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Eyes May Blind Me...
By Bardic

Rated: NC-17 - For Graphic sexual activities. Finally, yay!!! The fun stuff!!! * ^ _ ~ *

Disclaimers: A wise man once said: "All characters hereby-mentioned in writings concerning Xena: WP will forever be adjoining the honorable titles of MCA/Universal and associating production companies. Should any one soul ever possesseth these characters and use them for their own selfish purposes without MCA/Universal's knowledge, let all wrath and rapture be directed towards their own heads, and may their souls be forever condemned to Hades' fiery pits of Tartarus." Upon saying that, he wrote a XenaFic story, and it was good.

Author's note: First time bard, please take all pity upon me. I tried my hand at the challenge, and whether I failed miserably or triumph was mine, all judgments are in the eye of the beholder. That said, flames still hurt me, so please, be gentle in your feedback.

Warning: This story contains fairly graphic detail of two consenting adults of the same sex making love, so if this bothers you, is illegal where you live, or you are under the age of 18, you have four options:

  1. Stop reading
  2. Move to someplace in THIS century
  3. Buy yourself a nice fake ID
  4. Keep reading and disregard the consequences
Option four is the one more frequently chosen.

I have already started the sequel to this story, and it should be ready fairly soon. Until then, I hope you enjoy "Eyes May Blind Me..."

< Breaking a few of the cliché barriers according to Bongo Bear and friends ;) >

Gods guide thee well,
    xoxo All feedback is greatly appreciated, please put [STORIES] in the subject header to ensure I respond as quickly as possible * ^ _ ^ *

"Spend all your time waiting, for that second chance,
For a break that will make it OK.
There's always some reason, to feel not good enough,
And it's hard at the end of the day.

I need some distraction, oh beautiful release,
Memories seep from my pains.
Then may be empty, oh and weightless, then may be,
I'll find some peace tonight..."

--Sarah McLachlan, "Angel"


Gabrielle opened her eyes and gazed across the darkness to the figure she sought. Bathed in the red glow of firelight, Xena was absorbed in her task. Long fingers and strong hands lovingly caressed the weapon she held, polishing her sword until it shone in the flame that licked her face.

Safe in the knowledge that her staring went unnoticed, Gabrielle let her eyes wander across the contradiction that was Xena. For such a hardened warrior, her body was amazingly soft and feminine. Her jaw was set in concentration, her brow furrowed. A long tendril of raven hair fell against a silky neck. Gabrielle noticed a vein throbbing with Xena's pulse, and felt her own quicken to match its rhythm. Her eyes drank in well-muscled shoulders; soft skin that was strangely unscarred for a warrior of Xena's past and years, which seemed to glow and sparkle beneath the dance of the fire's light. The bard ran her eyes down Xena's exquisitely muscled arms, biceps bulging as she polished now her Chakram. The contrast of silver against Xena's bronzed skin shone in the night, and the absorbed look of pleasure on her face made Gabrielle's throat run dry. She let her eyes skim across a bare collarbone and a flowing nape, watching it gently rise and fall as Xena breathed. Wearing only the thin cotton shift she slept in, Xena's cleavage was poised for the bard's vision. She absentmindedly let her tongue flick across her lips to wet them as she lowered her eyes to Xena's ample chest, her breasts round and full, her nipples faintly visible through the thin fabric. Clenching her jaw, Gabrielle dragged her eyes downwards, to a firm stomach and the dip of a navel above the warrior's tight abdominal muscles. She looked to Xena's hips; soft and womanly ghosted beneath the cotton shift that came only halfway down the woman's muscled thighs. These were taut and firm from riding and fighting, and well-bronzed from the Grecian sun. Gabrielle let her eyes wander down the length of Xena's legs,- long and slender, hinting only to their power as Xena clenched her toes occasionally and a myriad of muscles sprang to the surface.

Gabrielle wondered not for the first time what it would be like to have those long legs wrapped around her body, and firm breasts pressed against her own. She imagined lips on her mouth, her neck,- those strong hands roaming across her heated skin, and icy-blue eyes staring into her own within the throes of passion...

Gabrielle closed her eyes tightly against the thousands of sounds and images that flooded her mind and her vision. She was all-too accustomed to these feelings she was experiencing. Every night for longer than she could remember, she had watched the warrior in secret, dreaming of what could never be, and was left flustered and frustrated by the futility of her actions. She tried to think when Xena had become all-too enticing not to dream about ever moment,- waking or otherwise. She tried to remember when she hadn't been.

Sighing in silence, Gabrielle turned her eyes from their wishful reverie and tried for sleep; unfulfilled and dissatisfied.

*   *   *

Xena put her sword and Chakram gently into the saddlebags where her armor and leathers were already safely housed. Satisfied finally that they were clean and shining enough, she was also certain that Gabrielle was deeply asleep. She could hear the younger woman snoring softly,- a good indication that Morpheus had finally taken her. This meant she was safe to engage in her favorite pastime activity: watching the bard sleep.

She would often watch the bard as she walked, her lean body and rippling abs locking the warriors' gaze, and her face furrowed in concentration causing Xena to fight back a fond smile. She would watch the bard as she ate, or wrote, or talked, or even bathed when she got the much-anticipated opportunity, which was not nearly often enough.

But Xena's favorite time for watching Gabrielle was while she slept. Then, she did not have to half-glance, or watch from the corner of her eye, or make sure she was far enough away for it to go unnoticed. While she slept, the bard's face was even more open than in the daylight. Just seeing how peaceful and untroubled the younger woman was, even in sleep, caused a warm tide of peace to wash over Xena's body, and her heart.

But it did more than just grant her serenity, and sometimes, it did quite the opposite. Tonight, the warrior knew, was one of those nights.

Xena ran her eyes over the sleeping form of the bard. The night was unusually warm, especially with the fire still blazing, and so the bard had left her blanket discarded at her feet. She was clad in nothing more than a thin cotton shift - much like Xena's own.

Xena let her gaze fall appreciatively over the bard's neck. She licked her lips and imagined letting them kiss their way down the silky skin to bury her mouth in the woman's soft breasts, pushed together by her sleeping arms to accentuate their full curves. She pictured herself running her hands over Gabrielle's firm stomach and well-sculpted abs, to her curving hips and buttocks. Pulling the moaning woman against her and running her fingers up strong thighs and then between them, driving the woman over the edge as she captured an open mouth with her own...

Xena felt a warm flush rising to her cheeks and moisture gathering between her legs. She unclenched her hands and wiped her sweating palms on her shift. Shaking her head at her own foolishness, and chastising herself for blatantly mistreating the bard's innocence and trust, Xena lay down beside the girl to get some sleep.

With her last conscious thoughts, she did something she knew she should not. She rolled over until she was facing the bards' back. The sweet scent of Gabrielle washed over her like a tidal wave and she bit back a moan. Moving a little closer, until her face was pressed against the top of Gabrielle's hair, she threw one arm around the bard's small waist. Unable to suppress it any longer, she let out a deep moan from the back of her throat as Gabrielle shifted and molded her buttocks to Xena's hips.

The warrior closed her eyes tightly and tried to concentrate on sleeping. It was going to be a long night...

*   *   *

Gabrielle awoke and wondered why. It was not dawn yet, rather far from it. She must have only been asleep for five or six candlemarks, and she could hear no sound that might have woken her. Besides, if there were any hint of danger, then Xena would have...

Then Gabrielle realized what had woken her. Xena's sleeping body was pressed fully against her back, her buttocks resting firmly on the other woman's hips. She could feel Xena's breasts against her upper back, and she swallowed a throaty moan. But it wasn't any of that that really made Gabrielle's heart start racing, or her stomach tingle, or her throat run dry as her body put its liquid resources to other uses. It was the precarious placement of Xena's hand that caused Gabrielle's moan to escape, and her already-murky vision to blur.

Xena's strong hand was gently cupping her left breast.

Gabrielle tried to breathe and think at the same time. This proved even more difficult as the sleeping warrior behind her pulled her closer and grasped her breast more firmly in her sleep. A thousand thoughts raced through Gabrielle's head as she lay unerringly still against the warrior's palm. Her nipples were erect and she ached to arch forward into Xena's hand, but she feared waking the sleeping woman - for many reasons. She feared Xena would remove her hand in embarrassment with mumbled apologies, she feared she would not remove her hand and would continue her caressing strokes until the bard could contain herself no longer, and she feared she would admit wanting Xena to caress and stroke her. The bard decided that waking the sleeping warrior could be detrimental to her health in the most wonderfully torturous of ways.

Gabrielle lay unbreathing in her sweet discomfort, trying to ignore the way her body ached for the warrior to continue her unconscious ministrations on her hypersensitive skin. The bard closed her eyes and tried to imagine she was still fast asleep, and dreaming another familiar, delicious fantasy.

*   *   *

Xena felt herself become half-conscious of her surroundings and tensed her entire body ready for an attack that did not come. Confused, she strained to listen for the sound that did not wake her, rouse her senses for the scent of the endangerment that was not there. The only sense that seemed fully attuned to her surroundings, was touch. She delved deeper, and gasped as she took account of her limbs. All were in tact bar that of her left hand. Somehow, while unawares in the vice of a deep sleep, the arm that Xena had wrapped around the waist of the bard had moved steadily upward, and was now administering a sweet, unconscious torture upon the woman's soft breast. Commanding her body to still, and denying her aching hips the thrill of crushing themselves against the young bard's soft behind, Xena debated removing her hand. But she found she could not, for a number of reasons. She did not want to awaken the bard and shock her by the position they were in. She did not know if she *could* actually force herself to remove her hand. And she did not know where her hand would end up should she remove it.

Xena tried forcing herself back to sleep, she tried rationalizing the situation as accidental. Not succeeding, she tried reciting every meditational mantra she knew to somehow calm the pounding of her heart.

'Morpheus, you son of a Bacchae, you will pay for this. I know where you live... Gabrielle had better be as deep a sleeper as she lets on, or so help me I'll...'

Finally resigning herself to the fate of the situation, she let her palm lead her, and lightly caressed the bard's erect nipple.

Xena froze as she felt the bard shift a little beneath her touch and groan quietly. She shook her head to dismiss the idea that the sleeping bard was reacting to anything but the sensation in her unconscious state. And yet, she could not bring herself to end it there.

Xena moved her face forward until it was buried in the back of the bard's neck. Inhaling deeply, she nudged the bard's hair aside and pressed her closed lips to a warm neck. Moving to just below the woman's earlobe, she parted her lips and let her tongue slip out to taste the bard's silken flesh. She found it salty-sweet to her tongue, and she kissed it softly, before letting her teeth gently nip and bite. She soothed the red marks with the tip of her tongue, and moved her mouth to capture a small earlobe between her lips. She felt the bard tremble and move closer to her, whimpering softly. Xena froze without removing her mouth, and prayed Gabrielle was sleeping too deeply to be aware of what was going on.

*   *   *

Gabrielle was far from asleep beside the teasing warrior. Her whole body tingled and her skin burnt wherever the woman touched her. She prayed that whatever dream Morpheus had trapped Xena in, he would not let her wake until Gabrielle had had her fill. Urging the warrior on with every restrained effort she could muster without disturbing her *sleeping* companion, she bit her lip fiercely to stop herself from crying out, settling instead for Xena's name whispered under her breath.

*   *   *

The warrior froze again and her breath caught in her lungs as she heard the woman mumbling in her sleep. While this was nothing unusual, the content was. She dismissed the thought with an imperceptible shake of her head. The idea that Gabrielle was calling her name was surely a whimsical mistake of hearing. Purely ridiculous...

Xena continued moving her mouth over the bard's earlobe, down her neck, and on a steady path to her shoulder. Pulling the strap of the girl's shift free with her teeth, she placed a trail of wet kisses over one soft shoulder, licking and biting at the bard's sweet skin. Absorbed in her mouth's work, she unconsciously slid her left hand downward from the bard's breast and across her firm, muscled stomach.

Then she heard it. A small whimper escaped the bard's throat, followed by a definite 'Xena'. The warrior woman widened her eyes and quickly removed her mouth from the bard's shoulder. She heard Gabrielle whimper again, pitifully this time, and whisper curses almost silently.

*   *   *

The Bard bit her lip harder and tasted metallic blood from where she had punctured the skin in her feeble attempt at silence.

"Dammit to hell!. Morpheus, don't you let her stop now or by Amazonian oath I'll..."

Xena's hand had been moving to where Gabrielle had suddenly needed her most, and if she were to stop now, the bard knew that the fine line of sanity she was presently walking would shatter, and she would tumble over the precipice of madness in her longing.

Then Gabrielle heard something that turned her stomach inside out. Xena was saying her name. Not muttered in some dreaming stupor, or a passionate whisper from her sleep. No, this was unmistakable in its questioning and untainted by the dregs of recently-broken slumber.

Gabrielle felt her heart pounding so forcefully that she was afraid it was going to burst out of her chest. She was sure that Xena would be able to hear it beating like an Amazonian rhythm drum, even without her intriguingly-sensitive hearing. But still she closed her eyes tightly, and tried to pretend she was asleep, hoping Xena would at least slip back in to slumber, and by some miraculous occurrence, resume her interactive dreaming.

*   *   *

When Gabrielle did not stir or answer, Xena was almost tempted to return to her sensual ministrations, but her suspicions were already aroused (among other things). She could not ignore her instinctual responses, not now: they had guided her well through her warrior life and were very rarely wrong. But if Gabrielle had woken up, why would she not answer, and why was she still pretending to be asleep?

Xena's stomach dropped to her bare feet. Could she have frightened the tiny woman so much that she feared to say anything lest Xena hurt her in some way? Or, could it be, could it just maybe be that...

Silencing her mind quickly against her train of thought, she struggled with every ounce of restraint and control she could muster to keep her hands very still and her mouth to herself. But it was too late. Her body leapt before her grasping senses and rolled Gabrielle swiftly onto her back. The younger woman's eyes were wide and staring as she came face to face with the warrior looming over her.

Xena scrutinized the bard's expressive face and eyes with a penetrating gaze, searching through the emotions she displayed. Fear, surprise, astonishment,- all were clearly evident, expected, and not at all what the warrior was looking for. Then she spotted it. Hidden beneath a frightened mask, the blue-green ocean of Gabrielle's eyes was in turmoil. And, the warrior noted with a satisfied and sensuous grin, its driving force was barely restrained passion.

"How long have you been awake Gabrielle?"

Xena's piercing blue gaze was making Gabrielle squirm. She tried to look innocent and confused by Xena's question. She failed miserably.

"I just woke up when you rolled me over. You gave me quite a scare Xena. What's going on?"

Xena smiled inwardly at her bard's poor attempt at professing her innocence. Outwardly, however, she merely raised an eyebrow in deliberate questioning.

"Really? Just then?"

The bard hesitated for a moment, before nodding her head in response.

"Hmm. So, then, you wouldn't have felt it when I did this?"

Xena leaned in slowly and watched the bard's eyes close and her lips part in anticipation. She kissed her neck and felt the erratic beating of the girl's pulse jump a notch beneath her lips. She bit gently at the bard's tingling flesh and noted her gasp and strangled whimper with a satisfied grin.

Moving back to look into Gabrielle's face once more, she watched the trembling bard open her eyes - murky, and a deep shade of emerald green.


Gabrielle's voice was croaky and thick, and unconvincing to the point of hilarity. Xena raised her eyebrow again.

"Oh. Then how about this?"

Xena captured the woman's earlobe gently between her teeth and flicked her tongue out to taste, before sucking with minimal force. But it was enough to ensure the bard's moan was unmistakable this time, and her hands clenched into tight fists at her side.

"Still nothing huh?"

Knowing Gabrielle was perfectly incapable of speaking, - a first in the girl's life and one she would pay for dearly later - Xena teased her with an exasperated sigh. Then she smiled wickedly at the bard, whose eyes widened in unknown realization of what was going to happen next.

"Then surely you must have felt this?"

Before Gabrielle could say or do anything, Xena threw a muscled thigh across her body to straddle her hips. Pinning the stunned girl beneath her, she placed one strong hand on Gabrielle's breast, and rubbed her thumb over the woman's nipple, which became immediately erect, and the bard let out a throaty moan.


Xena grinned triumphantly as Gabrielle put both hands on her thighs and threw her head back. She leaned in close to the bard's ear and lowered her voice seductively.

"I thought that might strike a chord with you."

Xena leaned her face in slowly to place an uncertain kiss on Gabrielle's open mouth. Feeling the woman move her lips against Xena's own, she pulled back and let her tongue slide out to taste the new, sweet taste of the bard's inviting mouth. The low groan that followed told Gabrielle that Xena liked what she tasted. Had she not been so paralyzed with astonishment and anticipation, she probably would have chuckled at the warrior's reaction. But as it was, Gabrielle was finding it a hard enough task to keep breathing, let alone remember how to transform conscious thought into visible emotion.

Xena let her heated gaze roam over Gabrielle's body. She watched with interested pleasure as a deep flush crept over the bard's ears and cheeks. Her chest rose and fell quite noticeably as Xena let her gaze linger on the suggestion of pert breasts. Shooting Gabrielle a wicked grin, she ran her fingers over the soft fabric that covered the woman's enticing flesh. She felt Gabrielle shiver as she traced her fingers across hardened nipples, then continued down sensitive sides. The bard squirmed as Xena's light touch tickled her in a cruel, but pleasurable way.

As the warrior's hands made their way past Gabrielle's hips to the tops of her well-muscled thighs, she took the bottom of the cotton shift tightly in both hands and lifted it up the woman's body. Gabrielle complied in silent concession by raising her hips, and then her shoulders and arms so that Xena was able to remove her clothing and toss it far aside.

Xena swallowed dryly over the lump of barely restrained passion that was rising within her throat. Her flashing blue eyes drank in the vision of Gabrielle's naked body like a starving man might devour a blessed meal. Strawberry-blonde hair fell like cascading water over the falls of Gabrielle's neck and shoulders. Small, pert breasts rose into perfectly pointed tips that strained to be touched by gentle hands. The bard's toned stomach was flat and firm from continual walking and training, and tight abs danced beneath silken, tanned skin. It all joined seamlessly below thin hips and between soft, muscled thighs in a small triangle of reddish hair. This enticing gateway to the bard's hidden pleasures was calling Xena now with a Siren's song, and she knew it would not be long before she could deny its pull no longer.

Xena smiled down at the blushing bard who was chewing on her wounded lip nervously.


Gabrielle's face lit up with that one simple word. Although it was a brief sentiment, the truth and feeling behind it was clearly evident in Xena's husky voice, and the girl found herself chuckling and weeping at the same time.

Xena watched tears suddenly begin to fall from the bard's blue-green eyes, and she panicked.

"What is it Gabrielle? Did I hurt you? Did I scare you? Oh Gods, what am I doing? What have I done? I am so sorry, I didn't mean to upset you, please don't cry."

Gabrielle sniffled and tried to hold back her tears, smiling reassuringly to the endearing, worried warrior.

"No, you haven't hurt me at all, please don't stop."

Xena frowned in confusion, apprehension creasing her brow.

"Then why are you crying?"

Gabrielle let her fingertips trace over the dark haired woman's wrinkled forehead. She touched the warrior's face lovingly, and Xena leant her cheek into the bard's palm, placing a soft kiss on her thumb. Gabrielle smiled and another tear found its way down her damp cheek.

"I just... never thought, that all my dreams could come true this way. I thought you could never think of me like this. I'm your best friend, and a woman, and you're so strong and beautiful and brave... I just resigned myself to the idea that it could never be."

Xena's eyes widened as she realized the implication of the bard's words.

"Gabrielle, I have wanted you for so long, and I thought 'What would a perfect, innocent girl want with a rusty, ruined old warrior like you?' I was so afraid that if I told you how I really felt, you would leave me, and I would have no reason to continue the way I do now. I don't think I could stand living a day without you. I wouldn't want to try."

Gabrielle couldn't help it, she felt herself begin to cry again.

"You watched me?"

Xena nodded nervously.

"But how could that be? I was watching you. I didn't think you even noticed I was there for most of the time!"

Xena smiled and shook her head at the shocked bard.

"Oh I noticed alright. You made things very difficult for me Gabrielle."

The younger woman blushed and grinned wildly. She raised one hand to run her palm up Xena's side. She watched the warrior close her eyes and clench her jaw tightly. Gabrielle placed her other hand on the back of the woman's head and entwined her fingers in the hair of Xena's raven mane. She pulled the warrior's face towards her and let her lips brush lightly against her own. Then the younger woman turned her head to whisper softly in Xena's ear.

"You know, I'm not as innocent as you think, Xena."

Xena's eyes snapped open wide in surprise at the seductive tone in Gabrielle's voice. She swallowed audibly as the bard bit gently on her earlobe and flicked it with the tip of her tongue.

"Oh Gabrielle..."

Xena's moan was deep and throaty and she cocked her head to one side, allowing the smooth skin of her neck to be more accessible to the bard's mouth. As the woman complied, Xena moved one strong hand upward to caress the bard's breast, and let the other glide low to rest on her hip.

Gabrielle made an executive decision and began lifting Xena's own cotton shift with deft but shaking hands. Her clothing just *had* to go. The warrior let Gabrielle remove the shift and watched her toss it onto the pile with her own. Both women moaned as bare flesh touched bare flesh with passionate intent for the first time.

One mouth captured another and tongues battled for space in a heated dance of longing. Gabrielle moved both her hands to Xena's large, full breasts and rubbed her thumbs across sensitive nipples until they were erect and straining into her palms. Her hips thrust uncontrollably forward as one of Xena's thighs made its way between her own and parted them in determination. She opened her eyes to watch Xena's unmasked and open face above her, and whimpered at the look of unhindered pleasure that met her gaze. She slid her hand across Xena's exquisitely muscled stomach and pulled the warrior's weight more firmly against her.

Xena moved her thigh between Gabrielle's legs, eliciting a whimper and a low moan from the writhing bard. She thrust her hips against the younger woman's thigh and released a throaty murmur of her own. One hand still exacting sweet torture on the bard's breast, she let the other slide steadily downwards until it was positioned between her thigh and the damp gateway to the bard's pleading passions.

Gabrielle lost all sense of being as Xena's fingers pressed against her heated center. She threw her head back, releasing Xena's commanding mouth for a moment, and moaned.


The name was breathy at best, but the warrior's sensitive ears registered it clearly and it only succeeded in urging her on. Catching the bard's thigh between her knees, she pressed it into herself and thrust to the ancient rhythm her hand began.

Xena ran her finger between Gabrielle's damp folds and for a moment came into full contact with the throbbing center of her desire. She silenced the bard's cries with her mouth and drove her hand onward in its maddening ministrations. With one determined movement, she pushed a finger inside the bard. They slipped in without resistance, and Gabrielle's abdominal muscles clenched tightly to ensure she would not remove them in a hurry. Gabrielle's occupied mouth partly silenced her whimpers and the warrior's own throaty murmurs.

Leaning in to the bard, Xena became a warrior with a mission. With no thought in her head but to pleasure the bard, she moved her finger, thigh and hips as one, and she felt the woman's thrusts with each of her own. Picking up her pace, Xena added another finger for good measure. She felt the bard contract against her fingers, and the erratic thundering of the pulse beneath her hand at the bard's breast warned the warrior that Gabrielle could not stand too much more of this exquisite torture.

Gabrielle felt the pressure building between her thighs with the fullness of Xena's fingers and the weight of the commanding warrior pressing down upon her. A groan built inside the small woman's breast, and it raced to the surface as she threw her head back and thrust her hips one last forceful time. She cried out Xena's name as a myriad of colors danced inside her eyelids, and her heart took to wings and flew out across the campsite. Hearing the bard's passionate cries, Xena lost all inhibition and, thrusting herself twice more against Gabrielle's captured thigh, she rode with Gabrielle's release on one of her own. Finally spent, both women collapsed, side by side, into each others arms.

Xena silenced Gabrielle's mumbling with a loving kiss and pulled the bard closer into her tight embrace.

"Xena, I love you. I love you so much..."

"I love you too Gabrielle. With all my heart, and all my soul."

"Xena, you are my soul."

The warrior smiled into Gabrielle's sweetly scented hair and let her heart finally overflow with the immense love she carried for the small woman she held in her arms, and in her heart.

"Shhh, let's go to sleep love."

The bard yawned, but had to put her mind to rest before she would let Morpheus take her.

"Xena, what happens now?"

The warrior thought for a moment.

"Well, I'm too tired to do that again, so let's sleep."

Gabrielle frowned playfully and entwined her small fingers with the warrior's large.

"I mean with us."

"I say we sleep on it and discuss it in the morning. But I for one think my decision is already clear."

Gabrielle sniffled back the tears that prickled at her eyes and nodded her head beneath Xena's chin. Slipping steadily towards slumber, Gabrielle had one more question that demanded an answer.


"Yes Gabrielle?"

Xena's voice sounded drowsy.


"Because I need sleep to ensure my stamina will be restored for the morning and we can do it all again."

Gabrielle dug her elbow into the grinning warrior's ribs.

"You know what I mean."

Xena was silent for a moment.

"Because I was watching you, and you didn't look away."

Satisfied, Gabrielle smiled into the darkness and placed a gentle kiss on Xena's palm.

"Goodnight Xena."

"Sweet dreams, Gabrielle."

*   *   *

As the moon slowly set over a small clearing in an almost-empty forest, dawn crept over a new and exciting horizon. Two women dreamt on contentedly in each other's arms and the day hinted at fresh starts and new beginnings.

For once, neither woman was awake to see it.

The End..... of the Beginning.

Note: No cotton shifts or dream passages were harmed during the production of this Xena story. Gabrielle and Xena, however, were terribly late in waking up, and missed all the worms the early birds managed to catch...

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