Characters from Xena: Warrior Princess are property of MCA/Universal/Renaissance. No copyright infringement is intended.
This is a work of alternative (alternative...what's that?) fan fiction. No profit will be gained from its production. This piece of fiction is copyright of the author.
There are depictions of love/sex between persons of the same gender. If this is illegal where you live, you are underage, or the idea ties your skivvies in a wad, then stop reading here and find something more appropriate to your tastes and/or laws.
Thank you for taking the time to read the stuff above, and hopefully, the stuff below.
Author's Note: This is a sequel to Eternal Rewards and Eternal Love.
Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright June 16, 1998
"What's going on?"
Ephiny glanced up at in the direction of the voice, irritation written clearly on her features. "Xena," she said as her face changed with a crinkled smile. "I didn't think you would make it out of your hut today. Where's Gabrielle?"
The warrior glanced back to the home that she shared with her new wife. "Sleeping," she grinned.
"Ah...I see," the Amazon Queen chuckled. "Finally wore her out, huh?"
The tall woman shrugged her shoulders and nodded to a group of women whose voices were steadily rising in argument. "Something wrong?"
The blond warrior shook her head and sighed. "Someone, and I won't mention who," she growled, sparing a glance for Eponin who was in the middle of the fracas, "conjured up a rampaging boar. Thought it might be entertaining."
Xena felt laugh bubbling up from gut, and she tamped it down. Trying to stifle the shaking of her shoulder and schooling her features, she asked, "And?"
"Well," Ephiny replied in an exasperated air, "It's a really, really big boar," she said, indicating with her hands just how large the wild animal was. "They're arguing over who's going to join the hunting party."
The warrior grinned evilly. "Why not conjure a whole army of boars, and that way, everyone could have some fun."
"Oh, no, you don't Warrior Princess. We won't have any forest left after the hunt. Between the wild animals and eager Amazons, every living thing will be trampled to death."
"So just imagine it whole again."
The Queen shook her head. "That's not the point, Xena," she said. "Eponin just loves stirring things up," she explained, turning her attention back to the crowd of women who had begun to finger their weapons with eagerness. "I've got to start a sewing circle or something," she mumbled as she stepped into the crowd and raised her hands, trying to establish order once again.
Xena, on a mission of her own, left to find her mother who still hadn't left for home after the joining celebration. After questioning a couple of girls if they had seen Cyrene, she entered the communal dining hall, where she found her mother deep in discussion with Hecuba. Clearing her throat so as not to startle the two women, she seated herself at their table. "Mother, Mother," she address the two, curious as to Hecuba's response.
Gabrielle's mother didn't miss as beat as she smiled brightly for the warrior and finished ticking off on her hands the ingredients to some recipe.
Once Cyrene had finished recording the details, she turned to her daughter. "So nice to see you, Xena. I would have thought that you would have been...busy."
The warrior blushed at her mother's innuendo. "Gabrielle's sleeping and Solon went home to the Centaur village."
"Did you enjoy your picnic the other day, Xena," Hecuba questioned.
Xena flashed the woman a brilliant smile. "Yes, thank you for the meal, it was delicious." The warrior knew that the woman was absolutely thrilled when someone praised her culinary skills.
"It was my pleasure," the older woman admitted. "Well, Cyrene, I have to be getting back to Potedaia. Herodotus will be needing help with the harvest soon, and I know that he and Perdicas are going to need all the home cooking they can get."
Cyrene embraced the woman farewell. "Be sure to visit Amphipolis next moon," the innkeeper reminded. "You won't want to miss the Ribbon Festival."
"I won't," Hecuba promised, kissing her in-law's cheek. "Xena, I'll see you again. Be sure to bring my daughter by for a visit every now and then, okay?"
The warrior hugged the woman and vowed that they would stop by soon.
When mother and daughter were left alone, Cyrene lifted a brow that was a genetic predecessor to her child's. "What drags you away from the arms of your wife," she asked, her mouth drawn up into a wry grin.
Xena blushed again, mentally cursing herself for the affliction that plagued her so much recently. "Well," she began hesitantly, "I promised Gabrielle that I would take her on a honeymoon, but I'm not sure what to do. I was hoping that you could give me some ideas...or something," she admitted.
Cyrene chortled. "I would think that part was obvious, Xena. You've been busy at it ever since you got here."
The warrior buried her head in her hands and groaned. "Mother, is it really necessary to see how many shades of red I turn?"
The warrior's mother pulled her daughter's hands down into her own. "You really are a beautiful child, Xena. I'm grateful for that which Gabrielle has returned to you." The older woman kissed her daughter's dark crown. "So...what help do you need from me?"
Xena explained how Gabrielle had already imagined where they would honeymoon, but the warrior wanted to make it something that the bard would never forget. She wanted to make it romantic and sweet, something that would keep her wife's thoughts warm for the eternity that they had.
Cyrene nodded as her daughter explained her predicament and offered suggestions, promising to personally cook each and every one of the bard's favorite dishes. Xena's jest about every dish being a favorite of the voracious bard started a laughter that didn't abate until the woman in question joined them.
"What's so funny," the bard asked as she yawned and stretched.
Xena rose to greet her wife with a warm embrace and a lingering kiss. "Your appetite, love."
"Which one," the bard asked without inflection, bending to kiss her new mother's brow.
The older woman delighted in the fresh color in her daughter's face. The warrior would have to get used to it, she mused.
"For food," Xena growled into the bard's ear, catching the lobe between gentle teeth.
Gabrielle suffered a flush of her own and conceded to the warrior, taking a seat at the table. "You win, Xena, no more teasing," she promised, hiding her crossed fingers.
The warrior accepted the minor victory and seated herself, draping a lazy arm around the bard's waist where her hand began to draw unconscious patterns on bare skin. "I was telling Mom that we would be leaving on our honeymoon soon."
Brightening at the reminder, the small woman inched closer to the warrior, snuggling into her warm embrace. "Hmm...can't wait," she whispered, anticipation heavy on her sigh.
Needing to change the subject, the warrior nudged her lover with a hip. "You just missed your mom."
Gabrielle snagged a mug of water before she replied. "Nah...saw her on my way over. She left kisses for everyone."
"So," Cyrene said, slapping the table surface with the flat of her palms, " Where are you going for your honeymoon?"
The bard's eyes got a faraway look in them as she pictured the private bower that she had created so long ago, right after she had died. She had created it as a haven where she could go and listen to the warrior's thoughts, and allow her heart to break when she realized the lost opportunities the both of them had.
After she had snapped out of it, and had adjusted to her death, she went often to the personal clearing to work on stories that she would perform for Hades. Come Tartarus or high water, she had been determined to win Xena's soul. And, unless she was dreaming, her wish had been fulfilled.
Now, the little clearing with the heated waterfall that her mind had created, would be put to another use...a very good use, she thought, trying not to reveal her thoughts with a lascivious expression. Gabrielle shrugged. "Just somewhere private that I like to go. Nothing too mysterious."
"When will you be leaving?"
The two women looked at each other, silently communicating with their eyes. Xena turned away and answered her mother, "Tomorrow at first light."
Clamping down on the whine she knew would come out if she opened her mouth, the bard squeezed her wife's hand and gave her a look that bespoke her distaste of the early hour.
The warrior raised her head and chuckled. "Sorry, love." She turned to her mother once again. "Seems we'll be leaving later than I thought."
When the bard was more confident of her voice, she replied, "For Zeus' sake, Xena, we're in the Elysian Fields. Is it really necessary to rise with the sun?"
"Habit," the warrior shrugged, justifying her tendency to awaken early.
The bard reached out a finger and tapped it on her wife's chin. "Then break it warrior, because I am NOT going anywhere that early in the morning."
When Gabrielle's stomach announced itself, Cyrene left the two alone to prepare a tray for her daughters. She smiled when she heard their playful banter, relieved that her Xena hadn't lost her sense of humor during her dark years. Setting the tray on the table, the older woman saw the comfortable presence they had with each other, the gleam of mischief in their eyes.
Xena trapped the small woman's finger between her perfect teeth. The warrior snorted and smiled, running her tongue over the finger she held prisoner. When the bard melted against her shoulder, she released the slender digit. "Who was awake first this morning, love?"
"That was different," the Queen mumbled, picking at a splinter in front of her, willing the telltale color away. She felt the warrior duck her head and kiss her temple.
"You are so beautiful, Gabrielle. I love it when you blush."
The bard lost the battle with the blood that rushed to her face. Flashing green fire to her wife, she growled, "One of these days, Xena, I swear, I will get you...just wait and see."
Cyrene interrupted the lover's play by clearing her throat. "There's food here if you're interested," she pointed out, her chin in her hand watching her daughters intently. She joined their humor when the two broke apart giggling. "Like a couple of little girls," she sighed.
Gabrielle, punching her wife playfully on the shoulder, corrected her mother-in-law. "This one was never small," she joked, wrapping an arm around the warrior's waist and kissing the unmarked arm.
"Oh, you'd be surprised," Cyrene smirked. "The stories I could tell..."
Xena held up her hand to interrupt. "I'm sure she's heard them all many times over, if I know my curious little bard," she said, sure that Gabrielle had already pried every childhood story from her mother.
"Well, actually...I never did tell her the one about the cats in the barn," she replied, her finger rubbing her bottom lip conspiratorially.
The warrior swallowed her fruit the wrong way, her face suffusing with heat with the effort to cough up the offending food. "You wouldn't dare," she rasped on a ragged breath.
The older woman grinned slyly. "Maybe I'll just save that one for another time," she threatened.
The warrior glared at the bard who was hiding a smirk behind her hand, then at her mother. "Are you sure this isn't Tartarus," she mumbled to no one in particular. When the Gabrielle squeezed her leg under the table and trailed a suggestive finger up to her hipline, she inhaled sharply.
"What do you think," the bard asked, purring into her ear.
Xena grabbed her hand and ducked her head to return, "Save that for the honeymoon, sweetheart."
Gabrielle accepted the quick kiss before she let nature (her other appetite...remember?) take over, diving into the food that Xena's mother had set before them.
Cyrene kissed both women on their heads and gave her leave, thoughts of how to help Xena pull off the perfect honeymoon a chaotic swirl in her mind. "I'll see you two later."
The two women waved their farewells and continued to eat and speak words of love in hushed tones, only slightly disturbed when others began to filter into the dining hall, looking for a late breakfast.
After they finished eating, Gabrielle and Xena found themselves in the village square as twenty Amazon warriors readied themselves for the hunt. After the ceremonial prayer to Artemis was given by Melosa, those who were leaving said their good-byes to their lovers and families.
"Why aren't you going," the bard asked the tall warrior.
Xena squeezed her arm around Gabrielle's waist. "I'm busy enough with you, woman. Why would I want to bother with a boar?"
"From what I hear, it's a really big boar."
"Nope, not interested," she emphatically declared as she bent her head to nuzzle her wife's fragrant hair. "Besides, I have a honeymoon to plan."
Gabrielle turned in the embrace and captured the warrior's lips in a lingering kiss. "You going to tell me about it?"
"Uh, uh. It's a surprise."
Doing her best puppy-eyed imitation, the bard pleaded with her wife. "Come on, Xena. You know I can't wait that long."
"Patience, love. It's only until tomorrow, and then you can take me to your special place."
Gabrielle smiled dreamily up at the warrior. "I've wanted to take you there for so long."
After Ephiny claimed Gabrielle for the afternoon (Xena had asked the Amazon to take the young bard out of hearing range so that the warrior could make some plans), Xena and Cyrene sat down in the couple's hut and planned a honeymoon that would take away Gabrielle's breath.
Once provisions had been decided upon, Cyrene left for the dining hall to prepare some of Gabrielle's favorites, including the nutbread that she favored above all, and Xena entered the depths of the forest to gather various flowers, fruits, and nuts to add to Argo's saddlebags.
A loud rustle in the brush down the path caught the attentive warrior's focus. Forgetting where she was, and always prepared for danger, Xena unclasped her chakram and waited. Her patient eyes widened when she saw the source of the noise. "You weren't kiddin' Eph," she mumbled as she sized up the injured boar that had thundered onto the path and then stopped to evaluate the warrior.
Xena knew the moment that the wild animal had decided to charge. Its eyes rolled up in their sockets briefly and the beast's hindquarter muscles bunched in ready. Before it even lowered its head, the warrior, with a lightning flick of her wrist, released her weapon. With a pleased grunt, she noted with satisfaction that death had not thrown off her aim. Snagging the rebounding weapon from the air, she casually wiped its bloody edges on her boot.
Moments later, three Amazons burst onto the path. Led by Eponin, they stopped in their tracks when they saw the lifeblood of the wild pig pooling and seeping into the forest earth. "Aw...harpy's claws, Xena. You take all the fun out of the Afterlife," the Amazon griped as she surveyed the clean cut that had severed the boar's jugular.
Eponin stood from her crouch and turned to the companion who had addressed her. "Yeah, Zara?"
"How are we going to get this back to the village?"
Studying the carcass that probably weighed as much as all three of them, and casting a glance to the tall warrior who had made the kill, she shrugged. "What do you mean, *we?* She killed it, she can carry it back," the Amazon said with a smirk.
"Uh, uh," Xena replied. "You thought it up, Ep. It's all yours."
"Like Hades, it is. You killed it...you claimed it," the Amazon ordered stubbornly.
Xena raised a challenging brow. "Wanna fight about it," she asked as she took a threatening step and grinned evilly when all three Amazons took a step back.
Eponin chuckled and raised her hands in surrender. "Not on this plane, warrior. I'm not about to find out just how much pain one can experience in Elysium."
"Smart girl," Xena drawled as she gathered her bag and turned to return to the village. "It might help if you called all your friends together to help," she advised over her shoulder as she disappeared around a bend on the path.
Kicking the dead boar in defeat, the Amazon raised a hand to her mouth and sounded out the call for all the hunters to converge. Within a quarter candlemark, they had rigged a litter to drag the animal home.
The evening bonfires were a cheery beacon to those who converged on them. While Queen Gabrielle declared the joining festivities officially over, the Amazons needed no more excuses to party. In the Afterlife, one celebrated the fact that one made it to the Fields and was not suffering in Tartarus.
Small game was cooking over a large fire, as two young Amazons were set to the task of rotating the spit to prevent burning the meat. The boar had been quartered and wrapped tightly in large leaves, and had been buried in a pit to cook over the time of the day. When the head cook announced that it would soon be ready for consumption, great cheers went around for the hunters that had brought the beast back to the village.
Xena saluted Eponin with a nod of her head and a wink before she joined the bard who was talking quietly with Ephiny. When the warrior first saw the tears in the Amazon's eyes, she nearly stopped and turned the other way, but Gabrielle encouraged her over with a slight tilt of her head. Xena caught the tail end of her wife's words to Ephiny.
"She'll be all right, Eph. She's just feeling a little lost right now."
"Are you sure," the blond Amazon asked, her voice trembling.
"I'm positive. Trust me on this, okay?"
Ephiny nodded and smiled as she dried her eyes with the heels of her palms. "I'll leave you two alone," she said as she turned to find the hunters so that she could congratulate them on their prize.
"What was that all about," Xena asked when the Amazon left.
"Elia was talking to her. I guess there is some problem that is causing her to doubt herself, and she was asking for Ephiny's guidance."
"What could be wrong? Things were fine before I...died."
Gabrielle shrugged and wrapped her arms around the warrior. "She didn't mention it, Elia, that is. She just said that things were getting difficult and that she wasn't sure if she would do the right thing."
Xena smiled and rested her chin on the top of the bard's head. "Mora will see her through it," she replied.
The bard chuckled unexpectedly.
Pushing the smaller woman away a bit, the warrior narrowed her eyes in speculation. "What?"
Gabrielle shook her head as she tried to calm her laughter. "I still can't believe that you got those two together, Xena. How long did we travel together...and we never told each other how we felt deep inside."
Xena shrugged with mild embarrassment. "I guess I had the experience to advise them," she replied. "I remembered the time that we had wasted by remaining silent, and the things that we missed out on."
Wrapping loose arms around the warrior's waist, Gabrielle hid a smile against the Xena's chest. "Hmm...but we have forever to spend with each other now," she reminded.
"Thanks to you and your stories," the warrior added as she led Gabrielle to sit under a shady tree.
Gabrielle leaned back into her wife's comfortable embrace and let herself drift on warm currents of love. "No, Xena. You did that yourself. I just entertained Hades until you were ready to join me."
"What did he mean when he said that people were suffering in Tartarus?"
The bard laughed at the reminder. "He thought that it would be fun to inflict a certain torture on some of the souls there." The bard pulled back from their embrace to convey her infectious humor. "Hades created a tavern where there is no drink served but water, and all those being punished have to listen to a bard recite stories night and day without rest."
"Does this bard happen to have strawberry blond hair and swing a mean staff?"
Quirking a brow, the bard assumed a serious look. "Honestly, Xena, I'm not that annoying." Suddenly Gabrielle grinned. "Actually, the bard is a young man with this really high-pitched nasal delivery, and he had no sense of timing or rhythm. I stopped in to see him perform, but I had to leave."
"That bad, huh?"
Gabrielle snorted. "You could say that. I wanted to give him some pointers, but Hades wouldn't let me."
"Well," the warrior drawled, "Tartarus isn't supposed to be pleasant," she pointed out to her wife as she recalled vividly her own experience so long ago. With a visible shake of her head, she forced the images into her past to be forgotten.
"No," Gabrielle agreed with a mumble, "but nothing can be changed about it."
Xena squeezed the bard a little tighter and smiled. "You can't save everyone, Gabrielle. Those people are there for a reason."
Letting her head fall back to the warrior's strong shoulder, Gabrielle sighed. "It took me a while to figure that out," she admitted.
"You tried to bargain with Hades on their behalf?" Xena was incredulous, but then, that was just the kind of woman her wife was. She hated to see anyone suffer.
"I tried. But he couldn't be turned. That's when I started greeting people. I wanted to give them at least something nice here if they were heading for Tartarus."
Xena smiled, imagining that just the sight of the sexy little Amazon would be enough to sustain pleasant thoughts for an eternity. After being loved by her, though, she realized that she needed to touch, smell, taste, and hear her, as well.
They sat mostly in silence, watching the preparations being made for the celebration that evening, content to share only each other's presence. When the bonfires were finally lit, they rose to sleepy legs and joined the party. As the moon was reaching its zenith, the boar was dug out of the cooking pit, and a feast to rival most was commenced.
"Time to wake up."
The bard stretched sensuously and grunted softly. "Already? I just went to bed," she complained with a smothered mumble.
"Well, if you don't want to start our honeymoon, I'll understand."
Sitting up at the reminder, the bard felt the last vestiges of sleep evaporate under the onslaught of excitement that began to build to a fevered pitch. With a giddy laugh, she jumped from the bed and threw herself into the arms of her warrior.
Xena had but a moment to prepare for the smaller woman's leap. Grinning at the bard's enthusiasm, she was grateful that she had yet to don her armor, for the heavy plates would have surely caused Gabrielle's more tender body parts injury. The warrior felt a familiar tickle of heat begin to burn in the pit of her stomach as those same body parts were now pressed against her intimately. "I'm glad to see that something can get you out of bed," she deadpanned.
Gabrielle began to shower her face with little kisses as she squeezed her fiercely. "I can't wait."
"Then it's a good thing that everything is all ready," the warrior replied. "We just need to get dressed," she said as she patted the bard's bare rump that was cradled in one strong arm, "and we'll be on our way."
Squeezing the warrior's shoulders, the Gabrielle released Xena from her embrace and slid to the floor. "Where are my clothes?"
Chuckling, the warrior began to wander around the room, gathering the articles of clothing that had been strewn all over the hut just a few hours before when, slightly intoxicated, the bard had performed a most erotic striptease. Reaching over Gabrielle's head, she freed the bard's britches carefully from a splinter in a ceiling beam. "These things wind up in the strangest places," she murmured into the young woman's ear.
Gabrielle blushed as she gathered her clothes from her wife's arms and crossed to the wash basin. "Maybe I'll just stop wearing them."
"Gabrielle," the warrior gasped with feigned shock, "what would your mother say?"
The bard glanced over her shoulder and winked saucily. "She'd tell me to make sure that I kept my legs crossed."
They had been traveling for over two hours, not really paying attention to their surroundings as much as the presence of each other. However, thoughts of satisfying the other filtered through the warm haze that had enveloped them, and nervousness began to take hold of them.
"How much further, Gabrielle?" Xena tried to fight the anxiety that was beginning to gnaw away in her stomach.
Gabrielle sighed and smiled as she stretched to put her mouth close to her wife's ear. A warm tingle radiated from her loins when she felt Xena's shuddering response at the simple touch. "Close your eyes, Xena."
"Shhh," Gabrielle urged. "Just trust me," she asked of the warrior. She knew of Xena's acceptance when the warrior's tense body relaxed in her arms. "Close your eyes, Xena, and think of nothing but our love for each other." Gabrielle felt, rather than saw, the deep breath that Xena took. Craning around her wife's wide shoulders, she saw ebony lashes resting on tanned skin. Gabrielle followed suit and closed hers as well.
It was easy to conjure her special place. It was within her heart, her mind, her soul. It was only natural that Xena would also find it, since the warrior was a part of her. Traveling had only been for the novelty. In the Elysian
Fields, few people ever actually physically traveled, unless it was something that they enjoyed on the mortal plane. For Gabrielle, she would spend some time walking, enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells that reminded her of her time with Xena, and then she would just be in her bower.
That was the journey that she and Xena took. For the warrior, it was not anything tangible that she could use as a reference to her limited senses, but rather, it was an instinct that something had changed. Opening her eyes, she observed the woods in which they had found themselves. Of course, there was no danger, but she could not stop the impulse to dismount and scout the area.
Gabrielle slid off of Argo's back and gathered the nonplussed horse's reins. She watched as Xena cocked her head and listened to the sounds of the deep forest in which they were, while she herself cooed soft reassurances into the warhorse's twitching ear. When she saw the warrior's cocked-brow look questioning her easy relationship with the horse, Gabrielle shrugged. "I brought her here soon after you put her down," she revealed. "We've had a lot of time to get to know each other."
Xena approached Argo who softly snorted and nuzzled her outstretched hand. "I hear water nearby," she said as she took the reins in her right hand and the bard's waist in her left. When Gabrielle merely smiled and nodded, the warrior grinned in silent appreciation. It was private, to say the very least.
They were walking through a virgin forest seemed to be as old as the gods themselves. Aside from Gabrielle, the place had not seen any other human being. Until now. A lump formed in her throat when she realized that she was going somewhere that was totally private to the bard, somewhere that no one else had gone. Her heart swelled with the honor, and she squeezed her wife close to her side. "Thank you," she whispered as her lips whispered across the bard's temple.
Gabrielle's eyes widened at the warrior's whose voice was heavy with emotion. In Xena's bottomless blue eyes, she saw the love and a hint of disbelief that it was all real. "You're welcome," she returned as she laid her head against Xena's firm arm. "I've been waiting so long for you, Xena. I don't want anything to go wrong," she said before she swallowed nervously.
"Gabrielle, nothing can go...."
As the warrior's words halted suddenly, Gabrielle became alarmed that something was indeed wrong. She pulled away to look into her wife's astounded face. She smiled when she realized the reason for her abrupt halt. Spinning around, Gabrielle reacquainted herself with the natural spectacle that was her imagination's idea of the most perfect place. And now that Xena was here with her, it was beginning to live up to her wish.
Xena blinked to make sure that it was real. It was if every description of paradise had been referenced when the bard's private place had been created. Her attention was first drawn to the waterfall. It was not high, perhaps three men high, but it fell in such a way that the cascading water almost seemed to create a musical tune that was hypnotic and seductive.
Following the water's course down the short cliff, she took note of a small lake that had been cultivated painstakingly. Benches of smooth stone in varying shades of rose and lavender could been seen through the crystal-clear water. There were flat rocks scattered intermittently along the bank upon which one could dry or bathe in the sun.
The second thing she noticed was the riot of colors. Tropical flowers bloomed in every shade of the rainbow. Even the ferns and tall grasses were incredibly vibrant.
It seemed odd to Xena, however, that except for the musical waterfall, there was no other sound to distract. She at least figured that there would be exotic birds and wild animals running around somewhere. She turned to make a comment about it to Gabrielle, but the smaller woman had followed a short path to a cluster of wildflowers.
When she returned, she offered a bunch of them to the warrior with an explanation. "When I first died...well...when I got used to the idea, I began to create this place," she began hesitantly. "These flowers were the first things I put here. They reminded me of your eyes," she finished almost shyly with a pained smile. Turning around, the bard scanned the area as if seeing it for the first time. "I came here to listen to your thoughts, to talk to you. I think it kept me sane," she laughed, imagining that one could actually lose their mind in a place of eternal peace. "And then, when you weren't always thinking about me, I was able to sit down and write. By then, most of this," she said with an encompassing wave of her hand, "had been built. All I could think of was bringing you here when you crossed over and returned to me."
Xena put her hands on the bard's shoulders and turned the smaller woman who fell into her expectant arms. "You never doubted me, that I would do enough good to find a place in the Fields," she whispered with awe.
"Never," Gabrielle returned strongly, shaking her head curtly. "Right after I died, I heard you promise me that you would come to me when it was your time. I knew you would try to keep that promise."
"So why torture Hades," Xena asked as she pulled back and fixed her wife with a slight lift of her brow.
Gabrielle grinned sheepishly and buried her head against the warrior's chest once more, reveling in its silky warmth. She shrugged her shoulders and took a deep breath to inhale Xena's unique scent into her lungs. "Plan beta," she supplied as she exhaled. She was surprised and pleased by Xena's answering chortle.
"Oh, Gabrielle, I love you," Xena whispered as she lifted the smaller woman's face so that she could taste her lips. "And as much as I would like to show you right now," she said with a devious grin, "I'd rather you show me around so that we can pick a spot to lay out our camp."
Rolling her eyes with a mock sigh, Gabrielle gave Xena a little peck on the cheek and looked up into her eyes' warm blue depths. "So predictable...all work and no play."
Xena swatted at the bard's behind as she turned to lead her through the rambling trails. "We were playing until the sun rose this morning, Gabrielle." Her breath caught when the bard looked over her shoulder, and with a wink and a sultry smile that promised more fun in the near future. "Argo, do you think it's possible to die from pure pleasure," she whispered to her warhorse, who had adjusted to the whole sudden appearance of the bower.
Sweet clover tickled at Argo's attention, and she was eager to have at it. Her training, however, dictated that she wait until her woman gave her permission, so she listened to the dark woman patiently and whickered and snorted in the appropriate places, her mind concerned only with the clover that she could already taste on the back of her tongue.
Half an hour later, after following Gabrielle around the large clearing several times, Xena decided to stay in one place until the picky woman found a spot to lay out their bedroll. Every time the younger woman would stop and tap her chin, Xena would brighten and move to guide Argo to their camp. However, so far, Gabrielle had yet to decide.
Closing her eyes and rubbing the back of her neck, Xena missed the bard smiling triumphantly. The bard's voice, though, got her attention. Looking up, she found her wife smiling brightly and turning in circles on a small rise that overlooked the lake. "Finally," the warrior muttered as she gathered Argo's reins. "Come on, girl. I know you're eager to find that clover we both smell."
Xena looked up from her nap to study her wife who was floating in the water below the rock upon which the warrior was lying. Once they had set up their camp and had eaten a light repast and Gabrielle had led the way with enthusiastic yells of joy as she tossed her meager attire to land on the tall grasses that lined the path to the lake. Xena watched with appreciative eyes as the bard delighted in what seemed to be nothing, or perhaps life, or in this case, death. Whatever it might have been, the younger woman's brilliant smile was infectious.
Blushing at having been caught staring, Xena shrugged in way of apology. "Nothing, just watching you have fun. Wondering why you are smiling so beautifully right now."
Gabrielle waded over and crossed her arms on top of Xena's sunning rock. "Xena, I have the best reason in the Fields to smile," she revealed tenderly, all her love communicated in the depths of her green eyes. "I was reunited with my best friend, my warrior...and she became my love, my soul. And I have the all of eternity to spend at her side, making love to her, sharing my dreams and my thoughts with her...my fantasies."
The bard's explanation trailed off as the petite woman hauled herself onto the rock. With no conscious thought, she was drawn to the full, sensual lips of her wife, eager to feel their connection as their mouths met.
Xena met her halfway, needing no other reason to kiss Gabrielle other than the fact that her body came alive and her soul rejoiced when she did so. Her sharp ears caught the half-sigh, half-moan that was expelled on the bard's breath, and she felt her rested body responding. Cradling Gabrielle in her powerful arms, the warrior got to her feet and jumped lightly from the sunning rock. A few powerful strides later, and she was depositing her treasure carefully on their bedroll.
She never got a chance to look at the bard's lithe body, for with a strong sweep of her leg, Gabrielle brought the warrior down to her. With a growl, the bard, Amazon, wife of one of the most notorious warriors of all Greece, rolled the taller woman to her back and began to devour her like the most sumptuous of feasts.
Their lovemaking the first few times was vigorous and explosively passionate. It was an affirmation of their eternal life with each other, of the overwhelming currents of need the other inspired. When their bodies began to protest, the bard led her warrior to the waterfall, which surprised the worldly woman, much to the bard's delight. They played in the warm shower, their love turned slow and full of promise. It came from their joined souls, their hearts, and it coursed through their bodies like the water that cascaded unheeded over their flushed bodies.
When their passion for each other was sated momentarily, they retired to their bedroll and watched as the Elysian night darkened the sky and stars so reminiscent of those that they had watched while alive, winked brightly and inspired a story from the bard as the warrior fed her lovingly by hand. When their dinner was finished, they settled comfortably in each other's arms and traded soft kisses and murmurs of their love until they fell asleep, tired from their day's exhaustion.
Hades, curious as to how the bard and warrior were faring, had materialized and was watching the sleeping couple with a warm smile. They were incredible on the mortal plane together. It stood to reason that they would continue as such in his realm. He hung his head and thought, rubbing his chin absently.
They were special, and he was not the only god to notice the fact. Together, they were an unbeatable team. They had cheated his realm on more than one occasion, which had aggravated him at the time. But their abilities to cross through his realm and then back to the world of the living was something that had attracted some attention.
With a great sigh, the god left them with only a wisp of gray smoke as evidence of his visit. He needed to talk to them, but he would wait. As in the past, he realized that they were the only ones that could manage the task that was at hand. But it would hold. As he entered his own bedchamber and spotted his own wife, he nodded. It would wait. He had been reluctant to part them in life. He knew all to well the ache of losing a loved one. He would not disturb them until they had finished with their honeymoon. After that...he only hoped that the Fields and their love had not mellowed their spirit of adventure.