A Simple Twist of Fate by Rosemary

A Simple Twist of Fate
by Rosemary

“It is better to die on your feet, than to live on your knees.”
Dolores Ibarruri.




Part 1



Gabrielle was shoved to the front of the small group of slaves. The women around her wept and struggled. Gabrielle had done so once herself, but with experience comes strength, and she did not bow her head to their captors.

Just another slave trade, her past, her life in Potedeia, a wisp of memory. Draco and his army had seen to that. The soldiers kept a casual guard over the women, she stood with the rest and waited for their new master.

The men parted as a tall warrior rode in, astride a honey colored mare. Gabrielle did not bother to look. One warlord, she knew, quickly resembled another. She turned to comfort a young girl next to her who had begun to cry.

“Shush it’s all right,” She murmured. “I’ll help you.” One of the soldiers laughed. Gabrielle flushed angrily, and placed a protective arm around her shoulders.

“Help her?” A warm voice asked quietly. Gabrielle looked up and gasped. The warlord was tall, leather bound, hair dark as night, eyes of the purest blue. The warrior smiled slightly at the peasant girl and asked again. “How would you help her?”

Gabrielle was silent, her loathing evident. The warlord grasped Gabrielle’s face. Her voice steel. “I asked you a question,” Tightening her grip. “How would you help her?”

There were many ways she could answer this question. She had seen so much. Done so much. She did not flinch as she answered the warrior. “I would take her place.”

The warlord smiled. “Very good.” The grip on her face softened to a light caress. “Buy this one,” She gestured to the girl in Gabrielle’s grasp. “And release her. I want her returned to her village.” She gazed into Gabrielle’s green eyes as two soldiers broke rank to fulfill their commander’s orders. Her eyes hardened. “Unharmed.” Gabrielle could swear she saw the men shiver at the tone. The warrior’s smiled broadened at her next words.

“This one is for me, bring her to my tent.” She said pointing to Gabrielle. She cast a dismissive glance to the remainder of the women. “Buy only what we need from the rest.” The tall warlord remounted her horse and dipped her head in Gabrielle’s direction. “I will see you soon brave one.” With a quick burst of speed the warrior rode off.

Gabrielle found herself being pulled apart from the young girl as she was led away to her new owners quarters. She had one more glimpse of the girl, her face contorted in fear, before being thrown headlong into a spacious tent. Gabrielle landed on her knees and slowly stood up. The tent was less auspicious than others she had been in , the only luxury a large trunk with intricately carved designs across the lid and sides. The bed, a random heap of rugs and blankets with a few pillows scattered about. Gabrielle was drawn to the chest, her fingers trailed on the carvings, appreciating the loving detail impressed into the wood.

“It was my brothers.” The same warm voice said behind her. Gabrielle started at the sound and backed away from the trunk.

“What’s your name?” The warrior asked as she strode in. Gabrielle shook her head in refusal. The warrior raised an eyebrow.

“You will be much better off in service to me than my men. They have a irritating habit of going through their slaves quite quickly.” She locked eyes with the young woman. “What is your name?” Her voice held a hard edge.

“Gabrielle.” She said softly. “Gabrielle.” The older woman repeated. She drew closer and stroked her cheek. “A beautiful name for a beautiful woman.” Gabrielle found herself blushing, and hated herself for it.

The warrior pulled off her leather gauntlets and dropped them to the floor. “Do you know who I am?” She questioned. Gabrielle did not answer, but she had heard the stories of a great warrior queen a destroyer of nations. The woman smiled, almost warmly.

“I am Xena,” She said. “Perhaps you have heard of me?” The smile on her lips filtered to her blue eyes. Gabrielle nodded, both afraid and excited. Xena continued to take off her armor ignoring the younger woman’s gaze. “What have you heard?”

Gabrielle swallowed as she watched the warrior. “That you lay waste to kingdoms, and kill without regard. There is a story that you were once a peasant girl yourself, before a warrior named Cortese destroyed your home and killed your …” She faltered at the cold look the warrior gave her.

Xena poured two cups of wine and offered Gabrielle one. “What else have you heard?” She asked as she settled onto makeshift bed.

“Some people say that you offer surrender before you attack. Others say that Aries rides at your side.” Xena smiled slightly at that.

“No God rides with me Gabrielle.” The young woman shivered at the sound of her name on the warriors lips. Xena leaned back further onto the pillows and sipped her wine. “See something interesting?” She inquired.

Gabrielle realized she was staring and quickly took a huge mouthful of her drink, some of which trickled down the side of lips to her chin. Xena’s eyes followed the line of liquid as it slipped past her chin to the cleft of her breasts.

“So what happened to you Gabrielle? How did you become a slave?” An electric blue gaze held Gabrielle’s misty green.

“The warlord Draco and his army came and attacked my village, taking the women for slaves and killing the men.” She said coldly, finding strength in long kept pain.

Xena nodded. “Ahh Draco,” Her eyes narrowed. “He was always very…..thorough.” She finished her drink and rose to refill the cup.

Xena waved the bottle in Gabrielle’s direction. “No thank you.” Gabrielle answered.

Xena shrugged slightly and drained her cup before refilling it again. She returned to the bed and lay back down. “What village Gabrielle?” She asked.

“Potedeia.” Gabrielle answered simply.

“Potedeia,” Xena mused. “A small farming community? Less than a hundred villagers if I recall.” Gabrielle nodded mutely. Xena took a long drink of her wine. “I thought about taking that village myself.”

All the anger, all the loss curled like a flame in Gabrielle’s heart as she hurled herself at the warrior princess, knocking the cup of wine aside with a flick of her wrist.

Xena met the challenge with a feral grin, her white teeth flashing in the dim light. Gabrielle struck out with her hands beating the warrior on her chest and shoulders. Xena let her continue for a few moments before grabbing her arms, thrusting them away from her body.

“Temper, temper,” She chuckled. “I did not place you here. Save your hatred for Draco.” Gabrielle struggled in Xena’s firm grip.

“Draco,” She spat. “Yes I hate Draco, but it’s warriors like you that continue waging this undeclared war against the innocent.”

Xena, with barely concealed strength, pushed the young woman from her. Gabrielle stumbled and fell to the ground. Xena stalked to her side, her eyes cold as a winter day.

“Do not presume to know me,” She uttered tightly. “Do not attempt to understand me, and for your own safety, never, ever, attack me again. Because, my brave little girl, I will certainly kill you.”

She pulled the young woman up tight against her and trailed her fingertips along Gabrielle’s cheek and throat. “I would truly hate to do that so soon in our relationship.” Gabrielle gasped at the gentle touch on her body. Xena smiled at the reaction in the young woman.

“Not one of the innocent anymore,” She leaned forward and whispered into her ear. “Are you Gabrielle?” Gabrielle blushed angrily, her body betraying her heart. The warrior lowered her fingers slightly tracing a path from Gabrielle’s throat to the tops of her breasts. “You’ve been here before,” Xena’s hands lingered around the top of the small blue blouse, teasingly she tugged at it.

“Many times, many times.” Xena pulled hard at the blouse ripping the fabric away with a swift jerk. Gabrielle tried to pull away, but Xena was faster. Her mouth already kissing her exposed breasts. “Tell me this does not excite you.” Xena murmured. “Swear to me that you don’t want this.” Gabrielle strained against the warrior, wanting her, even needing her. Xena’s lips moved further her teeth nipping at enlarged nipples. Gabrielle was awash in sensation her body, she knew, belonged to Xena.

“You do want me,” Xena breathed into the young woman’s skin. “I feel it, I know it. All you need do is ask.” The warrior gazed at Gabrielle with fiery intensity. Gabrielle felt herself longing for the touch, surrendering to the need. Xena’s lips played across her soft shoulders and breasts. “Ask me.” She urged. Xena pressed her mouth to Gabrielle’s neck, licking gently at the pulse that beat there.

“Please don’t.” Gabrielle whispered.

Xena raised her head and looked closely at the young woman. She released her, a knowing smile on her lovely lips. “If that’s want you want,” She said as she stepped away from Gabrielle. “You may sleep on the bed I won’t have need of it tonight.” Without another word she strode out of the tent and into the growing darkness.

Gabrielle shuddered at the feeling of desire coursing through her. She collapsed on the bed and pulled a rough blanket tight around her bare shoulders. Xena was nothing at all like the stories she had been told. Her body could still feel the lingering touch of the warrior’s fingers, the caress of her warm mouth on her skin.

Gentle, she was almost gentle with her, an experience Gabrielle had not had in a long time and certainly not from a warlord. Against her will she fell into slumber and dreamt of a warrior tall and strong, beautiful as the dawn, making slow passionate love to her.

The morning was cold and damp, the chill finally awakening Gabrielle. She stretched dislodging the blanket from her shoulders.

“Very nice.” Gabrielle turned her head at the words, pulling the blanket back to her chin. A young man stood at the opening of the tent eyeing Gabrielle with barely concealed hunger.

“What do you want?” She asked pointedly.

“Xena.” He said simply.

“She’s not here.” Gabrielle said coolly.

“Not here,” He entered the tent and strolled closer to the bed. “Perhaps I should wait for her?” He seated himself at the foot of the bed and tugged at the blankets covering Gabrielle. “I’m Bracuis and you are?”

He felt his body lifted from the bed and flung hard to the floor. Xena towered over him a sneer contorting her face. “None of your business.” She lifted him up with one hand, she stood a head taller then he, forcing him to bend his neck back to look in her eyes. “What are you doing in my tent,” She asked him her voice low and cold. “Without my permission?”

Bracuis struggled for words as her hand tightened around his throat. “I was told to wake you my Princess.” He choked out.

“By whom?” She asked her eyes glittered in anger.

“Aison.” She dropped him to the ground.

“Send him to me.” Bracuis scrambled to his feet and fled from the tent. “Get dressed.” Xena said as she put on her armor.

“I don’t have….you tore my blouse last night. Remember?” She asked angrily.

The warrior flashed her a quick grin and tossed her a undershirt. “I remember.” Gabrielle pulled the shirt over her head it smelled faintly of leather. She fingered the fabric.

“Is this yours?” She questioned. Before Xena could answer a tall man, badly scarred from battle, swept into her tent.

“You sent for me?” He asked casually.

“Yes.” Xena said dryly. “Could you explain why you sent Bracuis to my tent?” She paced closer to him, her eyebrow slightly raised.

“To wake you my Princess.” Xena stopped next to him and placed a hand on his shoulder.

“Why?” She asked as she pushed down on his shoulder with her hand. Aison slowly began to kneel from the constant pressure.

Once on his knees Xena lifted her hand and stood before him. Aison dipped his head at her unrelenting gaze. “A messenger rode in before dawn with a letter of surrender.”

Xena smiled at the news. “Excellent. Send in enough men to get supplies, but leave the people and the village alone.”

Aison rose to his feet. “Of course my Princess.” He retreated.

Xena sighed and turned back to Gabrielle. “Am I the blood thirsty warlord you have heard so much about Gabrielle?” She questioned lightly.

Gabrielle shrugged, the oversized shirt slipping off one of her shoulders. The warrior stepped closer to Gabrielle her breath warm against soft skin.

“Let me help.” Xena reached out and pulled the shirt back into place securing it with a small pin. “Better?”

Gabrielle nodded and brushed the warrior’s hand from her shoulder.

Xena stepped back and eyed the young woman. ‘A little like Lyceus.’ She thought. ‘All fight and bluster.’ She shook her head at the image of her long dead brother and returned her attention to Gabrielle. “What would you like to do today?” She asked kindly.
Gabrielle stared at her in shock. “Like to do? I’m a slave I do what you order me to do.”

Xena gathered two cloaks from the trunk and wrapped one around Gabrielle. “In that case,” She said pulling on the other. “I’m ordering you to come for a walk with me.” She offered her arm to Gabrielle, waiting until she grasped it before leaving the tent.

They walked slowly around the encampment. Xena pointing out things of interest to the young woman. Despite her best efforts Gabrielle found herself increasingly enthralled by the warrior. She walked with an animal grace, a barely contained energy. The men snapped to attention when she walked by and her eyes constantly roamed the soldiers looking for any weakness or lack of determination.

“This isn’t like any other camps I’ve been in Xena.” She said the warrior’s name shyly, afraid of a harsh reproof. Xena smiled down at her.

“In what way?” She asked. Gabrielle waved her arm taking in the bustling activity around them. “The men aren’t drunk or fighting amongst themselves.

They work together.” Xena glanced around at her men a proud glint in her eyes.

“They are warriors Gabrielle, not mercenaries. That’s all the difference.” Her eyes narrowed slightly as she noticed Bracuis staring at them both, and the young woman in particular. “However,” Her voice lowered to a resonant growl. “Some need a little reminding from time to time.” Her gaze burned into Bracuis, and he, as if knowing the trail of her thoughts, spun on his heel and disappeared.

They headed to where the horses were tethered and the honey colored mare raised her head at their approach. “This is Argo,” She said stroking the horses nose. “The best horse I have ever had.” Gabrielle reached out a tentative hand and touched the soft coat.

“She’s beautiful.”

Xena patted Argo’s neck. “Yes she is.” Xena led Gabrielle back to her tent. “Are you hungry?” She questioned.

Gabrielle nodded. “I’m always hungry.”

Xena looked at her smaller companion, but didn’t ask. They ate in silence Gabrielle eating quickly for fear the warrior would change her mind and take the food away from her. Xena watched with amused indulgence.

Xena rose to her feet when they had finished. Flinging the cloak over her shoulder she adjusted her sword and chakram. Gabrielle was fascinated by the round metal object hanging from a small strap of leather. “You have the rest of the day to do what you please.” Xena chuckled lightly. “You may want to repair your blouse.” She turned and looked at Gabrielle for a long moment, her expression unreadable.

“I have a few things to do, some manners to teach. Feel free to help yourself to anything here. However my brother’s things are not to be touched. Understand?” Gabrielle nodded mutely, as the warrior strode away.

Xena quickly found Bracuis with the slave women. He had a young girl pinned against a table, his mouth on her neck his dirty hand pressed to her breast. With swift movements she grabbed him by the ear and pulled him away from the girl.

He turned in rage. “Son of a centaur…..” He trailed off at the icy expression in Xena’s eyes.

“What do you think your doing Bracuis?” She asked the question casually.

He wiped away the spittle on his mouth before answering. “Just checking on the women my Princess.”

She nodded slightly. “Yes,” She purred. “You were certainly checking on them, one in particular.” Xena glanced at the crying girl, noting the slight build and blonde long hair. A more than passing resemblance, her eyes narrowed as the returned to the soldier. “I don’t believe this your duty Bracuis.” She continued, her voice dropping an octave.

“In fact, I am also quite sure that I have a very firm rule concerning rape.” Her tone was rough and low a predatory grin flashed across her face.

Bracuis raised his arms and backed away. “No my Princess, it wasn’t anything like that at all. I was just being friendly.” He cast a desperate glance at the girl.

Xena turned to her, her eyes soft. “Is this true?” She asked gently.

The girl looked at the cowering man and then to the warlord. “No Princess, he attacked me.” She said, her voice firm.

Xena’s smile was cold and wholly unpleasant. “Well Bracuis it seems we have a little talking to do.”

He scrambled away from her. “Are you going to believe some slave girl, some worthless piece of meat over me?”

He found himself trapped, his back against the same table he had pinned the girl. Xena leaned forward and touched his cheek lightly.

“Bracuis, I would believe any woman over you.” She straightened. “You know the punishment so you have the choice, you can leave the camp in disgrace or fight me to the death.” Xena pulled away from him, a seductive smile on her lips her voice a throaty murmur. “So Bracuis what kind of man are you?”

Bracuis pushed his way forward. “I’m man enough to take you.” He said drawing his sword.

Xena chuckled mirthlessly. “Oh yes,” She mocked him. “”I have never seen a man more prepared to take me.”

Bracuis swung out with his sword, anger clouding his vision. Xena stepped easily out of his reach. “Any woman here can see what kind of man you are.” She continued, her voice full of ridicule.

He bellowed and leapt towards her, she ducked under the blow leaving his sword buried deep into the pillar holding the tent.
“Bracuis,” She said smirking. “Let’s step outside before you destroy anymore of my property.”

Xena left the tent and awaited Bracuis to retrieve his sword from it’s place in the post. She did not draw her sword, or remove her cloak. She stood silent and tall, the chill wind blowing dark strands of hair from her smooth forehead. The soldiers watched their leader with something akin to awe, they had never seen her bested, but there was always the first time. Bracuis was a good warrior and swordsman, bets ran heavy through the surrounding troops.

Bracuis finally emerged from the tent his face flushed even more at the sight of so many onlookers. He spied Gabrielle coming out of the warrior’s tent to watch the ensuing fight, he turned to face Xena.

“Your little whore is watching Princess.” He yelled to the warrior. Xena didn’t turn around, she had already sensed Gabrielle’s presence.

“Maybe I can enjoy her when I’m done with you?” He laughed wildly.

Xena grinned at him. “Bracuis that last thing you will enjoy is breathing.” With a high yell she drew her sword and flipped effortless through the air, landing behind him. With a hard kick to his back she sent him flying to the dirt.

Bracuis struggled to his feet, his sword still gripped in his hand. Xena stepped forward and with a quick backhand blow sent him sprawling again. “Get up little man.” She paced around him, taunting him. “Are you going to let a mere woman beat you?” She was well aware of her men watching the battle, and the bets being placed. Bracuis spun on his knee, slashing out with his sword.

Xena deftly jumped above the blade, her left foot stopping it’s progress. “I can’t believe I let you join my army little man, your pathetic.” She said contemptuously. She released his sword and turned her back to him.

“Xena watch out!” Gabrielle cried out.

Xena lashed out with her boot, catching Bracuis high on his temple. He fell hard to the ground. She knelt next to him and whispered into his ear. “You have lost and you will die. I offer you one more chance to live.” She stood up and walked away.

Bracuis rose to his feet, his sword held in a two handed grip trying to separate the warrior from her head. Xena felt the impending blow rather than saw it, she did not pause, did not turn, she simply flipped her sword in her fingers, the well tempered steel in perfect balance.

The sword tip entered Bracuis’s chest exiting between his shoulder blades. With a firm jerk she pulled her blade free on the dead man. “Get rid of this.” She said harshly.

With swift strides she crossed the ground to Gabrielle’s side. Xena touched the young woman’s cheek softly. “Why my little brave one,” She grinned warmly into green eyes. “I didn’t think you cared.”
Gabrielle shrugged away from the warrior’s touch. “I only care about me.” She said harshly.

Xena’s smile only widened at the young woman’s angry tone. “Whatever you say Gabrielle.”

The warrior turned to her men, her voice carrying across the camp. “We will leave in two days time. I expect,” She looked meaningfully at Bracuis’s cooling corpse. “No other problems.” There were quick murmurs of agreement, Xena nodded and pulled Gabrielle into the tent.

The young woman stumbled as she entered the tent, only Xena’s tight grasp on her arm kept her from falling to the ground. Gabrielle pulled away from the hold and stood before the warrior.

Xena smiled slightly at her rebellious expression. “You were very brave Gabrielle,” She said. “If I had lost, death would have been a comfort for you.”

Gabrielle moved away from Xena and poured a glass of wine for the warrior. “If I have to be a slave,” She said as she handed Xena the glass. “I would rather be yours than the men’s.”

Xena’s fingers brushed across Gabrielle’s as she took the cup. Gabrielle flushed at the gentle touch and stepped away from Xena.
“Have you ever lost?” She asked.

Xena shook her head. “I have been wounded,” She sipped her wine, eyes distant. “But only in battle.”

Gabrielle watched the shifting emotions in the warrior’s gaze. “There are other types of loss’s Xena.” She said.

Xena grimaced and drained her cup. “You are presuming again little girl.” She answered.

Gabrielle trembled as Xena drew near her side. Her eyes glittered, her voice was low and warm. “What have you done Gabrielle?” She tugged at the large shirt covering the woman’s upper body. “As a slave you must have,” She paused a provocative smile on her face. “Varied experiences. Tell me.”

Gabrielle tried to move away, to break this hold Xena had over her, but her feet refused her commands and her heart thundered in her chest.

“Tell me.” She whispered, her hands lightly stroked Gabrielle’s shoulders through cloth.

Her voice was honey, rich and smooth, as she continued to weave a seductive spell over the young woman. Gabrielle shuddered with each breathy word, with every delicious touch. Xena stepped in front of Gabrielle, lifting her chin to meet her eyes. With methodical movements she stripped off her armor. Her breastplate dropped to the ground, followed by her chakram and sword.

“Perhaps you would rather show me Gabrielle.” She pushed the leather straps over shoulders revealing creamy flesh. She cocked her head slightly exposing an enticing line of throat. She leaned forward her lips barely grazing across Gabrielle’s. “Is that what you would like to do?” She whispered into warm softness.

With a fierce groan Gabrielle grabbed the warrior’s head and buried her tongue deep into Xena’s mouth. She tangled her tongue with Xena’s, sucking on the sensitive flesh.

Xena gasped at the strength in the woman’s grip. Gabrielle continued to stroke firmly with her tongue, her hands slid to strong shoulders gripping them tightly.

Xena leaned away from Gabrielle enjoying the look of hunger so apparent on her face. “I’ll take that as a yes.” Xena returned her lips to Gabrielle’s losing herself in sensation.

Gabrielle struggled to regain control, to move past this senseless passion. Xena clutched the young woman closer, her hands running in patterns across her back. The warrior moaned once, that was all Gabrielle heard, she surrendered.Gabrielle pushed Xena down, pulling hard at leather straps that blocked her seeking mouth. She straddled the warrior and pulled the shirt over her head.

Taking both of Xena’s hands she pressed them to her hardened nipples. A hard shudder flowed through her body as Xena pinched the erect nubs.

“Show me what you know Gabrielle.” Xena urged. “Show me everything.”

With strength born of hunger she pulled at the leathers covering the warrior’s body, a smile came to her lips as she heard the tough leather bindings tear. Xena shrugged out of her leather dress, writhing under Gabrielle’s body, until she was naked for her.
Gabrielle’s eyes glowed at the sight of tanned firm skin. She leaned down her breasts brushing across Xena’s. She bit and sucked at Xena’s neck her tongue licking at the sweat that built there.

Gabrielle lowered her mouth taking a tight nipple into her mouth. She held it between her teeth letting her tongue flick across the tip. Xena arched up wanting more, Gabrielle simply pulled her head back, keeping the nipple trapped in her sharp white teeth. Xena’s breath was short, she buried her hands into the soft texture of Gabrielle’s hair, leading her hot mouth to her aching breasts.

“Harder….please.” She gasped as Gabrielle pressed with her tongue, laving all around her sensitive nipples, biting at the underside of her breasts.

‘I could do this forever.’ Gabrielle thought. She drank in the flavor of skin, leather, sweat, a musk that filled her senses. She kept her hands teasingly on Xena’s breasts and moved lower. She tasted Xena everywhere, rubbing her face into pliant flesh, breathing in her scent.

With strong hands she parted the warrior’s thighs, the dark thatch of hair, already glistened with moisture. She buried her tongue again, this time in fragrant wetness. Xena’s hips rose sharply, and she pulled Gabrielle’s tongue harder to her cleft.

Words were lost to Xena, no utterances fled her parted lips, only the feel of Gabrielle’s mouth on her, her hands on her nipples, held any importance.

Gabrielle feasted, her tongue flicked over silken folds, tracing the outline of an erect nub. She teased it, tasted it, never lingered. The sweetest of torture, a small revenge. Xena’s need to climax was overwhelming, her body bowstring tight and every muscle stood out in sharp relief, a sculpture of power and passion. She gripped Gabrielle’s hair guiding her mouth to the center of her need.

“No no, not yet,” Gabrielle panted. “I thought you wanted me to show you everything.”

With deliberate ease she entered Xena. There was no gentleness in her thrusts, they were hard, strong and deep. She lifted the warrior’s hips with every stroke. Xena was awash in ecstasy, her blue eyes opened to watch the small woman nestled between her legs.

Every caress spiraled her up and just when she felt herself beginning to go over, Gabrielle would slow her pace. Angry whimpers choked in her throat and she thrashed her head from side to side, flinging damp hair in wild abandon.

“Gods…please…Gabrielle.” She begged through clenched teeth.

Gabrielle had the warrior at her mercy, a luscious thrill passed through her small frame.

Gabrielle picked up her tempo her mouth once again securely pressed to Xena heated bud. With quick strokes she pushed Xena to the edge, and then with incredible slowness she drew her clit into the warmth of her mouth and sucked on it.

Xena bucked her hips spasmodically, all control tossed aside, she ground her hips tighter against Gabrielle’s mouth. Finally she stilled as great convulsions rocked her body.

She pulled the young woman up to her side and kissed her, tasting her own wetness on Gabrielle’s lips, on her tongue. With a tired sigh she lay back down. “Is that all you know?” She asked after several minutes.

“Oh no my Princess,” Gabrielle smiled slightly. “There are a great many other things I could show you.” Xena shuddered at her heated tones.

“After all I am yours to command.”

Xena looked down at the young woman pressed close to her side. “Perhaps not.” She murmured thoughtfully.
Gabrielle stared hard at the warrior who held her so close. “What do you mean…perhaps not? I am your slave, you do command me.” As much as she tried, a faint quiver of hope rode her words.

Xena did not answer, her liquid gaze taking in all of the young woman’s face. ‘Such lost innocence,’ She wondered sadly. ‘Like my brother.’ She shook her head. Instead of an answer she offered another question.

“If you were free Gabrielle, what would you do with your life?” Gabrielle pondered the question, she had never been asked about her life and her choices.

“I would go to Athens.” She finally answered. Her eyes clouded with fear.

“Athens,” The warrior mused. “Why Athens?”

Gabrielle pulled away from Xena’s tight embrace. With a dignity that touched Xena’s soul she replied. “To go to the Academy of Performing Bards.” She held the cool blue blaze of eyes with her own fiery green.

“A bard….you want to become a bard?” Xena felt a smile tug at her lips.

Gabrielle remained resolute, her expression never changing. “You asked me warrior,” Her eyes carried a mild rebuke. “I have told you my wish.”

Xena nodded at the barely disguised will in Gabrielle’s eyes. “Yes I did ask.” With graceful movements Xena rose from Gabrielle’s side and dressed, she sheathed her sword and hooked her chakram to a small leather strip. She looked down at the young woman who had pleased her so much, whose eyes bore more suffering than anyone at her age should have had to see. She swallowed hard against the words she wanted to say and escaped from her tent without another glance.

Xena strode to the makeshift stables with determined paces. Her men scattered in her wake, afraid of a gaze from icy blue eyes.
She saddled Argo and jumped lightly onto the tall mares back. Xena tugged the reigns and with a quick burst of speed rode off into the woods. She drove Argo hard and the mare responded with equal excitement. Xena felt a peace envelop her as the thrumming of hooves filled her mind.

After an hour of riding she turned Argo back to camp, back to Gabrielle, a decision that surprised her playing through her thoughts. Xena dismounted and tossed the reigns to a young soldier his eyes filled with awe at the tall warrior woman who until now he had only seen from a distance. Xena pulled open the flaps to her tent to find Gabrielle sitting alone a small piece of parchment in her hands.

Gabrielle glanced up at her entrance, her eyes fearful. She quickly rose to her feet and tried to hide the scrap of paper from Xena’s seeking eyes. “What is that?” She asked as she closed the distance between them.

“Nothing my warrior.” Gabrielle lowered her eyes to the ground her hands steadfast behind her back. Xena’s eyes narrowed as she grabbed the young woman by the arm. “I won’t ask again. What do you have behind your back?” Gabrielle winced at the strength in Xena’s grip but refused to cry out, she handed over the paper.

An overwhelming anger filled Xena as she read the few words written a lifetime ago, by a long dead brother whose only mistake was following his beloved sister in the defense of their home. Xena’s eyes flashed cold fire.

“What have you done?” Her voice low and threatening. Gabrielle tried to back away from the warrior but Xena’s grip only tightened on her arm. “Answer me!” Xena shook the young woman with teeth rattling force.

“I only wanted to look in the chest.” Gabrielle murmured, her arm was numb and real fear fluttered in her heart. Xena flung the young woman away and drew her sword pressing the tip against Gabrielle’s smooth throat.

“I should kill you now for disobeying me.” Xena knelt next Gabrielle the sword point never leaving it’s position at her neck. “I told you to leave my brother’s things alone. I was kind to you, and would have given you your freedom.” Xena’s eyes went dead the light all but extinguished. “But no longer. You have betrayed my trust and that I can not…will not forgive.” She stood towering over the young woman her booted feet planted far apart, her expression wintry. “Get up Gabrielle.”

The young woman struggled to her feet and backed far away from the warrior princess. Knowing now the fear and dread she had instilled in her enemies but a slow rage also burned in her soul. Without thought she spoke. “Trust?,” She fired back. “You dare speak to me of trust. You don’t understand the word. You let your own brother die, you turned on your neighbors. Attacking their villages and homes to expand your own army for your own selfish desires.” Xena smiled through the barrage of words, her eyes sheltered, the only show of emotion the rhythmic flexing of her hand on the hilt of her sword.

“You know nothing about me Gabrielle. You don’t know my life, the things I have done or seen.” Xena pulled the woman to her in a fierce embrace her sword hanging loosely by her side. Her eyes burned with intensity. “I would have freed you this day little one, I would have released you and sent you home or to Athens.” She dropped the sword to the ground and stroked her cheek with a callused hand. “You long to be a bard, and so you shall.”

She released Gabrielle a cool smile playing on her lush lips. “You will sing my story little one. You shall be my bard and know my life.” Xena stepped further away from her bard, her lovely head cocked to one side as she closely examined the woman. “Yes I think this will be quite an adventure.” Gabrielle’s breath came in rapid uneven pants. To be so close to freedom, to taste it on her tongue like a lovers kiss, and have it taken away so swiftly was a pain greater than she could bear.

Gabrielle dropped to her knees before the warrior, her eyes imploring. “Forgive me Princess. Release me….” Her head bent, the words tumbled from her mouth a whispered scream. “Please I beg you.” Xena caressed Gabrielle’s hair until the young woman looked up.

“Don’t beg me yet little one.” Xena’s smile never reached her eyes. “The adventure had just begun,” She raised Gabrielle up from her kneeling position until they stood pressed each to the other.

“You will have plenty of time to beg……know it.” Xena lowered her mouth to Gabrielle’s parting soft lips with fevered insistence.

Her hands roamed lower pushing away cloth that sought to impede her touch. Gabrielle gasped responding immediately to the heated touch, the hunger, the passion. Never had she felt this desire. She hated it, only to want it more. Her fingers threaded into Xena’s dark hair pulling the warrior impossibly closer. Her heart beat faster and a slick wetness dampened her thighs. “Yes,” She groaned as she felt Xena’s hands begin to kneed her breasts. A sound of ripping fabric and her chest was bared for the warriors laving tongue and mouth.

Xena’s strong hands pressed her breasts tightly together and her mouth encircled both of her taut nipples. Tongue and teeth working against the sensitive flesh. Whimpered moans came from deep in Gabrielle’s throat. Her hands spasmodically gripping the warrior’s shoulders and arms. Xena reveled in the taste of this woman, this bard, her bard. With urgent strokes she feasted on silky breasts loving the texture of them, the satiny feel of the skin beneath her fingers. Gabrielle pushed the warrior’s head lower down to the moist sexual burning between her legs. Xena gripped Gabrielle’s hands and rose above her.

“Now my little one….now you will learn to beg.”
Gabrielle writhed against the warriors touch, a low whimper escaped from her throat. She gripped the warriors arms convulsively her fingers digging deep into firmly muscled flesh. “I want……” Gabrielle bit her lip, stopping herself from begging for this craving that had consumed her body, her mind. Xena smiled at the need in Gabrielle’s voice, the longing in her eyes. “Oh yes little one you do want me.” The warrior lowered her mouth to the young woman’s body her tongue tracing sensitive skin from the soft underside of breast to the small indention of her belly button. Gabrielle trembled hard at the sensations running through her flesh.

Xena slid her hand between quivering thighs parting them teasingly, fingers grazing across a heated, wet cleft. Gabrielle’s hips rose following the taunting flow of desire.

“Tell me Gabrielle..tell me what you want,” Xena breathed. “What you desire.” Gabrielle arched her back struggling to control her raging needs. Xena continued to fondle her new bard. Her fingers tracing the outline of a swelling clitoris, her teeth gently biting at the tender skin of her stomach and thighs. Gabrielle shuddered as a lone finger circled her opening, taunting it she bucked her hips and uttered a low moan as she forced the probing finger deep inside of her.

“More…” She groaned. Xena slowly removed her finger from the tight wet prison it was buried in and with a quick thrust plunged two fingers inside her young bard.

“Tell me a story sweet,” She whispered. “Tell me a story of passion and betrayal, of love and desire, of pain and loss.” Gabrielle ground her hips hard against the fullness of Xena’s fingers deep inside her. She was incapable of speech, her voice stilled. “Tell me little one.” Xena urged, her strokes harder, her fingers beating a fevered tempo into already throbbing muscles.

Gabrielle was lost in the feel of the warrior inside her, of the scent of the woman who commanded with such power, and touched with such gentleness.

All she wanted was this release that had been building from the moment she heard the warm throaty voice in her ear, had come close to exploding when she touched Xena for the first time, and had reached fruition with the feel of Xena’s callused hand on her skin. All she desired was this warrior, so close yet distant. Another whimper fled her lips and hips rocked frantically. Xena finally pulled away, her fingers slick with the passion of the young woman, she held them to her mouth her tongue licking and tasting all that she longed to bury her face in. Gabrielle screamed in frustration. Xena smiled cruelly and rose from Gabrielle’s side her eyes turning a cold blue.

“Get up Gabrielle.” Xena commanded. The warrior walked to the entrance of her tent her leathers impeccable, her armor in place, her beautiful face impassive. “Get up.” She ordered again. Gabrielle got to her feet, from passion to slave or slave to passion, she battled for the self control that until now had protected her for so long.

“You will sleep with the rest of the slaves little one,” Xena stated as she watched the inner struggle on the young woman’s face.
“You will remain there until I feel you have learned the proper respect for your station in life, and mine.”

Gabrielle stood separate from the warrior that had so quickly become her life and taken soul. Her body trembled with need and a slow wetness spread through her thighs scenting them with a musky bouquet of desire. “You tore my shirt,” She murmured.
“Again.” Xena drew closer inhaling the heady fragrance of lust from Gabrielle’s yearning body.

“My shirt.” She corrected her. “Are you to shy to walk amongst my men Gabrielle?” Xena asked as she trailed rough fingers across Gabrielle’s shoulders. “Surely men…..many men have seen your body,” She chuckled unpleasantly. “Touched your body.”

Gabrielle shivered at the cold aloof tone in the warrior’s voice. Her eyes squeezed shut to block the tears that threatened to spill down her face.

Xena stood behind the young bard, her hands roaming to caress the tender nipples that hardened instantly at her touch. “I don’t think you need to protect your virtue anymore Gabrielle,” She whispered into her ear. “That is a gift long lost.” Xena continued to squeeze at the erect nubs that tickled her palms. Gabrielle leaned her head against Xena’s tall frame. Her breath was short, her limbs weak as she struggled to remain upright. The warrior buried her face into Gabrielle’s soft hair, her mouth opened as she breathed in every subtle change of perfume coming from the young woman’s body. She pulled the bard closer running her hand down over a swell of lean hip to reach the soft nest between Gabrielle’s legs.

Xena fingered the slightly coarse thatch, feeling the wetness that had already darkened the strawberry blonde hair. “Are you shy Gabrielle?” She asked, sliding her fingertip between swollen lips and into warm silky softness.

Gabrielle shuddered, her legs finally giving up their fight to remain standing as she dropped to her knees. Xena followed her down, her own thighs parted as she leaned into the bard. One hand stroking at taut nipples the other buried into the tantalizing, steamy flesh. The only sound a soft moan as Xena’s movements became firmer, slower, more purposeful. Gabrielle spread herself further apart wanting more of the warrior, but refusing to ask, refusing to beg.

Xena smiled at the sight of the young woman’s legs splayed apart for her pleasure, her touch. She kissed Gabrielle’s neck and shoulders. Her tongue flicking, tasting, teasing. Gabrielle felt as if she was melting, her entire body a spreading weakness beneath the warrior’s hand. Xena pressed her leather clad hips tight against Gabrielle’s, her own hunger rising like a tide. She could feel her own wetness seep into her undergarments, if she did not stop now, she would be unable to stop at all. But Gabrielle needed a lesson. With a mighty yell she tore herself away from the bard and climbed to her feet.

Without the support of the warrior’s body behind her Gabrielle fell to the ground, her eyes clouded with interrupted desire. Xena stood over the prone form of the young woman, her slave.

“Get out Gabrielle,” Her voice was low and rough. “Get out now!” Gabrielle got to her feet, she grabbed Xena’s discarded cloak and fled into the cold night, the tears that had threatened to spill all evening finally getting free reign as the ran unheeded from her eyes.

Xena paced like a caged animal, the sexual frustration alone was blinding, but the hungry expression on Gabrielle’s face in the throes of passion completely undid her. She threw herself onto her bed, her hands tearing at the fabric that sought to keep her from her needed release. Her fingers quickly parted wet, hot flesh, finding the source of her pleasure, she stroked urgently her hips beating against her hand with desperate longing.

With hard thrusts she brought herself to a mind numbing release and moisture flooded onto the palm of her hand as her hips continued to twitch and throb.

Eventually Xena rolled onto her back easing her breath back to normal. She rubbed her damp fingers on the rug beneath her and closed her eyes. After several long moments she moved to her side her hand going again to the joining of her thighs her strokes slower more deliberate, images of Gabrielle played through her mind. The feel of soft skin, the low whimpering sounds in her throat. Her fingers picked up their cadence and she slid a finger inside of herself, her muscles contracted around it and she teased herself deeper. Gasping she stroked her clit groaning as it swelled under her caress. “All I need is this.” She panted into her pillow. “Just this…this….” Her climax hit her so hard she barely contained a scream. Keeping her hand securely between her legs she drifted to sleep, visions of the lovely young woman playing in her dreams, a smile on her lips.

Gabrielle stumbled through the camp, the cloak keeping the chill from her bare skin, but unable to warm her thoughts. ‘Damn you Xena,’ She raged. ‘Damn you, damn your touch, damn your eyes.’ She wanted to escape but she knew to well the punishment for a runaway slave. Gabrielle reached the slave quarters and entered the small tent. There were few women in the enclosure and no men, Xena’s army traveled light, with only enough slaves to do the basic work around the camp. Cautious eyes turned to the young woman standing hesitantly at the entrance of the tent. “I’m supposed to sleep here.” She began. An older woman rose from her pallet and approached Gabrielle.

“You are for the Princess.” She said. Gabrielle nodded not trusting her voice. “Why are you here?” The woman continued.

“The Princess ordered me to sleep with the other slaves.” Her voice broke slightly on the words.

The old woman eyed Gabrielle in silence, finally pulling her towards a small fire that had already burnt low. “The Princess is not one of whims little one.” The woman began.

“DO NOT call me that!” Gabrielle lashed out. The old woman simply clucked her tongue and smiled. “Already has you does she?” Gabrielle bent her head tears again swimming in her eyes. “My name is Hera.”

She held up a hand at Gabrielle’s startled expression. “No, not the Goddess. My mother had a wicked sense of humor, I’m still paying for it.” She smiled ruefully. “The Princess banished you so soon,” Hera sighed. “Tomorrow there will be Hades to pay.” Gabrielle cast questioning eyes to the old woman.

“Why?” Hera shook her head. “Get some rest child you will need it.” Gabrielle followed Hera to a empty pallet.

“My name is Gabrielle.” She said. Hera turned to her eyes filled with sadness.

“I don’t want to know your name child.” Gabrielle pulled the cloak closer around her shoulders as Hera absently patted her arm.
“Be strong,” Hera looked into the dying embers of the fire. “Perhaps it won’t be…..” She trailed off, tracing a tight knot of old scars down her own arm. She returned her eyes to Gabrielle’s. “You must be strong she respects that. Do not cower, or beg…do what she demands of you.” Her fingers returned to scars on her body. “You may just survive.” She finished.

The morning was even colder. Xena awoke early was dressed and standing in the middle of her camp just before dawn. Her men watched her carefully, noting the whip that now hung lightly from her hand. Her eyes stayed focused on the slave tent willing Gabrielle to rise, to come to her, to be taught a lesson in respect and discipline. As if in answer the tent flap parted and Gabrielle walked out into the breaking sunlight wearing the same cloak she left Xena’s tent in the previous night.

Gabrielle saw the warrior standing whip in hand, oblivious to the cold and looks from her men, eyes only on Gabrielle. The young woman forced her steps to be even and controlled as she approached the warrior and she never faltered in her stride. Xena nodded with grudging respect to the bard a strength of purpose and poise rare in one so young. They were toe to toe.

Gabrielle cocking her head slightly to look into the azure blue of the warlords. Xena returned the scrutiny her lips curled in disdain. “Who are you?” She asked. Her men gathered to watch, standing far enough away as not to anger her further. Gabrielle answered, her voice level. “My name is Gabrielle.”

Xena flicked the whip to bite into the dirt at Gabrielle’s feet. “What are you?” Xena purred. “I am your,” Gabrielle choked on the word. “Slave.”

Xena grinned watching the woman struggle with the phrase. “So difficult Gabrielle?” She stalked around the woman standing before her. “You have been a slave before, you will be a slave again,” She stopped in front of Gabrielle and lifted the handle of the whip to rub against her cheek. “Why so hard to say the word now?”

Gabrielle swallowed against the angry retort. Hera’s words filtering in her mind. “Not hard.” She spit out. Xena turned Gabrielle around and removed the cloak from her body. Gabrielle stood in the cold bare from the waist up. Xena wrapped the whip around Gabrielle’s waist and pulled her close. “Prove it to me little one.” Xena leaned down her lips lightly brushing Gabrielle’s “Prove to me that you are mine.”
I had a little sorrow born of a little sin, I found a room all damp with gloom and shut us all within; and, “Little sorrow, weep,” said I, “And little sin pray God to die, And I upon the floor will lie and think how bad I’ve been!” Edna St. Vincent Millay.
Prove it to me.” Xena urged as she tightened the whip around Gabrielle’s slim waist and pulled her closer. Gabrielle trembled against the cold armor that caressed her upper body like a lover. “A simple act of devotion from slave to mistress little one,” Xena purred. “That is all I am asking of you.” Without thought Gabrielle’s hand flashed out and connected solidly with the warrior’s cheek. Xena barely moved, her face impassive.

“Interesting choice.” With one hand she held onto the whip, the other she buried deep into Gabrielle’s hair and bent her head back to an almost painful arch. “Wrong….but interesting nonetheless.”

“I was thinking something more along these lines.” Xena lowered her mouth to Gabrielle’s, parting soft lips eagerly with her tongue. Xena uttered a low moan as Gabrielle began to respond to the hungry kiss. “Yes…” She breathed into the young woman’s open mouth. All the fire and passion from the previous evening came back to her in a rush of sensation so great she shook from the thought of it. With effort Xena pulled away her eyes glittered with desire.

“Prove to me that you are mine.” Gabrielle swallowed convulsively, wanting to surrender, but just as determined to fight.

Xena watched silently as Gabrielle struggled with her own thoughts, her own demons. “Say it Gabrielle.” She said quietly. The young woman looked into Xena’s face with haunted eyes. In that instant Xena knew she had won but the victory was tainted with a bitter sense of defeat, she had won but at what cost?

“I am your slave Princess. You are my mistress. I am yours to command and to do with what you will.” Gabrielle answered flatly and cast her eyes to the ground. She forgot the whip, the men and the cold. The only thing that burned in her mind now was the brief look of triumph on the beautiful warrior’s face. A light touch at her chin brought her head up to look again into the eyes that now ruled her every breath, her very existence.

“Was that so hard Gabrielle? Did it cost so much to say those simple words?” She released Gabrielle from her hold, retrieved her whip and covered the young woman with the cloak. She faced her men her voice wintry cold, eyes hard.

“I am sure there are things to be done before we leave tomorrow.” She watched carefully as her men shuffled and eyed each other. Aison stared at them a troubled expression on his face.

“What is it Aison?” Xena asked her voice low. Aison strode forward his booted feet caused dirt to rise in his wake.

“My Princess,” He said as he dipped his head. “I am concerned about the men.” Xena’s voice dropped even lower.

“What about them?” Aison waved a dismissive hand in Gabrielle’s direction. “This slag is causing you to lose sight of our goals, the men see this.

Xena stalked to him her eyes blazing. “The men see what I tell them to see.” She said fiercely. Aison took a small step back from the warrior.

“I speak the truth my Princess. You give her special treatment. She stays with you, not with the other slaves where she belongs.
She disobeyed you and yet you do not punish her as you would another slave.”

“It is my decision how to punish and whom. Not theirs,” Xena’s eyes narrowed to angry slits. “And certainly not yours.” The warrior was close enough to smell the man’s fear. “We leave in the morning,” She gripped his shoulder until he winced in pain. “It is up to you to make sure the men are ready and properly motivated. I would hate to lose another soldier to nothing less than stupidity.” Xena smiled as her eyes flashed. “Do you understand Aison?”

He nodded as Xena removed her hand grateful for that the feeling was returning to his arm. “Of course Princess it will be done.”
With no further comment he spun on his heel and strode away. “Well my little one,” Xena asked dryly. “What ever am I to do with you now?” Gabrielle shivered against the cold and the growing hunger that flamed through her.

Xena bent close her breath a warm caress across chilled skin, the heat of her body an all encompassing fever. Gabrielle gazed into sky blue eyes and said the words that had been on her tongue from the day the warrior rode into her life.

“Take me.” She said simply, the raw words sending a rush of craving so strong through the warrior she stumbled slightly as she grasped Gabrielle’s arm.

“Yes.” The warrior whispered. Xena led Gabrielle back to her tent ignoring the accusing look of her second in command and the mistrustful stares of her own men. She would deal with them later she promised herself, but now other priorities held her attention.

Xena swept aside the flaps with an impatient hand as Gabrielle followed her inside. The warrior seated herself on the bed and turned an electric gaze to the young woman standing before her.

“Undress for me little one.” Xena murmured. Gabrielle’s fingers reached for the knot at her throat quickly undoing the silken threads. The cloak dropped to her feet as she stepped closer to Xena.

Xena’s eyes traveled up the bard’s body taking in the very essence of this young woman who had so quickly insinuated her way into her life. Gabrielle felt her nipples harden in the cold air and the smile on Xena’s face proved to her that the warrior had not missed the fact either. “Your not finished Gabrielle.” Xena reminded her softly.

Gabrielle removed her skirt and let it fall to the floor. “Very nice.” Xena commented lightly as her gaze swept over the soft contours of the lithe body. Gabrielle stood naked and helpless before Xena as the warrior reclined on the bed.

“Come here.” Xena whispered roughly. Gabrielle settled her herself onto Xena’s lean frame the hard leather and armor biting into tender flesh she flinched but once before Xena’s strong hands claimed her.

“I will make you mine.” Xena said as her fingers stroked and soothed. “No other shall make you feel the way I will.” Xena pulled Gabrielle tighter her arms wrapped around the young woman’s slender waist. “You will want no other after me, little one.” She pressed her lips to Gabrielle’s throat tasting the furious pulse that beat there. “This is no idle boast,” Her teeth bit gently and then more forcefully as Gabrielle groaned from the pleasure of it. “It is a promise.”

Gabrielle parted her legs and rested herself on Xena’s muscular thigh. The warrior shuddered at the feel of the warm slick moisture dampening her leg, she pressed upwards and was rewarded by a deep moan from the young woman above her.

Xena allowed Gabrielle a few moments of enjoyment before she rolled her over onto her back and straddled her hips. Gabrielle whimpered slightly but said nothing more, her body however was not as silent. Xena brushed her fingertips over tender nipples watching as they hardened even more under her touch.

Gabrielle strained against the light touch of Xena’s fingers, wanting, needing a firmer hand. A slow sexy smile crossed Xena’s features and she moved to lick a breast. Her tongue feathered a wet trail around a taut nipple never touching the center. Gabrielle arched her back her fingers gripping the blankets beneath her. Xena pulled back, her eyes a flickering of heat. “No little one,” She pushed Gabrielle back to the bed and positioned her hands above her head. “Don’t move until I say so.” She deftly tied her whip around Gabrielle’s wrists and secured it. Gabrielle’s eyes closed in surrender as the warrior’s warm mouth returned to her breasts.
With gentle nips and a hungry tongue Xena stroked Gabrielle’s body. She kissed her closed eyes, the sides of her mouth. Xena kissed her lips with passionate restraint her tongue full of promise. She kissed her throat and shoulders. Strong fingers stroked the inside of Gabrielle’s arms trailing upwards until they tangled in burnished red gold hair. “Say it Gabrielle.” Xena muttered her mouth warm on soft skin. Gabrielle opened her eyes and gazed into Xena’s. Passion, hunger, desire all reflected back in equal abandon.

“Take me Xena.” The warrior groaned loudly and slid two fingers deep into welcoming wetness. Gabrielle moved her hips and gasped as Xena began a slow steady rhythm.

Xena lowered her mouth to Gabrielle’s clitoris tasting her. She flicked her tongue over swelling flesh as her fingers picked up in tempo. Gabrielle struggled against the whip binding her wrists. “Let me free Xena.” She pleaded. Xena stopped her fingers, her tongue. With feline grace she traveled up Gabrielle’s body, leather and armor causing incredible friction in the young woman. Xena leaned over and released Gabrielle’s wrists, taking them in her hands she gently kissed the reddened skin.

“Take off your armor.” Gabrielle whispered seductively. With practiced hands Xena removed her armor and her leathers, boots and gauntlets soon followed. Gabrielle opened her arms and Xena lay within their warm embrace. Xena kissed her throat teasing her heated skin with her tongue. She moved lower finally capturing a hard nipple in her mouth. She bit gently as she worked her tongue around the sensitive nub. Gabrielle hands drifted to sift through the ebony silk of Xena’s hair enjoying the softness and feel of it on her fingers. Xena’s mouth traveled lower until she again was at the apex of Gabrielle’s thighs. She parted them and slid her fingers back into velvet warmth. Gabrielle sighed loudly and spread her legs further apart wanting the touch of her Xena’s tongue as well. Xena looked into Gabrielle’s eyes with burning passion.

“Touch yourself Gabrielle,” The young woman was startled at the suggestion her eyebrows raised in a silent question. “I want to watch you.” Xena’s voice was low and throaty. Gabrielle moved her fingers over her clit while Xena continued to stroke in and out of her. Xena placed Gabrielle’s leg between her thighs allowing her own pleasure to build with a slow pace of her own.

“So good.” Xena groaned. She watched with hungry eyes as Gabrielle continued to please herself. Her own release so close she knew it was a matter of moments. She picked up the rhythm of her fingers inside the young woman to match the quickened movements of her hips. Gabrielle stroked herself harder her eyes tightly closed against the sensations washing through her. Xena felt Gabrielle tighten around her fingers and her hips stilled their motion. A great shuddering claimed the young woman’s body as her release rocked through her.

Xena held fast, her fingers working slightly to maximize her pleasure. Gabrielle gripped Xena in a bruising hold and collapsed wordlessly to the bed. Her body trembling from the intensity. Xena continued to move against Gabrielle’s thigh, her own orgasm flowing through her until she too shuddered and dropped to lay on top of Gabrielle. Her fingers remained inside the bard for several minutes before she slowly removed them creating a new round of vibrations to lay claim to Gabrielle.

Xena moveD until she lay next to Gabrielle and pulled her into a tight embrace. “Are you mine Gabrielle?” Gabrielle closed her eyes, a small smile on her lips.

“I am yours mistress,” She paused and kissed the warrior with fiery passion. “As much as you are mine.” Xena stared at the young woman that lay so close to her for a long time before finally drifting off to sleep.
“Into this I wander, it’s morning that I dread. Another day of knowing of the
path I fear to tread. Oh, into the sea of waking dreams I follow without
pride. Nothing stands between us here and I won’t be denied.” Possession by
Sarah McLachlan.
Gabrielle stirred in her sleep, the feel of sticky wetness rousing her from her dreams. She tried to roll away from the offending moisture only to have a strong hand press down on her shoulder pinning her on her stomach. “Don’t.” Xena whispered into her ear. The warrior dipped her fingers into the bowl of honey and traced another trail of thick liquid down the slim line of
Gabrielle’s spine until she ended at the swell of her hips. She replaced her fingers with the warmth of her mouth lapping up the sweet nectar as she followed the path she had already created with her hands.

Gabrielle moaned as Xena splayed her hands across her buttocks massaging firm flesh as her teeth and lips nibbled at the base of her spine. Xena slid her honey coated fingers between Gabrielle’s legs and teased her clit. With slow languid strokes she brought the bard to flushed excitement. She removed her fingers and continued to lick and tongue her way down the supple body beneath her.

Past slender thighs and well muscled calves. Xena kissed the sole of each foot and gently tasted slim ankles. The warrior raised herself higher, her lean body gliding up Gabrielle’s honey slicked back her nipples hardening more with every brush of skin, her own desire flaming higher with every rasping breath from the bard. She nestled against Gabrielle, her mouth on the back of the young woman’s neck teasing with soft bites. Gabrielle groaned louder her hips undulating with growing need. Xena smiled slightly and dipped her fingers again into the bowl, her hand dripping with the sticky fluid.

She stroked apart Gabrielle’s thighs strumming her hand along swelling flesh. Gabrielle gasped biting her lip against the sensation of slick fingers riding her, creating an even more urgent longing. Xena gripped her lover tightly wrapping her arm around a slender waist, she balanced her weight on her knees and pulled Gabrielle up against her.

She slid her fingers deeper into the bard, her passion soaked entrance hot and slippery. Xena sank her teeth into
Gabrielle’s tender shoulder relishing the feel of fevered hips pulsating onher own. Xena rocked her own hips in tempo with Gabrielle’s, her strong fingers burying themselves deeper still and finally gliding into velvety heat.

She sighed in pleasure as Gabrielle tightened around her fingers, creating yet another wave of hunger that resonated through her body. Xena moved her hand higher cupping a soft breast in her palm, her thumb tracing a slow circle round a tight nipple. Gabrielle began to shudder, her orgasm shattering her like waves on a house of sand. Xena moved swiftly, wanting to sustain Gabrielle’s passionate release and send her even higher.

She quickly withdrew her fingers and with powerful ease turned Gabrielle around until they were face to face, breast to breast.
Xena leaned once more into the bowl her fingers now wet with more than honey and covered each nipple with the sweet nectar.
Xena rested her hands on her thighs and lowered her mouth to each tip, her tongue the only physical contact she allowed the trembling woman before her. Gradually she licked at the heavy sweetness, the honey not quite enough to conceal the salty taste of passion. Gabrielle arched forward wanting more, Xena simply drew back until the woman settled once more on her haunches.
Again she returned to her nipples, her rough tongue causing already ripe nubs to expand more.

Gabrielle whimpered low in her throat, the request on her lips, the refusal to beg burnt into her soul. She buried her hands into sable richness guiding the teasing lips to take her nipples into her mouth, to bite and suckle them. To make her feel as of her skin was leaving her body and her soul had taken flight. Xena grinned and with that gesture claimed the bard as her own. She inhaled every nuance from the young woman’s body, every flavor of flesh, every change of breath. She memorized her movements, her taste, her feel. She buried her mouth between her breasts and gripped them, rubbing the tender mounds over her cheeks. Unable to have enough of the slave who had just as quickly captured her.

She kissed the underside of each breast trailing her tongue around sensitive sides. She moved to her throat, so soft, and kissed her there. She sucked on her earlobe and traced the shell like outline. She was inflamed. ‘More,’ Her body beckoned. She would not be denied. Xena reached for the bowl of honey and gently pushed Gabrielle onto her back. She tipped the bowl and the rest of the honey created a lush stream falling over erect nipples and firm stomach, into the gentle indentation of belly button to the joining of hips until the liquid flowed into curly hair, disappearing into Gabrielle’s moist cleft. Xena tossed the bowl aside and it clattered hard against her brothers beloved chest. A fleeting look of pain crossed the warrior’s face and was gone.

Xena, with the same thoroughness that she controlled her men, ravished thebard. Her mouth was everywhere.

She tasted each breast savoring their richness, she moved lower drinking in the honey and the sweat. She plunged her tongue deeply into Gabrielle’s belly button feeling the tremor that passed through her body like a breeze. She stroked and kissed, drank and teased until she was where she longed to be. Her strong hands separated Gabrielle’s thighs as her eyes feasting on her delicate opening. Gabrielle whispered incoherently her hips rising unbidden to the warrior’s lips. Xena slid a long finger through swollen flesh and entered her, after several moments she added another finger until finally filling Gabrielle with a third. Xena leaned forward her lips grazing coarse hair, her tongue delving into waiting wetness. Honey and musk mixed together producing an intoxicating delight. She wrapped her arms around Gabrielle’s legs pulling them tight against her face, her mouth at once urgent and gentle. Her blood beating to the same rhythm as Gabrielle’s, her only desire to please the woman she held with such strength and tenderness.

“Now..” was all Gabrielle managed to utter before her body became taut and her breath stilled. With a great shuttering sigh Gabrielle went limp, her arms weakly pulling Xena from her center to the shelter of her embrace.

They lay in silence, warrior and slave, each in wonder of the other. “What about you?” Gabrielle asked tentatively eyes shadowed. “What about me?” Xena answered with a low throaty chuckle.

“You know….” Xena raised herself onto her elbow, pale blue eyes seeking emerald warmth. “Tell me.” Gabrielle felt a slow blush cross her cheeks, the first in so long she did not recognize it immediately as embarrassment. “What do you want me to do for you?” Gabrielle finally answered.

Xena touched the swell of her lips with the tip of her finger. “Kiss me here.” Gabrielle put her hands on firm shoulders and placed a gentle kiss where Xena had directed. “And here.” Xena pointed to the rise of her collarbone. Gabrielle did as instructed her mouth lingering ever so slightly.

“Nice.” Xena whispered, her hands tightly clenched. “Here.” She nodded her head in the direction of her breasts. Gabrielle bent her tongue repeating the tantalizing torture she had experienced at the warrior’s mouth. Xena groaned deep in her chest her control slipping away with every feather touch. Gabrielle pulled away and gazed hard into Xena’s face.

“Say it Xena.” Her eyes glittered with passion, her voice rough with desire. In a span of a heartbeat the conqueror became the vanquished.

“Take me Gabrielle.” It was done. Gabrielle returned to aching breasts her tongue flicking the nipples until they were red with want. Her fingers explored the sharp rises and gentle slopes of a battle hardened body.

Extracting heated words of pleasure and promise with each caress. “In me…please…can you be…” Xena cried in frustration. Gabrielle smiled in triumph and gave into the warrior. Slim fingers filled her as Xena tossed her head, her hips battering hard against the even strokes. “Just…” She whispered. She continued the punishing tempo a fine sheen of sweat soaked her body. She was ready, so ready a moment a word and she would go over. Gabrielle bent close her nipples tickling on Xena’s own. “Come for me my warrior.” She said her voice sultry. Xena did as was demanded and arched hard, finally convulsing into Gabrielle’s hand.

Xena stood tall and silent, her armor shined in the early light, her cape billowed behind her whipping in the wind.

Aison strode to his leader’s side. Xena watched his approach with narrowed eyes. “All is prepared Princess. The men are ready to leave on your command.” Xena turned her head and looked at her men armored and hardened. Ready to die at her word. Aison shifted uncomfortably waiting for Xena to give the order to leave.

“The eastern villages are ripe for the taking Princess but we should not delay to long, word of our army may reach them in time to mount a defense.” Xena remained silent her eyes roving over her army trying to remember where a simple act of resistance had turned to attacking and destroying villages not unlike her own.

Soft words uttered hours earlier played through her mind. ‘You can stop all this Xena, become the woman you were before.’ Words whispered in the heat ofpassion or release.

‘Words’…Xena mused, mean nothing. Xena shook her head and buried the random thought. She was no longer that woman, never would be again. All that is past, she could no more return to it than she could cut off her arm. Aison gazed worriedly at the warrior.

“Princess?” Xena felt Gabrielle by her side before she saw her. A lithe arm snaked around her waist and a small hand rested lightly on her hip. Xena cast a smile down to the young woman by her side and turned to Aison.

“Give the order to ride to Athens.” Gabrielle started at Xena’s side at the mention of the bejeweled city.

Aison looked horrified. “Princess,” He said in a strangled voice. “You are wanted there, they will hang you before we have a chance to attack.”

Xena gave Aison a withering glare. “I am wanted in many places Aison. Athens is just another city.” Her eyes took on a icy hardness. “I don’t recall asking for you permission,” She smiled bitterly. “Or your opinion. Give the order.” A young soldier no more than Gabrielle’s age led Argo to Xena’s side.

The warrior gave one last glance at her men, so ready to let her lead them…….even into death.
“All people are wicked…..and they deserve everything they get….” Callisto.
The Warrior Princess lay silent as she watched the approaching scouting party her eyes narrow. Aison to her left with Gabrielle close to her right.

“They know we are here Princess.” Aison hissed through clenched teeth. Xena silenced him with a look and returned her attention to the men gathered in the meadow well below their hiding place. It had taken five long days to arrive within the Athenian border and she had allowed her men a much needed rest while she and Aison scouted ahead. Her second had argued vehemently against the slave accompanying them, Xena simply lifted Gabrielle into Argo’s saddle and mounted quickly behind her. “Aison,” She replied smoothly. “Try to remember who is in command here.” With a silent curse Aison climbed aboard his own horse and followed the retreating form of his leader.

They lay now on a outcropping of rocks, Xena with a reassuring hand on Gabrielle’s waist. The show of affection not lost on Aison who shifted slightly away from the women his smile twisted.

“Princess,” He whispered quietly. “I thought this was a scouting party not a tryst.” Xena turned to him her lips curled with amusement no hint of which touched her eyes.

“Aison if this were a tryst,” She murmured into his ear. “You would be last person I would invite.” Gabrielle jerked slightly and Xena swung her head to where the young woman was looking. A tall soldier had ridden into the meadow golden armor glinting in the sun. The rider dismounted and removed the long cloak and helm that had protected him from the cold. Aison sucked in a tight breath when the face beneath the golden helmet was revealed.

“Polius.” Xena breathed. Gabrielle cast a quick glance to the two warriors by her side. Xena’s expression was unreadable. Aison, however, bore a look that she had only seen in her own reflection. Fear.

“Who is Polius?” Gabrielle questioned quietly.

“No one of importance Gabrielle.” Xena waved her silent as she watched the commander lead his men into a series of quick drills.

“But..” Aison started. Xena quelled him with a look.

“Aison if this is too much for you,” She asked contemptuously. “Leave.” Aison dropped his eyes and remained silent.

They watched for several hours. Xena never moving, if she was uncomfortable she never showed it. Aison himself rose several times, sometimes to pace, more often to glare at the scouting party. Gabrielle attempted to mimic the warrior’s stillness and remained close to her lovers side. During the long hours of waiting she envisioned herself the Warrior Princess measuring an enemy with cool detachment. Xena finally rose, brushing dirt and moist grass from her thighs and leathers.

“Aison,” The warrior began. “Gather the men and prepare them,” She paused a cold look in her eyes. “For anything.”
Aison nodded once and mounted his horse. Xena watched him ride away until there was only a dust in his wake.

“Mistress?” Gabrielle quietly asked. Xena turned to the young woman a rare smile upon her face.

“Yes Gabrielle.” Her voice was warm and inviting.

“You can not possibly think you can defeat the entire Athenian army.” As quickly as the words were spoken she lowered her head in submission. A battle roughened hand cupped her chin and pulled her sea green eyes to meet sapphire blue.

“Gabrielle,” Her name a whispered breath across a soft cheek. “I have no intention of taking on an entire army.” The warrior lowered lush lips and kissed where her breath had caressed. “Just one man.” Her strong fingers turned the young bard’s head revealing her throat, Xena moved her lips there and felt the strong pulse beat against her tongue. A light touch, a small graze of fingers and already she could feel the passion build.

Gabrielle felt the rush of desire flood through her, she was vulnerable to the warrior, as if her eyes could see to her very core.
“You want me sweet?” Xena asked, easily reading her thoughts. Gabrielle managed a small nod and lifted her head higher her breath short. “Tell me how much.” The warrior urged and took Gabrielle’s hands in hers to pull her close.

“So much,” Gabrielle murmured. “More than anything I have ever felt or ever wanted.” Gabrielle stepped away from Xena’s hold, her eyes smoky passion, her voice raw craving. “You are power and passion my Mistress. Beautiful and fearsome.” Gabrielle moved back into Xena’s arms her golden head coming to rest on a leather clad shoulder. “I want you my warrior,” Gabrielle allowed her hand to stroke a well muscled thigh. “Now.”

Xena smiled and lowered the young woman to the soft grass. “Anything,” She whispered heatedly into Gabrielle’s ear. “I would do anything for you. Just ask little one.” Xena twined her long fingers into delicate strands of hair waiting for the response that she knew would escape from her lovers delicate mouth.

Finally Gabrielle raised her lips, touching them to Xena’s chin her tongue tracing its chiseled outline. “Love me Mistress.” Gabrielle said simply.

Xena took Gabrielle’s head in her hands and touched her lips lightly with her own. She then kissed the corners of her mouth, her eyelids, her cheeks.

“Talk to me sweet,” Xena breathed into the warmth of the young woman’s throat. “Tell me how you feel, what you want, want you need.”

Gabrielle gasped as Xena’s strong white teeth bit gently into the tender skin. Her hands grasped Xena shoulders and pulled her tighter to her body.

“Yes,” Gabrielle sighed. Xena continued to nip at her neck. The warrior moved lower removing the shirt with a quick tug, she stroked creamy breasts with her lips, taking first one then the other into the moistness of her mouth teeth and tongue teasing hardening nipples. A low moan escaped from the young woman’s lips and her hips arched high off the cool grass. “Please Princess…now…” Gabrielle whimpered quietly.

“Not yet little one,” Xena said as she nuzzled at her breasts. “I want to play first.” Gabrielle dropped her head back, her eyes closed, her body open to sensation.

Xena returned her mouth to her lover’s breasts pressing them gently together to take both nipples into the warmth of her mouth. Gabrielle groaned louder, her hips grinding into the soft loam.

“I like…that….” She panted. Xena lifted the short skirt that covered the lower half of the young woman and slid her thigh between Gabrielle’s legs feeling the dampness that had already moistened her inner thighs. “I can tell.” She chuckled softly.

“I want…” Gabrielle stopped speaking, a slow blush staining her cheeks. “Tell me.” Xena urged, her voice low and sultry.
Gabrielle looked deeply into azure eyes seeing raw passion reflected back into her own green.

“I want to feel you inside me.” Xena’s clear eyes clouded with desire. “Yes sweet,” She slid her fingers between her own thigh and Gabrielle’s wetness. “As you command.” With gentle prodding she teased her entrance, inserting the tip of her finger and sighed deeply when she felt Gabrielle’s inner muscles tighten around it. With her thumb she stroked her swollen clit spreading even more musky wetness over the hard nub.

Gabrielle lay as still as she could, wanting the feeling to last, yet anxious for the powerful climax she knew would soon arrive. Slowly and then with growing determination Xena stroked her lover, feeling the sweat rise in her body and her own craving build with every touch of heated skin.

“In me…please…Mistress…I need…. to feel you inside…me.” Xena slid two fingers inside her lover. Gabrielle’s back arched as if struck and a low shuddering moan fell from her lips. “Yes…….” Xena leaned into her lovers body, her fingers an unhurried fullness, her tongue licking at a tender nipple. Gabrielle’s hips picked up a more fevered pace, her mouth open and breath coming in short pants. “Now sweet?” Xena asked breathlessly.

“Yes…goddess..please….hard….” The young woman gasped. With powerful thrusts she brought Gabrielle to the brink of release pausing only long enough to move her mouth to the center of her desire and enclose her swollen clit between her lips and began to suck at the tender bud.

Gabrielle bucked her hips, a molten surge of hunger rising to claim her body and soul. She gripped Xena’s hair tightly in her hands as hard shudders raged through her small frame. After several moments Gabrielle gently released Xena’s head and pulled the warrior to rest at her side. Xena rained light kisses over Gabrielle face and neck and lay the bard across her body, the young woman’s head tucked beneath her chin her fair face resting on cold bronze armor.

“Never…” Gabrielle finally whispered.

“Never?” Xena questioned.

“Never,” The young woman continued. “I have never felt this before…this passion, this overwhelming desire.” She lifted her head to study the warrior woman, her green eyes absorbing every detail of the beautiful face beneath her, gently allowing her fingers to trace where her eyes had already touched. “You just need to look at me and I melt in your gaze. Touch me and my skin feels burned. Make love to me and it is enough for a thousand lifetimes,” She gazed deeply into azure eyes. “Until the next time you look at me and the passion starts again. It scares me.” She finished resting her fingertips against Xena’s full lips.

Xena took Gabrielle’s face tenderly between her hands. Her mouth a whisper against the young woman’s lips, a fleeting touch, her tongue velvet soft. It was over in a moment and lasted an eternity. All that the warlord dared not say was in that one gentle kiss, all that she felt, all that she longed for, all that she was, there for Gabrielle to grasp and hold to her heart. Xena pulled away and stood, her expressive blue eyes once again hidden. She reached down and lifted Gabrielle to her feet silently handing her the blouse she had removed earlier. The young woman dressed quickly fearful that she had angered the warrior, but the gentleness of the last kiss belayed the fear. She touched her lips with her fingertips, if only to feel the warmth of Xena’s mouth once again.

“Mistress I…” Gabrielle blurted out. Crimson colored her fair cheeks as Gabrielle stumbled over an apology. “Forgive me..” Xena held up a hand a small smile upon her lips.

“We’ll talk later Gabrielle.” The warrior’s hands grazed across a pale cheek. With a sharp whistle she called Argo to her side. Xena mounted quickly and held her arm out for Gabrielle to climb behind her. The young woman remained firmly on the ground, gentle words tumbling from her mouth.

“I need to tell you I…” Xena closed her eyes to Gabrielle.

“No.” Xena murmured painfully, she grasped Gabrielle’s arm pulling her so close the leather of the saddle bit into tender flesh.
“You tell me nothing little one,” The warrior stressed. “I tell you. Never forget that slave.” Gabrielle blinked against the tears that had sprung unbidden to her eyes. Without another word she grasped Xena’s arm and settled behind her Mistress.

Xena pulled Gabrielle’s arms around her waist and quickly broke Argo into a gallop. As they approached her encampment filtered words found their way to the warrior’s sensitive ears. With swift jerk she pulled Argo to a halt.

“What is it?” Gabrielle whispered. “Get off now.” Xena ordered. Gabrielle paused only for a moment and leapt from the tall horse.

Xena turned in her saddle her fingertips against Gabrielle’s face. “Listen to me,” Xena said urgently. “You are now free.” Gabrielle stood bathed in the only words she had dreamed of for so long, to be spoken by the one woman she never wanted to say them..

“No.” She said simply.

Xena leaned deeper into her saddle, her words a harsh whisper, “Gabrielle I have been betrayed. Aison has conspired with Polius. I am riding into a death sentence.”

“Flee now then.” She demanded. Xena smiled, a simple act of defiance. “Not quiet yet Gabrielle. I have led this army,” Her smile broadened into a grin. “And will again. Leave now while you have the chance.”

Gabrielle lingered her fingers tightly entwined into the leather saddle. “I am yours,” She said simply.
“Where ever you go so shall I. You are my Mistress.”

Xena sighed. “If you follow me I will not be able to protect you.” Gabrielle shrugged. “If I don’t follow you I am lost.”

Xena gazed long and hard into the eyes of her slave, her lover. With a small nod she straightened in her saddle. “As you wish my sweet.” Xena spurred Argo on, right into the middle if her army, Gabrielle clutching at her boot, her eyes solely on the woman who had stolen her heart, her soul.

“So Princess,” Aison started. “Finally returning with your whore.” Xena’s lips curled slightly as she dismounted Argo.

“Whore Aison?” She mocked. “Is that not what you have to pay for?” Her second grimaced at her tone, his sword ready in his hand.

“Yes whore.” He paced closer to the warrior. “A whore, who has led you from your goals, strayed you from you purpose. Our purpose.” Xena stepped back, her hands loose at her sides.

“Our purpose Aison is for me to decide not you.” She strode tall and imposing to his side. “You know I gave you credit once,”
Xena carefully eyed the soldiers gathered around, easily noting Polius’s position and his reinforcements. “I believed you were clever, not the scum sucking opportunist you are.”

“If you wanted command Aison,” She taunted. “All you had to do was defeat me.” Her smile lit the day and was as cold as night.
“Do you challenge me Aison?” Her second’s eyes searched her own and lifted at the arrival of another.

“I challenge you Warrior Princess.” A deep voice called from behind her. She spun on her heel “Polius,” She purred. “The scar is not as bad as I thought.” He fingered the long wound that wrapped around his jaw to his throat. “No Princess,” He replied. “I survived quiet nicely. I should thank you for sparing my life.” Xena drew her sword. “I spare nothing that I do not redeem later.”

She drew closer, the tip of her sword trailing across his chest. “Do truly challenge me Polius?” Xena whispered. “Do you think you can defeat me? Best me? Conquer me?”

“No Princess,” He stated. “You will best me every time.” He nodded slightly to his left. “However I believe I have an edge..” A another soldier dragged Gabrielle by her hair shoving her to the ground. “Surrender Princess,” Polius advised. “Or she dies.” Xena tossed her sable hair and laughed deeply. “Kill her.”
“Justice has but one form, evil has many.”
Moses Ben Jacob Meir Ibn Ezra

“Kill her,” Xena repeated coldly, her eyes blue ice. “Go on, she is nothing more than a slave. An object to be bought and sold.”
Polius hesitated, the harsh words stunning him. “What’s wrong Polius?” Xena purred. “A change of heart?” She drew closer to him, her sword tip down. “Don’t tell me you’re getting weak. I’ve always respected your strength, your ambition,” She grinned wickedly. “However misguided.”

“If you expect surrender,” Her smile hardened. “You’ll be disappointed. I surrender to no man.” Aison grasped Gabrielle’s hair pulling her so hard towards him that she lay supine at his feet. “I’ll kill her.” He growled low in his throat. Xena tossed him a fleeting glance her focus on the golden clad warrior before her.

“What are you waiting for Aison,” She drawled. “Permission?” Her electric blue eyes burned into Polius’s rich hazel. “Give your dog his orders Polius and be done with it,” She slid up against him her fingers trailing over gilded armor to rest upon his cheek, stroking the hard knotted scar that ran down his face. “We could entertain ourselves with more enjoyable pleasures.”

“I will give the order Princess,” He answered flatly, shrugging her hand from his face. “But not today.” He turned to Aison. “Help her up.” Xena’s former commander grimaced at Polius but complied his fingers digging into Gabrielle’s tender flesh. “We’re going to have fun later slag.” He whispered harshly into her ear. “Or at least one of us will.” He shoved her towards Xena. Gabrielle stumbled and would have fallen into the dirt if the warrior had not caught her in her arms. Gabrielle looked up expecting to see the cold expression of a warlord but was instead surprised by a gentle touch and the small smile on Xena’s beautiful face. “I did tell you to go Gabrielle.” She chided the young woman as she steadied her on her feet.

“Yes Mistress.” Gabrielle barely controlled the wave of relief that flowed through when Xena wrapped her arm around her waist and pulled her close. The warrior watched Polius carefully now, her sword still drawn. “What’s the plan?” Gabrielle murmured.
Xena smiled as she watched three of her own men approach their arms heavy with shackles. “Their plan is to take me to Athens in chains,” She said chuckling. “My plan is slightly different.” Polius stood directly in front of Xena as another soldier handed him a frayed parchment.

“By order of the King you are hereby under arrest for your crimes against the Kingdom of Athens and the surrounding provinces.” He nodded to the soldiers laden with chains.

Xena stepped back her sword raised. “Gabrielle whatever happens stay out of the way.” Gabrielle nodded once her eyes huge. With a bloodcurdling yell Xena hurled herself towards Polius. She sent the men that would have bound her deftly to the ground with a strong blow across their faces. She stalked closer to her prey, her eyes glittered with barely concealed excitement. “You may have the orders Polius,” She grinned. “But you will never have the skill.”

Polius drew his own sword and warily watched as Xena came closer. “Princess you can not hope to defeat an army.” Xena paused in her strides, her lovely face cocked slightly to one side.

“I’ve heard that before,” She laughed mirthlessly. “I don’t need to defeat an army Polius. Just you.” Her sword sang through the air and connected solidly with his own driving him back a step. “You’re a little weaker than when we last met Polius.” She taunted flicking her sword tip across his armored chest. “A little slower.” The soldier barely had time to block her next blow, his arm vibrating from the strength of the impact. “A little awkward.” Her booted foot swept out and knocked his legs from under him. Polius fell hard to the ground his sword sliding uselessly away from his clutching fingers.

The Warrior Princess towered over him a beautiful smile lighting her eyes, her sword at his throat. “A little dead.” She added calmly. The fight was so swift neither army had time to react, they stood carefully watching the exchange between the two combatants. Xena pressed the sword harder into his neck causing a thin trickle of blood to flow staining his golden armor. “So what now Polius?” She asked softly. “Do I kill you here and be done with you.” She straightened and pulled the sword away from him. “Or do you allow me to leave with the men that are still loyal to me and have the chance to meet again?” Polius dipped his head. “The Warrior Princess is free to go as is any man still willing to follow her.” His deep voice carried through the clearing.

Xena stepped back and sheathed her sword. She offered her arm to the man she had defeated and helped him to his feet. “You have always been a man of your word Polius,” Her lips twisted into a sardonic smile. “For your sake I hope it’s still true.” She turned her back to the soldier and strode towards her army.

“NO!” A harsh yell broke through the silence. Xena spun on her heel her sword already in her hand. “No,” Aison repeated grabbing Gabrielle by the throat and dragging her to him. “This army is mine.” Xena’s eyebrow arched slightly, her voice low.

“Defeat me then Aison.” He laughed wildly.

“I have a better idea. How about I take your slag here and throw her to the men.” He tightened his grip ignoring Gabrielle’s nails as they dug at his fingers in a futile attempt to escape. “I don’t think she will be as appealing to you after a few hours with them.”

“Don’t be stupid Aison.” Xena muttered as she drew closer to her second.

“Stop right there Princess.” Aison warned as he leaned in and roughly kissed the struggling young woman. “Hmmm nice. I can see why you have such a fondness for this one.” He pulled her hair to his face and inhaled. “She’s sweet,” Dirty fingers cupped her soft breast. “Very sweet.”

Xena’s eyes turned cold as her expression hardened to stone. “Let her go Aison,” She said flatly. “And I may let you live.”
Aison grinned and pulled Gabrielle tighter to himself. “I don’t think so Princess. Most of the men are loyal to me. The ones that aren’t will change their opinion soon enough. They watched as you drifted from our goals and become enraptured with this whore.”

“It’s me they want to lead them, not some woman who can’t even control her own slaves.” He finished with a laugh. Xena stood even taller.

“I wonder how Polius knew of our arrival Aison?” She mused quietly. “Or how many men they would need to capture us.” Xena’s former army turned curious eyes to their commander. “It’s almost as if someone had sent a message.” She sheathed her sword and crossed her arms over her chest. “I’m telling you for the last time Aison,” She moved within feet of him. “Release her or die.”

Aison grinned. “When I am done Princess not a moment before.” He wrapped his arm around Gabrielle’s waist and began to drag her away.

Xena’s fingers moved with blinding speed as her chakram flew through the air, bouncing off a tree before deeply imbedding itself into Aison’s face. He tottered once and fell heavily to the ground. Gabrielle scrambled away from the dead man her hand rubbing against her bruised throat. The warrior stalked over and yanked the bloody weapon from his ruined face. “I would have to say you’re done.” She murmured dryly.

Polius shook his head in disgust and mounted his horse. “Well Princess I gave you my word, you and what men wish to follow you are free to go,” He paused, his fingers again tracing the gnarled wound that marred his face and neck.

“Next time perhaps you will bear a scar.” Xena locked eyes with the soldier.

“Perhaps I already do Polius.” She answered quietly. He leaned down from his saddle.

“I believe you do Princess,” He motioned to his men to assemble. “I believe you do.” Polius straightened in his saddle. “Until we meet again.” He spurred his mount into a gallop and melted into the surrounding woods, his men following closely behind.

Xena looked tiredly at her men. “Any man who wants to leave,” She called out. “Leave now.” Several men stirred but remained in the clearing. She glanced at Gabrielle her smooth neck already darkening with bruises from Aison’s grip. Her eyes reflecting sadness and anger. “Know this, if you remain in my army,” She continued, her voice low and threatening. “You touch her with anything but respect, you die. If you look at her with anything but regard, you die. Treat her as you would me,” She smiled. “Or you die.”

The warrior pulled Gabrielle into the shelter of her arms. “Any problems with that?” Her gaze touched on each of her men as the silence lengthened “Good.” She purred low in her throat. She whistled for Argo and mounted quickly drawing Gabrielle up behind her. She smiled again as she felt soft arms wrap around her waist. She urged Argo into a trot and led her army from the clearing.

They finally stopped hours later. Gabrielle had fallen asleep against the warrior’s back. Xena held her hand through out the ride, unable to release the smaller woman’s fingers and lose the warmth of her touch. With softly spoken commands her army made camp. She was not at all surprised when she noted that there were fewer of them. She stayed astride her horse with Gabrielle safely nestled behind her and waited until the camp was complete before dismounting and gently lowering Gabrielle into her arms to carry her into their makeshift tent.

She carefully placed Gabrielle onto the blankets and began to remove her clothing, moving her onto her stomach to ease off her skirt. She wondered again at her softness, her skin like velvet as she allowed her fingers to roam over the curves and valleys of the younger woman. She felt Gabrielle start beneath her touch. “Easy,” She whispered into her lover’s ear. “You’re safe.”

Gabrielle rolled onto her back her arms opening for an embrace. Xena lowered her body onto Gabrielle’s fitting easily into each other. They lay together as if they always had, listening to each other breathe, the rise and fall of the bodies synchronized.

“Mistress?” Gabrielle finally broke the quiet. “Hmmm?” Xena questioned. Gabrielle struggled for the right words. “Am I really…” She paused her heart beating wildly within her chest. “Free?”

Xena raised herself onto her elbows, her ebony hair flowing over Gabrielle’s face and throat. “My sweet little bard,” She smiled, her voice so soft Gabrielle had to strain to hear it. “You have always been free,” She kissed Gabrielle on the lips, her tongue tracing their tender outline. “In your heart, in your soul, in your spirit.” Her mouth moved lower soothing the ugly bruises that covered her neck. “Now you are free in body.” She took Gabrielle’s face into her hands tenderly stroked back her long hair. “Yes my sweet you are free.”

Gabrielle struggled to rise, her face glowing with joy. Xena hid the pain in her eyes and shifted to allow Gabrielle to move from the bed. “Free.” She exalted. “I’m free.” She repeated the words, their sweetness flowing like honey from her lips. She turned to the warrior her face radiant. “I can leave?” Xena nodded not trusting her own voice. Gabrielle grinned. “Free.” She whispered to herself. She opened the tent flap and gazed at the stars as if for the first time. Possibilities that had never entered her imagination now danced through her head. The simple word tumbled over and over in mind.

‘Free.’ She closed the flap and noticed for the first time her nudity. Instead of blushing she returned to the warrior, her warrior. “I have the right to choose,” She spoke softly. “To decide what to do with my life.”

Xena remained motionless, her eyes hidden. Gabrielle reached out trailing a fingertip down the warrior’s arm to her fingers and entwined them with hers.

“I choose to stay with you.” She said simply. Xena had no words. She pulled Gabrielle to lay atop her, naked flesh trembling against cold armor and leather.

“Since you have chosen your path little one,” She murmured quietly. “What else do you choose?” Gabrielle crawled up Xena’s prone form her breasts teasingly close to the warrior’s lips. “You.” With the softly spoken word she lowered herself to Xena’s waiting mouth. “Yes…..” She hissed as Xena sucked hard at her puckered skin.

Xena’s fingers roved over Gabrielle’s muscled back, loving the tremor of flesh as she moved lower to grasp her hips tightly in her hands. Her mouth was a constant pleasure on Gabrielle’s breasts savoring their softness, their sweetness. Gently she drew one nipple deeply into her mouth her teeth grazing against the tender nub. Gabrielle groaned and pulled Xena closer to her body. Wanting, needing a stronger touch.

“Harder.” Gabrielle begged. The warrior opened her mouth wider taking in even more succulent skin. Gabrielle parted her legs to rest against Xena’s upraised thigh. “What do you want Mistress?” Gabrielle panted. “Tell me what you need, you want, you desire.”

Xena leaned away from Gabrielle’s breasts and stood easily lifting her weight. “This,” She moaned, as she entered her. “Just this….always this…only this…” Her voice trailed off as the feel of Gabrielle consumed her thoughts, her mind, her soul. Her fingers deep within the moist wetness of her lover as Gabrielle hung suspended, supported only by her lovers strength, her legs wrapped lightly around the warrior’s calves as her hips thrust hard against Xena’s fingers.

“So good…..you’re so good…” Gabrielle whispered into Xena’s ear as she caressed her tongue into the warmth of her neck. “Yes….” Xena muttered her breath short, her strokes harder, faster than before. “Come for me sweet. I need to feel you, hear you.” She pleaded her voice ragged. Gabrielle gasped at the need in the warrior’s voice. A cry escaped her lips at once primal and passionate as her entire body racked with release and she melted into her lover’s body. Xena lay back down onto the bed pulling Gabrielle again to rest atop her.

They were silent for a long time, neither wanting to disrupt the gentleness that was now their haven. Xena breathed in the smell and essence of this small woman who had taken such control of her life. “I want you,” She whispered. “I need you,” She paused moving away from Gabrielle, taking her hands in her own. “I love you.” Before Gabrielle could answer Xena raised a hand.
“Wait.” She swallowed and smiled weakly. “I never meant it to happen. Never imagined I would feel it. Never thought I would want it.” She shook her head sadly. “Never expected it to happen like this.” Gabrielle pulled Xena to her and held her head to her breast. Xena sighed and held her closer, fearful that Gabrielle would be stolen away from her, like her youth, her brother, her dreams.

“It’s been so long since love has touched my heart,” Gabrielle said softly. “I’m not sure I would know how to accept such a gift.” She ran her fingers through Xena’s dark hair comforting her as she would a child.

“But I want to try.” Xena raised her face a painfully hopeful expression clear on her features. Gabrielle moved above her, to look deeply into the beautiful eyes that had captured her soul. “I’m not leaving you my Mistress.” Gabrielle cupped the warrior’s chin in her hand tracing the outline of her lips with her thumb.

Xena parted her lips and Gabrielle slipped her thumb inside the warm of her mouth. Xena pulled slowly at her lovers finger trapping it with her teeth her tongue flicking across it’s sensitive surface. Gabrielle already felt the desire build, her eyes slid shut as she let herself be taken by her warrior. Xena released Gabrielle’s finger and moved lower feathering kisses down the young woman’s body. Gabrielle braced herself with her hands relishing the feel of Xena’s tongue and mouth playing across her skin, she pushed herself higher her nipples already hard and aching for her lover’s touch.

“Do you want me little one?” Xena asked softly. “Yes please Mistress…I want you.” Gabrielle groaned as Xena captured a nipple in her mouth and teased it with her tongue, her fingers sliding deeply between swollen lips.

“Oh yes….” Gabrielle whimpered as her hips jerked spasmodically. “There..right there…” Xena pressed harder against Gabrielle’s clit the small muscle already quivering under her touch. “Be inside me…..now….Gods….” Sweat dripped from Gabrielle’s face as her body trembled with need. Xena moved lower kissing Gabrielle’s flat stomach, her hips before finally resting just beneath her lush opening. “Spread wider for me.” She urged harshly. “I want to look at you.”

Gabrielle opened her legs wider feeling Xena tenderly part her lips. Her eyes squeezed shut at the first touch of Xena’s tongue on her. So soft, gentle a fleeting sensation and it was gone, to be replaced by her lover’s breath against her skin. Her heart stopped when Xena entered her with her tongue, a matching warmth and wetness. Xena stroked deeply inside Gabrielle, drinking in her body, her hunger. Her fingers gripped her hips pulling her tighter to her mouth.

“Yes…yes…yes….” Gabrielle muttered her arms barely holding her weight. Xena replaced her tongue with two elegant fingers, filling her lover and sucked hard at Gabrielle’s clit. Gabrielle threw her head back and cried out again as she climaxed, her muscles gripping Xena’s fingers.

Gabrielle collapsed onto Xena’s body, her breath short and labored. The warrior began to slowly remove her fingers from Gabrielle. “No,” The young woman whispered. “Stay in me. Feel me. Take me again.” The raw words flooded Xena with desire.
She gently shifted Gabrielle’s body never losing contact with her. She took Gabrielle’s hand a placed it between her own legs.
“Together.” She implored.

“Together.” Gabrielle answered her fingers sliding between passion soaked underclothes to touch throbbing flesh. “Yes…” Xena urged, her hips writhing as her own fingers slid deeper inside her lover. “Kiss me.” Gabrielle murmured. Xena lowered her mouth letting the young woman taste herself on her lips, her tongue eagerly entwining with her lovers. Their bodies moved together one fluid motion of love and desire. Xena broke the kiss first and intently gazed into Gabrielle’s eyes.

“I need to see you…” She rocked harder against the young woman. Gabrielle moaned once, her hips rising to meet Xena’s thrusting fingers.

“Now…together….now.” Xena felt herself go over and at once was lost in the answering release in Gabrielle’s eyes. She crested hard as wave after wave thundered through her body. Gabrielle’s climax was stronger than she had ever experienced, the power of it causing her to cry out yet again.

Xena lay against Gabrielle’s body, her armor and leather soaked with sweat and something sweeter. Silence filled the small tent as their breathing slowly returned to normal.

“Mistress?” Gabrielle questioned quietly. Xena slowly opened her eyes and touched the young woman’s face with her fingertips.

“Yes Gabrielle.” The warrior shifted again letting her bard curl around her long body.

“If I am going to travel with a warlord, I should learn how to defend myself.” She reasoned.

“That’s true.” Xena agreed. “What weapon would you like to learn to use?” Gabrielle sat up lost in thought.

“A sword is to messy.” She began. Xena nodded letting her fingers trail down her lover’s body. “A knife..” Gabrielle continued to muse. “Well you have to be pretty close for that to work.” Xena slowly ran her tongue down Gabrielle’s spine grinning as she shuddered.

“Again true.” Gabrielle sighed as Xena’s hands circled her waist and cupped her breasts.

“Your chakram?” She asked. “Years of practice Gabrielle.” She answered into her skin.

Gabrielle trembled as Xena gently pinched her nipples. “Battleaxe?” Gabrielle breathed.

“Too heavy.” Xena nudged her lover forward her tongue stroking lower.

“Whip?” Xena chuckled. “That’s my job.” The warrior kissed her shoulders.

“Hmmmm what’s left?” Gabrielle muttered, her hands covering Xena’s own as
they continued to fondle her breasts. “Stick.” Xena responded. Gabrielle tilted her head, her blonde hair bathing Xena’s face.
“Stick?” Xena wrapped her arms tightly around Gabrielle’s waist and kissed her cheek.

“Well we warlords prefer to call it a staff.” Gabrielle leaned back into Xena’s embrace.

“Staff,” She closed her eyes as Xena made love to her body and soothed her soul. “I like it.”

The End

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