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Copyright March 1998
Xena stared at the ceiling with weary eyes. She knew her time was at hand, and despite years of atonement for her past evils, there was still a little doubt in her heart as to whether she would spend her eternity in Tartarus or with Gabrielle in the Elysian Fields.
Gabrielle...Xena missed her; the ache in her soul had not diminished in the thirty years since the bard had passed over. The warrior regretted every day of her life that she had not revealed the depth of her feelings for the young woman who had brought so much into her life, who had given her a family that she could depend on for unquestioned love and support.
When Gabrielle had left, taking the final journey to Hades, the warrior had felt as if half of her soul had been lost. She had known that no matter what company she had kept, none would fill the void that had been left by the gentle woman who called her friend, who had stood by her side, the light that had guided her through her struggle with darkness, with her own self.
The day that she had lost that light had been a typical one for them in their travels together. Xena remembered that day as if it had been yesterday. It had been classic Gabrielle; the bard defending those who could not do so for themselves, and it had cost the young woman everything.
They had arrived in the village of Tarnos; rumors of the warlord Kais' army moving into the area had prompted their presence. The villagers had already started to gather their "tribute" for the warlord, but with the sudden appearance of the warrior and the bard that spread the tales of Xena's quest for good, the villagers had changed. Even though they barely knew how to defend themselves, the warrior had raised their hopes. Her prowess in battle and strategic defense was legendary.
The battle against the warlord Kais that had ensued, however, was the making of Gabrielle's legend. The young bard, in an attempt to protect a handful of children and elderly, had given her life on a raider's blade.
Xena hadn't known until the battle was over and Kais' men had been chased away in shame and defeat. She had walked to the other end of town to where she knew her friend was protecting those who needed it the most. Along the way she had stopped occasionally, checking the wounded and giving orders to those moving them to the makeshift infirmary. It hadn't been until she saw the group, heads lowered, gathered outside of the temple that she had begun to worry about the bard. Worry had turned to panic when the crowd had parted for her and she had seen Gabrielle lying in an ever-growing pool of blood.
Unmindful of the strangers all around, Xena had released a trapped sob and gathered the unresponsive bard into her arms. The warrior had buried her face in the small woman's neck and cried, not noting how the villagers had moved away to give them privacy.
Gabrielle's wound had been too severe, and she had died quickly in Xena's arms. Wrapping an iron lock around her emotions, Xena had cleaned Gabrielle's body and reverently wrapped it in her bedroll. She had decided to take the body to the Amazons so that they could honor their passed queen with the proper ceremonial funeral.
Xena had kept her promise to Gabrielle and continued on her path of atonement. Through the following fifteen cycles she had traveled all through Greece, and occasionally beyond, in that quest. Everywhere she had gone, in every inn and tavern, she had heard the bard's tales recited and repeated, some actually emphasizing Gabrielle's role. Her favorite was the one about the beautiful and brave Amazon Queen who had given her life defending a nameless town at the side of her faithful warrior. It had been those times that Xena allowed the memories to wash over her, her naked emotions unseen in the shadowed back corners she had favored in such establishments. The little girl from Potedaia had realized her desire to become a warrior. A great warrior, Xena had mused. A warrior of the bravest heart and unrivaled loyalty to those she loved.
It had been during a visit to the Amazons, to the village where Gabrielle had accepted the mask of Queen, when Xena had accepted the offer to settle in her own permanent hut. Her age had been showing in the frequent wounds she received in battle, numerous scars a testament to slowing reflexes. She, in return, had offered to train the young warriors of the nation. Eponin had died during a raid on the village the year before, and even in her advancing age, Xena had still been the best candidate for the position.
She had been here ever since. She had watched solemnly as Ephiny passed on the mask of Queen to her adopted daughter Elia, and then had died the next winter to the coughing sickness. She watched on with pride in her heart, as Elia had committed her mother's body to the funeral flames, and then continued to rule the Amazon Nation in the tradition of peace that had been set forth by Gabrielle and Ephiny.
Xena was brought back to the present by slow movements beside her bed. Eyes, still sharp in defiance of time, focused on the limping form of Solari who had brought her dinner. "I don't need that," Xena sighed, barely audible to the Amazon Warrior.
Solari sat on the edge of Xena's pallet. The sorrow showed clear in her eyes, belying the forced cheerfulness of her voice. "You've got to get strong, Xena. How else will you train the young ones that have just passed their First Moon?"
Xena's grunt ended in a strangled cough as she tried to sit up. Firm, but gentle, hands pushed her weak form back down onto the bed. "Arial is a fine teacher," she whispered as she caught a tortured breath, resigning herself to the weakness that consumed her body.
Solari stifled a sob as she watched the great warrior succumb to the same illness that had taken so many the year Ephiny had died.
"Remember your promise," Xena continued in a shaky breath, weakly smiling at the other woman's nod. "Bring Elia, please. I want to say good bye."
Solari nodded and moved as fast as her aged body would allow, fiercely wiping away tears as she made her way across the compound to the Queen's hut. The warrior was startled by the door suddenly opening and the appearance of Elia. She stiffly bowed to her queen and raised her tear-stained face.
"Aunt Solari, what is it," Elia asked, the merriment in her bright brown eyes turning solemn.
"It is Xena, my Queen. She wishes to speak with you."
Elia nodded as she wrapped the old warrior in an arm's embrace. Many eyes watched as the Queen's Royal Guard escorted the two women to Xena's hut. Unconsciously, those witnessing fell in behind the procession, gathering around the warrior's home.
Once there, Elia turned Solari over to one of the guards and entered Xena's quarters alone. The young queen's eyes quickly adjusted to the dim interior, finding the warrior on her pallet, thin, pale, and struggling for breath. The queen sank to her knees beside Xena's pallet, unashamed as tears fell freely down her face.
"Shh...be strong, Elia," Xena whispered.
Elia nodded, reaching a hand to stroke the graying hair of her favorite mentor.
"Make your mother proud, make the Nation and Artemis proud," Xena continued, her voice weaker. "And take care of Mora."
Elia thought of her bondmate, a smile transformed her face. It had been Xena who had given her the courage to reveal her feelings to the Royal Guard, the strong warrior who loved her with the same ferocity with which she defended and protected her.
Xena smiled weakly, seeing the love so obvious on the Queen's face. "Never forget love," the old warrior advised. Lifting a shaking hand to the taut brow of the young queen, the warrior wiped away an errant tear. "Good bye, my Queen."
Elia sat on the bed and drew Xena into her arms, pulling her close. "Good bye, Xena."
With her good byes said, Xena resigned herself to Celesta's hands. She took one last shallow breath and died in the Queen's arms.
Elia gently laid Xena's body back on the pallet, strengthening her resolve not to break down. She said a quiet, private farewell and turned to leave the hut. Her eyes were all that the gathered Amazons needed as confirmation of the passing of a great friend, teacher, and ally. Elia threw herself into her role as Queen and began issuing directives to begin building Xena's funeral pyre.
Later, as she donned her ceremonial attire, Elia's mind wandered back to the time that she had read one of Queen Gabrielle's scrolls, of another funeral pyre for the warrior Xena. She held her breath and willed her tears away as she realized that there would be no miraculous resurrection this time.
Once certain that two capable warriors were chosen from the volunteers to deliver Xena's ashes to Amphipolis in the morning, Elia stepped from her hut. The drums that had been sounding Xena's death became softly muted as the Queen and her escorts made their way to the platform behind the pyre.
Her countenance strong and proud, Mora, as Consort, stood quietly at the Queen's side, offering support. Elia took a long look at the shrouded body before her, the weapons of legend strategically placed in position for the Afterlife. Memories of hard lessons and sage advice during her time with the warrior flashed past her mind's eye. With a heavy heart, she raised her arm in a signal to the archers to light the pyre.
Warrior cries of mourning and tributes of swords hitting armor, accompanied Xena's spirit as it left her body. Elia allowed herself to be drawn into her lover's arms as she wept openly for the Nation's loss.
Xena blinked as her eyes quickly adjusted to the dark gloom in which she was enveloped. She carefully became aware of her surroundings. She was in a tunnel, how she got there, she couldn't be sure. The tunnel was neither cold nor warm. The ground under her feet was of soft sand, as if many feet had ground it into dust. The scent of river water assailed her nose. She found that if she spread her arms wide, she could span the width of the tunnel, feeling both sides to be equally rough in texture. She cocked her head, piqued by curiosity.
Faint sounds ahead drew her forward. Instinctively, she reached for her sword, and was momentarily surprised to find it in its scabbard on her back. Running her free hand over the front of her body, she was less surprised to find that she was also wearing her battle armor and leathers, her chakram at its usual place on her right hip. Cautiously, she found her footing, one step after another. She suddenly stopped to a stumble when she realized the source of the sounds. It was a voice she hadn't heard in what seemed like twice a lifetime.
She quietly made her way out of the tunnel to a semi-dark cavern, making sure to keep just back from the perimeter of light the feeble torches threw. She couldn't stop the smile that split her face, even if she had forced her most intimidating look. Sitting amongst a group of people was Gabrielle, as young and beautiful as the last time Xena had seen her. The weak light teased the fiery highlight in her hair, and hinted at the joy her eyes beheld. A quick glance at her own hands helped Xena confirm that her body, also, had been returned to its younger state. The river behind the group revealed the source of the water scent, while the picture, in whole, confirmed her whereabouts. She was in the Underworld, the Realm of Hades. She nervously hoped that the god had remembered the things that she had done for him, and would consider those as favors to balance against her dark past.
The warrior hung back as the bard told stories to those waiting for Charon's ferry. At the sight of the hooded figure guiding his boat across the river Styx, Xena's heart lurched. This was it...Judgement. Frantically, she searched for her passage fare. Delving into her cleavage, she was only left with the familiar impression of her breast dagger. She cursed herself for losing it in the tunnel she had just stepped from and started to turn and retrace her steps to find it. She was brought out of her panic by a warm and familiar hand on her shoulder. She quickly glanced around and was held by the sweetest face she'd never hope to have seen again. "Gabrielle," she breathed.
Gabrielle pulled the stunned warrior into a fierce hug. "I thought you'd be here a lot sooner, Xena, but I'm glad that you got to live to see peaceful times. You got Elia through a very rough period after Ephiny died. Oh, by the way, she said to tell you 'hi'...."
Xena quieted the bard with a finger to her moist lips. Suppressing a shudder at the softness she encountered, she asked, "What are YOU doing HERE? Not that I mind," she finished quickly, a brow lifted in an automatic gesture when questioning the young bard.
Gabrielle's eyes brightened at the reminder of her purpose for meeting Xena. "I came to see you, you dumb warrior. No else wanted the job," she added, grinning. "Come on, Charon gets cranky when people hold up the boat," she explained, tugging Xena along behind her.
Xena couldn't help but smirk when she saw the cloaked man waiting, his bony fingers scratching impatiently at his behind.
Gabrielle smiled sweetly for him as they approached. "Put it on my tab, Char," she ordered as she jumped into the ferry and gave Xena a hand down.
The ferryman simply tied his coin pouch to his belt, shaking his head and mumbling under his breath. With a curse on all bards that Xena heard faintly, he pushed off from the shore and guided his passengers to Hades' realm.
Xena's nervousness became obvious as the group gathered in the Judgement Chamber. The warrior couldn't stop herself from clenching her fists tighter and tighter.
"Hey," Gabrielle began, startling Xena to her presence. "It'll be all right," she said with a comforting smile. "I'm right here for you," she said, pointing to the ground at the warrior's side.
Xena felt a calm collect at the center of her being and spread outward as the bard uncurled a clenched fist and held it securely in her smaller ones. The two of them stood almost hidden in the deep shadows. When, at last, all the other recently deceased had been judged, Xena felt the tug on her arm once again. She gazed down at the bard whose eyes showed an open, gentle love. Pulling a stoic mask over the emotions that were again careening out of control, Xena allowed Gabrielle to lead her before Hades.
The God of the Underworld gazed solemnly at the warrior who stood before him. At one time the Destroyer of Nations had overcrowded Charon's ferry with her endless ravaging of the world above. But since the fateful meeting with his nephew Hercules, that woman had ceased to exist. True, she had done unspeakable evil as a disciple of Ares, but she had also spent half her life, even without the tempering influence of the bard, atoning for past cruelties.
Xena flinched inwardly when she heard the Lord of the Dead sigh. She knew her fate was to be Tartarus, forever separated from her best friend, the only true love of her tainted heart. Mentally, she began to prepare herself for the last tearful good-bye to the woman who opened a jaded ex-warlord's eyes to the beauty of the world.
The bard cleared her throat, bringing Hades and Xena out of their mental ramblings. "Hades," she chided, "she'll have a nervous breakdown before you pass your judgement," she said with a slight smile.
Xena was shocked by Gabrielle's audacity to address the god in such a manner, and then by the gentle smile that Hades returned.
Hades made his face stern once again. "Well, Xena," he began, "I thought I would have judged you a long time ago. Your fate would have been much simpler to decide...."
Xena drew steady strength from the woman at her side. Her nature refused her to beg, but she would make an exception in this case. Her soul yearned to be reunited with its other half.
"However," he continued with a casual wave of his hand, "fortunately for you, I have had the pleasure of watching you do good, including a few favors for me. You have made a great difference to many people...for the good," he continued with a slight grin at the warrior's suddenly tense posture.
Xena watched Hades as he rose from his throne, her mask still in place, veiling her inner turmoil. She steeled her body as he drew close and draped a casual arm across Gabrielle's shoulders. His smile of warmth disarmed her.
Gabrielle recognized the mischievous light in the god's normally somber eyes as he concluded his speech. "I really am glad you've finally passed into my realm, Xena. If I had to listen to one more story about a certain Warrior Princess and her travels down the path of righteousness, I believe that I would have consigned myself to Tartarus," he chuckled, ruffling the bard's hair. "I have decided that you must endure only one trial for all of eternity," he added with mock seriousness. "You must suffer the company of said irritating, relentless bard."
Xena was shocked into stunned silence. She was being granted her heart's truest desire. This was no punishment for her evil. This was a reward for everything after that. Her inner musings were cut short by the arrival of a beautiful woman.
"Hades, dear, don't tease. The warrior has been through enough," she chastised, laying an affectionate kiss on the god's raised brow. "Gabrielle, so good to see you," she exclaimed, pulling the young woman into an embrace.
The bard's face lit up like a summer's morning. "Persephone, it is good to see you again. Maybe Sourface here will lighten up a bit now that you've returned."
Xena's surprise was no longer hidden behind her warrior's stoicism. She watched with mouth agape as her best friend chatted amiably with the Bride of Hades. Then she remembered her eternal sentence. Hades had not said anything about the Elysian Fields. Could she be the one to cause suffering for Gabrielle in Tartarus? "But where..." she interrupted, her confusion evident in the furrow of her brow.
Hades understood the warrior's disjointed question. "Well, under normal circumstances, the Fields, of course. But your bard has thrown that convention into the proverbial wind. She goes where she wants. Quite stubborn if you ask me."
At first, Xena didn't hear anything after the god mentioned the Fields. The warrior's relief was apparent in the relaxing of tense muscles. Then Hades' ending words caught her attention. She looked between the young woman at her side and the god in front of her.
Hades laughed outright. "Yes, Xena. Even in the Afterlife, the little one suffers from wanderlust."
Persephone drew close to the god, slipping an arm about his waist. "You love what Gabrielle has done for this place, husband. She makes your job so much easier just by greeting new arrivals."
Hades conceded the point with a wry grin and addressed the bard. "I don't suppose you'll keep up that service now that your warrior is here?"
A warm thrill shot to her core at the possessive term applied to Xena. She didn't miss the note of hope in the god's question. "We'll see, Hades," she answered noncommittally. "Right now, *my* warrior needs to be settled in her new home."
Hades and Persephone nodded their approval as the bard led the warrior to the Elysian Fields. "By the way, Gabrielle," Hades interrupted, "they are begging for mercy in Tartarus."
Gabrielle grinned when Persephone punched her husband in the shoulder. Shaking her head she caught Xena's questioning look. "I'll explain later. Right now, there are some people who want to say 'hello'."
Some time later, Xena was sitting off by herself, slowly absorbing everything that had happened since Gabrielle had pulled her through the portal into the Fields, giggling at the stunned expression on her face. At a quirked eyebrow and mock glare, the giggles had erupted into all-out laughter. It had been infectious. With a great battlecry, she had swooped down upon the bard and gathered her into strong arms, swinging them in wide circles.
Gabrielle's idea of meeting a few people had, of course, been in the guise of an Amazon celebration to rival any seen on the mortal plane. Lyceus, her mother, Solan, Ephiny, Melosa, Eponin...and so many others who had touched her life, had warmly greeted her. Marcus had been conspicuously absent until Gabrielle had practically dragged him to the party. With each, Xena had spent time catching up, sharing memories and tears. But at every reunion, her mind had wandered to the bard who, from Ephiny's description, had been orchestrating the gathering for several earth moons.
That conversation had left the warrior struggling with the concept of time in the Elysian Fields. There were no days, moons, or cycles. There was no way of measuring the passage of time. Of course, Xena had reasoned, there was no need. In the Fields things were as one wanted them. Well, Xena had thought wryly, anything desired but evil.
And at that moment, her desire was making the rounds through the throng of revelers. Suddenly, Xena's line of sight to the bard was blocked by an Amazon warrior. Xena's moment of irritation faded when she realized Eponin and the wineskin she had brought. Xena patted the empty space on the log on which she was sitting.
The Amazon accepted the invitation and passed the wineskin. "She's something, isn't she," Eponin asked with a nod of her head in the direction of Gabrielle. "Even here, among so many other queens, she stands out."
Xena took a pull from the skin and smiled. "She was always more than just an Amazon Queen, Ep."
Eponin sighed. "Those who have been here a while say that when Gabrielle came, the Fields were happier, brighter. I can't imagine them without her."
Xena nodded. "Yep. Gabrielle does that," she murmured, remembering how her friend had brought light into her bleak existence.
"Ah, speaking of the bard," Eponin announced as the subject of conversation came to stand before them. "I'll leave you two alone. Keep the wine, Xena. All I have to do is imagine more, and it's there," she explained with a wicked wink, "but without the ugly morning-afters."
Gabrielle smiled a thank you as Eponin squeezed her shoulder. She watched as the warrior approached another Amazon and led her to the dancing circle.
Xena took a moment to absorb the presence of her friend. Mentally she briefly contemplated how far short that description fell from her true feelings for Gabrielle. From under lowered lashes, she began the conversation. "I want to thank you for this," she said, indicating with a gesture of her hand.
Gabrielle took the hand in mid-gesture and clasped it in both of hers. "I know you really don't like crowds," she began hesitantly, "but I wanted to let you know how much you deserve to be here."
Falling into the love of sparkling green, the warrior grinned. "An Amazon party," she asked, trying to break the spell.
Gabrielle grinned, releasing Xena's gaze to survey the celebrations. "Are there any others," she countered with a bright smile, noting that even in the Elysian Fields, exceptions had to have been granted for the men to attend. A couple of noted exceptions...Marcus and Perdicus...were sharing with Cyrene an animated conversation. Turning her eyes back to the blue that had always stolen away her breath, she admitted that which had plagued her even in this place of endless happiness. "I missed you, Xena."
The warrior found herself drowning in endless green once again. "I missed you, too," she admitted, "more than you could ever know," she croaked in a broken voice.
Gabrielle wiped a solitary tear from the warrior's face. "Oh, I do know, Xena." She felt her body warm at the shudder that ran through Xena's body. "You, of all people, know that the dead can hear the thoughts of the living." She pulled the warrior's hand to her mouth and idly rubbed the callused fingers over her lips. "I've heard every thought, Xena. Every regret."
Xena closed her eyes and allowed her passion to consume her body. Opening her eyes, she gasped when she saw the look on Gabrielle's face. One that she knew mirrored her own. "I..."
Gabrielle stilled the words with a finger on the warrior's lips. "No more regrets. No more excuses, Xena. We have eternity to love each other."
Xena couldn't stop the tears once they started. She fell into the comforting embrace of the bard. They sat that way until the warrior's tears dried. "I always thought there would be time tomorrow to tell you how I felt," she explained, her throat dry from crying.
Passing the wineskin, Gabrielle pulled away from the warrior. "Xena, you don't have to explain. I wasn't exactly forthcoming about how deep my feelings were for you. I was always afraid that I would lose you if I did."
Xena nodded in agreement. "And when *I* lost *you,* I...all I wanted to do was fall on my sword so that I could follow you."
One word. Her name from her love's lips was equal to a thousand declarations of devotion. Once again, their gazes locked. Neither were able or willing to stop their bodies from leaning into each other, unable to stop their lips from meeting and claiming their eternal rewards.
The kiss was slow and gentle, each exploring the other's mouth. Although they had waited a lifetime, there was no urgency.
Xena was the first to pull away, drawing a deep breath and expelling it slowly. "Wow."
Gabrielle answered with a shy grin. "I've waited so long for this, Xena. But now, I know that when I say that I want to be with you forever, I know that it has already happened," she finished. A tear found its way down to her chin where Xena claimed it with her lips.
The warrior buried her face in the bard's hair, inhaled the heady scent, and said a silent prayer to the Fates and all the gods for her good fortune. Suddenly, a thought threatened to rip asunder their happiness.
Gabrielle felt the chill along her skin where her warrior had previously been. She was surprised by the frown on Xena's face. "What is it?" Even in the Elysian Fields, Xena couldn't stop from brooding. The bard mentally grinned at the concept.
Xena wasn't sure how to explain the jumbled thoughts that settled over her heart like a thick fog. Memories of past loves, both hers and Gabrielle's, could come between them. Unconsciously, her gaze shifted to the two men still in deep discussion with her mother.
Understanding dawned on the bard's face with a faint lifting of her brows. She brought Xena's eyes back to hers with two fingers under the warrior's chin. "Xena, listen to me." When she saw that she had the other woman's attention, she continued. "Xena, don't worry about them. You may have loved Marcus, and I Perdicus, but that love paled in comparison to that which is between us. We were destined to be soulmates before we were even born, my warrior. They," she finished, indicating the men of their pasts with a tilt of her head, "know and accept that. There is nothing that will separate us now."
The warrior's eyes shone with unshed tears. "You *are* my soul, Gabrielle." Xena leaned in and captured the bard's lips once more.
Gabrielle accepted the caress for a long heartbeat, but then withdrew. "There's one more thing, Xena," she said with a secretive smile. Tugging the warrior to her feet, the bard led Xena to the stables located at the far edge of the Amazon village, nodding to those who greeted them. "Close your eyes."
Xena, against instincts so ingrained, but trusting her bard, complied. She felt the gentle hand lead her to the back stall where a familiar whinny caught her surprised. "Argo," she cried as she opened her eyes to the sight of the warhorse. "But, how," she asked as she ran affectionate hands down the neck of her favored steed.
Gabrielle arched a brow and in a mock Warrior Princess tone, replied, "I, too, have many skills." Breaking into a huge grin that lit the playful fire behind her eyes, she laughed. "It'll just be like the old times, Xena. Just the three of us."
"Wandering around the Fields...," Xena finished. The warrior couldn't imagine how this peaceful realm could compare to the dangerous life that the three of them had shared long ago.
"Who says that we have to stay here?"
Xena saw the mischievous glint in the bard's eyes. Then things fell into place. Somehow Gabrielle had gotten Hades' permission to wander where she wanted in the Underworld. The warrior assumed that included Tartarus. "Gabrielle," she drawled in a deep, no-nonsense tone, "I think you better start explaining."
"Sure, Xena. But before I get into that, there's just one more thing I want to show you."
The warrior followed the bard up a ladder and into the hay loft, wondering how many more surprises the young woman had up her sleeves. But when the warrior considered the usual skimpy attire of the bard, she grinned evilly at the lustful thoughts that ran amok in her vivid imagination.
Abruptly, those sexual demons were let loose when Gabrielle turned to her and began to disrobe. A body not seen for so long, quenched thirsty eyes as the little Amazon revealed treasures that only Xena would possess. Her eyes traveled the length of skin as it was revealed to her, skin flushed with an answering passion and need.
"I've missed you, Xena."
The husky note of want that mirrored her own, fired the hunger between warrior's legs. "I missed you, too, my little bard," she groaned as she fell into the sweet temptation that was hers eternally.
Xena tried to go slow with her love for the bard, but the smaller woman had other ideas. Bard teeth nipped and pulled at warrior lips, bard hands tore at warrior armor and leather. When Xena was as bare-ass naked as Gabrielle, she was pulled into an embrace that was more fire than warmth, more passion than love. She groaned at the contact of skin upon skin. She found her lips devoured by the dream she had held in her heart for so long.
"Xena, I've waited a long time for this," Gabrielle managed through frustrated gasps, whimpering when she couldn't mold their bodies closer. "Gods, I'm burning like the fires in Tartarus. Take me," she cried when Xena shifted her weight between the bard's legs.
Needing no further encouragement, the warrior consumed the bard's flesh. She suckled tender breasts, lavishing them with attention from her tongue and teeth. She blazed a path across the firm plane of Gabrielle's stomach, losing herself in the moans and cries of her lover. When she paused at the pale curls of the bard's sex to inhale the arousing scent, a growl reminded her of her mission.
When Xena settled her wide shoulders between Gabrielle's thighs, the bard threw legs over her warrior's shoulders, running her calves up and down Xena's back, encouraging her to continue her loving. A gasp was torn from deep within when the warrior's tongue deftly parted labia glistening with passion. Gabrielle thought that she had died and gone to the Fields when Xena simultaneously entered her with two fingers and pressed her tongue to her swollen clit. The joke, however, was lost on the young woman as she began to furiously grind her mound into her lover's face.
Between the bard's legs, the warrior thought her own passion would explode with the first taste of Gabrielle's juices. The legs on her back were creating a sensual friction, not to mention the leverage that pulled the mound she most desired to her face, thrust after thrust. She was amazed by the passion that the gentle woman beneath her possessed. What had they been thinking in that other life? When the bard began to grunt, Xena increased the speed and pressure of her body. Suddenly, things went black and silent as she was crushed between Gabrielle's powerful thighs. Although muffled from her perspective, Xena knew the bard had cried out her name at the time of her explosion.
Gently prying the quivering legs away from her head, Xena pulled herself up alongside Gabrielle, who was still gasping for air. The warrior laid soft kisses along her jaw line, whispering words of unending love into delicate ears. When the bard regained some semblance of breathing normal, Xena took possession of her lips in a gentle offering.
At the first taste of herself on Xena's lips, Gabrielle's passion began a slow burn once again. Using a strength she herself was surprised by, she rolled the warrior onto her back and settled in for a ride of her own.
Xena groaned throatily when Gabrielle's thigh settled between her legs, applying a steadily growing pressure. When the bard began biting on her achingly erect nipples, she answered the thrusts with a heat that threatened to consume her on the spot. The waves of ecstasy began crashing harder when Gabrielle reached down and ran her fingers up the outside of her right thigh, digging and kneading the flesh she found at the top. The warrior saw more stars in that drawn-out moment of climax than she had ever witnessed in the clearest evening sky.
With the last ounce of strength she was sure to have, at least for another candlemark, she thought wryly, the warrior pulled the bard up into an embrace. Both smiled contentedly when the smaller woman settled into the side of the warrior in a position that seemed as natural as talking and eating, at least those were the comparisons Gabrielle made.
"I love you, Xena."
"And I love you, my bard."
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