Disclaimers: Xena, Gabby, Ephany (and assorted others) are property of MCA/Universal. This story, which is mine, is strictly for fun and not meant to offend. Theres sexually charged scenes, so if youre too young come back when youre older. Dont read this if they dont like it in your area of the world. Dont read this if the idea of two (well actually four) women in love offends you. With that said, lets get to the story.
"How are you feeling?"
Ephany poked her head inside to the Queens hut to see Gabrielle working on a scroll, deep in thought.
"Much better. Although my head still hurts if I move too quick. . .Have a seat."
Ephany sat on the edge of the bed, her finger playing with the quilt pattern. "I should have warned you to take it easy on the punch. I didnt think alcohol would have that strong an effect on you."
"Its okay. All and all I had a wonderful time last night. Youre good company," Gabrielle smiled warmly at the regent amazon.
"Youre not so bad yourself," Ephany replied with a sly grin.
This is stupid the warrior told herself. She knew she should just come out and tell the redhead her feelings, her longings. Last night was close. With the music and the alcohol, feeling Gabrielles body swaying against hers, Ephany felt so compelled to take the young woman. She wanted to show Gabrielle just what it meant to be an amazon soul, mind and especially body. She wanted to but she didnt.
"Whats wrong Ephany?" the bard asked.
Ephany realized her smile had faded and she was staring at Gabrielle, a thousand illicit thoughts running through her mind.
"Its nothing," Ephany insisted. "Just thinking. Thats all."
Gabrielle had seen the look in Ephanys eyes before not from the warrior herself but from another warrior, a warrior princess to be more specific. To Xena it was also just thinking and nothing more. But this time Gabrielle prodded for an answer.
"Its not nothing," Gabrielle said. "You can tell me Ephany. . .I hope you feel you can trust me."
"Of course I trust you ," Ephany replied quickly. "Its just. . .I think. . .I wish. . .Oh forget it."
Gabrielle inched closer taking Ephanys hands in hers. "Its okay," she whispered placing her forehead on Ephanys trying to calm her. "Please tell me."
"Okay," Ephany answered taking a deep breath. "Im falling in love with you . . .I know you and Xena are lovers but I cant-"
Gabrielle shot away, startling Ephany. "Im not sure what shocks me more," the bard rambled. " . . .the fact that you love me or . . . or the bit about me and Xena."
"You mean you and Xena arent-"
"No!" Gabrielle replied. "Xena would never think of me as a lover."
Ephany grinned and moved closer. "Why not?"
Gabrielle chuckled. "She still thinks Im a little girl. I mean the last village "
"Gabrielle," Ephany interrupted, taking the bards face in her hands. "I know youre a woman. Youre an exceptionally bright and beautiful woman. By the Gods, do you understand the affect you have on this village. Ive had to order amazons back to work when you walk past."
"Whys that?" Gabrielle asked innocently.
"Why?!" Ephany exclaimed. "They lose track of what theyre doing just to watch you move. . . Sweet Artemis, you are gorgeous."
Gabrielle looked stunned and Ephany backed off removing her hands. She didnt want to offend her queen and she quickly made up for it.
"Im so sorry Gabrielle. Youre my queen I never meant any harm. What ever punishment you feel is deserving I will see it will be carried out"
"Punishment for what?" Gabrielle asked sincerely. "For telling me how you feel? Please Ephany dont ever feel you need to be hurt by telling me whats in your heart." Suddenly she felt uncomfortable with the words she chose. "I mean, I love you Ephany as a friend and in truth I never looked into our relationship deeper than that. Dont get me wrong. You are a beautiful woman as well. Sparkling blue eyes, soft curly blonde hair, sensational mid-drift. . .Okay so maybe I noticed a little," she added in confession. "The point is I need time."
Ephany jumped into a standing position. "Of course, Gabrielle I understand. I didnt expect an immediate answer."
Gabrielle rose and walked around to stand in front of Ephany. She wasnt sure how it happened but somehow her finger tips were caressing Ephanys face. Pushing the curls away from her beautiful cheekbones. Neither spoke a word nor wanted to. Ephanys sigh at the contact was the only sound in the hut. She couldnt stand the gentle assault any longer. She kissed the bards knuckles one by one and watched as Gabrielle shuttered.
Whats happening to me? Gabrielle asked herself. She had never felt so alive. She could feel her blood rushing through her body, close to the surface, making her hotter. Before she could contemplate anything further she felt Ephanys lips move to her wrist. The warrior looked down on the bard with burning desire as her tongue tickled one of Gabrielles lifelines.
Gabrielle had to know. She had to find out.
"Please," she whispered. "Kiss me."
Carefully and delicately Ephanys hands took Gabrielles face, tilting it upward as she descended. The first contact felt like an explosion to the two women. If was feathery soft but the passion inside it was as hard as metal. Gabrielle felt Ephany linger a few moments before she pulled away. "Ill see you on the practice field," she whispered.
With that she walked out of the hut not looking back. Once she was gone Gabrielle opened into a full smile, letting her body fall back on the bed. "Sweet Artemis, that was one Tartis of a kiss!"
Days turned into weeks. It had been at least three weeks since Gabrielle received word from Xena. And two since Ephanys confession of love.
Xena was leading an army against a ruthless warlord. A group of people had banned together from neighboring villages the warlord destroyed. They need a skillful, competent leader and they sought Xena. Xena was undecided but after hearing their story she knew she had to help. She also knew she couldnt do this mission worrying about Gabrielle. After taking her back to the amazons, Xena traveled to meet the war party. Two months had passed since that day and three weeks had gone by without word of the warriors location or status.
"Any word today?" Ephany asked. She had witnessed the runner enter the queens tent moments before. She imagined, perhaps, Xena finally sent a note.
"No. Its just a message from the Centaurs. Theyre thinking of holding a festival and have invited us to come. . .Personally I think theyre looking for more hunting ground and want to bribe us with song and drink." Gabrielle smiled as she tossed the parchment on the table. Slowly she walked over to Ephany and pulled her closer by the waist.
"Youre hot and sticky," Gabrielle whispered.
Ephany blushed and turned away. "Ive been out practicing all day. I came here to get a bath."
Gabrielles hands ran up and down Ephanys back. "Why? I like you hot and sticky."
Ephany shuttered as Gabrielles lips made contact with her collar bone. "Oh yeah?" the amazon hissed seductively.
"Oh yeah," Gabrielle responded, keeping the spirit. "Tell me Eph . . . do you get that hot and sticky when you make love too?"
Gabrielle reached up, taking the amazons mask off of her head, gently tossing it in a chair. She pulled Ephany with her toward the bed, letting her hands run the length of the regents arms, feeling the sweat that covered them.
"You do realize the whole village is already talking about us?" Ephany whispered. She tried her best to act concerned that she wanted to protect Gabrielles virtue- somehow it just didnt come out as persuasive as she had hoped.
"Letem talk," Gabrielle sighed, pulling Ephany into a passionate kiss. "Im tired of holding hands and cold baths."
Ephany pulled away and she could see the hurt in Gabrielles eyes. "Please listen, okay?" Gabrielle simply nodded. "I want you. . .How the Gods know I want you. . .I just need more than one night. I want to know that its me you want. . .I need to know that when Xena comes back and you know shell come back Im not going to watch you walk away again."
Gabrielle realized that was a fact she hadnt really considered. Ephany knew the pause meant that the bard was considering it.
"Look Gabrielle, I know how I feel. But I have concerns. Concerns for you, for me, for us. . .I even have concerns for Xena. I dont want anyone hurt."
Gabrielle paused, soaking up the words, "I understand. . .and Im sorry for the way I behaved."
"Please dont apologize for your passion for me," Ephany smiled. "Its an important ingredient in love. We just need to be sure of what we want thats all."
Gabrielle nodded. "Okay. Go take that bath now. Im going to discuss this festival invitation with the counsel."
Gabrielle rose to leave and Ephany stroked her face tenderly. "I love you," she replied softly, placing an affectionate kiss on the bards lips.
Slowly Gabrielle made her way from the hut as Ephany headed to the royal tub.
Another month had rolled by with still no word from the warrior princess. The festival had taken place that evening. Just as Gabrielle expected the Centuries wanted to expand their border. Being the shroud bargainer she was, Gabrielle didnt give them what they asked but enough to make everyone happy.
Gabrielle and Ephany now made their deepening relationship no longer a secret. Light caresses and tender kisses mixed with the feeling of unity of the festival. Late in the evening the amazons returned home. The bard rested between Ephanys shoulder blades as they rode the short distance.
Once at the queens hut, Gabrielle ordered the guards away for the evening, stating that she would be quite protected with the amazon regent in her company for the evening. With nods and well-knowing smiles, the royal guards retired for the evening.
When Gabrielle walked into the hut she found Ephany already inside. The bard felt mesmerized as she watched her regent walk over to her, totally naked. "That didnt take too long. . .Did you give them the night off?"
Gabrielle lost her voice and could only nod.
"Good," Ephany replied leading the bard by holding both hands. "You know, my queen, you are very well protected with me near." Ephany administered a light kiss to the side of Gabrielles cheek before moving to the other.
"Oh Ephany," Gabrielle sighed.
"Yes my queen? Is there something I can do for you?" she teased. "Perhaps I should ready you for bed. Should I help you off the your royal attire?"
Gabrielle sighed again as Ephanys lips made contact with her throat. She was spinning. She wasn't sure if it was all the wine she consumed during the course of the evening or Ephanys seductive charms that were doing her in.
"Ill take that as a yes." The amazon warrior slowly walked behind her queen. She carefully pulled the straps loose from the bards shoulders, before unfastening the tunic from the back. As it landed on the floor Ephanys palms seized the queens breasts, kneading and pitching the flesh.
"Ohhh. . .the skirt," Gabrielle whispered huskily. "Take my skirt off too."
Ephanys tongue tickled Gabrielles earlobe. "Anything for my queen," her replied deep with desire.
Gabrielles passion was immense as Ephanys skillful hands worked the skirt free, soon joining the tunic on the hut floor. Last the queen sandals were removed as she took a seat on the bed.
"You are vision Gabrielle. I can see why you are Artemis chosen. She certainly has a thing for beautiful women. . .and you are no exception."
Gabrielle moaned and pulled Ephany on top of her. They both tumbled to the bed, wrapped in each others arms. Lips locking with flesh, tongues dancing across sweat covered skin. Their bodies almost seemed to steam in the hot summer night. Gabrielle began to feel herself become more lightheaded by the second.
"Ephanyyyyy," she groaned as the warriors lips assaulted her nipples unmercifully. "Please make love to me. Please."
Ephany pulled back and studied the beauty of her bard. She wanted to see the desire in the lovely womans face. "Yes my queen," she whispered affectionately, yet tinted with lust. "Anything for you."
Solari was on her way from the mess hall when a sight made her drop her breakfast tray. She had heard the rumors about the night before. Without taking the time to organize a clear thought she darted directly toward the queens hut.
"By the Gods!" she shouted. "Xena! Is it really you?!"
Xena smiled at the greeting. It was uncharacteristic of Solari, deafening in fact.
"Yes Solari and now that youve woken up the entire village Id like to see Gabrielle." The warrior tried to push her way gently around Solari but the amazon grabbed her by the arm.
"Oh come on. Let her sleep awhile longer," Solari insisted. "Tell me what happened. Where have you been?"
"Maybe later," Xena said lightly shrugging her off, finishing her journey into the hut.
Ephany was in the middle of tugging her tunic on. Gabrielle, in typical fashion, was still sound asleep.
"What in the name of Hades is goin on here ?!" Xena shouted.
That got Gabrielle moving. "Huh?. . .What?. . .Xena!"
Xena looked a moment at Gabrielles naked body. Then she turned to Ephany who was now fully dressed. She pulled her sword and pointed it at Ephany. "Start talking," she ordered.
"Its not what it looks like . . .well not exactly. . ." Ephanys voice trailed off. "Please put the sword away Xena. We can discuss this calmly and rationally. I didnt hurt Gabrielle."
"Well, from the look of things Id say thats true," Xena sneered. "You probably made her feel pretty good."
"Really Xena," Gabrielle insisted. "Im okay. Ephany didnt force herself on me or anything."
"What are you saying Gabrielle?" Xena insisted. "Are you saying this was consensual?"
"Yes," the bard whispered. "I didnt expect you back . . .unexpectedly. . .I figured Id have a chance to discuss this with you."
"And what exactly is this?" Xena replied. She could feel her tears welling up in her eyes.
Gabrielle could feel Xenas distress but she knew she had to answer. "Ephany and I . . .were lovers."
Xena felt like shed had the wind knocked out of her. "I cant breathe," she whispered to Solari, who was standing beside her.
"Here," the raven-haired warrior said guiding Xena. "You need to sit down."
Without thought, she pushed Solari away and limbered toward Ephany.
"Its not true Xena," Ephany replied, hold her hands in front of her defensively. "Gabrielle and I arent lovers."
"What?" the bard asked. "But last night
"You fell asleep Gabrielle. Too much wine at the festival last night remember?"
"I did?" Gabrielle asked. Suddenly she began to realize, she didnt have any clear memory of love making. She asked Ephany to make love to her. She knew that much. But she couldnt piece together anything past that point. "Oh gods, I did! Ephany Im so sorry."
"Sorry?!" Xena shouted. "Youre sorry?!"
Ephany had to protect her queen. "Thats enough Xena! I wont have you treating the woman I love in this manner. You will go outside and wait for the queens arrival."
Xena looked shocked with her mouth hanging open. Finally the realization that Ephany was ordering her around sunk in. She was no longer shocked. She was angry.
"I will huh?" the warrior replied, menacing closer and closer to Ephany until they were inches apart. "Ill tell you what Ill do. . .I will break every bone in your skinny little amazon body. Then I will break each one again. Then again."
"Xena!" the queen yelled, pulling the warrior princess attention from Ephany. "Go outside . . . I will be there shortly." When Xena didnt move Gabrielle knew she would have to be stricter. "Solari!" she ordered. "Please escort Xena to a nearby hut. Have a bath drawn. Make sure she doesnt not leave until Ive spoken with her."
Solari rolled her eyes in a why me? gesture before moving behind Xena. "Please Xena," the dark-haired amazon begged. "Please come with me. I dont want any trouble."
Xena turned and she saw the worry in Solaris eyes. The young amazon didnt deserve her fury and quietly she agreed. Without another word, Xena turned and Solari walked with her out of the hunt. The amazon guard, however, made sure to shoot a disgusted look at Ephany and Gabrielle before her departure with Xena.
Ephany and Gabrielle sat in silence until the blonde warrior spoke. "Looks like that answered some of our questions," she said dryly.
"And which ones would those be?" Gabrielle asked frustrated.
"Well, now we know how Xena would react and two . . . shes very much in love with you."
Neither woman replied to the comments. And with each passing moment Gabrielle realized she was postponing the inevitable.
Gabrielle peeked into the hut to see Xena lying back in the hot tub, arms extended, eyes closed.
"Xena?" she asked, unsure if the warrior was even awake.
"Yes Gabrielle," she replied, lifting her head and opening her eyes. "I guess youre ready to talk now."
"Thank you for cooperating with Solari," Gabrielle began.
"You know Im not one for idle chit-chat so lets get this over with."
Gabrielle had never seen Xenas eyes so hollow. The blue that once reminded Gabrielle of a clear summer day now looked icy cold; unfeeling. She felt herself shiver.
"Okay," Gabrielle agreed. "What do you want to know?"
"How long what?" Gabrielle replied evasively.
Xena rolled her eyes. "Im not going to play games. You know damn well what. How long has this thing been going on with Ephany?"
"Does that matter?" Gabrielle asked innocently.
"It does to me," Xena said, rising out of the tub. Gabrielle always admired Xenas body but since her exploits with Ephany, she watched the warriors body in a new light. Gabrielle watched as Xena patted herself dry all the while feeling herself grow wetter between her thighs. "Did you wait a few weeks or did you just drag her into your bed as soon as I left Arborea?"
Gabrielles admiration was cut short by the acidity in Xenas voice. "What?!" Gabrielle exclaimed. "How dare you?! How dare you?!" The bard began to pace whenever she was upset or confused. This was no different. "Look Xena, youre supposed to be my best friend. I figured you would be happy that I found someone who loves me. Youve told me before that all you cared about was my happiness. I didnt expect the jealous lover bit, especially since were not lovers. . .What gives you the right to think Id sit by and wait for your return?! It was WEEKS, no, its been MONTHS since I heard from you."
Xena got right up into Gabrielles face. "I spent MONTHS trying to get back here back to you! We traveled much, much further than we planned. And once the job was finished I started on my way back here because . . ."
The warriors voice trailed off and she walked over to get her robe. As she put it on, Gabrielle walked over to her. "Why Xena?" she asked. "What caused you to come back?"
Xena couldnt face her. Not like this. Not with the tears starting to cascade down her cheeks. "Just go," Xena muttered. "Ephanys waiting for you."
"Damn it Xena!" the bard yelled, spinning the warrior around to face her. She saw the tears but she paid them no heed. "Tell me why?!"
"Because I love you!" The words came out angry and harsh. It was never this way when the warrior envisioned saying them. She knew the day would arrive sometime but she imagined the tone would be soft and gentle. Mentally she kicked herself at the outburst and hung her head low. "Oh Gods Gabrielle. . .Im sorry . . .I should have told you sooner but. . .but its pointless now."
"You love me?" Gabrielle questioned. "Since when?
"Does it matter?" Xena teased, going back to the start of the conversation.
Gabrielle smiled bitter-sweetly. "It does to me," she whispered.
"Why? You have Ephany now. . .Ephany." As the warrior uttered the amazons name she heard the contempt in it. "I asked her to look out for you. To keep an eye on you. . .Shes very throe - thats for sure." Xena chuckled at the heartbreaking joke.
Gabrielle didnt respond to Xenas attempt at humor. She still had other concerns. "When?" she asked again, taking Xenas hands in hers. "Please tell me when."
"Lets just say this isnt a recent revelation," Xena grinned. "Ive known for quite a while. I didnt want to lose you. . .so I never told you. . .funny. . .thats exactly whats happened anyway isnt it?"
Gabrielle wanted to cry. Her heart was being ripped to shreds. Although she never looked at Xena as a potential partner she did love Xena deeply. Perhaps on some level more deeply than Ephany who she was prepared to make her lover. Gabrielle needed to clear her head and fast. Xena was sure how many more tears she herself could hold so she made her request of the bard.
"Gabrielle," she whispered. "Please go. . .It hurts too much to see you right now. . .Please go and I promise Ill say goodbye before I leave."
The bard, was speechless. She simply rose and quickly darted from the hut. Leaving the warrior alone in her tears.
Gabrielle took to the woods. Events from the last twenty-four hours flooded her mind Ephanys delicate touches, Xenas tear filled eyes. Each memory, each sensation more troubling as she continued to walk.
"Where do you think youre running to?"
Gabrielle turned to meet the unfamiliar voice. "Running away wont solve anything. . . Besides no self respecting Queen of mine would ever run away."
"Artemis?" Gabrielle questioned.
"Looks like you got a really problem on your hands - two beautiful women, both willing to lay their lives down for you if need be. All mortals should be so lucky."
Gabrielle shook her head while it hung low. "Its not as appealing as it sounds. . . I never intended this to happen. I love them both Artemis. . .I truly do."
"This love business is far to complicated for me. Perhaps I should call Dite and you two could chat."
Gabrielle grinned. "No disrespect but Dite doesnt know jack when it comes to love."
Artemis had to smile at her queens defiance. "I have to agree. Shes a bit shallow but shes all we got. . . Well except for Cupid. Good boy but he tends to use his heart more than his head at times."
Gabrielle continued to grin. "Ive met him and he seemed down to earth. But I dont think even Cupid could help me now."
"Youre probably right," Artemis agreed. "But you have to do something. I know you love Ephany. Shes a wonderful amazon. Im very proud of the way shes grown to be an outstanding woman. . .And Xena, well, Xenas grown a lot too. Shes done so much good that, between you and me, shes already won her place in Elysian. . . Shes also won a place in your heart too, if Im not mistaken."
Gabrielle could feel her frustration rising as her head started to shake. "What do I do?"
"Wait," Artemis insisted. "Let the fates decided which road you should take. If the warrior princess walks away then let Ephany be your partner in life. And if you feel compelled to leave with Xena again, do so and make it forever. . .The choice is yours Gabrielle. Youll do whats right when the time comes. So will they."
Gabrielle looked up to speak to Artemis but she had vanished. Gabrielle had her answer useless as it was she still had her answer. She headed back to the village. She needed to speak to Ephany to tell her about Xenas plans for departure.
Perhaps Artemis is right Gabrielle told herself. Perhaps Ill let the fates decided.
When Gabrielle arrived at the village square she found a circle of amazons and loud shouting. Quickly she scanned the area for Ephany. When she didnt find her, she pushed her way through the crowd. She froze when she spotted the source of the conflict.
"Youre challenging me!" Ephany yelled.
"Thats right! What part of that didnt you understand?!"
"Youre crazy Xena! Absolutely crazy! I will tear you limb from limb before I let you drag Gabrielle away from me again."
"Ill take that as a yes then?!" the warrior princess pushed.
"You bet! Today when the sun is high meet me on the practice field and well let Hades decide who gets Gabrielles hand!"
Xena stormed off and a group of amazons her supporters Gabrielle assumed soon followed her. In a few heartbeats Gabrielles racing mind gained enough control to walk to Ephany. The warrior began to shake her head as Gabrielle approached.
"Dont say it!" she shouted. "Im not about to let her take you away!"
"Its my decision of whether I stay or go," Gabrielle replied. "This stupid challenge isnt going to do anything except get someone I love killed. . .perhaps both."
"Its too late," Solari interrupted. "The challenge has been made and accepted. They must settle this today."
"Am I STILL the queen?" Gabrielle insisted. "Do I NOT have a say in what happens in this village?"
"Yes you are the queen," Ephany answered. "And no you dont have a say. One way or another, it ends today!"
Gabrielle was helpless to make any head way and she watched as Ephany walked away, readying herself for battle.
"I thought you had decided to leave!" Gabrielle roared as she marched inside Xenas hut. The warrior sat calmly, sharpening her sword.
"I changed my mind," the warrior replied casually.
"You changed your mind!?" Gabrielle asked. "What do you mean you changed your mind?"
"Like I said," Xena replied, stopping briefly before starting her stokes again.
"Why?" Gabrielle provoked. "Ephany is your friend and you repay that friendship with a fight to the death."
"Ive never walked away from a fight in my life," Xena answered. "If its a fight she wants its a fight shell get!"
Gabrielle couldnt believe what was happening. Fates or no fates she couldnt just sit by and let the two most important women in her life try to destroy each other, especially over her. But she realized thats exactly what was happening and according to amazon custom there wasnt anything she could do queen or no queen.
"Please," Gabrielle whispered. She walked over and stroked Xenas cheek to get her full attention. "I love you both. Dont do this."
"I have to do this," Xena answered. She tried her best to look unaffected by the young womans touch.
"Why? Because of some stupid custom? Some ignorant warriors code?"
"No," Xena replied softly. "Because I cant live without you. If I lose this contest then I lose my life. And thats just fine with me. . .Its been a long time coming actually. I couldnt think of dying for a nobler cause."
"Oh Xena." Gabrielle took the sword from the warrior and replacing her body in the location that the blade set moments before. She rested her cheek on Xenas shoulder feeling the warmth escaping the warriors body.
"Do you love me Gabrielle?" the warrior asked leery of the bard's answer. "The way you love Ephany."
Gabrielle hadnt considered her feelings. She didnt have time. When she woke up she was suddenly explaining her relationship with Ephany to Xena. Then she was dealing with the warrior princess confession of love. Now she had to face a mortal combat that would take someone she loved to Elysia and out of her life. . . DID she love Xena the way she loved Ephany? She didnt have time to analyze now she could only react.
"No," she whispered. "I love you both deeply but for different reasons. . .And I dont want to lose either one of you."
"Different reasons?" Xena asked.
"Yes," Gabrielle replied. "You make me feel safe, protected. . .Ephany makes me feel . . .aroused."
Xena smiled and pulled Gabrielle far enough away so she could look at her but close enough that she could feel the bards labored breath tickle her cleavage.
"Aroused?" Xena teased seductively. "Im sure I could arouse you if you give me the chance."
Without waiting for a response Xena pulled Gabrielles lips to hers. All of her want, all of her desire flamed in the delicate kiss she placed on the bard. Xenas hands gently captured Gabrielles head bringing her closer, taking them deeper into the kiss.
Gabrielles hands found a life of their own and caressed the warriors muscular thighs causing both women to sigh at the contact. Their lips broke free and Xena proceeded to nibble on Gabrielles exposed neck. The bards mind drifted further away with each sweeping move of the warriors tongue.
"I could take you to heights of pleasure youve never known. After all I have-
"Many skills," Gabrielle whispered finishing her sentence.
"See how well you know me," Xena observed as she began to suck on the bards earlobe. "Better than I know myself at times."
The delicious sensations the bard felt came to a stand still at the warriors words. Thats true the bard reflected. She slowly pulled away and met Xenas eyes.
"Youre right. . .And I know you cant kill Ephany," she grinned. "You may think its the only way out but its not. When the time comes Xena do you really think you could be responsible for spilling her blood?"
Xena had to look away. She rose and resheathed her sword. "Ill do what I have to do," she whispered.
"As will I," Gabrielle replied before making her way to the straw door. "See you on the practice field."
Xena watched as Gabrielle left without another word. The grin that played on the queens face wasnt what she expected but she tried not to think about it. She had a foe to face and shed be damned shed let that young woman play tricks with her mind.
Ephany stood proud on top of the hill as Solari continued to try talking the regent out of the competition.
"Just listen to reason," Solari pushed.
"Youre not giving me a good reason," Ephany countered. "You dont know what its like to love like this and constantly have it taken away. Gabrielle will never leave this village as long as I breathe. And if she does it will be over my dead body."
"I dont know what its like to love like this?!" Solari countered. "Really?"
"Yes," Ephany replied. "Really."
"Let me ask you a question Ephany. Do you know why I stayed on duty for three days and nights straight while you nursed that fever this winter? Do you know why I see that the land between the village and your sons people is so protected? Do you know why I let you cry on my shoulder every time Gabrielle comes and goes out of your life? . . .Because . .I know what its like to love like this. . .I live it every day of my life. . .However unlike your Gabrielle, you never leave. You continue to be a part of this village. So close to me and so far, far away."
Ephany was speechless. She never would have guessed that Solari felt so strong so much love for her. She had always admired Solari since she came to the village but Gabrielle had stolen that attention. "I never knew," Ephany confessed in a whisper.
"I know," Solari said remorsefully. "And I understand your pain more than you realize."
Solari began to walk away as Xena made her way up the hill.
"Lets get this show on the road," the warrior princess taunted. "Unless of course youre not up for it."
Ephany got her barring as she watched Solari take her place next to Gabrielle. She watched as the two women began to talk with each other. Suddenly she heard Xena shouting.
"What?" Ephany asked as she turned around.
"I said are we out here to settle this or are we just working on our tans?"
"Of course," Ephany said pulling her sword and taking a defensive stance.
Xenas menacing grin appeared. "Well then . . ."
Xenas first blow was tremendous. She was strong. A lot stronger than any of the sparring the two friends engaged in. She knew Xena was out to win this competition and for as much as Ephany believed she loved Gabrielle she wondered if it was really worth it. She looked over and saw the pain in Solaris eyes as the battle became more heated.
Xena was impressed. Ephany was a strong opponent and much more difficult than she had imagined. So far she saw two advantages in the battle but she didnt press either one of them. Her heart was playing tricks on her mind maybe Gabrielle was right. She couldnt kill Ephany, even though she convinced herself it was the right thing to do.
They both pulled back and swung fiercely, knocking the swords from each others hands. On mere instinct, they reached for their breast daggers and clung to each other. Each warriors weapon poised at the others throats. The entire village sighed, knowing the simplest of swipes would leave the other defeated, the life force oozing from their neck. Seconds turned into minutes as each woman waited for the other to strike. Gabrielle and Solari both took shallow breaths waiting for the inevitable.
Ephany watched as Xenas dagger cascaded from her fingertips.
"Do it," Xena ordered softly. "I cant be without her and Ill never be with her if I take your life. Shed never forgive me. . .and Id never forgive myself."
Ephany pushed the warrior slightly away and raised her arm to strike the death blow. As swiftly as she raised her weapon, she dropped it, pulling the warrior into a tight embrace. A feeling of relieve and understanding washing over her.
It took Xena a few seconds but she realized she wasnt going to die. Ephany wasnt going to hurt her. In fact she was hugging her and Xena returned the gesture. Both women could hear the sighs Solari and Gabrielle both emitted. Xena pulled back and started to make her departure from the village.
"Where do you think youre going?" Ephany asked.
"Im leaving," Xena grinned, strictly for show. "Youve won."
"Xena please stay," Ephany pleaded. "I think we need to talk."
Xena grinned. "What is it with women?" she asked. "All you ever wanna do is talk, talk, talk."
Ephany returned the grin. "Yeah. But I think youll like this conversation," she added with a wink.
Solari and Gabrielle watched as the two female warriors walked down the hill, their arms wrapped tightly around each others waist in comradely.
"Didnt they just try to kill each other?" Gabrielle asked, slightly confused at the friendly gesture transpiring before her eyes.
"Yeah," Solari replied with a smile. "Its a warrior thing Gabrielle. Dont try to understand it or analyze it. Just let it be."
"Can I come in?" Gabrielle asked, peeking her head into Xenas hut.
"Youre the queen," Xena teased. "You can go anywhere in this village you want to go."
Gabrielle smiled. "Thats true but Id never go anywhere that Im unwanted."
"Believe me," Xena smiled. "Youll always be wanted here. . .Have a seat."
Cautiously she took a seat next to Xena on the bed. "Ephany told me about the conversation the two of you had. . . She was concerned about how I was taking all this."
"Sounds like Ephany. . .Shes a very touchy, feely type of amazon. . .Those kinds of warriors are hard to come by. . .I think she and Solari will make a beautiful couple."
A silence flooded the room until both women spoke the same words at the same time. "Im sorry," they admitted in harmony, bringing a smile to their faces. "You first," Gabrielle insisted.
Xena took a deep breath. "Okay," she nodded. "Im sorry for challenging Ephany. Im sorry for putting you through that. And Im sorry I didnt get word to you sooner about where I was during the mission. . .Oh yeah and Im sorry I didnt tell you sooner how I really felt."
Gabrielle grinned. "Is that it? Please dont stop. Youre on an uncharacteristic roll. Four whole sentences and more than four words each. . .Im impressed."
"Well usually I cant get a word in edge wise," Xena smirked. "Give me the chance and you might find I could do a lot of talking."
"Ill keep that in mind," Gabrielle playfully replied. "But Im not going to make any promises."
Another silence filled the room again until Xena prodded. "And you?" she muttered, cueing the bard.
"Im sorry that I didnt consider your feelings more before I became involved with Ephany. I mean I didnt know your true feelings but I should have given it more thought regardless. Im sorry I didnt realize just how much you cared but I honestly never had a frame of reference. . .You know what I mean? . . Until Ephany showed me it was possible to love another woman I never gave it much thought."
When Gabrielle didnt continue Xena interjected. "Dont be sorry for knowledge you didnt have my bard. And please promise that in the future well work out our problems together. I know happiness doesnt last forever - there will be difficult times - but relationships can survive as long as theres trust. Youve taught me that."
Gabrielle placed her hand over Xenas in an unspoken promise and soon after they locked fingers sealing the bond. "I do love you Xena," the bard whispered. "I feel safe, protected and now. . .without a doubt. . .aroused. . . when youre near."
"So you liked that kiss huh?" Xena teased.
"Oh yeah," Gabrielle replied breathlessly, making the warriors heart skip a beat. Since when did she sound so sensual.
So Ephany gave her some knowledge, the warrior considered inwardly. Guess its up to me to finish the education. Xenas fingertips traced Gabrielles cheekbones and the warrior found herself helpless to resist the sight of the young beauty before her. Gabrielle closed her eyes savoring the feel of Xenas flesh touch hers so innocently, yet so seductively. It wasnt overtly sexual but Gabrielle could feel the light caresses rocking her to her core.
Xena thought her heart was about to explode. She loved Gabrielle deeply, more than even she realized. Being able to caress her and hold her in the flesh was greater than any fantasy her mind created. "Gods, how Ive loved you," the warrior whispered.
Gabrielle melted into the words. The sparks Ephany created in her was nothing compared to the effect Xena was having on her at this moment. She loved the way her skin tingled from the warriors touch. And aside from the physical pleasure, her heart felt complete as well. Gabrielle loved Ephany and always would, but with Xena she had the feeling of home safety, contentment, peace. Ephany brought out Gabrielles passion but Xena . . . Xena gave her a sense of unity. Unity in her heart; in the world around her. And with the way the warriors tongue tickled her shoulder blade, unity in her passion as well.
Gabrielle found her hands clutching the back of Xenas head, silently begging for more stimulation from those skillful lips. Xena heard the moans and it took all her will power to get a grip. She didnt want to rush things. Although they didnt lead a normal life by any standards she wanted Gabrielle to feel courted. Lovingly; gently she placed a delicate kiss on the bards ruby lips. Reluctantly, she pulled away to meet the bards desire-filled yet questioning eyes.
"I think we should take things slow. If we keep this up I cant guarantee that I will stop," Xena grinned mischievously.
"Who said I want you to stop?" Gabrielle replied, pulling Xenas lips to hers once more.
Xena again pulled back, holding the bard by her upper arms. "Im serious," Xena whispered.
"So am I," Gabrielle replied.
Before she had a chance to react, Gabrielle had Xena pinned to the bed all of her weight forced down upon the warrior. Xena put up a half-hearted refusal of about three seconds before letting the bard claim her lips, her body. Gabrielle could feel Xenas gorgeous body through the light cotton shift. Slowly, she stroked Xenas peaks and valleys through the thin material.
Emitting a small moan in anticipation, Gabrielles lips seized Xenas nipple, soaking the fiber until felt non-existent. Knowing she was still dressed yet feeling totally naked excited the warrior to no end. Gabrielles ears rejoiced at the sound of the warriors strained cries of building satisfaction.
"Thats it," Gabrielle said straddling Xenas hips, her fingers playing with the wet nipple. "Youre lovin this arent cha?" she teased seductively. "Youre want for me is overflowing isnt it?"
By the gods, Xenas mind raced. Shes going kill me. That voice. Those lips. These fingers. Oh yes . . .I know where to put these fingers.
Without further, hesitation Xena gripped Gabrielles hand driving it toward and finally into her sex. She whimpered as the bard withdrew and she opened her eyes. Suddenly she felt Gabrielle return, high and deep forcing her eyes shut again. Soon Gabrielle had a steady rhythm building and quickening.
The bard felt herself moving faster and faster matching the warriors hips thrusts. Xenas body was still somewhat of a mystery and Gabrielle wanted to see all of her. Xena groaned as Gabrielle pulled out before the task was finished.
"I need to see your body move. Ive watched those muscles working in the heat of battle so many times Xena. I need to see them in the heat of passion." As Gabrielle reached for the shift Xena helped, pulling it off in one fluid movement. Staring at Xenas nakedness, Gabrielle couldnt hide her arousal, "Gods you truly are beautiful."
Gabrielle gently pushed Xena back to the bed as the warrior reached to pull Gabrielles clothing off as well. "No," Gabrielle ordered in a whisper. "I want you to see this amazon loving you. I want you totally vulnerable, totally exposed. In due time, I promise Ill join you but . . .for now. . .you WILL give yourself to me."
Xena shuttered. Not in fear but in desire. The idea of letting go, giving Gabrielle total control, was foreign to her but she loved the feelings it invoked trust, commitment perhaps on some level, even a tinge of uncertainty. She knew that Gabrielle would never hurt her intentionally but the knowledge of the unexpected had its amorous side effects.
Gabrielles hands were so soft; so gentle in their caresses. Xena ached as Gabrielle continued to tickle and kneed her flesh. Up her sides; over her breast; down her legs. Xena simply closed her eyes, letting the sensations wash over her skin, imbedding them into her soul. Gabrielle soon replaced her hands and fingertips with her lips and tongue. When the amazon queen brushed her mouth over the warriors clit, the warriors hips thrust up uncontrollably, searching for the mouth again.
"You liked that?" Gabrielle asked seductively, not the least bit shy.
Xenas reply was raw and husky. "Yes."
Without further torture of words or teasing, Gabrielle offered her mouth again. This time she let her tongue bat at the nub of nerves with quick feathery strokes. Xenas moans deepened as her hips set a rhythm with the bards tongue. Gabrielle loved the feel of being in control, the passionate aggressor.
She lapped greedily, which brought an even greater wetness in the warrior. All the more to feast on, the bard thought merrily . And feast she would. She loved the taste of the warrior. Being a women who loved to delight her palette, this was Elysia for Gabrielle. She had never had anything so tasty on her lips. She found her tongue searching deep inside the warrior, striving for more of the delectable treat.
The bards greed to get at her juices was driving Xena mad with desire. And the noises the woman made from between her legs the umms of satisfaction pushed Xena closer to the pinnacle. The warrior felt the building and building. She gripped Gabrielle by the back of the head, driving the young amazon forceful against her as her orgasm claimed her body.
"Oh gods Gabrielle . . ."
There was so much she wanted to tell the bard; to share with her. But her vocal cords wouldnt allow it. Her cry of pleasure was already so strangled it was barely understandable. The bard however understood it. She rode with Xena until the waves began to calm. Finally when Xena stilled the bard only then removed her mouth to speak.
"Well my warrior princess-
The bard didnt have the chance to finish. Xena gripped her by the forearms. In one swift pull the bard was lying on top of the warrior face to face. A second later she was on her back as the warrior ripped her skirt free. The sound of fabric tearing and the determined look of her warrior created a river between the bards legs.
Suddenly the warrior pulled back, trying to steady her breathing. "Im sorry. I should take things slow and gentle."
Gabrielle grinned and pulled Xenas lips to hers, the force bruised their lips. The bards fingers buried and tugged harshly on the warriors long dark tresses. "Dont be sorry," Gabrielle reassured. "Im not."
Xena could literally feel her jaw drop as Gabrielle tore the armor away from her amazon queen tunic. She threw it across the room, knocking down a wicker chair. "Rip it off," Gabrielle whispered to Xena, as she offered the material to her. "Take me."
Xena was bound to do her queens bidding. In one easy heave and tug, the garment split down the middle, exposing Gabrielles firm breasts. The bard sighed passionately once she was free of her clothing. Xena let a lazy hand work its way over Gabrielles side. The bard, however, had immediate needs. Authoritatively she grabbed Xenas hand and forced the warriors fingers deep inside her. She groaned long and hard at the feel of Xena filling her. With her free hand she gripped the back of Xenas head, ordering the warriors mouth to take her nipples. Xena complied completely and with out question.
The warrior could feel her arousal begin all over again with her drenched fingers buried deep in her bard, her mouth nipping and pulling on the now rock hard nipple all she could do was moan her joy of the situation. As if these sensations werent enough, Xena soon had to contend with the bards voice as well.
"Yes. Faster," Gabrielle coached. "Harder. Do it harder Xena."
Xena couldnt stand it any longer. She needed Gabrielle to stroke her. She shifted her body so she could still administer to Gabrielles wishes yet close enough to fulfill her own need. She pushed the bards fingers deep inside her own throbbing sex.
"Oh yes," they said in unison at the contact.
Both bodies bucked and arched in time. Both sets of fingers striving for the ultimate pleasure of the other partner. In time, they moved, like perfect dance partners, knowing which way the other would turn or sway. They rocked and hit a fever pitch, sweat pouring from both of them, their muscles glisten in physical satisfaction. But soon muscles contracted and both women could feel the other tighten and release; tighten and release. Both of their names hit the air at the same time, until finally both heads collapsed on the pillow at the same time.
Eyes met for long moments but neither woman said a word nor moved, except for strong hands lightly caressing wet skin. Finally, Xena offered her arms which the bard eagerly took. She snuggled into the warriors shoulder without comment, feeling the large arm muscle securing her back as they settled into sleep. Only the morning sun shinning through the tiny cracks in the straw hut woke them.
The following morning the amazons said goodbye to their queen once again. Ephany and Solari watched arm in arm until Xena and Gabrielle were out of sight. The regent walked back to her village with her would-be consort on her arm. She ruled for many moons with occasional visits from Gabrielle and Xena.
Years later the duo finally returned for good. Cyrena had died two years prior and Xena no longer felt bonded to Amphipolis. Her once raven hair was now salt and pepper and all the years of battle had taken their toll on her joints and muscles. Mounting Argo was even becoming a chore.
It wasnt until a conflict with raiders in a back-woods town that the bard convinced Xena they should leave the dangers of the road. It was only three men Xena faced but the warrior almost lost her life to her own chakrum. If it wasnt for the bards quick timing in catching the disc, the warrior would have been decapitated by her own weapon. Xena could finally see the bards concern with her loss of concentation and reflexes.
So for Gabrielle, her Gabrielle, they decided to go home to the amazons for good. They went home and they were welcome with open arms. Gabrielle worked happily documenting all their journeys and Xena felt an inner peace training the young amazons the finer points in combat (with the rule of course that they couldnt beat up the instructor Regent Ephanys orders). The aged warrior felt that passing down what she learned would preserve her family as well as keep the world safe long after she was gone.
And the day did come when she was gone. The winter before though, Gabrielle caught a fever and didnt lose it. Xena stayed up day and night trying to make the bard as comfortable as possible. One evening as the bard was sweating she asked Xena to come to bed and hold her. She fell asleep in Xenas arms that night. . .She never woke up again. For months after Gabrielles death Xena would remember the bards last words. As Xena held her that dreadful night the bard whispered You kept your promise. It wasnt until weeks later that the warrior knew what it meant. She promised Gabrielle she would never die on her again. . .And the warrior kept her promise.
Some amazons said Xena caught the lingering illness Gabrielle had. Some say the warrior was poisoned by an old enemy one night. But in any case the warrior died two seasons later - in the summer. Ephany, however, knew the real reason.
Although Xenas heart continued to beat and her blood flowed through her veins, she died that night too in Gabrielles arms. It just took her body longer to catch up to her heart and her soul. She wondered if Xena found her place in Elysia. She didnt know what the warriors fate was but she prayed every night to Hades that he had made the right decision. She prayed that her friends would never be parted again.