Disclaimer: Xena: Warrior Princess and all of the characters associated with the production belong to MCA/Universal and are used here without the permission of TPTB.

I just like to take 'em around the block for a spin occasionally to see how the handle. Xena corners like she's on rails and Gabrielle can go from 0 to 60 in 5.1 seconds. <GBG>

I always wash and wax 'em before I put 'em back.

The poem accredited to our favorite little bard actually belongs to Debbie Gibson and Atlantic Records. The piece that our warrior puts forth belongs to Dan Hill and was performed by Celine Dion on her album Falling into You. If you've never heard the song I highly recommend it. It definitely fits our favorite couple. Both pieces are also used without permission.

There is absolutely no speculation about subtext here. It's all out in the open and a very beautiful thing. So needless to say there are depictions of two consenting adult women making love. There's also a little light bondage (hey it's plot point, really). If you're offended, go away. If it's illegal where you live, move. If you're under 18, don't even think about it.

There is also a mild amount of violence and one heart shattering conversion to Ares.

There are several spoilers in this piece although it doesn't really fit into the television time line. Then again that's what fan fiction is all about, isn't it?

I'm always interested in feed back and can be reached at TNovan@aol.com

If your comments are constructive criticism, I'm always ready to hear it because I like to keep my audiences happy. If it's homophobic keep it to yourself and don't knock it until you've tried it.

Finally, I have to dedicate this piece to my "Gabrielle". Without her tireless efforts in matters of editing and (ahem) inspiration for various scenes, I never would have finished.

King's Ransom

By T.Novan

It had been an unusually quiet day for the warrior and the bard. Most of it had been spent leisurely wandering the countryside. They had just left a village where the warrior had found the need to convince a few local thugs their presence was no longer desired. A small fight for Xena but, just as important as any other conflict where the innocent would suffer at the hands of a tyrant.

Gabrielle took notice of the fact that Xena seemed particularly pleased with herself as she watched the bandits flee from the village. It had not been a difficult fight, they weren't the best of the bunch as far as bandits were concerned and the warrior always enjoyed a fight more when she could be creative. The fact that she had beaten this particular group of thugs with fresh produce would certainly be considered creative. Gabrielle hadn't considered what could be done with a carrot, but apparently Xena had.

They walked next to each other in relative silence. Occasionally a snort from Agro could be heard behind them.

"So exactly where are we headed now?" Gabrielle asked as they cleared a small grove of trees into grassland.

"Does it matter?"

"By the Gods, you can be the most frustrating person sometimes. If you don't know where we're going, could you just say that."

"That." The warrior stated with a big grin as she stretched her long legs and strode ahead of the bard.

Gabrielle stopped and just stared at her friend. "Amazing." She said under her breath. She shook her head and then realized that she was going to have to run to catch up.

Xena looked back over her shoulder, a quick glance just to make sure that Gabrielle was catching up. When she was sure, she stopped as if to survey the road ahead.

"I think we should stop for the night." She said as Gabrielle stepped up beside her. "It's going to be dark soon and I'm hungry and if I'm hungry you must be starved." She finished with a grin.

As Gabrielle prepared the campsite, Xena went out in search of the evening meal. She wanted something different tonight. She was tired of fishing and rabbit stew was getting old.

"Something different." She muttered to herself as she crept through the grass. "But what?"

Gabrielle had prepared the bedrolls and moved Argo's saddlebags over to the sleeping area, just the way Xena liked it. She stood up after smoothing out the warrior's bed and smiled. She had never before considered how much pleasure it gave her to see to Xena's needs. It required an expert eye to remove all the little rocks that would poke in the most unpleasant places in the middle of the night. Xena had never really been any good at it and Gabrielle had a small scar on her backside to prove it.

Next came the fire. The fire had to be prepared just so. That was one of the first things Xena had taught her. Big enough to cook on, at first and then it needed to be smaller through the night. Just enough to keep them warm without drawing unwanted attention. She had gathered the wood and had it ready to be lit when Xena returned to the campsite.

"Do you want to clean dinner or start the fire?" Xena asked, holding up two furry something's that were still very much alive and wiggling about.

"Given the option I'll start the fire." The bard said with a grin.

"Wimp." The warrior said in a teasing tone. She handed Gabrielle her sword, which would be struck with a flint stone in order to start the fire.

As Gabrielle took the sword she knew how much trust this showed on Xena's part. There seemed to be three things in Xena's life that one did not fuss with, her weapons, her horse and her friends. She couldn't help but smile as she crossed the campsite and fetched the flint stone from the saddlebags.

She couldn't get back to the fire pit fast enough once the sound of small necks being broken reached her ears. "Couldn't you have done that before you came back to camp?" She asked as she struck the stone against the blade.

"When I bring fish back they're generally alive and you don't seem to have any problems cutting their little heads off." Xena said as she began skinning dinner.

"Somehow that's just different." Gabrielle replied as she gently blew on the embers to fan the fire.


"I don't know it just is." She sat up and watched the little fire come to life. 'Not bad', she thought as she carefully laid Xena's sword down.

She continued to build up the fire and prepared it for cooking. Xena came to the fire pit and laid dinner on a rock and picked up her sword and the flint stone. She moved over to the bedrolls and sat down. Tucking the flint stone away she pulled out her whetstone. Gabrielle didn't even turn around. She knew what was next. There would be the rhythmic sound of the warrior preparing her weapons. It was the same every night no matter where they were or what they were doing. There was something comforting about the routine they had created together.

As dinner cooked, the bard took advantage of the light to write. This was her routine, writing, keeping track of her friend's heroic deeds. Tonight was different. Tonight she needed to write her own thoughts. Maybe writing them down would help her understand them.

I don't understand what I'm going through lately. Things seem so different to me. Whatever it is, it revolves around Xena. Every since I lost her…

Every time I look at her, my stomach drops, my palms sweat and I feel all funny inside. I long to be close to her, feel her breath on my skin. Just a shadow of a touch from her hand and I go weak in the knees.

It's odd. The last time I felt this way…

She looked up, past the fire, to the warrior who was still busy sharpening her sword and humming softly to herself. Gabrielle looked back down at her scroll.

I've never really felt this way before.

"Gabrielle. Gabrielle." Xena's voice pulled the bard back to the reality of the campsite.

"Huh? What?" She said obviously distracted.

Xena pointed in the direction of the food cooking over the fire. It was well on its way to being well done. She dropped the scroll and her quill in the dirt and tended immediately to the food. She could feel the tears welling up in her eyes. She worked quickly to get the food off the spit but it was difficult as her tears streamed freely down her cheeks. Between the smoke in the air and the salt in her tears her eyes began to sting. She tried wiping them it only made it worse.

Xena looked at her friend and saw what was happening. In an instant she was on her feet and next to her side. "Gabrielle what's wrong? Did you burn yourself?"

Gabrielle couldn't speak. She could only make the gulping sound so often associated with hysterical crying. Xena took the meat and laid it on the warming stone. She then put her arm around Gabrielle's shoulders and led her back to the bedrolls. She sat down with her and cradled her in her arms.

"What's wrong?" The warrior asked again.

Gabrielle still unable to speak just clung to Xena and continued to cry.

"It's okay Gabrielle. Whatever it is, it's okay." Xena said softly as she gently rocked her back and forth.

"No…" she said gasping through her tears. "No, it's not okay."

"Sure it is. Nothing is that bad."

"I ruined dinner."

"No you didn't."

"I wasn't paying attention…" still gasping for air.

"It's only dinner and it's not ruined. It'll be fine."

"I'm so sorry."

"There's more to this than just dinner. What else?"

"No there's nothing else. I swear." Gabrielle said, taking the chance that Xena wouldn't catch her in the biggest lie she had ever told.

The bard scrambled to her feet, leaving a bewildered Xena to sit and watch as she returned to the fire pit and finished preparing dinner.

"Hey, I just remembered." Xena said reaching into her saddlebags. "Look what I got for dinner tonight."

Gabrielle wiped the tears from her cheeks and looked over. Xena was holding a loaf of bread, a round of cheese and a wineskin. She smiled, then realized she was doing it again, she was staring at Xena.

"Not good?" Xena asked, her face a little crest fallen. Her gifts hadn't gone over the way she had hoped they would.

Gabrielle picked up the warming stone and returned to Xena's side. "No it's wonderful, thank you."

Gabrielle was generally not much of a drinker, but tonight Xena had encouraged her to sip on the wine to help her relax. She had said it would help her sleep better. Gabrielle began telling herself that's all that was wrong. She simply needed a good nights sleep. Everything would be clearer with the light of day.

She looked over and Xena was tipping the skin to her lips. Everything thing seemed a little fuzzy and out of focus, but she could see a trickle of wine escaped the warrior's lips and run down her chin. It was then that she realized things were as clear as they were ever going to get. The need to go over there, and kiss that wine away, made every thing perfectly clear. She was in love with the warrior. She just shook her head and lowered her eyes as Xena wiped the wine away with the back of her hand.

"See Gabrielle dinner was fine. Giant rat is good a little over done."

Gabrielle looked back to her friend, shocked. "Rat? You fed me a rat?"

"No you ate it yourself."

"Oh Gods Xena, a rat? That's disgusting."

"You never would have known if I hadn't told you."

"Next time don't"

"Okay." Xena said with some whimsy in her voice as she stretched out on the bedroll and took another drink of the wine. "It's going to be cold tonight. Why don't you bring your bedroll over here next to me."

Gabrielle wanted to go screaming into the woods. Things that used to be so innocent now seemed so wrong. She couldn't very well say no. They had done this a hundred times before on cold nights. To say no now would be odd. She slid her bedroll over next to Xena and stretched out. Xena handed her the wine. She started to protest then decided against it. 'Why not get good and drunk at least I'll be able to sleep' she thought to herself as she took a big gulp.

"Easy does it my little one. You're not accustomed to this and it can effect you in odd ways." Xena said as she retrieved the skin from the bard.

"Did you hear yourself just then?" The bard asked, her speech slightly slurred.

"Did I say something wrong?"

"You said, and I quote, "Easy does it my little one", end quote."

"Yeah what of it. It's a pet name. I call you that all the time."

"I know. Why do you call me that?"

"I don't know. I never really gave it any thought. I like it and you've never said anything before. If you want me to stop I will. I didn't mean to upset you."

"Oh Xena I'm not upset. I'm just curious. I mean I'm not little…"

"You're littler than I am." Xena interrupted, beginning to feel the effects of the wine herself.

"Okay I'll give you that one, but most people are."

"Are what?"

"Littler than you." Gabrielle paused. "You know that's a funny word when you're drunk."



Xena pondered it for a moment then let it go.

"But," The bard continued "I digress."

Xena propped herself up on one elbow and gave the bard her full attention. Any time Gabrielle started using words like 'digress' the warrior knew she was in for a long one.

"You said 'my' little one."

"Okay." Xena said still not making the connection.

"Do you consider me property, to be owned?"

Xena sat up now and looked deeply into the bard's green eyes. "No of course not! How could you think such a thing? It was only meant as a sign of affection. I never meant…"

Gabrielle couldn't take it anymore. It was now or never. She leaned in and cut the warriors words short with a kiss. It wasn't the 'You're my friend' kind of kiss they had shared before. It was a kiss that said 'I am your little one'.

At first Xena didn't know how to react, then she simply let herself go with the moment. She returned Gabrielle's affections. The kiss was long and lingering. Every time it seemed that their lips would part one of them would recapture the moment.

When it was finally over they just stared at each other. Both of them afraid, to be the first to speak, afraid of saying the wrong thing.

"You were right," Gabrielle finally said. "The wine has had a very odd effect on me."

"It was the wine then?" Xena asked.

"Of course. I'm sorry."

"It's okay. We're together so much I suppose something like this was bound to happen sooner or later."

"It was only one kiss." Gabrielle reasoned. "Could have happened to anyone."

"Absolutely." Xena agreed, trying not to sound as aroused as she felt.

"Let's get some sleep." Gabrielle said as she lay down on her bedroll.

The warrior looked at the bard in the ember light of the fire. She watched her as she fell into a deep slumber. Xena then wrapped Gabrielle up in her strong arms and fell into a deep slumber as well.

Her last thought being. 'The wine my foot'.

The large crowd of people stood outside the palace waiting for word. Their beloved King Mysalies had been ill for so long. Recent word from the palace was not good and they knew the end was near. The people gathered for many reasons, to be first to hear the news, to wish their monarch well and to be supportive of the young princes' who would be left to rule upon the death of their father.

Prince Jordon sat stoically at the table as the healer came into the room. His younger brother, Prince Kaylan and the royal advisor Andicles chatted quietly by the fireplace. All three heads turned.

"King Mysalies has gone on to the Elysian Fields. The king is dead." The healer said quietly and then turned and left the room.

The three remained quiet for a moment. Kaylan crossed the room and knelt down next to Jordon's chair. "My brother, my king." He said lowering his head to honor his brother and show his respect. "My sword and my soul are yours to command."

"Kaylan," Jordan started, as he rose from his chair. "Get off your knees. No man ever knelt before father and no man shall ever kneel before me. Besides that we haven't decided that I should take the crown."

Kaylan was to his feet in the flicker of a candle. "Of course you will be king. It is your birth right."

"It's also your birth right brother."

"You're the oldest. You have been in power since father became ill. The people love you. You're as wise as father ever was…"

Andicles spoke for the first time. "Wise beyond your young years Jordon. It only makes sense for you to take the crown."

"With the spring festival coming up it would be the perfect time." Kaylan said with excitement in his voice.

Jordon couldn't help but smile. It was this kind of youthful enthusiasm from Kaylan that had always endeared him to his elder brother.

"And what of your wedding Kaylan? Don't you think that my coronation as king will over shadow…"

"Nonsense," Kaylan said trying to sound as wise as his older brother "It will only add to the celebration of the spring festival." Think of it Jordon, the festival, my wedding, your coronation. It will be a celebration never to be forgotten. Scribes and bards will write of this in the coming seasons."

"Now I know your exaggerating." Jordon said with a smile.

"Actually," Andicles spoke up after clearing his throat "There could be a double wedding."

"A double wedding?" Jordon questioned, obviously confused by the comment.

"Yes Your Highness. In order to take the crown and become king you must take a wife first. The lands require a queen to ensure the royal line."

"Oh how ridiculous is that." Jordon said, surprised by this sudden turn in events. "I haven't even begun to think of marriage yet. I don't even have any prospective candidates for a," Jordon paused "wife."

"I am well aware of that Your Highness but it is the law of the land. Knowing of your father's impending fate, the council of elders and I have sent word into the lands that you will be married. We have requested that maidens come for the so that you may choose a queen."

"But I…" Jordon protested, but the old advisor just raised his hand.

"No disrespect intended Your Highness. This is just the way it has been and it is the way it shall remain. You will choose a wife before the spring festival and then you may be crowned king."

"What you're telling me Andicles, is that I have two weeks to fall in love."

"Love has nothing to do with is Your Highness. You simply need to find someone who suites your needs and will serve well as queen to your people."

"I don't believe this." Jordon muttered.

"At least you are free to choose. We could have chosen for you."

"Any woman then?"

"Any woman. We trust your judgement."

"Well thank you so much." Jordon replied sarcastically. His tone was not lost on the advisor.

Kaylan could tell that things were about to get ugly. "Jordon we should go tell our people of father's crossing."

Jordon turned to his younger brother. "Yes of course."

Gabrielle was awake for sometime before she had the courage to open her eyes. Between her memories of the night before and the headache of headaches she was sure that there was probably no reason to live. As she lay still and quiet she realized that she didn't hear anything at all. Had she gone deaf? No that wasn't it because there was a breeze gently rustling the leaves and the grass. Exactly what was she listening for then? She knew. Deep down inside she knew. She was listening for any sound that told her Xena was up and about.

She knew that the warrior was no longer lying next to her. She couldn't hear her breathing. Still it was oddly quiet. She didn't hear any movement. No fidgeting about, no Argo snorting in the distance. Fear began to creep over her. Had Xena left her in the middle of the night? Had she made such a fool of herself that the warrior needed to end the relationship?

Gabrielle slowly opened one eye and turned her head towards the fire pit. A rush of relief swept over her when she saw Xena. The warrior smiled.

"Good morning sleepyhead," she said rising up and pouring a cup of tea for the bard. She walked slowly and quietly over and helped Gabrielle sit up.

The bard flinched as the weight of her own head settled down on her shoulders.

"Hurts doesn't it?" Xena said placing the tea in Gabrielle's hands.

"Un-huh." The bard mumbled, gratefully accepting the steaming liquid. The smell made her feel a little better she was sure the actual drink would work wonders.

"The first time is always the worst." Xena said stroking Gabrielle's hair, softly and gently.

Gabrielle wanted to tell Xena that even her hair hurt but she knew that then she wouldn't have the contact she so desired. She decided to sip her tea and let her hair hurt.

"Will you believe me if I tell you you're going to live?"

"Un-huh." Gods the tea was good this morning.

"We don't have anywhere in particular to be. So take all the time you need, okay?"

"Un-huh." Gabrielle closed her eyes and thought of the night before. How could she be so stupid? To take a chance like that. Not only could she have destroyed the only friendship that had ever really meant anything, but had Xena taken it badly… . She didn't even want to think of that possibility.

"I'm not even going to ask you if you're hungry."

"Good." The bard said between sips.

"Another word. This is a good sign."


"I'm glad." Xena said, leaning back against a rock and slowly pulling the bard back with her. She folded her into her arms allowing her enough movement to continue drinking her tea.

"Just rest and finish your tea. It'll make you feel all better. I promise."

"I'm sorry." Gabrielle whispered.

"Don't be. You have nothing to be sorry for. We decided that last night."

"Are you sure?"


"I was afraid I had ruined…everything."

"Never. We will be together for as long as you want us to be together."

'Oh sure' Gabrielle thought 'lay everything on my shoulders'. "That's good," She said aloud "I'm glad you still want me around after I made such a …"

Xena laid a finger across Gabrielle's lips to stop her words. "Don't say another word. I don't think I'll like it."

"Even if it's the truth?"

"Woman am I going to have to gag you to get you to be quiet?"

Gabrielle looked up. A smile spread across Xena's face.

"I'm ill remember." Gabrielle replied trying to take up Xena's happier tone.

"You're hung over. There's a difference."

"And what would that be?"

"You, my litt," Xena stopped in mid sentence.

"It's okay." Gabrielle said as she rested her head on Xena's shoulder waiting for the words to come.

"You, my little one, have a self inflicted wound. It doesn't count as an actual illness."

"Oh that's just dandy. What's the point if you can't get any sympathy the next day?"

"What do you call this? Tea in bed and all the comfort I can offer. If that's not sympathy I don't know what is. But just this once and only because this is your first hangover. After this you're on your own."

The bard looked deeply into the warrior's blue eyes. Among the things she saw there, on this 'morning after' was a tenderness she had never seen before and a completely mischievous twinkle.

Prince Jordon walked through the streets of Seranasia. He walked alone, as was his custom there were no guards to protect him. He didn't need them. The sword strapped to his side was all the protection he needed and he was quite proficient with it. It had been said there was only one other mortal alive who was better with a steel blade. Jordon was quite grateful that this particular person was a friend of the royal family.

His subjects approached him quietly and offered their condolences. He accepted them graciously and sincerely. His father had taught him long ago that there was no need to be standoffish with the people of their kingdom. The people loved them both, king and prince, and thrived under their rule. There was no conflict in the kingdom, no war or strife. The people prospered and because the people prospered the monarch remained strong.

Jordon made his way to the temple. He paused briefly before entering. There were several people present. A priest immediately took notice of the young monarch and came forward.

"Your Highness," the priest said, bowing slightly at the waist "you honor us with your presence."

"Thank you Lidicus. I have come for my father. To make my offering for his safe passage."

"Of course Your Highness."

"I have a request, I don't know if you can grant it."

"If it is within my power it is yours."

"I would like to be alone. Could you clear the temple? Just for a few minutes."

"Of course Your Highness."

The priest left the prince and spoke with the people in the temple, one at a time, quietly. Each in their own turn left the temple, paying their respects as they did.

When Jordon was sure no one was left he approached the altar and knelt down, removing his sword and laying it on the marble slab. He raised his head and looked about. As he drew a deep breath and took in the sights of the Temple of Athene.

"Mother Athene? Mother where are you? I need your counsel and your wisdom at this time in my life. Please come to me."

Without another moment passing there was a shimmering and standing before Jordon was a beautiful woman wearing magnificent armor but no weapons. She smiled down on Jordon and stepped down, taking his chin in her hand.

"Yes my child what is it that you need?"

"Mother, I am confused and lost. I need your guidance."

"What disturbs you so? If it is your father, I assure you that he has passed easily and I have already seen to his needs."

"I never had any concern of father. I knew you would be waiting for him. I have been told that I must marry to be crowned king."

"Yes I know."

"How am I supposed to do that?" Jordon asked rising to his feet and reclaiming his sword.

"I will tell you this. There is a woman. She will be here in two moons time. She will become your queen."

"But how can I…"

Athene raised her hand. "Listen my child, as I can only tell you these things once. You must understand what you are about to hear."

"This woman who comes to you. She will love and care for you, but in her heart, soul and mind she will always belong to another. There is nothing you can do about that and you should not even try. She will be a good and true wife to you and perfectly suited for you."

"This is good to know." Jordon said with a sigh of relief.

"Continue to listen child." Athene said, with the tone that only a mother could have.

"You must tell her all. Everything that you and your father have held inside. She must be totally aware. All must be clear to her before you ask her to be your queen. Do you understand?"

"Yes of course. It would only be fair."

"You should know that this woman is your destiny, but you are not hers. You will have to make sacrifices for this woman that will change everything for you."

"What kind of changes?"

"That, I can not say?"

"Can you tell me who this woman is?"

"Nor may I tell you that. You will know her when you see her. Know that no matter where this path takes you, it is best for all. Do not be concerned. You will do what you must, without hesitation."

"Thank you Mother."

"You are welcomed my child." With that the Goddess was gone.

As Jordon turned to leave the temple, he heard her voice faintly in his ears. "Be watchful for a stranger on a golden war horse."

Jordon smiled, that last piece of information had been a gift.

An entire days travel had been lost due to the bards 'self inflicted wound'. Every time she thought she could travel the mere act of standing up proved her wrong. Xena seemed quite content with staying out for an extra day so Gabrielle could recuperate.

As Xena saddled Argo Gabrielle approached and laid a hand on the warrior's shoulder. Xena turned and looked down at her.


"Could I… well… could I ride today?"

"Should we stay another day? Are you well enough to travel?"

"Travel yes. Walk while doing it, no."

"Then so be it. Argo down." Xena commanded.

The horse knelt down on her knees. Xena helped Gabrielle into the saddle. "Argo up, gently."

The horse carefully stood back up and shook her head up and down awaiting praise from her mistress.

"Good girl Argo, good girl. Now I want you to take it easy."

Xena handed Gabrielle her staff. "Aren't you going to ride?" The bard asked. She had hoped she would be able to put her arms around the warrior's waist and rest her head on her shoulder as they traveled.

"No I'll walk for awhile. You'll be more comfortable that way."

"Thank you Xena."

"Anytime, little one, anytime."

"Do we know where we're going yet? The bard inquired.

"Well actually I was going to make it a surprise but,…"

"Where Xena, where are we going?" Gabrielle asked with some excitement in her voice.

"I thought we would go to Seranasia for the spring festival."

"A festival? Really Xena?" Her excitement faded, "Wait a minute you hate festivals. What gives?"

"Nothing. I just thought that maybe, just this once, we could do something you enjoyed doing." She paused and looked down at the ground. "Maybe make a little vacation out of it. Just the two of us." She said quietly, looking up for approval from the bard.

She didn't have long to wait. She hadn't seen a smile that big on Gabriele's face in a long time. "I gather it's a good idea?"

"It's a wonderful idea."

"I know some people there and I'm comfortable, so I just thought we could have some fun."

"Fun? Did I just hear the word 'fun' come out of your mouth?"

"Yeah," Xena said looking up at her. "What of it?" Gabrielle reached down to check for fever and got her hands slapped away. "What are you doing?"

"Are you feeling alright?"

"I am currently in better shape than you are, my hung over little bard, so if I were you I wouldn't start something I might regret later." She said with a wicked little sneer on her face.

Gabrielle took the point and decided to behave herself. "So tell me about Seranasia. Who do you know there? Come to think of it, is there anyplace where you don't know someone?"

"I think there's a small village on the southern tip…"

"Very funny. Now about Seranasia."

Xena drew a deep breath. "Well it's a very content little kingdom. The people prosper and the king is a gentle and wise soul…"

"Who is it you know there?" Gabrielle interrupted in her excitement.

"If you would just let me finish…"


"King Mysalies, as I said before, is a good and gentle man. He has always welcomed me to his kingdom." She paused and exhaled a harsh memory. "Even when I was less than desirable to have around."

Gabrielle knew that Xena was speaking of her warlord days.

"I never caused Mysalies any trouble. For some reason I just couldn't do it. Even when my armies were the strongest in the area. I could never bring myself to sack his kingdom. There was just something about this man and his family, his people…"

Xena trailed off. Gabrielle was touched to find out that there wasn't as much darkness in the warrior's past as she had believed. Xena had stopped talking and the bard decided it was for the best to let her be.

Jordon stood with a small group of men from the village as they surveyed the empty field before them.

"So Your Highness if we build here, it will be localized for the entire village. All of the children should be able to reach it with out any long walks."

"Do we know how many children to expect the first season?"

"At least twenty. Maybe more."

"Let's make sure the building is large enough to house at least fifty children and a half dozen teachers."

"Your Highness that will take us…"

"Galen, if you mention dinars I'll break your arm." Jordon joked with his Minister of Finance. "You know money doesn't matter when it comes to our children. Give these men whatever they require. My father's last wish was that this school be built and we're going to see it through."

"Yes Your Highness."

Jordon walked over and examined a stack of timbers that was about to be unloaded from a cart. "Wood? Wouldn't stone be better?"

"Wood is more cost…" Galen decided against it. Jordon turned and smiled. Galen smiled back and just shook his head. "So much like your father." He muttered under his breath.

"I heard that." Countered Jordon, without even turning around. The young prince turned to the architect. "Let's do the frame in wood and then finish it in stone."

"Yes Your Highness."

"Let's get to work. It's not going to build itself and if we want it finished before festival we're going to have to put in some long days." Jordon stated in an as matter of fact tone, rolling up sleeves and beginning the task of unloading the wood.

Suddenly from a watchtower a sentry called down. "Two coming our way. One walking, one riding."

Jordon left the wagon with a quick apology and ran to the stairs of the watchtower. Taking the steps two at a time was finally in a position to see who was coming. A huge grin broke out when the prince realized who approached. "Open the gates!" Jordon called out excitedly "And bring me a horse. A fast horse."

Barely touching the steps on the way down from the tower Jordon realized the answer to his problems was approaching. The requested horse was awaiting the royal rider near the heavy gates that were creaking open. The prince was ready to go before the gates were open far enough and this was first time all day any impatience had registered in his voice. "Get those damn gates open!"

When there was enough room to maneuver the horse, Jordon was through the gate and riding as fast as the mount would carry him. Xena saw the rider immediately her senses went on full alert until she realized who it was pushing the animal forward.

"Gabrielle watch out." With that warning, Xena was on Argo's back. "Hold on." She said reaching back to make sure the bard had a good hold. Very soon they were on their way towards the rider. Xena was pushing Argo as well, but she knew her mare could take it. Gabrielle who was not yet fully recovered, was not enjoying this.

The distance between the two horses closed rapidly. Xena began to reign Argo. The bard was grateful, her stomach had just about had it. Xena stopped Argo and dismounted before Gabrielle had even realized they had come to a halt. It was sometime later before her stomach realized it as well.

Xena reached out and grabbed the approaching rider by the shirt and pulled him off. He landed on the ground with a resounding thud. Xena stood over him. He looked up with a mixture of surprise and anger. "Didn't I teach you better than that?" She asked Jordon as he blinked his eyes trying to clear his head.

"What?!" Jordon asked as he sat up and began dusting himself off.

"Never, never, never push your horse like that unless you absolutely have to." She said offering a hand and pulling him up.

"I saw you coming and I…"

"We would have gotten here soon enough. You didn't…"

"Xena…" Gabrielle said in a small voice.

"Have to treat that animal like that." The warrior continued.

"Xena…" Gabrielle tried again.

"I'm sorry I just wanted to be the first…" Jordon offered.

"XENA!" There was no mistaking it this time this was a cry for help.

The warrior turned around in time to see the bard turn at least two, possibly three shades of green. She rushed over and lifted her sick friend off Argo's back. Jordon came immediately to see he could be of any assistance and was promptly rewarded for his efforts, Gabrielle threw up all over his boots.

Xena couldn't help but smile because she realized how horrified the bard would be when she found out whom she had just thrown up on.

"Oh…I…am…so…sorry." The bard managed to croak as she stared at the ground.

Jordon shuffled and took a step back. "It's alright. I can clean them. I've had worse than this on 'em."

Gabrielle looked up at Jordon, who through it all still managed a smile. She smiled weakly. "At least let me pay to have them cleaned properly."

"No really it's okay. Don't worry about it. I'm more concerned about you. Are you all right?"

"I'm fine, now." She said sheepishly.

"Oh I can fix that." Xena said with and evil chuckle. "Gabrielle would you like a proper introduction?"

"Yes please." She said, smiling at the unwilling victim of her upset digestive system.

"Gabrielle of Poteidaia…" Xena began

Suddenly the bard got a sinking feeling. This was an awfully formal introduction.

"Queen of the Amazons…" She continued

Oh Gods, this was going to be bad wasn't it.

"May I introduce Prince Jordon of Seranasia, eldest child of King Mysalies."

Jordon took a quick look to make sure the coast was clear and immediately dropped to one knee, head bowed to Gabrielle.

"Your Majesty my kingdom is honored by your presence."

Now Gabrielle felt even worse. First she throws up on this poor man. Then she finds out he's royalty, and now he's down on one knee before her. She looked over at Xena who was doing everything she could to contain her laughter. It was all the bard could do to keep from crying.

"Please get up." Gabrielle said softly, offering her hand to Jordon.

Jordon took the queen's hand and gently kissed it. Now she really felt like slug slime.

"My kingdom and my sword are at your service Your Majesty." Jordon continued, staring into Gabrielle's green eyes.

Xena cleared her throat. "She has a sword at her disposal." She said stepping forward. "Mine."

Jordon looked up. That look and that tone were unmistakable. "Only a figure of speech, my friend."

"Just keep it that way." Xena said as she put a protective arm around Gabrielle and handed her the water skin. "We'll be right back Jordon. Why don't you try to catch your horse?"

Jordon was having difficulty concentrating because of the trance those emerald green eyes held him in. The spell was broken when Xena turned Gabrielle around and the two walked off into the woods together.

"What was that all about?" Gabrielle asked as she took some water and did what was necessary

"What? Xena asked as she leaned against a tree.

"If I didn't know better I'd say you sounded jealous out there."

"Why shouldn't I? Jordon was flirting with you and I didn't like it."

The bard's heart pounded in her chest. "You didn't?"

"No, I didn't?"

"Why not?"

"Okay let's get this over with. This isn't particularly how I envisioned this moment, but sometimes you just have to go with what life offers you." Xena drew a deep breath and took Gabrielle's hand in hers and looked deeply into the bard's green eyes. "I love you Gabrielle. No, I don't mean love as in a friend. I mean I am in love with you. I've known it for a long time now and I've just been waiting for the right time to tell you."

"And you thought this was the right time? After I've been sick and throwing up all over the local monarch. You don't have a romantic bone in your body do you?"

"Like I said, this is not how I wanted this to happen, but with prince charming out there offering you the keys to the kingdom my plans had to be altered a little." She paused, her voice softened, "I was going to tell you over dinner tonight. You know after we'd both had a bath, a clean change of clothes and a nice glass of wine."

"I see. So you were jealous?" The bard asked still not quite believing what she was hearing.

"Absolutely. Jordon touches you and I'll be forced to break every royal bone…"

"That won't be necessary." She said, stepping forward and caressing Xena's face with an open hand. "I know when I'm spoken for."

Xena took Gabrielle's hand, kissed her palm softly and smiled. "Does this mean I didn't just stand here and make a complete fool out of myself?"

"No you didn't. I love you too." She smiled up at the warrior "I meant to say, I'm in love with you too."

"You have no idea how glad I am to hear that. I'm not afraid of much Gabrielle, but I was afraid…"

The bard put her fingers to the warrior's lips to silence her. "Don't say another word. I don't think I'll like it."

Xena smiled her blue eyes shining. "Do you remember everything I say?"

"From this moment forward, yes."

Xena gave the bard a kiss on the forehead and they walked arm and arm out of the woods. Jordon still hadn't managed to capture his horse. Every time he tried to get close to her she would run away from him. Xena whistled and the horse obediently came to her. She took the reigns and handed them to Jordon.

"You have to be nice to them." She said with a grin.

"Shall we go back to the palace so you can get settled?"

"The palace?" Gabrielle asked.

"Yes of course."

"Actually we were planning on getting a room at the inn." Xena said quickly.

"Nonsense. We can't have the Queen of the Amazons staying at the inn." Jordon turned to Xena and smiled. "You, of course, are free to stay where ever you like."

Although they no longer walked arm in arm, Gabrielle could feel the tension building up in her warrior. She was about to cause an incident. Gabrielle decided those two incidents in one day, five minutes after arriving could set off a war.

"Your Highness," Gabrielle began. "Xena is my champion. Where I go, she goes."

"Do you even share the same sleeping chamber?" Jordon asked with a sly grin. He knew the warrior's reputation and various appetites.

"Where she goes I go." Xena repeated through clenched teeth.

The fact that these two were friends was the only thing that was keeping the warrior in check and the prince in one piece. As they made their way to the palace. Jordon told Xena of the King's death. Gabrielle could tell that the warrior was truly upset by the news.

Upon arriving at the palace, Jordon announced the arrival of the amazon queen to the palace staff, setting forth orders that the queen and her 'champion' were to be denied nothing. They were shown to luxurious quarters and left to rest from their trip.

Before leaving them, Jordon turned to Xena and smiled. "I'm glad you have finally found peace after so many years my friend. Father would have been overjoyed for you. He could always see the good in your warrior heart, even when you couldn't. And I'm glad you're happy with the amazon queen," He paused, his grin turning mischievous. "But give me half a chance and I'll steal her from you."

"Try and I'll break every bone in that skinny little body." Xena said, grinning back.

"Seriously my friend, after you've rested I do need to have a word with you."

"I'll find you later. I promise." The two embraced forearms, an unspoken pact had just been made.

Jordon turned to Gabrielle, "Your Majesty, my palace is your home, please accept it as such. If you require anything at all, just pull on the cord near the door. And should you get tired of looking at this," gesturing towards Xena "tired old face, mine is available."

Xena playfully grabbed Jordon by the arm and led him to the door, opened it and shoved him through it. "Out!" She yelled, then slammed the door and bolted it shut. Jordon just stood on the other side smiling. He chuckled to himself as he turned and walked away.

Gabrielle stood for a moment and took in the shear expanse of their chamber, no chambers. She realized for the first time that there was more than one room here. They were in a main sitting room, there were two other rooms off of this one. Xena simply began to unbuckle her armor and get comfortable as Gabrielle explored.

"Gods Xena it's huge."

"Yeah. Jordon's family always did know how to treat a royal guest." She said as she draped her armor over a wooden stand designed for just that purpose. She grin as she adjusted it so that it wouldn't hang crooked. 'Nice no to pile it up in a corner for once', she thought as she took a seat to remove the rest of the armor.

"Xena?" Came the voice from another of the rooms.

"Yes, my little one." Xena called back.

"Could you come here?"

Gabrielle sounded confused. Xena strode into the room where Gabrielle was sitting on the edge of the oversized marble tub. Xena leaned against the doorframe, crossed her arms and smiled down at Gabrielle.


Gabrielle looked up and motioned over her shoulder with her thumb. "Is this what I think it is?"

"Well what do you think it is?"

"I hope it's a bathtub."

"Yeah, looks like a bathtub to me too."

"Could we get someone to fill it for us."

Xena pushed off the doorframe with her shoulder and took a seat next to Gabrielle and turned toward the tub, mumbled something about Jordon and willing and then said, "We don't have to. Watch."

Gabrielle turned. Xena pulled up on one lever and then another. Slowly the water level started to rise in the tub. Gabrielle sat the amazed. Xena put her hand in to test the temperature. "Perfect as usual."

"But how…"

"Above us there's a boiler room. Water is kept boiling all the time for the purpose of bathing and cooking. It's fed through the castle in a series of conduits. When you want to stop the flow of water just flip this lever, okay?"

Gabrielle nodded as she sat mesmerized at the water flowing into the huge marble tub. Xena doubted that she had heard a word. The warrior left and went back to the sitting room. It was getting late. Her meeting with Jordon would just have to wait until morning. Now she wanted a bath, a meal and a soft, warm bed. She unlaced her boots and slipped them off. She looked around the room, thinking it was time to light some candles. She could hear Gabrielle turn the water off in the tub. Good she had been listening. The knock at the door jarred the warrior back from the places her thoughts were about to go.

She crossed the room and opened the door to find four members of the royal staff. Two men and two women entered the room and silently went about their business. The men brought in trays of food and put them on the table in the sitting room. The women began lighting the torches and candles to illuminate the room as evening began to settle. One of the men built a fire in the fireplace.

One of the women approached Xena. "Should I ready your sleeping chamber?"

"Yes please." Xena smiled. It was nice to be treated so well. Even though it was only temporary, she could enjoy it for a few days. Especially now, she and Gabrielle would have so much to discuss.

"What of the bathing chamber?" Asked the other woman.

"Oh well Gabri, I mean Queen Gabrielle has all ready started bathing…"

"Then will there be anything else?" Asked one of the footmen as he opened the door.

"No I think this should do it."

"If you or her Majesty require anything further, do not hesitate to ring. I am Darrius and I will be serving you."

"Thank you Darrius. I think we'll be fine for the rest of the evening."

"Very good."

Darrius waited for the maid to come out of the bedchamber, and then just as quickly as they had arrived, they were gone. Closing the door behind them. Xena bolted the door and then turned her attention to the trays on the table. It had been a long time since she had seen this much food. Fruit, vegetables, meats of all kinds, breads and cheeses, two bottles of wine.

Xena popped a strawberry in her mouth and went into the bedchamber. Just as she had remembered it. There were two long white robes lying on the end of the bed. Xena gathered them up and returned to the main room. She picked up one tray of food and balanced on her right hand and then slid her left hand under the second tray lifting it from the table. Balancing the trays she headed for the bathroom.

Gabrielle sat in to tub of steaming water, eyes closed and completely relaxed. The room was darkened and only the light from a few scented candles danced on the walls.

"Hungry?" Xena asked, bringing Gabrielle out of her own thoughts. She turned and looked up.

"Gods Xena what's that?"

"Dinner." Xena said placing the trays down on the over sized ledge of the tub. Gabrielle couldn't believe her eyes.

"I've never…"

"Jordon has a tendency to over do things a bit."

"Oh I don't know this is kind of nice. I could get use to this." Gabrielle said taking a strawberry and taking a gentle nibble off the end.

Xena felt herself inhaled involuntarily as she watched the bard eat the fruit. "Gabrielle stop that."

"What? I was just eating."

"Trust me you were doing more than that."

Gabrielle looked at the defenseless little strawberry wondering what it could have possibly done.

"It wasn't the berry Gabrielle. It was you." Gabrielle looked up and once again wondered how the warrior had managed to read her thoughts. She hated it when she did that

"Me! I maintain that I was only eating."

"Un-huh." Said the warrior unconvinced. "Mind if I join you?"

"Since when do you need an invitation?" She asked, finishing off the berry.

Xena laid the robes down and finished undressing. She slipped into the tub next to Gabrielle. The water was warm and the muscles that had been tense began to relax. "Ohhh. This feels sooo good." She murmured.

As Gabrielle listened to Xena adjust in the water. She suddenly realized what the strawberry had done to Xena. She picked up another piece of the fruit and turned to her warrior. "Oh Xena…"

The warrior opened her eyes. Gabrielle took the fruit and placed it slowly between her lips. Their eyes were locked on each other as Gabrielle moved across the tub. She moved in front of the warrior and wrapped her legs around her waist and her arms went around her neck. The bard smiled at the warrior as the strawberry danced between her lips. Xena leaned in to have a bite. Gabrielle pulled back.

"What do you say warrior?" She teased as she used her tongue to roll the berry around in her mouth.

"MINE!" The warrior said, grabbing the back of the bard's head and taking what she wanted, the fruit, the bard's lips, the kiss that followed.

That didn't work out exactly the way Gabrielle had planned, but this was good too. She could feel every ripple of every muscle in the warrior's strong body as Xena wrapped her arms around Gabrielle. The kiss was delivered with passion she hadn't known possible. No one had ever kissed her this way before. Xena was possessing every fiber of her being with this kiss. Making it very clear that the bard belonged to the warrior. When their lips finally parted, the bard was breathless and the warrior was satisfied.

"Well…" Gabrielle gasped still clinging to Xena.

"Too much?" Xena asked, concerned now. It had just been a natural instinct that had taken over. She was going to have to work on that. Gabrielle was a woman to be loved and honored, not taken and conquered. "Gabrielle are you okay? Did I hurt you?"

"No you didn't hurt me. I'm fine. I've just never been kissed like that before."

"Ah, yeah, I'm sorry. Sometimes I can't control…"

"Don't be sorry." Gabrielle said cutting Xena's apology short. "We have so many new things to discover about each other now. I enjoyed that discovery."

"You did?"

"Oh yes, and I learned a very important lesson." The bard said as she moved back to the trays and poured two glasses of wine.

"What lesson would that be?" Xena asked as she accepted a goblet from Gabrielle and sipped the wine.

"Never tease a hungry warrior." She said with a sly grin as she sipped the wine.

"Gabrielle there are some things you need to know." Xena said, her voice very serious now.

"Such as?" Gabrielle asked in all seriousness as well. She didn't want to make light of the fact that Xena was going to make an effort to open up to her.

"What we have discovered in each other is very special. I have done things in my life that I'm not proud of, you know that." Gabrielle just shook her head. She didn't want to interrupt the flow of what the warrior was saying to her. "I have had a lot of lovers, both male and female, that's no secret either." That stung a little but the bard remained quiet. "And I thought that, maybe once or twice, I had actually been in love with some of those people, but when I looked into your eyes today I realized I had never really truly been in love with any of them. I found true love today. I guess I've known this for sometime now, but I had to make sure. You are so special to me." Xena reached out and cupped Gabrielle's face in her hand as she continued, "I didn't want it to be for you the way it had been for those others. I wanted to make sure I wasn't going to hurt you. I had to work my feelings through before I could say anything at all to you. I want you by my side until the end of time. I love you, but most importantly, I am in love with you. For the first time in my life I am truly in love."

Gabrielle smiled, kissed the palm of the hand that held her so gently and then burst into tears. Xena pulled her to her and held her gently in her arms. "What is it my little one? I didn't mean to upset you. I'm so sorry. Tell me what I've done."

The bard smiled through her tears and looked up at Xena. "That is the most loving, most beautiful thing anyone has ever said to me."

Xena sighed and kissed the bard on the forehead. "You scared me to death. I thought I had just made a big mistake."

"No mistake my warrior. No mistake." The bard shifted and looked deeply into those beautiful blue eyes. "Now I suppose there are some things you should know."

"That's fair."

"We've been through so much together and I've watched you change. With each change I could see a little more of your heart and I began to fall in love with you and that heart. To be honest, it scared me. Sometimes your heart could be so enveloped in darkness, it scared me to think I was in love with the person who carried that much pain and anger in her soul." Xena lowered her eyes away from Gabrielle, ashamed. The bard gently lifted her chin and she opened her eyes, she owed her the courtesy to hear her out. "Then I would watch you sleep. You're different when you sleep. The more I watched you the more I realized that the person I had fallen in love with was there with me. The kind and gentle heart was there and at it's most vulnerable. There was no turning back. I was in love with you. There was no more fear, no more questions." Xena smiled as she continued to listen. "There is only one thing left that concerns me."

"What's that? Xena asked as she sipped her wine.

"Well, I'm not as experienced as you are when it comes to, well ah…matters of, shall we say 'pleasure'. I've only had the one experience with…" She stopped short.



"It's okay Gabrielle. You can say his name. You can talk about him if you want. He was your husband, you loved him and you lost him. I'm not jealous of what you had with him and in some respects I guess maybe I wish you still had your life with him, because life with me isn't going to be easy."

"Nothing worth having ever is. I'm glad things have happened the way that they did. I'm sorry Perdicus is dead, but I know now I never was in love with him. I loved him and I might have grown to be in love with him, but I really believe that you and I were fated to be together and that never would have been fair to him. For me to share his life and his home and be in love with you."

Gabrielle took a drink of her wine and drew a deep breath. "Now let's get back to something far more interesting. As I was trying to explain, I lack certain 'qualifications' to be your lover and I'm afraid that I won't be able to make you 'happy'."

Xena smiled and then chuckled.

"What's so funny?" Gabrielle asked.

"Your mere presence in my life makes me happy. And as for your 'qualifications', I wouldn't be concerned."

"But what if I can't satisfy you."

"You all ready have once tonight. That kiss was amazing."

"You did that."

"You were there too."

"Yeah I know, but…"

"You worry too much." Xena said and she kissed the bard again. This time a slow lingering kiss designed to make a body tremble, which it did quite sufficiently.

Gabrielle shuddered as Xena touched her as she had never touched her before. The warrior's strong hands, now softened by the time spent in the tub explored every curve of the bard's body. Xena's lips traveled slowly, gently down Gabrielle's throat, to the base of her neck and her shoulders. Gabrielle could only wrap her arms around the warrior and concentrate on breathing. Her breath came in sporadic bursts every time Xena would move her hands or her lips to a new location. Soft moans began to escape her lips as the warrior gently kissed her neck. As her hands softly stroked her legs and traveled up her sides, pausing briefly on her breasts and gently manipulating both of her nipples at the same time. "Ohhh Gods, yes." She moaned into the warrior's ear. She felt the warrior tremble now. "Yes Xena, yes." She moaned again. "Make love to me."

That was all the warrior needed to hear. She slipped her arms around the bard and picked her up. Water dripped off their bodies as they exited the tub and went back into the main room. Gabrielle nuzzled Xena's neck as she carried her across the room and laid her down on a pile of furs in front of the fireplace.

"Are you warm enough?" Xena asked as she placed another log on the fire.

"Oh yes, it's quite warm in here."

Xena lay down next to the bard and looked at the beautiful woman who now lay completely helpless in front of her. The lights of the fire, dancing off of the drops of water still clinging to her skin. Xena reached out and began stroking the soft flesh of her new lover. "If I do something that you don't want, or if you want me to stop I want you to say 'Argo'.

Gabrielle couldn't help but giggle. "Why?"

"It's a safe word Gabrielle. It tells me that I'm doing something that you don't like or that you can't handle just yet and I'll stop."

"Why not just say stop."

"Because you may not mean it, or you may be using it in another context and I may stop when you don't want me to. THAT can be a little more than frustrating, let me tell you."

Gabrielle giggled again at the mere thought of someone not giving the warrior what she desired physically. "Ever killed anyone for that?"

"Not intentionally." She said, adding the grin when Gabrielle looked up all most horrified. "I'm only joking."

Gabrielle sighed and relaxed, stretching like a cat in front of the fireplace. Xena shifted in close to her bard. They were lying on their sides facing the fire. Gabrielle in front, Xena behind her. Xena began her explorations of the bard's body again. She loved the smell of her, the feel of her, the sound of her. This was the first person in her life that consumed her, heart and soul. She gently kissed her shoulder and began traveling down her arm. Gabrielle gasped again, sending a shudder through both bodies. The bard raised her arm and laid it gently across Xena's back. The warrior rolled the bard onto her back and began exploring her body with her lips. Kissing her stomach and working her way up. She took a nipple into her mouth and flicked her tongue over it, sucking gently. Gabrielle's back arched as another long moan escaped her lips. "Ohhh, yes. Yes."

Xena continued. Her hand found it's way to the soft patch of hair between her lover's legs. She gently stroked it, slowly, softly. Then she felt Gabrielle open herself ever so slightly. Inside her lover, Xena found her warm and wet. She wanted to be so careful and so tender during their first time. She stroked her lover's wet center as she continued to kiss her neck. Gabrielle felt her body responding to the gentle touch of her lover. "Gods Xena this…is so…wonderful." Xena responded by kissing the bard. Their tongues seeking each other with a passion neither of them expected. Gabrielle's body lurched and arched with every single stroke. Xena could tell that her lover as near the edge. "Not yet." She whispered as she slowed her caress.

"Please…" Gabrielle begged as she dug her nails into the warrior's back. This sent a tremor through the warrior they both could feel. Xena was exhilarated by the pain that her lover was causing her as she dug her nails down the length of her back. The more she toyed with the bard, the harder she dug in, pleading, "Please, please release me!" Xena placed herself over Gabrielle and placed a strong muscular thigh between the bard's legs. This sent the bard into another set of orgasmic convulsions but still did not set her free. The warrior held her weight off of her love with her arms. Gabrielle pulled Xena down and kissed her, a kiss that was meant to beg for her release from Xena's imposed prison, "Please, let me go." She whimpered after the kiss. "I don't… know… how much… more I… can… stand."

Xena smiled at Gabrielle as she watched her face as the passion of their first love making swept across her face. Her mouth would part slightly to allow her moans escape her lips. As she approached the edge she would bite her lower lip. When Xena would pull her back from the edge her entire body would shudder. Xena wondered if it was from anxiety, frustration or anger. The warrior smiled, these images stored in her mind forever.

Slowly, quite deliberately Xena began her descent down her lover's body. Kissing, licking and sucking flesh that was now damp with sweat instead of bath water. Soon her mouth was enraptured by Gabrielle's wet warmth. She was slow and loving with her little bard. She tasted every sweet drop that Gabrielle's passion brought forth to her hungry mouth. Gabrielle had her firmly by the shoulders, nails digging in. Xena could feel every muscle in the bard's body tighten, her legs quivered uncontrollably as she made her final approach to the edge. "Ohhh by the Gods Xena!" Her breathing stopped as her entire body began to quake. Xena held her thighs in her strong hands and continued her quest. Soon there was a long deep moan and then total relaxation and quiet. Gabrielle fell back onto the furs and tried to recapture her breath.

Xena moved up next to the bard and wrapped her securely in her arms. She could feel her heart beating within her chest and hear her trying to calm her breathing. "I…had no idea." Gabrielle whispered.

"About what?" Xena asked quietly.

"That it could be like that."

"Oh, that's just one method." Xena teased.

"One? There's more that one?"

"Absolutely. Our love making will only be limited by our imaginations."

"Being a bard I have an extremely active imagination." Gabrielle giggled as she snuggled in next to Xena.

"I know. I'm looking forward to it."


"Yes my little one."

"I'm hungry."

Xena smiled. Without a word she went into the bathing room and retrieved the trays of food. She also took the time to put on one of the robes and get the other for Gabrielle. When she returned to the main room Gabrielle was sitting up with her legs pulled up to her chest, arms wrapped tightly around them, staring into the fire. Xena sat the trays on the floor next to her and the placed the robe around her shoulders.

"Regrets?" Xena asked.

"Oh no. Gods no. I was just worried that's all."

Xena sat down behind her and pulled her into her arms. "Worried? About what?"


"Me." Xena laughed. "Why would you be worried about me?"

"What about your needs? Your satisfaction."

"At this point in time my little one, your pleasure is my satisfaction. Once you're more comfortable, we will worry about other matters."

"You're wonderful. And I must say I'm surprised at how gentle you are."

"Yes well, that's more than I can say for you."

Gabrielle had been reaching for a piece of bread. She stopped and turned slowly back to the warrior. "What do you mean?"

Xena smiled an evil little grin as she removed the robe and turned her back to Gabrielle. The scratches were long and deep. It all most looked as if someone had taken a whip to the warrior. Gabrielle gasped in horror when she realized she had done that. "Oh Xena I'm so sorry!"

She replaced the robe and turned to Gabrielle scooping her up in her arms and cradling her. "Don't be sorry. I enjoyed it."

"I hurt you. The first time we make love and I hurt you."

"Gabrielle there's a fine line between pleasure and pain and I assure you that it was all pleasure."

Xena reached over and picked up that piece of bread and handed it to her. "Eat something, you'll feel better."

Soon the two new lovers were sitting by the fire, eating and talking. Gabrielle could barely believe that this was her warrior sitting here with her. Xena had always been so stoic and brooding. It took a kick from Argo to get her to say ouch some days.

"Gabrielle there is one thing I have to warn you about right now."


"No matter how I feel about you, no matter how much joy and light you bring to my life and no matter how much I'm willing to try and change to be with you," She paused and inhaled deeply. "I still have a dark side. I've gotten pretty good at controlling it and I do my best never to unleash it in your presence, but there will be times…" She trailed off.

Gabrielle laid a gentle hand on the warrior's arm. "Go on."

"It's very important that you do exactly as I tell you when I return from battle. No matter how odd or unusual my requests you must follow them. If you don't, I could hurt you and I never want to hurt you again. Do you understand?"

Gabrielle shook her head yes for the first time all most afraid of the warrior now. "Why?"

"We're lovers now Gabrielle and I have made my decision never to be with anyone else again. There's always darkness in my soul after surviving a battle. It's called battle lust and it tends to be very forceful, almost violent."

"How come I've never seen this before?"

"Well I generally delayed my return to you for a day until it had subsided or," She paused, ashamed of her next statement "been satisfied."

"I see."

"Gabrielle I would never hurt you. I couldn't take the chance. I couldn't come back to you that way. It wouldn't have been safe."

"I understand. I really do, but promised me that you'll come back to me right away from now on. No matter what."

"I promise." She said leaning in to steal a kiss form her bard. "It's getting late, we should go to bed."

Morning came far to quickly today as far as Xena was concerned. As usual she was awake with the first rays of sunshine and normally she would be up and getting dressed by now. The weight of her little bard lying in her arms, so quiet and content, made her want to stay there all day. She knew however she had to get up. She had promised Jordon she would meet with him. Carefully she slid out from underneath Gabrielle. The bard protested, even in her sleep she didn't like being separated from the warrior. Xena leaned over the bed, covered her lover with the soft silk sheet and gave her a light kiss on the forehead. "Enjoy this my queen, it won't last forever."

Just as Xena finished buckling her armor into place, there came a light knock on the door. Xena opened the door to find Darrius. "Good morning. How can I be of service?"

"I'm going to meet with his Royal Highness this morning. Her Majesty is still sleeping. Would you please post a guard outside the door?"

"Of course. Will there be anything else?"

"Have someone bring up a morning meal, in an hour or so. If she hasn't woken by then it will be all right to wake her."

"As you wish."

"Where is Prince Jordon this morning?"

"He is down in the village assisting with the new school."

"Thank you Darrius."

Xena walked out of the palace and stretched in the warm morning light. She could see the group of men working on the building. Xena strolled of and watched for a moment. There was Jordon, high up on the structure. He was working just as hard as any other man there. Jordon saw his friend on the ground and yelled down, "So are you just going to stand there or are you going to give us a hand?"

Xena smiled and began the climb up the ladder. Soon she was seated next to Jordon helping him haul timbers into place. "How is Her Majesty this morning?" Jordon asked with an evil little grin.

"Extremely satisfied." Xena replied as she laid a timber in place.

"I'll bet." Jordon grunted as they brought up another timer.

"You're just looking for a reason for me to throw you off this roof aren't you?"

"Hey what can I say? She's a beautiful woman."

"Yes, yes she is."

"So I gather that you two are an 'item'." Jordon said taking a drink from a water skin.

"No. We're a couple."

"There's a difference?"

"Items don't last." She said as she stood and pushed a timber in place with her foot.

"Why Xena if I didn't know you better, I'd say that you've lost your heart to this woman."

"That's merely the beginning Jordon. If you only knew."

"So I suppose you'd be really upset if I proposed to her huh?"

Xena very nearly lost her balance. Jordon reached out and pulled her back down next to him.


"Remember last night when I said I needed to talk to you?"


"Let's go somewhere and talk."

Gabrielle ate a leisurely morning meal on the balcony of their room. She watched the village below bustle with their daily lives and the preparations for the upcoming festival. The servant who brought her meal had explained that Xena had gone off to meet the prince. The bard had decided just to bask in the luxury of her surroundings for awhile. She pulled the robe closer around her and nibbled on a grape. Her memories began to wonder back to their love making the night before. Very passionate, yet so gentle. This was a side of the warrior she had truly never seen before. She was so lost in thought she hadn't heard Xena come in. When the warrior's lips brushed her neck she jumped.

"I'm sorry Gabrielle I didn't mean to scare you." She said reaching around and taking her hand.

Gabrielle kissed the warrior's hand and touched it gently to her cheek. "I love you."

"I love you too. Gabrielle is there something wrong?"

"No I was just thinking about last night."

"What about it? Are you having second thoughts?" The warrior felt a tight grip over take her heart as she waited for an answer.

"No. I was just wishing that it hadn't ended."

"Well now," Xena said moving around and scooping her up into her arms. "Just so happens I know how to solve that little problem."

"What are you doing?" Gabrielle giggled a little as they headed for the bedchamber.

"I'm going to take you to bed my queen."

"Don't we have things to do?"

"At this very moment we only have one thing to do." She said as she kissed Gabrielle on the neck and carried her into the bedchamber.

The bed had been made and the room had been tidied up. Xena looked mischievously at the bard and tossed her down on the bed. Gabrielle couldn't believe she had been tossed into the center of the bed and as soon as she got her bearings she was scrambling to get up.

"Move off that bed and I'll tie you to it." Xena said as she began to remove her armor.

"You wouldn't!?" Gabrielle offered this as a challenge as she scooted towards the edge.

"Oh wouldn't I!?" Xena said as she grabbed to belt from Gabrielle's robe and twisted it in her hands.

Gabrielle stopped, stared at the warrior and then slowly moved back to the center of the bed. The bard wasn't frightened. The tone that the warrior used was far too playful. "Okay you win." She said as she pulled her robe closed and laid back on the bed.

"No. Leave it open." Xena said as she sat down on the edge of the bed and tossed the robe open. "I like the view."

"Thank you." Gabrielle said as she stroked the warrior's hand.

"Don't touch until I tell you, you can."

Gabrielle finally caught on to the game. She smiled.

"Help me with my boots." The warrior said as she stretched out on the bed.

Gabrielle moved down to unlace her warrior's boots. As she did this Xena placed her hand under her robe and began stroking between the bard's legs. Gabrielle moaned and she faltered in her efforts. Xena quickly removed her hand.

"My boots."


"Quiet. I didn't give you permission to speak. Just do my boots as you were told." Xena said these things with a coolness that sent shivers down the bard's spine.

Gabrielle couldn't believe that this was her gentle lover from last night. She also couldn't believe how much she was enjoying this little game. Apparently this was how she would be taught the things she would need to learn to properly love her warrior. With the boots now removed, she looked back at Xena and waited.

"Come here my little one and sit next to me." Xena said patting the bed next to her. Gabrielle moved back up to the head of the bed. Xena tugged on the robe and brought the bard down to her. Their lips met in an aggressive, hungry kiss. Gabrielle was sure she would pass out before the warrior would release her. "Are you all right?" Xena asked when the kiss ended.

"Yes…" The bard stammered.

"Shall I continue?" Xena asked gently caressing her face.

"Oh yes…please."

Another hungry kiss. Xena moved Gabrielle to her back and lay gently over her. Her lips moved down the bard's neck, nipping and biting. Gabrielle shuddered under her, so much pleasure being given to her. Gabrielle wrapped her arms around the warrior's strong back. The warrior stopped and looked into her green eyes. "Don't touch." She said with an evil little smile.

Quickly the bard returned her hands to the bed, gripping the covers with all of her strength as the warrior continued to kiss her body. She felt as if she were on fire. She wanted so much more from her warrior.

The loud knocking on the door was clearly an unwanted interruption by the lovers. Xena groaned as she sat up on the bed. "Stay here I'll be right back." The warrior left the bedchamber, closing the door behind her. The bard hoped for the quick return of her lover. She wasn't disappointed with the timing, just the outcome. Xena smiled sweetly at her bard and knelt near the bed.

"We have been summoned by Jordon. He needs to speak with us."

"Please, please tell me you're joking."

"I'm sorry my sweet, I'm not." The warrior said putting her boots back on. "There should be some lovely clothes in the wardrobe. Why don't you see if there's anything there you like."

Gabrielle sat up, tense and frustrated. Slowly she got out of bed and walked to the wardrobe. Xena watched her with a smile as she replaced her armor. She walked over and kissed her gently on the neck. "I promise my little one, later."

"I'm going to hold you to that warrior."

"I expect you to."

Gabrielle had chosen a long blue and green gown with golden embroidered threads running through it. There was a matching cloak, which Xena was more than happy to place around the bard's shoulders because it gave her the chance to nuzzle her neck.

"Ah Xena, Jordon remember?" Gabrielle had to stop this before it went any further or they wouldn't be seeing Jordon anytime soon.

"Oh yeah him."

Before leaving their chamber Gabrielle grabbed Xena by the arm and pulled her down for a kiss that the warrior felt clear to her boots. As they parted, Xena hand moved to her mouth and she smiled as she rubbed her bottom lip. "And that was for?"

"Not being allowed to touch you earlier." Gabrielle said before she disappeared through the door and started down the hall. Xena dashed after her.

"You're going to pay for that later you know." The warrior said under her breath as the pair continued down the hall.

"I hope so." Was the only reply

Jordon sat in his study and sipped a cup of tea. The door open and a footman ushered Xena and Gabrielle inside, closing the door behind them. Jordon rose and bowed at the waist.

"Good morning Your Majesty."

"Your Highness, please call me Gabrielle."

"As you wish, but only if you'll call me Jordon." He said as he took her hand and kissed it.

"Oh brother." The warrior groaned.

"Please sit and have some tea with me."

The trio took seats at the table where Jordon had been sitting when Xena and Gabrielle entered the room. Jordon was the perfect host. He poured tea for his guests. He smiled warmly at Gabrielle as he passed her cup to her. The smile he gave Xena was just as big, but had an entirely different meaning. Xena was becoming less amused by the minute.

"Gabrielle has Xena told you of my unique problem?"

"No. I'm sorry to say she didn't. We got…umm…distracted when she came back this morning."

Xena leaned over and whispered in the bard's ear, "Oh that was subtle."

The warrior sat back up and crossed her legs lazily and just watched the bard blush. She then turned to Jordon. "I didn't get the chance to tell her anything before you sent for us. Besides we hadn't worked out the solution yet."

"Actually Xena I think I have worked out the solution." Jordon said. Standing up he turned to Gabrielle. "I want Gabrielle to marry me."

Gabrielle sat motionless, but Xena was on her feet and Jordon was off his as the warrior picked him up by the throat. "What in the…" She growled.

The bard was soon on her feet and at the warrior's side tugging on her arm. "Xena drop him. You're going to kill him."

"If he's lucky." She growled as she stared in his eyes.

"I…can…ex…explain." He managed to gasp as he felt all of his air being cut off.

"WARRIOR DROP HIM!" Queen Gabrielle had spoken and even Xena couldn't disobey. Jordon hit the floor with a resounding thud. He rubbed his throat and gasped for air. Gabrielle wanted to help him, but she knew that this would only serve to irritate Xena even more and she didn't want to risk that at the moment.

"Start explaining Jordon!" The warrior yelled.

Slowly he got to his feet and return to his chair. Xena still stood over him shaking with rage and using all the power in her heart and soul to keep from acting on it.

"Xena just let me explain."

"I'm waiting!"

"Don't you see. It's the perfect solution. I get what I need. And the Amazon Nation gets a good strong ally. There are no strings attached here Xena. Nothing would change between you and Gabrielle. She would be my wife in name only."

Needless to say Gabrielle was feeling a little more than lost. She had not been privy to the earlier conversations between the warrior and the prince and Xena hadn't found the time to fill her in. They would have to set down ground rules for making love, first and foremost if there had been any conversations about Gabrielle getting married she would need to be filled in on these beforehand. "Would somebody like to take just a moment here to let me know what in Tartarus is going on?"

Xena, who had started to calm down a bit took her seat and started to explain the situation. In the process she reached over and took the bard's hand, making it very clear that she was not happy with this 'solution'.

"Let's give him a chance to explain it all the way through." Gabrielle said.

Xena just growled.

"First of all let me apologize for approaching it that way. I should have known better," he said still rubbing his throat. "I have things I need to explain to the both of you to make you understand why you're my only hope. I just don't know where to begin."

"The beginning tends to be a good starting point." Xena said with a slight hiss.

"Well Xena you all ready know one of the tightly held royal secrets."

Xena nodded. "Well I don't." Chimed Gabrielle

Jordon got up and began pacing the room. "Well Gabrielle you see, I'm…well, I'm a woman."

Gabrielle nearly choked on her tea. Xena patted her gently on the back. "Are you okay?"

"Un-huh." She managed to catch her breath. "Go on."

"After my parents married it looked as if no male heir would ever be born," She paused and turned to face them both. "Here's where the second royal secret comes in. My father, desperate for an heir prayed to Athene for guidance. Athene, touched by my father's words fell in love with him and they had an affair. I was the product of that affair."

"So that means you're…" Gabrielle started.

"Half God." Jordon finished. "I was presented and raised as a male child. The first, and only heir to the throne. Then four years later Kaylan was born to father and his wife, but Athene made it quite clear that she wanted me to rule Seranasia when my time came. So the secrets were kept and closely guarded. Other than the three of us there is only one other left who knows the entire truth."

"Athene." Xena said as she drank her tea.


"So exactly how do I figure in to this?" The bard asked.

"Yes well that's where it gets interesting…"

"Trust me Jordon, we're way past interesting here." Xena said with a scowl.

"Just hear me out."

"We're listening." The bard said giving Xena's hand a squeeze.

"I have to have my crown. I have to be married to get it. You're royalty, perfectly suited to take another title. A 'marriage' between Seranasia and the Amazon Nation would make them instant allies. Our subjects would have the protection of Athene and Artemis. And if we discretely let a few nobles of the amazons in on the first royal secret, they would never contest our joining."

Xena flinched at the last part of that sentence. As far as Gabrielle getting married, the warrior had already 'been there, done that' and she wasn't ready to go through it again. She rested her head in her hand and just tried to take it all in. Her anger had started to subside. Now she was just in shock that her friend would suggest such a thing.

"Why Gabrielle?" Xena asked, she just had to know.

"Well given the nature of your relationship I didn't think that she would be completely put off by the fact that I'm a woman. You see mother has informed me that I must tell the woman I marry, all of my secrets."

"There's more?" Xena asked raising her eyebrow in her typical fashion.

"No, no that about covers it. But don't you think that's enough?"

"More than." She said as she stood and walked to the window.

"Jordon I would really like to help you, but I don't think I can. I mean Xena and I are just starting to explore our relationship and all I know at this moment in my life is that I love her and I don't want to be with anyone but her."

"That's the best part. You don't have to change a thing. Xena stays by your side as your champion. Where you go she goes. No one would ever question that. And because of your rank in the Amazon Nation, you could be gone for months at a time. You wouldn't have to give up your travels."

"So basically I'd have a wife and a mistress." The bard laughed aloud.

Jordon joined in; "Yeah I guess you could look at it that way."

"The beginnings of my own little harem."

"Oh, I'm glad your two are so amused." Came the grumble from across the room.

Gabrielle got up and walked over to her warrior. She wrapped her arms around her and laid her head on her back. "We were only kidding my love."

Xena turned around and looked deeply into the bard's eyes. "Do you want to do this?"

"I think the least we can do is talk it over. Weigh the pros and cons and so on."

"Couldn't I just flip a coin?"

"Not this time. We're going to discuss this one."

"All right we'll think about it. We'll discuss it. We'll even consider it before we say no."

"Xena! Jordon is your friend."

"I thought so, until a few moments ago."

Jordon sighed heavily and walked over to the pair. "If you don't want to help I'll figure something else out. In the meantime just enjoy yourself while you're here. And Xena if you're interested, we could still use some help with the school."

With that, Jordon patted Xena on the back and left the room. "OH I HATE IT WHEN SHE DOES THAT!" Xena grumbled loudly.

As they walk arm and arm through the courtyard of the palace, the bard and the warrior agreed that it wouldn't do any good to try and discuss this until Xena had calmed down. To that end, Gabrielle suggested Xena take Argo out for a ride.

"I don't want to leave you here alone." The warrior started to argue.

"Nonsense. I couldn't be safer. I see it this way. You have two choices, take Argo out for a ride or go shopping with me this afternoon."

"I won't be gone long." She said with a smile giving the bard a hug around her shoulders.

"Take your time. I want you relaxed when you come back."

Xena gave the bard a light kiss and then left for the stables. As Gabrielle watched her walk away she felt her heart swell with pride at her love for the warrior. She turned and headed for the market.

Gabrielle was amazed at the variety of things this market had to offer. It seemed as if all she had to do was think of an item and it would be in the next merchant stall she came to. She had never met such happy pleasant people. No one seemed to have any complaints. The merchant's bargained very well and were fair in the prices they offered.

As she made her way through the market she met up with Jordon who appeared to be very distracted. So distracted that he ran into her.

"Oh Gabrielle I'm so sorry. Forgive me." Jordon said, catching Gabrielle before she could fall.

"It's all right. No harm done." She felt the sheer strength and power of Jordon's arms holding her upright. 'So much like Xena', she thought as she regained her composure. "Would you care to join me? We could talk."

"I'd like that very much."

After that Gabrielle's shopping became the talk of the village. The people smiled as their crown prince walked through the market with this beautiful young woman on his arm. They all knew he was looking for a wife and wondered if she was the one. Every time she so much as showed the slightest interest in an item it was offered to her. It wasn't long before the bard was feeling embarrassed by the attention she was getting.

"They're just hoping I have found my queen." Jordon said as they continued to walk through the market.

"I wish I could say you have, but we haven't even had a chance to talk about it. I sent Xena out for a ride so she would calm down."

"I know. I saw her heading for the gates. I was on my way to the school when I met with you."

"Jordon, tell me, in light of certain facts. Why didn't you defend yourself when Xena was 'being less than polite' in your study?"

"Several reasons really. First, I've never relied on that side of my personality. I mean it's there. I'm every bit as strong and agile as Hercules. I've just never utilized it. Second, she's my friend and I didn't want to hurt her. And third, you love her. I wouldn't have stood a chance in Tartarus with you if I had."

"You still should have defended yourself. She could have hurt you."

"No not really. She couldn't have hurt me, no matter how much she wanted to. She was my teacher for about three summers and we developed a bond of sorts. She vowed to me that as long as she had a breath in her body no harm would ever come to me or my family."

"This was when she was a warlord?"

"Yes. One of the fiercest warlords I've ever met."

"Yet she never showed any aggression or hostility towards you?"

"Never. She was always welcomed within these walls and whenever she came here she was always on her best behavior. She came alone, leaving her army on the outside and never once gave us reason to fear her. As a matter of fact, she always issued orders that if anyone should try to start trouble outside the gates, her soldiers were to do whatever was required to stop them."

"I always pictured her as completely evil and ruthless during that time. I didn't think her heart was capable of any compassion."

"She came here quite often. I asked her once why. She said it was the only place she could find any peace."

"What kind of things did she teach you?"

"The one thing she knew best. How to fight."

"Can you do the pinch thingy?"


"She still hasn't taught me that one."

"She will, when you're ready."

Ares paced back and forth. "I don't believe this. First Xena now Jordon. When will I be rid of this tiresome little pain in the butt?"

The God of War her been keeping tabs on Xena, again. He watched in shear disgust as Gabrielle and Jordon walked arm and arm through the market place. Suddenly a realization struck him as he stood over the reflecting pool and the laughter that filled the cavern was pure evil.

Xena rode Argo at an easy canter, enjoying this ride more than she had in long time. Argo also seemed to be enjoying the time with her mistress. A soft breeze had been blowing, sending her raven hair flowing in all directions. Suddenly the wind became strong and hot. Xena brought Argo to a halt and looked around. Ares stood before her, arms crossed with a smirk on his face.

"Oh what do you want?" She asked, disgusted at the mere sight of him. It had all ready been a long hard day and he was the last thing she wanted to deal with.

"When the cat's away…" He said with a chuckle.


"Well it took Jordon all of five minutes to find your precious little Gabrielle after you left."

Xena felt the muscles tighten over her entire body. She took a deep breath and released it, releasing the tension as well.

"I trust them Ares. Your point here would be what?"

"Well Jordon just has so much more to offer. A palace. A kingdom. Nice safe environment, for a little girl from Poteidaia. What can you give her? You should see them together Xena. Walking arm and arm. Talking and laughing."

With this he was gone. Xena just released a scream that sent the birds from the trees. She did, however, feel better after the fact.

Xena walked back to the gates of Seranasia. She needed time to think. Ares had posed a good question. What could she give the bard? He had done this so many times before. How dense could she possibly be? He was only trying to get between them again. If Gabrielle didn't want the things Xena offered she would have left long ago.

Once inside the gates she handed Argo off to a groomer and made her way back to the palace. As she opened the doors to their quarters she heard Jordon and Gabrielle talking. She knew it wasn't right, but she decided to listen for just a moment.

"I'm happy for the both of you. You bring her so much peace. I can see it in her eyes." Jordon said.

"I do my best. I've never loved anyone like this before, but sometimes she makes it very difficult."


"Oh that dark, brooding, stoic warrior thing she does from time to time."

"It's the nature of the beast Gabrielle."

"Oh I know that and I accept it. Still it scares me sometimes."

"Do you think she would ever hurt you?"

"Never intentionally. We've been through so much together already. She's had plenty of chances and she hasn't done it yet."

"She could never hurt anyone she truly loves." Jordon added softly.

Xena pulled the door closed quietly, took a deep breath and entered the room. Gabrielle and Jordon were having a mid day meal at the table in the main room. Xena smiled and joined them at the table. She leaned over and kissed Gabrielle and then turned to Jordon.

"Gabrielle and I haven't had time to talk about this yet, but if she wants to help you then so be it." She said extending her hand to Jordon.

Jordon smiled and clasped the warriors arm. Gabrielle was proud of her warrior more at this moment than she ever had been in her life.

"You two are just going to have to be patient with me if I get cranky during this process. It's not going to be easy for me to choke down the desire to kill you Jordon."

"I promise Xena, I'll be a perfect 'gentleman'."

That released the tension in the room and the three friends laughed as they enjoyed the mid day meal. Jordon said she would prepare a list of things that they would need to do to make the whole thing believable. They could get started the next day if Xena and Gabrielle were up to it. They both agreed.

Continued...Part 2 (conclusion)

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