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Negotiations pt 2

by Gin


Disclaimer: Most of the characters depicted in this story belong
to the people at MCA/Universal, however Micha and Karis are
mine. It was written for enjoyment for myself and the readers and is not
intended for profit.

Sex: This story contains scenes of two women in love in
intimate situations but there is nothing graphic. Kissing,
hugging and such. You know No Big Whoop. Still, if this
offends you, or if it is illegal at your age in the place you
live, please don't read my story. There are plenty of other
stories to choose from.

Violence: It is fairly tame through the whole story UNTIL the
end then someone says something nasty about Gabrielle and The
Conquerer well sort of freaks out on him (graphic guts and stuff)
consider yourself warned.

BIG THANKS: The story Gabrielle tells the children is based on
'The Babysitter' by Wordwarior. "The Babysitter" is (c)copyright
1997 by All Rights Reserved.

To the Goddess of Spelling I offer my humblest apologies if I
have offended her in anyway.
The Goddess of Grammar, however, can Bite Me!

Special thanks to Kym and Ken for Beta Reading so quickly. The
suggestions really helped.

Feed Back: Yes please.

Xena closed her eyes and prepared to let the pleasant voice wash
over her. She chuckled when she heard Gabrielle as the name of
the main character. 'Cute' When she heard her own name being
invoked however she surpressed a groan. She tried to glare at
the storyteller. Her mistake was opening her eyes. One look at
the woman holding Solan, surrounded by children hanging on every
word melted any annoyance that remained in the warrior's heart.
The story itself was quite funny. The little Gabrielle causing
all kinds of trouble for the forced babysitter. She found
herself chuckling at the description of the little girl
attacking the vicious tree with her stick/sword/staff. Xena
couldn't help smiling when the child fell asleep in the older
girls arms. She could almost feel the girl's heart beat as if
she were the Xena in the story. The Warrior Princess found
herself as breathless as the children waiting to hear the
outcome of the confrontation with the disgusting man. She was
sorry that little Gabrielle had to witness the fight between the
man and her protector. Children shouldn't see such things.

The warrior found herself almost disappointed when the story was
over. She watched Gabrielle say goodnight to the girls until
only Solan and Phantes were left. She saw the little centaur
pull the Queen's hand and when she bent to his face, he
whispered something to her. The amazon's eyes flew open and
she glanced at Xena. Pursing her lips the Queen nodded and
Phantes hesitantly walked toward Xena's corner.

Phantes closed the distance between them slowly. Xena sat very
still. The child looked ready to bolt at any moment. "Thank
you for not hurting, Mama."

"Queen Gabrielle said I would be sorry if I did." He glanced
wide-eyed at the Queen. Xena tilted her head and smiled. "Your
welcome anyway, Phantes"

"You know my name?" The fact that he was a centaur aside,
Phantes was a typical boy and despite all the evil conquerer
stuff her prowess as a fighter was legendary. Any boy would be
crazy not to claim the casual association if he could.

"Your mother is a brave woman, Phantes." 'Your father was too.'
she thought. "She stood up to me you know." He looked at the
muscles in her crossed arms and his eyes widened at the thought
of his mother facing off with such a scary lady. It pained her
heart to think of how close The Conquerer came to making this
boy an orphan. "I think Solan is ready to leave." She
indicated the young prince by the door.

"Ok....'night." He hesitated.

She slowly offered her hand. She didn't want to scare him.
"Goodnight, Phantes." He shook her hand solemnly warrior style.

Gabrielle watched silently until the two princes were out the
door. "Wow, I didn't think he would do that!" Gabrielle was
impressed at the tenderness Xena showed toward the young
centaur. She approached the corner and retrieved the desert
makings. This time however she didn't sit near the fire. She
put her fare down on the foot of the bed and took a scroll from
the top shelf of the archive. She stretched out face down with
her head at the foot of the bed and gestured Xena to bring the
wine and join her.

The warrior wasn't sure she could walk as far as the bed. Her
knees had suddenly become weak. It was sheer determination that
allowed her to accomplish the task. Supported by the soft bed
she could concentrate on speaking, "Another work of art?" She
indicated the scroll.

"No, it is the story I was telling the children." The Queen
unrolled the scroll for Xena to see. She drizzled some honey on
a piece of bread and offered it to Xena. It was more than one
bite so she assumed the warrior would take it and she would make
herself another. The warrior seemed to have other ideas and
simply took a bite out of the chunk that was offered.
Gabrielle's narrow eyed look had nothing to do with intimidation
and alot to do with amusement as she finished the offering and
prepared more. 'Never assume.' She chuckled.

Xena chewed the honey bread and read the scroll. It was exactly
the same story she told the children. "Why are you showing me
this?" Xena took another bite of offered bread and waited for
the bard's response.

"I just wondered if I left anything out." Her green eye's
twinkled mischievously.


"You know, I thought maybe you remembered something I had
forgotten. After all I was only five, and you were
what....13...14?" Gabrielle could tell Xena didn't remember
that day. 'It was a long time ago.' She reminded herself. 'A
lot has happened to her.'

"You gotta be kidding me. You're saying this really happened?"
Xena was able to recall the name of every general in her army.
She knew strategic information of every strong hold she had ever
been to. She could recite verbatum every agreement she had ever
signed. She remembered every battle, every conquest, every lover
in detail but she had no recollection whatsoever of the day in
question. 'Why can't I remember?'. She heard a very faint
chuckle from The Conquerer.

Gabrielle swallowed the last of the bread and set the honey
container on the floor. "It really did." She took the scroll
and placed it back in it's space on the shelf. "A long time
ago." She returned to the bed. Propping herself up on her
elbow she reached out to stroke Xena's hair. "It's ok if you
don't remember. Sometimes I feel like it's someone else's life
I'm remembering." She lost herself in the silky texture flowing
through her fingers.

Xena pulled her closer and shuddered at the light kisses
Gabrielle dropped on her neck. She was having trouble breathing
but had to say this before too much time passed. "Gabrielle, "
She looked into the stormy green eyes. "Thank you. " Pausing to
draw a deep breath breath she whispered. "For loving my son."

"Our son," She corrected. "and I had no choice." Gabrielle
found Xena's ear and whispered. "He's a part of you." She
trailed kisses down her jaw until the warrior princess couldn't
stand anymore torture.

"Gods ......Gabrielle." Her thought was cut off by a determined
amazon capturing her lips. She groaned at the sensation and
suddenly found herself holding Gabrielle, with the Queen's back
on the bed.

The sudden change of position caused Gabrielle to cry out in
surprise and then moan loudly with desire. The feel of Xena
above her was exquisite. She reached up to caress the warrior's
face and found both her wrists were captured and held securely
to the bed. Gabrielle ached to kiss the hovering lips. "Kiss
me." Xena complied with such passion, both women

Xena stretched out, covering the smaller woman. She released
the amazon's wrists and immediately found them tangled in her
hair, caressing her back, exploring her waist. The gentle
approach was on the verge of being discarded. Capturing the
wandering hands again, Xena moved to straddle the waist below
her, knocking over the staffs at the head of the bed in the
process. She tensed and snarled at the door. "Come back, later."

The Queen slowly turned her head toward the door, two motionless
guards assessed the scene. "It's OK. Really." She reassured
them. They didn't move. Gabrielle looked up at Xena, pausing
only long enough to grin, she kissed the hovering woman's
tension away. When the kiss was over she looked back at the

They had lost their paralysis but were still unsure of the
situation. This was their Queen and she said it was OK but the
woman pinning her to the bed was The Conquerer! Maybe Gabrielle
was forced to say that. It wasn't common knowlege but the royal
guard knew that the Queen didn't act like this.....ever.

"Xena." Gabrielle spoke softly. " I don't think they will
believe me until you let me up."

Several colorful responses came to mind, Xena considered them
all before releasing her hold, "As you wish, " she grinned. "
my Queen." Mischievous blue eyes twinkled at the amazon below
her. She stretched seductively for the benefit of all eyes.

The royal guard were not prepared for that at all! Gabrielle
chuckled and playfully slapped the woman next to her as she rose
from the bed. "Come on you two." She linked arms with her
protectors and led them back towards the door. "Let me

"That will take far too long." Xena purred and smiled.

Gabrielle glanced over her shoulder and winked, "Right." She
turned back to the guard and continued out the door. "Let me sum

In less than three breaths Gabrielle was back. "That was fast."
The warrior commented wryly.

The grinning Queen shrugged, "It really doesn't take that long
to say, 'I'm fine. Stay out.'" That wasn't exactly what she
had told them but Xena got the point. Stories were her gift,
but in the space of three breaths she had aquired a great
appreciation for the art of summarization.

"Do you think they will?" Xena was unconvinced.

"Sure. Why wouldn't they?" Gabrielle was used to her orders
being followed, questioned sometimes yes but always obeyed.
Xena's presence was proof of that.

"Well they seemed to be quite confused by the situation." The
warrior smiled at the guards reactions to her attentions on
their queen.

"Actually, It is sort of a good thing they stopped us. I really
do need to talk to you before we go much farther." She could
feel her cheeks and ears turning pink.

"I am finished talking!" She pounced on the amazon and resumed
the recently interruped position. She looked down on her
captive once again, "Besides what could you possibly say to me
that can't wait 'til morning?" Her kiss cut off any reply.

Breaking off to catch her breath, Gabrielle started,
"Xena...there is something I need to tell you." Xena attacked
the amazon's ear, pulling gently on the lobe, tracing the
outline with her tongue. "Gods.....Xena....Please listen. "
Desperation tinged her voice and Xena stopped the assault.

"What is it Gabrielle?"

'Finally. Oh God's. Now I have to tell her.' She closed her
eyes and tried to control her breathing. "It's just not the only thing I've never done."
'Whew, that's a relief.' She smiled up at the shocked face.

"Never?" Xena released her hold, got up from the bed and paced
around the room.

"Never." Gabrielle caught up with the restless woman. She
wrapped her arms around Xena's waist, holding her close,
listening to her rapidly beating heart.

Folding the Queen into her embrace, Xena tried to reconcile her
thoughts. "Are you sure you want to
be........first?" She felt the woman shaking in her arms and
released her. "Gabrielle, are you OK?"

"Xena!" She could barely control her laughter. 'All these years
and she thinks I'm not sure?' "Don't you get it? That's why I
haven't......" She pulled the warrior down to look her in the
eye. "None of them were you."

Those words and the look in Gabrielle's eyes were enough for
Xena. She carried her easily to the bed. "You're sure they won't
come back?" She indicated the door.

Gabrielle traced Xena's collarbone with her fingers and kissed
the hollow of her throat. "Not even when I start screaming your

At that, Xena didn't care if they came back or not.


The royal guard took their orders seriously. No one was to
enter. The guards on the previous watch had told them but
considering the sounds coming from the hut they would have
figured it out anyway. Half the council was waiting outside the
hut when Ephiny arrived. She tried to work her way in but the
guards were serious. "No one goes in, until the Queen says so."

Solan had heard they weren't letting anyone in to see his mother.
'We'll see about that.' He thought. He circled to the back of
the hut and climbed through the high small window in the
washroom. 'She better not have hurt her.....' He left the
threat hanging in his mind as he slipped into the main room.

Footsteps in the washroom alerted Xena to the intruder's
presence. She carefully considered the woman sleeping
contentedly in her arms and the location of her weapons, still in
the far corner. She would have been concerned for Gabrielle's
safety but the footfalls were so light she knew who it had to be.
The warrior quickly pulled a cover over their naked forms and
pretended to sleep. She watched through barely open eyes as
Solan crept into the main room.

He was totally unprepared for his discovery. Standing at the
foot of the bed, he looked at the women. Xena didn't look nearly
as scary lying on her back with his mother in her arms. He took
the opportunity to study her face. 'She's pretty.' He thought.
'But not like Mom.' He took a moment to look at the only mother
he had ever known. 'She looks so happy.' Her reddish blond hair
was mussed up and she had a slight smile on her face. Her eyes
were closed but he knew they were the loveliest shade of green he
had ever seen. Then he looked over at the warrior. Her dark
hair fell around her shoulders, graceful even in sleep. She
didn't have any expression on her face. He remembered her eyes
from last night when he delivered the wine. Blue eyes looking
right at me, just like now. 'Whoa, She's awake!' He froze.

Xena signaled him to be quiet and not to wake his mother. Slowly
extricating herself from the sleeping woman, she rose from the
bed and slipped a robe around her. She quietly led him to the
far corner, so they could talk without waking Gabrielle.

He let himself be guided away from the foot of the bed. Stunned
was the word for what he was now. Naturally he had seen naked
women before, he was growing up in an Amazon village for Zeus
sake, but never had he seen anyone like Xena. His mother was the
closest. He guessed being queen had something to do with it. He
was right.

It was power that made Xena different from everyone else.
Political and physical power flowed from Xena like water from a
glacier, naturally, easily, constantly. She was without a doubt
the most powerful person in the world and she knew it.

He sat on the cushion Gabrielle had used the night before and
Xena placed herself between her weapons and the boy. "I need
your help." She said, smiling at his reaction to that. 'He does
look like me when his eyes narrow.' She quietly began stacking
the empty dishes from dinner. "I want to surprise Gabrielle."
Now she had his attention.

"How?" He wasn't sure about her yet but he couldn't forget how
happy his mother's face was a few moments ago. If she had
something planned to continue that happiness then he was going to
do everything he could to help.

"I would like you to take these," she indicated the dirty dishes.
"and bring back breakfast." She gave him a sideways grin. "I
assume you can get out the same way you got in?" He nodded
affirmative. "Good." She grinned in the direction of the bed.
"Your mother is going to be hungry, so you may need some help
carrying enough food back." An angry look flashed across his
face, then he grinned and nodded. His mother's eating capacity
was a favorite running joke all through the Nation. "Get Ephiny
to help you."

"She won't help." He whispered. "She is to busy...."

"Trying to get in here. " Xena finished for him. "I'm sure she
will jump at the chance." She rose gracefully from the cushion
and helped him up. "Only her though." Her narrow eye look had
more impact than his. "She will want to talk to Gabrielle." She
looked at him speculatively. "What do they usually serve for
breakfast around here?" The face he made was not good.
"Nevermind, If they start to give you the usual, tell them I
really enjoyed dinner but I wasn't sure if they could do
breakfast justice. Just be sure to tell them why you want so
much. They shouldn't grumble if they know it's for all of us."

He nodded then did a double take. He was included in that 'us'.
Wow! She picked up the dishes and followed him back to the
washroom. He quickly and quietly went back through the window.
'That has taken some practice.' She grinned 'I wonder if I could
fit through there?' She stood on top of the shelf filled with
towels and handed him the dishes.

"You're not so bad." He told her.

'Oh yes, I am.' The Conquerer chimed from her cell. Xena gave
him a wry grin, "Contrary to popular belief, I don't eat

Solan returned her grin, "Yeah, well I knew you wouldn't eat me,

Blue eyes narrowed at his comment. "How?"

"Mom." He chuckled and called over his shoulder. "She promised
she wouldn't let you."

"Scamp!" She knew he was to far away to hear her, already past a
small flower bed, well on his way to carry out his mission. It
would take a while though. She stirred the fire, added a few
more logs and headed back to the bed. 'So that's what all that
promise business was, when he brought the wine.' She chuckled
and eased herself back into the arms of her sleeping love.
Closing her eyes she heard the internal voice of an innkeeper's
daughter quietly asking if she could speak to the warrior
princess. 'Later' was the answer and the girl was silent again
as Xena lost herself in the warmth of the embrace.


For a brief irritated moment she thought the guards were
admitting an unwanted guest then she realized it was breakfast.
'Gods I must have fallen asleep.' She looked at the sleeping
woman in her arms. "What have you done to me?" She whispered.

"Everything." Gabrielle opened her eyes slowly, gazing deeply
into the ocean of blue above her and smiled. She couldn't help
but pull the warrior to her for a long slow good morning kiss.

"Mmmm Good Morning." Xena nuzzled her ear and whispered, "We
shouldn't keep our guests waiting." She slid her eyes past
Gabrielle's shoulder and winked.

Gabrielle couldn't bring herself to look. "Who is it?"
'guests? many?' She was used to the idea of being
in love with Xena but the idea of people seeing her like this
with Xena took some getting used to.

"Just Ephiny and Solan. They've brought us our breakfast." She
brushed a few errant strands of hair from Gabrielle's eyes and
gave her an amused look, "Hungry?"

Green eyes twinkled. "Now that you mention it......I think I am."
Her low voice let Xena know exactly what she was hungry for.

Xena shook her head, chuckling as she rose to slip into her robe
and hand Gabrielle a covering as well. She stood, stretching for
Ephiny's benefit. When Gabrielle came out of the washroom she
linked arms and escorted her to breakfast.


Solan was pleased with himself as he carried their breakfast into
the hut. He looked around to see the women in the bed and
snorted, continuing on to the small table without a second look.
He chuckled to himself at Ephiny's reaction then cursed under his
breath, quickly deposited his burden on the table and jumped to
relieve Ephiny of hers, before she dropped it. He glanced at the
bed as he narrowly averted disaster, saw Xena's wink and returned
it before depositing the second tray of food on the table.
Walking back to Ephiny, he snapped his fingers a few times and
passed his hand in front of her face, nothing. He shook his head
and went out the door, and before it had a chance to close,
returned with two pitchers and a water skin. They were getting
up now so he physically pushed Ephiny toward the corner table and
sat her on the cushion against the wall. He sat on the floor
next to her and waited for Xena and his mother to join them.
Ephiny was shocked, her body stayed motionless but her mind
raced.'Ok think girl, the guards told you what they walked in on
last night. It's not like you've never seen two people in bed
before. Come on now...breathe...OK Sure I heard what the guards
said but I never thought..... Sweet Artemis, Gabrielle IS in bed
with Xena! This is insane. Gabrielle didn't ....
everrrWow...Good Morning.' Ephiny's brain was starting to clear
when Xena winked. 'Gods...did she just wink at me? No, that was
for Solan and he winked back!? OK OK calm down, Where did my
tray go? Breathe, Ephiny, Breathe. Whoa, she is gorgeous. Hey,
what the.....Solan!!....Oh yeah, breakfast... Here they come.'
Ephiny had never seen any couple look more regal or in love.
Xena sat on the corner cushion and pulled Gabrielle into her lap.
"Looks like the cooks lived up to my challenge." She grinned at

"It was pretty funny really. They usually only cook oatmeal for
breakfast. When I told them what you said they started
grumbling and banging pans around. Muttering stuff like, She
wants a royal breakfast, I'll show her a royal breakfast. I'll
bet her best cooks can't beat our meals. Stuff like that." He
was laughing. "Then I told them for four people. I thought
their eyes were going to pop right out of their heads."

Gabrielle was smiling at her son's story. It caused her some
apprehension though, Xena and Solan seemed to be getting along a
little too well. 'Gods...I can't be jealous. He's her son for
Zeus' sake.' She took a sip of juice. "You two seem to be
getting along." Gabrielle looked up at Xena clearly wanting an

"Well it seems, since his mother," stressing the words and giving
her a significant look, "promised him I wouldn't EAT him. We
have become friends." Xena could feel Gabrielle's tension fade
as Xena made it clear, she had no intention of publicly
claiming relationship to Solan. "After all the Queen of the
Amazons always keeps her promises. Right Solan?"

He looked at them and smiled, "You haven't eaten me yet so.......
Yeah I guess so."

Gabrielle nearly lost a mouthful of juice at that statement. She
coughed and looked from Xena to Solan. 'Oh yeah I have missed

The warrior princess looked at Ephiny and noticed her bandaged
wrists. She stood, bringing Gabrielle up with her. "I'll be
right back." Xena could feel Gabrielle watching her back as she
headed for the washroom.

Ephiny snapped out of her stupor as soon as the door was shut.
She was instantly at Gabrielle's side. "Are you OK? Did she hurt
you? Did she threaten you?" The scout was examining her Queen's
face intently and physically manhandling her to make sure there
were no bruises or marks.

Gabrielle submitted to the examination for a short time then held
the scout's hands firmly together. "I am fine. She would never
hurt me or threaten me." She held hazel in green for a moment
not expecting understanding but grateful for at least acceptance.
" I promise."

"The Queen of the Amazons always keeps her promises." Ephiny

Gabrielle confirmed. "Always."

They were still standing when Xena came out of the washroom.
'Good' Xena thought. She held her hand behind her back as she
approached them. She saw Ephiny's cautious move to a better
defensive position, slightly in front of Gabrielle. 'Very good.'
She dropped to one knee in front of them both and produced a
single yellow rose from behind her back. Blue eyes sparkled at
twinkling green, "This is for you, Ephiny." Handing the flower to
the stunned amazon on her right. "As an apology for scaring you
back at camp, and as a pre-thank you for keeping Gabrielle safe
while I'm gone.....and these, " standing and producing a large
bundle of lilacs for the now smiling amazon at her left, " are
for you.....just because."

"Lilacs are my favorite." Gabrielle's face practically glowed.
"How did you know?"

Xena chuckled, leaned to Gabrielle's ear, inhaled deeply and
whispered, "How could I not?" She kissed the Queen on the cheek
and motioned toward the table, "We better eat before it gets


"Solan, the next time you see those cooks you tell them I said
they put every cook I have ever had to shame." Xena chuckled at
the gleam in his eye.

"How many cooks have you had?" He liked hearing Xena's voice
almost as much as Gabrielle's.

The Conquerer laughed. 'Are you gonna tell him?' Xena took a
deep breath, silenced the Conquerer and said, "Too many. The one
I have now seems like she might do." They were all silent
contemplating that statement. Another laugh echoed in her head,
'I won't kill her, you mean.' The warrior ignored her laughing
dark side. She wasn't sure how to continue the conversation, and
she wasn't sure if she wanted to.

"Well, I'm stuffed." Gabrielle broke the tension and received a
grateful squeeze for her trouble.

Ephiny caught the reason why cooks didn't hang around or more to
the point DID 'hang' around and chimed in, "Me too." She tilted
her head and gave Solan a sideways glance, "You up for some

"Now?" It came out as a squeak and he glanced at Xena. His mom
said he was pretty good and she was the best staff fighter the
amazons had but he didn't want mess up in front of the warrior.
Everyone knew she was the best fighter in the world. Hey, maybe
she would give him some pointers. Wow, that would be neat. I
hope we get to.

"I wouldn't mind loosening up myself." Xena looked down at
Gabrielle. "Do you mind if we hold off..... negotiations for a

Another mouthful of juice nearly found its way to the floor.
Tears formed in her eyes as she coughed and tried to laugh and
speak at the same time. "No." she managed, "I don't mind." She
looked from Xena to Ephiny who had been grinning since the
warrior's use of the word 'negotiations'.

Solan jumped up to retrieve his staff. "Hey! Where's my staff?"

His mother again went into coughing fits. Xena rubbed her back
and gestured, "Try the other side......" She saw him look.
"......on the floor." She added helpfully.

"How'd they get way over here?" Solan knew his mother always
kept the staffs between the bed and the door.

Xena saw Gabrielle about to take a drink and casually put her
hand over the top of the cup. "I moved them." Smiling as
Gabrielle burst out laughing and Ephiny chuckled. Xena looked at
the scout, 'She talked to the guards.' "They were in my way."
She shrugged and let go of the cup.

"Bring them all Solan, Xena and Ephiny can pick the one they want
to use." Gabrielle finished drinking her juice and stood to

Solan brought the bundle of staffs to the corner and handed
Gabrielle her favorite. He kept his own and gave the rest to
Ephiny so she could choose one. Of the three she chose the one
that was just her height and made of her most favorite hardwood,
not to heavy, not to light.

Xena was left with Gabrielle's other two practice staffs, neither
of which she liked. She saw Ephiny's grin at her situation. The
practice staffs were perfect for the Queen but they were much to
small for Xena. She took one, decided to have a little fun and
hoped it didn't get out of hand. Jogging over to the door she
opened it quickly and pulled a guard inside, took her staff,
replaced it with the practice staff and pushed her back out
the door. She examined the staff in her hand and casually walked
back to Gabrielle's side. "I like this one." Looking up from
her examination of the weapon, she saw the expressions on
everyone's face, "What?"

Gabrielle got over her shock first. She sighed and went out to
talk to the guard. Karis was mortified that she had allowed
herself to be disarmed and immediately requested to be
transferred to border patrol. Self-imposed exile was
unacceptable to Gabrielle. She assured the girl that it wasn't
her fault. The Conquerer was just in a mood. It took a while
but she thought she had convinced her when she heard a yell from

Sensing Gabrielle's absence from the room, Ephiny shook off her
paralysis long enough to place herself between Xena and Solan.
Xena saw the placement and for a moment was amused at the
attempt, like she could stop me. She laughed which in itself
wouldn't have been bad, but she unconsciously used the same tone
The Conquerer did when Ephiny delivered the message. Ephiny
whirled at the sound. This time she was not bound and she was

Xena was instictively on the defense. She could feel the dark
part of her stir in the back of her mind. The Conquerer laughed
'You're going to kill your boy's guardian and he's going to hate
you.' Xena could feel The Conquerer getting stronger. The
Warrior Princess knew that dividing her efforts between the
physical and mental fights meant she would win one, the physical,
and lose the other. She wanted it to be the other way around.
Gabrielle wasn't here to help her with the mental but maybe she
could catch a break on the physical. "Ephiny, don't do this.
Drop the staff." The laughter in her head got louder, 'You can't
stop me now.' Xena took a step toward Ephiny and she saw a
glimpse of Solan's face. 'Awww,' The Conquerer taunted. 'The
little prince is afraid of the big bad warrior.' Xena fought for
control, 'Leave Solan out of it.' The Conquerer laughed loud and
growled low, 'No No My sister. Solan is next.' She was within
striking distance of Ephiny now. Xena jumped at the Amazon, "NO!"
The warrior princess twisted impossibly in midair changing the
path of her jump. She brought the staff down on the table,
splintering it and the staff and scattering the remains of their
breakfast all over the corner of the room.

The yell from Xena and the crashing sound was enough to bring
Gabrielle and both guards quickly into the room. The warrior
stood next to the splintered table with her back to the door.
Gabrielle could see the labored breaths she was trying to get
under control. "Xena? Are you all right?" She walked over to
the, now calmer, warrior before anyone had a chance to stop her.

Ephiny was stunned at the turn of events and the show of
strength. The wooden table looked like it had been stomped by
100 centaurs. She saw Gabrielle headed toward the warrior but
couldn't stop her before she reached the woman. Never, Never
startle a warrior, especially this one. This was the most
dangerous thing she had ever seen Gabrielle do. 'Gods.....'

The Conquerer was silenced and back in her cell. 'All it takes
is her voice.' The Warrior Princess thought. 'She makes me
strong.' She felt Gabrielle put her arms around her waist.
Gently closing the small distance between them she buried her
face in Gabrielle's hair. 'Lilacs' Two deep breaths and she was
ready to face the consequences. "Gabrielle, I'm sorry." She
turned to Ephiny and Solan, "I'm sorry. I.....It's just...."
There were just no words to justify her actions, so she stopped
trying. 'Solan is going to hate me now.' The Conquerer laughed.
Xena looked at the boy.

He looked at her holding his mother. That's how they looked this
morning. 'She's not so scary, with mother in her arms.' He
walked toward them his eyes never leaving the warrior's face and
hugged them both. "I think I should go now." He looked up at
them and grinned. "Maybe we can spar later?"

"We'll see." Xena wasn't about to make that promise with The
Conquerer so close to power. She squeezed him a little tighter
and released the embrace.

He stepped back and looked at Gabrielle, "A story tonight?"

She released Xena and stepped forward to hug him. "A story
tonight." She grinned wickedly at Xena. "I promise."

He turned to leave and saw the guards and a bunch of people
watching them through the open door. He gave Xena, Gabrielle,
and Ephiny a rolled eye look and plowed through the crowd.
"What's the matter with you people? Sheesh, you'd think you
never saw a guy hug his mom before."

Gabrielle chuckled. She stepped back and circled an arm around
the warrior's waist. She released her hold to survey the damage.
One look and she groaned. She heard Xena's gasp and quickly
returned to her embrace. "Hey, Ephiny, Got any ideas on how to
get eggs out of armor?" She looked at the scout expectantly.

'She is dropping this. I can't believe it Xena attacked Solan
and Gabrielle's dropping it like nothing happened.' Ephiny
looked at the warrior in her Queen's arms. 'She's crying!'

The tear had escaped when Gabrielle's arms circled her for a
second time. She had been so afraid that the woman would hate
her. She thought it would be nice if the scout liked her too but
it was Gabrielle who mattered.

"I have heard tell of a quaint practice involving soap, water and
hard work. " Ephiny considered her words carefully. " Seems like
a lot of work though, if you're not going to need the armor

The warrior looked at the pile of metal in the corner. 'I would
be dead a hundred times if not for that heap and now I think it
would kill me to put it on.' She knew her dark side did not feel
the same way. "If it were up to me, I would let it rust where
it sits." Xena could feel Gabrielle's eyes on her. She took a
deep breath and continued. "But The Conquerer will need it when
she goes back."

"I guess we better get right to it then." Gabrielle walked over
to the corner and picked up the armor pieces. She was trying to
keep her mind off of the fact this was the second reference Xena
had made to leaving. She was about to hand Ephiny a piece when
she saw her look at Xena and swallow. "What?" Gabrielle
followed the hazel gaze to Xena and back.

Xena understood and moved to take her armor from the Queen.
"Usually warriors don't let anyone else touch their armor." She
explained. "Often proper maintenance is the only thing standing
between victory and death. To let someone else clean or maintain
their armor or weapons a warrior would have to trust them
completely. " She divided the armor to three parts, breastplate,
backshield and shoulder pads. Keeping the breastplate for herself
she handed the backshield to Gabrielle and turned to offer the
shoulder pads to Ephiny. Seeing the surprised expression she
smiled, "Anyone who would stand up to The Conquerer for m...a
child can be trusted."

Gabrielle heard the stumble, she also heard the second instance
when Xena spoke about The Conquerer like she was a different
person. 'Of course, just like Gabrielle the Bard is different
than Gabrielle The Queen.' It wasn't exactly the same.
Gabrielle's personalities were merged into a balanced individual.
Xena's personalities did not merge. When The Conquerer was in
control she reacted differently to things, much differently than
when The Warrior Princess was dominant.
Still the insight Gabrielle gained from her observation went a
long way to explaining the outburst.

"It was my fault." Ephiny said quietly as she took the armor.
"When I heard you laugh.....I'm sorry I just reacted."

"It sounded just like she did in the camp didn't it." Xena
waited for her affirmative head bob and sighed, "I have to learn
to control her better." She saw confusion in Ephiny's face but
was startled to see understanding in Gabrielle's.

"You'll learn." Gabrielle held up her piece of armor. "Come on
this will be easier in the other room." She led them to the
washroom. Gabrielle, absently reaching up as she entered, pulled
a small lever. Water began pouring into the large tub. Xena put
her armor down and went back to the main room for a minute,
returning with her weapons. She would do those herself and both
her fellow wash cronies knew it.

Xena put the breastplate under the running water and looked up in
surprise. "This water is warm!"

Gabrielle and Ephiny both smiled. "As long as there is a fire, I
can have a warm bath." Gabrielle was happy to see the raised
eyebrow on the warrior. Her smile got wider, "Later....I

'Uh Oh' Ephiny thought. 'I better finish this fast.' She washed
and polished the shoulder shields as quickly as she could. None
of them said much as they each worked on their individual tasks.
Suddenly she felt like a Hestian at a Bacchae Festival. Glancing
up she saw the look in the blue eyes that were totally focused on
green. 'Whoa, I gotta get outta here. NOW! Thank the Gods I'm
finished.' She cleared her throat softly, then a little louder,
finally she shook Gabrielle by the shoulder, grinning at the
Queen's embarrassment, "I'm finished with these." She looked at
Xena who had already recaptured the attention of the Queen.
"I'll leave them by the fire to dry?" She took the offhanded
wave to mean OK. "I need to get going anyway." Both of them
waved absently. 'Uh huh.' "I told Phantes I would help him grow
wings so he could be Pegasus." Another wave. "Try not to drown
OK?" She shook her head as she reentered the main room and
chuckled at the sound of armor hitting the floor. Ephiny stirred
the fire, added a few more logs and arranged the shoulder armor
to dry. Distinct moaning was coming from the other side of the
fireplace so she got up to leave and noticed the corner had been
cleaned. 'Xena must have had the guards do it when she got her
weapons.' She heard a loud splash and shook her head. Neither
guard knew where Eponin was.


Xena woke slowly, absorbing the familiar feel of Gabrielle in her
arms. 'Gods I don't want to go.' She snuggled closer to the
sleeping woman, smelling the lilac/leather/Gabrielle combination
that was now permanently imprinted on her senses. 'How long can
I last without her?' Reluctantly she broke off the embrace,
nearly returning when Gabrielle wimpered slightly in her sleep.
She pulled on her leathers and started buckling her armor in
place. 'It feels strange after six days.' The warrior thought. 'No' The
Conquerer corrected, 'It feels ..... good.'

'Gods, I've never even been out of this hut, except to get the
flowers.' She thought about the time she had spent here. Nice
meals with Gabrielle and Solan. 'Solan, wasn't that a shocker.'
She was even on speaking terms with Ephiny now, sort of. Stories
in the evenings and the last few days she had been able to spar a
little with Gabrielle and Solan. 'It will be hard to go back.'
She sighed.

She was just settling her bracers when she felt eyes watching
her. She turned to see sad green eyes looking back at her.
"Hey, what's up?"

"You have to leave today." Gabrielle had told herself she
wouldn't cry.

"Yeah, I am sure Darfus is getting nervous by now." She looked a
little guilty. "And there are a few matters of State that should
probably be handled by me." It was a reality check for

"Yeah, me to." She smiled up at the warrior. "I have never
neglected the Nation before."

"The Nation doesn't have anything to worry about." Xena sighed.
"you're very self sufficient." She bounced a few times to settle
her armor and weapons and grinned as Gabrielle's head followed
the motion. "The rest of the world however is another matter."
Gabrielle's puzzled look forced her to elaborate. She walked back
and forth at the foot of the bed, counting off items on her
fingers. "Brittania and Gaul fight among themselves constantly.
Egyptian and Indian spice traders have formed an alliance against
the traders of Chin. India refuses to let ships from Chin use
their ports so Chinese merchants have to use northern overland
trade routes. That increases the cost of goods from Chin
tremendously. Not to mention the Persians, they control the
inland water route...." She stopped her tirade when Gabrielle's
smile derailed her train of thought. "Why are you looking at me
like that?"

"I just realized......." Gabrielle's thought faded off with emotion.

"Realized what? Gabrielle?" Xena was concerned now. "What is
it?" She tried to comfort Gabrielle without poking her too much
with the armor.

"You're the ruler of the world. Gods Xena. I never really
thought about it before. To me you are just Xena." Gabrielle
felt a little foolish at that admission.

"I had wondered about that. Why is it you don't see me as
anything other than Xena?" It was true. From the very first
day Gabrielle had acted like she was an old friend coming for a
visit and Xena didn't even think about it after the third day
when The Conquerer stopped putting in her two dinar's worth.
'Hey, even I need a vacation every once in a while.' The
Conquerer chimed.

Gabrielle pursed her lips, and got up. She retrieved a scroll
from her desk and handed it to Xena. "This is why." She held her
breath as Xena opened the scroll and began to read, blue eyes
flying wide at the first line. It had obviously been written by
a child.

Got back from 'phipolis t'day. Gosh I liked my 'sitter. Xena.

Xena swallowed hard and continued reading.

Traders came in today, they said Amphipolis was attacked. I was
scared for Xena until they said that the raid wasn't successful.
I knew she could do it. I was sad for her brother though.
A traveling bard came through here last week. He had a few Xena
stories. I remember she told me I should be a bard so I asked
him for lessons and I got to hear about her over and over again.
Someone should tell her it's not her fault her brother died.
I heard another Xena story today. It was about Caesar. Killing
him is going to cause a lot of problems but he shouldn't have
used her like that. You would think he would know better.
It's been a while but I finally heard a new Xena story today.
She went to Chin! The story is she kidnapped one of the rulers
sons and took over the whole country.
I've been hearing too many stories to write down but she's coming
back to Greece. I knew she would. Toppling nations on the way
back from Chin. I wish I wasn't stuck here just listening to old
I went with the merchants caravan today. They were stopping in
Amphipolis so I HAD to go. I saw the innkeeper. She was looking
pretty good. She was playing with her two grandchildren, Lyceus
and Atrius. She said if Lyceus had freckles and longer, darker
hair he would look like the uncle he was named after. Her oldest
son Torris reminded me of Xena. He has the same eyes and hair.
It's been a while again, there was trouble with some slavers.
Long story but I'm an amazon princess now. Ephiny is teaching me
all about the staff and I have to learn hunting and tracking.
Best of all I get to listen to the guards when they come back
from scouting. They said two of Xena's guards had been
imprisoned because they stopped in Amphipolis and roughed up the
innkeeper. They were lucky they didn't hurt her too bad.
There's been an accident. I'm Queen now. I convinced the others
to try and make peace because when Xena comes for us we will need
to be whole and strong. I don't know why she hasn't tried for
the Nation yet, but I am sure she will eventually, soon it will
be the only thing left.
She's fighting the centaurs now. All the centaurs have united
against her, Ephiny's husband.... Gods everyone in his village
was killed. She was lucky little Phantes was visiting a friend
at the time. Of course he will stay with Ephiny now. I signed
a declaration that centaur princes are excluded from the ban
on men in the territory.
I surveyed the site of another defeated centaur village. We found
a boy there. The healers said he had passed out from breathing
too much smoke. I made them take him back to the village and
help him. I am The Queen now so they had to do it. He looks just
like the innkeepers grandchild except he has freckles and longer,
darker hair. I think he might be Xena's son.
I had the scouts report in. Just as I thought. She doesn't get
close to anyone ever. Like she is afraid to love, sure there are
lovers, a few of them were the scouts themselves...........

Xena looked astonished at the Queen on her throne. "You sent
spies? How in this world did you manage that? There hasn't been
an amazon sighting in years."

Gabrielle smiled, "Funny thing about amazons. Put 'em in regular
clothes and they look just like everyone else." She laughed.
"Very useful."

"Apparently a few of them looked a little better than everyone
else if I..... Gods many scouts have I...." Xena
looked horrified.

"Enough." She sounded irritated. "Oh I was super jealous at
first but then I realized..."

"Realized what." The narrow eye look.

Gabrielle gave her the brightest smile yet. "Those are the ones I
got the best information from and if you were given a choice..."

"What kind of choice." Xena was starting not to like this.

"A choice between two people you always, ALWAYS chose the one
that looked the most like me." Gabrielle grinned at her.

Xena looked back at the scroll. The rest of it was filled with
accounts of battles and snippets of information gleaned from
guards and housestaff. "Amazon scouts are good at what they do."
Some of the information had eluded even her own spies. Not to
mention the amazons presence was never detected. 'Very good.'
She couldn't hear The Conquerer laughing, but she could feel it.

"That is why I felt like I knew you. All these years I have kept
track of you and prayed for your safety, because of this feeling
I remembered from when I was five and I fell asleep in your
arms." Gabrielle sat on the edge of the bed next to Xena. "I
wasn't positively sure though until....."

"Until when?" Xena brushed the hair back from her face and
tilted her chin up to meet her eyes.

Gabrielle was lost in the blue mist for a long moment. She was
barely able to speak, "Until you walked through the door six days

"You are making it very difficult for me to leave." Xena heaved
herself off the bed. "But I have to get back or Darfus will take
matters into his own hands."

"I know." Gabrielle sighed and rose to wrap her arms around
Xena's waist "I will miss you. Do you want an escort to the

"Are you offering?" Xena looked speculative.'That could be rough.
And then there is always......' '...Me' The Conquerer sang from
her cell, 'You wouldn't want her to be around me, now would you.
I might hurt her.' 'No you wouldn't.' The Warrior Princess was
confident now. 'Why? Because you love her.' The Conquerer
sneered. 'No.' The warrior's quiet reply silenced The
Conquerer, 'Because you do.' Xena heard a quiet chorus of
voices, 'We all do.'

"No, It would be too hard and I don't think I would want to
see.....that anyway." Gabrielle hadn't wanted to admit that.
"Just promise you will come back soon."

"Promise." Xena bent for a long goodbye kiss. She started for the
door when Gabrielle stopped her. "Gabrielle I have to go.
Darfus..... "

"Will need this as proof." She finished for her. She walked to
her desk and retrieved two scrolls.

"What is that."

"It's the treaty."


"Sure. You remember, I asked you here to discuss the option of
you not invading our land and burning everything in sight. Is
that scorched earth policy The Conquerer's or Darfus'?"

"But we haven't once discussed anything of the sort." Xena was
embarrassed to admit she had forgotten. She was simply going to
tell Darfus to take his troops and go. This may be easier except
now she had no choice but accept the terms of the treaty. She
was feeling very trapped until she read the terms.


IN THE INTEREST OF PEACE The Amazon Nation hereby enters into
this agreement with the Realm of Xena: The Conquerer. After due
negotiations The Amazon Nation accepts Xena: The Conquerer's
proposition, the terms of which are listed in this scroll:

1.) In exchange for Xena:The Conquerer's immediate withdrawl of
her troops from it's borders The Amazon Nation agrees to allow
Xena free access to Amazon Territory insofaras Xena agrees to
abide by all the laws applicable to her visit.

2.) In exchange for the continued absence of Xena: The
Conquerer's troops along it's borders The Amazon Nation agrees to
provide Xena services unique to the Amazon Nation. Any mass of
Xena: The Conquerer's troops on the border will result in the
immediate termination of said services. The size of the troops
allowed on the border and the nature of the services to be
provided will be negotiated at a later time.

3.) The Amazon Nation reserves the right to ask for a
re-negotiation at any time and recognizes Xena's right to the

Signed and Sealed
Queen Gabrielle of the Amazon Nation


Xena: The Conquerer

Xena signed and sealed it immediately. 'This is too good to pass
up.' The Conquerer thought.


It had been almost a month since Xena left to withdraw her troops
from the border and three weeks since the last of them had gone.
Three sentries had followed her to the armies camp and reported
back that Darfus had been killed. Karis was the one who gave her
the most detailed account though. She remembered the piping
voice replaying the event.

"It was really creepy." She had said. "We followed her all the
way from the border but when she got back to her camp
she....changed. It was like not even the same person. She
ordered the troops to withdraw and Darfus challenged her. She
showed him the treaty and he became very angry. He had
apparently been looking forward to the fight. She started to walk
away and he commented on the 'services' outlined in the treaty."
At this point Karis' voice had become shaky, "When he wondered
out loud what an amazon queen's 'services' would be like, she
changed again. She sorta shook all over and when she turned
around I knew he was dead. It was really weird cause I don't
remember actually seeing it happen but she locked eyes with him
and ... I don't know how to describe it... she ....glided ...
toward him slow." Gabrielle knew Karis was too young to know
about that particular walk. "He never moved. I don't remember
her drawing the knife. All I know is she walked up to him and
looked really closely in his eye and said, "Don't trip." When
she said that, he looked down and there were his guts still
falling out of him twisting around his feet. I can still see him
trying to grab them before he fell over. Then she asked if
anyone else had anything to say and laughed when they didn't."
Gabrielle still shuddered when she thought about it. She was
glad she hadn't gone with Xena. It worried her because what
Karis described didn't sound like The Conquerer either. She knew
the flowing power Karis had described combined with murderous
intent was infinitely more dangerous than The Conquerer ever was.

It took her a while to get over that recitation. Gabrielle knew
that everyday Xena stayed away, The Warrior would have a harder
time returning to her. The Queen smiled to herself. 'The
Conquerer has to come back though, the 'services' clause in the
treaty assures it. She will want my scouts to work for her.'
Gabrielle thought.


Gabrielle sat at the head of her bed cross-legged with Solan on
her lap. She was surrounded by 2 dozen pairs of adoring eyes.
They sat on the bed and in front of the fire. There was
practically no room for anyone else to fit. "Does anyone have
any requests?"

"I have one." A soft voice purred.

Gabrielle felt her heart race. She looked up at the washroom
door to see Xena leaning casually on the door facing. She looked
great. No armor, just a long green tunic with matching leggings,
and boots. She knew the woman would have been completely
invisible in the trees. "What story would you like to hear?"

"If you don't mind," She scanned the faces of the children as she
made her way to the head of the bed. "I'd like to tell one." She
smiled when no one objected and climbed over to Gabrielle.
Sitting cross-legged she pulled Gabrielle. with Solan on her lap,
into her lap and settled mother and son into the depression made
by her crossed legs. Making sure everyone was comfy she began:

"This is the story of a day in the life of a little village
girl. Just for the sake of arguement let's say her name is
Gabrielle. Once when Gabrielle was about five, her parents took
her with them on the merchant's caravan. One day they stopped
in a small village that was preparing for a festival. They
needed to set up their tables so a local tavern owner said that
her daughter would be happy to babysit. Just for the sake of
arguement let's say her name was .... Xena."

Of course the girls had heard the story before. It was one of
Queen Gabrielle's favorites but Xena told it different. It had
some other stuff to it and a different point of view. They all
saw when their Queen's face lit up at the changes. When it was
finished, Micha asked, "I never heard that part about little
Gabrielle trying to catch a bug for Xena and getting flour all
over her. Did you make up that part yourself?"

Gabrielle felt Xena take a deep breath, "No, I didn't. I just
remember more about that day. After all Gabrielle was only five
and I was what 13....14?" She looked down at the smiling Queen
in her arms.

"You mean it really happened?" Micha squealed in delight.

Xena never took her eyes off of Gabrielle. "It really did....."

Gabrielle finished softly. "A long time ago."