by Della Street
A variation on the Remember Nothing theme . . .
Gabrielle lay under the covers, trying not to betray her mixed feelings. The amazing woman who had freed her was preparing for bed. Gabrielle watched as she took off her dress and slipped into a thigh-length sleeping shirt, then sat down to brush her long, dark hair, still damp from her bath. The woman had looked at Gabrielle only once since she entered the room, a quick glance before heading for the dresser.
“I’m sorry about the arrangements.” Gabrielle was startled by the woman’s voice. “We’ll have a place for you by tomorrow night.” Xena looked over at her, then turned away again.
Gabrielle shifted onto her back and looked up at the ceiling. What an interesting woman. Fiery and strong one moment, shy and reserved the next. Gabrielle’s suspicious nature nagged at her and she turned her head to study her savior again. What did this woman want with her? She said she reminded her of her best friend, but was Gabrielle supposed to believe she had risked her own life because of some vague resemblance? Her eyes narrowed.
The woman rose and walked over to the bed. She seemed to hesitate, then lifted the edge of the covers, and slipped into bed beside her. They lay side by side, both staring up at the ceiling. Gabrielle felt as if they were waiting for something, and she suspected she knew what it was. She had been through this before.
A long arm reached across her chest, and Gabrielle recoiled instinctively. The woman drew back. “What’s the matter?”
“Did I scare you?”
“No,” Gabrielle said. “I expected it. I know how it works.”
“How what works?”
The blonde woman remained silent, and she saw Xena’s eyes widen. “I wasn’t . . . If you’re thinking . . ..” Xena shook her head and said solemnly, “I would never touch you against your will, Gabrielle.”
“What were you doing?”
“I was going to light the candle.” Xena pointed at the bedside table. “I thought you might want some light, since you don’t know your way around.”
A moment passed, and Gabrielle spoke. “Sorry. I’m just used to . . ..”
“You’re not a slave anymore,” Xena said, “and I’m not your master. I’m your friend.”
Gabrielle turned her head and met remarkable blue eyes. She found herself experiencing the same feeling that had come over her in the dungeon, when she saw Xena grab a knife out of the air and hurl it cleanly through the rope holding her cage aloft. Gabrielle had pressed against the side of her own prison, straining for a better view of Xena as she lowered the cage to the ground. She was exciting, everything about her.
When she had entered the main hall behind Xena and the two men, it had seemed natural for Gabrielle to follow Xena. Gabrielle had watched, captivated, as the dark-haired woman dispatched one assailant after another, barely noticing when one of them flew directly past her. The woman was incredible. She was also the most beautiful woman Gabrielle had ever seen.
She realized she was still staring at Xena, who had turned onto her side and now faced away from her. She thought back to Xena’s words a moment ago. Against your will. Xena had said she wouldn’t touch her against her will. Did that mean she would touch her if …
Xena could feel the younger woman’s gaze on her. This wasn’t the Gabrielle she had spent the last year of her life with, but she was still Gabrielle. The woman Xena loved.
This was sheer torture, lying inches away from that desirable body and unable to caress it. She’s still Gabrielle; Xena mused, so she would respond to a woman’s touch–to Xena’s touch. The warrior squeezed her eyes tightly, trying to shut out images of Gabrielle under her coaxing hands. These kinds of thoughts were pointless; this Gabrielle barely knew her.
“Would you like a massage?”
Xena’s eyes flew open, and her heart began racing. Don’t read too much into it, she cautioned herself, while she wrestled with her decision. She wanted Gabrielle’s touch, desperately. But why torment herself further?
Gabrielle thought for a moment that Xena hadn’t heard her. Maybe she was already asleep. Gabrielle felt a mixture of relief and disappointment. She didn’t have the nerve to ask again, and was starting to roll over when she heard a soft voice. “That’d be nice.”
Gabrielle’s breath caught. Careful, she thought. She didn’t even know if Xena was interested in her that way. If she blew it, she’d be all alone again. Two days ago, she wouldn’t have cared. Now, it mattered more than anything.
She tried to appear calm as she slid over next to Xena and arced a leg across the other woman’s back, straddling her. She tentatively reached her hands down to Xena’s shoulders, and began to gently stroke them. Xena was surprisingly tense; she really did need a massage.
Gabrielle worked her way down to Xena’s upper arms. She felt the other woman’s muscles relaxing under her, but the process was having the opposite effect on her own body. She felt flushed, her temperature rising with every passing moment. She wondered if Xena could feel the frantic pounding of her heart. She hoped she could.
The smooth hands made their way onto Xena’s back. Gabrielle swallowed, then spoke quietly. “This would feel better if you took your nightshirt off.” She was impressed at the way her voice sounded almost normal.
The throbbing of Xena’s heart, which had been steadily building while Gabrielle ministered to her, shot forcefully through the rest of her body, and she turned her face into a pillow to hide the sharp increase in her breathing. She wanted this woman with every fiber of her being. She shouldn’t do it. But she had already let it go too far. If it got too bad, she would just make an excuse to leave.
She raised herself up on her elbows, and slowly tugged the shirt up over her head. She paused; had Gabrielle made a sound? She felt Gabrielle’s hands on her bare back, and suppressed a moan. This was a big mistake. She couldn’t take much more.
Gabrielle felt the slight movement of the woman under her hands, and bit her lip at the implication. She continued the soothing motions of her hands, gliding them with agonizing slowness down to Xena’s lower back. She hesitated for a moment, then slid her palms over Xena’s hips.
This time there was no mistaking Xena’s reaction. She groaned, her shoulders lifting off the bed. Gabrielle squeezed the firm mounds of flesh, then leaned down, and planted a kiss between Xena’s shoulder blades. Xena uttered another sensuous noise, and Gabrielle trailed her lips across the older woman’s back.
“Gabrielle . . ..” Xena twisted around and grasped the smaller woman, turning her onto her back. Xena gazed down at the beautiful face and lowered herself for a kiss. Not the same as when they had first kissed in their other world, but unmistakably Gabrielle.
The notion inspired Xena. She knew every inch of Gabrielle’s body, knew what she liked, what made her cry out . . .. She would make Gabrielle forget past cruelties and the harshness of her captivity. For now, Xena wanted her to remember only the joy of their union. She smiled. Of their reunion.
She kissed Gabrielle again, her tongue searching out the other woman’s with gentle insistence. After a few minutes, she gripped Gabrielle’s gown with her fingers, pulling up on it. They broke the kiss to allow her to raise the gown over Gabrielle’s head, and then the younger woman watched for Xena’s reaction.
Xena looked down at the scarred flesh, her heart breaking. She kissed Gabrielle’s shoulder, noticing yet another scar lower on her chest. In this life, her own skin was unsullied; it was Gabrielle’s body that bore the marks of a violent existence. ‘I’m sorry,’ she started to say, but held back the words. She didn’t want Gabrielle to think the scars made her anything less than beautiful. Nothing could.
She leaned into Gabrielle and pressed her lips against the pulse in the tender throat. Her mouth worked slowly up Gabrielle’s neck, nibbling lightly on Gabrielle’s earlobe, then flicking her tongue inside. Gabrielle gasped with surprise, but soon closed her eyes, quivering at the flood of sensations Xena was giving her.
Eager hands grazed Gabrielle’s stomach and edged around her side, craving as much of the familiar body as they could reach. Xena lowered her head and circled Gabrielle’s breast with her tongue. Her other hand came up and clasped the breast, cupping it as she brought her lips to the tip. She sucked gently on the nipple, running her tongue across it, taking the whole breast into her mouth as passion overtook her.
“Xena . . ..”
A noise came from Xena’s throat. Her name breathed in the same urgent tone . . .. This was her Gabrielle.
She looked down to see Gabrielle’s hips moving on the bed, and ran her hand over the flat abdomen. Gabrielle parted her legs, whimpering as Xena slid her hand between them and pressed two fingers into her warmth. Xena stroked her leisurely, thrusting her tongue into her mouth as she felt Gabrielle’s excitement mounting. Suddenly, Gabrielle pulled her face away, her arm tightening around Xena’s back, hips thrusting forcefully against Xena’s hand. She emitted a sharp cry, clutching Xena’s neck against her.
After a moment, her grip loosened, and she ran her hand down Xena’s arm. She started to speak, but Xena rolled onto her and covered her lips, savoring the feel of soft tongues sliding against each other, long minutes passing seamlessly.
She lowered her mouth to Gabrielle’s breasts, a small hand pressing against the back of her head as she nuzzled them. She trailed her lips over to Gabrielle’s side, then nipped at Gabrielle’s hip bone with her teeth. Gabrielle reacted, as Xena knew she would, and Xena sank her teeth into the bone.
She pressed the tip of her middle finger against Gabrielle, circling gently. Gabrielle spread her legs further apart, wordlessly asking . . ..
Xena slid her finger inside. Moments later, a second finger joined it, working in and out as Xena thrust into her. She felt Gabrielle’s hands grip her shoulders, and lust swelled through her as she remembered what it was like to feel those hands on the back of her head. She lowered her body, nearly overwhelmed with anticipation.
She drew her fingers out and pressed her mouth into Gabrielle’s heat at the same moment. She eased her tongue inside and lapped slowly at the moist flesh, closing her eyes in exhilaration as Gabrielle’s exclamations grew louder. She brought her hand back up and worked two fingers into the warmth, their motions in sync with her tongue. Soon she felt what she had wanted, Gabrielle’s hands gripping her hair, her thighs spread wide apart.
Gabrielle felt as if she had been waiting all her life for this moment, and she had. She had never imagined anything could feel like this. Her arousal continued to build as her hands wildly caressed silky black hair.
Gradually, Gabrielle’s mind registered that Xena was making a noise, and she willed her breathing to calm for a moment. She heard it clearly then, a continuous hum-moan as Xena consumed her. Xena was enjoying herself. Really enjoying herself. The realization sent electricity through her, and she surged into Xena, powerful contractions jolting her body.
Xena watched the waves overtake her lover for the hundredth time and the first time. She sighed contentedly, pressing her lips lightly into blonde curly hair. She pulled herself up and drew Gabrielle into her arms; the scars on the younger woman’s skin a jarring reminder that this was not her Gabrielle.
Green eyes met hers, and then Gabrielle nestled against her shoulder. Xena brushed aside a strand of blonde hair and kissed her forehead tenderly. “Yes, you are,” she whispered. She looked down, but Gabrielle had not heard her. Her exhausted lover lay quietly, eyes closed, sound asleep.
Xena shifted on the bed, her body still feeling the effects of their heated lovemaking. She smiled wryly to herself. Her plan to drive Gabrielle crazy had been a little too successful.
* * * * *
Gabrielle opened her eyes, feeling soft skin beneath her arm. Memories from the night before came flooding back to her, Xena pleasing her in ways she hadn’t known was possible. Then . . . .
Oh gods. She sat up abruptly and looked down at Xena; whose blue eyes were watching her.
“I’m sorry.” Gabrielle backed away quickly from her.
“Hey . . ..” Xena reached out a hand, wincing at the panic in her lover’s eyes. “It’s all right.”
The younger woman shook her head. “I–”
Xena pressed her index finger against Gabrielle’s lips. “It’s all right,” she said again.
“You fell asleep. I consider it a compliment.” She smiled; hoping that Gabrielle would someday stop fearing her.
Gabrielle looked at her for a long moment, then kissed Xena’s finger, running her tongue up its length. Xena stirred, and Gabrielle moved to Xena’s middle finger, taking it into her mouth, sliding it in and out.
Xena’s hips moved on the bed, her breath coming slow and steady as her desire grew. Gabrielle moved on top of her and lowered herself into softness. Xena’s hand came up beneath blonde hair, the other circling her back as Gabrielle kissed her eagerly.
Both women turned toward the sound. Xena’s brother Lyceus stood motionless, one step inside the curtain, gaping at them.
An awkward silence passed. Xena pulled the sheet up over the two of them and waited.
After a moment, her brother recovered. “What are you doing?”
Xena did not reply. She was quite certain Lyceus knew what she was doing.
“You’re–” He raised a hand to his head. “With a girl?”
She remained silent. Again, he already knew the answer.
“You don’t even know her!”
“I know her,” Xena said. “I’ve loved her from the moment I first saw her.”
Gabrielle turned her head and stared down at Xena.
“Is that what this whole thing has been about? You just wanted to get her into your bed?”
Xena fixed him with a cold stare. “You owe me better than that, Lyceus.”
“What about Maphias?”
“That’s between him and me.”
“If you’re trying to say this is none of my business, Xena, you’re dead wrong,” he said. “Maphias is my best friend, and you’re my sister. I don’t know what’s come over you. You’re not yourself.”
His eyes strayed to the younger woman still lying on top of Xena, tucked under his sister’s protective arm. She was so beautiful. He had imagined her lying with him in his own bed, loving him–not his sister. He turned and walked out of the room.
With a sigh, Xena slid out from beneath her lover.
“I’m sorry,” Gabrielle said. She didn’t know what else to say.
“It’s not your fault,” Xena said, slipping into her dress and running a brush through her hair. She turned toward the bed. “I don’t regret any of it.” She met Gabrielle’s eyes. “Do you?”
Xena smiled, and finished dressing. “I’m afraid you’ll be on your own this morning. I’ll have to see to the inn. Will you be all right?”
Gabrielle nodded, and watched the amazing woman walk across the bedroom floor and through the curtain.
* * * * *
Xena found her brother in the store room. She leaned against the door sill, hands behind her back, and waited for him to acknowledge her presence.
Lyceus glanced at her, then returned to counting stock.
“I love her, Lyceus. You should be happy for me.”
“You’ve known her two days. I’d call it something else.”
“I’ve known her–” Xena closed her eyes for a moment. “I feel as though I’ve known her a long time; my whole life. Sometimes you just know you’re destined to be with someone, Lyceus.” She waited, but he did not look at her. “I’ve never felt that way about Maphias,” she continued. “He’s a good man, but we weren’t meant to be together. Why do you think we never married?”
“Something always came up.”
She nodded. “That’s right. For eleven years,” she said pointedly. “I’ve been waiting for something, Lyceus, and when I saw Gabrielle I knew what it was.”
“Does she feel the same way?”
Xena looked at the floor. “I don’t know.”
“Don’t make light of my feelings, Lyceus. I love her, and I pray that she’ll stay with me. Frankly, if she doesn’t, I don’t know what I’ll do.” Her voice choked on the last words, and she shook her head, angry at the loss of control.
She turned and started from the room, but felt a hand on her arm. “Hey. I’m sorry.” Lyceus looked into his sister’s eyes apologetically. “I am happy for you. I’m just . . ..” He shrugged. “Jealous,” he admitted. “She’s beautiful. I–”
Xena laid her hand on his shoulder. “There are plenty of beautiful women out there, Lyceus. Half the women in this village would come running if you held out your hand.” She smirked. “Quite a few of them have already, as I recall.” Lyceus laughed, and they grinned at each other, walking out of the store room together.
* * * * *
Gabrielle stepped cautiously into the dining room, feeling a little bolder when she saw Xena behind the counter. She looked around curiously, taking in her surroundings, then sat on a bench near a couple of local women.
One of the women spoke to her, and Gabrielle flinched. Xena wanted to run to her, to comfort her, but she held back. As much as it hurt, Gabrielle would have to learn for herself.
Gabrielle responded nervously to the woman’s question. The woman spoke again, and after a few minutes of conversation, Gabrielle seemed to relax, her stance more natural.
Xena’s eyes returned frequently to the bench, wandering down the slim form resting on it. Suddenly Gabrielle laughed, and Xena froze. “I’m taking a lunch break,” she said, dropping her rag on the counter. She strode over and took the blonde woman’s hand, Lyceus’ eyes following them as she led Gabrielle out of the room.
She pulled Gabrielle through the curtain, lifting the smaller woman and tossing her gently onto the bed. “I can’t take it anymore,” she said huskily. Gabrielle’s eyes widened. “Take off your clothes.”
Xena stripped off her dress, then climbed into bed and pressed against her lover’s naked body. Her thigh parted the legs beneath her as she kissed Gabrielle hungrily. Xena felt her passion rising and slid her arms under Gabrielle, pulling the younger woman harder against her. Suddenly, she stopped. “I’m sorry,” she said, pulling back. “I’m being too rough.”
“No. I know you won’t hurt me.”
“Never.” Xena kissed Gabrielle’s cheek, and then Gabrielle moved her face and covered Xena’s lips with her own.
After a moment, Gabrielle rolled over, turning Xena onto her back. Xena’s thighs fell open, and Gabrielle groaned at the sight of her urgent, arching back. She remembered the feel of Xena’s lips against her, and wanted to share the incredible sensation.
She kissed her way down Xena’s stomach to the dark triangle cresting the long legs. Xena moaned, her head moving slowly from side to side, driving Gabrielle’s own excitement. She lowered herself further, and tasted the delicious flavor of her lover’s passion. She searched out Xena’s desire with her tongue, murmuring in her concentration.
Within seconds, Xena’s hips rose from the bed and she jerked forward, hands clutching at Gabrielle’s hair as she shuddered violently. Finally, she lay back, her hands now lightly caressing, as if to make up for their earlier fierceness.
The younger woman lay her head on Xena’s stomach, directly above the dark thatch. It had happened too quickly; she wanted more of Xena, wanted to savor her longer. “I want to do that to you again,” she said.
Xena smiled, her breath calming. So much like her Gabrielle. “Did you enjoy it?” she asked.
“Did it make you wet?”
Gabrielle stirred. “Yes.”
She slid her hand between her legs and drew a finger through her wetness. She brought her hand up and trailed it across Xena’s breast. Xena met her gaze, then lowered her head, licking the moisture from her nipple.
Gabrielle closed her eyes and slid a leg across Xena’s thigh. Xena watched through heavy-lidded eyes as Gabrielle began to move her hips back and forth.
Xena raised her leg slightly off the bed, flexing it, listening to low grunts as Gabrielle thrust against the firm muscles, her noises sending fire through Xena again. Suddenly Gabrielle stiffened, gasping, and with a few final, passionate thrusts, release flowed through her body.
Breath still ragged; she brought her mouth to Xena’s breasts, kissing them with abandon. A few minutes later, she plunged her mouth into the heat between Xena’s legs. Still feeling Gabrielle’s warmth on her thigh, still hearing her electrifying cries, Xena felt her desire build rapidly, and within moments her body quaked, a crescendo of pleasure washing over her.
“Gabrielle, please stay with me,” she said, her inner thoughts spilling out with overwhelming emotion. She closed her eyes, castigating herself for blurting it out.
She felt Gabrielle’s head move against her thigh, but no sound came from the younger woman. Xena wished she could take back the words. “I’m sorry,” she said hastily, hoping to forestall an outright rejection. “I know it’s too soon.” She hoped that was the only reason for Gabrielle’s hesitation.
The words fell like stones upon Gabrielle, who already felt paralyzed. Someone wanted her. Not just someone, but a beautiful, exciting, gentle woman who knew what she was and wanted her anyway. She closed her eyes, sadly concluding now that this was only a dream, a cruel dream that she would awaken from, the illusion of happiness beaten out of her.
She drew herself up and lay her head on Xena’s shoulder. “I’ll stay with you as long as you want me,” she said. She would enjoy this illusion as long as she could.
* * * * *
Xena picked up the counter rag, smiling at the world.
“You must have had a nice lunch.”
“Very nice,” she said. She picked up a wine bottle and wiped the side. “I’m planning on a nice dinner, too.” She grinned. “And maybe a midnight snack.”
Lyceus frowned at her affectionately. “Haven’t you ever heard of moderation?”
“Hey, that is moderation.” She grinned again, and began to sort fruit into a basket, humming happily.
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