the bard’s sides, over her shoulders, and up her outstretched arms, stopping to clasp her wrists and pin them to the table. She could feel the tremor run through the blonde’s body, her muscles trembling slightly. Xena’s lips were very near the bard’s ear.

"Don’t move, Gabrielle. You belong to me and you need to learn that," she whispered seductively. "Nobody touches what’s mine. Not even the gods themselves."

The tone of her voice sent mixed messages careening through the bard's body. It was icy, intense, and commanding. It was the voice of somebody who always knew exactly what she wanted and didn’t take no for an answer. Gabrielle thought that this must be very much like Xena had sounded in the early days, when she was Destroyer of Nations.

The realization scared her and excited her at the same time and she felt her palms begin to sweat as she pressed them flat against the table, afraid to disobey. She had never faced this Xena, at least not in a sexual manner. She’d had many a fantasy about what it would be like to be taken by this Xena, to bear witness to -- to be the recipient of -- the sexual power and dominance that was now rolling off of her like heat. She hadn’t expected that actually facing her would also cause this much fear.

An image zipped through her mind, an image of this very Xena braced to toss the bard off a cliff. If she didn’t hesitate to kill me when she was that mad, what is she capable of when she’s this jealous? the bard thought to herself, anxiety and arousal once again mixing within her. She knew deep in her heart of hearts that Xena would never hurt her. That day on the cliff had been one of outrageously extenuating circumstances. Gabrielle was fully aware of the fact that Xena had a deep, soul-altering love for her and that, had she actually succeeded in killing the bard that day, she wouldn’t have been able to go on. They had struggled, screamed, and cried, but they’d managed to get past that awful time. Now Gabrielle was certain, without so much as a crumb of doubt, that she was safe with Xena.

The warrior’s tongue swiped at her ear again and the bard came back to the present with a jolt. This was definitely a facet of the warrior princess that the little blonde had never experienced, only imagined. The warrior slid a hand beneath the waistband of Gabriele’s panties and very slowly worked them over her hips, dropping them down to the bard’s ankles and using her foot to get them out of the way. Gabrielle shivered as she realized her fantasies were about to be realized. The anticipation mixed with the dread was a nerve-wracking combination.

Struggling at this point was moot and she knew it, but the adrenaline surging through her wouldn’t allow her to just lie there. She was hardly able to move and when she did try, she only succeeded in allowing Xena to smoothly slide her own thigh between the bard’s. It was only a matter of seconds before the other one followed and the bard was helpless, pinned face down, her thighs spread by Xena’s, completely at the mercy of the warrior holding her prisoner.

"I said don’t move, bard."

Gabrielle hardly recognized the icy voice and tears of frustration sprung into her green eyes.

Xena released the bard’s wrists and stood, but planted her hand directly between the blonde’s shoulder blades, making it impossible for Gabrielle to shift her position. Instead, the bard curled her fingers around the edge of the table. Xena used her free hand to explore the smooth, rich skin of the bard, trailing all over her back and shoulders, then down across her firm buttocks to rest lightly against her hip. She took a good, long look at her conquest, flushed and sweating, the bard’s breathing much more rapid than usual, her small hands gripping the edge of the table above her head, her knuckles white. Xena’s own skin was tinted pink, her breathing ragged. She was perilously close to losing what precious control she still harnessed.

As if sensing that very thought, an image of Ares poised to enter the bard in exactly this position suddenly appeared in front of Xena’s eyes. His big, godly hands were securely bracing her hips for his arrival, his manhood bulging obscenely. Xena clenched her teeth and literally shook the picture out of her head. She quickly stripped off her own leathers and boots, standing naked behind the bard, her own excitement soaring.

"Did he take you from behind like this, Gabrielle? Did he bend you over his altar?"

"No, Xena. I swear--." Gabrielle whimpered when she felt the warrior’s hand grasp the front of her thigh and spread her further. She felt the air cool against her own wetness. It was a remarkable contrast to the heat she felt emanating from Xena’s now nude body and a rush of desire ran through her.

The warrior noticed the telltale glistening of the bard’s sex. "I see I’m not the only one having a good time. You’re soaked. You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?"

"Xena…" The bard’s voice was barely audible and she flinched at the sarcastic tone of the warrior. She knew any reasoning was simply not going to happen at this point. Worse, she wasn’t sure she wanted it to. The ache between her legs had grown almost unbearable.

"Shhh, my little bard. You belong to me. Don’t you?" Her voice was soft, almost soothing, but with a cold edge. Without warning, she slid two fingers into the bard slowly and easily. She raised an eyebrow in surprise at just how wet Gabrielle had become. A low, throaty groan issued from the blonde. "Don’t you?" the warrior repeated, halting her movements when her fingers were all the way in.

Gabrielle tried to pull herself forward, off of the tortuous fingers, intending to then push herself back down, keeping up the movement. She thought for sure she’d explode at any moment.

Xena was still waiting for a response, standing patiently, her fingers sealed tightly inside her lover. She wiggled them slightly, enjoying immensely the sight of her bard laid out before her, the tremble that ran through Gabrielle’s body at the slightest adjustment of her fingers. Then, she slowly slid in a third.

"See how perfectly I fit, Gabrielle? I’m the only one who belongs in here. Me. I’m the only one who can fill you like this."

Her own words seemed to fan the flames crackling within her and the warrior drew out, then thrust back in, gradually increasing her rhythm. She fought to keep her eyes open. Every time she closed them, the unwanted image of Ares fucking her bard senseless slapped at her, his hips pushing into her again and again, his thick fingers sliding under her delicate body to capture her breasts. An unearthly growl rumbled from deep in Xena’s chest and she increased her pace again. Despite her feeble attempts at a continued struggle, Gabrielle had begun to move with her, keeping with Xena’s rhythm. The warrior shifted her stance so she could position her own sex directly over the bard’s firm buttock. She felt a pang of desire hit her low in her belly as she rubbed herself along Gabrielle’s skin, her copious wetness making her slide easily.

Gabrielle closed her eyes with a groan, amazed at how wet the warrior was, realizing that, despite her misguided anger and jealousy, Xena was finding it a turn-on to dominate the bard. She decided to Hades with this ridiculous argument, she wanted to turn around and touch Xena. But, the warrior held her fast, sliding her hand up to the back of the bard’s neck and holding her firmly, the maddening fingers still thrusting mercilessly into her dripping core.

Xena bent forward, lying along the bard’s back, gripping the blonde’s shoulder for leverage as she pushed into her. She spoke directly in her ear. Her voice was once again low, seductive, and commanding. Only the fact that it was spoken through clenched teeth gave away any hint of Xena’s real emotions. Goosebumps erupted across the bard’s flesh.

"You let Ares touch this, didn’t you?" the warrior hissed, punctuating her words with the force of her hand, Gabrielle’s feet coming off the ground from each push. "This is mine, don’t you know that by now, Gabrielle? Not just for today or tomorrow. Forever. You can’t give away something that doesn’t belong to you!"

The relentless drilling continued; the bard wanted to scream. The long powerful fingers she’d felt so many times before and knew to be firm yet gentle were anything but and she was almost ashamed at how wet and excited she’d become. She knew without looking that her own juices were now covering Xena’s hand to the wrist. The bard had no control over her body. It moved of its own accord, trying any way possible to stay with the tormenting fingers of the warrior, allowing them to play it like a fine instrument. Xena’s weight against her back was not helping, as it hindered her movement immensely, preventing her from finding any true satisfaction at all. Worse, her burgeoning need had almost completely eclipsed the necessity she had felt to prove her innocence to Xena. All she could focus on was her rapidly approaching release and how much she had to have it.

Xena’s entire body was on fire, the heat fueled by two things: the rage she felt when thinking of that bastard touching Gabrielle, and Gabrielle herself. She knew she was torturing the bard; she felt it was well deserved. She reveled in the power she wielded, the dominance she had over the smaller woman. The fact that Gabrielle was fighting her made it even more exhilarating. She knew it wouldn’t be long before she reached her own climax. She closed her eyes.

"And when she wraps those legs around your waist…hoo-wee! I can’t believe you’ve managed to keep her to yourself all these years."

The voice assaulted her from out of nowhere and another image appeared behind her eyelids. Gabrielle was no longer face down. She was naked and writhing on Ares’ lap, her beautiful body impaled on his overgrown shaft. He stood, his large hands supporting her easily by her shapely ass, and she wrapped her supple legs tightly around his waist, throwing her head back in bliss as he slowly pumped into her…

A cry of rage tore itself from her throat as she straightened. "Fuck you, Ares! She’s mine!" Redoubling her efforts, Xena poured all her anguish into what she was doing. "Mine, mine, mine, mine….Are you listening to me, bard?"

Gabrielle could only grunt under the thrusts, clinging to the table, praying release would come before she fainted from the anticipation.

"Who does this pussy belong to, Gabrielle?" the warrior snarled.

Gabrielle hated the word pussy, but at this point, Xena’s use of it only caused her arousal to surge impossibly higher. She whimpered when she felt the hand that had been pinning her to the table slide down her body and around to the front, slithering between her body and the table. She swallowed back a scream when Xena’s fingers brushed her swollen clit, sure she was only moments from breaking pieces of the table off with the death grip she had on it.

"You want this, bard? Tell me the answer. Now! Who’s pussy is this?"

Gabrielle’s body was wound so tightly, she was sure she’d snap in two. She had no presence of mind to question the warrior’s rough language or treatment of her, not now. Xena was rubbing her own sex roughly along Gabrielle’s thigh; the bard could feel the tremors. She did everything she could to keep from sobbing. All she wanted was release. "Please," she whispered.

"Please what? Answer the question, Gabrielle. Who owns this sopping wet pussy of yours? Ares? Hmm?"

She brushed Gabrielle’s clit again, teasingly, knowing exactly the blazing jolt she was sending through the bard’s body. Both women were sweating and Xena began to wonder if she might actually come before the bard did, her own arousal running down her thigh in a thick trail as she slid against her, working herself into a near frenzy.

"Gods, Xena…please!" The bard was near the breaking point. It was apparent in her voice.

"Tell me."


"Tell me." She demanded, sliding a finger between the folds without preamble, increasing the tempo of her other hand just slightly.

Gabrielle groaned a groan that signified her approaching climax. Xena knew the sound well. She stopped all movement, causing the bard to cry out in protest. "Dammit, Xena! Please!" She banged her fists against the table, her eyes leaking tears of frustration. "Please."

Xena pressed her entire hand over the bard’s mound forcefully. "Who’s is this?" she demanded.

The bard could take no more.

"Yours! Yours, Xena. It belongs to you. Nobody else. I swear." The bard’s voice came out in sobs. "Always yours. Please believe me."

Xena smiled in satisfaction at having broken her quarry and felt her own climax fast approaching. She matched her own rocking with the rhythm of her fingers, rubbing herself against the firm flesh under her. At the same time, her fingers worked relentlessly, speeding the bard to her requested destination.

They came at the same time, Xena’s triumphant howl of satisfaction echoing off the walls, nearly drowning out Gabrielle’s gut-wrenching cry of relief. Tears ran freely down the bard’s soft cheeks.

The warrior lay across the spent bard, both of them heaving breathlessly. Xena closed her eyes and shifted her position, slowly running her hand over Gabrielle’s back, feeling the smooth planes, mapping out the muscles with her fingertips. Focusing her gaze again, she noticed the small beads of sweat covering the creamy skin and felt an odd affection for the pink tint that flushed the bard’s entire body. The warrior stood, running her hand down Gabrielle’s side and over her hip, thinking she’d never seen the young blonde looking more beautiful.

After a short few minutes, Xena collected herself and got dressed, her back to the sprawled blonde on the table. She needed to get some air, to drill, to do something, anything that would help cage the beast still raging with jealousy. Somewhere deep inside, she knew she needed to sit and talk it out with Gabrielle, but she couldn’t do it yet. She wasn’t used to such feelings…she’d always been so good at keeping them locked up…but this was way too close to the surface. She heard, rather than saw Gabrielle peel herself from the table and pull a sheet from the bed to wrap around her nude, sweating form.

Xena laced her boots, then turned to glance toward the bard. Much to her surprise, Gabrielle was standing directly behind her. Before she could register anything else, the bard’s open palm connected solidly with the side of her face, a loud slap reverberating through the room.

"Get out," the Amazon Queen commanded, subtly raising her chin.

Xena’s eyes blazed and for a split second, Gabrielle was sure Xena would break her in two. Instead, she reached out and caught the bard’s chin in a vice-like grip. They stood that way for several long minutes, a silent conversation going on between the two lovers. Xena’s eyes communicated to the bard that this was not over, not by a long shot, that she would be back soon. Gabrielle understood this with perfect clarity, swallowing hard before Xena’s grip loosened slightly and she ran her thumb gently across Gabrielle’s lips. Without a word, the warrior turned and stalked out of the hut, leaving the bard to finally release the tears she’d been holding inside.



The sun was just beginning to peek over the horizon when Xena finally sat down against an oak, sweating and out of breath once again. This time, however, her exertion was due to two hours of agonizingly difficult drills with her sword, chakram, feet and hands, rather than the sexual conquering of a struggling bard.

She didn’t want to stop and rest, knowing that if she did so, her brain would leave her no choice but to dwell on the current situation with Gabrielle. She had no desire to be assaulted once again by the obscene images of Ares ravishing the blonde, but her legs wouldn’t hold her any longer and she was forced to find a spot to sit.

As predicted, she was immediately haunted by the sounds in her head, sounds of passion coming from Gabrielle at the hands of another, sounds she made only for Xena, or so she’d thought. This time, instead of the expected anger, Xena was filled with something far worse in her opinion…pain. It was an emotion almost unfamiliar to the warrior, she’d spent so long building walls around herself to keep the possibility of it out. Because of that, it hit her harder than most and she was shocked to feel it grow inside her until her crystal blue eyes filled with tears and she thought for sure her heart would break in two right there inside her heaving chest.

"Oh, Gabrielle…" she whispered to the wind, leaning her head back against the tree trunk. "Please don’t let this be true."

Silent tears slid down her cheeks as she closed her eyes against the ache in her soul. She had never expected to feel the way she did when the bard had followed her out of Poteidia. Gabrielle had been cute, in an annoying sort of way, but certainly not the warrior’s type. She liked her women sleek and tough and a little wild, like Cleopatra. Gods, even Callisto was more Xena’s type than Gabrielle. Nobody had been more shocked than the warrior to realize that, eventually, Gabrielle had managed to worm her way into the heart made of ice and stone, and had slowly begun to chip away at it, melting bits and pieces at a time until she’d made herself her own little niche to curl up in.

Their first night together had been sweet and passionate and wild and exhausting all at once, the little bard actually making the first move, surprising both of them. Things had gone gently at first, Xena concerned about overwhelming Gabrielle with her sexual intensity. Later, the bard had succeeded in impressing the big, bad warrior with her stamina and her adventurous nature. Before Xena realized it, she’d fallen head over heels for the young farm girl who’d stolen her heart.

It hadn’t been an easy thing for Xena to accept. She was, after all, a tough, ruthless warrior with a reputation to maintain, even if she had gone from evildoer to upholder of goodness. And she was still of the warlord mind set that love made one weak. Love gave the enemy something to use against you. It had taken much introspection on her part and much patience on the part of Gabrielle. The young blonde, however, had never batted an eye. She had more patience than anybody Xena had ever met and she had simply waited the warrior out, letting her admit of her own free will that she did, indeed, love the bard more than she’d ever thought possible. It had been a moment well worth the wait for both of them. It was the first time Xena could remember crying tears of joy since before Cortese made his appearance in Amphipolis all those years ago.

The two women had been through so much since then…the evil of Dahok, the mutual betrayal in Chin, the birth of Hope and the death of Solan, the emotional roller coaster of Illusia, even Heaven and Hell. It seemed there was nothing they couldn’t make it through, no storm they couldn’t weather.

But now this. Infidelity was the last thing Xena had expected from Gabrielle. In fact, it seemed far more likely that Xena would be the one to stray, if it came to such a thing. But not Gabrielle. She had too much integrity. Didn’t she? Her love for Xena ran too deeply. Didn’t it?

Xena tried hard to be reasonable, to think rationally. She was aware that her system was not yet back to normal since the birth of Eve and she knew she needed to give Gabrielle the benefit of the doubt before her rapidly shifting emotions allowed her to condemn the bard for this. She squeezed her eyes shut, hoping against hope to will away the jealousy, to erase the painful images her own mind had managed to conjure up of a naked bard writhing in another’s arms. But Xena had given so much of herself to Gabrielle, changed so much of herself for her, opened so much of herself to her. She swallowed a sob that threatened to burst from her chest.

Then she felt it begin. She tried to push it down, but it wouldn’t go. She welcomed it. It was so much easier than sitting there wallowing in pain and pity. It was the only way she could keep from completely breaking down in a very unwarrior-like fashion and she embraced it. It was the old, familiar red haze that she used to be such good friends with. It was what she turned to during her warlord days when she felt her emotions itching to intrude on a particularly difficult decision, usually involving somebody she was personally acquainted with. It began to seep in and she let it, the hurt and jealousy in her heart preventing her from stopping it. It warmed her from the inside out, quickly replacing the sorrow and pain with feelings Xena was much more familiar with. Feelings she knew how to deal with. Anger. Possession. Revenge.

Anybody watching would have seen the physical change as well. Xena suddenly sat up straighter, her watery blue eyes hardening visibly. The soft lines of her face stiffened and her eyebrows shifted subtly, making her appear stern and unbendable. She stood slowly, unfolding to what seemed more than her full height, brushing the dirt and leaves off of her leathers with precision. Anybody who approached her at that moment would have swiftly retreated without a word.

She reached into her cleavage, retrieving the underwear Ares had given her. It was damp with her sweat, but the lingering scent of the bard still clung to it fiercely, the same intoxicating scent that was now present on Xena’s fingers. She inhaled deeply and it acted as fuel to a fire, causing Xena to slowly and methodically wipe the wetness from her face, her eyes narrowing, hugely annoyed that she’d allowed herself to be reduced to tears. The image of Ares presented itself to her, Gabrielle on her knees in front of him, his head thrown back in pleasure.

"That’s it," she growled, gathering her things and setting off at a brisk pace, walking with purpose back to the village. "You are mine. You belong to me. You are mine, you have always been mine and you will always be mine. Nobody will change that. Not even you. It’s time I made that perfectly clear, my little bard."


Gabrielle was tired of crying. She felt like a baby as she paced the floor of her hut. She knew without looking in the mirror that her normally soft green eyes were now puffy and swollen, and she scrubbed at her face with annoyance, hoping to smooth them out. She threw on a simple white shift that had three buttons at the throat and hung to just above her knees. She sighed.

There was nothing worse than having Xena mad at her. She’d tried to make a list one day, sitting with parchment and quill for nearly an hour attempting to jot down anything that she thought might possibly be less bearable than a pissed off warrior princess. She could only come up with three things in that entire time: falling into a lava pit with Hope, sex with Perdicus, and Joxer’s radish stew. All else paled in comparison. When Xena was mad, she went into full warrior mode and the phrase ‘walking on eggshells’ became a drastic understatement.

She sighed. She had so many emotions bouncing around in her head that she couldn’t think straight. She knew Xena would be back and they’d have to discuss the situation. She had to get herself together.

Gabrielle was angry with Xena. Very angry. She was absolutely flabbergasted that Xena had sided with Ares just like that. Boy, he must have really pushed her buttons to win her over so quickly. After all the warrior and bard had been through together, Xena didn’t believe her. Hadn’t even attempted to listen. The warrior’s obviously low opinion of Gabrielle’s dedication to their relationship came as a huge surprise to the bard and she wasn’t quite sure if she could deal with it in a rational manner. She was afraid she would either dissolve into tears or haul off and whack Xena again out of frustration, which would not be a smart move. Xena wouldn’t stand for that twice.

Gabrielle was also angry with herself. She was annoyed that she hadn’t been able to keep that part of her caged…that part of her she didn’t like to think about, didn’t like to admit existed. It was the part of her that scared her the most and also the part she found the most sexual satisfaction from. It was the part that was incredibly, undeniably attracted to Xena’s dark side.

She closed her eyes and sank down onto the bed. "Gods," she murmured, as her body had a quick flashback of the warrior pinning her to the wall and a rush of desire hit low in her body. She shook it away quickly. Because she hadn’t been able to control herself, she hadn’t made her point about Xena’s false accusations. She’d been unable to tell her side and Xena had left still assuming the bard’s guilt.

Gabrielle had never expected to have Xena actually act out one of her fantasies, but that was pretty much what had happened. Gabrielle had heard countless numbers of stories of the Destroyer of Nations, her infamous conquests of men and women alike, her legendary insatiability in the bedroom and her well-known sexual skills. Gabrielle had actually pleasured herself on numerous occasions, visions in her head of the dark warrior princess bending over her, holding her down, making her scream in ecstasy. She knew this was a reputation Xena was trying desperately to free herself of and therefore, the bard never brought up her fantasies, never suggested the warrior take part in a role-playing game with her.

Not to mention the fact that she was terrified Xena would think less of her.

Gabrielle jumped at an insistent rap on the door. There was no way Xena was going to knock, not in the state she was in, and the bard relaxed a little.

"Come in," she called, giving her face one last swipe with the palm of her hand.

A young, chestnut-haired Amazon entered carrying a tray laden with fresh fruits and pastries. She bowed deeply, her soft brown eyes sparkling. "Queen Chalapa asked that I bring you some breakfast. I hope I’m not disturbing you too early, but I saw your shadow in the window and I knew…" she stopped herself in mid-sentence, suddenly embarrassed.

She was very soft-spoken and Gabrielle smiled at her. "You knew?" she prompted.

The Amazon swallowed. "I knew that Xena was on the practice field and that you were alone," she finished rapidly, ashamed to let slip the fact that she’d paid such attention to detail.

"On the practice field." Gabrielle nodded, feeling a sense of relief at knowing to where the warrior had run off. She motioned the young girl in. "You can set it here." She gestured to the table on which she had been sprawled and naked only a few hours earlier.

If the Amazon noticed the various items strewn across the floor, she made no mention. She set the tray down carefully, unable to keep eye contact with the bard. Gabrielle knew the symptoms of a nervous crush when she saw them and smiled warmly.

"What’s your name?"

"Mikaila, my queen," came the response, accompanied by a slight nod of the head.

"Mikaila, you know I’m no longer queen," the bard admonished gently. "Call me Gabrielle, please."

"Yes, Gabrielle. My apologies. You will just…" She faltered slightly before recovering herself and finishing, clasping her shaking fingers together. "No disrespect to Queen Chalapa intended, but you will just always be the queen to me." She looked up into the most gorgeous green eyes she’d ever seen and noted the slight blotchiness on Gabrielle’s cheeks. "Are you all right?" she asked softly, concern evident in her voice.

Gabrielle flushed at the compliment as well as the obvious compassion. Four or five years ago, she may have found herself attracted to Mikaila, with her shining brown hair and strong legs. Gabrielle guessed her to be maybe sixteen or seventeen and she was shaping up to be a beautiful woman. The bard reached out and brushed a stray lock of hair off the girl’s forehead. "Mikaila, you stay as sweet and honest as you are and you’re going to make somebody a wonderful partner." The Amazon blushed a deep crimson. "Thank you for breakfast."

"You’re welcome," she stammered, backing to the door. "Gabrielle."

Gabrielle sighed, the unexpected flattery helping to boost her morale a bit, and popped a grape in her mouth. She smiled as she wondered if she had ever appeared to Xena as young and innocent as Mikaila had appeared to her.

What would Lila think? She wondered this as she bit into a sweet, juicy peach and bent to retrieve her parchment and quill from the floor. She sat down at the table, quill poised. Would her sister be shocked? Appalled? Would she think there was something wrong with Gabrielle simply because she often fantasized of being taken against her will by Xena, Destroyer of Nations? Did other women ever dream of such things? Such violence? Was there something wrong with her?

She sighed, setting the quill down once again, realizing she wasn’t going to get any writing done with her mind spinning as it was. She’d never been forced to really confront her darkest desires until now and she wasn’t sure what to do about it.

Suddenly, an idea struck her and she smacked herself on the forehead, wondering why on earth she hadn’t thought of it sooner. Like the last time they were in the village and these fantasies had become way too frequent for the bard’s liking.

"Kaz," she murmured, quickly rising and changing into more presentable clothing. She decided to check on the whereabouts of Eve, then head to Kaz’s hut, which was situated right next door to the Amazon healer’s hut. Gabrielle had never personally spoken to Kaz, nor had she even met the woman, but she had heard stories of other Amazons who had been confused or weighed down by problems or concerns in life. They had spent an hour or two with Kaz -- sometimes just once, sometimes over the course of several months or even years – and had seemed like new women.

Gabrielle was not the kind of person who liked to burden others with her problems…her parents were very much against the idea of airing one’s dirty laundry. However, she was at her wit’s end. This was something she feared she would never be able to let go of, one way or the other, if she didn’t get the input of somebody who wasn’t Xena. She would never think of mentioning her little fantasy to the warrior. She also knew the warrior would frown on her visit to Kaz, much like she imagined her father would.

Fitting her sais into their holders in her boots, Gabrielle took a deep breath, feeling like David about to face Goliath. She closed the door of the hut behind her and strode across the village square in search of Jini, the head of the Amazon nursery, standing a bit taller than usual, her chin jutting out in an admirable display of false bravado.

She was unaware of the icy blue eyes following her every move from the edge of the trees.



Xena was well hidden in an overgrown tree that was just on the line separating the village from the surrounding woods. She watched carefully as the bard walked at a determined pace across the square. She looked to be headed toward the dining hall, which wasn’t unusual, since it was breakfast time and many other Amazons were going in the same direction.

Her mouth watered as she focused on the muscular legs, flexing as the bard moved. Gently swaying hips served to taunt the warrior as she hid, licking her suddenly dry lips. Gabrielle’s soft, blonde hair fell gently around her face and she smiled at all those who greeted her. Xena narrowed her gaze and began to concentrate on the members of the village who were anywhere near the bard. She watched as a young, dark-skinned Amazon passed Gabrielle, then turned back to slide her eyes over the bard’s backside. The next one to pass, a redhead, did the same thing. Two women, walking and chatting together, waved and smiled cheerful greetings to their former queen. As she passed them, they put their heads together in private conversation, then turned back for a second glance at the blonde.

Xena’s frame of mind and the green-eyed monster dwelling within her did not allow for the fact that Gabrielle was a stunningly beautiful woman whose poise and good humored nature attracted people like flies to honey. Instead, the warrior began to wonder if maybe Ares wasn’t the only one receiving the affections of the bard. She began going through her plan, step by step, in her head, as a trio of Amazon teens approached from her left.

She stopped in mid-thought, cocking her head to the side like a dog listening for the source of a high-pitched sound. The three young Amazons were giggling as they headed to the dining hall. They were several yards off, but Xena’s remarkable sense of hearing picked up their conversation as if they were standing next to her.

A lanky blonde sounded incredulous. "She actually told you to call her Gabrielle?"

The shorter, darker one nodded vigorously. "Yup. Gods, she was beautiful. She only had on a shift. It was white and a little too short." She sighed dreamily. "She said she wasn’t queen any more and I should call her Gabrielle. I told her she would always be queen to me."

"You didn’t!" the third girl exclaimed, her light brown curls shaking.

"I did! I swear! It slipped right out. I couldn’t believe I said it."

"Then what?"

"Then…are you ready for this?" She looked back and forth to each of her companions. "She brushed my hair out of my eyes, smiled this most gorgeous smile, and told me I was sweet!" The two flanking her squealed in delight. "Gods, I wanted nothing more than to kiss her!"

"She actually flirted with you! Gods, Mikki, you are so lucky!"

Their voices died down as they disappeared into the dining hall.

Xena stood stock still in her hiding place, heat radiating from her, fists clenching and unclenching. She snarled once, her upper lip curling in a menacing fashion, then watched as the bard came out of the dining hall, brows furrowed in confusion. The blonde stood still for a moment, hands on hips, scanning the tree line around the village, as if looking for something. Or someone. Xena watched, certain the bard couldn’t see her, noticing with amusement the movement of Gabrielle’s throat as she swallowed. The blonde stood there for several minutes, before giving up and turning away from the warrior, walking again with a very determined gait. Much to Xena’s surprise, the bard didn’t go very far. Instead, she knocked on the door of a nearby hut. When the door opened, Gabrielle looked carefully both ways, then entered and shut the door behind her.

Cold blue eyes narrowed in suspicion.


Two hours later, as the door to her hut closed quietly, Kaz stood and stretched her arms over her head, working the kinks out of muscles cramped from too long in a sitting position. The poor queen. Oops, ex-queen, she corrected herself. Such a common problem and yet so many were too ashamed to openly discuss it.

She moved across the room to where the kettle was stored and put water over the fire. Running her fingers through her red hair, she shook her head with a knowing smile. If only the Warrior Princess knew what she had in her hands, she’d thank the very gods that she despised so much.

Kaz fixed herself a cup of herbal tea and moved to her desk, settling her compact form into the comfortable chair and looking over the parchments in her inbox. She found herself unable to concentrate, though, her thoughts consistently returning to the young queen and her dark warrior. Although it was against her personal ethics to flat out tell a visitor how to handle a situation, Kaz hoped she had gotten her message through to Gabrielle. The blonde was worrying herself sick over something that may actually turn out to be a blessing to her relationship. The older Amazon tried as best she could to make that fact clear to the younger one without actually saying the words. The truth of the matter was, chances were very high that Xena would find Gabrielle’s worrisome fantasies an unbelievable turn-on. If they played their cards right and kept the lines of communication open, the rewards would be incredibly sweet for both of them.

Sighing, Kaz gazed out the window. There was much activity buzzing through the village and the sun was high in the sky. She closed her eyes, absorbing a soft ray of light warmed her face, reveling in the loving caress. Too soon, there was a timid knock on the door. Kaz sighed. Time to deal with the Chief Swordswoman of the Amazon Army who wanted to do nothing more than quilt.


She had definitely been in the damn tree too long. Even for her. Her legs had begun to cramp and her rear end was numb. She sighed with a relief that embarrassed the warrior within her when the young blonde finally exited the hut. Xena watched as Gabrielle closed the door behind her, reached her arms over her head, turning her face up to the warm sun, and stretched her body taut, as if waking from a nap. Then, she ran her fingers through her blonde locks, resettling them around her ears the way she liked it. She was almost smiling.

The warrior narrowed her blue eyes at the look of simple contentment on the bard’s face. What had gone on inside that hut? Whose hut was it? Xena felt the sneer creep across her face, her upper lip wrinkling in distaste. It seemed the longer this day went on, the less she felt she knew about Gabrielle.

Xena froze as, once again, Gabrielle scanned the tree line with her green eyes, as if expecting to find something. Or some one.

Xena took the time to study the bard’s body, not because she wanted to, but because she had no choice. The sun was casting a radiant glow over her creamy skin, the softness deceiving in that it covered such solid muscle. Gabrielle had grown into a very strong, yet very beautiful woman right before the warrior’s eyes. Her heart hammered in her chest as she remembered Gabrielle screaming her release that morning, naked and sweating, writhing under the warrior’s demanding touch, fighting her the whole time. A shiver ran through her long body and she had to grasp an overhead branch to steady herself. When they made love, Xena adored listening to the bard almost as much as touching or tasting her. And when she struggled…

Xena swallowed hard, allowing the anger to settle back in and chase away the pain. There was still a part of her at that balked at the entire prospect – even the remotest possibility – of Gabrielle sleeping with anybody else, let alone Ares. Unfortunately, the warrior in her had been betrayed too many times by too many loved ones to doubt that which seemed so plain. Still, she wasn’t about to just let this go. Sure, she could simply walk away from this village right now. She and Eve would be fine on their own. But, some dark part of her still overflowed with the pride of a warrior and she could not let such a betrayal slide by without question. If Gabrielle was indeed toying with her, she was going to have to answer to the warrior.

The bard searched much longer than she had earlier, squinting against the sunshine for a glimpse of what she knew must be present. Finally her shoulders slumped very slightly and she headed off to her own hut once again.

Xena waited until she was completely out of sight before jumping down from the tree. Sending a searing glare in the general direction of the mysterious hut Gabrielle had spent so much time in, she headed further into the woods to prepare the location for the re-establishment of her possession. Gabrielle was hers. It was time the bard understood as much.




It was almost dusk when the rapping sounded on the bard’s door.

"Come in," Gabrielle called wearily. She knew it wouldn’t be Xena, but was still disappointed when she was proven right by the sight of the young girl who entered.

"Hi there, Kyra," the bard said with a smile.

"Good evening, Your – um, Gabrielle."

The bard smiled at the slip. It was still difficult for many of the tribe members to stop referring to the blonde as their queen and Kyra hid her mistake behind a shy smile. She was no more than twelve, with straight brown hair just touching her shoulders and big, brown eyes that took in everything around her with the enthusiasm of an explorer.

"What can I do for you?"

"Jini sent me over," she said, softly, but confidently. "She said that Eve has fallen asleep in the nursery hut. She had a very busy day and missed her afternoon nap, so Jini thought maybe it would be a good idea to let her stay the night there, instead of waking her to move her."

Gabrielle smiled. She had checked on Eve several times that day. On some occasions, she had stayed and played with her. On others, she’d chosen not to interrupt. She and Xena had agreed that Eve should learn the traditional ways of the Amazons and the bard was loath to step in on the process when it was going so smoothly. Many of the tribe members had been immediately taken with the child’s sweet face and agreeable disposition and Gabrielle had vowed that she would not be one of those doting mothers who couldn’t leave their children alone for more than a few minutes at a time. She trusted her Amazon sisters with her life and she knew Eve was as safe with them as anywhere.

She nodded to Kyra, who was waiting patiently for her reply. "That sounds like a smart idea, Kyra. Would you let Jini know she is the official babysitter of the night? Xena and I will pick her up in the morning."

"Yes, ma’am," Kyra bowed, then turned on her heel.

"And, Kyra?"


"You tell her I told you to keep an eye on her, all right? You’re in charge."

The girl’s eyes lit up and she smiled widely. "Yes, ma’am. I’ll tell her."


Gabrielle suppressed a chuckle as she watched the young Amazon literally skip out of the hut. Some Amazons were born warriors and some were born mothers. Kyra was definitely the latter. Eve would be in good hands for the night.

The bard sighed. She had hoped Xena would have returned by now. They really needed to talk and get this whole mess straightened out. Gabrielle knew Xena well. She was sure the warrior was off somewhere – not far – brooding over the situation, wanting to believe the bard’s pleas, but allowing herself to be way too influenced by Ares’ words. It was a good thing Gabrielle had enough optimism for both of them, because Xena was probably the most pessimistic person the bard had ever known. She was so quick to see the negative side of things. Gabrielle had worked hard to break her of that habit, but when it came to matters of the heart, Xena was much more likely to believe a betrayal than a declaration of love. Oftentimes, Gabrielle found this frustrating beyond words. She had to speak to Xena as if she were a child, try to make her understand that it isn’t simply a given that everybody she loves will stab her in the back one day. Gabrielle liked to think of herself as a very patient person, but there were times when the warrior made the bard want to pull her own hair out.

Like now.

The bard crossed the room and undressed, once again donning the white shift she’d worn that morning and a pair of panties. She looked down at herself…the shift really was a little too short. She made a mental note to look for a new one the next time they passed through a village bazaar. Maybe she could use this one to make a couple outfits for Eve.

She strode to the full-length looking glass standing in the corner of the room. The shift hit her about mid-thigh, showing a long stretch of bare leg. She turned sideways and stood on her tiptoes, surprised by the prominence of the muscles in her legs. She smiled in appreciation, noting how tan she’d become since winter had faded into spring. Turning her back to the mirror, she peeked over her shoulder at her reflection and grabbed a handful of the shift in each hand at her hips, pulling it taut against her butt. The muscles stood out, straining against the material, firm and nicely shaped. She thought of Xena looking her over and she flushed heatedly. Facing the mirror once again, she arched slightly, jutting her breasts forward, trying to look at them objectively, wondering what other people saw when they looked at her. Her breasts weren’t large, but they were larger than most people thought, given her height. She cocked her head slightly to the side, studying her reflection, then unbuttoned two of the three buttons that loosely clasped the neckline of the shift closed. She arranged the opening so it showed a nice amount of collarbone, knowing how much Xena liked to see it.

After a couple more minutes of posing, trying to decide how she looked sexiest, Gabrielle sighed and flopped onto the pallett. Where was Xena? Why hadn’t she come back yet? She hated the idea of the warrior off in the woods, brooding all by herself. On the same note, she hated that the warrior was off brooding about something she assumed the bard had done that she hadn’t. The fact that Gabrielle hadn’t been given minute one to explain her side of the story was becoming increasingly annoying.

Just as that thought settled in and Gabrielle grimaced in frustration, she heard a racket outside, a mixture of horse hooves and shouts of surprise from various women. She jumped up was heading for the door when she heard the familiar voice demand her presence. Her blood ran cold and hot at the same time.



"Gabrielle! Get out here."

Xena sat atop Argo regally, eyes blazing coldly, her demeanor incredibly calm. All the Amazons had to do was look at her to know something was not quite right. They glanced back and forth at one another, nobody quite sure what the next move should be.

Slowly, the door to the hut opened and Gabrielle stepped into the cool evening air, the breeze gently ruffling the white shift around her hips. She took one step out of the doorway and stopped.

"Come here."

The command was simple, calmly spoken, and expected to be obeyed. Gabrielle felt her heart rate quicken and she nervously wet her suddenly dry lips. Her feet refused to move, despite her brain’s instructions to do so. There was a handful of Amazons watching the exchange with uncertain expressions on their faces.

"Now, Gabrielle."

Xena’s voice was still calm, no testament to the storm raging through her body at the sight of the bard in her sleeping attire. The warrior had told her on a number of occasions that the shift had grown too short, but she was sure the bard kept it to tantalize her, which was exactly what she was doing now. The stretched-out neckline hung precariously off one shoulder because the buttons were not fastened. Xena could almost taste the skin that was exposed, a slender throat, a strong collarbone, the soft flesh of a shoulder. Xena’s eyes traveled down slowly, her mouth watering as she noticed the nipples brought to attention by the light breeze. The bard’s hands were at her stomach, nervously fidgeting with one another. Xena followed the shift down to its hem and kept going, taking in every inch of the bard’s body, right down to her bare feet. She knew without checking that several of the Amazons were similarly affected by Gabrielle’s appearance.

When the bard failed to obey, Xena narrowed her eyes. "So this is how you want to play it, hmm? Fine then. This is how we’ll play it."

She reached into a saddlebag and retrieved a length of white rope, ignoring the gasps that came from the Amazons. She dismounted Argo smoothly, taking a quick glance around. Several of the tribeswomen had their hands on their swords, looking around at one another to determine the right course of action. Each of them knew they were no match for the infamous Warrior Princess, so none of them wanted to be the first to challenge her. They all clearly remembered what had happened the last time Xena had taken Gabrielle from the village.

Gabrielle had hoped Xena would return ready to have a healthy, civilized discussion. Obviously her hopes would not be realized. By the gods, Xena was intimidating! Gabrielle had kept her eyes downcast since she’d come out of the hut, but she looked up when Xena jumped off of Argo. The sight of her, the mixture of anger and lust in her eyes, as well as the rope in her hand, sent a jolt of excitement through the smaller woman and she inhaled sharply.

Xena strode purposefully toward her, keeping a watch on the Amazons with her peripheral vision. Word must have spread quickly through the village because more and more women had appeared in the last thirty seconds, each at a loss over what to do, wanting to defend Gabrielle, but fearing for their own safety.

Xena stopped in front of Gabrielle, blatantly looking her up and down. In a flash of movement, she caught the bard’s chin in her hand and forced her eyes up to meet the warrior’s own.

"When I give you an order, I expect it to be obeyed."

Gabrielle could do nothing but swallow, a nervous tremor running through her entire body.

Xena let go of Gabrielle’s face and grasped her by the wrist. "Now, let’s go."

Xena’s grip was vice-like on her wrist as she was pulled toward Argo. Gabrielle fought her own instinct to struggle, but just like their previous encounter, she could not. She tried to dig her feet into the ground and pull away. "Xena, please."

Hearing their former queen’s shaking voice, three of the braver Amazons inched closer, not sure if they should strike, stopping in their tracks when ice blue eyes turned their way.

Gabrielle bent her knees, using her free hand to try prying Xena’s fingers away from her wrist. Xena yanked savagely on the bard’s arm, causing the blonde to actually come off the ground several inches and smack solidly against the warrior.

Bending so her eyes were even with Gabrielle’s, Xena whispered fiercely, "Get on the horse."

Swallowing again, Gabrielle very subtly shook her head. "Xena, please. I don’t want to."

"Get on the horse, Gabrielle."

"Xena, I--." Her voice broke into a surprised gasp as the warrior picked her up with a growl and flung her bodily into the saddle.

The corner of the warrior’s mouth curled upwards as she heard the distinct sound of unsheathing swords…three separate ones to be exact. She reached back to grip her own.


The voice was unfamiliar to the warrior and she whipped around. Her gaze fell, as did Gabrielle’s, on the small form of a wise-looking redhead. She stood between the three Amazons and the warrior. Nobody moved for several heartbeats. The woman looked up at the young, frightened bard perched atop the war horse and studied her shaking hands, her erect posture, and finally, her face. Xena watched with interest, looking from the woman to Gabrielle, and back again, trying to gauge exactly what was going on.

When the redhead seemed to find what she was looking for, she nodded at the bard, almost imperceptibly. "Put your weapons away," she said quietly to the three women near her. To their credit, the trio looked at her in open shock.

"But, Kaz," one of them began.

Kaz held up a hand, stalling anything further. "Just do it." She looked back up at the former queen. "I will take full responsibility. Now back off."

Xena’s eyes narrowed. Who was this Kaz? She intended to find out. She was willing to bet she had something to do with the mysterious hut from that morning. She swiftly mounted Argo, settling herself behind the bard, her lips next to Gabrielle’s ear.

"Put your hands on the saddlehorn," she commanded quietly, her voice barely above a whisper. Gabrielle squirmed once, unnerved by the closeness of this Xena. She felt a strong arm snake around her waist and tighten threateningly. "Now, Gabrielle."

Gabrielle did as she was told as watched wide-eyed as Xena used the rope to secure her hands to the leather.

The trio of Amazons reluctantly holstered their weapons, watching with uncertainty as the former queen was tied to the saddle of Xena’s horse. Without a backward glance, Xena gently squeezed the horse with her knees, threading her own arms around her prisoner to steer Argo into the trees and away from the village at a light canter.


They’d ridden for nearly an hour in silence, nothing to be heard but the sounds of dusk in the woods and the steady clop, clop, clopping of Argo’s hooves. Gabrielle longed to say something, anything, but the tension radiating from the body behind her made her think better of it and she kept quiet.

Xena’s arms were around the bard, her left hand holding the reins, the right one flat against Gabrielle’s belly. Xena was trying her best to stay stoic and cold, but having the bard so close was melting her quickly. Gabrielle was unconsciously and slowly twisting her wrists in their bonds as they rode. That, combined with the heat of her smaller body and the nervous trembling of her thigh muscles was driving the warrior crazy.

She moved her hand from Gabrielle’s stomach and rested it on her thigh. She was immediately rewarded with a slight change in the bard’s breathing and only then did she realize that Gabrielle was as affected by their proximity as she was. She bent her head and closed her mouth over the firm muscle that connected the bard’s neck to her shoulders, savoring the feel of the skin there. She touched her tongue to it, tasting the salty sweetness of Gabrielle, growling in delight when the bard began to squirm in the saddle. She slowly slid her hand up the blonde’s thigh, sighing when she felt the dampness that had soaked right through her underwear.

There was something incredibly erotic for Xena about taking Gabrielle from behind. She wasn’t quite sure what it was. Maybe it had to do with power, with the control she had in that position. Gabrielle could still fight her, but she wasn’t nearly as effective with her back pinned to Xena’s chest. The warrior had access to just about every part of the smaller woman’s body when they were positioned that way. It was not so much having the bard face down – she’d rather take her this way standing or sitting – it was more the ability Xena had to hold tightly to her if she had her back to the warrior, the way Gabrielle’s fingers dug into her forearms, the way she’d grind her rear into the warrior’s pelvis, how she would drop her head back against Xena’s shoulder when she finally released.

Thinking about it only made Xena hotter and soon she let the reins drape over the bard’s bound hands as she brought her left hand up under the white shift to fondle a firm breast swollen by the night breeze and the anticipation of what lay ahead. Gabrielle inhaled sharply as Xena caught a nipple and rolled it sweetly, tugging. The bard captured her bottom lip between her teeth as Xena’s finger slipped under her panties to slick through the unbelievably wet folds it found there.

Gabrielle squirmed in her seat, unable to find any purchase, since her feet were not in the stirrups, but dangling loosely in front of Xena’s. Her erratic breathing and soft moans were too much for the warrior, who decided to make this one short and sweet…there would be plenty of time to draw things out later, as she taught the bard where her loyalties should be and she justified this moment with the reasoning that it was more for Xena than for the bard. She quickly plunged through the wetness with two fingers, sharply pinching a nipple at the same time, causing the blonde to arch dramatically. Xena’s own heartbeat tripled at the motion, a jolt of desire shooting through her. She easily set up an insistent rhythm, grinning to herself as she realized they’d never done it on a horse before, making a mental note to apologize to Argo later. She stroked steadily, her only goal being to see, feel, and hear the bard’s climax. She knew that would sate her until they reached their destination.

Her knuckles white from gripping the saddle horn, it was only a few short minutes before Gabrielle’s muscles all tensed and she clenched her teeth together, the cords in her neck prominently displayed. She groaned from deep in her chest, pushing her head back into Xena’s shoulder as she came, riding out the orgasm in near silence, before dropping back against the warrior, panting and weak.

Xena simply picked up the reins and continued their ride, slowly savoring the wetness on her fingers, licking them clean one by one.



Gabrielle was surprised to realize she had dozed off during the ride. She jerked awake as Argo came to a halt. It was beyond dusk now and she could just barely make out the form of a building or hut of some sort. They were still deep in the woods and the structure seemed to rise up out of nowhere. Gabrielle cursed herself for falling asleep. Now she had absolutely no idea where they were.

The warrior dismounted and entered the strange hut without looking back at her captive. She hadn’t bothered to warn Gabrielle about an attempted escape; she obviously knew the bard wouldn’t be able to free her hands.

The bard heard the striking of a flint and soon the doorway of the hut was illuminated. A few more minutes went by and the bard could here the crackling of a fire inside. She shivered involuntarily, only then realizing how chilly she’d become without the warrior’s warmth behind her. She waited anxiously for Xena’s return, nervous and aroused at the same time, unsure of the warrior’s plans. They hadn’t spoken at all during the ride and Gabrielle found herself hoping that the warrior had finally calmed down, that they’d be able to discuss the situation in a rational manner. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Bits and pieces of an earlier conversation came to her suddenly.

"And are you frightened of this ‘dark side’?" Kaz asked softly.

"Yes," came the whispered reply.

The redhead studied her client carefully. "But aroused as well." It was a statement, not a question.

The bard hung her head in shame, nodding.

Somehow, Kaz had known exactly what had been eating at the bard for so long now. Gods, the thought of being forcefully taken by the infamous Warrior Princess was almost too exciting for her to stand! Even now, the idea sent goose bumps across her exposed flesh. She swallowed the lump of anxiety and anticipation that seemed stuck in the middle of her throat.

"Have you spoken to Xena about this desire of yours?"

"It’s not a desire," the bard snapped, clearly insulted.

"It isn’t?" The doubt was clear in Kaz’s voice, in the very slight smirk that turned up one corner of her mouth.

"No." How could she think this was something Gabrielle wanted? To be taken by force? To be raped by Xena? Who would want that? What kind of person would crave something like that?

Kaz tilted her head to the side curiously. "So, if Xena came riding in on her horse, eyes blazing, stormed into your hut and proceeded to tie you to the bed, all along telling you how she was going to fuck you until you screamed, you’d fight her?"

Gabrielle flinched at the open brazeness of the question. "Yes, I’d fight her."

Kaz grinned. "Because that’s what she’d want you to do, isn’t it?"

The bard remained silent.

"Your struggles would be a turn-on for her, wouldn’t they? It isn’t any fun for her if her prisoner just lays there, is it? She likes her to fight! Which would make the whole scenario better for both of you. Am I right?"

Unshed tears brimmed in the green eyes as the bard turned her face toward the window, unable to meet the gaze of the older Amazon.

Kaz sighed. "Gabrielle, this is nothing for you to be ashamed of. Different people have different desires."

Gabrielle squeezed her eyes shut as she sat atop Argo, remembering the sick feeling of dread she’d felt when Kaz had figured out the real problem.

The redhead studied the bard for several long, silent minutes. She observed the confident, erect posture, the uplift of her chin, the false bravado she displayed for the benefit of others. She didn’t like to be seen as weak, that was obvious. But, there was something else about this situation, something the young ex-queen did not want to admit…

"Gabrielle, do you and Xena ever…play games? In bed, I mean."

Gabrielle was silent for a minute before turning to meet the kind eyes of the Amazon. "Games?"

"Mmm hmm."

"Um…we’ve used toys on occasion. Is that what you mean?" The young blonde was very unsure of herself here. It was obvious from the slight tremor in her voice.

"Toys are good," Kaz nodded. "What about role-playing games?"

Gabrielle blinked at her.

Kaz stifled her urge to sigh yet again. "Okay, let’s cut to the chase here. Xena ever tie you up?"

The bard fought her natural instinct to be insulted by such a blatantly personal question and remembered where she was and why she came. "Only twice."

"And? Was it good? Was it fun? Did you enjoy yourselves?"

"Um," the bard hesitated, not having been raised to discuss her private life so openly. "I thought so, but Xena…she…she seemed really into it at first, but then she got kind of weird."


"Yeah. She just…she got this predatory kind of glint in her eyes, just for a second. Then, she suddenly said she’d changed her mind. It happened like that both times." Gabrielle remembered it like it was yesterday, the feral look in the ice blue eyes, the way the bard’s own stomach had flip-flopped with arousal, fear and anticipation. Then, it was gone. Xena had pulled away, untied her, and the walls had come down with a resounding crash around her. "We just stopped."

The crux of the problem was so obvious to Kaz, she had to consciously keep from shaking the blonde into understanding. Xena was afraid of going too far and not being able to recover herself. "Gabrielle, would Xena ever hurt you?"

"No." Not a shade of doubt. Not an inkling of hesitation. "Never."

"Are you sure?"


"Do you trust her?"


"You trust her not to hurt you?"

"Yes." Where was she going with this?

"You trust her not to hurt you in bed?"

Oh! "Yes, I do. I trust her completely."

"And now you have this…opportunity that has arisen."

"Uh huh." She’d poured her heart out about the ridiculous Ares accusations and how jealous Xena had become.

"And you’d like to use it." Kaz saw by the quick flash of guilt that shot across the bard’s features that she’d hit the nail on the head. "To test the waters?"

Gabrielle bit her lip. She knew it was a completely selfish thing to do, to force Xena into this type of situation. But, if the warrior insisted on believing such a ridiculous prospect as she and Ares, then the bard wanted to use the circumstances to her advantage. She had never seen Xena quite so possessive and that was saying a lot. It was the perfect opportunity. If she could keep her own fear in check…

"Yes. I’d like to use it."

Gabrielle cursed herself now as the warrior came out of the small hut and, without a word, untied her hands from the saddle horn. She kept them bound together, however, and grasped the bard around the waist to set her on the ground. She’d never felt this kind of fear before. It was different. It wasn’t fear for her life or even fear of any kind of harm. Try as she might, she couldn’t put her finger on a specific description. All she did know was, Xena exhibited an unbelievable amount of power, strength, and sexuality – it practically oozed from her pores – and the thought of all those things aimed in her direction made her dizzy with arousal.

Xena grasped the rope between the bard’s wrists and pulled her harshly into the hut. The door slammed behind her with a finality that Gabrielle found cruelly ironic, given the situation. Before she even had a chance to look around, she found herself on her back on a bed, the warrior upon her, eyes blazing with something Gabrielle had never seen before. She fought her body’s urge to panic.

"That Amazon’s a little young for you, don’t you think?" Xena hissed.

Gabrielle was completely confused. "What?"

"How many others are there?"

"Xena, what are you talking about?" Gabrielle felt a tiny inkling of dread begin in the pit of her stomach. She tried very subtly to move, but Xena had her completely pinned to the bed with the weight of her body. The warrior was sweating slightly and Gabrielle could feel the rapid, irregular beat of Xena’s heart everywhere their bodies touched. The warrior was on fire. Gabrielle swallowed.

"Don’t play with me, Gabrielle." Xena’s touch was deceptively soft as she glided the fingertips of one hand over the bard’s shoulder and down her arm, goose bumps forming in her path. Lightly grasping Gabrielle’s wrists, Xena gently slid them up and above the bard’s head where she held them there. "I heard your little Amazon slut gushing about you back in the village. Tell me, are there others?"

Gabrielle fought the urge to struggle, but found it impossible and tried to twist her arms from Xena’s iron grasp. Xena smiled at the little game, going so far as to toy with the bard, not using all her strength, letting Gabrielle think she had a shot at escape.

When she tired of it, she simply fastened the rope to the frame of the bed. With both the bard’s arms secured above her head, Xena stretched out, laying the full length of her body along Gabrielle’s, their noses almost touching. "Just how many Amazons is the former queen fucking, hmm? Does Ares know? He doesn’t take kindly to his bitches cheating on him."

Gabrielle was speechless. She could do nothing but gape at the warrior, who had quite obviously lost her mind. She was aware that Xena’s hormones were a little off-kilter since the birth of Eve. She knew that the warrior still tended to fly off the handle when it was completely unreasonable to do so. She knew Xena was still more emotional than usual. She understood all of these things and she’d really had no problem dealing with them.

This was different. She didn’t know what to say. Xena lay on top of her, in full Destroyer of Nations mode, pinning the bard’s hands, keeping her helpless on the bed. The sexual energy was literally pouring off of her in waves…she was the dominant warrior Xena of all of Gabrielle’s deepest, darkest fantasies. The bard was powerless to stop the surge of desire that rushed through her and she could almost taste the sexual tension.

But this was no game. Xena was not role-playing. Gabrielle realized with a sickening dread that she couldn’t just utter a secret word, as she and Kaz had discussed, and have the warrior hop off of her. Xena was pissed. Really pissed. The irrational gleam in her eye told the bard so. And she thought Gabrielle was cheating on her.

"What, my little chatterbox has nothing to say?" Xena’s voice was so cold, it sent chills through the bard. This was not how it was supposed to be. Xena was only supposed to pretend to be angry and forceful. The warrior swiped her tongue over the bard’s ear and a fresh spurt of excitement made the blonde shiver.

"Xena," Gabrielle replied, trying hard to keep her voice from conveying her fear as well as her excitement. She was having trouble separating the two. She spoke slowly, as much for herself as for the warrior heaving above her. "I will say this one more time and I want you to listen to me. I have not slept with anybody other than you."

Xena simply watched the bard’s lips as she spoke. She was barely able to control her desire for the girl, especially in this position. The muscles of Gabrielle’s arms flexed as she pulled at the ropes and Xena was barely able to contain herself. Her thigh was resting between the bard’s and she pushed it, almost imperceptibly, up into her center. Gabrielle managed to swallow a gasp, but couldn’t keep the tremor from running through her muscles, which sent a pang of arousal straight to the warrior’s groin. Desire clouded any rational thought that fought to get through to Xena’s brain. She knew only two things. One, Gabrielle was hers. Two, she needed make the bard understand as much.

"Xena, did you hear me?" The bard’s voice shook slightly.

"Are you scared, Gabrielle?" the warrior whispered, their faces only a fraction of an inch apart.

Gabrielle swallowed, her question answered by Xena’s avoidance of it. "Yes," she replied, her voice barely audible.

"That’s good. A little fear helps. Keeps the adrenaline rushing, which will give you more stamina."

"St - stamina?" The bard could barely get the word out, dread taking over her body.

"You’re gonna need it, bard." Xena bent to nip roughly at her neck.

"Xena, please, I --."

"Both you and Ares need to learn a lesson," the warrior explained. "You see, apparently neither of you understands the concept of something belonging to me." Her voice was very calm. Too calm, as if she were teaching the bard something as simple as mending a tear in a sock. Xena ran her hands from the bard’s bound wrists down to her shoulders, her tongue darting out to wet her own lips. Then, she lifted herself up so she was on her knees, straddling one of the bard’s thighs, and studied her prisoner with satisfaction.

"Xena, please untie me…" The panic in the bard’s voice was obvious…as was something else. She craned her neck to see above her head, knowing before she looked that Xena had tied a very functional knot.

"Relax, Gabrielle. You and I both know you’re going to enjoy this." She dropped back down to her hands so quickly, Gabrielle gasped. Their noses did touch this time, the warrior on all fours over the bard, and Xena’s voice was barely a whisper. "I’m going to fuck you until you scream, Gabrielle. I’m going to fuck you until you scream my name and understand that you. Are. Mine." She smiled at the visible quiver that shook the bard and got off of her.

The warrior stood over her prize for several minutes, undisguised lust all over her face. Gabrielle slowly and unconsciously twisted her wrists in their bonds, succeeding only in tantalizing the warrior further. The only reason she ever tied a woman up was to watch her squirm. She had only bound Gabrielle once or twice in the past…not because she didn’t enjoy it, but because she enjoyed it too much, seeing the beautiful blonde struggle against her, and she’d been afraid she’d be unable to control herself. She had no such worry now. If Gabrielle was going to toy with her, she was going to have to pay the consequences. It was as simple as that.

The bard was breathing rapidly, her breasts rising and falling in quick succession. Xena could see the pulse in her neck pounding out the faster-than-normal heartbeat. The warrior licked her lips again. Her own pulse beat an insistent rhythm between her legs as she looked around for another tie.

"Maybe your boyfriend will want to watch, ya think?" she asked as she picked a shapeless piece of cloth off the floor and rended it into long strips.

Gabrielle’s eyes widened at the warrior’s action. She pulled at the binds on her hands, managing only to make them tighter. "Xena," she said, trying to stay calm. "Please, let’s talk about this. Okay? I don’t want you to do something you’ll regret later."

Xena stopped and raised an eyebrow in question. "Oh, Gabrielle, I won’t regret this. I’m going to enjoy this. Immensely." She sat on the bed next to the bard, grabbed her left ankle, and easily tied a strip of cloth securely around it. The bard was getting worried now, uncertainty clouding her arousal. She kicked at the warrior, but was unable to land a solid blow. The warrior merely chuckled as she tied the bard’s ankle to one corner of the bed frame.

When the warrior grabbed Gabrielle’s other foot, the bard panicked. She kicked as hard as she could, terror seizing her, knowing that once that foot was secure, there would be absolutely no escape for her. Xena toyed with her again, angering the bard by laughing at her attempts to gain freedom. When the strip of cloth was tied tightly around her slim ankle, Xena spread her legs to tie that ankle to the opposite corner, an evil smile on her full lips. Slowly, she slid her breast dagger out from its hiding place, feeling incredible satisfaction at the widening of the bard’s fearful green eyes. Then, without a word, she lifted the white shift slightly and neatly sliced through Gabrielle’s underwear, teasingly sliding them out from under her and tossing them over her shoulder.

A frightened whimper escaped Gabrielle. She’d thought she could handle this. She’d been sure of it. She’d never expected that Xena could scare her quite this much. What scared her even more was the pooling wetness between her legs that was now in full view of the warrior. She was terrified by the fact that she was enjoying being overpowered by Xena. She tried to think back to some of Kaz’s encouraging words, but her memory failed her at that moment, alarm taking over every one of her senses. The simple facts were, this was real, she and Xena were not playing, Xena was really questioning the bard’s fidelity. It was too much for Gabrielle.

"Ares!" she screamed at the top of her lungs, surprising the warrior. "Ares! You son of a bitch! Show yourself!"

Xena stood with her arms folded over her chest, watching with amusement as the bard’s panic escalated. Gods, she was a vision, spread-eagled on the bed, the thin white shift leaving little to the imagination. Perspiration was beaded along her chest where the shift opened to reveal a teasing amount of collarbone. When she pulled against her bonds, her muscles strained gloriously. Xena’s mouth watered.

"Ares! You coward! Get down here and fix this mess you’ve created right now!"

A sparkling shimmer of blue appeared in the middle of the room and the God of War appeared in all his leather-clad glory, a victorious smile on his face. He nodded in appreciation at the bound woman glaring at him from the bed, taking several long seconds to run his eyes obscenely up and down her body. He felt himself growing hard almost instantly.

"Nice work, Xena." He commented, inclining his head toward the ties. He bent to Gabrielle and kissed her chastely on the cheek. "Hi, honey."

"You bastard," the bard spat. "You tell her right now that we are not having an affair!"

"Oh, baby," he said sweetly, stroking her bare arm lightly, causing Xena to grind her teeth. "I know I promised to keep it our little secret, but I just didn’t think it was fair, sneaking around behind Xena’s back like that."

Gabrielle blinked at him in disbelief, motionless. Suddenly, she began to struggle furiously against her bonds.

"You filthy, stinking liar!" She succeeded only in working her shift up around her waist, baring herself to any eyes that cared to look. Xena raised her eyebrows, as did Ares. Both took note of the telltale moisture visible to them.

"I repeat, nice work, Xena," Ares commented. He turned to Gabrielle. "If I’d known the undies you left in my temple were your only pair, I would’ve returned them sooner."

Gabrielle sank back to the bed, exhausted, frustrated, and unable to close her legs. Tears welled in her eyes.

Xena looked down at her for a very long time, surprisingly calm. Then, she turned to Ares. "Can you show me the two of you together?"

Ares looked surprised. "Who? Me and her?"

The warrior nodded. She had to see the proof. She didn’t want to, but it was the only way to be absolutely sure. She had caged the beast for the moment, but hadn’t locked the cage door. It was still very close to the surface and Gabrielle would be the recipient of its wrath very soon, Ares or no Ares.

"No, he can’t, because it never happened," the bard supplied weakly.

"Can do," he smiled. "Sorry, honey," he tossed in Gabrielle’s direction. With a wave of his arm, a large circle appeared in the center of the room, a misty fog creating the background.

Gabrielle watched in horror as a vision appeared.

She was sleeping on her side on a bedroll, covered in only a sheet. In a few more seconds, the unmistakable form of Ares materialized, kneeling down next to her. Ares gently ran his fingers along her bare arm, softly calling her name.

"Gabrielle…" The voice floated, as if part of the wind.

Gabrielle turned over onto her back, her eyes still closed, and Ares bent slowly to press his lips to hers. She sighed softly, bringing her arm up to encircle his neck, deepening the kiss…

Gabrielle looked up at Xena, whose eyes were fixed on the vision. She was blinking rapidly, trying to escape the growing moisture in them. Ares smiled widely, unable to pull his attention away from the show.

The bard sank back to the bed in utter defeat, completely at a loss over what to do.

Ares plunged his tongue into the bard’s willing mouth and she moaned, pulling him down to her. He stretched out alongside her, leaning on one elbow, using his free hand to pull the sheet aside and roam her firm, naked body. He kneaded a firm breast, causing her to arch into his touch with a gasp of pleasure.

"Oh, it’s been a long time, hasn’t it?" he asked softly.

Gabrielle jerked her head up, blinking rapidly at the vision. Her dream!

"Xena!" she said excitedly. "Xena, that’s my dream! He’s showing you the dream I had, the one I was telling you about. He had to. It’s the only thing he has of the two of us."

Xena said nothing, but Gabrielle could see her swallow.

"Oh, it was a dream all right," Ares chuckled. "It gets better, Xena. Watch."

"Xena, please," Gabrielle whispered. There was something about the dream that was scratching at her brain. It had been since she’d woken up the previous night, sweating and aroused, but she couldn’t put her finger on it.

"Yes…" Gabrielle whispered, her eyes still closed. "Such a long, long time. I’ve missed you."

Ares removed the sheet completely, revealing the bard in all her beautiful nakedness, one leg bent at the knee. He grasped it and parted her thighs, shifting his position so he settled between them. He captured an erect nipple between his lips and sucked greedily. The bard groaned, her hips rocking against his. He reluctantly pulled his lips away, covering both breasts with his meaty hands, pumping the nipples firmly. She stretched her arms above her head, arching into his fingers.

"Zeus, she’s sexy when she does that, isn’t she?" Ares smiled.

Neither woman answered. Xena was mesmerized by the combination of pain and arousal the vision was causing her. Gabrielle was simply miserable.

Ares continued his assault on Gabrielle’s breasts as his mouth traveled down her torso, making circular patterns with his tongue. When he reached the golden triangle of moist hair, he inhaled deeply, releasing his hold on her nipples to lift each thigh over his shoulder. He glanced up at her face, her head thrown back, her eyes closed, and smiled widely before lowering his mouth to her center.

She gasped and arched again, tangling her fingers in his wavy dark hair. He swirled his tongue through her folds, enjoying the view from his vantage point. He slid his hands under her, grasping her full buttocks and pulling her further onto his tongue, plunging as deeply into her as he could get, causing her to moan endlessly.

When he sensed she was getting close to her release, he pulled his face away and kneeled between her thighs, unfastening his leather pants. Gabrielle whimpered in protest.

"Please don’t stop," she begged. "Please?"

"Oh, I’m not going to stop," he assured her, lowering his zipper. "Be patient."

"Please," Gabrielle whispered again. "Xena…"

Ares stopped in mid-motion, panic immediately apparent in his eyes.

The vision suddenly stopped, a giant freeze-frame in the middle of the room.

Ares turned to Xena, smiling artificially to hide the same panic the Dream Ares was feeling. "I’m sure you’ve had enough. See? Told you I was doing her. Satisfied?" He swung his muscular arms out and forward, bringing one fist and one palm together with a slap, out and forward, out and forward.

Several emotions washed over Xena’s face in a matter of seconds. Realization. Understanding. Shame. Anger. In Gabrielle’s mind, she’d been dreaming of Xena, not Ares. The warrior shook her head, mortified. Even in the realm of sleep, Gabrielle was faithful. She looked up at the god of war, noting his nervous motion with amusement.

"Xena?" the bard began hopefully, afraid that this obvious redemption was too good to be true.

The warrior sat down on the bed next to her and gently laid a hand over the bard’s mouth without looking at her. "Shh." She raised an eyebrow at the war god, who was still swinging his arms. "Something bothering you? You seem a little uptight."

"What? Me? Uptight?" he answered quickly. "Oh, no. Worked up, maybe." He winked conspiratorially at her.

"I want to see the rest."

"Naw. No, you don’t. That was the good part."

"Show it to me. Or show me another time you were with her."

"Really, Xena. This is the best one, but the rest of it is boring. You saw the good stuff. Trust me."

"I don’t. Show me."

"Xena, I don’t think --."


He grimaced, annoyed that he had let the vision play just a titch too far. With a sigh of defeat, he waved his arm in the air and the vision continued.

Ares was frozen, like an animal caught in the torchlight.

"Xena? What’s the matter?" Gabrielle opened her eyes and lifted her head to look down at her lover. The green orbs widened in shock. "Ares? What the --?"

Her voice seemed to snap him out of his trance and he smiled wickedly. "You seem a little frustrated lately, Gabs. Just thought I’d help you out."

"I don’t need your help!"

She tried to scoot away from him, pushing with her legs, but he grabbed her hips and pulled her toward him again. He had gotten himself too worked up to quit now. He laid his weight across her, pinning her arms over her head with one hand while he finished unfastening his pants with the other. He smiled as his manhood became visible. Gabrielle’s eyes widened in horror and she struggled as hard as she could. He was just too strong and she knew she couldn’t escape him.

"Xena will kill you for this!" she spat at him.

He pushed the head of his penis against her threateningly, causing her to shut her eyes tightly and swallow back the bile that rose in her throat.

"Xena hasn’t even looked at you sexually in weeks, Gabrielle. You should be thankful anybody wants you at all. Besides, this is how you like it, isn’t it? A little rough? Does Xena know about your little rape fantasies?" He knew by the look of shock on her face that he’d struck the intended nerve. "I’m a god, Gabrielle. Do you think I don’t know what goes on in that incredibly creative mind of yours? That you dream about your big, bad warrior tying you up and fucking your brains out? You’re nothing but a little slut." He rotated his hips obscenely, teasing her. He had gotten her very close with his mouth and he knew the unquenched desire was still present, even if he wasn’t Xena. What better way to spite the warrior princess than to make her beloved little bard come all over him?

She clamped her mouth shut on the sob that tried to escape, not wanting to give him the satisfaction, but tears leaked from the corners of her eyes as she squirmed uselessly under him. "Xena…" she whispered.

"Brace yourself, baby," he warned with a menacing smile, sliding his hand under the small of her back to adjust her body. Just as he was poised to push himself into her, a piercing baby’s cry cut through the air. Both of them looked up in surprise and the vision suddenly disappeared.

"That brat of yours is always ruining everything!" Ares whined like a child, waving his hand in the air and disappearing.

Neither woman moved. Neither said anything.

Gabrielle swallowed hard.

Xena’s jaw muscles flexed and unflexed, flexed and unflexed as she digested all the information she’d just been exposed to. Gods, she felt like such a bitch. What was wrong with her? How on earth could she have doubted Gabrielle so quickly? How was she ever going to make up for this fiasco? Gabrielle had every right to never speak to her again.

At the same moment, Gabrielle was thinking exactly the same thing about Xena. Although she was relieved to have been exonerated for cheating, she was absolutely mortified that Ares had given away her deepest, darkest secret. How was she ever going to be able to face Xena? How would Xena even be able to meet her eyes, now that she knew what Gabrielle had been thinking, what kind of person she was?

Several more minutes of silence stretched out in the small hut in the middle of the woods, one woman sitting on the edge of a bed, one tied securely to it, each trying to figure out how to make it up to the other.

Finally, Xena stood and crossed three steps to the far wall of the tiny room. She squatted and tossed two large logs neatly onto the roaring fire. Gabrielle watched her warily. Once she was sure the logs had caught, the warrior stood again and turned to eye her captive.

The blonde was still tied spread-eagle to the small bed, her legs pulled far enough apart so she couldn’t bring her knees together. Her womanhood was still glistening with arousal and the sight of it caused a jolt between Xena’s own legs. The hem of the short shift rested just above the patch of golden hair and covered the remainder of the young woman’s abdomen, as well as her breasts. The muscles in her arms were taut, the definition very pronounced even though she wasn’t straining against the rope fastening her hands above her red-gold head. Her green eyes met those of the warrior with a slight hint of defiance, as well as a healthy dose of fear. Mixed in with both of those, the warrior also saw desire. The sweet combination served as an immense aphrodisiac. Her blood was still racing hotly, from the current sight of the bard as well as the events of the vision she’d just witnessed and the surprise unveiling of Gabrielle’s secret desire. Her body was making its needs known and was refusing to wait any longer.

Suddenly, Xena knew exactly how she would make it up to her bard. She smiled wickedly and reached into her leathers, slowly withdrawing her breast dagger.

Gabrielle saw the change in Xena immediately. It started in her eyes and it was as plain as if she had been slapped. The feral glint of earlier returned in full force and as the warrior approached her, dagger in hand, Gabrielle was surprised to find herself trying to shrink away from the dark woman. The binds, of course, made it impossible and the warrior merely smiled evilly at her prey.

"So, this is how you want it, hmm? You want me to take you, Gabrielle?" Xena’s voice was low, commanding.

Gabrielle blinked at her, unable to find her voice.

"I don’t think you have any idea what you’re getting yourself into. Do you?"

The bard opened her mouth to speak, but no sound would come forth. The warrior tilted her head slightly in amusement, but kept the stern, unreadable expression on her face.

"I’ve never known you to be speechless." The warrior ran a fingertip down Gabrielle’s arm, causing a visible shiver. "Not to worry, though. I’ll have you making plenty of noise before I’m finished with you."

The bard’s heart hammered in her chest as Xena straddled her, one knee on either side of her hips.

She flicked the tip of the blade at the corner of the shift’s open collar. "And what is this? Did you forget to button your top? Or were you trying to show off something that belongs to me? I saw those Amazons ogling you. You think I didn’t?"

The bard was barely able to keep her labored breathing just this side of hyperventilation, so a reply was next to impossible. She wet her lips, and Xena arched an eyebrow skeptically at her, as if Gabrielle had made such a move intentionally to entice her.

"You are way overdressed," Xena commented, grasping the shift by its collar. Laying the gleaming blade against it, she slowly sliced the white fabric right down the middle, the soft ripping sound echoing off the hut walls. Gabrielle held her breath, afraid to move even slightly.

The blade’s progress was stopped at the double stitching of the hem, causing Xena to narrow her eyes at it. Tossing the blade to the floor, she grasped both sides and, with a mighty growl, ripped it apart, exposing the bard’s flushed body. The blonde gasped in surprised and the warrior smiled menacingly.

She got off of the bard and stood next to her, simply reveling in the beauty of the body laid out before her. The flickering glow of the fire was the only light in the room and it cast orange-red shadows across Gabrielle’s creamy, smooth skin. Her breasts rose and fell faster than usual and Xena could see the pulse pounding steadily in her throat. The warrior’s heart skipped a beat as the bard unconsciously wet her dry lips with the tip of her tongue yet again and she had to force herself to remain in control, to make it last at least a little longer, for the bard’s sake.

"My, but you are a sight," Xena commented, the steadiness of her voice masking the state of her mind. "Are all the Amazon whores as fit as you?"

"I’m not a whore," Gabrielle said defiantly, not meeting her eyes.

Xena cocked her head in surprise at the sound of her prisoner’s voice. "You certainly looked like Ares’ whore to me."

At that, the captive did meet the ice blue eyes above her and glared.

In a flash, Xena’s face was even with hers and she grabbed Gabrielle’s chin in her hand so quickly, it startled the blonde. "Wipe that scowl off your face right now, bard, and stop acting like you’re not enjoying this. We both know better."

Gabrielle swallowed hard, real fear kicking in once again.

Without warning, Xena swiped a finger through the moist folds of skin tucked between the bard’s legs, ignoring the sharp intake of breath from the blonde. She held up the telltale hand with a smile. "I thought so." Reaching out, she slowly, teasingly circled one of the bard’s nipples with her very wet finger, coating the aureole liberally. The bard bit her bottom lip, unable to pull her eyes away from the sight.

Xena watched with a smile as the nipple puckered and hardened before her eyes and her mouth watered in anticipation. Suddenly, she bent forward and swirled her tongue through the moist treasure hidden between Gabrielle’s legs. The bard gasped sharply as Xena teased her. The warrior moaned in delight at the tangy, musky taste of the blonde. She played for several minutes, just long enough to cause the bard’s hips to begin undulating. When that happened, she stood and quirked an eyebrow at Gabrielle’s frustrated face, clearly showing her who was in charge of this situation. She stepped back slightly and removed her armor, then her leathers, her eyes never leaving her prisoner, enjoying the rose-colored tint that flushed Gabrielle’s cheeks, visible even in the dim light of the fire.

She could hardly believe this gift she’d been given. The warrior would have, without question, permanently caged her sexual dark side in order to spend the rest of her life with Gabrielle. Although their lovemaking was not boring by any means - to the contrary, it was wonderful, exciting, even adventurous at times - in the years they’d spent together, Xena had never been able to be completely honest with Gabrielle about her innermost desires, about what really and truly turned her on sexually. She couldn’t completely let herself go, even when she’d thought that maybe she’d wanted to. She just couldn’t imagine trying to explain to the young blonde what a rush it was to be in control, really in control. Not just on top, but in control, commanding her partner. She couldn’t come up with a way to tell Gabrielle that she wanted the bard to resist her, even slightly, how that got her juices going. She was terrified of scaring the younger woman away, or worse, repulsing her completely.

But now. She flashed back to the vision. Does Xena know about your little rape fantasies…that you dream about your big, bad warrior tying you up and fucking your brains out? She remembered the look of shock and embarrassment on the bard’s face when Ares had teased her. It was obvious that he’d spoken the truth. She licked her lips, the corner of her mouth twitching slightly as she eyed her prisoner. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly, closing her eyes. Then, she did something she never thought she would.

She let go.

Gabrielle watched the transformation with a mix of glorious anticipation and nervous anxiety. She was sure her heart was about to pound clear out of her rib cage and she pulled at the ties around her ankles, trying in vain to close her legs, suddenly sharply bothered by the exposure of her sex.

Xena raised an eyebrow at the movement, then simply picked her dagger up off the floor and cut through the fabric fastening the bard’s ankles to the bed. The blonde immediately closed her legs with an audible sigh of relief.

"Thanks," she whispered.

Xena made no reply, leaving Gabrielle’s hands tied and crossing to a corner of the hut. She squatted there, her back to the bard, rummaging through unknown items. The corner was cast in shadows, the illumination of the firelight not quite making it all the way there. Xena stood, but didn’t turn around and Gabrielle could hear her continued movements, but could make out only her silhouette. She craned her neck to try to get a better view, but her eyes couldn’t make out any of the details. She swallowed hard and caught her bottom lip between her teeth, becoming annoyed at the fear that was beginning to creep up on her again.

She didn’t understand it. This was what she wanted, or so she thought. Didn’t she? Xena wouldn’t hurt her, she knew that. So, why was she suddenly feeling butterflies in her stomach and gnawing apprehension at her predicament? She stretched her neck back so she could get a better look at the rope binding her wrists. Maybe she could work them free and escape before Xena turned back around? She knew immediately that it was useless. Maybe if she just told Xena that this wasn’t really what she wanted…that Ares was mistaken and she’d never really dreamed of such a scenario as the one they were in now…Xena would untie her and they could just go back to the Amazon village.

She jumped slightly when she returned her head to its normal position on the bed to find the warrior only inches away. She opened her mouth to speak, but the words died on her lips as her gaze traveled down to the protruding phallus Xena had strapped to her body. Icy fear gripped her heart.

"You seemed to be having such a good time with Ares, I thought you might want me to pick up where he left off." Xena’s voice was calm and cool, making the bard shiver. The warrior smiled in satisfaction at the wide-eyed shock on Gabrielle’s face and the way she clamped her thighs tightly together. "What do you think?"

Gabrielle found herself unable to pull her eyes from the tool. It was smooth and black and it stood at the attention of its commander, waiting for instruction. It wasn’t huge, but it scared her. She’d never been with a man – the bumbling night with Perdicus hardly qualified – and she and Xena had only used such things a couple of times, always with Xena seemingly uncomfortable and reluctant to wield it. Gabrielle wasn’t sure if she was ready for such a big…step.

The bard shook her head from side to side, almost imperceptibly. Xena, on the other hand, nodded hers up and down in contradiction.

"I don’t know, Xena," Gabrielle whispered, her voice hoarse.

"Oh, I do," the warrior replied, placing one knee on the bed.

Gabrielle shifted her hips, trying to put any amount of distance between her and the warrior, which was nearly impossible on the small bed. Xena reached for her.

The struggle began. Gabrielle was trying to kick at the warrior, yet keep her legs together to prevent any surprises. Xena was merely toying with her and they both knew it. In pushing away, Gabrielle was on her side for a brief moment, her bare butt against the wall. It was when she squirmed onto her stomach that the warrior pounced.

"I thought this was probably how you’d want it," she hissed, pinning the bard with her body, using her own knees to spread Gabrielle’s thighs wide.

Gabrielle cried out in frustration at finding herself in the same vulnerable position she’d been in at the Amazon hut. This time was worse, given that her hands were tied. She felt Xena’s hardened nipples scraping her shoulder blades, felt the firmness of the phallus against the small of her back, felt Xena prying her legs apart and a wave of desire flooded through her. She bit back a groan that she knew would only encourage the warrior when she felt Xena slide a hand under her stomach and raise her hips just slightly.

Xena was woozy with arousal. Gabrielle was completely at her mercy. The only way she could move was if Xena actually moved her. Her breathing was coming in ragged pants, her hands balled into fists above her head. Gods, she was a sight! Smiling wickedly, Xena used the hand on the bard’s stomach and slid it lower, closing her eyes in delight at the copious wetness she found there. Gabrielle was more than ready for her.

Using her fingers to stroke the young woman open, she was shocked by Gabrielle’s sensuous moan and unbelievable wetness. Xena had been with countless numbers of women in her day, some willingly, many not so willingly. However, not once in her entire life could she remember any of them being half as wet as Gabrielle was at that moment. The warrior was afraid she might climax right then from the sheer anticipation of what awaited her. She used her other hand to guide the phallus and, without any preamble at all, slid deliciously into the bard, both women gasping as one. She remained still, laying across the bard’s back for several minutes, just allowing Gabrielle to grow accustomed to the sensation of being filled.

"You feel that, Gabrielle?" she husked in the blonde’s ear.

"Y-yes," the bard stammered.

"You know what that is?" She twitched her hips just enough to make it known who was the boss. The resulting intake of breath did not disappoint her.

"It’s…it’s you."

"That’s right. It’s me filling up a space that belongs to me." She slowly slid out and then eased back in to emphasize her point. "You understand that?" She slid out again, so just the tip of the phallus was inside the bard.

"Y-yes, Xena," Gabrielle panted as the warrior slowly filled her again.

Xena pulled out and pushed in a little faster. "I’m not sure you do."

"I…I…do. I do."

Xena grasped Gabrielle’s hips, raising them both without breaking the connection between them. The bard stayed on her hands and knees, due to her bound wrists, while Xena straightened behind her, continuing the slow, torturous rhythm, dominating the body beneath her.

Although Gabrielle’s trepidation was still present, it took a back seat to the sensations Xena was creating within her body. Being bound and manipulated by the sheer power and sexuality of the warrior was stimulating her beyond comprehension. Xena was kneeling behind her, expertly gliding the phallus in and out of her in slow, deliberate strokes. When she slid a hand up the bard’s stomach and began to fondle a protruding nipple, Gabrielle could barely keep from crying with the intensity of the pleasure.

"Gods, Xena..." she ground out between clenched teeth. She wanted so badly to touch the warrior. "Can you untie me? Please?"

Xena ceased all movement and leaned over the bard’s back again to speak directly into her ear. "I am in charge here, Gabrielle. Not you. I will untie you when I’m ready to untie you. Understand?"

The husky sensuality in her voice, combined with the sound of raw power, sent shivers up Gabrielle’s spine and she closed her eyes to absorb the wave that washed through her. "Yes," she whispered.

"Good." Xena straightened back up again and grasped the bard’s hips in both hands. She began to pump again, gently at first, stroking in and out of the bard’s opening with ease, enamored by the soft, sensual sounds that escaped the blonde’s lips. Gradually, she increased the tempo until she was thrusting furiously into Gabrielle. The sight of the phallus disappearing into her young love, then reappearing, only to be buried inside once again was nearly her undoing.

The bard used her bound hands to brace herself against the wall at her head, lest she be thrown into it. She’d never expected to feel such intense arousal from this type of penetration. She’d read about it in more than one of the scrolls in the Amazon library, but she liked to think she knew her own body well and she had never thought the use of a phallus would do much for her. The idea seemed to be more for the pleasure of the wearer, not the recipient of it. At least, that’s what she’d always assumed. Now, her entire opinion had changed. She felt the beginnings of her orgasm teasing her, forming deep in the pit of her stomach, like the kindling of a fire, burning very slowly at first, but eventually igniting everything in its path. She willed herself to relax, hoping to coax it along, not sure how much longer she could take the waiting.

Xena felt Gabrielle’s muscles relax and she knew exactly what was going on. She’d worn enough of these things in her life - and she knew her bard’s body as well as she knew her own. She knew the blonde was close. Much as she had hoped to prolong this first time, she found herself unable to stop, the sounds emanating from the gorgeous creature beneath her serving only to speed up the arrival of her own climax. Sliding one hand around the blonde’s hip, she delved her finger into the warm, hidden folds and sent Gabrielle over the edge with a cry. The sound of her release, that beautiful, straining female voice of hers, was all it took to send Xena over right behind her, teeth clenched tightly, eyes squeezed shut.

They both fell forward, breathless and sweat-slicked. Xena felt a sudden rush of emotion come over her. She couldn’t explain it, but it caused her to ease herself out of the blonde, wrapping her arms around her and showering the side of her face with gentle kisses. "I love you, Gabrielle," she whispered, her voice cracking uncharacteristically. "I need you so much. So much it hurts. You have no idea." To her own surprise, she felt her eyes brimming with tears. Immediately, she got to her knees. She needed to show the bard what she meant. She had to understand what she meant to the warrior, what a gift this was. She could think of only one way to show her.

Xena turned the groggy bard over so she lay on her back. Her green eyes were closed and her body glistened with a fine sheen of sweat. Damp tendrils of blonde hair framed her flushed face. Her chest was heaving from exertion, her arms still bound above her head. Xena smiled and tugged on her ankles. This movement slid the bard down the bed several inches, forcing her bound arms to stretch taut. The warrior salivated at the sight, truly the sexiest vision she had ever seen.

Gabrielle opened her eyes to look at the warrior, taken aback by the suddenly loving glow that had appeared. Mixed with the still-present ferocity, it was more than enough to send a new pang of arousal through the bard and she wet her suddenly dry lips.

Xena bent and pressed her lips to Gabrielle’s, their first kiss since they arrived at this hut. It started softly and gently as Xena poured every ounce of emotion she had into it, but the passion escalated in mere seconds until they were both moaning, Gabrielle’s neck muscles wearing out in an attempt to keep their lips connected. Xena pulled up and sat back on her heels, openly appraising the bard, who was once again breathing hard.

The lust in Gabrielle’s eyes was unmistakable and she knew it. Just when she didn’t think she could become any more aroused, Xena would do something to prove her wrong and a new blast of desire would shoot through her. Xena manipulating the bard’s body, putting her in whatever position she wanted, was the strongest of aphrodisiacs for Gabrielle and she was amazed at the sudden depth of her arousal, so soon after the intensity of their last exertion. She looked into the blue eyes above her and saw her own desires reflected right back at her.

The warrior could wait no more. She grasped the bard’s thighs and roughly spread them wide, causing the girl to gasp. She ran her fingers through the silken folds, eliciting a whimper of pleasure when pausing to gently tease the most sensitive spot, still astonished at the amount of wetness found there. Bending slowly, carefully keeping eye contact with the bard, she brought her lips to the damp curls, inhaling the incredible scent of her love’s arousal, smiling at the ever so subtle way Gabrielle’s hips rose in an attempt to meet her. Unable to resist even a second longer, her mouth descended on the bard’s sex, swirling through the damp folds of skin, grasping Gabrielle’s hips to steady her. She forced herself to stay somewhat gentle, knowing the bard was still a bit sensitive in some places, but it wasn’t easy, so badly did she want to devour the young woman. She was surprised by how quickly the blonde’s excitement elevated, and within a few short minutes, she was very near another mind-blowing release. Xena slowed her movements, savoring the taste of her lover, reveling in the sounds of the blonde’s pleasure, her own core pulsing with excitement. Only when she heard the bard’s whispered, "please…" did she release her, pushing her over with one gentle, loving stroke.

Xena lay with her cheek against the bard’s inner thigh, watching her return from ecstasy. Gabrielle’s chest glistened with sweat as it rose and fell from this most recent exertion. Slowly, the warrior raised herself up and stretched her body so she was able to brush her lips sweetly against the bard’s. She kept the kiss innocent and gentle for the most part. As she suspected, it was only a short time before Gabrielle responded with slightly more passion, deepening their connection by requesting entrance into the warrior’s mouth. Xena smiled to herself, for she knew her bard well…the young blonde’s stamina could almost rival her own. Quickly, she positioned her hips between Gabrielle’s thighs.

Gabrielle whimpered in feeble protest, weakly straining against her bonds. "Oh, Xena," she pleaded. "I don’t think I can."

"Quiet," Xena ordered. Fitting just the tip of the phallus into Gabrielle’s opening, she lay over the smaller body, supporting herself on her hands. She rotated her hips ever so slightly, coaxing a sensual moan from Gabrielle that surprised the bard and sent the warrior’s own arousal skyward. She hoped she could hold back her own impending climax long enough to bring the bard to hers.

Their gazes met and there was an exquisite moment of silence and stillness between them. They stayed in this position, Xena poised to enter, Gabrielle willing to receive, and looked into one another’s eyes. Neither had seen such love combined with such desire in all their time together. It was intimate, passionate and pivotal in their relationship.

Xena shifted from her hands to her elbows and bent her head to capture Gabrielle’s nipple between her lips, the same one she’d painted with the bard’s own juices earlier. The smaller woman inhaled sharply, moaning and tilting her head back, and that’s when Xena pushed back in. A cry ripped itself from Gabrielle’s throat and she arched her entire body up into Xena’s, her hips thrusting very slowly, in time with the warrior’s. She wrapped her strong legs around Xena’s waist, causing the warrior to close her eyes, her own moan escaping from deep in her throat. They moved like that for what seemed like hours, setting the loving, gentle pace together, limbs wrapped around one another.

"Gods, Gabrielle," the warrior panted. "I love being with you this way. I love the way you feel when I’m fucking you like this."

Xena pulled her head back and looked at Gabrielle, becoming lost in the sea of green, needing more than anything to maintain a view of the bard’s face, to look in her eyes when she came, to let her know that they were okay. "You’re so beautiful." Gabrielle’s eyes drifted shut and Xena protested immediately. "No. No, Gabrielle, keep your eyes open. Look at me. I want you to look at me, see that it’s me inside you. It’s me filling you up."

The combination of hearing Xena’s voice, pleading and commanding at the same time, and feeling her hips pumping firmly sent a surge through Gabrielle’s body causing her to tighten her grip on the darker woman, silently telling her so. The warrior understood and suddenly her mouth crashed down onto the bard’s, their tongues waging a battle with one another as Xena picked up the pace and drove into her young love. Their rhythm only lasted a short time longer before Gabrielle’s orgasm hit her hard. A ragged cry was torn from her lungs and she screamed Xena’s name, the warrior swallowing the sound with her own mouth. The contracting of Gabrielle’s leg muscles around Xena’s waist was all it took to send the warrior over the edge a second time, her primal cry of release rivaling those of the wild animals in the woods outside.

They lay in a heap for several minutes, chests heaving, Gabrielle whispering, "Oh, gods," over and over again, until the intensity captured her and a sob burst forth. Xena swiped her breast dagger from the floor, sliced through the bard’s bonds, and gathered her up in strong, warrior arms.

"Shh," she crooned as Gabrielle cried. "It’s okay, baby. I’ve got you." Xena rocked the young blonde as she surrendered to her body’s needs. Finally, the bard’s sobs eased into hiccups and she wiped at her eyes in embarrassment.

"I’m sorry, Xena," she said sheepishly. "I’m not sure what that was."

Xena smiled. "It’s okay. Emotional release. It’s actually pretty common after an intense orgasm. Everything’s very close to the surface and your body needs to expel some of the tension."

"Intense is an understatement," the bard commented.

"It was pretty amazing."

They were quiet for several minutes, both knowing there were issues to be discussed, but neither wanting to break the spell of the closeness that surrounded them. Surprisingly, it was Xena who spoke first.



"I’m sorry."

The bard blinked, waiting, knowing there would be more to come.

"About Ares. I don’t know what got into me. I should have trusted you and I’m not really sure why I didn’t. I’d blame it on my raging postnatal hormones, but I think that excuse is wearing a little thin."

The bard merely nodded.

"See, I’ve always had this jealous streak, much as I hate to admit it. But, until you, I never really had something that meant enough for me to get jealous over. Does that make sense? I mean, once I had a fleeting image in my head of Ares touching you -- touching you the way I touch you -- my mind just wouldn’t let go. I lost control and I’m not proud of it."

Gabrielle raised herself up on one elbow and looked down at her lover. "I love you, Xena. You and you alone. I will admit, I’ve been a little frustrated lately, but you’d have to do something pretty awful to drive me into the arms of somebody else. And Ares? Please." She grimaced her opinion of such a coupling.

Xena chuckled and they were quiet again.



"Why didn’t you ever tell me?"

"Tell you what?"

"That you’d like me know..."

Gabrielle took a deep breath and spoke very softly. "You’ve worked so hard to fight your dark side, Xena. I’m well aware of the fact that this kind of raw sex, this kind of power game, is very much a part of that dark side. I didn’t want you to have to go there for me…much as I thought I might like it."

Xena absorbed this information, nodding, touched yet again by the bard’s attempts to protect her. "Okay. What if we look at it this way...if I can access that darkness with you, even just a little, maybe it will help me to keep it at bay in other situations. It won’t seem like such a beast, rattling the cage doors, because we’ll let it come out and play every so often. Ya think?"

Gabrielle agreed with a grin, impressed with the analogy.

Xena looked away, then back to the blonde. "Did I scare you?" she asked in a small voice.

Gabrielle nodded. "Absolutely, but that was part of the thrill for me."

"Fear keeps the adrenaline pumping."

"So I’ve been told by a certain warrior princess."

Xena chuckled. "Obviously a very wise warrior princess." She leaned in a brushed her lips softly against the bard’s. "Thank you. For letting me…have you. That way." She winced at her lack of grace when it came to words and opted for simple. "I love you, bard."

"And I love you, ya brute."

Xena’s eyes sparkled as she had a quick flash of all the different ways she’d have Gabrielle, the different positions, different locations, different restraints... She lowered her voice to a seductive caress. "You have absolutely no idea what you’ve gotten yourself into, do you, Gabrielle?"

The sensual power in her voice caused a stimulating shiver of fear to ripple through the blonde as she realized that, if there was one thing she’d learned in all the time she’d spent with Xena, it was that the warrior princess was almost always right.

The anticipation alone was delicious.




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