Most of the characters herein belong to Renaissance Pictures, MCA/Universal, Studios USA, Flat Earth Productions, and any other individuals or entities who have an ownership interest in the television program Xena: Warrior Princess. This story was not written for profit and no copyright infringements intended.
Violence/Sexual Violence Warning: This story contains detailed descriptions of rape and the aftermath. It also contains some particularly graphic Xena slice & dice action. Hurt/comfort theme.
Subtext/Maintext: NC-17. In this story, Xena and Gabrielle are in love with each other, and there are explicit scenes of lovemaking between the two.
Questions, comments, or suggestions welcome at email@example.com
Setting: Xena and Gabrielle are living in the Amazon village. Gabrielle is ruling as queen and Xena is her consort and champion.
Note To Followers of The Series: This story takes place in an alternate Xenaverse from my ongoing long series. In other words, in my long stories, the events herein never took place. This story was written almost a year ago while I was writing "March the 16th," and I used some of my characters and settings from M16 in this story. Vice versa, I borrowed a few things from this story to use in later stories. ("Cleopatra 4 A.D." is still in progress, I promise <G>.)
(posted June 20, 2000)
hold on, hold onto yourself
for this is gonna hurt like hell
hold on, hold onto yourself
you know that only time will tell
- Sarah McLachlan
The hunting party left the Amazon village well before dawn, with Xena in the lead. It was a crisp October morning and there was a light coating of frost on the ground as the well-armed hunters made their way out of the front gate to the path that led toward the large meadow where deer came to graze. It would take two candle marks to get to the hunt site, and the party would be out until dinner time. After a bit of fussing with bows, arrows, leather, and feathers, they were finally on their way. Xena had been planning the trip for almost an entire moon, and hoped the tracking skills she had been teaching would pay off. If everything went as planned, they would come back with enough meat to feed the village through the winter, as well as enough pelts to make new furs for those that needed them.
About a candle mark after the hunting party left, the queen arose from her bed and looked out the window. The sun had just started to peak over the edge of the trees and the frost had already started to melt. Gabrielle loved October. The days were usually sunny and pleasant while the evenings were crisp and cold.
The bard stretched and padded over to the wash basin to splash her face and comb her hair. She pulled on a mid-weight long-sleeved tunic, a pair of tights, and her calf-length boots. She had already decided to take advantage of Xenas absence by catching up on her scroll-writing. She had been so busy with the paperwork involved in running the Amazon nation, that lately she hadnt had a chance to record any of their most recent adventures. She gathered up a fresh roll of parchment, a few quills, and her ink well, and tucked them into her tooled-leather scroll case.
Grabbing her staff, she made her way toward the dining hall. The dining hall was not nearly as full as usual, with a fourth of the Amazons gone on the hunt. Gabrielle spotted Loisha sitting alone at a table and pulled up a bench across from her.
"Not hunting today, huh?"
"No." Loisha smiled around a mouthful of pumpkin bread and then swallowed. "The last time I went hunting, I managed to scare most of the game away. Im allergic to deer and I kept sneezing every time we got down-wind of them. Which of course, we always tried to stay down-wind so they couldnt smell us. They decided this year that I could probably help dress the kill after they bring it back. Do you hunt, my queen?"
"I cant stand to kill things. I suppose thats a bit hypocritical, since I certainly dont have any problem eating them." The bard began attacking a plate of food that had been placed in front of her by one of the servers, chewing on a slice of bacon with gusto, followed by several hearty swigs of apple cider. She made quick work of breakfast, anxious to be on her way.
"So what are you doing today, my queen?"
"Im going to go to one of my favorite spots this morning and write. In fact, if youll excuse me, Im going to head on out. Have a good day."
"And you too, my queen."
"Loisha, youve seen me dead. I think we know each other well enough now for you to call me Gabrielle."
"Oh. Well. Thank you . . . Gabrielle." The young Amazon gave a shy smile as the bard left the table.
Gabrielle had decided to go to a small pool she and Xena had discovered a few moons earlier. It was fed by a waterfall and behind the waterfall was a cave that had pretty crystal formations on the walls. The cave entrance was hidden from view, and could be reached either by swimming under the waterfall or by hugging the edge of the wall along the hill next to the pool and following it behind the waterfall. The warrior and bard often went there to be alone away from the Amazons. It was a little over a candle marks walk away, but was well worth the trip.
As the bard neared the pool, she slowed a bit, breathing in the scent of the fall flowers that lined the path. Fall flowers seemed to have a deeper headier smell than spring flowers, and the colors were richer, in tones of gold, yellow, and deep reds. Squirrels and other small animals were busy in the trees, gathering stores of nuts for the coming winter.
Finally, she reached her destination and spread out a small blanket she had packed away, and sat down in the sun with her back against a boulder. She opened up the scroll case and carefully pulled out the parchment and a quill and the ink. She unrolled the parchment, resting it on her upraised knee, and dipped the quill into the ink. She made a few tentative scribbles and smiled, as she launched into a description of the latest round of challenges between Xena and Eponin, the weapons master. A friendly rivalry had existed between the two warriors since they had first met almost five years ago.
The bard looked up and stared off into space, gazing across the pond as she thought about the story. Suddenly, she felt a sharp stinging pain in the side of her neck, which hit hard enough to make her gasp aloud. She instinctively reached up and felt a small dart. Her heart raced as she looked around wildly while she extracted the dart. She couldnt see anyone.
She lifted the dart to her nose and inhaled. A strong herbal scent hit her nostrils, almost causing her to gag. Poison? Something was on the dart, but Gabrielle wasnt trained enough in this sort of warfare to know the difference between the smell of drugs and the smell of poison.
Adrenalin rushing through her veins, the bard grabbed her staff and stood up. "Whos out there? Show yourself."
No one appeared, and the adrenalin was joined by a feeling of deep fear. Somewhere beyond the trees, Gabrielle could only assume her attacker was watching her. She began to feel very dizzy and her vision grew quite blurry. Ive got to get back to the village. Using her staff as support, the bard began walking toward the path, but only made it a few steps before her knees buckled and she fell to the ground. After a few moments, she blacked out completely.
She awoke inside a cave. Looking around, she realized it was the one behind the waterfall. She tried to roll over but couldnt. She was laying flat on the ground with her hands tied up above her head. She tried to tilt her head back, but couldnt quite see what her hands were tied with or what they were tied to. She was able to raise her head, which was pounding with a headache, and gasped as she looked down to see her feet tied to two stakes in a spread-eagle position. She began struggling against her bonds, the ropes digging into her skin, when suddenly a very large man appeared in her peripheral vision.
She snapped her head toward him. "Who are you? What do you want?"
"Aw, come on Queenie, surely you remember me? I planned it better this time, though. Been biding my time, waiting for just the right moment." The large man stepped around and knelt down where the bard could get a closer look at him. He smiled a wicked smile, revealing crooked yellow teeth.
Gabrielle gasped. "Angus? Youre supposed to be with a hard labor crew on the coast. Howd you get here?"
"Escaped, Queenie. In the middle of the night about a week ago. I been thinking about you for moons now. You and that warrior woman. No woman kicks me in the nuts and gets away with it. Then she turned me over to them Amazons. A couple of em beat me before the trial."
"Im sorry. They werent supposed to beat you. Thats illegal." Gabrielle realized the seriousness of her predicament, and hoped she could talk her way out of it with diplomacy.
"Well. They did. And its that warrior womans fault. I thought about going after her, but shed be too hard to get at. Damn un-natural woman. So I decided to do the next best thing. Id get you. Can tell she has a soft spot for you. Figured getting you would be almost as good as getting her."
"Did . . . did you poison me with that dart?" The bard had a headache, but otherwise didnt really feel physically ill.
"No. Thought about it. Thought Id just kill you. Then I decided maybe the punishment should fit that warrior womans crimes. So, I just drugged you a little, long enough to be able to get you in here and tied up before you came around. Wanted to make sure you were good and alert. Make sure all your senses are intact." He leered and drew a long dagger out of his boot, and ran it lightly up the bards middle and across her jawline, not drawing any blood.
"Wha . . . what are you going to do to me?"
"She kicked me in the balls so hard I couldnt hardly pee for a week without pain. Couldnt sit up straight for three damned days until the bruising went away. So, Queenie, what do you think Im going to do to you?"
"I . . . I dont know." Gabrielle tried to hide the fear she knew must be in her eyes, and swallowed hard, hoping she wouldnt throw up.
"Gonna take something thatll really mean something to that warrior woman. Youre her little whore. Figure she does you every night. Well, Queenie, Im gonna get me some of that. Gonna have some fun with you." He knelt down closer and began slitting the bards tights away with the dagger.
"Please. Please dont do this. Ill . . . If you will let me go, Ill make sure the Amazons who beat you are properly punished."
"Shut up, whore!" Angus slapped the bard across the face on each side, causing her to cry out in pain. He finished slitting away the tights and began to work on Gabrielles underwear, cutting it away with two efficient strokes of the knife. He stood up and unbuttoned his pants, and knelt back down between the bards legs.
"Please. Please dont do this." Tears were streaming down the bards face.
"I said shut up!" Two more slaps. Gabrielle whimpered as she felt blood trickle from her lip down her chin. Angus ran two rough hands up her legs. "Nice and soft, Queenie. Youre gonna feel real good, I can tell." He raised her tunic up around her waist, exposing her to himself. The bard was now crying aloud, hot tears running down her face. Angus leered at her and lay down on top of her and tried to enter her.
His member was rather large, and the bard, having a fairly small vaginal opening, couldnt accommodate him. Angus thrust himself against her several times, and finally rocked back on his heels in anger, unable to accomplish his task. "Damn. Figured the warrior woman would have you stretched out better than this, Queenie. But then, she dont have the same parts that I do, now does she? Give me a little time with you, Id get you all nice and stretched out. Ill just have to get you a little more ready for me."
Angus took the dagger and tore open Gabrielles tunic, pulling it to both sides and exposing her breasts. The bards eyes darted back and forth in terror and then lowered in shame as the cool air hit her bare skin. She thought of Xena and a pitiful cry escaped from her lips, as she fully comprehended what Angus was doing to her, taking from her.
"Now. Lets see if I can get you a little more wet for me. But first . . . lets make sure you dont scream. Wouldnt want to attract any of those Amazons." He snatched up the bards cut-up underwear and stuffed it in her mouth. Before she could push it out with her tongue, he tied her tights around her mouth and behind her head. Satisfied that she was effectively silenced, he leaned in and closed his large thick lips around one of her nipples, sucking and biting it. With one hand, he began to roughly fondle her sex.
Gabrielle stiffened at the contact, and whimpered against the underwear. At first she watched, but felt like she was going to throw up. Fearing she might choke with her mouth stuffed with material, she finally felt her mind begin to separate from her body, and she floated off into a place where she no longer knew what was happening to her. She thought briefly of Xena and wondered if she would ever see her lover again. Then she retreated even deeper into nothingness.
The large man continued his activities for a few more moments and then sat back with a grunt. "There, youre a little more wet. Itll have to do." He smiled smugly, noting the bite marks he had left on and around the breast he had had in his mouth. He once again knelt between the bards legs and then laid down on top of her. With one hard thrust, he entered her, and with a loud grunt began to pump in and out.
A searing pain between her legs brought Gabrielle back to reality. She felt Angus inside, ripping and tearing at her opening with his large member. She shrieked, but the underwear in her mouth muffled the sound. Her breast throbbed from the bites and her body was covered in a thin sheen of fear-induced sweat. Her body automatically tried to pull away from the assault, but the bonds and the weight of Angus body held her in place. She felt rough gravel pellets digging into her bare backside.
"Oh. Youre nice and tight little Queenie. Too bad I cant keep you. You do feel real good. No wonder that warrior woman likes you. Bet she wont like you anymore when Im done with you. Youre spoiled goods now, Queenie."
Gabrielles jaw clenched and she turned her head to the side, refusing to look at him. She once again retreated outside her body, floating away on a dim wave of pain. After what seemed like forever, she heard Angus groan loudly as he spilled his seed inside her. He collapsed on top of her and she could smell his foul breath inches from her face. She almost gagged at the smell, and was relieved when he pulled out of her and sat up.
"Hey, Queenie. You make one Hades of a little whore. Does the warrior woman make you scream when she touches you? Wonder if I can make you scream? Make you react to me like you react to her? Yeah, lets see if I can do that." He lay back down and began sucking hard on the other breast, while he fondled her clit with his thick fingers.
Gabrielles mind reeled in horror. She hated him. Loathed him. Felt her skin crawling. Yet her body was physiologically reacting to the stimulation. Noooooo. Xena. Im sorry. You have to know I didnt want this. Angus kept up the motions against her clit and her nipple for almost a full candle mark, and she retreated even deeper inside herself as her climax began.
The large man groaned loudly at the sight of the bards flushed body, and felt his member growing hard again. He braced his hands on top of her legs and plunged inside once more, closing his eyes and grinning in pleasure. Gabrielle cried out anew against the clothe in her mouth, gagging and feeling as if she would choke to death. She felt the large man pump furiously inside and thought she was going to die from the pain.
Angus shuddered and then rolled back and stood up, and moved up toward her head. He leaned over and licked the side of her face, and she cringed at the offensive touch. He whispered in her ear. "Id like to take you a few more times, Queenie, but Ive got to get out of here before they find you. Tell your warrior woman that Angus made her little whore come for him." He grinned and stood up. Buttoning his pants and tucking the dagger inside his boot, he left the cave.
Gabrielle whimpered and struggled, and said a silent prayer to whatever gods might listen that her lover would find her alive. Overwhelmed, her mind shattered and she lay still, staring up at the crystal formations on the cave ceiling but not really seeing anything. She spent several candle marks drifting in and out of consciousness.
When Xena arrived back at the Amazon village, she was greeted with the news that Gabrielle hadnt been seen since breakfast. It was now dinner time and the sun would be setting in a few more candle marks. The warrior knew her bard didnt willingly miss many meals. She immediately sought out Kallerine and together, they set out on Argo to find Gabrielle.
"Did she say where she was going?"
"No. Loisha said that all she said was that she was going somewhere to write."
"I know where she went."
Xena urged Argo to speed up, and headed for the pool. It has become their new favorite place, and she suspected the bard would find it a beautiful place to spend the day writing. As they neared the pool, Kallerine spotted something on the ground beside a boulder.
"Xena, whats that?
The warrior stopped the horse abruptly and ran over to the boulder. She recognized the scroll case and the blanket. A quill and a piece of parchment lay haphazardly on the ground, and several steps away she found the bards staff laying on the ground. Damn. "Gabrielle?!" The warrior cried out.
Fighting her fear, Xena knelt down to study the ground near the staff. It appeared that something had been dragged from the spot for several steps. At the point where the drag marks stopped, a faint pair of foot prints could be seen, heading toward the waterfall. "Kallerine, follow me. I think someone took Gabrielle to the cave."
"The cave behind the waterfall."
"Oh." The young Amazon didnt know there was a cave behind the waterfall.
The warrior drew her sword and moved stealthily toward the cave, her senses on hyper alert. As she neared the entrance, she leaned back against the outside wall and peered around the edge, scanning the interior. She cocked an ear and could hear . . . nothing. Then she picked up a faint rustling sound.
Still no answer. She moved into the cave, motioning for Kallerine to follow her. She walked forward for several steps and then looked down and ahead, and drew in a sharp breath, frozen in place.
"Kallerine. Turn around. Now!" Xenas voice was a low growl. The young Amazon immediately obeyed without thought.
"Wha . . . what is it Xena?"
"Stay here. Dont move and dont turn around."
"Was that the queen over there?"
"Yes. Now stay put."
Taking two deep breathes, Xena strode quickly toward the bard. She realized the rustling noise she had heard was Gabrielles body shivering from cold against the hard graveled floor of the cave. The warriors eyes quickly took in the torn tunic, the bards position, and the bite marks, and immediately knew what had happened. She felt her stomach churn and swallowed hard, forcing the nausea to subside.
"Gabrielle?" In one swift motion, she was at the bards side. She untied the tights and then pulled the underwear out of her partners mouth, gasping when she realized what it was. "Gabrielle, who did this to you?"
The bards eyes were open, but glazed and vacant. She stared straight up at the ceiling, and didnt seem to hear her partner speaking to her. Xena realized the girl was in shock. "Kallerine. Go back out to Argo and get me a blanket. When you get it, come back to the cave entrance and call for me."
"Okay." The young Amazon ran out of the cave as fast as she could.
"Gabrielle. Im so sorry." The warrior grabbed her breast dagger and cut the bards bindings from her wrists and ankles. "Im here, love. Im going to take care of you." Xena finished cutting the bindings and the bard reflexively closed her legs together, drew her knees up, and lowered her arms down and crossed them over her chest, her body shivering violently. The warrior knelt down and laid a hand against Gabrielles face, and the bard flinched at the contact, her teeth grinding together.
Xena quickly withdrew the hand. She noted the bruises on her lovers face, the bite marks on her breasts, and she was afraid to look between the bards legs. Gabrielles lips were bruised, swollen and bleeding, and were starting to turn blue from cold. Her teeth began to chatter and her whole body shook even harder.
"Xena. Im back." Kallerine waited at the cave entrance.
The warrior jumped up and dashed across the floor. She took the blanket and looked anxiously into the young Amazons dark brown eyes. "Kallerine, I want you to get on Argo and hurry back to the village. I need the tub in the healers hut filled with hot water. I also need you to tell Cheridah I will be taking over the private room in her healers hut. The one that is next to the bathing room. I am going to be the only one to treat the queen. Unless there are sick people staying there, I want the healers hut vacated. Cheridah wont like it, but shell get over it. I need several basins of clean water and a bunch of clean towels waiting for me when I get there. Ill need a suture kit and antiseptic herbs. And an extra bed moved into the room."
"An extra bed?"
"Ill be sleeping in the room overnight tonight with the queen."
"What!" The warrior snapped.
"Was Queen Gabrielle raped?" Kallerines voice was fearful.
"Yes." The warriors voice grew very quiet and her lower lip quivered slightly. "Kallerine, I need you to keep this in strictest confidence, okay?"
"If anyone asks, you just tell them the queen has been hurt but will be okay, and wont be seeing any visitors tonight when we get back. Im going to carry her back to the village. Ill be there in about a candle mark. Now go."
Xena quickly returned to the bards side. She made a cursory examination of the bard, trying not to touch her too much. She noted the dart puncture on her partners neck, and carefully spread the bards legs. Damn. Gabrielle was bleeding and would probably need some stitches. But not here. It can wait until we get back.
"Gabrielle, Im sorry. I need to lift you up so I can get this blanket wrapped around you. Youre freezing, love." Xena tried to keep her voice as low and soothing as she could, and tried to stay in Gabrielles line of sight. The warrior wrapped her lover securely in the blanket. "Okay, sweetheart. I need to pick you up. I know youre in a lot of pain, but we have to get you home. Ill try not to jostle you too much."
She slowly slid her arms under the bards body and carefully lifted her up, cradling her against her chest. As she left the cave, she could feel her partner flinch with almost every step. "Im sorry, love. I know it hurts."
"Xena?" The bards voice was faint and cracked as she spoke.
"Im here, love. Ive got you now." The warrior looked down and saw swollen green eyes surrounded by bruised skin focus on her for a brief moment. Xena tried to smile a reassuring smile. The bard closed her eyes and wrapped her arms around the warriors neck and laid her head against the strong shoulder. Xena silently cried all the way back to the village.
As she approached the village, Kallerine came running to greet her. "Everythings ready just like you wanted it. I chased Cheridah out of the healers hut and told everyone to go on and leave you alone when you get here."
"Good. Thank you. Kallerine, can you stand guard outside the healers hut tonight?"
"Yes." Concerned brown eyes met blue. Kallerine could tell the warrior had been crying. "Is . . . is Queen Gabrielle going to be alright?"
"I dont know yet." The warrior pushed open the door and carried her bundle down to the private room at the end of the hallway. She laid the bard on one of the beds and lighted several candles. She moved tentatively to Gabrielles side and pulled up a stool next to the bed and sat down, getting at eye level with the bard.
"Gabrielle. Youre still very cold. I have got to get you warm." Normally, the warrior would have taken off all her clothes and the bards, and wrapped both of their naked bodies together in a blanket to share body heat. It was not a sexual thing. She would have done the same with anyone that was suffering from hypothermia. That was normal healers practice. Sharing body heat was the fastest known way to get a freezing person warm. But given what the bard had just been through psychologically, getting naked together was not going to be an option.
The warrior moved to a corner of the room and shrugged out of her leathers and armor. She grabbed a large clean healers hut gown and put it on. "Gabrielle. Im going to take your clothes off and get into a hot tub of water with you. Im going to keep this gown on, okay? I wont be in there naked with you. Im going to hold you, but I promise not to touch you in any other way while were in the tub, okay?"
The bard did not respond, her face having returned to its earlier vacant state. Xena unwrapped her partner from the blanket and pulled her boots off. She carefully pulled away what was left of the tunic. She lifted Gabrielle up and moved into the bathing room, and gingerly stepped into the tub. As she lowered the bard into the water, Gabrielle stiffened as the warm water reached her very painful sex. She whimpered at the burning sensation.
"Im sorry, sweetheart. Well only stay in here for a few moments." Xena sat in the water in silence, as the steam rose around them. She looked down at her lover and saw the bite marks just under the surface of the water. The warrior felt tears sting the corners of her eyes. None of that, warrior. She chided herself. Gabrielle needs you right now. No falling apart on her.
When she could delay no longer, Xena finally left the tub and braced herself mentally to tend to her lovers injuries. She wrapped the bard in several soft towels to get her dry and laid her back down on the bed. "Gabrielle. I need to take care of your wounds, and to do that, I need to touch you. Im going to use pressure points so you wont feel any pain. Try not to watch, okay?"
Still no response from the silent bard. The warrior carefully cleaned the puncture wound on the bards neck first. She wasnt sure what, if anything might have been on whatever dart made the wound, but was pretty sure it wasnt poison. Gabrielle would probably have been dead by now if she had been poisoned. From the puncture wound, she moved to the bards lips and cleaned them, applying some healing salve to the parched cracked skin and putting antiseptic on the cut caused by Angus slap.
Xena paused and then used the first set of pressure points, so that her lover couldnt feel her as she cleaned the bite marks on the bards breasts and upper stomach. When all the bite marks were clean and covered in antiseptic, she released the pressure points and took a deep breath. Come on Xena, get it over with.
With two swift jabs to the bards hips, the warrior effectively blocked the pain in her lovers groin area. Her hands shaking, Xena spread her lovers legs and gingerly examined the bard sex. Oh, Gabrielle. Im so sorry he hurt you. When I get a hold of him, love, I promise he will never ever do anything like this again. The warrior felt the anger boiling under the surface, and forced it down so she could focus on the task ahead.
"Gabrielle, baby. I can stop pain, but I cant stop feelings of pressure. Listen to me. I need to check inside of you to see if you have any internal injuries. You wont feel any pain, but you will be able to feel the pressure of my fingers. Im sorry, love. I have to do it. I know youve been hurt badly, sweetheart. If I could avoid doing this to you, I would, but I cant. Ill try to hurry."
Xena dipped her index finger into some lubricant and then slowly inserted it into her lovers opening. Gabrielle cringed slightly at the touch but otherwise made no sound or movement. The warrior felt all around and let out a relieved breath when she found no injuries. She withdrew the finger and looked at the bards face. No emotion was registered there. Xena sighed. "Gabrielle. I need to stitch you up down here. Youve torn a bit, sweetheart. Itll only take a couple of stitches, but I cant leave you like this. It has to be done."
The warrior sifted through several spools of catgut until she found the finest grade available. She painstakingly threaded a very thin needle. She made the two stitches, cut the ends of the thread, and tied them off. She packed the area with more antiseptic salve and a small pad of bandages. She found another clean healers hut gown and drew it over her lovers head. She grabbed a water skin.
"Gabrielle, try to drink a bit. Youre very dehydrated, love." She held the spout to the bards lips and was finally rewarded when the bard obeyed, sucking weakly at it. Gabrielle took several swallows and then stopped. The green eyes looked up at the warrior, focusing in on the familiar face.
"Xena." The bards voice was the barest of whispers.
"Im right here, love. Im finished taking care of your wounds. Im not going to give you any drugs because Im not sure what . . . he put on that dart. Cant risk mixing painkilling herbs with something unknown. Im about to release the pressure points on your hips, and its going to hurt when I do. Im sorry."
The warrior gently released the pressure points, and a pitiful wail rose up from the bards throat, like an injured animal. Gabrielle glanced briefly at Xena and then turned away from her toward the wall, and curled up in a fetal position. The warrior pulled a blanket up over her partner, resisting the urge to stroke the blonde hair and kiss the pale cheek. "Im going to step out for a minute, love. But Ill come back and sleep over here in this other bed. Ill be here all night long keeping watch, I promise."
Xena realized she was still wearing the wet gown. She tugged it off, dropping it in a heap in the corner. She looked around and discovered she had run out of towels. She stepped out into the hallway and closed the door, and leaned back against the wall with her palms flat against the cool surface. She squeezed her eyes closed tightly, fighting the angry tears she felt welling up inside. There was murder in the warriors heart, and all she could think of was killing whoever had hurt her lover. She let the emotions roll over her for a few moments before she reigned them in, stuffing them down until she could make better use of them.
She went to the bathing room and found a large towel, and wrapped it around her body, tucking the end in to keep it in place. As she stepped out of the bathing room, she looked up and saw Eponin making quick strides toward her, followed closely by a fussing Kallerine.
"Xena, Im sorry. I couldnt stop her. She is the weapons master, after all." The frustrated bacchae slayer put her hands on her hips and scowled at the taller woman. "Eponin. You must leave. Xenas orders. The queen is seeing no visitors tonight."
"Didnt come to visit the queen. Came to visit Xena." The muscular Amazon stood her ground.
"Its okay Kallerine." The warriors voice was weary. "Eponin can come in. Go on back outside."
The weapons master watched until she was satisfied they were alone. She turned to the warrior, taking in the puffy red eyes and the worried lines creasing Xenas forehead. "Xena. How is she?"
Xena closed her eyes and swallowed. "I dont know yet." The warrior leaned against the wall, and still draped in a towel, slid down to the floor. Eponin followed and sat down next to her. "Here." The weapons master held up a flask and offered it to the warrior.
Xena sniffed at it. "What is it?"
"Ouzo. Picked it up in Athens at the festival last spring. Its strong. Figured you could use it."
The warrior grasped the flask and took a tentative sip. Hmmmm. Seems harmless enough. She took a great gulp, and swallowed. And immediately coughed, as she felt the strong liquor burn a path down her throat to her stomach. "Gods, Pony. What the Hades is in that stuff?"
"Dont know." Eponin took a sip herself.
"Give me some more." Xena took a few more sips and sighed, leaning her head back and closing her eyes, feeling the strong potion take a bit of the edge off her ragged emotions.
"Pony, can I trust you?"
"With your life, Xena. You should know that by now. Look around this village. So many have been killed. Youre one of my oldest friends. Ive know you longer than Ive know a lot of my sisters here in the village. You need me. Im here for you."
"She was raped."
"Figured. Kallerine was way too secretive as to what was wrong with the queen. Do you know who did it?"
"Figured that too. Figured if you did hed probably be hanging from a tree by his balls out in the center of the village right now."
"Oh, rest assured, I will find him and he will be dealt with."
"Pony, I swear. I dont know what I will do when I catch him. Of all the people, why her? Shes so sweet, so innocent."
The weapons master cocked an eyebrow, well aware of just who the queen spent her nights with. The Destroyer of Nations.
Xena regarded Eponin, reading her thoughts. "I know. Shes with me. How innocent can she be, right?"
"Well . . . er . . ."
"But its not like that with us, Pony. Its all about love and caring and giving. For all practical purposes, Im the only one shes really been with, other than one night with Perdicus. And for someone to do something this ugly to her . . ." The warrior slammed a fist against the wall, making a hole in it.
"Hey. Xena. Calm down. You dont want to wake her. Or hurt yourself."
"She wont talk to me. Shes said my name a couple of times, but thats all. Wont tell me what happened. Wont talk about who did it. Wont react to me at all, unless I touch her and then she cringes. Shes in shock."
"At least she remembers your name. Give her time, Xena. Youve gotta expect shes going to shut down for a while. Its gonna take a lot of time to get her back. Youre gonna have to be very patient with her."
"I know." The warrior sighed.
"Xena, she needs you now. More than ever. You know that, dont you?"
"You have to stand by her. Have to let her know you still love her. She might not get over this for a long, long time, Xena."
"If anyone can get her through this, you can."
"Thanks for the vote of confidence. Pony?"
"Are we having a sensitive chat?"
"Appears that way."
"Id better get back in there. Pony, can you go to our hut and bring me a clean sleep shirt?"
"Sure." Eponin rose up, pulling the warrior up by the forearm. She patted Xena on the shoulder and turned to leave.
The warrior went back in and checked on her partner. She leaned over cautiously. The bard, thankfully, was asleep. Xena reached down and stroked the blonde head, aware that it might be a long time before she could touch her lover while she was awake. She heard a tap on the window shutter and opened it.
"Heres your shirt, Xena."
"Thanks. Night, Pony."
Xena dropped the towel and donned the sleep shirt. She doused all the candles and padded over to the bed. Drawing back the covers, she sighed and climbed in, dropping her head against the pillow with a soft thud. She wasnt sure if she was going to sleep this night, or not. She turned on her side and rested her head on her crooked arm, observing the sleeping body across the room. The bards sides rose and fell slightly with her breathing, but she was otherwise still.
After about a candle mark, the warrior drifted off from shear emotional exhaustion. She slept for a few more candle marks before she was awakened by Gabrielles whimpers. She listened, certain her partner was having a nightmare. She wanted so badly to go over and comfort the young girl, but was afraid that any physical contact might frighten the bard even more.
"Xena?" Gabrielle sat straight up in a panic.
"Right over here, love."
The warrior heard her partner stir and then heard soft footsteps coming toward her. She held her breath as she felt the covers being tugged back. The bard crawled up beside her and curled against her, burying her face in Xenas shoulder. The warrior resisted the urge to hug her lover, unsure what to do. She felt tears begin to wet her shoulder, as the bards body wracked against her in silent sobs.
"Shhh. Gabrielle. Were going to get through this. I promise you." The warrior didnt know what to do with her hands, so she placed them behind her own head, to keep herself from inadvertently offering the comforting touches her body was screaming to administer.
The bard took several audible gulping sobs, shaking so hard, Xena feared her lover might break in two.
The warrior immediately wrapped her arms loosely around the small body tucked against her.
"Dont let go, okay?"
"I wont. Sleep now, love. Ill protect you."
The bards tears finally subsided, and she gradually fell asleep. Xena was not far behind.
Gabrielle woke up confused for a moment, but the pain between her legs quickly reminded her of where she was and what had happened. Forgetting that she had moved into Xenas bed, she felt the body under her and the arms around her, and screamed, jerking violently away and jumping to the floor.
The warrior, who had been asleep, bolted straight up, reaching for the sword that had been resting against the headboard. "Wha? . . . oh." Xena could make out her partners shaking form standing in the middle of the room. "Gabrielle?"
"Xena. Im sorry. I . . . I think Ill move back to this other bed."
Xena heard the sad, almost apologetic timbre in the bards voice. "Gabrielle. Its okay. You do whatever you need to do. Ill be right here if you need me."
The bards shoulders slumped, and she shuffled slowly to the other bed and crawled in, once again curling into a tight ball. Xena heard the small muffled sobs, and her heart ached for her partner. She clenched her fists to still her own shaking, feeling helpless to do anything to help the hurting girl. The warrior listened and heard the sobs give way to hiccups, and finally to the uneven breathing of troubled sleep. Xena lay on the bed, staring up at the ceiling until she finally saw the first faint rays of dawn coming through the window.
Gabrielle woke up and saw a white wall in front of her face. Her whole body ached and she remembered why. Rolling over, she saw Xena sitting in a chair with her back to her, staring out the window, deep in thought. The bard sat up and swung her legs over the bed, wincing at the new waves of pain that simple action caused. She stood up and slowly maneuvered herself behind the chair, tentatively touching the warrior on the shoulder. "Hey."
"Hey." Sad blue eyes turned and looked up at her with a questioning expression. "You . . . um . . ." Xena sighed and lowered her eyes to the floor. She took a deep breath and looked up again. "This is gonna be hard, isnt it?"
"Yeah." The small hand absently squeezed the muscular shoulder it was resting on.
Xena started to reach up and place her hand on top of the bards, and then stopped, dropping it back into her lap.
"Its okay. You can hold my hand."
A very shaky hand slowly raised and wrapped around the smaller one, and the warrior leaned her head to the side, resting her cheek on top of them. A single tear squeezed from one of Xenas closed eyes, trickling down her cheek and across her hand, falling on one of the bards fingers. Gabrielle lifted her other hand and rested it against the warriors other cheek. Xena felt warm waves envelope her body and sighed softly at the contact.
After a long silence, the warrior cleared her throat and sat up straight. "Can I go get you something to eat?"
"Gabrielle." Xena stood up carefully, trying not to make any sudden or threatening movements. "Sit down." She motioned to the seat she had just vacated and the bard complied. The warrior moved around in front of her lover and knelt down, resting one hand on her partners knee. Gabrielle had a brief flashback of Angus touching her legs and cringed, her jaw clenching.
"Sorry." Xena quickly withdrew the hand. "Wasnt thinking." She shifted her weight to balance on her heels, resting her forearms loosely on top of her own legs. "Gabrielle. You have been through a terrible ordeal. And eventually we will talk about it. But there are some very basic things we need to do first. You have been injured, you are probably still dehydrated, and you havent eaten, Im guessing, since breakfast yesterday. Im sure you have no appetite, and I dont blame you. But you have to make yourself eat. Your body needs the fuel to heal itself. Will you please try to eat something?"
Gabrielle searched the blue eyes and felt many different emotions flitting around in her heart. Shame. Thankfulness. Love. Fear. And wondering if the woman that knelt in front of her would be able to deal with what had happened if she were to know the details. Wondering if she could ever bring herself to tell Xena the details. "Okay. Ill try."
"Good girl. Ill only be gone a few minutes. Will you be okay alone until I get back? I can get Kallerine or Pony or someone . . ."
"Its okay. Go on."
Xena rose and walked toward the door, looking over her shoulder at the bard. As her hand closed around the door knob, Gabrielle spoke.
"It was Angus."
The warrior stopped and spun around, her blood growing cold. "What did you say?"
"Angus. That man that knocked me out by the river back in Amphipolis when we were washing the sheep."
"How? He did this to you?"
"Yes." The bards voice was a trembling whisper.
"Gabrielle, I . . ." The warrior moved to go back to her partners side.
"Please dont come over here. I cant bear to look at you right now. Im sorry. Go get breakfast." Gabrielles head slumped down and she clasped her hands in her lap.
Xena stopped in her tracks, rooted in place. She spoke to her lovers back. "Gabrielle. Listen to me. I love you. Nothing can change that. I hope you will eventually talk to me about this. I wont force it. Gods know I will never force you to do anything. Ever. You have done nothing wrong. You need to believe that. Im going to the dining hall now, but Ill be back as soon as I can. Youre not alone." The warriors words echoed the bards from so long ago. She turned and left the room.
Kallerine rose as Xena exited the healers hut. "Um . . . Xena. Cheridah is wondering if she can come in to work this morning."
"Oh, gods. Kallerine, Im sorry. I forgot you were out here. Yes, tell her to come on in, just dont go in the room where Gabrielle is. And go get some sleep. Thank you for standing guard."
"Youre welcome. Is Queen Gabrielle okay?"
"Physically, she will be fine. Emotionally, I dont know."
"Hmmm." The young Amazon bit her lower lip. "Think I could visit later?"
"Lets wait and see, okay? Ill tell her you asked about her. Thatll make her feel a little better, Im sure."
"Okay. See ya later, Xena."
The warrior entered the back door of the dining hall, hoping to avoid a lot of questions from concerned Amazons. Eponin was waiting by the back door with Chilapa. "Thought you might come through here." The weapons master stepped forward. "Need a bit of shelter going inside?"
"Yes. Thanks." Xena turned and faced the regent. "Chilapa, you may need to act as leader of the nation for a while. You up to it?"
"Yes. But can you tell me what in Hades is going on?"
The warrior looked at Eponin briefly in surprise and then with an awed respect. She had been sure that the weapons master would at least have told the regent what had happened.
"Hey. You said to keep everything confidential. You think Im gonna break the confidence of the warrior princess? Im not stupid, Xena."
"Thanks, Pony. Youre a true friend. Chilapa, Im going to ask the same thing of you. You must not tell anyone what Im going to tell you, okay? Gabrielle is a very private person."
"But of course."
"Pony, you listen too. Remember Angus? That guy who attacked Gabrielle in Amphipolis? He raped her."
Chilapas mouth fell open and she gasped. "Shes been raped?"
"Yes." Xena looked down at the ground.
"So she told you?" Eponin looked at the warrior with concern.
"Yes. Thats about all shes told me, but its a start. He must have escaped from the labor camp. We need to send out an alert to the outlaying Amazon villages to be on the lookout for him. My guess is he will probably try to get to the coast and escape the country on a boat. He knows me well enough to know that I will hunt him down. I once promised him I would, among other things."
"Other things?" Chilapa looked confused.
"Lets just say that if I make good on them, Angus will be speaking in a much higher voice when I get through with him."
"Oh. Right. Can I help?" The regent felt her own anger rising at the assault on the young queen.
"Get in line." Pony unconsciously laid a hand on her sword hilt.
"Hey. Lets go get Gabrielle some breakfast." The warrior eyed both angry women.
"Xena, stay out here. Ill bring you a basket. That way you wont have to face any of the others." Chilapa briefly patted the warrior on the back.
"Thanks. That would be great. Um . . . make sure and get some of that fresh nut bread. She likes that. And bacon. Oh, and herbal tea and some cider. Maybe some of that baked apple stuff they make . . ."
"Okay, okay. I get the picture. Ill get a little of everything, alright?"
"Right. Thank you."
A quarter candle mark later, the warrior was making her way across the courtyard with a heavily-laden basket. She hoped the tantalizing smell of the food might entice her peeked partner to eat. She had to admit that her own appetite was sorely lacking. Well, Ill have to set a good example for her, I guess.
She entered the private room again and sighed as she spotted the bard once again curled up on the bed facing the wall. "Gabrielle." She tried to keep her tone light. "Breakfast is served." She put the basket down on top of a table and sat on the very edge of the bed.
The bard rolled over and rested a hand on Xenas thigh. "Thank you. I know youre trying to take care of me. Im sorry I cant be nicer to you right now."
"Gabrielle. Ive been treated much much worse by many many people. Dont worry about me. You just concentrate on getting better. Im tough. Ill be fine. I can take it."
"Can you, Xena?" The bards voice was angry. "You better think long and hard about that. Your sweet little bard is gone. Taken away. He . . ." Her face contorted. "He took me Xena, and he used me. And I dont have anything left inside to give. That light you prayed for when Callisto killed Perdicus. You better pray real hard, Xena, cause its gone. You said you couldnt take the darkness that would follow. Look at me, Xena. There is nothing inside here but darkness and ugliness. If you truly cant take it, you better leave me now. There is nothing pretty here anymore."
"I can take it." Sure. Steady. Unwavering. "And Im sorry, but I will never be able to look at you and see anything even remotely ugly. Im not leaving you. Ever. Unless you want me to. You . . . you dont want me to leave, do you?"
Sad uncertain blue eyes gazed at even sadder green ones.
"No." A whisper. "Please dont go."
The bard scooted around and laid on her side curled up against Xena, her head in the warriors lap and one arm draped across. Fresh tears made their way to the surface and Gabrielles body shook against her partner. Xena laid a hesitant hand on the bards back, and when the younger girl did not react badly to it, the warrior began to make tentative comforting circles on the small of her lovers back, and quietly whispered soothing words down at the bard until she felt the small body go still.
Xena peered down. "Hey. You asleep?"
"Can you try to eat something?"
The warrior carefully moved out from under her lovers head and arm, and went over to the table and rummaged through the basket.
"Xena. Im sorry."
"No need to apologize, love."
"Xena, after we eat, can we go home?"
"Sure. The only reason I didnt take you to our hut last night is because I didnt want your first memories after . . . well . . . I didnt want you to associate all the stuff I had to do to you to clean up your wounds with our home."
"Oh. Thank you, Xena."
After breakfast and after a tearful changing of Gabrielles dressings, warrior and bard walked slowly to the queens hut where they lived. Gabrielle managed to give wan smiles and short greetings to the few Amazons who were out and about. When they entered the hut, she stopped and looked around before silently moving out to the back courtyard where she curled up on the chaise-style padded bench Xena had made for her. The warrior stood in the doorway, unsure of what to do.
"Join me?" The bard looked up at her partner and patted the space next to her on the bench. Xena slid in next to her lover.
"Hold me." Gabrielle scooted up, making space for the warrior to move in behind her. The bard sat between her partners legs and curled up sideways, tucking her legs underneath herself and sitting up slightly to avoid direct contact on her painful sex. She leaned back against Xena and placed her arms on top of the long ones wrapped around her waist. The bard closed her eyes and concentrated on the love she knew Xena felt for her. She swallowed, gathering her courage.
"He did it twice."
The warrior stiffened slightly, but made no comment, hoping her lover would talk some more. Painful as it was going to be for Xena to hear details, she knew that Gabrielle needed to get it out.
"At first he couldnt do it."
"He couldnt get an erection?" The warrior was confused.
"No. He couldnt get inside. I was too small."
Xena swallowed. She knew her petite partner was small. It was something she was constantly careful of when they made love.
"Hes a really big man. So he kept trying and finally he got really angry." The bards voice grew shaky. "He took out the daggar again. He had used it to cut off my tights and underwear . . ." A small sob escaped.
"Gabrielle, you dont have to tell me if you dont want to." The warrior looked down at the fair head. She couldnt see her lovers face and suspected that the bard has chosen their current position specifically for that reason.
"I had been begging him not to do it . . .he said I was too tight and that I wasnt wet enough for him. Xena, I saw him pull out the knife, and I was afraid that he was just going to kill me . . . or maybe cut me open down there to make me bigger. I watched the knife and he cut my tunic open. And then he said he didnt want me to scream, so he stuffed my underwear in my mouth and tied the tights around me. Then he um . . . he started biting and sucking my . . ." The bard briefly looked down at her breasts. She took a few shallow breaths. "I screamed but of course no one could hear because of the underwear. I felt him start to touch me down there, and I kind of blanked out."
"Thats a defense mechanism, Gabrielle. A lot of people, when something really bad is happening to them, they sort of mentally separate from their bodies to avoid the pain. Was that what it was like?"
"I did the same thing when my army made me run the gauntlet. I tuned out the pain and just focused on getting to the end of that row."
"Yeah. It was like that. For a long while, I dont know how long, I just kept waiting for it to be over, but it hadnt really begun. All of a sudden I felt the most terrible pain. I knew he was inside me and I could feel myself tearing down there. Xena, it hurt so bad. I thought I was going to die. I wondered if I would ever see you again. Part of me wished I would die. I think I might have, but I knew it would make you sad. I knew I had to live."
The warrior placed the faintest of kisses on top of her lovers head, and was relieved when the bard leaned into her instead of away from her.
"Xena. Theres more, but I just cant talk about it right now. Im sorry."
"Gabrielle, sweet baby. We have all the time in the world. You dont have to push yourself on my account. Thank you for telling me what you have. The more I know, the more I can understand what youre going through, and hopefully be able to help you get through it."
"Xena. I felt so stupid and helpless. Like it was my fault that he had been able to get to me."
"Gabrielle, he drugged you. Your defenses were taken away."
"He took more than that, Xena. Until yesterday, I had never been touched like that other than in love. He took something that had been so beautiful to me, had brought such joy and comfort and pleasure to my life, and he made it ugly. I dont know if I can ever get past that."
"Lets not worry about that right now. Take small steps Gabrielle. Look for the little victories. You cant fly until you first crawl and walk."
"Its just . . . Xena . . . I know you. I know what you like. You are so sweet and gentle with me, but there are the times when you like it wild and rough. And until now, I really really liked everything we did together. Now. I cant even give you sweet and gentle. I may never be able to give you wild and rough again. And it kills me to think that he took that. That I might not be able to give you what you need."
"Gabrielle. You are what I need. Everything else is peripheral to that. Without you it means nothing to me. Love, Gabrielle, is what I need. Not sex. Sex is extra. I will take whatever you can give. And if you cant give anything, that doesnt matter. Because I love you. And loving you is all I need. Love enhances sex. But sex without love is nothing. I could go out and sleep with every Amazon in this village and do all sorts of unimaginable things with them. And it would leave me completely empty. Because it could never fulfill me as much as just waking up and seeing your face every morning does. You are the other half of my soul, and we will be together forever. So dont you worry about what you can or cannot give. Just by being here you have given me everything I need."
"Xena, I love you." The bard turned her head and planted a single chaste kiss on the bare skin just below the hollow of the warriors throat. She sighed and kissed the spot one more time before laying her head back again and closing her eyes.
Six weeks passed and the warrior and the bard had gradually settled into some semblance of their normal daily lives. They were once again eating their meals in the dining hall, other than the occasional private dinner in their hut. Gabrielle spent her mornings tending to the affairs of the Amazon nation, while Xena used the time to resume teaching her tracking and horsemanship classes. Afternoons they spent together, sometimes talking and sometimes going for long silent walks. Many afternoons were spent cuddling together in the courtyard. They continued to sleep together with Xena holding the bard, but other than cuddling and the occasional touch, no other physical contact had taken place.
Gabrielles wounds were healing nicely, and Xena had once again applied pressure points while she removed the bards stitches. The emotions connected with the contact had reduced the bard to tears, and the warrior had spent most of the afternoon comforting her partner after the ordeal, holding her and telling her everything would be alright.
One great unspoken fear between the two lovers was that Gabrielle could be pregnant. Neither one mentioned it to the other, both knowing that the other had probably thought about it and also knowing that they would know soon enough. As with many women who have lived together for a long time, warrior and bard had been cycling at the same time for a few years. Xena knew enough about womens cycles and bodies to know that the attack had indeed occurred at a time when Gabrielle could easily have gotten pregnant.
Two weeks after the attack, Xena began to cycle. She went to the healers hut to replenish their supply of bulrushes, which were used for that time of the moon. When she returned, she found the bard preparing to go to the bathing room for her bath.
"Here. Um . . . I got us some of these." The warrior held out the bulrushes. "Do . . . you . . . um." Damn, Xena, spit it out. She inwardly chastised herself. "Do you need some of them?"
The bard looked up at her partner, reading the worried expression in the blue eyes. "Yes. Xena. I do. You know we always cycle together." She took the offering, allowing her fingers to briefly brush the warriors hand.
"Oh. Good. I was worried. I mean I thought you might . . ."
"No. Thank the gods, Xena. I dont know what I would have done if I had been forced to bear his child."
"We would have gotten through it together, love. But Im glad we dont have to."
"Thank you, Xena." Gabrielle had kissed the warriors hand before she turned and went to take her bath.
After that, they continued with their usual routine, but Gabrielle had not ventured to tell Xena anything further about the rape. At odd moments, the warrior remembered that her lover had said there was more, and idly wondered what more there could be. She knew not to push her partner to talk, and contented herself with the chit-chat and endless questions from the bard that had always been a part of their relationship. Gabrielle would not bathe or change clothes in front of the warrior, and Xena made sure to give her partner plenty of space and privacy for those activities.
One morning, Xena awoke to find her lover missing from their bed. She rose up and moved through the hut, finally finding the bard standing outside in the back courtyard in a cold grey dawn, as gentle snowflakes fell all around her. It was a beautiful sight and the warrior stopped and just watched for a moment, glad to see some of the child-like joy that had been missing for so long returning to her lovers face.
The bard turned and spied her. "Xena. Look. The first snowfall of the season. Come out here."
The warrior threw on her long cloak and stepped out and stood behind her partner, resting her hands on each shoulder.
"Pretty, isnt it?"
"Yes. Very pretty." Xena was absorbing the warmth of the contact with her young lover. Since the rape, she had realized just how much all the little touches between them meant.
Without thinking, Gabrielle turned around and Xena immediately dropped her arms to her sides. The bard looked up and moved in close. She looked into the blue eyes for a long moment and then reached up, drawing the warriors face down. She planted a short kiss on Xenas lips. And then another. And then a few more. The warrior stood absolutely still, not kissing back, letting her lover do whatever she wanted to do, enjoying the pleasant tingle she felt each time Gabrielles lips touched hers.
"Um . . ." Gabrielle broke off and took a deep breath. She opened her eyes and reached up, wrapping her arms around Xenas neck. "Hold me, Xena."
The warrior cautiously brought her arms out and around her lover, drawing her in slightly. The bard closed her eyes and stood up on tiptoe, kissing Xena again, reveling in the warmth that radiated from the warrior. The tip of her tongue grazed the warriors lips, and then tentatively pushed between them, exploring Xenas mouth. Gabrielle broke off on a ragged breath, and leaned in, resting her forehead against the warriors chest. She began to shake.
"Cold, love?" Xena controlled the passion, pushing it down so it wouldnt show it in in her voice.
Gabrielle looked up again, and her eyes never left the warriors, as she took Xenas hand and drew it across and under her cloak, and placed it on top of the bards breast on the outside of her tunic. Gabrielle left her hand on top of Xenas. She reached around with her free hand and circled the warriors waist underneath her long cloak, and pulled her body close. "Kiss me Xena."
Xena lovingly cupped the bards cheek with her free hand and leaned in, planting light kisses all over her lovers face before she brushed Gabrielles lips with her own several times. The bard opened her mouth, inviting the warrior in. Xenas tongue danced with her lovers, while her mind was very much aware of the breast her left hand was resting on. She was careful to avoid fondling it, despite her bodys cravings to do otherwise. She forced herself to concentrate on the kissing instead, and the jolts of pleasure it was sending straight to her core.
The bard broke off. "Lets go inside." She led Xena into their hut and took off her cloak. The warrior did likewise, deciding she would follow her lovers lead. Gabrielle gently took the warriors hand and looked into her eyes, and led her into their bedroom. Small hands pushed Xena back until she was laying on the bed. The bard crawled on top of her and leaned in for another lengthy kiss.
"Xena. I dont know how much I can do. But I want you. Ive never stopped wanting you. I . . ."
"Gabrielle, we dont have to do this. If you . . ."
"I want this, Xena, at least a little of it."
"Okay, but you stop if you need to. Promise?"
The bard tugged at the warriors sleep shirt, which she was still wearing, and pulled it over Xenas head, exposing the warriors firm breasts. Gabrielle gazed steadily into her lovers blue eyes and read the thinly-veiled passion there. "Youre so patient with me." She murmured as she leaned down and began to suckle a rapidly-hardening nipple. "Mmmmm. Ive missed this." She moved to the other nipple and continued. One hand wandered across the warriors taut stomach, but no further down.
Xena kept her eyes open, watching the bard loving her breasts, and also watching for any signs that Gabrielle might be uncomfortable or fearful. She bit her lower lip, stifling the whimpers and moans that would normally accompany the bard touching her the way she was. Goose bumps danced across Xenas skin, something she had no control over.
Gabrielle sat up and straddled Xenas waist. She reached up to her own tunic and unlaced it. The warrior watched, willing herself to show no emotion, not wanting to frighten her young lover. The bard pulled her tunic part of the way down, exposing one breast for her lovers view. She looked at Xena with a question in her eyes.
"You are so beautiful to me, Gabrielle."
"Do you . . . ?" The bard couldnt bring herself to ask.
"I love you. And yes, I want you." Xena held her breath, hoping she had guessed correctly.
"I love you too, Xena."
Gabrielle reached down and clasped the warriors left hand and brought it up to rest against her exposed breast. Xena sighed at the contact against the soft skin. "Touch me, Xena."
The warrior sat up, never losing contact with the breast, and shifted so that the bard was sitting across her lap. She began to trace light circles around her lovers breast, gradually moving closer until she grazed the nipple with her thumb. The bards eyes were half-closed with desire. "You can . . . um . . . put your mouth on me as long as long as you dont suck or bite . . ."
Xena raised her eyebrows and received a nod of affirmation. "Gabrielle, I love you." She leaned in and kissed the bard, and then let just the tip of her tongue trail down her throat and across the top swell of the breast until she reached the now very hard nipple. She gave a slow lick to the nipple with the flat of her tongue and was rewarded with a small whimper from the bard.
Gabrielle closed her eyes and concentrated on the sensations racing from her nipple to her groin. Each time she started to have any bad memories, she opened her eyes and looked down, reassuring herself that it was Xenas dark head next to her body, and Xenas strong arms wrapped loosely around her waist. After a while, she simply let herself get lost in the pleasure she felt and concentrated on Xenas gentle exploration of her skin.
"You okay with this?" Worried blue eyes solemnly regarded the younger girl.
"Yes. Please. Id forgotten how good that feels."
The warrior continued to lick the nipple, causing ever-growing passion to take over the bard. Gabrielle groaned as she felt the moisture begin to pool between her legs. She stiffened at a memory of Angus, forcing her. Probing her. Xena felt the change and pulled back and looked into the green eyes, and saw fear. "Stop?"
"Yeah. Im sorry."
"Sorry? Gabrielle, dont be sorry. Thank you. Thank you for letting me back in like that. I love you."
The bard reached up and traced the warriors jawline, and then began to cry.
"Those arent happy tears, are they?" Xena used her thumbs to try to wipe away the growing flood emanating from her lovers eyes.
More tears, as a low wail escaped Gabrielles lips.
"Oh. Gabrielle. Im sorry. We shouldnt have . . ." Damn. Too soon. Stupid, Xena. You should have stopped it.
"No. Xena. Its not that. I started to feel . . . I wanted you . . . more . .. and he . . . he took that from me. He made me . . .it was yours . . . he took it away . . .I didnt want to . . . he just kept touching me and I . . ." The words escaped around heaving sobs.
"Gabrielle. Baby. Slow down. Youre not making sense. Is this part of the more you mentioned to me the day after he . . . um?"
"Yes." The bard scooted back away from her lover and sat down, pulling her shirt back up and hugging her knees against her chest. She looked down, unable to meet the piercing blue eyes.
"After the first time, he . . . he asked if you made me scream when we . . . and . . ."
"You dont have to tell me if you dont want to."
"No. Xena, you need to know. He said he was going to make me scream. Make me react to him like I react to you." Gabrielles skin reddened with shame. "He started to suck really hard on my . . ." The bard glanced at her chest. "And he reached down there and he touched me and stroked me. Xena, I tried so hard to fight it. I didnt want it, I swear. But he just kept on, and I felt myself start to react. I tried to just not think. After a while, I started to feel it, and I hated myself. I felt so dirty. Felt like I had betrayed you. And after he forced that out of me, he went inside again . . . it hurt so much . . . and when he was done, he licked my face. He said . . ." The bards voice broke and tears streamed down her face. "He said to tell you that he had made your little whore come for him. Said you wouldnt want me anymore when he got through with me."
Gabrielle took a deep breath and fell against the bed, curled up in a ball and sobbed. A long low wail worked its way from the deepest part of her gut. "Ooooohhhhhh. I hate him. I hate him. And I hate myself more. How could I?"
The warrior was next to the bard in a heartbeat, tentatively brushing her hand against the fair blonde head, wiping the tears away with the other hand. "I hate him too. For what he did to you. But Gabrielle, listen to me. He used you. Its a physical reaction. Anyone, given enough stimulation, is going to eventually respond. Dont hate yourself. Your body was merely responding to a physical stimulus, and nothing more. You did not betray me. Its not the same. You must know that."
"But Xena. That belonged to you. I . . . Perdicus didnt . . . my first climax was with you."
"And even the few times that Ive touched myself, I was thinking about you. Every time Ive ever . . . it was you. Until he reached down with his dirty grubby filthy fingers and took that away. He took something very precious that belonged to me and you, and ripped it away. Im afraid if you ever touch me again . . . down there . . . if I . . . it will make me think of him."
"We still have all the time in the world, Gabrielle. We dont need to think about that now. What we did earlier. The kissing and the touching. Was really nice. That was spontaneous, right? You werent really thinking about it."
"Well, if, and I do mean if, because I will never force you to do anything you dont want to do. So, if we reach a point where I touch you like that again, we will deal with it then. Together. If not, what we have is enough. He can never take what we have away from us. He cant even begin to imagine what it feels like to love you."
"You still love me?"
"More than I ever thought possible."
"Do you still . . . ?"
"Want you? Gods yes. Dont you believe anything he said to you. Especially that."
"I love you Xena." Sad green eyes looked wistfully at sad blue ones, and the bard curled up against her partner with a long trembling sigh.
CONTINUED IN PART 2 (Conclusion)
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