~ Simple Pleasures ~
by Kristien Damon 
a.k.a. Lawlsfan

No. 2 of the: Foibles and Follies, The Misadventures of the Warrior and Bard Series

Although it’s not necessary, you might want to read the first story of the series entitled "If At First You Don’t Succeed…" There are a few elements in this story, which may be confusing if you haven’t read that one first.

Alternative Sexual Content: Nothing major, but in the words of our beloved bard, "If I have to go through the rest of my life without companionship, knowing myself won’t be a problem". Can you say the "M" word without blushing? If not move on to another story please. In addition, there is of course some kissing and hugging and loving and it is between two adult and consenting women. So if you are not at least 18 years of age or this type of material offends you then perhaps you should read something a bit tamer. There are plenty of great classic general X:WP stories out there.

Spoilers: None. 

Xena:Warrior Princess, its characters, and all related materials are the property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures 1995-1999. The story idea for this story is the property of the author (me). "Simple Pleasures" was completed on 1/6/00.

Feedback is always welcome at: lawlsfan@xenaeyes.com. Don’t be shy, please tell me how you feel.<g>
Now on to the story...

 

Xena sighed deeply as she slumped down onto a log about ten strides from the water’s edge. She gazed out over the glass-like surface of the pond, shivering slightly in the early morning chill, her mind momentarily bidding all thoughts goodbye. Glancing down at the ground beside her she noticed a flat, smooth stone and absently reached down and picked it up. Then, with a swift and agile flick of her wrist, she nonchalantly sent it sailing toward the water. It hit the mirrored surface and bounced three times sending up tiny sprays of water with each glance off before it finally broke through and descended into the depths with a soft splash. A circle of tiny waves radiated outward, uniformly marching away from their respective epicenters and totally disrupting the tranquility of the surrounding waters. The warrior watched in fascination until eventually each ripple was once again swallowed up and a quiet serenity naturally returned to the surface in their wake. She smiled. It was the story of her life, upheaval to tranquility. Her mind wandered back to the Amazon village and a certain blonde bard she’d left there sleeping peacefully, a bard who knew and accepted her upheavals but who also believed in and fostered her tranquilities.

"Gods, I love her."

Her smile broadened as she reached down, picked up another flat stone, and sent it skipping.

*****

Gabrielle rolled over and subconsciously extended her hand onto the bedding next to her. She opened her eye a crack and blinked at the early morning sunshine breaking into the room around the door. Her hand continued to roam along the soft furs while she contemplated the odd stillness that seemed to have enveloped her. Something was missing. Suddenly she threw the covers aside and sat upright with eyes wide open, gazing around the room.

"Xena?"

Silence.

The fire in the hearth was burning brightly and to the bard’s semi-conscious brain, it seemed to be blazing a little too brightly. It could mean only one thing: someone had obviously stoked it intending to fend off the morning chill of the coming snowy season and thus keep her snuggled in her slumber a little longer, a certain someone who wanted to sneak out unnoticed in the pre-dawn hours.

The bard blinked at the flickering flames, momentarily allowing them to mesmerize her and nearly send her back toward the land of Morpheus. Her eyes fluttered several times. Shivering slightly when a draft abruptly captured her unclad body, she shook her head to chase away the grogginess and quickly grabbed her fur robe and draped it about her shoulders. Then she sat on the edge of the bed with her legs dangling and sleepily pondered her upcoming day and the whereabouts of her rascally, but quite lovable, warrior companion.

*****

She waited patiently and intently studied the smooth surface of the pond, which was still masked in the shadow of the ridge rising magnificently above its far shore. Within moments the sun made its first appearance over the mountaintop and illuminated in a soft pink glow the misty shroud that hung over the water. The water itself suddenly began to nearly boil with activity as though the tickling fingers of Apollo’s rays across its surface had activated some natural trigger. Xena grinned with pleasure, grabbed for the long pole with attached line that lay near her feet, and headed with purpose for the water’s edge.

"Uh-huh, hungry are ya?" she mumbled toward some as yet unseen entity. "Well then, come and get it."

With an easy motion born of years of practice, she brought the pole up and back over her right shoulder then threw her arm forward and sent the line sailing lightly out over the water. With minimal splash the hook and bait at the line’s end slipped beneath the surface, the remainder of the line floated lightly atop the water. She held the pole steady and waited for that first tug which would signal a victory. Patience and focus were the name of this game and she was a master of both. She smiled contentedly.

*****

Gabrielle yawned, stretched lazily, and glanced over at the small table in the corner. She immediately noticed a small piece of parchment propped up against the small leather pouch she used to carry her scrolls. Finally extricating herself completely from her bedding, she pranced gingerly across the cold wooden floor, hurriedly closing the gap between herself and the table. Upon reaching it she immediately plopped down on the accompanying chair and pulled her feet up under her robe, her lowermost extremities feeling like blocks of ice against her bare skin as she tucked them in under her thighs. She shivered again, then picked up the piece of parchment and read it quietly.

Morning G,  

Gone fishing.  

Yours always,

X

Grinning broadly, the bard lovingly ran the tips of her fingers back and forth across the words ‘yours always’. After several moments of quiet reflection she took the parchment and carefully placed it in her bag among other little notes and treasured mementos the warrior had seen fit to bless her with over their years together.

Hmm, I think I’ll soon need another, bigger satchel, she mused upon finding it difficult to get the flap closed around the contents. And maybe a string of donkey’s to carry them all.

Gingerly placing her feet back down on the floor she set the bag aside and gathered together several blank parchments and her quill. Then she scampered across the floor to the fire, quickly putting some water on for tea before tip toeing rapidly back across the room to lay out her clothing on the bed as quickly as she could. In a matter of moments she was once again sitting at the foot of the hearth next to the fire, snuggled in her robe and waiting patiently for the water to boil. While waiting she glanced back over at the table and the blank parchments lying atop it. She smiled, having made her first decision of the morning as Queen of the Amazons; simple pleasures would be the order of the day.

The water was soon boiling and she poured some into a cup, added a tea leave and some honey, and then hastened back to the table. Plopping down into the chair she snugged the robe around her body, took up her quill, and in the soft glow of a flickering candle began to write.

I sing a song of simple pleasures,
Of walks in the moonlight and talks by the fire,  
Of flowers, and wine, and candlelit nights,  
Of adventure abounding and friendships grown through time…

*****

Xena had been waiting for nearly a candle mark with nary a nibble in reward for her perseverance. The sun was rising higher, rapidly warming the air around her and slowly melting through the foggy haze that blanketed the water. She realized that the finest hours were rapidly departing the higher Apollo climbed into the sky. Yet her finned prey continued to allude, teasingly breaking the surface everywhere in front of her and simply refusing to take the bait she offered. Following the length of her line with her eyes across the water to the point where it dipped below the surface toward the bait lying on the bottom, her brow furrowed deeper with mounting frustration at every piscine rise near and around it.

"Gods, sometimes I hate fishing," she said in frustration, casually swatting an insect, which had landed on the side of her neck and with a bacchanalian frenzy had begun to feast upon her flesh.

"Argh! You rotten little flying son of a…!"

Absently studying the bloody and twisted remains in the palm of her hand an idea suddenly came to her. Excitedly, she glanced toward the water and then back toward the insect remnants, her eyebrow arching higher and higher with every passing moment.

"You’re not alone are you?"

Grinning broadly, she swiped the remains across the front of her leathers and quickly began retrieving her line.

*****

The bard had just run into a block. Absently tapping the feather of her quill against her chin she sat for several moments searching her mind for just the right word and not finding it. She laid the quill aside and leaned back, taking a sip of her tea while leisurely surveying the last few lines, reading and re-reading.

For none is more simply pleasurable than…  

Her brow creased into a frustrated frown as the word continued to escape her mind’s grasp. "This should be easy. Why won’t it come?" She pushed the chair back, suddenly realizing it had gotten much warmer in the hut with the rising of the sun, and unwrapped herself from her furry robe and tossing it across the room. Then she casually placed her bare feet on the edge of the desk and leaned back in the chair, losing herself once again in her pondering. She tried speaking the line out loud.

"Hmmm, none is more simply pleasurable than…"

Further back she leaned, until the two front legs lifted up from the floor and she began rocking back and forth while balancing and supporting herself with her feet against the table. She continued to sip at her tea and stare at the ceiling, trying to open and clear her mind in hopes that the word for which she searched would just slip into the empty place left behind by her ushered thoughts. But it refused to come in and after a few moments her mind almost inherently began drifting toward a certain warrior princess and wondering how she was faring with her piscatorial pursuits. She grinned and closed her eyes, licking her lips and savoring the hint of honey flavor that lingered there.

"Mmm, sweet distractions…"

Moments later, thoughts of the love she and Xena had made the night before totally absorbed her mind and she sighed deeply feeling a familiar surge of desire start at her toes and work its way throughout her body. Absently she allowed her free hand to roam down along the front of her neck, to linger upon her right breast, and then to inch slowly downward across her abdomen. The speed of her rocking increased as her fingers trailed lower and her mind remained fixated on her remembrance of the warrior’s hands, soft lips, and beautiful blue eyes, which had all been used with great skill to pleasure her into ecstatic bliss throughout the night.

"My gods…" she moaned breathlessly as her searching digits finally reached their destination.

The cup slipped from her other hand and clattered noisily but quite unnoticed to the floor.

*****

Midway across the courtyard Ephiny suddenly yawned and stopped to stretch her arms above her head. She glanced around the village and noted Eponin exiting her hut nearby.

"Morning Ep," she shouted to the Amazon warrior.

Eponin turned and smiled broadly at her friend.

"Hey Ephiny," she said brightly as she trotted over toward the regent. "Ready for an early morning workout?"

"Sure, I’m just going to go check in with the queen to see if she’d like to join us. Saw Xena leaving early this morning with her fishing pole in hand."

"Hey, all right." Eponin responded with a mischievous grin. "I’ll tell Solari that the bear is off fishing and it’s safe for her to come play with us in the fields. Bears do love to fish don’t they?"

Without answering, the regent smiled wryly and shook her head, then turned and headed for the queen’s hut.

Meanwhile, Eponin trotted off to the armory to gather the staffs and to find Solari.

"Oh yeah, a day without the warrior is like a day without…"

Eponin mused and hesitated just outside the armory door trying to think of an appropriately descriptive term for the absent warrior princess.

"Hmmm…rain? Nah…"

Only one other word would come to her at that moment.

"Pain."

She grinned impishly and slipped through the door.

*****

Ephiny stopped outside the queen’s hut and knocked softly. Hearing no immediate reply she quietly opened the door and stuck her head inside.

"Gabrielle?" she said softly. It took a moment for her eyes to adjust to the semi-darkness of the hut interior.

The bed appeared empty and hearing movement elsewhere in the room she opened the door a little further and quietly stepped inside.

Suddenly from across the room the queen’s breathless voice rang out.

"Oh Gods!"

"Gabrielle?" the startled regent said softly and started toward her friend.

Their eyes locked for just an instant in wide-eyed amazement as in the midst of her pleasurable release the queen suddenly became cognizant that she wasn’t alone anymore and rocked backward a little further than she should. With the chair teetering precariously underneath her, she smiled bashfully at the regent, and then threw her arms across her chest in modesty. Little did she know her modesty would be her downfall.

"A-h-h!"

Ephiny was mid-stride and reaching out as far as she could but wasn’t quick enough. All she could do was watch in spellbound horror as Gabrielle’s chair fell over backward taking the flailing queen with it, both of them crashing together with a single loud thud to the floor.

"Gabrielle!!"

Ephiny quickly knelt to her fallen queen’s side and began visually scanning her nude body for injuries.

"Ek…Ek…Eph," Gabrielle gasped repeatedly through clenched teeth while trying to regain the breath that had been temporarily knocked from her lungs.

The regent did not respond at first but continued to scan, making note of every breathtaking curve and line of her friend’s body. She swallowed hard….

"EPH!"

The sound of Gabrielle’s resuscitated voice finally broke through to the awestruck regent’s senses and immediately snapped her out of her reverie. She quickly locked her eyes on her queen’s face and kept them there.

"Gabrielle, are you all right? Can you move?"

"Eph, I…I can’t get up," Gabrielle said with an embarrassed grin and a barely detectable quiver in her voice. "It’s my legs…"

"Dear Artemis…your back or your legs must be injured! Don’t move."

Ephiny suddenly jumped up and scampered toward the door all the while sending out an alarm to the rest of the village. "Get the healer…it’s the queen! She’s hurt!"

Gabrielle stared at her friend in disbelief then quickly shouted out after her. "Ephiny no! I meant…"

The regent hurried back to the queen’s side and took her hand into her own trying to comfort her. "It’s all right Gabrielle. You’ll be…ack!"

Gabrielle suddenly squeezed the regent’s hand so tightly she caused a soft exclamation of pain to escape the startled Amazon’s lips.

Ephiny quickly regained her composure and smiled reassuringly. "That’s a good sign my queen. Just keep squeezing my hand."

Gabrielle rolled her eyes and frowned.

"Ephiny, I can’t get up because…" she hesitated as she attempted to roll over and drag her legs down off the chair resting beneath her.

The regent quickly grasped her friend’s shoulders and pinned her to the floor. "Don’t move!"

"Eph! Let me up!"

"No, you have to lie still."

"Would you please stop holding me down," the queen said in a low, calm voice that belied the frustration that was welling up inside of her at the idiocy of this entire situation. "Really, I can…."

Just then a small troop of Amazons including Eponin and Taris, the healer, came running through the doorway. They all stopped dead in their tracks and stared in mouth-agape wonder at the scene before them; their naked queen lying on her back with her legs up in the air and their regent practically straddling her trying to keep her from moving.

"Ephiny?" Taris inquired loudly of the regent then glanced at Eponin who shot her a ‘don’t ask me’ look and a shrug.

Solari rushed in moments later.

"Ephiny, what are you…?" she shouted then closed her eyes as though swooning in fright. "Oh sweet Artemis, Xena’s not here to see this is she?"

Eponin casually reached over and gave her friend a poke in the ribs. Solari gasped loudly and turned around to glare at her.

The regent finally relinquished her grip on the queen’s shoulders to turn toward the others and explain the situation. No sooner had she retracted her hands then her patient quickly jumped to her feet and vaulted across the room to retrieve her robe. She quickly drew it around herself and then slowly turned back toward the astonished group behind her, gazing sheepishly at the regent who had suddenly joined the others in an open-mouthed trance.

"Ephiny," the queen began slowly, an embarrassed ruddiness spreading upward into her cheeks. "I was trying to tell you…I’m fine. It’s just that I get a little weak in the legs right after…."

The regent quickly cleared her throat and interjected, her own face blushing slightly upon realizing her mistake.

"O-o-oh right. Gotcha." She turned toward the puzzled faces beside her and stoically declared, "False alarm. Everybody out."

Gabrielle watched amusedly while her regent began herding a bewildered bunch of Amazons toward the door. She was sure she saw Eponin look back over her shoulder more than once to cast her queen a knowing and quite waggish grin.

As the last of them exited, the regent hesitated and turned back toward her queen while finally allowing a sheepish smile to creep across her lips.

"Ah…Gabrielle?"

"Yes Eph?" the queen said quietly.

"When I came in you were…?"

The blush in Gabrielle’s cheeks returned and grew deeper in color. She glanced down at the floor.

"Yes."

"And you…?"

"Ah-huh." Her eyes partially hidden beneath her bangs, Gabrielle gazed bashfully up at the regent.

"So I didn’t really interrupt…?"

"Almost, but no."

The regent glanced at the chair lying on the floor and appeared thoughtful as though searching for the proper and perhaps most tactful words. After a moment she looked back at her friend and smiled wryly.

"Then my apologies for startling you out of your chair."

"Apology accepted," the queen said with a broad grin and a sigh.

The regent turned and took another step toward the door before hesitating again. "Oh Gabrielle?"

"Ah-huh?"

"We are going to work out this morning and wondered if you’d like to join us," Ephiny said over her shoulder with a well-polished feigned stoicism masking her amusement. "But perhaps you’ve already had your workout?"

"See you in half a mark," Gabrielle said as she walked over and patted her comrade on the shoulder and steered her toward the door. "I, dear regent, am just getting warmed up."

*****

Xena sat quietly. Still as stone and barely breathing, she waited with focused patience. Before long she was rewarded by the sound of faint buzzing and out of the corner of her eye saw a tiny flying menace approaching near her right ear. Feeling a tickling and then a sharp sting on the side of her neck, she reacted with lightning quickness and closed her hand lightly around the winged invader.

"Aha! Gottcha!"

Grinning devilishly, she withdrew her hand and opened it just wide enough to view the stunned little vermin but not enough to allow its escape.

"Perfect."

Closing her hand again she reached up and carefully yanked a single strand of raven colored hair from her head. Grabbing the end of the line lying at her feet she quickly secured the tiny bait to a small hook, fluffed out its wings, then stood and headed toward the water. Just as she was about to cast her line she felt another tickling followed by a sting on her left shoulder. She abruptly dropped her pole and neatly swatted the uninvited interloper.

"Hey! Get in line you vengeful little swine." Sneering at the little black form now writhing at her feet, its tiny wings mangled and three remaining legs kicking sporadically at the air, she continued in a hissing tone, "I’ll call you when I need you."

Then grinning gleefully from ear to ear, she bent down, grabbed her pole again, and in one smooth motion casually sent the line sailing out over the water. Almost immediately upon impact with the surface the bait disappeared into a swirl of motion and the warrior felt that first telltale tug. She pulled back on the rod and within seconds had a nice fat trout flopping about on the ground behind her. Yanking the hook from the side of its mouth she gazed miserably at the empty shaft then picked up the fish and glared steadily into its beady black eyes.

"You had to go and eat the whole thing didn’t you," she snarled savagely.

Then she tossed the fish into a bag and slumped back down again on the log to await the next winged attacker brave enough to step up and take a bite.

*****

The sweat was beginning to pour off her as she dodged and parried and jabbed repeatedly with her staff trying to break down Ephiny’s defenses. Even in the chill of the air the queen’s body was responding to the strenuousness of the workout being provided her by the regent’s skilled tactics. Her hair was damp and clinging to her neck and face. Finally she held up her hand and shouted, "All right!" She paused briefly to catch her breath, her hand resting on her knee. "Gods Eph, you’re pretty good with that thing."

Ephiny planted the end of her staff into the ground between her feet and leaned on it heavily. She was breathing hard as well and her blonde curls were slick with sweat.

"Uh-huh," she said with a wry grin. "Not bad yourself."

Gabrielle wrinkled her nose and returned the grin then wiped the back of her hand across her forehead. "Thanks."

They both knew who had taught the Bard of Poteidiea and future queen everything she needed to know about wielding a staff with wicked efficiency. It was why they were so evenly matched now. The double meaning of her friend’s expression of gratitude was not lost on the regent.

"Your welcome my queen," she responded warmly with a nod.

Their mutual admiration session soon came to an abrupt end when Solari suddenly landed with a loud thud on her bum at their feet. They all looked at Eponin who was standing about ten strides away grinning sheepishly, her hands still gripping her staff in an offensive position.

"Hey! Where’d you learn to do that Ep?" Solari shouted in agitation at her opponent.

"The bear," Eponin said with a smirk and than quickly glanced at Gabrielle. Her sarcastic grin faded nearly as fast as it had appeared. "Uh-oh." Realizing her slip all she could do now was hope her queen hadn’t noticed.

Gabrielle gazed at her blankly. There was a long moment of uncomfortable silence during which Ephiny and Solari held their breath. Eponin quickly dropped her staff in one hand, planted the end in the ground, and reached up tentatively to swipe away a bead of sweat from her cheek.

"The bear?" Gabrielle said softly, her gaze never leaving Eponin’s face.

Eponin shrugged her shoulders and let out a nervous chuckle.

"Yea."

After another moment of what seemed dreadful silence to the onlookers, the corners of the queen’s mouth slowly curled into a crooked smile and everyone released a collective sigh.

"I like it," Gabrielle said as she walked over and placed her hand lightly on Eponin’s shoulder. They turned and started walking toward a small grove of trees on a grassy hillock immediately next to the sparring field.

"You do?" Eponin said in surprise.

Gabrielle grinned wryly.

"Uh-huh. There are times I think it definitely suits her."

Ephiny helped Solari to her feet and brushed her off. They quickly fell in behind Eponin and the queen and occasionally turned to grin at one another as they listened to the conversation between the two women in front of them.

Upon reaching the grove, Gabrielle plopped down onto a small mound of grass at its center. She stretched her hands out behind her, leaned back and closed her eyes, relaxing in the warmth of the sun’s rays. Ephiny and Solari both leaned against opposite sides of a tree and Eponin stood looking down at the queen with a look of relief finally flooding over her face.

"So my queen, you are not offended?"

"No, why should I be?" Gabrielle said opening her eyes again to look amusedly at Eponin. "A bear is a noble creature."

"But…"

"Eponin, don’t you believe the bear is a noble creature?"

"Yes."

"And the bear is intelligent, and strong, and resourceful, and beautiful."

"Right, but…"

"Of course at times a bear can be unpredictable…particularly when provoked."

"Uh-huh yea…"

"Like when it feels its territory or its…family is being threatened."

"Ah yes my queen. Bears are very…protective. And that’s good. But..."

"So why should I be offended Ep? Is this not the portrait of a noble creature?"

Well my queen," she hesitated and smiled sheepishly. "I’ve also known bears to roll in smelly dead carcasses, fall out of trees, eat our trash, belch loudly, and quite frankly scare the Hades out of certain Amazons with a simple glance of their menacing blue eyes."

"Not my bear."

Eponin grinned playfully and shrugged her shoulders.

"Well…"

Gabrielle cast the Amazon warrior her best bear-like sneer.

"Oh no, not MY bear."

Solari and Ephiny grinned at each other and started back toward the village. Eponin extended her hand to help her queen to her feet and they fell in behind them, their debate continuing to echo throughout the clearing in their wake.

"All right, maybe she doesn’t eat our trash. But hey, four out of five does not noble make."

"Uh-uh. MY bear IS noble…."

*****

Roughly three candle marks and six welts later the warrior princess had amassed a large bag full of trout and a healthy yearning to get back to her bard to share with her the fruits of her labors, among other things. It always happened; something about this relaxing little piscatorial pursuit of hers always made her rather…hungry for love by the end of the day. It was quite akin to the feelings of lust she would experience after a big battle. Her mind wandered back to the village, envisioning the bard in all her naked glory. She sighed deeply and shook her head.

"But first things first," she mumbled to herself. "Have to gut these little beauties."

Grinning broadly she took out her breast dagger and flopped the first victim down over a rock next to the pond and with precision made a thin slice along its belly. She quickly removed the organs, sliced off the head, tossed the carcass aside, and then started on the next one. It was methodical butchering interrupted every once in a while when she’d have to pause long enough to swat another of those flying vermin from her neck or shoulder.

"Gods I love fishing," she thought as she pulled the guts out of another trout, tossed the entrails over her shoulder, and swatted another biter all in one smooth motion.

Midway through the stack of fish she paused, suddenly sensing another presence in the woods behind her. She sat still in her crouch and cocked her head to the side. Yep, there it was -- the faint sound of…panting. Slowly turning her head to look behind her, she casually lifted her hand to reach for her sword, then hesitated when she saw a pair of beautiful brown eyes peering at her from behind the trunk of a nearby tree.

"Hey there," she said softly as she reached down ever so slowly and picked up a bit of entrails off the ground near her foot. "Hungry?"

His lips curled into a snarl baring impressive white fangs as she lifted her hand and quickly tossed the guts toward the base of the tree.

She watched as the snarl quickly disappeared and with a lick of his lips the wolf stepped out from behind the tree and tentatively approached the offering. He continued to eye her suspiciously as he hungrily devoured the entrails. Then he licked his lips again and sat back on his haunches panting, his eyes darting back and forth between her and the stack of cleaned fish at her side.

"Oh no you don’t, those are mine."

She leaned over to scoop up several of the fish to place them in her bag. In an instant fish and warrior and bag were all headed in opposite directions as the wolf slammed into her chest with his paws, sending her vaulting backward to land on her backside in mud and fish guts. The trout ended up scattered about the shoreline. Except for the biggest one, which the wolf caught in midair and started to scamper away with into the woods.

"Yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi!"

In a flurry of flying mud and fish entrails, the warrior princess sprang to her feet and vaulted into the air, somersaulting several times before landing in front of the thieving beast causing him to swerve and nearly collide with a tree. It was just enough distraction for her to grab him by the scruff of his neck stopping him dead in his tracks. She grabbed for the fish dangling from his jaws while he snarled viciously.

"Oh no you don’t! I said…this is mine!"

He shook his head trying to release his prize from her grip. She held on.

G-r-r-r-r-r.

"Mine!"

G-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r.

More head shaking.

"Listen you thieving…"

G-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r.

"Don’t make me have to…"

G-r-r-r-r-r-r. Shake.

She grinned, her blue eyes sparkling with maniacal glee.

"All right."

Thump, thump. Yelp!

The wolf fell immediately to the ground with the fish still firmly locked between his teeth. He continued to glare up at her, his brown eyes beginning to water slightly.

G-r-r-r-r-r-r. Cough. G-r-r. Cough. A tiny bit of blood escaped his left nostril.

She got down on her hands and knees, grabbed his scruff again, and sneered at him face to muzzle.

G-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r. Cough.

"All right buster. I’ve just cut off the flow of blood to your brain. You’ve got thirty seconds to give up the trout…"

*****

"Xena!"

The bard rushed jubilantly into the warrior’s arms and buried her face into her champion’s chest. Barely had she gotten her face nestled in that ample cleavage when she pulled away holding her nose.

"Gods you stink!"

Xena stared at her blankly.

Then Gabrielle noticed the smears and splotches of blood across the warrior’s shoulders and neck. Her face paled when she recognized handprints.

"Sweet mother of Zeus, who’d you kill?" she asked quietly.

"What."

"Who did you kill?"

"What.

"Xena, WHO DID YOU…?"

"What did I kill," the warrior interjected, grinning sadistically from ear to ear. "Remember I’m a changed woman Gabrielle."

"Ok Xena," Gabrielle said hesitantly and not sure she wanted to know the answer, nonetheless asked the question. "What did you kill?"

Abruptly a bag full of fish was thrust into her face. She glanced into the bag and then looked at the warrior, a smile creeping slowly across her lips.

"You even cleaned them?"

"For you."

"Oh Xena, I love you."

She abruptly grabbed the warrior around the waist and pulled her near then just as quickly drew her hands away, shivering with disgust as she looked down at them covered in mud and something that looked an awful lot like tiny intestines and -- an eyeball.

"What in Tartarus…?"

Just then she noticed ‘him’ sitting just at the edge of the courtyard. He was eyeing them both with great interest. Actually he seemed a little too interested. Gabrielle gasped and grabbed Xena’s arm.

"Xena! There’s a w-w…"

"Autolycus."

"No, a wolf."

"Yes, that’s an Autolycus in wolf’s clothing." Xena turned around and whistled. The wolf trotted over and immediately rolled over at her feet showing his belly.

Gabrielle stared down at him in disbelief.

"Gabrielle, meet the true King of Thieves." She knelt down and began tickling his stomach. "Auto, meet Gabrielle, Queen of the Amazons."

Autolycus jumped up and immediately ran around to goose the startled queen.

"Whoa-a." Gabrielle spun around and tentatively flailed her hand at him in a shooing motion. "Xena, what…?"

"That’s his way of saying hello. It’s a long story. We sort of have an understanding. Let’s talk about it over dinner." She turned and started for their hut with the bag of trout slung over her shoulder. "I’m famished. How bout you? Hungry?"

Gabrielle glanced down at her hands still covered in mud and fish goo. She sniffed them and wrinkled her nose.

"Not really," she mumbled under her breath and then trotted off after the warrior, making sure to keep a safe distance when she finally caught up with her.

"Xena, how about a bath before dinner?"

The warrior suddenly stopped just outside the door to the hut, grabbed the bard and pulled her close, then kissed her firmly and passionately. As Xena’s tongue urgently probed her mouth, Gabrielle immediately forgot all about the gore her hands were entwining as she tightly encircled her arms around her lover’s waist.

"Mmmmm, me hungry?" the bard said deliriously when their lips finally parted. "Yes very, as a matter of fact."

Xena arched her eyebrow and grinned. "Good, let’s eat."

She flung the bag into the hut, leaned down and gathered the bard into her arms and carried her easily over the threshold, kicking the door closed behind them.

Autolycus stared at the closed door for a moment, cocked his head, and then lay down with his muzzle resting against the base of it. Every so often he’d lift his head and cock it to one side listening intently to the sounds radiating from within then contentedly lay it back down.

"Mmmm Xena."

Autolycus raised and cocked his head.

"Gods yes, that feels so good…mmmm…"

He cocked his head to the other side.

"Oh yeah…"

He sat up on his haunches and cocked his head.

"O-h-h-h yeah…"

He licked his muzzle and let out a soft yip at the door.

"My gods…yes…"

Another soft yip.

"Mmmm, don’t stop, don’t stop…"

G-r-r-r-r.

"Yes! Oh gods yes! Xena! Yes! Yes! Yes!"

Autolycus suddenly lifted his snout into the air and released a mournful howl.

Owl-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l.

From inside the hut there was complete silence for several long moments.

"Xena?"

"Hmm?"

"Was that…?"

"Ah yeah, must be jealous -- or hungry. What else do wolves do besides eat and have sex?"

"Xena. Do you think he knows what we were…?"

"He can probably smell it."

"What?"

"Fish."

Slap!

"Xena!"

"Ouch Gabrielle! No, I mean he can probably smell the trout."

"So are you hungry?"

"Mmmm Gabrielle, I’m always hungry."

Silence reigned again for a long moment.

Autolycus cocked his head.

"Oh gods…yes…"

Yip!!

Slap!

"Ouch! Hey!"

"Xena! Please feed him."

"Alright!"

Autolycus cocked his head listening to the footsteps rapidly approaching the door. No sooner had the door been flung open then he bounded through it and fell onto his back at Xena’s feet. She grinned and knelt down to rub his belly whereupon he sprang up and immediately started lapping at her face and chin. Casually pushing him away, then pointing her finger at him to stay, she glanced sheepishly at the bard who was sitting on the bed looking mildly amused with arms folded and eyebrow arched.

"I think he likes you Gabrielle," Xena said with a wry smirk.

Both she and Autolycus let out a loud yelp as a pillow came streaming at them and upon impact with her head, exploded into a mass of feathers.

*****

Xena settled back into the chair and took in the last bite of her fish. She chewed it slowly, savoring it, enjoying the way it literally melted in her mouth. Gabrielle sat across the table gazing at her, her chin casually resting in her hands. Xena sighed. Wow. This is Elysia for sure, she thought and smiled broadly at the bard. Suddenly her teeth came together against something hard.

"Ow!" she said grabbing her jaw. "What the Hades…?" She opened her mouth and a strange white pointed object fell out into her hand. She picked it up and studied it closely.

"Hmm, didn’t know trout had such big teeth, Xena," Gabrielle said with a grin.

Xena smirked and dropped what looked to be a canine incisor down onto the plate. She cleared her throat then leaned over and patted Autolycus on the head.

"Well it was the biggest trout in the pond," she said stoically as she absently started scratching one of the welts on the side of her neck.

Gabrielle smiled, then got up from the table and went to get something out of Xena’s saddlebag. She came back with a handful of salve.

"Ok warrior. You want to tell me how you got those welts?" She dipped her fingers into the salve and started applying a little bit to every little red bump she could find. There were quite a few.

Xena settled back into the chair and grinned broadly.

"Geez, what a great day I had. It was incredible. You see…it took a little while for the fish to start biting and while I was waiting I met some wonderful little friends. They taught me this new way of fishing. Gods it was just incredible…"

Gabrielle finished applying the salve, kissed Xena lightly on the cheek then walked over and sat down at the little table in the corner. Pulling her knees up into her chest and wrapping her arm around them, she picked up her quill and gazed lovingly at her warrior who was babbling away like a giddy youngster with a new toy.

"Oh Gabrielle, you wouldn’t have believed it. Every time I got bit I got a bite. Geez, it was great…"

The bard tapped the feather of her quill against her chin pensively.

"And then along came this thieving wolf and…"

Gabrielle smiled and casually placed her quill to the parchment of her unfinished story. The missing word had been found.

"Xena," she said quietly.

"Huh?"

"Oh nothing, Just finishing up a little something I started this morning."

"Can I hear it?"

"Mmm, maybe later." Gabrielle grinned and laid her quill aside. "So what are your plans for tomorrow warrior princess?"

"Well, actually -- as I was coming back from the lake I came across this…"

She held up her hand and dangling from it was a shredded and nearly unrecognizable piece of cloth.

Gabrielle gazed at it for a moment before it finally dawned on her what it was. Her mouth dropped open in shock.

"What -- where did you find that? Isn’t that my…?"

"Mysteriously disappearing skirt." Xena waved it in front of her like a flag. "Yep. And I found it down near the stream where we…"

"Met our new friends, the bees?"

"Ah-huh, about two hundred strides up the bank from where we met them."

"Wow, you’ve got a good arm."

"I suspect I had help."

"So what’s this got to do with tomorrow?"

"Shopping."

The bard looked stunned. "Shopping?"

"Yep."

"But you hate shopping Xena."

"Ah-huh."

"So why?"

"Because you need to replenish your wardrobe."

"Yes, but why…?"

"Because we’re going on a trip."

"All right, but…"

"Because we’ll be sleeping outside, under the stars, surrounded by nature."

"Right, but…?"

"We’ve not had much luck with nature lately," Xena said quietly and winked. "You may need some extra clothes. Wouldn’t want to have you running round naked. Besides, I need some more of those new fangled fishing hooks."

"Oh r-i-i-ight," Gabrielle said with an impish smile. She glanced over at Autolycus who was now sprawled contentedly beside the fire. "And what about him?"

"Nope, he stays put."

"Good idea."

They gazed at each other across the room in silence for a moment, not uttering a word yet still sharing an understanding, one that slowly built into an immediate urgency the longer they sat there gazing at one another. Gabrielle slowly got up and stripped off her robe as she walked toward the bed glancing seductively at the warrior over her shoulder. Xena shivered with desire then looked worriedly over at the wolf. He appeared to be sleeping soundly so she got up, stretched, and followed the bard to their bed.

Autolycus’ paw twitched.

Xena pulled the bard into her arms and started kissing her way down her neck. "Mmmmm…gods, I need you."

The wolf’s eyes flew open. He stared into the fire.

They flowed together, their hands at first roaming tenderly then with increasing urgency, pleasuring, teasing, loving, torturing, satisfying. With gentle urgings their passions finally met at the precipice.

The bard reached up and ardently grasped the warrior’s face in her hands.

"Gods Xena, look at me…look at me…"

Xena opened her eyes, gazed down at her bard, and fell blissfully through the beautiful sea green doorway into her lover’s soul. They moaned their ecstasy in unison.

Owl-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l.

A moment of silence filled the hut.

"Xena?"

"Hmm?"

"He can’t be hungry again."

"Nope, must be jealous."

"Could be a problem don’t you think?"

They both looked over to see Autolycus a mere distance away panting and studying them intently.

"Yes, could be."

"Do you think they have one of those doggie academies in Athens?"

The wolf cocked his head from side to side listening to their exchange.

"Gabrielle, he’s not a dog."

"No, I know he’s your wolf."

"He’s our wolf."

Yip!

They looked over at him again and Xena reached out to pat his head.

"So what about the academy?" Gabrielle said with a hint of agitation rising in her voice.

"Gabrielle, just what are you going to tell them to teach him?"

"Not to howl when -- when he’s -- hungry."

Xena scratched behind the wolf’s ears for a moment and then pointed toward the fire. He trotted over, plopped down beside it, yawned and immediately closed his eyes, the picture of contentment.

Gabrielle sighed then gathered the warrior’s face into her hands. She began placing feathery kisses along her chin. "Please," she whispered softly.

Xena smiled seductively.

"Please what bard?" she inquired teasingly as her hand slid down the outside of Gabrielle’s thigh and then back up along the inside.

"Please…" The bard closed her eyes and shuddered when Xena’s hand grazed her passion then continued a slow, tormenting ascent upward across her abdomen.

"What Gabrielle?" the warrior whispered into her lover’s ear as her fingertips slowly encircled and inflamed the sensitive flesh of the bard’s left breast and body with heightened desire.

"Me," Gabrielle declared breathlessly as she reached up and ardently captured Xena’s lips in her own.

They moaned their pleasure in unison.

OW-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l.

"Xena! Do something!" Gabrielle shouted as she threw her arms up over her face in frustration. "Gods, now he’s premature! I’m never going to get any satisfaction again." She sighed deeply.

Autolycus curled his lips in a snarl clearly directed at the bard’s outburst.

G-r-r-r-r-r-r-r.

Xena glanced at him, then snickered and gently pulled the bard’s arms away. She grinned down at her mischievously.

"Gabrielle, what do you know about premature?"

"What?!" Gabrielle snapped and glared unmercifully.

"Never mind." Xena said quietly, her grin slowly fading. "I guess it’s Athens City academy for howlers, or bust."

"You got it!"

Gabrielle flopped over onto her side away from the warrior and buried her face into her pillow.

Xena looked over at Autolycus who was sitting by the fire studying them. She cast him a vicious sneer. He snarled and growled. She lifted her hands to mimic the touch she used on him earlier in the day and he immediately fell to the floor with his head on his paws. She grinned broadly then turned her attention back to Gabrielle. Not at all content to let a mad bard lie, she lovingly sidled up behind her and began to tenderly stroke her shoulder. Hearing the younger woman respond with a muffled sigh into the pillow which still covered her face, the warrior allowed her hand to slowly traverse around to the front of her companion’s body, kneading, teasing, and pleasuring all along the way. Feeling the tension gradually releasing from the flesh and muscles under her hand and a telltale heat rising in its place, she leaned in and nibbled an earlobe while her hand slid slowly down across her abdomen, lower and lower and lower…

*****

Eponin was just passing the queen’s hut on her way to sentinel duty when she heard the oddest noise radiating from within. She stopped and cocked her head, but now heard nothing but silence. Whatever it was she’d heard before, it had sounded almost -- animalistic. She was sure of it.

"Nah, can’t be," she mumbled then grinned wryly. "Of course with those two…"

She shook her head in amazement then continued toward the perimeter of the village. Spying Solari just emerging from her hut on her way to the kitchen for a late snack, she trotted up to her and comradely lay her hand on her shoulder.

"Hey So." She grinned impishly.

"Ep." Solari glanced at her friend warily.

"Guess what."

"What?"

"I just heard a bear growling in the queen’s hut."

Solari shook her head in disbelief and continued toward the kitchen.

Eponin trotted along behind.

"No really So. Something growled in there; or maybe it was someone. You know how those two are…."

As they entered the kitchen and the village returned to silence there came another call of the wild.

Owl-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l.

Eponin stuck her head out the door of the kitchen, cocked her head for a moment at the silence, and then ducked quickly back inside.

"Hey So, wait. I’m telling you…." "Hey So, wait. I’m telling you…."

*************************************

To be continued in upcoming Foibles and Follies: The Misadventures of the Warrior and Bard Series. Next up, a shopping adventure…

[ Story III - "Attention Shoppers" ]

 

 


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