Disclaimer: I do not own Xena Warrior Princess or any of the characters. Xena and Gabrielle are my friends, and you can’t own your friends.

Violence: That was in the previous story. None here. This is a time for healing.

Subtext: Just my usual Maintext. Xena and Gabrielle love each other. Get over it! If the idea of two women who love each other more than life itself offends you, then don’t read my story.

About Me: I am a 50yr old Xenite and proud of it. In case you don’t know by now and you care, no----I’m not gay. I do believe that real love is a precious gift---no matter what package it comes in. If you’ve found your Soulmate, may you always be happy.

Spoilers: Of course none, but my stories follow and build on each other. You might want to go back and read the others first, so you know why Xena and Gabrielle say and do the things in this one.

A Special Thank You: To Mary D at AUSXIP for making my dreams come true again and again. And also to everyone who reads my stories, and especially to those of you who write. You keep me writing.

Comments are always welcome. I’m at RoseXena@aol.com




A Matter of Trust


Rose Corsaro

September, 2002


It was a beautiful summer day in Amphipolis. Xena stood on the front porch sipping her morning mug of tea, and looking out over the land. Everything was so green, and the trees and bushes were swaying gently in the cooling breeze. The sky was the deepest of blues, and large billowy white clouds moved lazily by.

She took a sip of the tea, and heard Argo whinny from her corral. She looked over and made short clicking sounds with her tongue. Argo’s ears stood up and she snorted, recognizing her mistresses affectionate sounds. Xena smiled.

She was unaware that Gabrielle was watching her from the doorway. She was truly lost in the beauty of the day. "She’s happy," thought Gabrielle, looking lovingly at the tall, black-haired older woman who stood by the porch railing. As she raised the mug to her lips, Gabrielle admired her muscular arm and her large hand that grasped the mug. She allowed her eyes to take in the shape of her body beneath her leather dress, and her long strong legs.

Gabrielle had never loved anyone as much as she loved this woman. No matter what life threw at them, deep inside that would always be true. Gabrielle had grown into a strong and confident woman, but she would still always need the love of her Warrior Princess.

Xena became aware that she was not alone and turned around slowly. The sight of her Warrior-Bard broadened her smile. Gabrielle was leaning against the doorframe, well muscled arms folded against her tight bare midriff. A breeze gently jostled her short blonde hair. Xena could never get over how green her eyes were. The sunlight danced on her face, and they sparkled like emeralds.

She was wearing a new pale green halter top she had finished sewing the night before. And her brown shorts blended with the tan of her lithe legs. She was the most beautiful being to ever come into her life, and Xena gave thanks every day for the gift of her Soulmate.

Her blue eyes twinkled as she said, "Spying on me, huh?"

Gabrielle smiled, but remained leaning against the doorframe. "I like to watch you when you don’t think anyone is around."

"And why is that?" she asked, setting the mug on top of the porch railing.

"Cause I see the real you," came the reply. Gabrielle unfolded her arms, and approached Xena slowly.

"You’re the only one who know the real me, Gabrielle," said Xena looking down into her face as she stopped only inches in front of her. "And you can still find it in your heart to forgive me."

Gabrielle raised both her hands and placed them on Xena’s face. She pulled her down gently and softly kissed her lips. Her tongue traced lightly over Xena’s upper lip, and they parted to allow her to enter. Xena kissed her deeply, sliding strong arms around her waist and gently drawing her close. As the kiss ended, she cupped one hand around the back of Gabrielle’s head and stroked her hair.

Gabrielle held her tightly, her face pressed against Xena’s shoulder. And she released a very contented sigh. She had truly missed being with her when she ran to stay with the Amazons. They were both to blame for the rift that nearly destroyed them. But Gabrielle knew that no matter how badly they hurt each other, nothing could completely destroy their bond.

Xena held her Soulmate close and felt her heart beating against her breast. Sometimes, there was no need for words. Just that Gabrielle was comfortable in her arms again spoke more than all the poets of Athens.

One night, only a few days after Gabrielle had chosen to move close to her once more, Xena had slipped out of bed and tried to quietly pull on her leather dress. When Gabrielle awoke and asked what she wrong, she gave an excuse that Argo was restless and she was going out to check on her. Gabrielle had seemed satisfied and rolled on her side to return to sleep.

Once out in the barn, Xena quietly called to Aphrodite. The Goddess of Love appeared immediately, wearing an especially frilly pink nighty. In one hand she held a silver mug---in the other, a chicken leg. Xena smiled. When she had reached the depths of despair over losing Gabrielle, it was Aphrodite who had saved her. She had developed a genuine fondness for the ditzy blonde goddess.

"Can’t sleep, Warrior Babe?" she asked. "Me neither. Hungry? Have a bite. It’s cold, but I’ve got the munchies tonight." Aphrodite held out the chicken leg, but Xena politely refused.

"Aphrodite, I need to ask you something," she said, sitting on a bale of Argo’s hay.

"Ask away." She replied, taking a bite out of the chicken leg.

Xena leaned forward and folded her hands. "How can I make sure it never happens again?"

"What? Oh, you mean smacking little Gabby around?"

Xena winced. Aphrodite had such a way with words. But they were true words. "Yes."

"Well, Miss Macho Warrior Princess, I could whip up some magic---but I’m not going to." She waved the chicken leg at Xena. "You have to do this yourself. Anger management, you know."

"I don’t want to lose her again."

Aphrodite made one last offer of the chicken leg, then suddenly it and the mug vanished. She sat down next to Xena on the hay bale. "Xena, lighten up. Let those walls down."

She looked at Aphrodite, not really understanding her comment. "Gabrielle is the only one I’ve ever let in."

She laughed. "Not just in the heat of passionate love, Sexy Babe---all the time."

Xena’s eyes narrowed. "Why do I get the felling you’ve been spying on us?"

Aphrodite seemed a bit flustered. Her cheeks turned a little pink. But it went well with her nightgown. "Me? How could you really think….well….yea….just sometimes. Have to check how things are going. Hey, I don’t stay long. I’m the Goddess of Love, afterall!"

Xena couldn’t help smiling. "So the Goddess of Love is a voyeur." She shook her head at the thought.

Aphrodite stood up and propped her hands on her hips. "Is your mind gonna freeze there? Did you hear what I said about walls?"

"I didn’t think there were anymore walls between us Aphrodite. Not after this last time."

Aphrodite slipped her hand gently beneath Xena’s chin. "Warrior Babe, you still wanna be the boss. You still want to be hard and strong for her-----but she doesn’t need you that way anymore."

Xena nodded. She knew that Gabrielle was not the little peasant girl from Poteidaia anymore. She was the Warrior-Bard. She was Xena’s equal in strength and power and determination. And maybe that was one of the things that had made her so angry. She felt like she wasn’t needed anymore.

"You know what Gabrielle needs to see in you, Xena? She needs to see the child in you. Oh, don’t give me that ‘I’m a big-strong-woman’ look. All mortals still have it in them. You’ve seen it in Gabby: she gets silly and giddy and so cute. She still can see things with a child’s eyes."

Xena shook her head. "That’s not me, Aphrodite. My past…."

"Your past is just that---it’s over. That woman doesn’t exist anymore."

"She’s there, Aphrodite." She said sadly. She wished somehow she could get rid of the darkness that hid deep inside. She wished it would never surface again. This last time with Gabrielle had been too painful.

"I’ve seen that child come out. She does sometimes, Xena. Like when you’re at the lake with Gabrielle, frolicking in the water together. But you push her back inside. You don’t let her out enough. That’s the walls I’m talking about. When the Dark Side of you wants to throw up those walls, just think of that child." Xena stood up and paced around the barn, looking at the straw covered floor, but not really seeing it. "Well, I got her thinking," Aphrodite thought, very pleased at how this talk was progressing.

Xena stopped and looked up at her. "I think I understand, Aphrodite."

"Gee---I actually got through that thick skull of yours, huh?"

Xena could not get mad at this goddess. They had spent a week together at her temple. There was a lot of talking, crying, healing. She was a lot smarter than she looked or sounded. And Xena appreciated her words. "I’ll try to keep the walls down, Aphrodite."

"All I can ask, Babe. You won’t be sorry. Promise you." She stifled a yawn. "Now if you’re done chatting, I gotta get my beauty sleep. See you later." And she vanished from the barn.

"I bet you will," Xena muttered, grinning again at the thought that the Goddess of Love liked to check in on lovers during their intimate moments. That’s one secret she had to keep. Gabrielle would never come out from under the covers again!

Xena walked over to Argo’s stall. The mare had been watching them curiously, but only now did she whinny and stick her head over the paddock rail. "So, what do you think, Girl?" Xena asked, stroking Argo’s muzzle gently. Her mind went to the lake. Yes, she had felt like a child before. She could remember that feeling. It was a feeling of being happy and…..free. Of totally trusting Gabrielle and herself. Yes, that was a side she didn’t let out often at all. She thought that child had died the day her village was ransacked and her brother was murdered. Maybe she was just hiding. She thought of Gabrielle and the many times she had told her, "You bring out the best in me, Gabrielle." Maybe there was more to that statement than she had ever realized.

"Xena, where did you go off to?" asked Gabrielle quietly.

She blinked several times, and looked at the small blonde she was still holding in her arms. "I was just thinking."

"Well, you’re smiling, so it must be nice thoughts." Gabrielle gave her a gentle squeeze.

Xena returned the hug. "Gabrielle, what would you like to do today?"

She looked up into those deep blue eyes and frowned. "You always ask me that, anymore."

"I always want to make you happy," she said, sliding her arms down Gabrielle’s body and around her waist.

"Nope---not today," Gabrielle said, pushing herself out of Xena’s grasp.

It was her turn to frown now. "I’m not making you happy?"

"That’s not what I mean," she said smiling. "Today I want to be the one to ask you. Xena---what would you like to do today?"

She picked up the mug and finished her tea, looking at the beautiful Warrior-Bard over the rim of the mug. "Dangerous question, Gabrielle," she said quietly.

"No, I mean it, Xena. Ever since we’ve been back together, you’ve been going out of your way to be nice to me."

"It’s not going out of my way…."

"Okay, not the best choice of words. I know that, Xena. But today, humor me." She brushed a lock of hair away from Xena’s eyes. "What do you want to do?"

Xena felt that inner child peeking her head out from deep inside. "Anything?"

"Whatever you want."

Xena pursed her lips together in thought. Her first instinct was to say "Carry you inside and make mad, passionate love to you!" But that wouldn’t be something different. They did that now every day. "And every time is just as beautiful as the first," she thought. "Well," she said slowly, "We could ride out and look for somebody who needs their ass kicked."

That made Gabrielle smile. Xena had fallen into one of her playful moods. She loved to see that twinkle in her eyes. It had been happening more often since they had gotten back together. There was something different about her now. "Cute" would be the best word to describe it. But Xena would probably die if she ever called her cute! Gabrielle shook her head. "Too hot. We’ll get all sweaty."

"Okay. We could go up to the Northlands and find that cave where we almost froze to death."

She rubbed her arms as if to get warm. "Way too cold!"

Xena folded her arms. "We could go off on another long journey."

Gabrielle’s face turned serious and she tilted her head to one side. "Feeling the need again, Warrior Princess?"

"Gabrielle," she replied shaking her head, "I’m only joking."

"Because if you do…."

"If I do, this time I’ll tell you. I promise." Xena remembered how she had kept her strong Wanderlust hidden from Gabrielle for months before they finally went off on their adventure to the Northlands.

"You’d better," she said, giving her a very light swat on the arm.

"Xena went back to tossing out ideas. "Town?"

"We were there two days ago." She put her hands on her hips. "Gods, Xena----be adventurous! Think of something fun."

Xena leaned back against the porch railing. Gabrielle had an impatient streak in her, and she knew she was stretching her limits. Still, speaking of "fun", it was fun to see her standing there so frustrated. "Well…." She said, and then stopped.

"Xena, you drive me crazy sometimes!" said an exasperated Gabrielle.

She smiled sweetly. "I know. It’s one of my many skills." Xena raised her hands as Gabrielle stepped forward with her hands poised for her throat. "Okay, okay! How about…." She paused just for the effect, "A picnic at the lake." Granted, it wasn’t all that adventurous. But it was a beautiful day to be outdoors. And, remembering her talk with Aphrodite, it would most definitely be fun.

Gabrielle smiled and nodded. "A picnic. We haven’t done that in a long time."

Xena glanced down at her scared left hand. "Not since before our bonding." She also thought to herself "I think I began to take too much for granted after we wed, Gabrielle. Life became too serious. I forgot how we used to have fun." In truth, Xena thought it probably went back even further than that. To Higuchi. Gabrielle having to take down her headless body. She having to face being slaughtered and then stay dead for what was supposed to be for eternity. That episode in their lives knocked the word "fun" right out of their vocabulary.

"A picnic. I like that idea. What should I bring?" It was true. Gabrielle was excited.

Xena could see that "inner child" Aphrodite had told her about. She had looked and seen it a lot since their talk in the barn. It was the Gabrielle she had first fallen in love with. "Surprise me," she said, slipping her arm around Gabrielle’s waist as they walked toward the open front door.

Gabrielle smiled at her Warrior Princess. Oh, there were lots of ways she could surprise her. Her mind had been busy lately thinking of things she had read in the Sacred Amazon Scrolls while she had been away. Sexual practices she had never dreamed of. Rituals for other things that she had never known. She was the Amazon Queen, but even she could still learn a thing or two. She just wasn’t sure how "adventurous" Xena really was. Xena didn’t see her grin broadly as they went inside.



The lake was especially beautiful today. The water was clear and calm, except for the occasional ripple of a fish breaking the surface. Xena had always called it "the lake" since she was a child. The truth was, the water came from an underground spring from the mountains. That was why the water was always clean.

Gabrielle untied the wicker basket from Argo’s saddle and spread an old blanket out on the soft grass. She watched as Xena removed Argo’s saddle and the bit from her mouth. She had changed out of her leather dress. She was wearing a dark blue halter top and tan shorts. Gabrielle had been shocked when Xena had asked if she could make her a pair of shorts like hers. Something about a dream she had seeing herself in shorts. She began working on them that night. Xena seemed to like the freedom of movement they gave her. Gabrielle liked how they showed off more of her legs and the curve of her hips.

Xena effortlessly carried the heavy saddle over to the blanket and set it down. Argo was already happily grazing nearby. "So what did you bring?" Xena asked as she dropped down on the blanket across from Gabrielle. She had laid her scabbard and chakram within reach. Even here in this beautiful spot, there was the still the danger from unwanted strangers.

Gabrielle leaned forward and began unlacing Xena’s boots. She kept her legs still. Anything Gabrielle wanted to do was alright with her. "Oh, some bread, cheese, wine, dates."

Xena raised her eyes from Gabrielle’s hands. "Where did you get dates?" They were one of her favorite sweet treats.

"In town the other day," she said casually, pulling off the heavy leather boots.

"Gabrielle," she said, leaning back on her hands, "Were you planning something like this?"

Gabrielle smiled innocently. "Maybe." She said as she began to remove her own boots.

Xena could tell from the tone of her voice that she was in a playful mood. It was so good to see her like this. "Well? Can I have one?" she asked.

She opened the wicker basket and pulled out a small burlap bag. Opening it, she removed a small date. But as Xena reached for it, she pulled back her arm. "No---not that easy, Warrior Princess."

Xena returned to leaning back on her hands. "Gabrielle, you’re teasing me."

"Umhum." She held up the date. "You can have it if you answer a question----honestly."

Xena tilted her head. "Do I get to ask you one----honestly?"

She thought a moment, then nodded. "It is your day, so I’ll bend the rules."

Xena wasn’t sure where this was going, but she was comfortable and happy, and she’d play her game. "Then ask."

Gabrielle thought a moment and then said, "What part of me do you like best?"

"All of you," she replied, reaching for the fruit.

Her hand was gently slapped away. "Not good enough. Specifically. And it has to be something you see all the time."

Xena looked at her Warrior-Bard. There was no hesitation in her answer. "Your eyes. They let me see into your soul." She was rewarded by Gabrielle handing her the date. It was sticky and sweet and delicious. "My turn?" Gabrielle nodded. "Alright. Same question. What part of my body do you like best?"

She smiled. "Your hands."

Xena was surprised, and looked at her rough calloused hands. "These things? Why?"

"Because they have the strength to kill, the power to hurt----and the gentleness to love me," she answered honestly. She pulled out another date. "When exactly did you fall in love with me?"

Xena smiled. These questions were too easy. "That very first day I saw you standing up to the slavers who had invaded Poteidaia." Gabrielle leaned over and placed the date between Xena’s lips. She chewed slowly. "Were you scared the first time I made love to you?" She saw that Gabrielle was surprised by her question, and she actually blushed.

"You know that answer, Xena. Old question."

"Can’t I ask again? You didn’t say I couldn’t ask an old question." She smiled warmly. "I like to hear your answer."

Gabrielle lowered her head shyly, then looked back up into her Soulmate’s eyes. "I’d never been with a woman. You know that. I didn’t know what to do. What to expect. What you wanted. How to please you. Gods Xena, you know I only had that one night with Perdicus----and he was a little hung over from the wedding."

"Did I disappoint you?" she asked. That was one question she could never remember asking just that way before.

"It’s not your turn," Gabrielle scolded.

Xena smiled. "Call it a two part question."

Gabrielle looked down at the bag of dates in her lap. "I never believed making love could be like that. You took me places I’d never been." She looked back up at Xena and whispered, "You still do." Xena felt a shudder move through her body. It was difficult sometimes to keep her emotions in check. Right now she wanted to dive into Gabrielle’s arms. But she forced herself instead to lay on her back, using Argo’s saddle for a pillow. "Your turn, Gabrielle."

She took another date from the sack. "Do you trust me?"

"Gabrielle, you know you’re the only one in the world that I do trust."

She shook her head. "I mean completely."

Xena still did not hesitate. "Completely." She watched as Gabrielle popped the date into her own mouth. "Hey----not fair."

"Don’t worry, Xena. You’ll get your reward. But not right now. First I have something we’re going to do."

"And what are we going to do?" she asked, smiling. She was hoping that it was going to be something enjoyable, but she couldn’t read the tone in Gabrielle’s voice.

Gabrielle returned the smile. "Let’s just call it a test of trust, Xena."

Her dark brows drew together in a frown. She couldn’t imagine what was going through Gabrielle’s mind. Gabrielle reached into the picnic basket and pulled out a long strip of dark cloth. She crawled on the blanket to where Xena lay and raised the cloth toward her face. Xena’s arm shot up and she grabbed her wrist. She realized what Gabrielle was about to do. "No!" she said sternly.

Gabrielle stayed perfectly still. "You said you trust me completely."

Xena swallowed hard. "You know how I feel about blindfolds, Gabrielle." It was true. She did not like having her eyes covered. Not being able to see everything around her made her feel vulnerable. Too vulnerable.

She looked at the woman on her knees beside her. This was Gabrielle. This was the woman she loved. This was the woman she had crawled to on her face naked in the Queen’s Hut as an act of submission. Could she have ever been more vulnerable than at that moment? But she felt no shame at having done that.

Her hand dropped from Gabrielle’s wrist, and she nodded silently. Xena closed her eyes as Gabrielle covered them with the dark cloth, and tied it behind her head. "Now---don’t move," Gabrielle ordered. Her tone of voice was firm----almost demanding. Xena had no idea what to expect. She wet her lips and then bit at her lower lip. She willed her body to remain still. She would do whatever Gabrielle wanted.

Gabrielle looked at her Soulmate. She could feel Xena’s fear when she was tying the cloth. It was so difficult for her to imagine that the Warrior Princess could be afraid of anything. But she had always known this was one of the things that truly upset her. This was truly a test of trust. Once she was sure that she was not going to move, she got to her feet and went to where her boots lay.

Xena could hear a sliding sound, like something moving against leather. She could not imagine what Gabrielle was up to, until suddenly she felt the point of cold metal pressed against her throat.

Gabrielle stood beside her, one of her sais in hand, the point pressing against Xena’s throat. She saw her swallow hard, and her hands gripped the blanket tightly, but she did not move. She knew Xena’s instinctive reaction was to lash out at anyone or anything that was trying to harm her. She was the Warrior Princess, with reflexes as fast as lightning. She could easily kill her right now. But Gabrielle needed to know. She put slight pressure on the sais---not enough to break the skin, but enough to let Xena know that she was not kidding.

Xena silently fought with the demons in her head. Her dark side wanted to strike---to get that thing away from her throat and bring down the woman who was doing this to her. She gripped the blanket so tightly, Gabrielle could see her knuckles turning white. She had to keep from lashing out. She had sworn on her life that she would never hurt Gabrielle again. She forced her body to stay still, her mind to overcome her fear and anger and inside, she felt the dark side slip away. Her hands loosened their hold on the blanket.

"Gabrielle," she said, trying not to move her head. The point of the sais was sharp. "I don’t know if you’re planning on using that on me or not. Gods---I wouldn’t blame you if you did. But I will not fight you. I swore I wouldn’t hurt you again. That’s a vow I’ll never break, no matter what you do to me."

Gabrielle smiled, tears welling up in her emerald green eyes. She tossed the sais aside. If there was ever a time that Xena’s dark side should have surfaced, it was then. But she did not lose control. She kept her word. And Gabrielle knew it would be that way forever.

"Thank you for not killing me," Xena said, rubbing at her neck. She tried to make it sound light, but in truth she wasn’t sure if Gabrielle was only testing her.

"You’re welcome," Gabrielle replied, walking over to the wicker basket. She dug around inside until she found what she wanted. "But don’t move. I haven’t finished with you yet."

"Gabrielle?" Xena asked quietly.

"I’m here." She replied. When she returned to her side, she had a bottle of clear liquid, a cloth, a bottle of her black writing ink, a quill, and a sharp bone needle in her hand. She set them down on the blanket, and slid down the left strap of Xena’s halter top, exposing her beautiful full breast. Xena’s body twitched as her skin was exposed to the cool breezes. "Don’t move," Gabrielle said again, more sternly this time, and she saw Xena swallow hard once again.

"Will you tell me one thing?" she whispered, as if unable to find her voice.

"Yes." She replied, wiping Xena’s breast gently with the clear cleansing herbal solution.

"Is this going to hurt?" She had a feeling that this time something was going to happen to her.

Gabrielle heard there was no panic in her voice. It was more the voice of a child, afraid of the dark and the unknown. "Yes," she replied honestly. She saw Xena clench her fists at her side to brace against whatever was going to happen. But she did not move. Once again she allowed herself to be under the control of her Warrior-Bard.

She placed the point of the needle to Xena’s breast, a few inches above the nipple, and broke the skin. Xena released a gasp, but said nothing. She kept her body still. Gabrielle continued working until she had tattooed a small chakram with a "G" inside it on Xena’s breast. She worked slowly and carefully, wiping away the blood as she carved into Xena’s skin. Xena’s breathing had quickened, but she didn’t flinch.

Taking the cork out of her bottle of ink, she dipped the quill inside and proceeded to fill in the design she had cut on Xena’s breast. She wiped away the excess as she worked. When she had finished, she sat back and admired her work. It looked good. It was small, but she had put in a lot of detail. Once the swelling and redness went down, it would look very good.

Xena sensed that she had finished, and unclenched her hands. "Gabrielle?"

"I’m still here." Her tone of voice had changed. It was not stern or demanding anymore. The old Gabrielle was back.

She turned her blindfolded eyes toward the voice she adored. "Did I pass the test?"

Gabrielle smiled, and reached behind her head to untie the blindfold. "Yes, Xena. You passed."

Xena opened her blue eyes and blinked trying to get used to the sunlight again. She looked down at her breast----and smiled. No wonder it had hurt like Tartarus! She had realized what Gabrielle was doing once she got started. She just didn’t know what it was going to look like. "I like it," she said honestly.

"A lot easier doing it on you than on me," Gabrielle said, sliding down her halter strap and exposing her left breast. There was a small chakram with an "X" inside tattooed a few inches above the nipple. The skin was still red and puffy, as if freshly done. It was beautiful. The same detailed work as she had done on Xena.

"When did you do that?" Xena asked, reaching out and gently touching the tattoo on Gabrielle’s skin.

"Last night, while you were asleep."

"I heard you get up," Xena said smiling. "Thought you were hungry."

Gabrielle gave her a gentle poke in the ribs. "I’m not always thinking of food."

Xena knew it must have been painful. She had felt the pain, and Gabrielle’s skin was much softer. "I didn’t hear you."

"I can keep my mouth shut----when I want to. Remember when Akemi gave me this one?" She motioned to the dragon/chakram tattoo that covered her back. "Not even a whimper."

"You were very brave," said Xena, very proud of the way that she had handled that difficult time in Japan. Gabrielle began to pull up her halter, but Xena reached up and touched her hand. "No. Leave it, please. I want to see."

Gabrielle smiled and let her hand drop. "Xena, you’ll see it the rest of your life. And I’ll see yours. And I’ll always remember that you trusted me. I put you through things I knew you feared. You didn’t let the dark side win. You trusted me."

Xena gently touched her face with the back of her hand. "I’ve always trusted you, Gabrielle. It’s your trust in me that I broke." She was remembering that day----the day she had lost her temper during their fight and backhanded the face she was now gently caressing.

Gabrielle pushed her cheek into Xena’s hand, and then kissed it. "Can I ask one more question?"

Xena said, "Of course." But then she frowned. "Hey---you owe me a date, by the way."

Gabrielle laughed, crawled over to the small sack of dates, and returned to Xena’s side. She popped a date into Xena’s waiting mouth, and then spoke. "Why did you do that in my hut that night?"

Xena swallowed the only half-chewed date, and lowered her eyes. She knew Gabrielle was talking about her Act of Submission. Neither of them had ever mentioned it since that night. "Because I wanted to. Because I had to."

Gabrielle lifted Xena’s chin until their eyes met. She saw tears welling up behind those beautiful blue eyes that she loved so much. "You never crawled to another human being in your life, Xena." She said with a touch of genuine wonder in her voice.

Xena gazed deeply into the green eyes of her Soulmate. "I never loved another human being in my life as much as I love you," she said without hesitation. "I…." She closed her mouth and became silent.

Gabrielle grasped her left hand and squeezed it tightly. "Don’t freeze up on me now, Warrior Princess. Talk to me."

"I had to show you," she said, her voice quivering. "I needed to give myself to you." She turned over Gabrielle’s hand in her own, exposing both of their scared left palms. "Even more deeply than our bonding. It was the only way I knew. I had to lay everything at your feet---even my life. And I’d do it again----freely." Tears began to flow down the sides of her face. "You’re my life, Gabrielle."

Gabrielle fell into her arms and hugged her body close. "Oh Xena," she whispered into her ear, "I love you so much. I’m not complete without you. I’ll never leave you again. I promise you, my Love."

They lay together on the blanket in the grass for some time, just holding each other and weeping. It was a time of cleansing. It was a time of coming together again as one. They had not spoken of their rift since Gabrielle had returned. It had taken a long time before she sought any closeness from the Warrior Princess. But even in their nights of renewed passion for each other, neither had spoken of that night in the Amazon Queen’s hut.

Xena wiped her eyes with her hand, and gently shook Gabrielle. "Hey---don’t I get another date for that one?" She felt a need to bring back the lightness of the day. She wanted so much to see Gabrielle smile and be happy----as she was happy right now. Yes, she felt it. That child inside. She was not afraid. She felt free. She had conquered some big walls today. And she felt so very happy.

Gabrielle did smile and, rising from Xena’s arms, she reached into the sack of dates. "You get a special date this time," she said seductively. She placed the fruit between her lips and slowly lay her body on top of her Soulmate. She squirmed to get comfortable, her face only inches from Xena’s face.

The feeling of Gabrielle’s body lying on hers was always so exquisite. The warmth, the strength, the softness as their exposed breasts touched. It was just a teasing reminder of the joy she felt when they were naked and skin was on skin. Xena lifted her head slightly, her mouth slowly covering the date until their lips met, and Gabrielle relinquished her prize.

Xena ran her hands through Gabrielle’s hair as she savored that special date. "You can feed me that way any time," she whispered, feeling her skin flush with warmth and desire for the small blonde who was her only reason for living. "Thank you for my beautiful picnic, Gabrielle."

Gabrielle gazed into the blue eyes of the Warrior Princess she adored and said with a twinkle in her green eyes. "Oh, it isn’t over yet. We’ve got the food to eat, and the wine to drink. And I think a swim in the lake would be wonderful later. I think we’re going to need it. We’ve got all day. And a lifetime after that, Xena."

And Gabrielle slid her arms around Xena’s neck and captured the lips of her Soulmate, as Xena had captured her heart so long ago.

It was such a beautiful day by the lake near Amphipolis. Argo raised her head, ears perking up at the sounds her two mistresses were making. She went back to contentedly munching the tender grass in the field. They were happy. She knew those sounds well. And in her horse’s mind….she smiled.


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