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Xena was barely inside the door when bumbling fingers tried to unhook her breastplate. "Here," she said stopping the bards efforts to lend a hand. It took much focus but Xena managed to free herself from the armor and toss it across the room. Before the brass could hit the ground she was falling back to the bed with the amorous amazon on top of her, showering her with kisses.
Xena did nothing to stop the bards roaming hands and lips from conquering her body. She craved it. She desired it from deep within her. When playing the passive got to be too much, Xena rolled the bard over, passionately pinning her to the bed.
"Oh Gods Xena," the bard mumbled.
Oh yeah, Xenaís drunken mind exclaimed. She still wants me.
"Xena," the bard called again. "I want you-."
"Oh Gabrielle," the warrior whispered in her ear, making sure to leave a few light kisses on her lobe. "I want you so much too."
" No Xena. I want you to move," Gabrielle said pushing the warrior aside roughly.
Too much too soon, Xena realized as she watched the bard shove her away. She doesnít want me after all.
Gabrielle rose to her feet at lightening speed and darted across the room to the chamber pot.
I made it Gabrielleís mind congratulated herself as she fell to her knees. Seconds later the evenings ale she had consumed took up resident in the pot. "Oh gods," the bard moaned after the first few heaves.
Xena was on the verge of laughing. Not that she wanted to see the bard meet this sickly fate. Perhaps it was a much-needed diversion to something that neither of them was quite prepared for. She had to admit she was relieved. I know itís the alcohol and not me, she considered.
Xena slowly rose, since the room was spinning a bit for her too. Carefully she walked over, bringing a hand towel with her.
"Here you go sweetheart," Xena said handing it to the bard. She took a seat next to Gabrielle and pushed her hair behind her ear. "Feeling a little better?" she asked.
Gabrielle wiped her chin and tried to grin despite the fact her stomach was still doing back flips. "A little," she answered.
Xena just continued to stroke the bardís hair. "Itís gotten longer."
"What?" Gabrielle asked, unsure of what Xena meant. She raised her eyes and tried to focus on Xena, meeting with only minimal success, although she was perhaps only two feet away.
"Your hair. Itís gotten longer. . . I like it," Xena answered.
"I didnít think you noticed," Gabrielle replied.
"Yeah," Xena said kissing her cheek. "I noticed. Youíre very beautiful."
Gabrielle recognized the look in Xenaís eye. Oh no. Not tonight. "Xena I donít think Iím up to being affectionate tonight and I know what that look means . . . besides I just lost all the ale I drank tonight. You canít possibly find that sexy," she added with a slight chuckle.
Xena continued to stroke the bardís hair. "Well . . . vomiting can be a very intimate experience. Next to my mother, youíre the only one whoís ever seen me sick . . . ever. Youíre pretty damn vulnerable when youíre in that Ďpositioní," Xena laughed. "It might not be sexy . . . but it shows a level of trust. You can . . . be yourself so to speak and not have to worry about keep up Ďappearencesí."
"Trust me Xena," Gabrielle chuckled. "I didnít have much of a choice. It was you or the pot . . . But I get the point. I feel I can be myself with you. And youíd still love me anyway huh?"
Xena just simply nodded her answer. Forever and ever.
"You know Iíd never had that until you came along. Perdicus loved me because he was supposed to but I would have drove him crazy in the end. Iíd never be the good little wife. My parents loved me but . . . I was a brash, outspoken girl who never realized my Ďplaceí. My sister loved me too but we were never Ďequalí Ė I was older, smarter, prettier . . . I miss them Xena. Iíd like to see them but Iím scared to see them. Does that make any sense? Itís been 25 years and . . . And Iíd like to see them Xena. Could we see them do you think? Could we just go home for a little bit? Would that be okay Xena?"
Gabrielle might have emptied her stomach, but she was still drunk. She was rambling. Xena didnít often see the bard intoxicated in their journeys but she could still tell she was a bit tipsy. Overly affectionate and running off repeatedly about the same thing were always the clues to Xena.
"For you?" Xena replied. "Yeah I think we can do that. Did you want to leave tomorrow?"
Gabrielle bobbed her head up and down a little more than necessary. "Amphipolis is first. Iíd like to see your mom. I love your mom a lot. Sheís like my mom you know? She threw me a birthday party. My mom didnít throw me a party. Do you remember that Xena? Do you remember my party? After we dumped Discord we had a really good time. I love your mom a lot Xena. I wonder if sheís still alive . . .It would be great to show her our daughter. Wouldnít that be great Xena?"
Xena smiled. Yes it would . . . if sheís still alive. 25 years is a long time. "I think thatís a wonderful idea."
"Yeah but this time she canít try setting you up. Youíre mine warrior princess and if the lady tries to make it otherwise you set her straight this time. Got it? No beating around the bush, understand? Shouldíve told her then. Eve didnít need a daddy. Sheís got two mothers that love her very much. Right Xena?"
Oh my bard is on a roll tonight, Xena chuckled silently. Best if you just agree. "Yes Gabrielle."
"Damn straight!" the bard nodded firmly. Soon after however the rest of her body began to sway.
"Okay," Xena replied moving to her feet, gingerly taking the bard with her. "Letís go to bed now."
"But Xena I donít think I can . . . you know . . . tonight," Gabrielle said concerned.
"Sleep was all I had in mind," Xena answered. "Letís just rest tonight, okay?"
Gabrielle looked like she was going to cry. "Iím not a tease Xena. I donít want you to think Iím a tease. I do really love you and I do think youíre sexy," she said as Xena took her back toward the bed. "The blue eyes. The leather. Ares likes you in leather. I like you in leather too. I like you out of leather most of all. You have a beautiful body Xena. And blue eyes. Did I tell you youíve got these great blue eyes?"
"Three times now Gabrielle," Xena grinned. "Yes you did."
"Well itís true. You have beautiful blue eyes. In fact . . . What was I sayin? . . . Oh yeah blue eyes. Youíve got that Ďsteely gazeí that just does something fantastic to me. You know?"
Xena had to chuckle at this point while she took the bardís boots and skirt off. Yeah sheís totally gone.
"I have I told you lately that I love you?"
That questioned seemed to sober Xena up for a moment. "No you havenít Gabrielle," she answered honestly.
"Well I do . .. I love you Xena. You are my soulmate."
Xena was going to reply in kind but the bard was now out - dead to the world.
Carefully and with a bit of swaying Xena managed to remove her battle dress until she only donned her shift. She rolled the bard a bit here and there until the smaller woman was tucked under the covers then she climbed into bed too. She snuggled around the bard, her head on Gabrielleís shoulder and her arm protectively draped around the bards mid-drift.
"I love you too Gabrielle," the warrior said even though she knew the woman was in deep slumber. "You are my soulmate. My tree," she grinned.
She remembered the tale Gabrielle told once earlier in their travels about two trees in the forest forever being joined. She remembered how she joked about making a boat out of the trees and telling Gabrielle that someday she would find her tree. She never guessed back then that she would be the mighty oak that the bard searched for. But she was happy for the position.
"And Iíll never take it for granted again," she whispered into the bardís shoulder. She looked up and gently stroked the bardís sleeping face. "My source, my reason . . . my everything," she muttered to no one but herself.
With that she settled into the bardís arms as slumber fell upon her too.
CONTINUED IN PART XXIV: REUNITED