The following contains spoilers for "Heart of Darkness".
INTO THE HEART
"Don’t go getting all emotional on me."
Xena could hear the merriment in her bard’s voice although Gabrielle walked behind her, the blonde’s face hidden from view.
"We wouldn’t want that to happen now would we?" Xena teased as they walked outside, heading back to the inn. She slowed down a bit until the bard was at her side and tenderly took her hand in hers. They walked along in silence for a moment, just taking in the night air. "The kids will probably be busy for awhile," Xena commented casually.
Gabrielle smiled. Although the words were spoken off-handedly the bard understood the message behind it but she was willing to play along. "Probably. Why? Did you have something in mind?"
"Well I’ve got a room all ready and unused," Xena grinned, finally making eye contact with the bard.
"You don’t say," Gabrielle answered just as carefree.
"Yes," Xena answered. "And if you would do me the honor I would love to share it with you."
Gabrielle melted. Xena’s sultry, husky tone did her in. She might have ‘burned’ with Virgil earlier in the evening but the heat that Xena could radiate in the bard turned Gabrielle to molten liquid. The bard could feel her legs turn a bit rubbery but managed to keep her pace.
"On two conditions," Gabrielle answered.
Xena put on her best ‘offended’ face. "Conditions? I get conditions now?" she teased.
"Oh yeah," Gabrielle chuckled.
"Okay then," Xena grinned. "Out with ‘em."
"First you have to dance for me. Just like you did for Lucifer."
"Only if you’ll lick my stomach like you did Virgil’s," Xena countered.
I had that coming. Gabrielle chuckled. "Deal," she answered giving Xena’s hand an extra squeeze.
"And the second one?" Xena nudged.
"And the second request, you have to wear that coat again."
Xena considered it a moment. "I think I can arrange that," she grinned deviously.
"Just the coat," Gabby added. A fire burned within her eyes and silently Xena thanked the fates for bringing such a seductive creature into her life. "Nothing else," Gabrielle added in a whisper.
Now Xena’s grin turned into a bright smile. Oh my little lecherous bard, Xena considered. "Anything you wish," Xena finally voiced.
The ache between Xena’s legs threatened to take the bard then and there. She considered finding the nearest tree to prop the bard against while she fell to her knees to pay tribute to the woman. But she decided against it. Besides, building up was almost half the fun some nights. Xena knew this night would be no exception. When Gabrielle didn’t add more Xena continued on in the ‘game’ that had begun.
"So what exactly did you have in mind for me?" the warrior asked.
Gabrielle grinned. "Mmmmm," she hummed as she considered. "Should I tell you every little detail or should I surprise you?"
"How about a little of both?" Xena countered. Xena felt the bard pick up the pace of her steps, feeling the bard’s anticipation of getting back home soon.
"Okay then," Gabrielle grinned. "How about if I tell you what that little black coat does to me?" she offered.
"Oh do tell."
Gabrielle’s chuckle was wicked. Almost as wicked as Xena’s response to the question. "Where to begin," the bard said with a song in her voice. "The pleasures of human flesh that await me under that garment are intense. Knowing but no quite seeing all that could be in store for me sets me ablaze. The need to feel your skin beneath it was overwhelming. I would have taken you on that dance floor you know? If Virgil hadn’t appeared to lead me away and back to the darkness I was feeling . . . Lucifer would have gotten the show of his life."
Xena halted her steps. "Right there? In the middle of the room?" she asked unsure of what she was hearing.
"Right there," Gabrielle answered firmly. "In the middle of the room. You and I – center stage with all eyes upon us; where everyone could see where love and lust blur together to make an inferno."
Speaking of infernos, Xena considered as she adjusted her breastplate to get some air under her leathers. "Gabrielle are you sure you really feeling better? I mean . . . The darkness IS gone right?" Xena chuckled at her own assessment.
"Oh it’s me alright," she grinned. "It’s just something I haven’t let myself feel since we got back together."
"And what is that exactly?" Xena asked.
"Uncontrollable passion. Undeniable desire."
Gabrielle could tell Xena was beginning to understand but some areas were still a bit shadowy. "I gave myself to you again in that little inn in Athens Xena. I gave you my mind, my body and my soul. But something that’s been missing, for quite sometime, has returned tonight."
Xena didn’t interrupt. She simply felt herself falling into Gabrielle’s words, hanging on what the bard had to say next.
"That spark," Gabrielle answered as she closed her eyes, her breathing becoming almost labored as she spoke. "That mix of passion and desire that causes men and women to throw caution to the winds; to not care about tomorrow if the needs of today are met. And the overwhelming need to feel you, to be felt . . . I’ve missed that passion. I’ve been holding it back that . . . carnal lust. And I know why. I’ve been afraid of losing my heart again if I give into such temptations. But I realized something tonight."
"What’s that?" Xena answered her voice uncharacteristically cracking in arousal at the thought of hearing more. Gabrielle’s eyes opened but stayed hooded in her growing desire.
"Life without passion . . . desire . . . lust . . . isn’t worth living. And if you find someone who shares these feelings with you and FOR YOU, then you’ve managed to achieve something few ever will - a perfect balance if you will . . . Like I said, I’ve given you my body and my mind and my soul. Tonight let me give you back my passion."
Xena’s hands captured the bard’s face. "If you’re offering . . . I’ll wholeheartedly accept."
Gabrielle grinned. The desire and the promise were written on Gabrielle’s face like all the parchments that contained her words of devotion to Xena.
"I’m offering," the bard whispered sincerely.
"Then I’m accepting."
All pretense of making it back to the inn died at that point as the warrior’s lips claimed the bards. With three easy snaps the breastplate Xena wore fell to the ground along with her scabbard. The kisses were numbing as the warrior backed the bard against a nearby tree. The warrior’s hand worked their way under the bard’s skirt to relieve her of her britches. Xena was pleasantly surprised when she found none. She looked down, momentarily stopping her movements to see the bard’s smile on her face.
"I didn’t bother," Gabrielle commented. "I knew no matter where we were tonight, by dawn you’d be in MY bed."
Xena growled. I love it when she gets ‘possessive’. Her fingers wasted no time, finding the bard’s center soaked and ready. The whimper of desire Gabrielle gave her fueled Xena’s need even more. No matter how much you have it’s never enough, Xena’s mind screamed as she recalled her earlier conversation with Lucifer. Xena knew first hand. She could never get enough of this little blonde no matter what.
Gabrielle pulled Xena’s battle dress down with a hard thrust exposing the warrior’s breast. Her lips and teeth latched onto her lover, refusing to release it’s hold. At that point Xena entered Gabrielle with three fingers.
"Oh yes," Gabrielle cried out as she threw her head back.
The bard wanted to continue what she had started but she couldn’t do it. Instead of her mouth she found her arms reaching out as her hands and fingers worked the warrior’s nipples to erect points. Not that Gabrielle had noticed. She was too caught up in what Xena’s fingers were doing to her.
Gabrielle thrashed against the bark as her hips began to grind against the warrior’s hand. The sounds the bard produced made the warrior so wet she could feel a trail of arousal going down her inner thigh. She grabbed one of Gabrielle’s hands and roughly placed it against her leg.
"See how hot you make me?" Xena whispered in the bard’s ear as the woman in her arms continued to grind and grunt against her. "See the power you have over me?"
"Power," Gabrielle echoed in a shallow voice. Her mind ran wild but one word was all her lips could form. She was so close now. She ached for release and her vocalizations of her desire grew louder. "Ohhhh Xena," she sighed as she struggled toward climax. She knew that when it did come she would explode. And that moment grew nearer and nearer with each thrust of the warrior’s hand.
Xena found herself grunting along with the bard. Her own soul soaring as she watched the bard taking her hand, loving every moment of it. As she looked at Gabrielle, Xena understood exactly what the bard meant earlier about letting go. That look on Gabrielle’s face - sheer passion - was something that had been gone for a long time she realized. How she had loved that look so many years ago. She wondered how they had managed to get so far off course.
But she had her now. Right where she wanted her, feeling just what she wanted her to feel. And Xena vowed in that instant that she would try everything in her power to see that Gabrielle had her passion, her desire, her everything.
"I love you so much," the warrior said burying her head into the crook of Gabrielle’s neck.
The tone of Xena’s words, not so much the words themselves, put Gabrielle over the edge. There was a need and a want in her lover’s declaration. But more than that there was a genuine affection. Love and lust were colliding quite well. It was that image that put Gabrielle over the top as her body began to quake and she erupted with a mighty cry of satisfaction. She felt her legs beginning to go out from under her.
"Falling," she tried to tell Xena. The warrior quickly left Gabrielle’s sex and caught the young woman in her arms.
"I gotcha," Xena answered, tightening her hold around the bard. "I won’t let you fall."
Gabrielle relaxed in the embrace and let the sheer joy of the waves pass over and over through her body. When the last wave left and no more returned, Gabrielle began to chuckle in her delight.
"So much for going home," she said as she opened her eyes.
Xena gave her a lecherous smile as she readjusted her battledress. "Oh my dear bard," the warrior said. "The night is far from over."
"I’m not sure I can walk the rest of the way," Gabrielle answered, as she stood unsteady by herself.
Xena picked up the bard in her arms and started to walk which made Gabrielle erupt into a fit of giggles. Something else the warrior hadn’t seen or heard in a very long time.
"If we wait a few moments," Gabrielle told the warrior as she played with the ends of Xena’s hair that tickled her cleavage. "I’m sure I could walk on my own."
"I’m not sure I can wait that long," Xena answered as she carried her lover. "Besides . . . remember all those times we’d find a beautiful river bank someplace - quiet, secluded. And then I’d carry you back to the bedrolls to do ‘as you wished’. "
Gabrielle grinned bittersweetly. "I swore I’d never forget. . . but I had until you just mentioned it. I really loved those times."
"Well then," Xena asked as she continued to walk to the inn, which was now in sight. "Should I put you down?"
Gabrielle smiled and cuddled into the warrior’s strong arms. "No Xena. Carry me away."
"As you wish my bard," the warrior grinned. "As you wish."
Eve watched Virgil rounding up the glasses and goblets that lay around the temple, carefully placing them in a large bucket they had found. Her heart went out to the young man. And the regret she felt over taking Joxer’s life shadowed over her once more. She knew she could never say sorry enough for all the lives she had taken or shattered or both.
She took the two glasses she had in her hands and walked over. "Here’s some more," she said giving them to him.
"Thanks," he answered as he placed them with the others. He didn’t add more and Eve didn’t know quite where to begin. Finally she found a starting place.
"I know I’ve told you how sorry I am about your father Virgil but I think-."
He held his hands up and stopped her from going on. "I said forgiving you was a mistake earlier today. That was wrong. I did a lot of things today that I wouldn’t do . . . I mean great Eli above! I’m not sure how I’m ever going to look Gabrielle in the eye again after today. Or even Xena for that matter. I grew up hearing tales about them. My dad even referred to them as my ‘aunts’ . . . I almost got it on with Aunt Gabby!"
Eve knew he was being serious but with the way it came out she couldn’t help but chuckle. When Virgil looked up Eve thought that perhaps she took a major misstep but soon Virgil started to grin which in turn made Eve laugh a little harder. In moments both of their chuckles echoed through the vacant temple.
"I’m sorry," Eve apologized, trying to get some sense of control back. "I shouldn’t laugh."
"No go ahead," Virgil grinned. "It’s pretty damn funny in a way if you think about it."
"Well you got farther than your dad ever did," Eve teased. She paused a moment to see what kind of reaction that would bring.
She was relieved when Virgil seemed to loosen up and hold his grin in place. "Yeah well . . . Gabby’s not really my type," he added before giving a sigh. "I’m just glad it all worked out in the end."
"Me too," Eve agreed.
Virgil sat down on the sofa and found two empty glasses. He poured some wine and handed one to Eve, motioning her to take a spot next to him. She accepted the offer quietly.
After taking a sip her cleared his throat. "After my dad died, I felt empty. Like I didn’t have a purpose. When I came back here I knew you’d still be with them. But I needed something. Some kind of connection to my father I think. But I knew I had to start over too. My darkness I felt convinced me it was a start with Gabrielle I needed. With the blackness gone I see now that what I need is a second chance . . . Time, experience – I need to find my course in life again. I hope Xena and Gabrielle will let me travel with them so I can examine that further."
"I’m sure they will," Eve answered. "They both love you dearly. You know I could insert a jab about Gabrielle here but I think I’ll let it pass," Eve added playfully.
Virgil smiled. "Thanks for trying to let me live that down," he replied.
"No problem," Eve answered with a friendly grin. "So now what do we do?" she asked. "Seems we’re both looking for another way."
Virgil thought a moment and then raised his glass in a toast. "To second chances," he replied.
"And a new beginning?" Eve asked trying not to sound too hopeful or assuming in the request.
He clanked his cup against hers with a warm smile and said, "And to a new beginning."
Eve took a drink and wiped her mouth on the back of her hand nervously. "Thank you," she whispered sincerely.
Virgil turned to Eve as he stood up and gave her shoulder a light pat. "You’re welcome," he answered sincerely. "Now what do you say we finish cleaning up this pig sty?"
"You gotta deal."
CONTINUED IN PART IV: A GOOD DAY'S VENGEANCE