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Disclaimer: Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, Argo and all other characters who have appeared in the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess, together with names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.

Love/Sex warning Disclaimer: This story depicts a love/sexual relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state or country in which you live, please do not read it. If depictions of this nature disturb you, you may wish to read something other than this story.

Time Frame/Spoiler: This story take place at the end of "Forget Me Not" and may give away some details of the episode if you have not seen it. However, having seen it may add more clarity to this story.

Plot: Well, there’s not much of one, but if you like a good, intimate love story, you might like this one. It’s my first attempt at being a bard. If you like it, let me know. I’d like to write more.


Secrets Revealed
By Sig XAG
(Sapphic, intimate genre: Xena and Gabrielle)

"Gabby, you’re back!" Joxer exclaimed, forgetting the mounting pressure on his ear.

"Yes, she is." Xena replied stepping from the bushes behind Gabrielle.

Releasing Joxer’s ear, Gabrielle turned toward the voice she knew all too well. "Xena!" Gabrielle wondered how long she had been there, but more importantly wondered how much she knew. She couldn’t keep her feelings for Xena a secret any more. The secret she had kept was tearing her up inside, tormenting her soul. She just couldn’t bear the pain any longer. She needed Xena. She was willing to risk losing the woman she loved more than life itself. She had to tell her the truth.

Gabrielle slowly approached Xena never losing eye contact. "You knew all along. That’s why you had me wait at the temple of Mnenosyne."

"Nightmares can tell us a lot of things. Thank the gods you talk in your sleep. I wondered how you made it to Chin ahead of me. I figured Ares had a hand in it. What I couldn’t figure out was...why?" Xena questioned.

With that Gabrielle knew that Xena didn’t know everything and that she hadn’t divulged too much in her sleep. Stepping closer, Gabrielle lowered her voice, "Xena, we need to talk....alone."

Xena understood exactly what Gabrielle was asking her to do. She turned with a nod and walked toward Joxer. "Joxer, Gabrielle and I need to talk. We need to be alone." Xena gestured with a slight tilt of her head toward the woods.

Joxer took his cue and headed off into the woods mumbling under his breath, clearly not happy at his unwelcome presence.

Xena made sure Joxer was gone, then turned to Gabrielle, "Come over here, we can sit and talk," indicating the fallen tree that had become a bench of sorts. Xena extended her hand hoping that Gabrielle would take it in her own. She had missed her touch. She was so happy that Gabrielle had made it back safely from her journey, she needed that touch.

Gabrielle smiled and reached for Xena’s hand, holding back a tremble, longing to take her into her arms and hold her close. She sat next to Xena, as close as she dared, hoping she wouldn’t lose her nerve to divulge her heart’s secrets. Still holding hands, Gabrielle looked into Xena’s eyes, "Xena, about Chin. I’m so sorry, I..."

Xena was quick to stop her, raising her free hand barely touching Gabrielle’s lips. "Shhh, Gabrielle, that’s all in the past..."

Gabrielle gently grasped Xena’s hand and lowered it. Holding both hands in her own now, she continued, "My past....our past is what was haunting me, Xena. I need to tell you why. I need you to know everything."

Xena said nothing, yet conveyed understanding with her eyes. Gabrielle continued. "It’s true, Ares helped me get to Chin ahead of you. I thought I was saving you. I said I was acting for the sake of friendship. I wasn’t. Not entirely anyhow." Gabrielle broke eye contact looking down at their hands, not sure how to continue.

Xena gently squeezed Gabrielle’s hands forcing her to look up. Xena’s eyes were attentive and loving. "It’s okay, tell me."

Gabrielle forced a smile saying, "I don’t want to hurt you, Xena. I don’t want you to hate me."

"Gabrielle, I could never hate you. Nothing you could say or do would ever make me feel that way." Xena reassured her. "What is it you need to tell me?"

Gabrielle took a deep breath, looking into Xena’s eyes, "I went to Chin convincing myself that I was saving you, that I was acting for the sake of friendship. I wasn’t. I went because I felt betrayed... and I was jealous. I was jealous that you loved someone else, that you could give up everything for someone else - all the good you’ve done, our life together... me." Gabrielle boldly continued with another deep breath before Xena could respond, "Xena, I love you. I always have." Gabrielle felt such relief saying those few words, but she knew she had to keep talking, she had to explain.

"I’ve wanted to tell you for so long, but I was afraid. I was afraid you’d send me home, or think I was still just that silly little girl you rescued from Potedia with some strange, misguided crush. I couldn’t stand the thought of losing you, of not hearing your voice, not seeing your face everyday. Every time I look at you, my heart skips a beat. When I’m near you, my heart races; I swear it’s going to beat out of my chest. I love everything about you: the way you walk, the way you talk, the way your smile brightens your face and warms my heart, I love your piercing blue eyes that can send me over the edge when I look into them. You are the most beautiful creature I have ever seen. Xena, you are my life."

Gabrielle felt as if she were rambling, not making any sense, but she kept talking. "When I went to see you in Ming T’ien’s dungeon, I knew I ‘d lost you. I hated myself for what I’d done. How could I love someone so much and yet betray them? I let jealousy eat away at my heart, my soul. It began to turn my love for you into hatred. I wanted to punish you, to make you feel what I was feeling." Tears began to fall from Gabrielle’s eyes. She hesitated, "I had no right to ask you for forgiveness, but you forgave me anyhow. I wanted so much to take you in my arms and hold you, tell you how much you meant to me. I wanted to kiss you everywhere you hurt and make all your pain go away, especially the pain of my betrayal."

Gabrielle wasn’t sure how Xena was reacting to her newly revealed secret. She tried to read her eyes, but she was too nervous to be sure. At least she didn’t see disgust or pity.

Hoping to break the tension that weighed heavily around her, Gabrielle added, " But you had that damned board around your neck and I couldn’t get to you."

They both chuckled, leaving Gabrielle hopeful, yet she again looked down. Not knowing what else to say, Gabrielle simply added, "Xena, there is nothing more precious to me in this world than you. I have come to terms with what I did to you and I will spend my life making it up to you. You mean more to me than words can express. And being a bard, I know a lot of words. Trust me. They fail. However inadequate these words are to express my true feelings for you Xena, I love you." Gabrielle finished, closing her eyes, pushing out tears that had yet to fall.

Xena slowly put one hand under Gabrielle’s chin, lifting her head until their eyes met. She finally responded in a low, almost sensual voice. "I have two things to say to you."

Gabrielle’s breath caught in her throat. This was it. Either her deepest fear or her fondest dream was about to come true. She couldn’t breath. She felt dizzy and light-headed. ‘Gods, what have I done? Maybe I should never have opened my mouth. What if I lose her? I can’t live without her. I’ll take the pain, it can’t compare to the pain of not being with her.’ Gabrielle’s thoughts were racing.

Xena stared into Gabrielle’s eyes almost losing herself in the moment. After a short pause she spoke. "One. I’m not wearing my wooden necklace anymore, and I did hurt right here," Xena said with a slight smile touching a finger to her right temple.

Gabrielle was confused at first, not realizing what Xena meant. Suddenly her mind cleared and she heard her own voice in her head telling Xena that she had wanted to kiss her everywhere she hurt. Understanding came to her like a blow to the head. Gabrielle’s heart began to beat faster. She slowly bent forward placing a tentative, soft kiss where Xena’s finger had just been. She allowed her lips to linger, taking in the sensation of Xena’s skin on her lips, then reluctantly pulled back, looking into Xena’s eyes.

"And here." Xena touched her finger to her left cheek. The bard responded more quickly and moved to kiss Xena’s cheek exactly where she had indicated.

Gabrielle wasn’t sure where this was going or what it meant, but she liked it and decided to enjoy the moment, willing her lips to feel what she had wanted for so long... Xena.

As she released her lips she heard Xena repeat her last two words, twice. "And here....And here" Moving back slightly to see where Xena was pointing, she saw her finger move from her chin to her nose. Gabrielle reacted and eagerly kissed Xena’s chin, parting her lips slightly to cover more of her skin. She let out a soft, almost inaudible moan, then moved her lips to Xena’s nose, almost brushing the warrior’s lips with her own.

Xena was playing with her, but she didn’t mind the game and fantasized about how much fun it might be in the future, if only she knew for sure where she stood, what role she would play in Xena’s life.

Xena interrupted Gabrielle’s thoughts, "Mostly here." Xena gently pressed her finger to her lips, her eyes narrowed, an eyebrow raised slightly, and lips curled up at the edges forming a faint smile.

Gabrielle was sure she must be dreaming. Xena was inviting her to kiss her lips. She would never do this if she didn’t want to and if she didn’t mean it.

Gabrielle moved close to Xena’s lips anticipating their softness, her heart now racing at the thought of finally tasting her lips. She closed her eyes, tilted her head slightly, leaned in closer and ..... Suddenly, she felt Xena jump up and off the log, releasing her hand from Gabrielle’s tender caress. Gabrielle threw her eyes open, put her freed hand out to stop her momentum toward what she knew would have been sheer ecstasy. Confused, she looked for Xena. Just as she caught herself from falling forward, she saw Joxer stepping through the bushes. Xena had sensed him coming. She indeed had many skills. ‘She’s amazing!’ Gabrielle thought, rolling her eyes in frustration at Joxer’s untimely return.

Entering the camp Joxer whined, "Can I come back yet? Isn’t it almost dinner time? I’m starving, what with all the bard sitting I was doing; reading, teaching, trying to..."

"Joxer!" Gabrielle interrupted with what could only be interpreted as anger. Joxer looked from Gabrielle to Xena wondering if Gabrielle was still mad at him for lying to her earlier when he’d substituted his name for Xena’s in the scrolls, convincing Gabrielle that she was in love with him.

Xena was quick to intervene. She sweetly asked, "Joxer, we.... Gabrielle and I need you to do us a big favor." Xena was never this gracious and warm to Joxer, but figured it would soften the blow she was about to deliver.

"Okay, okay. I’ll do the hunting tonight. Those fury little rabbits are no match for the mighty Joxer! Or maybe fish," he pondered. "Those slimy..."

"Joxer, Gabrielle and I need to spend some time together." Xena interrupted.

"Right, I’ll go hunt and you two talk, er, uh, spend time together. Whatever." Joxer added, confused.

"No Joxer, we need to spend a few days alone together." Xena said.

"Maybe more....a week.... or two." Gabrielle interjected, taking Xena’s cue and trying not to sound angry. She stood and moved toward Xena and Joxer.

Xena smiled to herself at Gabrielle’s implication, and added, " We’ll meet you in Thrice in a week. Gabrielle needs you to find some things for her." Xena knew that if Joxer had a mission, especially for Gabrielle, he would be less inclined to complain.

"Anything for you Gabrielle. What is it you need?" Joxer prepared to memorize Gabrielle’s wishes.

Gabrielle looked at Xena searching for help, "I .... um... some..."

"A new frying pan," Xena suggested. "I dented hers in a fight," she shrugged. "She hates when I do that." Gabrielle caught Xena’s eye and smirked in response.

"...Yeah, right. A frying pan. Can you find one that doesn’t look like a chakram? Xena tends to get them confused." Gabrielle said, noticing Xena return the smirk.

"Okay. A frying pan. What else?" Joxer asked.

Without thinking, Gabrielle blurted out, "Candles."

"Candles?" Joxer replied suspiciously.

"Yeah, candles. And spices too. You know, salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary. We’re running low," Gabrielle scrambled.

"And boots," Xena offered. " You said you needed a new pair of boots." Xena looked at Gabrielle, hinting.

"Yeah. Joxer, I really need some new boots." Gabrielle looked at Joxer with puppy dog eyes, "You don’t mind do you?"

"Jeez, what’s the big deal? Why don’t we just all go? We’ll head out in the morning. Who’s cooking? I’m starving." Joxer said impatiently.

Xena’s patience was wearing thin, but she stayed calm. Just before she opened her mouth to say something, Gabrielle said, "Joxer, yesterday I heard that a traveling cobbler was headed to Thrice and he planned to stay only for a day. This cobbler makes my favorite boots. I haven’t been able to find him for over a year. I’m not sure where he’ll go next. Xena and I have some other things to attend to. You have to get there before he leaves. Only you can get those boots for me. Joxer, I’m counting on you, but you’ll have to go now."

Gabrielle quickly ran to her saddlebag and removed some bread, cheese, dried meat and an apple. She wrapped it up and pushed it into Joxer’s chest while turning him toward the woods. "Here take this. It’s not a great dinner, but I’m sure you don’t mind. You still have a couple hours of daylight." Again, Gabrielle looked at him with pleading eyes, pushing him toward the woods.

Joxer replied proudly, puffing his chest out, "Don’t worry Gabrielle, I’ll get your boots...candles...spices and...."

"Frying pan." Xena helped.

"Right. Consider it done!" He headed toward the woods. "See you in a week," Joxer said as he disappeared into the foliage.

"Very good!" Xena smiled at Gabrielle.

"I have many...well, I have some skills." Gabrielle winked.

Xena crossed over to the fallen tree and patted for Gabrielle to sit with her. "Now, where were we?"

Gabrielle moved to sit where she’d been before Joxer arrived. "Well, you had two things to say to me. And we were on number one, as I recall," she said with apparent anticipation.

Xena gave Gabrielle a seductive smile, locking her eyes with Gabrielle’s. Again, Xena softly touched her finger to her lips. "Specifically right about here, right?"

As Gabrielle leaned in, Xena raised her hand to Gabrielle’s lips halting her progress. "Before we finish with number one, I think I’d better tell you the second thing I need to say."

Gabrielle’s heart stopped. ‘Oh, gods, I’ve read this all wrong. Gabrielle felt foolish, but could only look into Xena’s eyes and listen.

"Two. I’m a coward." Gabrielle’s eyes shot back a questioning look.

"Let me finish." Xena continued. "I’ve fought with myself almost since the day I met you. I’ve denied my feelings for you that have grown in intensity for the past few years. I watch you everyday and long to take you in my arms. I sit up at night and watch you sleep, wishing I could lay next to you and feel your breath on my skin. I’ve ached for your touch, so much that I actually feel physical pain." Gabrielle listened attentively, hoping her eyes expressed the love she felt.

Xena continued, "The day you married Perdicus was the day I finally admitted to myself that I was in love with you. I thought I’d lost you. I cursed myself for not telling you sooner. I’m sorry Perdicus was killed, but part of me will always feel guilty that his death gave you back to me, and made me happy."

Gabrielle reached up and ran her fingers along Xena’s cheek. "Xena..."

Xena put her own hand over Gabrielle’s, turning her head to kiss delicate fingers, then the palm of her hand.

"Gabrielle, I know you loved Perdicus and I couldn’t imagine you loving me. The pain I felt at your wedding was the worst thing I’ve felt in my life. I felt so empty, so alone, so lost without you. Telling you how I felt was a risk I couldn’t take. I wasn’t sure how you would react. I couldn’t bear the thought of losing you again."

A tremor of vulnerability surfaced in Xena’s voice. "I don’t want to remember my life before I met you, and I can’t imagine it without you." Xena’s voice softened and her eyes filled with tears eventually spilling over and running the length of her cheeks. She blinked and blushed slightly at her perceived weakness. Emotions stole her voice. Her self-control was about to collapse; she was struggling mightily and about to succumb.

Gabrielle was quick to console the woman she loved. She tenderly caressed Xena’s face kissing away her tears, whispering between kisses, "I’m here for you Xena. I’m never leaving you. I love you so much."

Xena could no longer control the flood of emotions rising within her. She grabbed Gabrielle, hugging her and began to cry. "Hold me, Gabrielle. I need to feel you." Relief, happiness, love, passion, desire, hope, all these emotions exploded at once manifesting themselves in Xena’s sobs. Gabrielle held Xena close, running her hand down silky raven hair, gently rocking her in her arms. Xena drew a deep breath and whispered over and over, "I love you, Gabrielle. I love you."

The two shared the long, tender embrace, interrupted only by each other’s loving whispers until Xena was once again calm. Pulling away slightly, Gabrielle brushed Xena’s hair from her face and said, "Should we finish with number one?"

Xena smiled. Her eyes, still wet with tears, revealed fathomless joy as they met Gabrielle’s. Slowly, so slowly that the anticipation was almost too much to endure, they moved closer. Gabrielle closed her eyes only when Xena was so close that she could no longer focus on the most beautiful blue she had ever seen. She shuddered when soft, warm, full lips lightly touched her own. Gently, Xena’s lips caressed Gabrielle’s. Xena pressed harder slightly parting her lips, aching to take in more. Gabrielle almost impatiently opened her mouth, inviting Xena into its depths. Her passion was insatiable, she wanted her, all of her. Tongues met for the first time exploring, tasting. So sweet. Their passion grew quickly. Xena moaned, giving voice to her desire.

Xena’s hands moved to caress the bard’s body. She moved her hands up along her back, only to bring them down again, resting one on the side of Gabrielle’s breast, gently massaging it through the fabric that covered it; the other hand came to rest on her bare waist, then wrapped around and pulled her closer.

Gabrielle felt a tremor race through her body at her warrior’s soft touches and pulled away as much to take a breath as to let out a passionate sigh.

Xena paused, "Gabrielle, I love you, but I don’t want to rush you."

"Xena, it’s taken us years to get here, I wouldn’t consider that rushing."

"You know what I mean."

"Kiss me, Xena. Please." The two shared another passionate kiss. The fire they felt consumed them. "Oh, how I’ve fantasized about this day," Gabrielle confessed breathlessly.

"And? Tell me about your fantasies, Gabrielle." Xena’s voice was seductive and filled with desire.

Gabrielle spoke in a low, sensual, suggestive voice, continuing to place small kisses on Xena’s neck and shoulders. "Fantasies can’t compare to the real thing. They have no substance, no texture. You can see them in your mind, but they’re shallow and colorless. They don’t have the depth and brilliance of reality: The blue of your eyes, the white of your teeth, the bronze of your skin pales in comparison. The energy that lights up your face and your soul is missing."

Xena was captivated with Gabrielle’s words. She loved listening to her voice. She loved the way words flowed easily and eloquently from her.

The bard continued, "...You can’t smell them." She leaned into Xena’s chest, resting her head between her breasts inhaling deeply, taking in the familiar scent of leather and soap, then exhaled, letting her warm breath caress Xena’s skin. Xena groaned, tilting her head back feeling her body heat rise for more than obvious reasons; the warmth she felt was not only at her chest.

Gabrielle slowly reached for the clasps that held Xena’s armor, deftly releasing her second skin. She continued to undress her warrior. Xena was pleasantly surprised at Gabrielle’s uninhibited spirit. Xena’s leathers followed, then her boots, leaving the warrior in her shift. Never had the removal of clothing been as seductive, it took her breath away.

Gabrielle continued, "...You can’t touch them or feel them touch you." She placed a hand on Xena’s breast, feeling it through her shift, then slipped it down, under the fabric, taking it in her hand. Xena’s breath caught in her throat. She felt her nipple harden at Gabrielle’s touch.

Xena reached for Gabrielle’s top, undoing the crisscross pattern of laces, then pushed it over one shoulder, then the other, and over her head, freeing Gabrielle’s firm, round breasts. Xena broke eye contact to take in the young bard’s form. A sigh escaped Xena’s lips as she leaned in to bury her face in the valley between Gabrielle’s breasts. Cupping one in her hand, she ran her cheek over the other, then turned her head to cover it with her mouth. Gabrielle’s head fell back and she pressed her chest into Xena. She groaned with pleasure as she felt Xena’s tongue explore and tantalize an erect nipple. Reluctantly she pushed Xena away, continuing her speech before her thoughts were lost.

"...You can’t hear them call your name or give passion its voice." Gabrielle ran her hand along the inside of Xena’s thigh trailing it upward toward her center. She paused, then deliberately stroked the moist fabric that cloaked the treasure within.

Almost on cue, Xena gasped, "Oh, gods Gabrielle."

Gabrielle smiled, pleased that her touch generated such a powerful response in Xena.

The bard concluded her diatribe on fantasies, "...You can’t taste them." Gabrielle pressed her lips to Xena’s, kissing her sensually, deeply, then ran her tongue along Xena’s lips before inching away. Xena’s desires motivated her to follow, reaching for Gabrielle’s lips with her own.

The bard resisted. "Fantasies fan the fire within you and inflame your desires, only to leave you empty, wanting. They tease you, but you can’t resist them. They intoxicate your mind and shadow your thoughts."

Xena’s passion reached its peak. She fought the urge to take Gabrielle right there, yet she was enjoying the foreplay and wanted to see how far Gabrielle would go. "So why do we fantasize?" she asked.


"Ambience?" A raised eyebrow illustrated Xena’s intrigue.

Gabrielle explained, "Candles, lot’s of candles. Firelight. Moonlight. Fresh flowers. Jasmine oil. Soft pillows. Fine wine. Fantasies may be lacking in substance, but they envision the details that capture romance."

"So, you’re a romantic, huh? Xena said with a growl, nibbling at the bard’s chin.

"Oh, you have many surprises coming, my love."

Xena stood and stepped behind the log, reaching for the bedrolls. She quickly spread them out, then took Grabrielle in her arms, guiding her to the bed she had just prepared. Xena pulled her shift up over her head, feeling Gabrielle’s eyes caress her bare skin. She knelt in front of her lover, reaching for the leather around Gabrielle’s waist. The bards hands met Xena’s as they worked together to remove the skirt, then boots. Xena lowered Gabrielle to the bed, laying on top of her. Time eluded them as they explored each other’s bodies. Hands, mouths and tongues memorized every curve, every nuance. They made passionate love as twilight approached, turning the sky a subtle violet streaked with crimson ribbons of descending sunlight. Both women reached a euphoria that defied description. Xena knew that she would never love another with the same intensity, the same passion, the same depth of emotion as she did Gabrielle. She had found her heart and it was Gabrielle.

Exhausted, yet exhilarated, the two lovers remained in each other’s arms, their bodies still tingling wherever they touched.

"Hungry?" Xena purred into Gabrielle’s ear.

"Ready when you are, my love." Gabrielle answered, turning and kissing her warrior voraciously.

Xena moaned into Gabrielle’s mouth, returning her kiss with comparable enthusiasm. "...For dinner," Xena finally managed, while taking a breath and nibbling Gabrielle’s ear.

"I guess I am hungry for that too," Gabrielle confessed. " But I can wait," she said as she nuzzled Xena’s neck, flicking her tongue on soft skin, then tenderly sucking it, leaving a small red marks in her wake.

"If we’re going to eat at all, I’d better go find something for dinner before it gets too dark."

"I guess we will be needing our energy." Gabrielle mused immodestly.

"Temptress!" Xena pretended to scowl. "What’s your pleasure?"

"Humm..." Gabrielle began, licking her lips and raising an eyebrow.

Despite her best effort, a smile brightened Xena’s face, "I’ll surprise you," she said with a chuckle. Xena stood and began to dress. Gabrielle gazed up at her warrior, captivated by her beauty and the love she felt for her. "Hurry back."

"You’ll hardly know I’m gone." Xena replied with a half smile.

Gabrielle’s tone turned serious at the thought of Xena leaving, "I always know you’re gone. Part of me goes with you, and I feel incomplete until you return."

Gabrielle’s words touched Xena’s heart more than she realized. Xena knelt next to Gabrielle, caressing her face in her hands, "You are part of me Gabrielle, the part of me I hold most dear. I love you so much. You are my soul mate. Without you, I don’t think I’d have the will to go on."

Gabrielle spoke softly, " are my life, my world; I want no part of this one without you in it." The two embraced, then shared a tender, loving kiss.

"How about starting a fire and feeding Argo for me. I’ll be back before you know it." With a quick kiss, Xena headed out, weapons in hand.

Once dressed, Gabrielle began to gather wood for a fire. She circled the camp, collecting small sticks for kindling, then larger branches and logs to sustain the fire. She made sure there was enough to last through the night. Having started the fire, she took care of Argo.

Her chores were routine, conducted with such frequency, they required almost no thought, allowing her mind to wander. She replayed the past several hours over and over in her mind, trying to remember every detail, every word. Her thoughts filled her with joy and gave her a sense of peace she had never known before. "Dreams can come true," she said out loud, hugging herself as she watched flames lick the logs that nourished them.

Gabrielle added more wood to the fire, looking around for Xena. Over an hour had passed and the camp was now cloaked in darkness. Gabrielle felt fear and anxiety well-up inside her. She paced in front of the fire, turning quickly at every sound, hopeful to see her warrior. Finally discouraged, she sat on the makeshift bench, looking into the fire, yet not seeing it. She felt tears rise in her throat. Her mind was clouded with apprehension.

Suddenly, she felt something touch her shoulder. Gabrielle jumped and gasped as she turned to see Xena kneeling behind her. Her heart beat uncontrollably in her chest, yet she was relieved, she stood with Xena, melting into her chest. "Gods, where have you been? I’ve been worried sick about you."

"I was a little unfocused. My mind was with you... and not on the task at hand, so it took me awhile to get this." Xena held up a quail that was, of course, already cleaned and ready for the spit. Gabrielle glanced at the bird, then back at Xena, "Next time, I’m going with you. I don’t think my heart can take this again." Gabrielle choked back tears.

Xena took Gabrielle in one arm and kissed her, long and deep. "We’d better get this bird cooking, or we’ll be having it for breakfast instead of dinner," Xena joked. Gabrielle smiled, reached for the bird and started toward her saddlebags, when Xena stopped her with a gentle touch on the arm. "Gabrielle, I’m sorry I took so long." Her eyes were warm and sincere. She knew Gabrielle had been worried and wouldn’t let on how much it had affected her.

Gabrielle smiled, tenderly caressing Xena’s arm, "I’m just glad you’re back. I missed you." For a flicker, her face contorted with grief, and she quickly turned away. Gabrielle went to her saddlebag retrieving the necessary spices to enhance the quail’s flavor. She sprinkled her secret mixture on the bird, then placed two cloves of garlic in its cavity before sliding it onto the spit to cook over the fire.

Xena watched her lover as she efficiently prepared the quail and positioned it over the fire, knowing that something was wrong.

Rummaging through saddlebags, Gabrielle pulled out apples and berries she had picked the day before. She continued her search for the wine she was certain they had. "Xena, where’s the wine? I’m sure we didn’t drink it all," she asked without turning to look at Xena.

"Humm, it’s not there? Maybe we did finish it. Water will be fine. I’m intoxicated enough with your beauty."

Gabrielle flashed a smile at her warrior. "Great line," she said with admiration.

"It’s not a line. It’s how I feel." Xena confessed.

For an instant, Gabrielle’s face beamed with delight. She turned and got out their dinner plates and a knife to carve the quail, all the while distracted with unwanted emotions that stirred inside her. She felt her throat tighten as tears rose. ‘What is wrong with me? Why can’t I shake this? Gods, get a grip Gabrielle,’ the bard thought to herself as she fought for control.

Xena continued to watch the bard as she placed the plates, knife and fruit on the log. Sensing her anguish, she approached Gabrielle, stopping her as she absentmindedly poked at the fire. "What is it? Tell me," Xena asked, concern filling her voice.

Gabrielle turned to Xena, her chin quivering, "Hold me."

Xena took the woman she loved into her arms and held her close.

"Tighter. Hold me tighter." Gabrielle was barely able to speak.

Xena’s embrace intensified. "Hey, I’m here. Shhh. It’s all right. Tell me what’s wrong."

Gabrielle’s voice faltered as she spoke, "It’s... it’s silly."

"Don’t minimize your feelings, Gabrielle. Your emotions are valid and they’re important to me," Xena reassured her.

"It’s just that I’ve kept my secret about you for so long; I’ve longed to be with you that I that we’re together...." Gabrielle took a long breath that trembled in her chest.

Xena bent to nuzzle Gabrielle’s cheek with her own, "Forever," she whispered into Gabrielle’s ear.

Gabrielle continued, "...I never take that long to hunt for dinner, and I let fear get the better of me. I’ve seen you defeat scores of attackers, stand alone against an entire army, handle yourself in too many seemingly hopeless situations to count, but did I focus on that? No, all I could think about was not seeing you again, not holding you in my arms again, and that filled me with a fear I’ve never felt before."

"Come here," Xena said as she guided Gabrielle to the ground, using the fallen tree as a backrest. " I’m here now, and as long as I draw breath, I promise we’ll be together."

They sat in front of the fire, Xena’s arms wrapped around Gabrielle from behind, holding her close while keeping an eye on dinner, releasing her hold only occasionally to turn the quail.

Gabrielle settled into her warrior, holding Xena’s arms to her body in a hug, allowing the tension to drain from her as if it were liquid. They sat quietly for a while watching the fire’s dance, enjoying the moment together.

"Tell me a story, " Xena asked, burying her face in Gabrielle’s hair, then nuzzling her neck.

"Really, you want to hear one of my stories? I didn’t think you liked them."

Kissing the bard’s neck, then softly biting it, Xena replied in a whisper, "Gabrielle, your voice is my music, your words are my songs."

Gabrielle reveled in those words. "Hum, let me think now.....Okay, ready?"

"Always." Xena replied, settling her chin on Gabrielle’s shoulder, taking in her sweet scent.

Gabrielle began. "The first time I saw her, I was captivated by her strength, her courage, her spirit, her incredible beauty. Our eyes locked for an instant, and I knew then that it was my destiny to be with her. I was surrounded by evil, looking into the faces of darkness, yet I felt safe knowing she was there." Gabrielle turned to look at Xena who kissed her lovingly.

"She changed my life, adding flavor, texture and meaning. Time was no longer innocuous. Hours were filled with color. Days were fresh with new experiences. The months embraced a mixture of pleasure and wonder." Gabrielle’s voice soared as she spun her tale.

"I watch her in battle. Her senses keen; she sees beyond the visible; she hears the shadows and whispers meant only for the wind; she feels that which cannot be touched; she detects the scent of danger when most mortals smell nothing but the aromas saturating the air around them. She wields her sword as though it’s an extension of her arm, deftly felling her attackers." Gabrielle’s words painted pictures in her mind. Though her eyes looked into the fire, she saw only visions of her beautiful, blue-eyed warrior as she recounted her story.

"Honing her sword she’s focused, tone muscles flexing with each stroke of the stone. My skin aches to touch them, to feel their strength surround me." Gabrielle’s hands caressed Xena’s arms, rubbing and stroking their supple firmness.

"My infatuation for her grew daily. I was exhilarated by the experiences of the unfamiliar emotions that filled me. A touch left my skin tingling. A smile took my breath away. Hearing her speak my name left me weak. An embrace sent strange pulses through my body that quickened the beat of my heart. Though nameless initially, I soon realized that all these things that I was feeling, the strange sensations running through my blood were love. True love." Gabrielle closed her eyes and took a deep breath, feeling the emotions she had just described. Xena’s hand moved to caress Gabrielle’s thigh, her fingers lightly exploring, tantalizing her skin.

"I watch her everyday. My eyes explore and absorb the curves of her body, the softness of her skin, consuming her essence, quenching my desires. She is my savior, my warrior, my goddess, my love. She is Xena of Amphipolis."

Xena took Gabrielle by the shoulders, pulling her backward, cradling her in strong arms. Gabrielle looked up into Xena’s piercing blue eyes yearning to make love to her again and again. "By the gods,... I want you so much," Gabrielle whispered breathlessly. Lips met, tongues danced, sending tantalizing pulses though their bodies. Xena guided the bard to the ground and swiftly maneuvered her body on top of her, straddling her hips. Desire swelled within her as she pressed her hips to Gabrielle’s, rubbing, rocking, gliding up and down with quick, fervent movements. Hands fumbled to remove clothing. Lips parted and tongues stopped probing only to allow erotic groans to escape from deep within their souls. Breaths came short and quick. Gabrielle felt, heard and detected the scent of her love’s desire. Abruptly, she opened her eyes, glancing at the quail over the fire. The scent of burning meat had overcome her senses, bringing her back from the brink of ecstasy into the reality of her surroundings. "Xena, the quail!" she managed.

Snapping her head toward the fire, "Hades!" Xena spun around grabbing the spit and blowing the flames in an attempt to save what was left of their meal. Both women began to laugh at the sight of the charred quail in Xena’s hand. "It’s not too bad, mostly just the skin burned. Shall we eat before we get distracted again?" Xena asked as she reached for the plates and knife Gabrielle had set out.

"Yes, we need our strength, remember?" Gabrielle’s eyes sparkled.

"Breast or thigh?" Xena asked as she began to carve.

A snicker escaped Gabrielle’s throat, "Both. Definitely both," she answered coyly, allowing her eyes to drop to Xena’s chest as she placed a hand on her firm thigh.

"You’re not making this easy little bard."

"What?" Gabrielle feigned ignorance.

As it always had, Xena’s exquisite smile sent chills through Gabrielle. "Unless you want a bloody warrior on your hands, I’d suggest you not distract me. This knife is sharp," Xena quipped, flashing the knife in front of her smiling face, its blade glistening in the firelight. "Now, kiss me and say you’re sorry," she added with mock annoyance.

"Can’t I just say I’m sorry? Do I have to kiss you?" Gabrielle rolled her eyes as if she were inconvenienced, struggling to keep the smile from her lips.

Stabbing the quail with her knife, Xena playfully lunged at the bard, "What do you mean...have to? Xena pinned Gabrielle to the ground, holding her arms above her head with one hand and began tickling her with the other. Gabrielle burst out laughing, thrashing her head from side to side while attempting to speak. "Okay...I’m...sorry." Each word was laced with laughter.

Xena paused, "And?" she prompted.

"And, I’ll have a wing instead." Gabrielle laughed even before Xena could continue her playful torture. "You little...," Xena laughed as she rendered another barrage of tickling.

"I...give...up!" Gabrielle acquiesced breathlessly.

Xena released her grip, yet did not move. She stared down at Gabrielle, her heart pleasantly aching from the love she felt for her. She bent down to kiss her young bard, only to stop inches from her lips. Gabrielle lifted her head to close the remaining distance between them, eager to taste Xena’s lips. Xena pulled back as Gabrielle reached for her. "I can play too," Xena snickered, then slowly leaned forward placing her mouth over Gabrielle’s, eliciting a soft moan from her lover.

"We’d better eat before we get distracted again." Xena warned, sliding her body off Gabrielle’s.

"Too late, I already am." Gabrielle said, as she reluctantly sat up.

Xena finished carving the quail and sliced the apples placing equal portions on the plates. "I wish we had that wine," Gabrielle said as she tore savory meat from bone. The two lovers devoured their dinner, not realizing how hungry they actually were.

Xena stood, swallowing the last of her meal, "Let’s go for a walk. I want to show you something."

A puzzled look crossed Gabrielle’s face. "Show me something? What?" she asked with a suspicious smile.

Xena’s eyes sparkled, "You’ll see. She grabbed Gabrielle’s hands pulling her to her feet, then wrapped an arm around her as they headed out of the camp. The moon was nearly full, casting enough light through the dense foliage, eliminating the need for torches. The two walked slowly, arm in arm as Xena lead the way. "Where are we going?" Gabrielle asked with a hint of excitement.

"We’re almost there." Xena replied, pleased at her companion’s intrigue.

A few minutes passed and Xena stopped walking. Looking down at Gabrielle, she kissed her tenderly, then whispered, "I have fantasies too, but we’ll start with one of yours." Xena parted the branches in front of them, revealing a small clearing that was illuminated by dozens of candles flickering in the warm gentle breeze, casting shadows that danced on the edges of darkness. Ethereal beams of moonlight streamed down from above, highlighting the details of Xena’s efforts. Bedrolls lay among the candles, adorned with freshly cut flowers, their sweet scent filling the night air. A log was positioned next to the bedrolls creating a table that held two goblets filled with wine. A small fire crackled on the outer ring of the love nest.

Gabrielle stood in awe. Tears filled her eyes, one broke away, cascading down her cheek. She didn’t think it was possible, but at that moment, she loved Xena more than ever before. She walked slowly to the middle of the clearing, turning in circles, taking in every detail, searing them into her mind, never wanting to forget the moment. It was as though her thoughts, her fantasies had been transformed into reality. She felt dizzy, not from her movements, but from the impact that Xena’s gift had made on her. She turned and looked at Xena whose loving eyes were already fixed on her. "I’m speechless. How did you...? Where did you get...? Gabrielle attempted to complete a sentence, but the words eluded her.

Xena smiled, "I have many skills, remember?"

"You did this for me?" Gabrielle asked, as tears streamed down her face, understanding why Xena had taken so long to hunt for dinner.

Walking toward her lover, Xena brought a single flower from behind her back and offered it to Gabrielle. Looking down at her, she answered, "Gabrielle, everything I do is for you. You’ve made me who I am. It scares me to think of what I would be without you."

"It’s perfect. You’re perfect. What did I ever do to deserve you?" Gabrielle replied.

"You deserve so much more. And I’m far from perfect."

"You are to me," Gabrielle said as she melted into Xena who held her close, placing soft kisses on her head. "Wine, my love?" Xena asked, reaching for the goblets that held Dionysus’ gift. Xena handed Gabrielle a goblet, holding hers up in a toast, "To you, my love. I never thought my heart would know true happiness...true love, until I met you. I will protect you, honor you, and love you forever."

Before consummating the toast, Gabrielle added, "Before I met you, my life was ordinary. I moved through my daily routines without much thought. I lived vicariously through my stories, always wanting more. Knowing you has filled a need in me that I never really knew was there. I fell in love with you the day I met you. It was like an awakening; new emotions stirred in me, a new zest for life consumed me. ...Xena, I would be lost without you. I love you more than life itself."

Goblets clicked, sealing their words in an eternal pledge. As wine wet lips, their eyes met, finding an intimacy never before known. The two lovers placed their wine on the would-be table, then fell into each other’s arms. Lips met, tenderly, softly, fully. The kiss they shared was passionate, yet expressed an intimacy, a closeness beyond physical limitations. They both knew that their kiss was a commitment, a bond, transcending life and death, connecting them for eternity.

Gabrielle began to undress her warrior; weapons, armor and leather fell with deliberate purpose. She lifted Xena’s shift over her head, then pressed her lips to bronze skin, running her tongue along its sweetness, beginning an exquisite journey. Xena moaned with carnal pleasure as Gabrielle feasted on the delicate curves of her neck, on her powerful shoulders, pausing at firm breasts. Enveloped in her mouth, she teased erect nipples with her fervid tongue before continuing the journey down her abdomen, licking firm muscles that flexed involuntarily with each wet stroke.

Gabrielle pulled Xena’s hips toward her, placing soft kisses around her center, taking in the now familiar scent of her arousal. Xena shifted her body, adjusting her stance to accommodate her lover’s progress. Gabrielle’s quick tongue parted silken folds, settling on Xena’s swollen nub, massaging it with slow, rhythmic strokes.

"Oh, Gabrielle!" Xena groaned, unable to control the trembling in her body.

Eager to please her warrior, Gabrielle reached for Xena’s hands that were fisted and tangled in her own hair, pulling her down toward the bedrolls. Gabrielle lay on top of her warrior, pressing her body into Xena’s, stimulated where ever flesh met flesh. Slipping her thigh between Xena’s legs, exhilarated from the moister she felt, she began to move, matching the cadence of Xena’s ascending hips.

Xena’s passion overwhelmed her, "Make love to me, Gabrielle," she called out breathlessly. The bard smiled before answering. "All night, my love," she said, tasting Xena’s mouth with her own. Gabrielle lowered her body, positioning herself between Xena’s legs, continuing what she had started only moments ago. Xena’s hips matched the strokes of her lover’s tongue and fingers, her body exploded with gratification, shuddering at its infinite pleasure. She reached for Gabrielle who continued to caress Xena’s throbbing bud with her tongue.

"," Xena said breathlessly. "I want you to feel what I just did." She rolled on top of Gabrielle, expertly using her mouth to entice her bard undressing her as her hands caressed her exquisite body. Xena took her time pleasing Gabrielle. It was as though nothing else existed but their love. Alternately making love and holding each other through the night, they consumed each other with insatiable hunger.

Drained of energy, the two women lay in each other’s arms, gazing up at twinkling stars that dotted the celestial tapestry above them, content with the silence between them, yet communicating through the love they shared for each other. Words were unable to express their love like the warmth of a touch, the smile in a whisper, the depth of a look.

Gabrielle began to drift off into that nebulous place between consciousness and dreams, aware of Xena’s touch, yet clouded by incoherent images dancing through her mind. Lulled by the steady beat of Xena’s heart, and the rise and fall of her chest, Gabrielle finally succumbed to her dreams.

Xena lay silently in Gabrielle’s embrace, listening to her breathe, exhilarated by her closeness and the sensation the softness and warmth of her skin left on her own. She fought sleep, not wanting to miss a moment of the experience for which she had ached for so long. She moved slightly, propping herself up on an elbow to look at her sleeping bard. Captivated by her beauty, she lightly stroked auburn hair, then traced the curves of her face with delicate fingertips. "You’re so beautiful," she whispered adoringly. " I love you Gabrielle...more than anything."

Gabrielle stirred, temporarily breaking the spell of Morpheus. Snuggling closer to her warrior, she purred, "I love you Xena."

As the moon continued its familiar trek across the night sky, Xena held her lover as she slept. Closing her eyes, she allowed her mind to cross over, joining her soul mate in peaceful slumber.


******The End******

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