By: Candace Chellew

Usual disclaimers apply. Xena and Gabrielle aren't mine .. if they were they'd be exhausted. <eg> Instead, they belong to the fine folks of Ren Pic and MCA/Universal TV .. lucky bastards.

Love/Sex Disclaimer: A sexual relationship between adult women is depicted. If this offends you I feel truly sorry for you.

Violence Warning: Where there's Xena, there's violence. It's not all that graphic, which betrays my secret penchant for stories where people do a lot of sitting around and talking.

Credit Where Credit is Due: The story told by the bard about Camilla is from Mythology by Edith Hamilton. The poem recited by Erato is by Sappho, translated by Josephine Balmer.

Living On Xena Time: In the Xena timeline, such that it is, this fanfic would be within the third season, after The Furies, but before The Deliverer. If you haven’t seen season three yet the ending may not make a whole lot of sense. Oh, I suppose that would also mean, beware of season three spoilers! This is your only warning.

I’d Like to Thank the Academy: A big hearty thanks to all the folks on the Subtext-in-Xena mailing list who beta read this story and gave valuable criticisms and much sought after praise! This story is for you guys!

Feedback: I'd love some, thanks. Send it my way at



Chapter 1


The warrior surveyed the selection before her. With each new village she conquered, she gained more warriors, and more admirers. Strange how most of the admirers were usually young women. Some of the women wanted to join her growing army. Others were more interested in joining her in bed. Their motives didn't matter to the warrior. She welcomed them either way.

Tonight, her choice was a beautifully compact and muscular honey-blond woman who had just joined the band of admirers from the last village. The green eyes, wide with innocence and awe, drew the warrior immediately.

"How would you like to spend the evening with me?" the warrior asked seductively. She bent down to stare deeply into the eyes that so captivated her.

"It would be an honor, and a pleasure," the woman responded with a grin that betrayed more than a hint of sensuality far beyond her years.

The warrior fairly tingled. Conquests were nothing new, but something about this one excited her beyond measure.

The fire around the camp had almost gone out when Xena stirred on her bedroll.

"Camilla," she mumbled, before drifting back into a fitful sleep.

"Who?" Gabrielle asked the slumbering warrior beside her. Loud snoring was Xena's only response.

As morning light broke, sending rays of sunshine into the warrior's tent, she tentatively opened one eye. Feeling the weight of another in her arms she opened the other eye and took in the sight before her. The beautiful blond lay peacefully against her tanned shoulder. The warrior traced a finger along the woman's jaw, marveling at the softness of her skin. The night had been exquisite. She had made love to the woman several times. They had started slowly, but ending in a frenzied sexual passion she had not felt in years. She gently disentangled herself from the sleeping woman and made her way to her leathers and armor.

As she dressed, the warrior made a mental note to herself. I'll have to be sure and ask her what her name is when she wakes up.

"Omphhh," Xena gasped, rudely awakened by a heavy arm falling squarely on her midsection. "Gabrielle ... " she began, before noticing the light snoring of her companion continued unabated.

Xena sighed, removed the offending arm and got up from the bedroll. Xena grabbed a pot and headed for the river for water. She was unable to shake the cobwebs out of her mind. What was I dreaming? she pondered. Usually her dreams were clear, as if they were reality. This one was cloudy, full of images of a woman she knew, but couldn't place right away.

A morning swim will do me good, she decided, as she shed her shift and dove into the cold lake.

Gabrielle was beginning to stir when Xena arrived back at camp with water for morning tea, and two fat fish for breakfast.

"All that staff practice is paying off," Xena remarked with a smirk, rubbing the now visible bruise on her stomach.

"What are you talking about?" Gabrielle yawned.

"Your wake up call this morning," Xena replied, lifting her shift so Gabrielle could see the bruise.

Gabrielle did not look at the bruise. Instead she took in the full frontal beauty of the warrior before her.

"Gods," she said breathlessly.

"Yeah," Xena nodded, oblivious to the hungry stare directed her way. "It'll take days for that to go away." She let her shift drop, covering her body again.

Gabrielle blinked for the first time that morning.


The tavern was like all others, cramped, smelly and full of people who caused much of the odor. As Xena and Gabrielle entered the tavern they saw a crowd gathered around a man telling a story.

"Xena, they have a bard here," Gabrielle smiled with excitement. "Let's get closer so we can hear what he's saying."

Gabrielle dragged the warrior closer to the crowd than she would have liked, but she was mesmerized when she heard the words the man spoke.

"The warrior had been reared by her father in a remote wilderness, and as a baby, with a sling or a bow in her tiny hand, had learned to bring down the swift-flying crane or the wild swan, herself hardly less swift of foot than they of wing. She is a mistress of all the ways of warfare, unexcelled with the javelin and the two-edged ax as well as with the bow. She disdains marriage. She loves the chase and the battle and her freedom. A band of warriors follows her, among them a number of maidens."

Xena felt the air go out of her lungs, carrying a single word, "Camilla."

Gabrielle swung around at the sound.

"Xena, you've said that name before. Who is Camilla?"

Xena's eyes went wide. She backed away from the crowd, and headed for the bar. Gabrielle was right behind her.

"Xena, tell me," Gabrielle grabbed the warrior's arm as she fled. "Who is Camilla?"

Xena stopped and turned. "You said I've said the name before," she began slowly. "I've never spoken of Camilla to you."

Gabrielle smiled slightly, "I'm not the only one who talks in her sleep."

The warrior went white, but her expression remained hard.

"Xena, maybe you'd better sit down," Gabrielle was worried. "You look as though you've seen a ghost."

She led the warrior to a table, where she sat on the bench with a heavy thud. Xena couldn't think, she couldn't move. She could only think of Camilla.

"Xena," Gabrielle tried to get her friend's attention. "Who is Camilla?"

Xena focused on Gabrielle. "What did I say about Camilla?"

Gabrielle's brow wrinkled.

Xena grabbed Gabrielle by the shoulders, shaking her. "In my sleep, Gabrielle. What did I say about Camilla?"

Gabrielle tensed at the sudden, violent contact.

"You only said her name!" she exclaimed trying to break away from Xena's grasp. Her struggles made Xena clamp tighter. "Xena, stop, you're hurting me."

Blue eyes finally focused. Xena slowly realized she was holding Gabrielle tighter than she intended. She let the bard go.

"I'm sorry, Gabrielle," she dropped her eyes to table.

Gabrielle rolled her shoulders to try to get the feeling back. She sighed and again implored, "Xena, who is Camilla?"

"The bard over there is talking about her," Xena explained. "That story is about Camilla."

"Well, since I've missed his telling of the story, you'll have to fill me in," Gabrielle prompted the reticent warrior.


Chapter 2

Camilla stretched in the morning light. Unable to get the thoughts of the beautiful woman that still occupied her bed out of her mind, she gave up practicing her sword drills and decided to go back to the tent.

The woman was up and around the warrior's tent when she arrived. Her bedmate had tidied the bed and picked up the clothing that had been so hastily discarded the night before. She smiled demurely as the warlord entered the tent.

"My Lord," she said, bowing her head slightly. "I took the liberty of cleaning up your tent while you were out."

Camilla smiled to herself, but kept her face blank. "Thank you," she said curtly, laying her sword on a nearby table.

The woman began to back away, only to be caught in Camilla's strong arms.

"You won't leave until you've collected your wages for your hard work," she whispered in the woman's ear.

She shuddered as the strong arms held her close, and the warm breath of the warrior tickled her ear.

"If my payment is what I'm hoping it is, I'll only have to clean up again."

The warrior drew back and looked the woman straight in the eye. Blue eyes met green.

Such impervious talk to a warlord! Camilla had to laugh to herself. No one has spoken so forthrightly to me since ... Camilla forced the thought from her mind.

The blond in her arms saw no sign of the brief internal struggle. Camilla's face remained impassive, and hardened a little. The woman was certain she'd soon be dead for speaking so frankly to the warlord.

Slowly a smile crept across Camilla's features, as she felt the woman begin to shake in her arms.

"What is your name?" Camilla asked much more softly than the woman ever expected.

"Erato," came the whispered reply.

An eyebrow shot up. "Erato?" Camilla swirled the name in her mouth. "Named for one of the muses?"

"Yes," Erato replied, impressed the warlord would notice. "The muse of love poetry. My mother's favorite muse."

"Love poetry," the warlord laughed softly. "So, do you know any love poetry?"

Erato closed her eyes, and began to speak:

It seems to me that man is equal to the gods,

that is, whoever sits opposite you.

and, drawing nearer, savours, as you speak,

the sweetness of your voice

and the thrill of your laugh, which have so stirred the heart

in my own breast, that whenever I catch

sight of you, even if for a moment,

then my voice deserts me

and my tongue is struck silent, a delicate fire

suddenly races underneath my skin,

my eyes see nothing, my ears whistle like

the whirling of a top

and sweat pours down me and a trembling creeps over

my whole body, I am greener than grass,

at such times, I seem to be no more than

a step away from death;

The warrior trembled at the words. She held Erato close and closed her eyes. She could feel Erato in her arms, but in her mind's eye she saw a tall, dark warrior ... her blue eyes piercing her very soul.


Xena could feel the beginnings of what would later be a raging headache.

She hadn't thought, consciously, about Camilla for years. Suddenly her recent dreams became clear. They had been about Camilla ... all about Camilla.

She sighed, and looked at Gabrielle, who was patiently waiting for the warrior to begin her story.

"Camilla, and I ..." the warrior began, and stopped.

Gabrielle reached for the warrior's hand. Xena stared at the hand on top of hers, then looked nervously around the tavern.

Gabrielle watched Xena's reaction, and slowly withdrew her hand.

Xena's head snapped back toward Gabrielle as she felt the loss of the heat from her friend.

"Gabrielle," she began. "I'm sorry, this is hard for me."

Gabrielle wasn't sure whether it was the touch or the story that was hard for the warrior. She suspected the truth was a little of both.

"I was hoping I would never have to speak the name, Camilla, to you Gabrielle," the warrior finally admitted with a slight smirk. "There's so much of my past that I'd rather you not know about."

Gabrielle nodded.

"Xena, you know there's nothing you can tell me that would make me think any less of you."

It was the truth. Despite learning many of Xena's dark secrets, Gabrielle always had faith that in the end the goodness, buried deep in Xena's heart would eventually win out. It was Gabrielle's steady faith that kept Xena going. She had finally admitted that. She had also finally admitted she had fallen madly in love with her bard, but she could never admit it out loud. To have to tell Gabrielle that Camilla was her lover was going to be hard enough. She didn't want Gabrielle to ever know that she had enjoyed the love of this woman ... of many women.

"I met Camilla shortly after my time with the healer that M'Lila took me to after Caesar put me up on the cross." A good start, the warrior thought to herself. "M'Lila taught me pressure points, but Camilla taught me most of my other fighting skills, especially weapons. What the bard said is true, she is accomplished of all the ways of warfare, unexcelled with the javelin and the two-edged ax as well as with the bow."

"I had lost my army to Caesar," Xena remembered with a sneer. "I thought I had to start at square one when I met Camilla. She was already leading an army, and was determined to defeat Caesar. I joined up, fully intending to betray her one day and take over her army."

Xena had been studying the wall during her soliloquy. She couldn't bring herself to look at Gabrielle while she admitted her intentions to betray and kill Camilla.

Gabrielle softly touched the warrior's arm. Xena slowly turned to look at her friend, an unmistakable expression of sadness on her face.

Gabrielle's expression was one of pure love and understanding. Xena smiled slightly at her friend's gentle reassurance.

"Camilla was always one step ahead of me, though," Xena continued with a sigh. "She took a keen interest in me and eventually made me her top commander. I learned so much from her. I owe her so much. I ..."

Xena stopped. Her mouth suddenly went dry. "I really need a drink, Gabrielle."

The bard stood and placed her hand on Xena's shoulder. "Coming right up," she said with a soft smile.

Xena was grateful for the short reprieve, and watched as Gabrielle walked toward the bar. The love she felt for Gabrielle was so familiar. The only other time she'd felt this way was with ... Camilla. She had to admit it. Her love for Camilla was true. It felt so right, up until Camilla had so bitterly betrayed her. She swore she'd never give her heart to anyone like that again. That's what made it so hard to tell Gabrielle. She was so tempted to give her heart to Gabrielle the way she had Camilla. She couldn't bring herself to do it, remembering the pain, the pure anguish, of the betrayal from Camilla.

Xena was so lost in thought she didn't notice the mug of port being held under her nose.

"Xena," Gabrielle said softly.

The warrior's head snapped up to look at the beautiful face of her bard. She finally noticed the port.

"Thanks," she mumbled, taking the proffered mug.

She drank half of it in one gulp, feeling the warming, and relaxing effects of the strong alcohol.

"You were saying you had learned a lot from Camilla," Gabrielle prompted.

Xena swallowed hard.

"Gabrielle, what I'm about to tell you will change the way you think of me forever, and I'm sorry," Xena looked directly into her friend's eyes. "It's something I've never wanted to tell anyone, especially you." The last two words were nearly a whisper.

"Xena," Gabrielle placed her hand over Xena's and squeezed. "I've told you, there's nothing that would change how I feel about you."

Xena nodded. "You say that, but how can you know?"

"Xena, stop stalling," Gabrielle urged. "Tell me the rest of the story."


Camilla had sent Erato away after her poem. She knew she had hurt the young woman's feelings, but the words had a jarring effect on her. The beautiful woman who spoke them moved her heart, but the words filled her mind with memories of ....

"Xena," she muttered.

The words Erato spoke filled her mind:

and the thrill of your laugh, which have so stirred the heart

in my own breast, that whenever I catch

sight of you, even if for a moment,

then my voice deserts me

Camilla thought back to the beautiful warrior that stirred her heart. The one she had so brutally betrayed, in the name of Caesar. "I thought I was done with you," she growled through gritted teeth.

She picked up her sword and began swinging. The table never stood a chance.


Xena was having a hard time forming words. Gabrielle was being infinitely patient.

"Xena, just spit it out," Gabrielle said finally.

A heavy sigh came from the warrior. "Gabrielle, Camilla and I were lovers."

The small gasp from Gabrielle did not go unnoticed by Xena.

Xena's heart shattered into a million pieces and tears fought to escape her eyes. She quickly shut her eyes, forcing them back. Steadying her voice, she said, "I know find this disgusting, Gabrielle. I know you don't understand."

Gabrielle touched Xena's hand. "Xena, look at me."

Xena slowly raised her eyes, expecting to see utter disgust from her friend. She found a face that radiated only love and acceptance.

"I heard the bard, Xena. He said a band of maidens followed Camilla. I know what that means," Gabrielle explained. "In fact, I've heard stories that maidens followed a certain Warrior Princess I know."

It was Xena's turn to gasp. "Gabrielle, you never told me that."

"Well, you never told me about it, so I figured it was just something you didn't want to talk about."

"You were right."

"Why, Xena? What's disgusting about falling in love?" Gabrielle was genuinely unaffected by the warrior's admission. In fact, it thrilled her to finally know that her friend's legendary liaisons with women were true.

I wonder what it's like to have Xena in love with you, the bard thought. She was silently jealous of this mysterious warrior named Camilla.

"Well," the warrior pondered the question. "Nothing I suppose."

"So, what happened?"

Anger flared in the warrior's eyes. "She betrayed me," she spat. "Caesar had us cornered, he offered her a deal. He'd let her and her army live, in exchange for me. She agreed."

"She handed you over to Caesar?" Gabrielle was wide-eyed.

"She never got the chance," Xena sighed. "I found out about her plans and I ran. I went east to the land of Chin.”

There’s another story for another day, the warrior thought dryly.

She continued, “I understand Caesar was not kind when he learned she couldn't complete the deal. He killed her entire army. She barely escaped with her life."

"Wait," Gabrielle said. "Camilla is still alive?"

"As far as I know," came the answer.


Chapter 3

Camilla knew, in her heart, it was a bad idea to come to Greece. But she had little choice. She had made a deal with Caesar. If she didn't keep it, she would be as dead as her army all those years ago.

She paced in her map room. Her second in command was getting fidgety, but knew to hold his tongue until his commander was ready.

"This is where we strike," Camilla instructed, pointing to a tiny dot on the map.

"My Lord," the second in command spoke slowly, "why there? It's such an insignificant village. It has no riches to loot, no strategic value to speak of ..."

Camilla cut him off with a knife to his neck. "We strike because Caesar says we strike."

"Yes, my Lord," he croaked as he felt the knife dig into his neck.

"Get the army ready," she ordered. "We leave at dawn for Potidaea."


Gabrielle couldn't take her eyes off Xena as she prepared for bed. She had watched the former warlord disrobe before, but now she was seeing her friend with new eyes.

Every move made by Xena was the most erotic thing she had ever seen. Even Xena scratching her neck became a dance of fingers upon flesh.

She wanted to question her friend further about Camilla and their relationship.

"Xena," she began.

The warrior sighed and rubbed her head. The headache was getting worse. She really needed some sleep right now.

"Gabrielle, if the name Camilla comes out of your mouth, I'll jump right out this window and sleep with Argo tonight."

Gabrielle could take a hint -- especially a large warrior-sized one. They spent the rest of the night in silence.


Erato slowly entered Camilla's tent.

"You called for me, my Lord," she said with her head slightly bowed.

"Indeed I did," the warlord smiled seductively.

Erato caught her breath as she took in the sight of beauty before her. The auburn haired warrior was clad only in a deep blue silk robe that ended where a strong muscular thigh began. Only the finest for Caesar’s chosen, thought Erato with a sly smile.

The powerful legs were headed her way. Camilla closed the space between them and kissed Erato passionately. They were both breathless after the kiss broke.

“My Lord,” Erato began.

"Please, say my name, Erato," Camilla pleaded in her ear.

"Camilla," the word rolled off the woman's tongue, spoken only the way a true love poetry muse could speak another's name.

Camilla was on the edge. She had not heard her name spoken in so long, and certainly not as sensuously. She had held her emotions in far too long. Now she was unsure whether to break down crying or take the young woman in her arms in what would certainly be a sexual rage.

Erato made the decision for both of them, pushing the warrior toward the bed.

Wordlessly she straddled the warrior and began to undress. Camilla watched the strip tease with hungry eyes. She tried to reach up and touch a newly exposed breast. Erato grabbed her hand and placed it firmly back on the bed. A flicker of anger passed Camilla’s face, but she complied. She closed her eyes and let Erato take control of her body. She felt the soft hands on her breasts, and the soft, wet mouth that followed close behind.

She found this blond intriguing. Such gall! Such guile! Such beauty and audacity, all rolled into one. So much like ...

“Xena,” Camilla breathed.

The mouth on her breast stopped.

Camilla opened her eyes, clearly horrified.

Erato slowly rose and looked the warrior in the eye.

“Someone you want to tell me about?” she inquired with a raised eyebrow.

The look of horror on Camilla’s face quickly changed to one of pure anger.

“You forget your place!” Camilla roared, throwing the woman halfway across the room.

Erato hit the ground hard and slumped unconscious.

Camilla flew into a rage. Grabbing her sword she tore into every inanimate object before her. The clamor brought her guards running into the tent. They stopped short at the sight of their half naked leader panting heavily over a demolished tent, and a naked and knocked out


“My Lord,” one guard spoke at last, “is everything all right?”

“Get out,” Camilla ordered, her back to the men.

They quickly obeyed.

Camilla dropped to her knees before Erato. Cradling the woman’s face in her hands she burst into tears too long held. “Oh, Erato, I’m so sorry,” she apologized to the unconscious woman.

Camilla threw back her head and screamed at the top of her lungs, “Damn you to Tartarus, Xena!”

The rest was a whisper. “I can only be free when you are dead.”


Chapter 4


The next day, Xena and Gabrielle continued their journey.

Gabrielle was still mulling the new information she had learned about Xena. Her mind ran wild with images of Xena and Camilla. She blushed with each new erotic thought, and wished she could be in the place where Camilla once occupied in Xena's heart.

"Hey," she heard a voice from above. She looked up to see Xena staring down at her from Argo. "Dinar for your thoughts," Xena smiled.

"Oh, they're worth more than that," Gabrielle smiled back, but was unable to meet the warrior's steady gaze. She felt a warmth begin to crawl up her neck. She pushed back the erotic daydreams, and tried to look casual.

Xena raised an eyebrow and was about to say something when she reined Argo to a halt.

She cocked her head, and felt an odd but familiar feeling run up her spine.

"Xena, what is it?" Gabrielle asked, taking a defensive stand with her staff at the ready.

"Ares," she stated simply.

A flash of blue appeared right in front of Argo. The horse whinnied her complaint at having the God of War so close.

"Easy girl," Ares cooed.

"Don't talk to Argo," Xena commanded.

"I wasn't talking to the horse," Ares replied with a sidelong glance to the battle ready Gabrielle.

"Gabrielle is just as dangerous as Argo," Xena informed the magnificently attired god.

"And just as attractive," Ares laughed.

"Hey!" Gabrielle swung her staff at the god, who sidestepped cleanly.

“They’re both beautiful to me, Ares.”

Gabrielle looked at Xena in surprise, then smiled. “Thanks, Xena.”

“Anytime,” Xena smiled back at the bard.

The god rolled his eyes and crossed his arms over his chest. “Excuse me, ladies, I hate to break up the love-fest here, but I have some news you might be interested in, Xena. You, too, oh, irritating little blond sidekick."

Gabrielle’s smile faded and she growled in frustration at the god but remained rooted to the spot. Her knuckles turned white as she gripped her staff.

"Spit it out, then disappear, Ares," Xena's headache was returning.

"Does the name 'Camilla' mean anything to you, Xena?" the God of War snarled.

Yep, the headache was back and bigger than ever. Xena rubbed her temples. "Yessss," she sighed.

"Well, she's visiting our fair country, and she's looking for you," Ares smiled devilishly. "In fact, she has a wonderful plan that will make you come looking for her."

Ares stopped and smiled proudly.

Xena was not amused. "Ares, I'm not going to play twenty questions with you. Out with it."

The god showed a flash of disappointment before continuing.

"Camilla and her army, which is impressive even for Roman stock, are headed for Potidaea," he announced with a flourish.

Gabrielle gasped. The color drained from her face as she exchanged a worried glance with Xena.

Xena dismounted from Argo and stood nose to nose with the arrogant god. "Why are you telling me this? What's in it for you?"

"Why, you are in it for me, my dear," Ares explained as he relished the closeness of the warrior. "You see, Camilla apparently has an old deal with Caesar that she was not able to fulfill a few years ago. She's come back to get you and bring you to Caesar. Now, that won't do for my plans. Caesar wants your head on a stick, and I want you to head my army."

Xena simply raised an eyebrow. "I hate to disappoint you both."

She got back on Argo and steered the horse around the god.

"Now, make like Zeus and bolt," she growled.

Ares curled his lip in disgust and disappeared in a flash.

Gabrielle was unable to move. "Xena, she's headed for Potidaea."

"And so are we," Xena replied, pulling Gabrielle up behind her on Argo.



Camilla and her army were perched on the mountainside above Potidaea.

“I still don’t understand why we are bothering with this village,” her second in command grumbled. “What’s in it for us?”

He had a few seconds to study the beautiful handle of the knife before he realized it was lodged in his heart. He fell from his horse with a loud thud.

“Anyone else care to question the wisdom of Caesar?” Camilla inquired, her back still to her army.

There was silence.


She eyed the young woman warrior next to her. She had joined Camilla only recently but had proven her skill as a fighter and a follower.

“Penthesilea, retrieve my knife,” she ordered. “You’re now my second in command.”

“As you wish,” Penthesilea replied with a nod.

She dismounted from her horse, retrieved the weapon and quickly cleaned the blade. She bowed her head as she handed it to her commander.

“Very good,” Camilla said, as she accepted the knife and returned it to its hiding place.

“Now, I have a mission for you.”



Xena and Gabrielle had ridden all day and all night to reach Potidaea. Xena hated to push Argo that hard, but the war-horse seemed not to mind too much.

Nothing seemed out of order in the town. Merchants lined the city square and people went about their business. The place looked fine, but still Xena sensed something was off.

“Do you think we beat her here, Xena?” Gabrielle asked in a hopeful tone from behind the warrior.

“Or else Ares is playing a practical joke,” Xena said in a monotone and tired voice. “We’d better check on your family first.”

She headed Argo away from the center of town toward the small farmhouse of Gabrielle’s parents.

The farmhouse was deserted, and the home in disarray.

Gabrielle was in tears as she frantically searched the premises calling out, “Mother! Father! Lila!”

There was no answer.

“Xena,” she sobbed, “they’re gone.”


Xena and Gabrielle spun around at the noise.

“Arthenos,” Gabrielle ran to the man and hugged him. “What happened to my family?”

The mayor of Potidaea carefully returned the hug and pulled Gabrielle away from him at arm’s length. “We had to give them up,” he stated simply.

Gabrielle’s eyes went wide, “Give them up? What are you talking about?”

“A Roman soldier came with a contingent of men. She told us they had an army just over the hill, ready to burn the town to the ground. She said we could avoid destruction by turning over the family of Gabrielle. I pleaded with the people to stand and fight, but they voted me down. A group from our own village took your parents and sister to the soldiers,” the old man was crying by the end of his story.

Gabrielle thought she would faint on the spot. Xena saw her wobble and was behind her in an instant, holding her steady. “Gabrielle, it’s all right, we’ll get them back safely,” she whispered to her crying companion.

“Here now, are you the one they call Xena, Warrior Princess?” the man asked.

“Yes,” came the reply.

“There’s a note for you.”

He handed her a scroll of the finest parchment Gabrielle had ever seen.

Xena scanned the message and grunted.

“What is it Xena?” Gabrielle tried to read over her shoulder.

“I’ve been invited to dinner,” she stated flatly. “With Camilla.”


Gabrielle’s parents and sister were terrified. Taken from their home by their neighbors, shackled like common thieves by a band of Roman soldiers and finally chained together inside a musty and smelly tent, they struggled to make sense of it all.

Hecuba and Lila were still weeping when the warrior strode into the tent.

“What do you want with us,” Gabrielle’s father demanded. The response was a very large fist connecting with his jaw. The last sounds he heard were the screams of his wife and daughter.

Camilla glared at the unconscious man and his hysterical women. “Shut up, both of you,” she growled. “You won’t be harmed further as long as Xena comes to your rescue.”

“Xena,” Hecuba breathed. “But we’re not Xena’s family.”

“No, but your daughter is.”



“Xena, you can’t go,” Gabrielle was hysterical.

“Gabrielle, I’ve got to go,” Xena placed a hand on her companion’s shoulder. “She made it clear that if I don’t, she’ll kill your family.”

“She wants a trade, right? You for my family.”


“Xena, I can’t lose you.”

“Gabrielle, I have no intention of letting her take me back to Caesar.”

“But there’s the chance she might beat you,” Gabrielle was openly worried. “You were her apprentice after all, right?”

“You know what our life is like, Gabrielle,” Xena put her arms around Gabrielle and drew her close, “there’s always the chance that I might lose.”

Gabrielle laid her head on Xena’s chest and wrapped her arms tightly around her leather-clad friend. “I know,” she sighed.

Gabrielle relished the feeling of her cheek on Xena’s bare chest. It was a few moments before she spoke again.

“Xena, if I had to choose between you and my family …” she began.

Xena pulled Gabrielle away from her.

“Gabrielle,” she gently lifted her friend’s chin to look into her eyes. “Don’t even finish the sentence. No choices have to be made here.”

Tears formed in Gabrielle’s eyes. “I have to say this to you, Xena. Please let me.”

Xena stroked Gabrielle’s cheek as she continued. “I choose you, Xena. Over anyone else in the world, I choose you. I love you, Xena.”

Xena was certain her heart would break. She wanted to give her love completely to this woman, but had been unable to because of Camilla. She had loved so deeply and been betrayed so thoroughly that she swore never again to give her heart away. But, now, looking into Gabrielle’s eyes she felt love, but sadness, too. She knew it would be different with Gabrielle, but she just couldn’t take the chance that another person would betray her. She could only give Gabrielle so much of her heart, but not all of it. But, by all the gods on Mount Olympus, she loved this woman.

She smiled at her friend and pulled her into a mighty hug.

“Gabrielle, I love you, too.” She planted a kiss in blond hair and whispered, “More than you’ll ever know.”


Chapter 5

Xena had left a protesting Gabrielle in Potidaea and headed for Camilla’s camp.

She was greeted by a contingent of guards who stripped her of her weapons, and led her to Camilla’s tent.

Camilla and Xena eyed one another cautiously as they stood face to face for the first time in years.

“Ah, Xena, the do-gooding business agrees with you,” Camilla finally said, smiling. “You’re looking well. Caesar will be pleased that you’ve taken such good care of yourself. It would be a pity if you were too out of shape to fight for your life before you die.”

“It’s good to see you haven’t lost your sense of humor, Camilla,” Xena smiled back. “I have no intention of dying.”

"Hmmmph," snorted Camilla. She picked up Xena’s chakram from the table where it lay next to Xena's sword. She lovingly caressed its sharp curves. "Y’know Xena, I believe it is your chakram that I’ve missed most about you. So firm, so round, so deadly, so cold. Just like you."

The throbbing in Xena’s temples began anew.

“Why did you spare Potidaea?” Xena asked. “The Camilla I know would have relished burning it to the ground and killing every living thing.”

“You don’t know me anymore, Xena,” Camilla smiled condescendingly. “One of the benefits of being under Caesar’s tutelage is that I have learned much about the mental strategies of warfare. Don’t get me wrong, ruthless destruction has its pleasure and its place, but mental warfare takes such a larger toll on your foe. Tell me, how is poor dear Gabrielle holding up?”

“She’s fine because her family will be returned safely,” Xena squared her shoulders and stood almost nose to nose with Camilla.

A feral smile crept across Camilla’s face. “Really, Xena, you shouldn’t make promises you can’t keep.”

“No, Camilla, that’s your specialty,” Xena snarled.

“Xena,” she said with mock exasperation, “after all these years you’re still going to hold my little indiscretion against me?”

“Indiscretion!” Xena felt her rage building. “You call selling out someone you claim to love to a worthless tyrant like Caesar a ‘little indiscretion’?”

“Oh, you throw that word around like you know what it means,” it was Camilla’s turn to yell. “What do you know about love, Xena? Love to you means getting what you want, it’s never about what’s best for others.”

Xena stood in shocked silence.

Camilla continued, “I knew your ultimate goal, Xena, and it wasn’t me or my love. You wanted my army, my power, plain and simple. You’re just mad because I beat you to the punch.”

“That’s not true,” Xena’s voice was just above a whisper.

“What?” Camilla was incredulous. “Are you saying the mighty Xena, Warrior Princess, Destroyer of Nations, was actually in love with her general?”

Camilla’s laughter tore through Xena’s soul.

Xena’s world was crashing. It was hard enough to stand in the same room with Camilla, much less to be on the verge of baring her heart to a woman she felt such hatred for after she had been betrayed. Being in her presence brought up a lot of old memories. Memories that Xena thought she had dispensed with long ago.

Xena hadn't meant to fall in love with her commander. In fact, she didn't even realize she had until Camilla was injured in battle. The healer had been killed in that battle and it fell to Xena to take care of Camilla and the other wounded. The sword wound in Camilla's chest was serious. It had nearly punctured a lung and came within inches of her heart.

Xena had worked frantically on the battlefield to save Camilla's life. While trying to stem the flow of blood, she was forced to fight off several of Caesar's finest any way she could. She kicked them, felled them with her chakram or stabbed them with the sword she held in one hand while keeping pressure on Camilla's wound with the other.

Later in the infirmary, Camilla got the lion's share of Xena's attention and care. The second-in-command kept watch over her charge day and night, changed the dressings on her wounds hourly, and more often than not, held Camilla's hand. The commander had remained unconscious for several days, and Xena found herself actually praying to the gods that Camilla would pull through.

While on her knees one night making her pleas to Artemis, Ares or anyone who would listen, it hit her like one of Zeus' thunderbolts. "I'm actually in love with this woman." It was a strange and foreign feeling for the warrior. People always served a purpose, and getting emotional about them was dangerous, at best, deadly at worst. It didn't matter to Xena. The feelings she had for this woman were strange, but, by the gods, they felt good.

"Thanks for taking such good care of me, Xena," Camilla had said a month later when she was fully recovered.

"It was my duty, my Lord," Xena had responded, then added with a smile, "and my pleasure."

"I'm not sure if it was the excellent medical care that helped me pull through," Camilla continued, locking Xena's blue eyes with her own, "or feeling the warmth of your hand in mine all those times."

Xena had actually gasped and blushed to learn that her commander had been aware of the physical touches she allowed herself to enjoy while Camilla was ill.

"Y'know, you haven't touched me at all since I've been well," Camilla approached Xena and stood so close that Xena began to fidget. "Why is that, Xena?"

The closeness of Camilla made Xena lose all coherent thought. Gods damn this helpless feeling of love, she had silently cursed to herself. She stammered and struggled for a reply, only to have her babbling cut short by soft lips on hers.

Camilla had been incredibly gentle with Xena that first night. The tenderness of the warrior in bed contrasted with the fierceness Xena knew of Camilla on the battlefield was fascinating. The exquisite touch of the woman that had captured her heart was too much for Xena to comprehend. In the heat and emotion of the moment, Xena had cried like a child. Camilla gathered her in her arms and gently rocked her best warrior to sleep.

It was only a few months later that Xena's world had shattered. A foot soldier, loyal to Xena, had run from the front lines to inform her of the deal that Camilla had made with Caesar. Xena couldn't believe her ears. In her heart she knew Camilla would never betray her. She had refused to leave the camp ahead of Camilla's return, and instead hid herself on the outskirts of camp.

Seeing her beloved Camilla come into camp with Caesar at her heel ripped Xena's soul from her body. The tears she cried were not so much at the love she had lost, but at the complete foolishness she had shown in thinking that love was something she could ever find in the first place.

"Never again," she had told herself as she melted into the night, eluding Caesar's army once again.

The warrior shut her mind and tied her emotions tight as she met Camilla’s blue eyes with her own.

“The emphasis is on ‘was’,” Xena growled. “You betrayed me and I’ll never forgive you for that.”


Herodotus had regained consciousness slowly.

“By the gods, did you get a description of the driver of the horse and cart that hit me?” he asked groggily.

“Her name was Camilla,” Hecuba answered curtly. “We’re here because of Xena.”

“Xena? What in Tartarus do we have to do with Xena?” he asked rubbing his newly bruised chin.

“Isn’t it obvious, father?” Lila piped in, wiping fresh tears from her eyes. “Any warlord can use us because Gabrielle is Xena’s best friend. She puts us in danger by selfishly traipsing after that woman.”

They fell silent when a loud rustling began at the back of the tent. A flash of blond hair came through the freshly cut hole.

“Gabrielle!” Hecuba cried.

“Shhhhhh,” she cautioned with a finger to her lips. “I’ve already made enough noise getting in here,” she whispered.

“Young woman,” her father began sternly, “we do not appreciate being pawns in whatever game Xena is playing.”

“Your father’s right,” Hecuba chimed in, “we want no part of your life with that woman.”

“Please, we can talk about this later,” Gabrielle pleaded, crouching down to examine their bindings. “Right now you have to be quiet so I can get you …”


The guard lowered his sword to the back of Gabrielle’s neck. “Come peacefully or I’ll kill you where you are.”

“All right,” Gabrielle said quietly. “I won’t give you any trouble.”

With her last word, she swung her staff with lightning speed, taking the guard’s feet out from under him. Twirling around she found two more guards headed right for her. One end of her staff connected solidly with the midsection of one guard, sending him down instantly. She spun around to take the other guard down at the knees as he came toward her. Once he was on the ground she delivered a quick blow to the head, sending him into blackness.

“There, see?” she asked the unconscious guards. “No trouble at all.”

She turned to her family who sat with their mouths agape.

“What?” she asked, as she leaned on her staff.

Lila was first to speak, “Shouldn’t we get out of here?”

“Yes, of course,” Gabrielle said.

She untied them from the post, but they remained shackled together with heavy chains.

“We’ll take care of those later,” Gabrielle decided. “Follow me.”

Gabrielle led her family out of the hole she had entered earlier, only to find several swords pointed at her head.

“Son of a Bacchae,” she muttered.


“Betrayal is such an awful word, Xena,” Camilla lightly traced a finger down Xena’s jaw. “I prefer to think of it as good business. You were a small price to pay to keep my army from falling into Caesar’s hands. However, you, my dear, betrayed me. By running off like that I had nothing to give Caesar, except myself. That wasn’t enough. He seems to have somewhat of an obsession with you. I know the feeling .. I believe I was just a bit obsessed with you at one time. That must be it, Xena. You don’t inspire love or loyalty in people, just obsession.”

Xena stood motionless, feeling the trace of the familiar finger on her flesh. She closed her eyes and leaned into the touch, wishing things could have been different. Camilla’s words cut at her heart. Could she be right? Do I only inspire obsession? No, she thought resolutely, Gabrielle loves me.

Her reverie was broken by a strong slap across her face. She opened her eyes to see Camilla’s face only inches from her own.

“You’re weak, Xena,” she growled. “You always have been. I’ll be happy to see how many ways Caesar has planned for you to suffer and die.”

“My Lord,” a guard spoke from the tent’s entrance.

“I asked to not be disturbed!” Camilla roared without taking her eyes off Xena. “This had better be good.”

“It is, my Lord,” he smiled. “We caught this young thing trying to rescue the prisoners.”

Both Xena and Camilla looked up to see Gabrielle held at knifepoint by a guard.

“Gabrielle,” Xena gasped.

Camilla swung around and approached the blond. “So this is sweet, young Gabrielle.”

She walked around the bard, admiring every inch with open hunger in her eyes.

“Oh, Xena, good show,” she smiled and clapped her hands together. “You sure know how to pick the prettiest ones.”

Gabrielle squirmed against the guard.

“Here,” Camilla said to the guard, “let me have her.”

Camilla took the knife and held Gabrielle from behind. She pressed Gabrielle into her and caressed her neck with her cheek. Gabrielle struggled briefly, but found the contact with Camilla oddly erotic. “Ohhh, Xena, she’s luscious. I’m betting a screamer, right?”

Xena clenched and unclenched her fists. “Camilla, if you hurt her … “ she began.

“What, Xena,” Camilla smiled devilishly, “you’ll kill me? Again, more promises you can’t keep.”

“Tell me, Xena, how is it with the pretty maiden here?” Camilla taunted. “Is it as good as it was with me? Does she make you feel, Xena? Does she make you cry?” Camilla whispered in Gabrielle’s ear, “I made Xena cry, y’know? Just like a little baby. I think it was the first time she’d ever been with a woman.” Directing her gaze to Xena she continued, “It was beautiful wasn’t it, Xena?”

“Stop it, Camilla,” Xena growled. “Gabrielle is not my lover.”

Camilla was genuinely surprised. “Not your lover?”

Camilla spun Gabrielle around and held her tight. “Then that means she’s free for the taking.” Camilla kissed Gabrielle hungrily, keeping her eyes locked with Xena’s.

Xena was in motion before she knew it. Three guards tackled her before she could make it to Camilla.

Camilla broke her hold on Gabrielle and laughed at Xena’s prone form on the ground.

The laugh stopped short as Gabrielle put her knee in Camilla’s stomach. As Camilla doubled over, Gabrielle locked her hands and delivered a blow to the back of her neck sending her to ground.

Xena scrambled to her feet in time to catch her sword from Gabrielle. She swung her sword to her side, feeling it enter the chest of the guard behind her. As he fell she raised the sword behind her head to block a blow from another guard. Spinning around she quickly disarmed him and ran him through. The third guard growled and charged at Xena, but was cut short by Gabrielle who swept his feet out from under him, and cracked his skull with her staff.

Xena turned in time to see Camilla’s blade headed for her head. She parried just seconds before the sword would have cut into her neck. Finding herself at a disadvantage she let out a yell and somersaulted cleanly over Camilla.

“Damn you, Xena,” Camilla growled, “that’s one thing you never taught me.”

“You never asked,” Xena retorted, bringing her sword down. Camilla fought off every thrust with an expert parry.

“You can jump around all you want, Xena,” Camilla taunted, “but I’m the weapons master here.”

“Remember, Camilla, half the fun of warfare is mental,” Xena smiled.

From out of nowhere, a pot flew at Camilla hitting her soundly on the side.

“Oomph,” she grimaced in pain and looked around. Thinking Gabrielle had thrown the pot she charged her.

Xena closed her eyes and concentrated. As Xena thrust her arm out, Camilla was sent flying across the tent. She landed heavily a few feet away from Gabrielle.

“What in Tartarus is going on!” Camilla yelled as she rose from the ground.

“Just a little mental warfare,” Xena remarked as she sent more projectiles Camilla’s way. Camilla used her sword to fend off a flurry of knives and utensils that flew at her.

“How do you do that?” Camilla was astounded.

Xena closed the distance between them, her sword at the ready. “Let’s just say you didn’t teach me all of my many skills.”

Camilla screamed and showered Xena with a flurry of blows. Xena parried most of them, but was knocked off balance. She rolled as Camilla brought her sword down for what would certainly have been a deathblow. Camilla was not deterred. She used Xena’s move to her advantage, and landed on top of her, pinning Xena to the ground.

Gabrielle moved to defend Xena.

“Gabrielle, no!” Xena commanded. Her companion stopped, but the frustration on her face was clear.

“Oh, Xena,” Camilla cooed. “How I’ve waited for this day. To once again be on top of you.”

Camilla bent down and kissed Xena passionately.

Gabrielle’s heart was in her mouth. It was not exactly the stuff of her erotic dreams. Truth be told, in her dreams, Camilla looked a lot like Gabrielle. But to see the reality of simmering kiss between Camilla and Xena was almost too much. Camilla was just as tall as Xena, and was definitely every inch a woman, but her auburn hair, cut in a short mannish fashion, gave her an androgynous look that oozed sensuality. Gabrielle remembered to breathe when the kiss finally ended.

“My deal with Caesar is to bring you in alive, Xena,” Camilla smiled. “It won’t do for me to kill you.”

She raised her sword to knock Xena unconscious, but the weapon flew from her hands. She looked up, and Xena took the opening, rolling Camilla onto her back. She rolled off Camilla just in time for the returning sword to impale Camilla to the ground.

Camilla’s eyes were wide as she looked from the hilt of her own sword to where the blade entered her chest. She looked wildly around the room. “Xena!” she cried.

The warrior stood over her rival. “Xena,” Camilla gasped. “What have you done?”

“I’ve kept my promises, Camilla,” Xena stated simply. “All of them.”


Chapter 6


It took a little time and a lot of fighting to get Gabrielle’s family out of the Roman army’s camp. After much of Camilla’s army met their fate at the end of Xena’s sword, the remnants decided it best to beat a hasty retreat for Rome.

Despite the daring rescue, Gabrielle’s parents were less than thankful to the warrior who spent her life with their daughter. The fight between Gabrielle and her parents had been ugly, but she managed to smooth things out before departing with Xena.

“No good deed goes unpunished,” the stoic warrior had philosophized with a raised eyebrow.

Gabrielle had snorted and smiled at the warrior as they made their way out of Potidaea.

Now it was silent around the campfire except for the rhythmic scraping of Xena’s whetstone on her sword.

Gabrielle eyed Xena surreptitiously from the far side of the campfire. She opened her mouth to speak several times, but was having trouble rounding up enough words to make a complete sentence.

She decided if she got closer to Xena, maybe the words would find her or at least she could force them to appear. She moved slowly around the fire and sat next to Xena.

“Xena?” she began in a quiet voice.

“Hmmmm?” came the monosyllabic reply.

“Can I ask you a question?”

The whetstone stopped mid-sword, then continued.

“I’ll take that as a yes,” Gabrielle nodded.

A raised eyebrow was the only response from Xena.

“Umm, I know you and Camilla were lovers,” she stated with some difficulty. “She seemed surprised to find out that you and I aren’t .. you know.” She trailed off.

“Lovers?” Xena found the word for her.

“Yes,” Gabrielle cleared her throat, “lovers.”

Xena continued to sharpen her sword.

“Yes, well,” Gabrielle found her mouth suddenly dry. “Xena, um, why aren’t we lovers?”

The sword sharpening came to an abrupt end when Xena dropped the whetstone, followed closely by her sword. She turned to look at Gabrielle, who continued quietly while staring at the ground, “Don’t you find me attractive? Aren’t you in love with me?”

“Gabrielle,” Xena began, then stopped. She reached under her friend’s chin and raised her face up. “I love you with all my heart, you know that.”

“But, you just don’t love me … that way,” Gabrielle stated. “Fine, I understand.”

She moved to leave but was stopped by a hand on her arm. Xena pulled her back down onto the log.

“Gabrielle, look at me,” Xena softly commanded.

Gabrielle complied slowly.

Taking the face of her bard in her hands, Xena looked deep into Gabrielle’s green eyes.

“I love you completely, Gabrielle,” Xena smiled. “There is no ‘but’ after that sentence.”

“Then why aren’t we lovers?” Gabrielle implored. She had wanted Xena for so long, but had decided that Xena was not interested in women, no matter how many stories she had heard about her warrior friend’s appetite for all things sexual. The knowledge that Xena had a female lover at some point gave Gabrielle renewed hope that Xena might take her for a lover.

“Gabrielle, sex complicates things,” Xena began to explain. “You have my soul Gabrielle, isn’t that enough?”

“No, Xena,” Gabrielle felt tears of frustration welling in her eyes, “it’s not. If you love me completely then I’ve got to have you, body and soul.”

Xena dropped her hands from Gabrielle’s face. She turned away and sighed. “I can’t give you that, Gabrielle.”

“Why not!” Gabrielle was beginning to get angry. “You gave it to Camilla.”

“Yes, and she betrayed me!” Xena yelled. “I won’t open myself up to that ever again.”

“Xena,” Gabrielle was aghast. “You think I could betray you? I’m not capable of that.”

Gabrielle was on her knees in front of Xena, pleading. “Xena, you are my world, I could never imagine anything that could tear us apart.”

Xena could feel her defenses falling, but Camilla’s words came back to her: “You don’t inspire love or loyalty in people, just obsession.”

She focused on Gabrielle. “How do you know you’re really in love with me and not just obsessed with me.”

Gabrielle laughed. Xena winced.

“Obsessed?” Gabrielle smiled up at Xena. “Maybe at first I was fascinated by you, but I don’t think I’ve ever been obsessed. Obsessed people can’t get enough of the object of their obsession. I can definitely get enough of you.”

It was Xena’s turn to laugh.

“Xena, it’s not obsession I feel,” Gabrielle continued. “It’s true love. I thought I had found that with Perdicus, but even on our wedding night I realized it was you. It’s always been you.”

A single tear rolled down Xena’s cheek as she lifted Gabrielle into her lap and held her close.

“I just don’t want to make a mistake, Gabrielle,” Xena said burying her face in the bard’s hair. “I couldn’t stand it if I lost you.”

“You’ll never lose me, Xena,” Gabrielle replied raising her head to look into Xena’s blue eyes. “I’ll always be here.”

Xena closed the space between them and laid a gentle kiss on Gabrielle’s lips. The contact sent a shiver of pleasure into her stomach. Gabrielle reacted by locking her hand around Xena’s head and deepening the kiss.

When they broke breathlessly minutes later, Gabrielle smiled like she had swallowed the canary. “Oh, Warrior Princess, you don’t know how long I’ve waited to do that.”

Xena raised an eyebrow and smiled, “Oh, and what else have you been waiting to do?”

“Have you got a few years? It might take awhile to get through all of my fantasies,” Gabrielle smiled seductively.

Xena narrowed her eyes and asked in a low voice, “So, do you have a first time fantasy?”

A first time fantasy?” Gabrielle replied with a laugh. “I’ve got hundreds of them.”

“Go with your favorite one.”

“Um, okay,” Gabrielle said, slowly pulling Xena to her feet.

She held her warrior’s head in her hands, and reached up for a soft, lingering kiss. As the kiss deepened she expertly reached around and freed Xena from her breastplate, and let it gently fall to the ground. Next, her hands worked over Xena’s shoulders, pulling down the straps of her leathers and shift. Never breaking the exquisite kiss, Gabrielle worked the soft clothing past Xena’s breasts, exposing them to the night air.

Xena gently suckled on the bard’s tongue, amazed at the nimble fingers of Gabrielle. She has thought this through, Xena marveled.

Xena let out a low moan as Gabrielle’s hand caressed one of her breasts. Xena reached for the strings on Gabrielle’s top, only to have her hands stopped in mid grope.

“Xena, this is my fantasy,” Gabrielle whispered, placing light kisses on Xena’s chest while she held her hands.

“I like it so far,” the warrior’s breath was becoming labored.

“Good,” Gabrielle cooed, “because it gets better.”

With that she quickly divested Xena of her leathers and shift and led her to the bedroll.

Xena lay on her back while Gabrielle straddled her. The bard leaned down and resumed the deep kisses that were driving Xena wild with desire. The warrior could feel her passion mounting and the wetness grow between her legs. She reached down and began to caress the tops of Gabrielle’s strong thighs, moaning at the softness she found there.

Gabrielle moved from Xena’s lips to her jaw, lightly kissing her way to the hollow of her neck. Once there Gabrielle’s lips and tongue began a dance that Xena was certain would send her into an immediate orgasm. She began a rhythmic thrust against the bard.

She cried out at the loss of contact when Gabrielle sat up. The bard smiled shyly and began to lightly run her hands over Xena’s chest and stomach. Gabrielle reverently took in every inch of the warrior, worshiping her toned muscles and soft skin.

“By the Gods, Xena, I never realized you were this soft,” she said in a passion thick voice. “You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen in my life. What did I ever do to deserve someone like you?”

Xena couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “Oh, Gabrielle, you are the most precious thing in the world to me,” she said, her voice breaking. “I can’t imagine what I’ve ever done in my life to deserve someone like you.”

Gabrielle smiled at the warrior beneath her. “I love you, Xena.”

“Oh, Gabrielle, those are the most beautiful words I’ve ever heard,” Xena was breathless. “I love you, too.”

“I want you, Xena,” Gabrielle nearly growled.

Xena could only moan a response, as Gabrielle took a breast in each hand. She leaned forward, catching a perfect nipple in her mouth. She rolled the nipple around her tongue and then began to lightly suck. Xena arched her back in response and wrapped her hands around Gabrielle’s head.

The feel of Gabrielle’s mouth on her breast, combined with the soft feel of the bard’s hair running through her fingers sent the warrior soaring. Her heart beat faster as Gabrielle expertly teased first one breast and then the other. Then, she was gone.

Xena’s eyes snapped open, her need etched clearly on her face.

Gabrielle smiled seductively and began to slowly unlace her top. Xena watched the show with hooded eyes. It seemed to take forever for Gabrielle to remove her top, but the sight that greeted Xena was worth the wait. She had seen her companion’s breasts before, but she had never allowed herself to so openly lust for them as she did now. She tentatively reached her hands toward Gabrielle, who pushed her breasts toward the warrior, welcoming the touch. Gabrielle moaned as Xena caressed her breasts, and lightly tweaked her nipples.

Gabrielle slowly leaned down, offering her breasts to Xena. The warrior hungrily took a breast into her mouth. She used the bottom of her tongue to caress the nipple in a circular motion. Gabrielle threw her head back and cried, “Oh, Xena!”

The warrior lightly nibbled Gabrielle’s breast, eliciting a very loud, “By the Gods!” for her trouble. She changed breasts and repeated the procedure, bringing more gasps of delight from her new lover.

Gabrielle removed her breast from Xena’s mouth and hungrily claimed her lips. The shy first steps having been dispensed with, both women freely roamed, groped and caressed every bit of flesh they found under their hands. Gabrielle broke the kiss and moved down Xena’s body, kissing a trail from her neck to her groin, pausing only briefly to kiss each breast.

Xena gasped as Gabrielle lightly brushed her now drenched center and instead kissed her way down an inner thigh to Xena’s now raised knee. After lingering at her knee, Gabrielle ran her tongue back along Xena’s thigh, again lightly grazing the area where Xena needed her most.

“Oh, Gabrielle, please … “ Xena could barely contain herself.

Gabrielle smiled and placed her palm over Xena’s center, applying light pressure. The warrior moved her hips, pressing herself harder into Gabrielle’s hand. She kept her hand there as she moved to kiss and lick Xena’s other thigh and knee.

Finally back at the place where she most wanted to be, Gabrielle removed her hand and kissed the black thatch of hair before her. Xena moaned and ran her hands through Gabrielle’s hair, urging her on. Gabrielle ran her finger through Xena’s folds, opening them up to expose the former warlord’s most sensitive place. She lightly flicked the nub with her tongue, sending shots of pleasure through Xena, who let out a long, loud cry. Emboldened by the response, Gabrielle wrapped her mouth around the tantalizingly sweet spot, and began to roll her tongue around the nub. Xena responded by wrapping her long fingers around Gabrielle's head and thrusting in time to the pulsing rhythm at her center.

Just when Xena thought she was reaching the edge, she felt Gabrielle slide two fingers inside of her. The new sensation took the warrior higher. She concentrated on the differing rhythms and sensations Gabrielle was causing. She never wanted the feeling to end, but she knew she was rushing toward the edge of her endurance. With a final thrust, the warrior went rigid, feeling her orgasm wash over her. She rode the wave, holding Gabrielle in place between her legs.

After a few minutes she released her iron grip on Gabrielle’s head. The bard shook her shoulders and twisted her neck to get the blood going again.

“Sorry,” Xena said weakly as she watched the exercise.

“No, no,” Gabrielle smiled. “No need to apologize. Though I know now what it must feel like to have the pinch put on me.”

Xena laughed and opened her arms to the bard.

Gabrielle climbed back up the warrior to lay in her arms. It was a few minutes before the warrior’s breathing returned to normal.


“Hmmm?” came the contented reply.

“I never knew you had such a rich fantasy life.”

“Can’t be helped with such a beautiful subject to fantasize about. But the reality is so much better than the fantasy,” Gabrielle smiled up at the warrior, and was rewarded with a gentle kiss.

“Well, I have a few fantasies of my own,” the warrior said in a low, seductive tone.

“Oh, really?” Gabrielle was intrigued. “Would you like to share one with me?”

“Oh, yes,” Xena sighed, pulling Gabrielle on top of her for a long, luxurious kiss. Xena broke the kiss and rolled Gabrielle onto her back. She freed Gabrielle from her skirt and tossed it to the side. Returning to her duties, Xena traced patterns on Gabrielle’s neck with her tongue, eliciting a series of moans from the bard. She moved slowly to Gabrielle’s breasts, first caressing their fullness with her hands, then following with her lips and tongue. Gabrielle began to writhe under the warrior, convinced she would hit her peak right then and there.

Xena sensed her partner’s rising need. “Gabrielle, hold on for me,” Xena purred. “It will be worth the wait.” Hearing Xena’s voice sent tingles through the bard and she cried out with pleasure.

Xena raised herself over Gabrielle and said, “Roll over.”

Gabrielle’s eyes opened wide. “Why?”

Xena smiled patiently. “You’ll see,” was her cryptic response.

Gabrielle complied, exposing her back and buttocks to the warrior. Xena began to slowly massage Gabrielle’s back. She caressed her friend’s neck, shoulders and sides, leaving no area unattended for long. She followed the caresses with a series of kisses. Gabrielle felt herself become totally relaxed under the warrior’s strong, but gentle hands. Just when she was sure she would fall asleep, she felt Xena’s hands on her buttocks. Xena kneaded the bard’s soft ass and moaned as she felt Gabrielle arch toward her.

Xena leaned down to trace her tongue along Gabrielle’s butt and let her long fingers explore the crevice between her legs.

“Gods, Xena,” came the breathed words from Gabrielle.

Xena smiled and wrapped her arm around Gabrielle’s waist. She raised the bard’s buttocks higher to give here more access to the wet center she suddenly craved. Xena explored the bard’s folds, spreading Gabrielle’s wetness toward her anus. The new sensation made Gabrielle shake uncontrollably and gasp out loud.

Slowly, Xena traced circles around the opening of Gabrielle’s ass and finally inserted her thumb. “By the Gods, that’s wonderful!” Gabrielle exclaimed. She had never experienced such a feeling. Xena’s thumb worked in a circular motion, sending shots of raw sexual pleasure through Gabrielle.

Xena then slipped two fingers slowly into Gabrielle’s ready core, making the bard cry out again. The warrior reached down and scooped Gabrielle up and held her tight against her chest. They were now both on their knees as Xena began a slow rhythm inside Gabrielle.

Gabrielle moaned and leaned her head back. Xena hungrily kissed her mouth, and gently rolled a nipple between her fingers. The sounds Gabrielle emitted were low and guttural, exciting Xena anew. She increased the tempo and the pressure of her fingers within Gabrielle. The bard responded, moving harder and faster against Xena. It only took a few more seconds for Gabrielle to reach her peak. Xena felt the bard’s muscles contract around her fingers as the orgasm took hold, then felt Gabrielle’s weight against her arm as she went limp, exhausted from the sexual exertion.

She gently laid Gabrielle back down on the bedroll and withdrew. She climbed up behind her companion and took her into her arms.

Gabrielle couldn’t remember her name, and was having trouble catching her breath.

“You okay?” Xena asked in her ear.

“I’m good,” she sighed.

“Breathe deep.”

Gabrielle did as she was told and found herself breathing much easier. She relaxed into Xena’s arms.

Gabrielle hadn’t spoken for a few minutes and the warrior thought she had drifted off to sleep.

Xena nuzzled the bard’s hair and began to speak, just above a whisper:

It seems to me that man is equal to the gods,

that is, whoever sits opposite you.

and, drawing nearer, savours, as you speak,

the sweetness of your voice

and the thrill of your laugh, which have so stirred the heart

in my own breast, that whenever I catch

sight of you, even if for a moment,

then my voice deserts me

and my tongue is struck silent, a delicate fire

suddenly races underneath my skin,

my eyes see nothing, my ears whistle like

the whirling of a top

and sweat pours down me and a trembling creeps over

my whole body, I am greener than grass,

at such times, I seem to be no more than

a step away from death;

“That’s beautiful, Xena.”

Xena jumped at the voice. “I thought you were asleep.”

Gabrielle rolled over to face her new lover. “I’m glad I wasn’t,” she smiled. “I would have missed a wonderful poem.”

“It’s the only one I know,” Xena admitted. “It expresses just how I feel about you.”

“Did you write it?” Gabrielle asked.

“No,” Xena laughed. “I have to give credit to the tenth muse for that one.”

“Sappho,” Gabrielle nodded. “I’d like to meet her sometime.”

“Maybe you will. Who knows?”

They lay silently, locked in a warm embrace, for a few more minutes.

“Xena, you still awake?”


“How did you make those things, and Camilla, fly through the air like that?” Gabrielle was genuinely curious. “I’ve never seen you do that before.”

“Gabrielle,” Xena sighed. “Haven’t you heard enough stories about my past for now?”

Taking the hint Gabrielle replied, “Okay. But you’ll tell me that one sometime soon, right?”

“Right,” answered the warrior.

I’ll bet it involves another woman, Gabrielle thought, with just a hint of jealousy.


Xena and Gabrielle had only come a short distance from their campsite when they spotted a group of men approaching.

Several were tied to planks that kept their arms stretched out wide.

“Xena, who are those men?” Gabrielle asked.

“From the way they’re dressed I’d say they’re from the island north of Gaul,” Xena replied, carefully assessing the approaching group. “C’mon.”

As Xena and Gabrielle approached the leader of the group stopped. “Hold up.” One of the bound men behind him fell to his knees.

“You’re a long way from Britannia,” Xena remarked to the lead man.

“We travel only as far as criminals run,” he replied. “We’re taking these men back for trial.”

Xena regarded the group cautiously, gave the leader a small smirk and led Argo and Gabrielle around them.

As they passed by, the man on his knees said, “Kill us here if you want. My people will never give in to Caesar.”

Xena stopped in her tracks at the name of the arch nemesis that had sent Camilla for her head.

She spun on her heel and went back to the men leading the group.

“Let these men go,” she demanded.

“Any particular reason why we should?” one man replied.

Xena’s face lit up at the challenge. “Yeah, a whole list of them.”

She lashed out at the man to her right, sending him to the ground with a single punch. She then turned to the man on her left, grabbed his sword and scabbard and ran them solidly into the ground as he grasped wildly for his weapon.

“Reason one,” Xena shouted.

The first man had regained his footing, only to be taken back down by a double punch from Xena.

“Reason two.”

Xena drew her sword and with expert aim liberated the second man from his sword and scabbard. Disarmed, the man knew a good time to run when he saw it and fled the scene.

“Reason three.”

She turned to find the first man again on his feet.

With a feral smile she told the man, “I don’t often get to reason four but when I do it gets real messy.”

The thug showed great intelligence by choosing that moment to turn tail and run.

Xena approached the bound man who had fallen and untied him. Gabrielle moved to untie the rest of the men.

“What does Caesar want with you?” she asked him.

“He knows I’m recruiting mercenaries to join Bodecia in Britannia.

“Bodecia is fighting Caesar?” Xena asked breathlessly.

“You know her?” Gabrielle asked. Here we go again, she thought. “Of course you know her, you’re like a who’s who of warriors.”

“How many mercenaries have you found?” Xena asked, ignoring Gabrielle’s snide remark.

“Two hundred have already set off for Britannia,” he answered.

“What’s your name?” Gabrielle asked.

“Khrafstar,” he said bowing slightly. “First priest of the temple of the one God.”

“Well, Khrafstar, put my name on your list,” Xena said defiantly. “I’m going with you to help Bodecia, and to destroy Caesar.”


Disclaimer: Yes, yes, the last scene is the opening scene of the Destroyer, and the beginning of the rift, and was not originally written by me. Please don’t sue me.


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