Disclaimer: The characters belong to MCA/Universal/RP, the story is mine.

Warning: This story is for mature audiences only. If you are under 18, or dislike the idea of sex between consenting females, please do not read this story. Send any comments to: gagwriter@aol.com. It's a friend's account, but she said I could get mail there.



by Linda D.

"Good Morning," said Xena, pursing her lips in a crooked smile as she watched Gabrielle drag herself from sleep.

"Mmmmm, 'morning..." mumbled the bard, her features relaxed, eyes unfocused and still glistening with dreams.

Xena put down the load of firewood she had gathered to bank the breakfast flames and sat next to the bard. Gabrielle was at her most adorable in the mornings, she decided. Too foggy to speak coherently. And too bemused to realize how snuggly and warm she appeared. "Sleep well?" asked the warrior.

"Oh yes..." said Gabrielle with a lazy smile. "I dreamt we were back at the lake where you taught me how to fish. Only this time, I mistook your foot for a trout and grabbed it. You fell back into the water and I was so afraid you'd be mad, but instead you stayed under and grabbed me by the leg. We sort of wrestled underwater and finally had to come up for air because we were both laughing so hard. You had my arms pinned and were holding me against--" she stopped abruptly, her eyes widening as images from the dream crowded her mind. Xena holding her naked flesh. Both of them drenched, yet without a droplet separating them. Xena's mouth on hers. Touching her breast with slick fingers... Blue eyes flaming with passion...

"Against? Against what?" asked Xena, feeling a familiar tingling flutter as she imagined the continuation of the scene. Gabrielle, sun sparkled and dripping. Held tightly against her. Young, untouched, desirous, open, moaning...

"Um... my will. You were holding me against my will..." lied Gabrielle, lamely.

"I was?" asked Xena, frowning, the intimate scene dissipating instantly, yet leaving it's effect on her body. "That's disturbing. Is that how you see me, Gabrielle? Holding you by force?"

"Oh no!" said the bard, suddenly aware of what her 'little white lie' was implying. "Never!"

"But if you dreamed it, you must think it at some level, right?"

"Not necessarily. I'm actually a little... unsure about that part of the dream. Because from there it switched to the temple where I almost died. And there were wounded soldiers everywhere and I wanted to scream because I was bleeding but I didn't want to bother you. You looked so tired, having to heal so many. And I didn't think my wound was serious."

"That's even worse," said Xena forlornly. She lay down on the edge of Gabrielle's blanket, propping her head on her hand, looking at her friend's worried expression. "Why don't you understand that you will always come first with me? That your health and happiness are the most important things in my life?"

Gabrielle swallowed hard at the intensity of Xena's piercing blue eyes. If she had ever had a doubt, that laser stare had just cut it away. "I do realize it, Xena. Honest, I do. And you know how I feel about you, right?"

"I do. In some ways, of course. I know that what I give you in loyalty and friendship you always return a thousandfold. I couldn't ask for a better companion. Nor a better friend. But do I know how you feel? In all ways? I don't think I do." It was a risk, Xena realized. This probing for deeper answers. But a risk it was high time she took. Their faces were separated by so little space. What a simple thing it would be to lean down and capture those sumptuous lips with hers, she realized.

"In what ways, Xena?" asked Gabrielle in a whisper. The warrior's expression was so soft and tender, causing a familiar warmth to steal through the bard. It had been a scorching series of days and some time in the night Gabrielle had removed her shift which had clung to her in sweaty folds. Suddenly, she was tantalizingly aware of her own nude body, and she squirmed under the blanket. Heat infused her and she knew it had nothing to do with the temperature of the day. No, this was a familiar heat -- one whose source lay inches away. Gabrielle stared at Xena's face. She felt an overwhelming urge to touch the woman whose eyes held hers; to find out if her beauty was real or a spell cast by the gods. But the bard held still, not wanting the rebuff that sometimes followed her attempts to feel closer.

"What ways do you think?" asked Xena, her free hand moving unconsciously toward Gabrielle and then jerking back as Xena realized its intent. Not yet, she thought. Let her get there on her own.

"I don't know. You're my best friend..." the younger woman said, knowing it wasn't the answer, nor the truth of what lay in her heart.

"And I thank you for that. It's wonderful to have friends, isn't it? Lots of friends."

"Yes, but you're not like any other friends."

"Oh? How am I different?" asked Xena, ever probing. She made a pillow of her arms and laid her head on them, lying sideways so she could continue to sweep her heavy-lidded eyes over Gabrielle's lithe form. So close, she thought, feeling her desire build. Resolutely, she fought the sensations that rippled through her.

"Well... you're special to me. More special than anyone else. I love you more than anybody. Much more," said Gabrielle, courageously. There, she thought. I said it. Please, Xena, please don't hate me for loving you like that.

"Mmmm," said Xena with a small smile. "I like to hear you say that. That you love me. I love you too, Gabrielle. But it might be a different kind of love..." she said boldly. There, she thought. I said it. Please understand me and oh please, tell me you feel the same.

Gabrielle turned her face from Xena, hoping her expression hadn't given her away. Different kind of love...? Different from the way I love her? So she *does* know how I feel... And that means... she's telling me she doesn't... can't... love me *that* way... Oh gods...

Xena saw the bard hide herself from her gaze and frowned. "It's okay, Gabrielle. We don't have to talk about any of this now. I was just thinking about how much you mean to me, that's all. I didn't say that to force *you* into saying anything." Damn it! she thought. I've gone too far. Now what? "And I don't want you to over-analyze what I just said, okay? I'm just feeling kind of sentimental this morning." Damn me! Damn my lust! Damn my need to hear her say the words! Damn my breaking heart!

Hesitantly, Gabrielle turned back to Xena. Silence stretched between them. The bard found herself without words as she tried to find the strength to speak. But her voice failed in the face of her own disappointment.

"I don't need any more from you than you can give, Gabrielle," said Xena, breaking the uncomfortable silence. Time for damage control, she thought. Make her understand that I'd rather spend the rest of my life in quiet desperation than to have to live without her. "You already give me so much. Every time I need you, you're there. You've kept me from giving in to the darkness. You've shown me the path to atonement. And my once cold heart thrives on your warmth. If everyone had you as a best friend, Gabrielle, there would be no more evil in this world. You are..." Xena sighed, admitting defeat, "...a very dear friend."

The door had closed and Gabrielle felt the weight of it. 'A very dear friend.' That's all I am, she thought. All I can be. The bard stretched her arms above her head to hide her crestfallen expression. She didn't feel the blanket falling off her shoulders to reveal a glimpse of her breasts.

"Going to be another hot day, I think," said Gabrielle, trying to sound unaffected, but frightened that she was revealing too much of her inner torment. Now that she knew Xena was only talking about friendship and her own role in the changes to the warrior's life, she couldn't bring herself to continue the conversation. She had to change the subject and fast. "Do we really need a fire? Maybe there's still some of that sweet stuff we had at dinner last night. We could just eat that," she said in a rush.

"Okay," said Xena, deflated. Damage control had failed, she thought. I've ruined everything. Made a complete mess of the whole conversation. Why can't I speak more eloquently? Why must words always be so difficult for me?

"If there's not a lot left, we can share it," said Gabrielle, frowning at the desolate expression on her friend's face. Why was *she* upset? I'm the one whose life will be spent in silent heartache...

"You can have it all. I'm not hungry."

"Xena? Is there something wrong?"

"No, of course not. I'll go get your breakfast," she said, starting to rise.

Gabrielle quickly put a hand on her arm, stopping her motion. She couldn't let it end like this. "In a bit. I think I said something wrong. You were so happy before and now you look so forlorn. What did I say?"

"Nothing. You didn't say a thing," said Xena, looking away. It was impossible to concentrate knowing that Gabrielle's nude body was only a threadbare blanket away. Especially knowing that her own tentative declaration of love had not been acknowledged.

So it was my silence, thought Gabrielle. What did she want me to say? Maybe I misunderstood her. What was she really telling me? Something big was bothering Xena, that much Gabrielle could tell. Offering to serve her breakfast? Since when did the warrior do the serving or the cooking or the small duties that were always left to Gabrielle? The bard *liked* doing the cleaning and the washing of clothes and the little things to make life easier for the woman she loved. It felt good to do things for her; to show her affection in small ways. Yet suddenly this morning, Xena was talking of making breakfast. And the bard had already noticed that both their shifts were drying on a nearby bush. Xena had done the laundry without waiting for Gabrielle to waken.

Leaning on one elbow, the bard looked down at Xena's mournful face. "Please look at me, Xena," she said.

Xena dragged her eyes back and sucked in her breath. The blanket had fallen further away with Gabrielle's new position and both breasts were exposed. Torture, thought Xena. My life is torture. My hands and mouth ache to feel you shiver beneath their touch. If I'm to survive, I need you fully clothed for the rest of our lives.

Gabrielle started to speak then paused, a look of wonder on her face. 'Doing things to make life easier for the woman she loved...' she thought.

I'm an idiot! thought Gabrielle. I look at you in pretended innocence to hide my feelings, but your eyes betray you. You told me you love me in a "different" way. But you never realized how *I* felt! You never saw the love I've worked so hard to conceal. No, the difference you spoke of was coming from... you. *You* love me differently than the love for a friend. You have opened the door, praying for acceptance and I couldn't see it because of my own fear. Couldn't find the strength to hope it was true. Where did this blindness in me come from? You're the most beautiful woman in the entire world and I've loved you to distraction since the moment I met you. And yet I've been too spineless to tell you how I feel and too preoccupied with my pain to notice you feel the same way...

The most beautiful woman... Am I beautiful to you? Gabrielle looked down and noticed for the first time how much her blanket had slipped. I think perhaps I am, she thought, watching as Xena's eyes warred with her self-control. You're looking at me, thought Gabrielle. Looking at me as a woman, not as a friend. At this moment in time, I've never liked my body more. I've never felt so attractive and desirable in my entire life. It's as if your eyes have given me a power I never knew I possessed.

"Xena... I think I know what you were saying before," whispered Gabrielle.

Xena's eyes flew to the bard's, searching her expression for clues. "You do?"

"Yes. For a very long time now... I've loved you. Not just as a friend... but more. Like you were saying. A different kind of love than friendship love. Is that what you meant?" The bard gathered her courage. "Is it okay to love you like that? As a woman? As a... lover?" Gabrielle reached a hand out to delicately touch Xena's face.

The warrior's eyes closed and she swallowed a lump in her throat.

She loves me... thought Xena.

"Is it okay?" whispered the warrior, stunned. "By the gods, Gabrielle." Where words fail me, action might not, thought Xena, unable to express the depth of emotion she was feeling. Slowly, she moved toward Gabrielle. With the tenderest of touches, she brushed her lips across the bard's mouth. Gabrielle's lips parted in response, a look of wonder in her eyes.

She loves me... thought Gabrielle.

"You are so beautiful," murmured Xena.

Gabrielle gazed in awe at the classic features of the woman whose face hovered inches above her. "Me? *You're* the most beautiful woman I've ever known."

"I've waited so long to do this," said Xena, stroking the bard's cheek in a slow, languorous caress. The warrior inched closer still, her eager hands finally given permission to explore. She touched Gabrielle's shoulder, tracing the rounded softness of it, then followed her collarbone to her throat. She kissed those parted lips again, but without the questions and uncertainty of before. Now she owned them. They were hers to kiss and tease and taste. Strong white teeth. Delicate tongue. Dancing tongue. Delicious mouth. Tasting and loving and exploring.

Gabrielle's hands surrounded Xena, reaching for the lacings of her leather bodice. This wasn't a time for barriers, she thought. I want all of her, flesh on flesh. I want to touch her as she's touching me. I want to fill my eyes with the sight of her and know that it's finally okay to let my desire show.

Xena reluctantly removed her hand from its journey of discovery and helped with the laces. In seconds, she was freed from her leather prison. She slipped the blanket from Gabrielle's body and hesitated, glorying in the sight of her.

Gabrielle's eyes widened. She had seen Xena's naked body a thousand times. Why did it suddenly look so much more touchable? Why was she compelled to taste the sweetness of her generous breasts?

Xena raised herself above Gabrielle and hesitated, drinking in the sight of her; sweet anticipation keeping them apart for just moments more. Finally, with infinite care, she lowered herself gently on top of her. Nose to nose, she stared into the bard's green eyes. She memorized the pattern of the starburst near the pupil, delighting in the small contrast of color.

For long moments, neither woman moved. They simply stared into each other's eyes, flesh against flesh at last.

Then Xena could hold her passion no longer. She eased her thigh between Gabrielle's legs, parting them. The bard's hips stirred in response, her eyes closing.

Gods, Gabrielle thought. I've wanted her for so long and now that dreams are reality I fear I can't control myself. Don't let it end too quickly!

Xena smiled. She sensed the younger woman's eagerness and playfully promised then withdrew, letting the passion build and recede. She took one succulent breast in her mouth and felt the nipple harden against her tongue. Now her hands were fearless explorers -- discovering new worlds, new sensations, gauging reactions and delighting in their power. Every inch of the bard's body became hers through touch. Rippled abs, rounded hips, firm breasts, sleek thighs, soft sweet adoring Gabrielle.

"You are my world," said Xena, moving her lips to the other breast. Gabrielle moaned in response. Tenderly, Xena whispered, "And I am your willing slave. I exist to bring you pleasure."

She started to slide down Gabrielle's body but the bard stopped her. "No," she whispered.

Xena froze.

"I want to discover you as you discover me," Gabrielle said.

With a joyous grin, Xena slid her body into a new position.

The bard could feel a throbbing need and wondered if Xena felt the same thing. She wanted to touch Xena. There. Wanted to discover her. Wanted to feel the heat of her; the scent of her; the taste of her. "What do I do?" whispered Gabrielle, suddenly afraid that if she followed her instincts they might be wrong. Gathering her courage, Gabrielle shyly touched the soft curls which twined between the warrior's legs.

The feel of her lover's tentative but oh so intimate touch almost destroyed Xena's control. Amazingly, she held herself in check. She didn't want to crash into the well of mindless sensation yet. Not without taking Gabrielle with her. "Touch me anywhere, Gabrielle. I'm yours now. But be aware of your power." Xena ran her fingers in featherlight patterns down the bard's inner thighs, showing her by example how to tease and tantalize.

Gabrielle felt a pulling deep inside her body at the warrior's touch. With her eyes still glued to the secret places she longed to feel, she let her hands drift over Xena's flawless, rounded cheeks then trailed her nails lightly down the backs of her muscled thighs.

Having dreamed of this for so long, Xena found herself already on the brink. "I wanted to do this slowly for you, Gabrielle," she said, her voice strained as she placed patterns of sweet kisses just under the bard's belly.

Gabrielle almost didn't hear her. The sensations rushing through her were so startlingly vivid she wanted to scream. Slowly? Gods no! "Please, Xena. Not too slow, please!"

Xena chuckled. All right, she thought. Sounds like she's ready after all. The warrior dipped her lips down and encircled the source of Gabrielle's sudden impatience. The bard's gasp turned quickly into a carnal moan, as Xena's tongue danced and teased the heart of her lover's desire.

For long moments, Gabrielle forgot her own explorations and simply allowed herself to feel. The sensations were almost overwhelming. The sweet invasion of a finger. A flicker of tongue. Her own muscles grabbing and pulsing. The tensing of her thighs. Her back arching. Hips rocking in arcane rhythms. Strangled, guttural cries from deep inside her throat.

And then, without hesitation or shyness, she pulled Xena's hips toward her mouth, wanting everything at once. She wanted to feel and give the same passion. She wanted to experience and evoke the same mindless sensations. Eagerly, she devoured Xena's secrets, tasting and delighting and tantalizing with tongue and fingers. She was bold now. Sure and daring with each new touch. Within seconds she felt herself cross the threshold into explosions of a depth and power unknowable and divine.

The suddenness of Gabrielle's touch even as the bard was approaching her own peak took Xena completely by surprise. There was no time to fight for control. This battle was lost.

Together, they reached the consummation of love long denied and together they found fulfillment. Together they moved and sweated and moaned. And together they knew satisfaction.



They lay in each others arms, limbs tangled, flesh against flesh, as they slowly regained their breath and thoughts.

"And we could've been doing *that* all this time?" asked Gabrielle in wonder.

Xena chuckled. "Uh huh."

"So what took you so long?" Gabrielle smiled lazily into her warrior's eyes. "And can we do it again really soon?"

"I've created a monster," mumbled Xena.

"Why am I so hungry all of a sudden?" mumbled Gabrielle, finding a new sensation with every exploration of her feelings.

Xena laughed outright. "Oh yeah, we're going to have some fun now."




For three days, they camped in the secluded glen. Warm with lust, filled with desire, faces colored in rainbow hues by love and tenderness, they become one person; a single entity where once there were two.

On the fourth day, they reluctantly packed their gear. A gentle breeze whispered through the trees.

"I could stay here forever, Xena," said Gabrielle, folding the blankets.

"We'll come back. But remember, love doesn't stop when we leave this place. It's a place of beginnings, not of endings.

Gabrielle closed her eyes, imprinting the last few days on her memory in conscious thought.

Her smile widened as she filed away every detail.

"What?" asked Xena, her own mouth curving into her familiar half-smile.

"Us. Just thinking about us."

The warrior stopped tying the straps of the pack onto Argo and swept Gabrielle into her arms.

"You," she said. "The source of all the delight and beauty in the world."

"And you," Gabrielle replied. "My strength, my passion, my love."

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