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DISCLAIMERS: Is this a moot point yet? Ok ok....Xena, Gabrielle, Callisto and other assorted characters in this story belong to MCA/Universal, and no copyright infringement is intended. It is solely for the private use of our audience and cannot be reproduced in any way without express written consent of the aforementioned author (LOL)....namely me!

SUBTEXT ALERT: YES, there is subtext in them thar words! Action nothing more than PG, but still this story implies that Xena and Gabrielle love each other in more than just a "friendship" kinda way. So if u just ain't into that, or it's like ILLEGAL where u live...either MOVE or hit the back button on your browser now please :) Thank u! On with the story my friends.......

Diary Of A Madwoman
by Rachel Hahn

~~~Part 1

"Xeeeeenaaaa......" The name rolled off her tongue like poison.

Callisto watched silently from her perch above the path, silently gauging for the right moment to attack. Oh how she loved this....the tracking, the thrill of the chase. Oh, Xena was good all right...."But not good enough," she thought. "I still found you, Xena!" she thought and giggled inwardly, an evil grin creeping across her face...a face that belied her true nature. Oh yes...Callisto was quite beautiful...Long, curly blonde hair....big brown innocent eyes that hid the devil within...but it was those same eyes that softened just a touch as Xena had come into view. She had puzzled over this before, wondering where the thought had come from, and had pushed it out of her mind without another moment's passing.

She rode tall in the saddle, her long flowing ebon hair blowing gently in the breeze, her crystal blue eyes taking in her surroundings nonchalantly. Callisto was always awed by the sheer presence Xena emitted, enthralled with the amount of unleashed power that was hidden underneath that armor. She watched as Xena rode closer, adjusting her angle of attack in her mind yet again....."Xena, come to me...yeeeesssss, that's it...a little more..." Aforementioned blue eyes snapped to meet hers, and before she knew what was happening, her ankle was caught in a whip and she was being yanked from her perch like a (insert your own cliché here) thrown to the ground, and knocked unconscious. How much later she came to she didn't know, but one thing she did know was she was laying on the ground with her shoulders pinned under Xena's knees.

"Getting a bit soft in yer old age there, Callisto?"

"Oh, I've missed you," she purred as she tried to focus.

"Give it a rest, Callisto. Why are you following me...again?" she asked.

"Tsk tsk, Xena...since when do I need an invitation? I am a goddess, remember?"

Xena leaned in close, fastening her coldest glare on the blonde beneath her..."Yeah it for someone who gives a centaur shit. Why don't you just tell me the truth for once, eh?" she hissed through clenched teeth.

"Well.....I would tell you, but I seem to be in quite a compromising position at the moment now, don't I?" said Callisto.

Xena disentangled her whip from Callisto's ankles and proceeded to tie her wrists together behind her back. She stood and dragged Callisto up to her feet....Callisto stumbled, a tad off balance after her chin's collision with Xena's fist. Xena turned and grabbed Callisto's chin in her hand...she looked into those brown eyes and silently chastised herself.

"Looks like I may have hit you a little too hard this time, Callisto."

"What you do mean, Xeener?" said Callisto, suddenly noticing her tongue didn't seem to be working that well...she knew what she wanted to say, but it was coming out all jumbled up! Her mouth wasn't saying what her brain wanted it to....and she also noticed that she had to close one eye to see Xena without it being blurry. "EGADS!!" she thought "a concussion!"

Xena watched silently as Callisto fell to her knees and proceeded to offer her lunch back to nature.

"Well it's my fault you got like this, so I guess now it's my responsibility to make sure you live through it." She picked Callisto up and helped her up onto Argo, who shied a bit, but trusted her master enough not to balk. When sure Callisto was settled, she mounted up and they rode slowly off.

"Xena, are you taking me to shee Hadeesh?"

"Hades?" replied Xena. "Oh nooooo, I'm taking you to see someone far worse, and far more irritating then he could ever be...."

"Noooooo, not that..." and Callisto's eyes got very wide...

"Oh yes indeed...I'm taking you to see Gabrielle."

~ ~~~~~~~~~~ ~~ ~~~~~~~~~~ ~

She awoke hours later (musta been, she thought) They were still riding but it was dark now. Even in Callisto's addled state, she knew she was in for it. She hated Gabrielle almost as much as she hated Xena (do I really hate Xena?). Wait, what was she just thinking about? Oh yes...Gabby. She hated her. Why do I hate you Gabrielle? And she knew the answer. Because Gabrielle made her think...Gabrielle made her feel, and Callisto knew to feel would be her undoing. No, she couldn't afford to have feelings or she would go soft. "Like how Xena is going soft," she thought. Then she thought some more. Hmmmm, this could be fun....

"So Xena, how is your little friend Gabrielle doing these days, huh? Been any new developments?"

She was startled when her hair was grabbed and her head wrenched back....but the pain was forgotten because then she was staring into these incredibly gorgeous blue eyes. "Wow," she thought, then pushed the thought away.

"Don't you ever insinuate anything, you lame excuse for a human being..." she looked deeper into Callisto's eyes...."Or whatever you are now."

"Xena, Xena, Xena. I didn't know you had it so bad for her. Does she know yet?"

"You watch your mouth, Callisto," said Xena twisting the hair in her fist tighter and jerking down..."There is nothing like that going on."

"Whatever you say Xena....whatever you say."

And then her world went dark again.

~ ~~~~~~~~~~ ~~ ~~~~~~~~~~ ~

Callisto awoke next to a fire, at least that's what her nose told her. She slowly opened one eye and then the other. She heard the scratching of a quill and turned her head to see Gabrielle writing on one of her scrolls. She looked all Xena. But she sensed her presence near. Callisto was surprised no one had figured this out before...especially her, since she was so brilliant.

"She's in love with you, you know," stated Callisto.

Gabrielle's quill and parchment flew into the air as Callisto's voice startled her.

"DON'T do that again." said Gabrielle, picking up her parchment and looking for her quill.

"Oh but it's the truth, Gabrielle. Xena is in love with you. And that will be her undoing."

"Xena is not in love with me, Callisto. Maybe she knocked you upside your head a little harder than she thought."

"You think? Hmmmmm. But you're in love with her, aren't you?" Callisto tried to ask as innocently as she could make it sound.

Gabrielle didn't say anything. Oh, she tried but nothing would come out. For the first time in her life she was speechless.

"Well dear, that face says it are." Gods, she hoped she was reading the irritating blonde correctly.

"So what if I am." replied Gabrielle. "So what. It will never be that way for us. I can never tell her how I really feel..."

"Really feel about what, Gabrielle?" Xena stepped out of the trees into the firelight. Gabrielle's breath caught momentarily as her eyes swept over the warrior.

"Xena! Ummm oh n-nothing. We w-were just having a talk." Gabrielle stuttered.

"A talk eh?" Xena's eyebrow raised ever so slightly...."What's the topic?"

"You." said Callisto matter-of-factly.

Xena glared at Callisto. "I thought I warned you earlier about your mouth."

Callisto laughed. "What are you going to do, Xena? Kill me?" She laughed harder.

As the arguing and taunting jamboree went on, Gabrielle sat with mouth agape. They had been talking about her earlier! It was harder to hear what was being said now, because Xena had roughly dragged Callisto to the other end of the camp, obviously for a more private conversation. Then she heard the whispered words that stopped time as she knew it...."I won't tell her I love her because I am not right for her." She didn't see or hear anything else...the words echoing in her mind thrilled her, scared her. Xena did love her. Wow. She didn't see Xena slug Callisto into unconsciousness again, nor did she see her tie her securely to a tree. Then she was aware of a hand on her shoulder...a warm hand....Xena's hand, and she heard her name being called. She looked up...and then she was looking into the most beautiful blue eyes she had ever seen. Xena's eyes. It would be futile to try and stop this now and she knew it. Now that she knew the truth, she couldn't go back.

" all right?"

She couldn't do anything but look into Xena's eyes. Callisto was all but forgotten. So mesmerizing...all of a sudden it was so clear to her. All she had to do before was look and she would have seen it.

Xena knew something was up. She had never seen this look in the bard's eyes before, and to be honest it was scaring her. By the gods, looking into Gabrielle's eyes at this moment was unsettling. But she couldn't tear her own away. Gabrielle reached up and slid her hand into Xena's, gently tugging til Xena was kneeling before her. "Gods!" thought Xena. "What is this? Why can't I move?" Gabrielle looked down and her other hand came to rest upon the top of Xena's held one and it began to softly caress the one beneath it. It was like fire running across every inch of skin where Gabrielle touched her. Gabrielle looked up again, and this time Xena knew what she saw. It was the same thing she was sure Gabrielle was seeing right now in her own eyes....Love.

"Xena..." Gabrielle whispered softly. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"Gab...uuuhhhh..." she looked away, then she sighed. "I don't know." she said simply.

"Xena..." Gabrielle said again. "Tell me now."

It was an order, not a request. Xena knew the fight was over. She swallowed hard, looking up once again to find Gabrielle's eyes searching hers. was now or never. She found her courage and spoke, and for the first time in her life the words came from her heart....all the words she had wanted to say for so long....

"Gabrielle....I love you. I have always loved you. You have touched my heart in ways no one else ever has...or ever will. I would give up my life so that you might live. I would go to the ends of the earth and back just to be with you. I will never leave you."

The tears began to well up in Gabrielle's eyes. "For someone who isn't good with words, Warrior Princess, you sure know how to say so much." She smiled. "I love you too, Xena....more than you could ever know. Since the first day I saw you I think. I just never thought you would return my feelings, or want me in that way. But I followed you anyhow, because the thought of being apart from you was too much to bear even then."

Xena reached over and brushed the tear away, letting her fingers trace the outline of Gabrielle's face.

"You are so beautiful, could I not want you?" She leaned closer, stopping a hairsbreadth away from Gabrielle's lips and whispered..."You need to look in the mirror more." Their lips brushed across each others' softly....and Gabrielle whispered back "No, now all I have to do is look in your eyes." They pressed into the kiss, holding each other close and reveling in the wonder of love.

~~~Part 2

Callisto awoke to the sound of snoring. She looked across the fire to see Gabrielle draped over Xena's body, one arm flung over the warrior's waist and a leg draped over Xena's lower extremities. "How quaint...look at the little lovebirds," thought Callisto as she took the scene in. Xena's arms were wrapped around the bard lovingly and there was a look of utter peace on her face. She tried to move but found her wrists and ankles bound together again. "Well, at least she didn't leave me to get up close and personal with that tree all last night." she mused as she tried to free her hands.

"Don't bother trying to get loose..." came the voice across the fire from her..."I made sure it was impossible." said Xena, an amused tone in her voice. She carefully disentangled herself from the bard, trying hard not to wake her up. The bard stirred, latching herself onto Xena's arm and tightening her grip.

"Xena...." mumbled Gabrielle in her sleep.

Xena looked down at the bard. How did things change so fast? "Hmmmm..." she pondered to herself. "I guess there is no turning back now, my love." She gently unclasped the bard's fingers from her arm, bent over and placed a light kiss upon her forehead. The bard smiled in her sleep at the touch. "Xeeeena...mmmm" and with that she rolled over and resumed her snoring.

"Such a loud, irritating noise coming from so little a person, dontcha think?" sniped Callisto.

"You are walking a very thin line. I should have left you out there unconscious in the woods for the wild animals to feed on." Xena replied in a cold tone.

"But Xena, then we wouldn't be having this nice chat." she said, "And by the way, I think you owe me a thank you."

"I owe YOU a thank you???" Xena's laugh carried sincere amusement. "Oh please! For what?"

"For getting you two little babes in heat together." came the reply. "You owe me."

"I owe you nothing Callisto." (except maybe a nice trip to Tartarus) "For the past four years you have done nothing but try to make my life miserable. And now you say I owe you!" Xena laughed again. "That will be the day. Right now you are lucky I am feeling generous enough not to rip your head from your body and let you watch your bottom half try to find where I hid your upper half."

"My my, who would have thought you could wake up on the wrong side of the bedroll, Xena? I'm offended!"

"You? Offended? I highly doubt that. I'm going to catch us some breakfast. You be a good little captive and don't wake Gabrielle up, or you will have me to answer to." stated Xena as she grabbed her chakram and strode out of the camp.

"Hmmmm, she is a tad on the testy side this morning." Callisto mused. Despite her angry snipes at Callisto, Xena seemed to be more sure of herself since last night, and didn't run screaming into the night as she had hoped for. She had thought for sure that Xena would not be able to handle the change in her and Gabrielle's relationship. In fact, it had never occurred to her that the warrior's now very obvious feelings for the bard would do just the opposite to her state of mind.

"Poop." thought Callisto as she tried once again to loosen the ties binding her wrists together.

~ ~~~~~~~~~~ ~~ ~~~~~~~~~~ ~

"Mmmmmmm...." Gabrielle stretched and peeked one eye open to the new day. A clear, cloudless sky greeted her, the sun shining brightly above, welcoming her to consciousness once again. She flopped over, opening her other eye, to find Xena just now returning to camp with three plump rabbits for breakfast. She allowed her eyes to drift over her warrior...taking in everything. The confident stride, the sway of her hips as she walked, the way the wind blew her dark tresses across her shoulders (wow, that's sexy, she thought) the strong, well-muscled (but not overly so) arms....her eyes traveled upwards to Xena's face...."And oh those eyes...those eyes...I could just look into them forever."

Xena felt Gabrielle's eyes on her, and as she turned to put their soon to be breakfast down she smiled warmly.

"Looks like another one is totally smitten with you, Xena." remarked Callisto as she observed the bard's thoroughly adoring look that was directed Xena's way. "How does it feel to have finally conquered her, hmmm? Will you throw her away now that the challenge is gone? Or will you keep her around for a little while as your personal sex slave? It's so funny.....YOW!"

"I know I can't kill you, Callisto, but I sure can make your never-ending life one you wish you could leave." Xena said as she hoisted Callisto up by the throat. She fixed her iciest 'Bad Xena' warrior stare at the other woman..."So, if I were you, I would shut my trap now, before I am not feeling so benevolent."

She casually tossed Callisto back onto the bedroll and turned away with a sniff. "Oh, and by the way...if you thought I would sit up and roll over because Gabrielle and I have realized our feelings for one another, you were dead wrong. I realized last night just how strong that makes me." And with that she walked over to the fire and began skinning breakfast.

By this time Gabrielle had managed to awaken to the point of lucidity, and was watching her Xena take Callisto down a peg or two. She chuckled quietly and strolled over to where Xena was preparing the rabbits.

"Good morning love..." she whispered into the warrior's ear and slipped her arms around Xena's neck, planting a soft, sensual kiss on her neck as she did so. "Can I help you with breakfast?"

"Mmmmm, good morning to you too," purred Xena, slipping one arm up behind the bard's neck and pulling her down till their lips met for a quick good morning kiss. (ok, not so quick) "And yes, that would be wonderful." she replied as Gabrielle sat herself down next to Xena. She handed over one of the skinned rabbits, which the bard carefully prepared and set over the fire to cook.

"I do believe I'm going to hurl." snapped Callisto...and for once she wasn't lying as she turned to the side and did so.

"Do we really make her that sick?" Gabrielle asked innocently.

"Nooooo dear...." Xena chuckled. "Head injury, remember? You tend to get some queasiness with a concussion." She walked over to her saddlebags, and rifled through them looking for something. When she returned, she was carrying a package of herbs and a cup. "I'm just gonna go over and check her out...give her some of this. It will make her feel better."

"all right, but Xena.....don't let her get to you." said the bard.

"I know, I know..." replied the warrior, "She just irks me at times."

She unceremoniously dumped the contents of the package into the cup and poured some hot water into it. Swirling it around to mix it, she walked over to Callisto.

"Here....drink this. It will help your stomach."

"Xena, I didn't know you cared." said Callisto.

"I don't...but she does." said Xena as she nodded her head in Gabrielle's direction. "She has a thing for treating people nice. Even if they don't deserve to be." she added. "So I just go with it."

"Somehow you think you have earned her love, Xena, don't you? Tsk tsk....You and I both know you haven't."

Xena resisted the urge to knock Callisto unconscious yet again, and forced herself to remain calm

She held the cup up so the tyrant could drink. "I suggest you swallow this yourself before I force it down your throat with my fist." She couldn't believe the nerve of this woman. She knew Callisto was trying to make her feel inadequate when compared to Gabrielle, but after last night she knew no one would ever be able to make her feel that way again. No matter what they said to her. It just didn't matter anymore what anyone else thought because she knew the truth in her heart.

Callisto swallowed the concoction, and proceeded to lie back down on the bedroll. After a few moments, her eyes became heavy and soon she was off into dreamland, where ghosts chased her mercilessly through her past....

She was ten years old, and standing in the middle of the square. The warlord Xena's army had crashed through her beloved home and razed it to the ground. There were no survivors save her. How she survived was not the question, but what was she going to do now was. She thought about her mother and sister....Xena had killed them. She was alone. She cried and cried....hoping it was all just a bad dream and that she would wake up any minute now. But when she opened her eyes again, her house was still just smoldering ashes...a grim reminder that it had indeed really happened.

She began to search the village for anything she could use on her journey. Food, yes....she found some, which she stuffed into a sack she found lying on the ground. With a last look at her home, she sighed, turned and began to walk down the road.

It was late evening and three days later before she came to another village. Tired and out of food, Callisto looked like Celesta warmed over...dirty and grimy from the road, still wearing the same charred clothes she left her village with. She aimlessly wandered through the town, not knowing where she was going, or what she was going to do. As she passed the blacksmith shop, the man inside happened to look up and see her. "Oh my, where did she come from?" he asked himself. "She isn't from around here." He stepped outside and caught up to her easily....

"Ho there child! Don't you know it's not safe for a young lady such as yourself to be walking the streets alone at night?" he asked.

Callisto stopped walking and turned to face him.....a cold glare fixed on her face.

"My father ran off when I was three years old....And the warlord Xena destroyed my village three days ago, killing my mother and sister." she stated, and proceeded to walk away from him.

Her words stunned him, and for a moment he was speechless, letting her walk away. But he regained his composure and caught up to her.

"Young lady....where will you go? What will you do? Do you have any family you can go to?" he asked.

" mother and sister were my only family. Now I have nothing." she began to walk away again.

"Child, please come and stay with me. I don't have much to offer, but you won't be hungry or cold. And honestly, I could use some help with the shop." He laid a hand on her shoulder.

She turned on him then, fixing pain-wracked eyes on his. He could see the hurt and anguish clearly, and that cut right into his heart like a dagger.

"Why would you want to help me?" she asked. "You don't even know me."

"Because everyone needs help at one time or another in their lives, miss." he stated. "If I think I can make a difference in someone's, then I will try to do so. I will give you a place to sleep, and food, in exchange for your help doing chores at the shop. It isn't much, but it is better than your prospects alone on the road, I would think."

She pondered the offer for a few minutes. She looked at him, standing there patiently awaiting her answer...then simply said, "Ok." And with that he led her back to the shop, fed her and got her some decent clothes to wear.

Kalevis was a gentle man, and for 4 years he took care of Callisto. She was always distant...never saying much at all, but he liked having her around. She was turning out to be quite a young woman, hard-working to the point of exhaustion many a time. When she was 14 he found her behind the barn with a makeshift sword, thrusting and parrying with an imaginary enemy. "Who are you conquering little one?" he had asked. "Xena" she had said. "Someday she will pay for what she did to my family....I will see to it, Kal." And he saw the look in her eyes right then, and didn't doubt it for a second...such was the power of her will.

Over the next six years she trained whenever she had extra time....learning everything she could from wandering mercenaries and thugs. Kal knew she had a talent for the sword...hmmmm, a talent that was uncannily eerie, it was so good. And it didn't surprise him the day she told him she was leaving.

"I need to find Xena now, Kalevis. Thank you for your kindness for so long." She grasped his forearm soundly, then turned and left....never looking back. "Simple and to the point." he thought. He sighed. He knew he would never see her again, but he did know he would hear about her. Of that he was very sure.....

~ ~~~~~~~~~~ ~~ ~~~~~~~~~~ ~

Gabrielle saw the body under the blanket shaking uncontrollably. She tentatively crossed over to where Callisto lay and pulled the blanket back from her face to see if anything was wrong. What she saw shocked her....Callisto was crying! Albeit in her sleep, but nonetheless crying! Tears were rolling down her face, and Gabrielle didn't even realize what she was doing when she reached over and pulled the woman into a comforting embrace. All she knew was her heart was telling her it was the right thing to do. She hated to see anyone in pain, and this was the only way she knew how to comfort the woman. She began rocking her, and whispering, "It's ok, everything will be all right," over and over until the shaking subsided. The woman began to stir in her arms but she didn't let go right away...preferring to make sure she was all right. "Maybe she needs to talk." thought Gabrielle.

Callisto began to wake, and felt very warm. She then began to figure out there were arms around her, and someone was rocking her. For a moment she thought it was her mother, and she smiled. But when she opened her eyes and saw it was Gabrielle whose arms were around her, she yelped and tried to get away.

"YOU!!! Get your gods be damned hands off of me!! What do you think you are doing?" she yelled.

"You were crying in your sleep....I w-was just trying to help." replied Gabrielle.

"I don't need your so-called 'help', little Miss Goody Two Shoes! Don't you ever touch me again or I swear I will kill you!" Callisto's eyes were wide with anger and shock at being in the arms of a woman she hated so.

"You had best not make threats like that, Callisto unless you know for a fact you can carry them out. I'm sure Xena would have something to say about it, you know." Gabrielle replied calmly.

"Xena Shmeena! Where is she anyways?" the tyrant cast her eyes around the camp but Xena was nowhere to be seen.

"She took Argo for a run, she will be back later." Gabrielle wished Xena were back RIGHT NOW in fact.

"I'm hungry, what have you got to eat?" asked Callisto...the rumbling in her stomach obvious to Gabrielle's ears right then.

"Rabbit stew, would you like some?" asked Gabrielle.

"Just get me something to eat now, blondie, and I promise I won't spill your guts when I get loose from this later." she sniped.

"Ok, ok! Geesh, so ungrateful!" said Gabrielle as she filled a bowl for Callisto. "Unfortunately I will have to feed you. Xena said under no circumstances am I to let you loose."

"Whatever, just bring the food." Callisto opened her mouth as Gabrielle spooned some stew and offered it to her.

After a few minutes of silence, Gabrielle had to speak....(as she always does).

"So what were you dreaming about?" she asked....sincerely wanting to know...maybe needing to know.

"None of your business, bard" she replied. "Why would you care anyhow?"

"I don't know....I just thought that maybe if you talked about it, you might feel better."

Callisto snorted. "Oh please! I don't have feelings, Gabrielle. They were destroyed by your 'lover'." she spat the last word out harshly.

Gabrielle ignored the jibe and continued...."Why don't you tell me your side of the story, Callisto. I want to understand how you can carry so much hate around inside you for so long and not implode."

"You would not want to hear my story's full of terrible things." said Callisto, looking at the ground suddenly.

"Humor me." the bard said resolutely.

Callisto looked up again to find only kindness in Gabrielle's eyes. "Why does she care what I have to say, after I stalk her lover mercilessly and killed her husband?" she thought. Sighing, she got herself into a semi-comfortable position, and started at the beginning.....

~~~Part 3

She didn't know why she was telling Gabrielle all this, all she knew was that once she started she couldn't stop. She related the tale of her childhood, after the destruction of her village by Xena's hand, to the bard. Gabrielle sat there, listening intently as Callisto told of Kalevis...saw her eyes soften as she remembered the blacksmith, and saw the sadness when she told of her departure from him that summer day.

"Kal crafted my sword.." she spoke..."And had Seranon make my armor." She sighed as she looked at the armor she still wore to this day. "He was the nicest man I have ever known. He took me in when no one else cared."

"So, your hatred for Xena was still so strong then, that you left?" inquired Gabrielle.

"Oh yes, seethed within me like a raging fire. No matter how much physical work I did, how hard I pushed myself...." a pause and a sigh, " never would go away. Oh I tried, and Kal....Kal tried to show me there are more important things in life than vengeance. But it was all I could think of. Every day, every moment that passed, my hatred for Xena grew. I practiced and practiced....I knew how good she was, I had seen her down 20 men in less than 5 minutes. It was incredible! I didn't know whether to be impressed or hate her for what she had done. Obviously the latter won out." she frowned. "I'm afraid there is just no going back for me now. This cycle of hate has gone on for too's the only way I know."

One single tear began its trek down Callisto's cheek.

Gabrielle's eyes softened, and she reached out to softly wipe that tear away. Callisto looked up, and what she saw amazed her. Those sea-green compassionate, so innocent. Her mind shot back to the day she mercilessly slaughtered Gabrielle's husband Perdicus. "By the gods..." she thought...."What have I done all these years? How could I have done that to this wonderful woman? Have I been so blinded by my rage as to not see the forest through the trees?"

"Gabrielle...I...I...I'm so s-sorry." It was but a whisper, but Gabrielle heard it. "I didn't know what I was doing....the was blinding me....I needed to get back at her...I couldn't..."

"Shhhhh,'s all right. In a way, it worked out for the best. I will always mourn him but the fates have something else in mind for me." She smiled at just the thought of her warrior. "I am looking at you now, Callisto, and what I see before me I have seen once already in someone else."

"Xena?" asked Callisto.

"Yes. The ability to forgive is present in everyone, Cal, even you, I think...." she chuckled, then became very serious..."But the ability to forgive yourself is the hardest one to master out of them all. We both know that Xena did ransack your village...and let me tell you something, Callisto, the memory of it has tortured her soul ever since. The guilt she carries with her, knowing she is responsible for destroying your life, and your family...." Gabrielle shook her head at the memory of Xena's tears by the fire that night long ago...."I can tell you in truth that she wishes she could turn back time and change what she did. She has never forgiven herself for doing that to you. If you could have seen the pain in her eyes the day she went back to try and face what she had done..."

"But sister! I don't know if I can do what I think you are asking me to."

Gabrielle reached behind her and picked up the skinning knife. She leaned over to Callisto and brought the blade close.

"No!" shouted Callisto and tried to back away..."You can't kill me! I'm a god! Why are you bothering to do this? After all I've just told you...."

Gabrielle grabbed the struggling Callisto's bound hands and cut loose the ties.

"Wh-what? You're letting me go?" her jaw went slack in shock.

"No...." replied Gabrielle...."I am setting your soul free. You don't have to live like this, one should have to live like this. Not you, not Xena." She cut the goddess' ankles free. "I forgive you. And now you need to forgive yourself. Go find to her...let it just might see that she is not the same person who destroyed your village. She really is even sorta funny and quirky when you get to know her." Gabrielle smiled, remembering the tickle fights Xena had subjected her to over the years, and that goofy lop-sided half-smile she wore when caught in a prank.

Callisto stood up. She looked at the bard, and tilted her head to the side, just trying to understand how this little blonde bard had broken down the walls around her cold heart with her words of forgiveness. It felt like a weight had been lifted from her shoulders, and there was this feeling of...what was it? She tried to comprehend it....inner peace? Yes that was it. "So this is what it feels like." she thought silently.

"Gabrielle...." she took a step to stand in front of the young woman who had just changed her life.

Gabrielle was scared to death at that moment. She didn't know what to expect from the goddess...but she had taken it this far, and she was praying to any god that would listen for her life right then. She rose and stood in front of Callisto.

"Yes Cal?" she managed to say without a tremble in her voice.

The goddess reached out. Gabrielle cringed. Callisto smiled. "What a beautiful smile she has!" thought Gabrielle as Callisto took her hand and drew her into a hug. And there was no doubt in Gabrielle's mind that this was a thank you...Cal's own way of it, but nonetheless a thank you in its' own right. Callisto pulled back, leaned over and placed a light kiss on Gabrielle's cheek. She smiled again, and this time Gabrielle smiled back.

"I have to go find Xena." was the simple statement.

"I know..." said Gabrielle..."Go on then."

"Will you be alright here alone?" asked Callisto.

"Hmmmm, i have a goddess and a warrior princess in the area....I think i will be ok. " laughed Gabrielle.

Callisto turned to leave when the bard called out to her...."Thank you Callisto."

The Goddess turned back for a moment. "You are thanking *me*? What for? You are the one who deserves the thanks, I did nothing but ruin your life." she frowned.

"Thank you for Xena." said the blonde.

"Oh...." Callisto giggled..."Even though it wasn't meant as a nice thing in the beginning, right now i'm glad i did it. So...ummm you're welcome Gabrielle." She smiled and walked into the forest.....

~ ~~~~~~~~~~ ~~ ~~~~~~~~~~ ~

Xena heard the twig snap.

In the blink of an eye she had spun around and had her sword to Callisto's throat. Cal just stood there with this funny look on her face. "What's going on here?" Xena asked herself.

"What's going on here? What have you done to Gabrielle?" she asked, the fear quite evident on her face and in her voice.

"Relax Xena..." said the goddess...."Gabrielle is fine. She is back at the camp now waiting for your return. In one piece, don't worry." she smiled....genuine and sincere. "AND breathing." she added.

"So help me gods Callisto, if you have done anything to her i will slice you into so many pieces even Hades won't be able to recognize you."

"Xena, she is fine. I swear to you. We had a talk, me and the blonde."

"A talk?" She knew Gabrielle was capable of many things, but what had she said to the tyrant to warrant this attitude adjustment she now thought she was seeing before her? "What kind of talk?"

"She tried to convince me that what i had been doing, and what i was continuing to do all these years was wrong." She paused....then looked up into Xena's blue eyes. She sighed. "She was right Xena. Everything, all that i thought was for the right reasons, were for the wrong ones. I know now that you are not the same person you were back then, and i know what you have been going through inside because of that." She paused again. "Xena....I forgive you for what you did to my family. And I'm sorry for all the pain i have caused you since then. I know i can't ever make up for it.....but..."

She was interrupted by the sound of Xena's sword hitting the ground. "Xena? Are you ok?"

Xena was speechless. Her mouth moved, but no words were coming out. She bade herself look into those brown eyes, and she saw then that the anger was gone...the hatred gone. All that she saw now was sincerity....and honesty. She found her voice...

"Why should I believe you Callisto? After all this time, and after all the things you have done...."

"I could say the same to for you Xena...but here i am standing in front of you. I think it's time to end this. Gabrielle is right. The cycle of hatred can only be broken through forgiveness...and love. I really am sorry...and i think we need to end it now. No more bloodshed."

Xena recalled the first time she heard those words from her bard and sighed. She didn't understand them at that time, but now their meaning was so clear.

"Agreed." said Xena. "Where do we go from here?"

"I don't know." replied Callisto. "This is all new for me remember." She smiled warmly.

"Well....." Xena thought for a moment...."I do know a place that could use a warrior with your many skills." She laughed. Callisto laughed.

"Trying to pawn me off already Xena? Tsk tsk! I'm insulted!"

"Some things never change." said Xena and they laughed again.

"Where is this place? And why would they want me? After all I have done, i can't expect anyone to welcome me with open arms." remarked Callisto.

"I sort of have it in good with the queen there...." said Xena. "I don't think it would take much persuading..." the amusement danced in her eyes as the realization dawned on the goddess.

"The AMAZONS???? Xena, are you out of your mind???"

"I have been accused of that at times yes...been there once..." she leaned in closer to the woman..."Wasn't fun let me tell you!" The warrior laughed at her own misfortunate incident with the furies. She continued...."You did help them, remember? Velasca."

"Ooooohhhh.....yeah i guess i did." she said. "But in the past Xena....I wasn't too nice to them, and I don't think they would be too nice to me. And to be honest i really don't think i deserve it."

"We all have to start somewhere Callisto. The path to goodness is not an easy one....I know. Sometimes it's hard to do the right thing. But down the road, when you look back at it, it's all worth it. Every last little thing. And you will be glad you did it that way." She felt her heart jump a little at the thought of her bard. Gabrielle had been her redemption and salvation....had believed in her when Xena herself didn't have anything left to believe in.

Callisto saw the look in Xena's eyes.

"Xena....hey...ummmm Gabrielle has waited a long time to have you to herself." She smirked. "I'll just pop out and you back in camp in the morning?"

"Sounds good." said Xena.

Callisto began to disappear, then returned. She walked over to the warrior princess, wrapped her arms around her neck and kissed her soundly on the lips.

When Callisto broke away, all Xena could manage was..."What was that for?"

"First...that was a thank you....." she said between giggles. "Second, just because i hated you doesn't mean i never found you attractive. I just wanted to know what it was like. Very nice....veeeeery nice!" She giggled again and was gone.

Xena sighed, then smiled, then climbed on Argo and galloped away back to camp....Back to her bard.

~~~Part 4

Gabrielle heard the thundering hooves long before she saw the horse and rider. Her heart skipped a beat when she recognized the figure coming through the trees....then she heard the voice that never failed to move her so....


She reined Argo in and fairly flew off the horse's back in her hurry to reach her bard.

"Gabrielle! Thank the gods you are all right! I was so worried something happened!" she cried as she crossed the distance between her and the blonde in three steps.

"Xena!" Gabrielle threw her arms around the warrior's neck, pulled her lips down to meet her own.

After a moment, the bard pulled back to gaze into her lovers' eyes, the eyes that held so much love and concern for her now.

"I'm fine...." she said to Xena. "Everything is ok! Oh Xena....don't cry, I'm here, it's all right honey!" She reached up to wipe away the tear that had fallen to the warrior's cheek, then rested her head upon the warrior's shoulder, hugging fiercely.

"I...I know, I can see that now, but gods, I was so scared she hurt you. Even though Callisto seemed sincere, you just never know with her." she whispered into the bard's ear. "I don't trust her as far as I can spit."

"Hmmm..." replied Gabrielle...."You can spit pretty far there Xena..better rethink that cliché." She felt the warrior begin to relax her tense body...then she felt a chuckle.

Xena looked down to meet the eyes of her soulmate and smiled into them. "You know, I think you may have a point there." she said. "But then again, Gabrielle, you *always* have a point don't you darling?" She grinned, and brought her lips down to meet the bard's once again, immersing herself in the soft, sensuous feeling of them. 'This must be Olympus,' she thought as her love for this woman flowed through her very soul.

When they finally broke for air, Xena stepped back (not letting the bard's hand go, mind you) and drew her lover to sit down by the fire. They plopped down on a log and the warrior looked questioningly into the bard's eyes again. Gabrielle knew it was explaining time. Xena wanted answers, and then she knew she had to give them to her.

"Gabrielle...I know you have a way with words, but WHAT did you say to Callisto??"

"Now now love, don't get your breeches in a bind!" She giggled...what a visual that was! "The herbs you gave her put her out, and then she seemed to be having a nightmare. I guess I just wanted to make her feel better, Xena, I really didn't know I was doing it until she woke up and tried to get away from me." Her eyes took on a compassionate look as she remembered the moment. "I gave her something to eat, and then we just started talking."

"Talking? Since when does Callisto *talk*?" This was a statement from the warrior, more so than a question. "How did she get loose? I thought I told you not to let her go no matter what?"

"I know, Xena...I know. But you had to be there, I guess." said Gabrielle. "Callisto started telling me all about her childhood....about what happened after you...ummm....did what you did." The warrior frowned, and Gabrielle noticed the change in her demeanor. "Honey, don't fret about's all right now. The wheels have begun to turn in the right direction finally, and there is no need to relive the past anymore. It's over and done with." She pulled her warrior closer into a tight embrace.

Xena sighed...."I know, Gabrielle. She found me....we talked some. She seems to understand that it can't go on like this anymore. Honestly? I guess I can see it now too....I thought I saw it before, but I was fooling myself. Now I know it to be the only way. But Gab, I still will worry about the future....I mean, come on, how can she just swap sides so easily? After what she's done!"

"Darling...." Gabrielle smiled her most beautiful smile as she remembered the day she met her Xena. "Look at yourself and then ask that question again."

Caught! 'Damn this bard!' (a smirk) 'How does she always know just how to make me see things I don't want to?' thought Xena. "Point taken, my love. I guess the next step is to find someplace for her."

"I've already been thinking about that, Xena." stated Gabrielle. "I want to take her to the Amazons..." Xena started to giggle, which became a chuckle, which became all out laughter within the span of a short moment. "Xena? Why are you laughing?"

" reason, Gabrielle, except that I was thinking the same thing." She laughed a bit more. "I don't know whether I was thinking your thoughts, or you mine! Anyways..." she calmed herself..."I think it's a great idea. We both know she doesn't have to stay here at all, but in a way I think she really wants to. Besides, she likes the gods about as much as I do. I know this will cause a stir in the village, Gab, but I have faith that you can smooth things over." She smiled again.

"I'm not too worried about that, not with your dark and foreboding presence standing next to me." She laughed now too. "Face it, Xena, you radiate compliance!" she grinned.

"Oh is that it? I always thought it was just my winning personality." Xena replied with a raise of her eyebrow.

"Yes yes, of course that's it." said Gabrielle teasingly, running a finger along the smooth length of Xena's jawline, caressing the full lips, and tracing the slope of her throat down to where the warrior's heart was now beating wildly..."But we can't just throw aside your 'many skills' either."

"Gabrielle...." Xena croaked out..."Are you flirting with me?"

"Mmmmmm, maybe." replied the bard. "Question is, what are you going to do about it?"

"I can think of a few things." said Xena, with a playful glint in her eyes.

"Really now...hmmm." replied the bard as she stood, and held out her hand to her lover. "I think I wouldn't mind finding out what those things are." The passion in her eyes now unmistakable.

Xena took the proffered hand and allowed herself to be led over to where their bedrolls were laid out, where they fell into each other with a reckless abandon that would have made even Aphrodite blush.

"Xena, where is Callisto?" asked the bard.

"Don't worry my love, she will be back in the morning."

"Oh....OH my!" The bard's thoughts were cut short by the lips on her throat, and the feelings they were evoking from her. "Gods, Xena, did anyone ever tell you you are soooo good at this?"

Xena stopped what she was doing, raised her eyes to meet the bards, and replied...."Yes Gabrielle, but not anyone I cared to hear them from before."

It was a simple statement, but one of complete truth, and Gabrielle surrendered herself to her warrior.....lost forever in the love and commitment now freely offered from her soulmate.

~~~Part 5

Callisto popped into view behind Xena as she was stoking the fire for breakfast. Peering over the warrior's shoulder, she was about to say something when she was mercilessly grabbed and flung across the camp.

"OUCH!" she yelped as she hit the ground butt first. She skidded to a stop after another 5 feet, and turned back to see Xena laying on the ground holding her stomach and laughing uncontrollably. "Oh you think that was funny, Warrior Princess?" she spat, then looked at herself sitting there with probably a green grass stripe up her backside, and started laughing too. Xena crawled over to Callisto and slapped her on the back hard, making her splat face first in the dirt. Of course this made Xena laugh even harder so she didn't see Callisto pick herself up and body slam her into the ground. They laughed harder causing the still sleeping bard to stir in her bedroll. Xena looked at Callisto, put her finger to her mouth..."SHHHHHHHH!" she said, and it was quiet.........for about 3 seconds until they couldn't hold out anymore. At that, the bard was awakened abruptly......

"BY the GODS can't anyone get any sleep around here!" mumbled Gabrielle. "I swear I think I am going to regret it now that you two are getting are like children!"

Xena and Callisto looked at each other and busted out laughing again. This time Gabrielle joined in and they all enjoyed just being together and not wanting to kill each other for a change. The laughter finally died down, and Xena excused herself to go ready Argo.

Callisto watched Gabrielle begin to disassemble the campsite, and walked over to her....

"Need some help?" she asked.

"Sure, Cal...wanna help me pack the saddlebags?"

"All right." said Callisto. "Ummm, Gab?"

"Yeah?" replied the bard.

She cleared her throat. "Xena mentioned something about visiting your village?" she semi-asked the question that really wasn't a question if you really looked at it.

"Yes, Cal. We are leaving for the Amazon village now. I heard you may be interested in staying on there?"

"Well, I'm just worried they won't be too hip on the idea Gabrielle....I mean, they all know what I have done in the past."

"Yes, well....I think I can handle that. They do trust my judgement these days." said the bard as she finished packing away the frying pan. "You're just going to have to trust me, Callisto."

"Hmmmm, well I really am kinda sickened by the thought of life on Mt. Olympus. I mean, Ares and me are not the best of friends, and I hold no love for any of them." stated Callisto.

"It's settled are coming with us." Gabrielle stated. "There are many positive things you can do for the village.....BUT....." she paused, "There is one condition..."

"Oh comes the catch..." thought Callisto...."What's that, Gabrielle?"

"You will work closely with Eponin, the weapons master, in guarding the village from attacks. You will take your orders from her, and you will obey them. Is that understood?"

"Do I really have a choice Gab?" She laughed. "all right, it's a deal....I can do that." Callisto smiled.

"No, not really." the bard laughed again. "Well, I know I will sleep better at night now that I know my home village is completely safe. I think?" she laughed harder. "I'm sorry Cal, just a bit of a joke there. I am trusting you, please don't let me down."

"I won't, Gabrielle. You'll see.....everyone will love me sooner or later." she chuckled.

"Well, just don't think it's going to be all peaches and cream, Cal.....there will be some who will have a hard time accepting you even after I talk with them."

"I know, I am prepared for that. I mean, what can they do? Kill me??" she laughed again.

"Callisto..." said Gabrielle as she picked up the saddle bags and rose to take them over to Xena..."I don't know if I will EVER get used to hearing you make jokes!" she chuckled as she walked away, leaving Callisto kneeling there smirking to herself.

"Ya know..." she thought, "Maybe this isn't so bad as I thought! It's actually fun!" She smiled as she rose to follow Gabrielle.

~ ~~~~~~~~~~ ~~ ~~~~~~~~~~ ~

The trio traveled throughout the day endlessly chatting away....laughing and relating stories. Callisto had never really listened to Gabrielle tell a story before, and she was mesmerized by the way the bard spoke. It was like a song, in a way....but not a song....the words were melodious but still strong. Gabrielle told of their adventure in Troy, where they saved Helen, and helped her escape....and even Cal had to admit it was a wonderful story. Then Gabrielle launched into the story of Velasca, and Callisto was shocked when it portrayed her as one of the heroines.....

" can leave me out of all that. I didn't do anything really to help you. We both know I did it only to serve my own interests."

"I know, Cal, but it's not the motive that is's the deed you did, and how it will sound when I tell it to the village counsel!" The bard laughed, and Callisto was struck with a completely dumfounded look on her face.

"Thanks?" she said and grinned at Gabrielle.

She contemplated the story she had just heard, and she guessed it was true if you looked at it a certain way. She decided she liked the feeling it gave her to hear someone say something nice about her for a change. "Gab?" she asked....

"Yeah?" replied the bard.

"Thanks for helping me out." And she turned away and strode on ahead a few paces.

Xena pulled Argo up next to her bard and grinned at her. "That was the 'You did a good job Gabrielle look', I think". thought the bard, and she smiled brightly and trudged on down the path to her village.

~~~Part 6

Xena pulled Argo up quickly....she held up her hand in a SHHH sign, and they all went into silent mode. The warrior tilted her head, and plucked an arrow out of the air in front of Callisto's face. Quickly she and Gabrielle dismounted, and clasped their hands over their heads in the Amazon signal for friend.

"What did ya do that for, X? That arrow can't kill me!" She laughed heartily.

"Just reflexes, I guess..." said Xena with a note of humor in her voice. "Sorry if it wasn't showy enough for you." She smirked.

"But it was a sweet gesture...I mean you thinking you were saving me and all, even for just a moment...thanks." Cal smiled warmly.

Their conversation was cut short by the vision of four very armored, very intimidating looking Amazons emerging from the trees around them. The first one came forward while the other three led their horses. The way they carried themselves told Xena they were upset....and by the looks of things, they weren't in a chatty mood either.....

"My Queen..." said Solari as she pushed her mask back and knelt before Gabrielle. "May I have the honor of escorting you to the village?"

"Of course Solari....lead on." replied Gabrielle.

"Xena." Solari nodded at the warrior and was returned the same. "But her..." she said, pointing at Callisto, "We cannot allow it."

Callisto smirked and tilted her head sideways. She thought about conjuring up a fireball to hurl at this insolent Amazon, but caught the glare from Xena and decided it would be better to just let Gabrielle handle it just this once.

"Solari...." said Gabrielle...."Callisto travels with us. In fact, she is the reason we came for this please just trust me on this one, ok?"

"As you wish, my queen.....shall we then? Aliandra...ride ahead and inform Ephiny the Queen is here." said Solari as she launched onto her horse and proceeded to lead the way to the village, shooting Callisto a backwards sneer to which Callisto promptly responded by sticking her tongue out at the which Callisto bit her tongue when she got a WHAP in the back of the head from Xena, who rode ahead laughing to which Gabrielle looked at them both, looked up and rolled her eyes.

"all right Warrior Children....cut it out already." called out a giggling Gabrielle. 'I swear Xena's mother must have been a saint to deal with this!' she thought to herself.

They arrived at the village about a half candlemark later, amidst sneers and even flung objects directed Callisto's way. Gabrielle did her best to admonish them, but really now, how could she blame them? After all, Callisto had caused many a problem for the Amazons in the past, and to just see her ride into town with their queen? Well...Gabrielle was sure she might do that same thing.

Ephiny met them at the gate and bowed to her queen. "Queen Gabrielle, it is wonderful to see you again!" She moved to offer her arm to help Gabrielle dismount, but instead found the playful blue eyes of Xena's staring into her own....

"Eph...I got this one." Xena winked as she spoke....and Ephiny's mouth just hung there. "Catching dinner there, Eph?" Xena reached up and plucked the bard from her saddle, letting her gently down onto her feet.

Gabrielle let her hands stay upon the warrior's shoulders for just an extra second or two, but that was enough to let Ephiny know for SURE what was up here. And her jaw slacked open even further.

"Eph really..." whispered Gabrielle as she walked by..."So unbecoming of an Amazon!" She laughed. "You would think you have never seen two people in love before. Geeesh!" Xena held out her arm to the bard, who took it and motioned for Callisto to follow them to their hut. And all the while Ephiny just stood there dumbfounded with her mouth hanging open....

~ ~~~~~~~~~~ ~~ ~~~~~~~~~~ ~

When she finally regained the muscle control in her face and body, Ephiny dashed after the bard.

"Wait! Wait!! Gabrielle!" she yelled after them. "Wait for me!"

She caught up to them as they got to the door. "Gabrielle! By the Gods, woman...we have to talk!"

"Ephiny...yes yes I know...please come in. Eponin....Solari! You come too, I promised you an explanation and you will have it." replied the bard as they entered. They took chairs around the table and Gabrielle began the tough job of convincing them to trust Callisto.

Xena just leaned her chair back against the wall and watched her lover in action. 'This is what she was born for.' thought the warrior as she took it all in. She watched Gabrielle really get into her conversation, her hands cavorting wildly as she tried to drive her point home to the regent, the way...still looked shocked about earlier. She caught the bard's eye and smiled her trademark half smile at her...Gabrielle smiled back and went back to her discussion. 'And to think what else those hands can do...mmmm mmmm....' Xena's mind went back to their night together, and her attention to that memory was only broken by the Gabrielle's voice calling to her....

"XENA!!! Hello, are you here with us?" giggled Gabrielle uncontrollably.

"Wha? Who...ahem, yes, Gabrielle, I'm here." she replied. 'Now I am' she smirked. "What was the question again?"

"Xena..." replied Gabrielle..."Ephiny asked you if you agreed this was acceptable.....meaning Cal's arrangement here." she nodded Callisto's direction.

"Yes, Eph....I think it is a benefit for us all. I mean, many Amazon tribes can claim a Goddess as a built-in defense system? Think about one would want to bug you..." she winked at Cal...who winked back.

"And you think, Xena, that we can trust her? Who is to say she won't return to her old ways, and obliterate us??" snapped Solari forcefully.

"Solari....I can't explain it, but it's a feeling I have inside." interjected the bard. "I mean, I just feel like it's the right thing to do. But I guess it would be a bit hard to believe if I were in your had to be there to see it happen. Let me tell you I was scared at first that it was a game, but no....this is all right....I'm sure of it. if Callisto had wanted us all dead, don't you think we would be dead already?"

"Hmmmm...." said Solari, "You have a point. All right, you can count on my vote."

"And mine." said Ephiny.

"Mine as well." added Eponin.

"Good." stated the bard. "Pony, Callisto is in your charge in our army. She reports to no one but you. Understood? Callisto has already agreed to this. Isn't that right, Cal?"

"indeed it is Gabrielle!" smiled Cal. She turned to the general....."Eponin, it is with honor that I serve blade is yours to command. I swear fealty and allegiance to Gabrielle, Queen of the Amazons." she knelt before Pony, whose mouth just was hanging open.

"Uhhh Uuuhhhhh...ok" said Pony. "Um, Callisto, come with me, we will get you settled for tonight."

"Sure thing, chief!" she mischieviously winked at Pony, who sneered at the nickname she was sure Eph wouldnt let her forget for the next week.

"Alone at last!" grinned Ephiny. "Ok you two...spill! Are you together? I mean, FINALLY together??"

"Ummmm, yeah." stated Xena.

Gabrielle looked sideways at Xena, silently chastising her for her bluntness. She cleared her throat. "Thank you oh 'Warrior Princess of Many Words' but I will take it from here. Come on over here by the fire, Eph, and I'll tell you the most romantic story you have ever heard. A story of love and forgiveness, and newfound trust." She swatted Xena in the stomach and gave her a push. "Xena, why don't you go get a your energy for later...." said the bard, trying her best to sound sexy as she said it.

'Oh yeah' thought Xena, 'that's sexy...mmmm' And she turned around, swept her bard into her arms...their lips meeting in a tender kiss that seemed to go on forever....

"AHEM" snorted Ephiny.

"Oh...ummm...yeah, hey, sorry, Eph...just get a little carried away when I'm in kissing range of tall, dark and gorgeous here..." she giggled.

Xena rolled her eyes, winked and headed out to the bath hut.

"Ok now, Gab....tell me EVERYTHING! And leave not anything out under pain of tickle!" said Ephiny after the warrior's footsteps faded.

"Oh Gods, Eph...where do I start?" she laughed. "One minute I was sitting there, and the next I was kissing her. And she was kissing me back.....when our lips touched I thought I had died and gone to Elysia for sure. Nothing else mattered.....I didn't care....I just wanted to go on kissing her forever." she sighed.

" like ummmmm, is she as good as everyone thinks she is?" smirked the regent. "I mean, she MUST be...she's a warrior....and she's so damn HOT to top it off! I can't believe you finally got your nerve, Gab...I am so happy for you!" She hugged the bard. "You know, there are goin to be a lot of disappointed Amazons runnin around here now, with their lips hangin all out poutin...."

"Oh I know Eph...Xena has many Amazon admirers." stated the bard.

"I wasn't talking about her, Gabrielle...for cryin out loud, there were just as many who lusted after you, my queen." she laughed.

It was Gabrielle's turn for the "mouth agape syndrome" and Ephiny had to laugh.

"No way..." said the bard.

"Yeah way."

"Nooooo, I am not all that."

"Yes you are. In fact......" Ephiny whispered..."I was going to try to win your attentions if Xena didn't move on her feelings soon!" she winked at the bard. "But don't worry...I'm fine, and I am very happy for you, my queen."

"Ummmm...thanks?" replied the bard....and they both broke into fits of laughter.

"Well, Gab...I'm going to turn in...early council meeting tomorrow don't forget...and maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea if you got some sleep tonight? Hmmm??" the regent smirked.

"Ok Eph, I'll try!" she grinned evilly at Ephiny as she left, then proceeded to attack the dinner tray that was left for them earlier. 'Sometimes it's nice to be Queen.' mused Gabrielle as she devoured yet another slice of nutbread....

~~~Part 7

Callisto had been wandering around the grounds thinking. She headed towards the stables, somehow innately knowing she would find the warrior there. She turned and entered the doors. Spying Xena near the back fixing her tack, she headed that way.

Xena had heard her footfalls outside and spoke before Cal even thought she knew she was there....

"Callisto." She said warmly. "How are we today?"

"Oh bother, Xena..." replied Cal as she walked up, leaned against the stall door and crossed her arms. "I've never had a better or worse morning in my whole life!" She gave a little exasperated sigh.

Xena raised her eyebrow at the blonde, scrutinizing her up and down for a moment. "Looks like you are a bit flushed..." she walked over closer and lifted a hand to Cal's forehead. "Yep....a little warm. Hmmmm...." She peered closer at the goddess. "Yep...definitely lovesick." And with that she turned around and went back to her tack, smiling a bit at the irony of it all.

Now Callisto just stood there with her mouth hanging. She was totally flabbergasted as to how Xena had managed to figure everything out in one quick appraisal, without even a clue.

" did you know?"

"Gabrielle warned me."

"But how did SHE know??"

"Cuz Ephiny ran to her for the same reason you're here to see me." Xena smiled at the blonde. "But to be honest, I think I saw it last night at the meeting." She winked at Cal.

"No way! Wow. Was it that obvious?" she asked.

"Does a hydra have six heads?" asked Xena with her best 'I am completely innocent in saying this' look.

"But Xena....this is quite strange for me, you know. When I kissed you the other day, it sure didn't feel like kissing her did. This.....well, I guess I'm not used to having feelings is all, and when she kissed me....geeesh Xe, I think I went on sensory overload! And now I don't know what to do. Part of me is burning for it, and the other part wants to run screaming into the night!"

"I will tell you the same thing Gabrielle told Eph...just be yourself. Cal, I think this could be your golden found someone that actually likes you!" She smirked, and received an elbow in the ribs for her insolence.

"Enough of the jibes, Warrior Pun Princess...this is rough for me! I don't know the first thing about romance, must admit I am horribly out of practice..."

Xena laughed a bit. "I thought the same thing, Cal, really...with Gabrielle I mean. I didn't know how to romance her, hadn't a clue! All I knew was that I loved her, and I just gave in to that feeling. I just felt for a change, and you know what? When you open yourself to it, it becomes the most natural thing in the world." She smiled. "But a picnic lunch and some good wine couldn't hurt." She winked.

"Hmmmmm Xena....never figured you to be a mushball....but it becomes you. Thank you for the talk."

"You are most welcome....see you at the meeting in a few. I'm just going to finish this up and head on over." she called out as Callisto was leaving.

"Ok." said the blonde then headed out across the commons to her hut.

~ ~~~~~~~~~~ ~~ ~~~~~~~~~~ ~

As she entered the hut, her nose was assaulted by the smell of new leather. She looked over to the bed, and upon it lay what looked like Amazon leathers. She walked over and peered down at them....a light tan, 2-Piece outfit, inlaid with a purple design. She fingered the smoothness of the skirt...nice. Along with the leathers, she found matching gauntlets, a belt, and boots.

As she pondered actually trying it on, she glanced toward the table...there was a folded piece of parchment on it. She quick crossed over and picked up the note, flipping it open and reading quickly...

I thought walking into an Amazon council meeting in your armor might make some people squirm a bit, so I found you something that would help you to 'fit in' better. I want this to go well, because I think I really want you to stay. But if you don't want to wear them, I will understand. If that's the case, just keep them anyhow because you never know when you might need an extra set of clothes.

See you soon

She re-read the letter two more times before she walked over to the bed and stripped off her old leathers. She marveled at the soft feel of the skirt as she slipped it up over her hips. Next she donned the top, a simple piece that laced in front....she fingered the purple laces. Pulling on the soft boots she wiggled her toes around in them, delighted at the perfect fit. She slid her wrists into the bracers and picked up the necklace to put it on. Her eye caught a glint amongst the feathers, and she looked more closely at it. She noticed the heart dangling from the front and fingered it gently. Turning it over, she saw something etched on the back....'A New Beginning...' Her eyes began to get misty as she brushed her thumb over it again before putting it on. Stepping around the other side of the bed, she took herself in while standing in front of the mirror....

She whistled. "Oh my."

Looking back at her was someone she didn't know. This woman she was seeing remotely resembled her, having the blonde hair and same face, but the aura was different. This woman looked happy. She stared some more.....but it was still her standing there. She decided she liked what she saw. She turned towards the door, grabbing her dagger and sliding it into the belt as she walked out the door to the meeting.

~ ~~~~~~~~~~ ~~ ~~~~~~~~~~ ~

Ephiny was all nerves wondering if she had made a serious faux pas with the leathers. She knew it was a lot to expect, but darn it! Those old black things Callisto wore didn't seem to suit her anymore. But had she crossed the line by doing this? Cal might take offense and think the regent was trying to change her or something, which she wasn' just seemed the right thing to do just then.

Her thoughts were interrupted as the the blonde warrior entered. Ephiny's breath caught in her throat at the sight before her eyes. 'By the gods, she is beautiful!' she thought whimsically. She stood rooted to the spot, unable to tear her eyes away from what she beheld to be a muse come to tempt her self-control. Then those soft brown eyes found hers and held...their owner coming closer and closer until they were standing in front of each other.

For a moment they stood there, spellbound by something neither understood.

"Hey Xe...look over there..." whispered the bard to her lover.

"Oh yeah...they got it baaaaaaaaad...." whispered Xena back.

"Do we look like that?" Gabrielle wondered aloud.

"Us? You maybe, but not me. I could never look that goofy." said the warrior with a smirk in her voice.

"I beg to differ, Xena...." said Eponin with a wink to Gabrielle.

Xena just sat there with a dumb grin on her face, and turned her attention back to the scene before her.

"Hi." said Cal. Her eyes went to the floor and all of a sudden she felt weird. She dug her toe into the ground. "Ummm....thanks for these.." she said running her hand over the skirt.

" problem. I thought it might make the transition easier." the regent replied. "You look......great!" she paused, then leaned closer so she could speak in Cal's ear...."And everyone else here thinks so too...." She motioned with her hand as she pulled away, and Callisto noticed everyone staring at her. She flushed crimson and turned away with a small giggle, hiding her eyes.

The gavel sounded and everyone rushed to their seats. Ephiny planted a quick kiss on the side of Cal's cheek and taking her hand, led her up the stairs to stand behind the council.

The proceedings went well, with only a handful giving argument to this petition for membership in the Nation. And those were quelled after Gabrielle's speech was finished. It ended up being an almost unanimous vote, and Cal breathed a sigh of relief as the meeting ended.

Ephiny hugged her tightly. "Tonight you officially become one of us. Are you sure this is what you want, Cal?"

She found her hand reaching out to caress the regent's cheek. Their eyes met. "Yes...I'm sure." she replied, her voice carrying the double meaning of the words to the regent.

Eph's mouth was suddenly very dry and hoarse, and her voice cracked as she said her next words...."Me too."

Cal smiled and took her by the hand. "I think there is a lake waiting for us."

Ephiny shook her head a bit to clear the fuzzy feeling, and allowed herself to be lead through the crowd. All eyes followed them as they walked out into the sunshine....and all eyes were pleased....including those of a certain Warrior Princess and Amazon Queen.

"Normally I don't thank gods for anything, but for this one? I'm thinking about it." joked Xena as she reached her arm around the bard, encircling her shoulders as they walked out.

"They do make such a great looking couple don't they?" inquired Gabrielle.

"Not as great looking as us, darling, but damn close I would say." And with that she stopped and swept the surprised bard into her arms, dipped her and kissed her soundly on the lips. Gabrielle threw her arms around the warrior's neck and proceeded to get lost in the feeling.

"Don't you agree, Gabrielle?" purred Xena as she pulled the bard back up and into her arms.

"Xena?" said the bard.


"Back to the hut. Now."

Xena mock bowed. "Yes, my Queen." She grinned evilly as she picked the bard up in her arms and carried her back to their hut.

Eponin and Solari stood there watching the exchange.

"There they go again," grinned Solari.

"Yup." said Eponin. "You would think it would be Xena who couldn't be satisfied. Who would have thunk that our little innocent Queen possessed the voracious sexual appetite!"

They laughed as they walked together to the baths.

~~~Part 8

"Well look who finally decided to show up..." whispered Xena into her bards' ear, pointing in the direction of the pair now casually strolling arm in arm across the compound. "Oooooo and will you look at the poop-eating grins on their faces!"

"Xena!" said the bard as she quickly grabbed the warrior's arm and steered her in the opposite direction..."Oh no you don't! You are going to leave them be dear, and get that 'I'm going to tease the Hades out of them' look off your face this instant!"

"Me?" replied Xena. "Come now Gabrielle, I would never do anything like that...." She shot the queen an innocent grin as she turned back toward the duo.

"Yes you. Oh, and don't think you are fooling me for one minute missy! I know you are just DYING to go give them grief!" said the bard, turning Xena around again. "Besides...after your hectic workout at the training grounds with Pony this afternoon, I do believe you need a good scrub down in the bath hut oh Warrior Princess of SweatBalls."

" now...." admonished the warrior. "You know I have gone far longer without a bath than just a half-day...."

"Oh yes...BELIEVE me I know...and that is the EXACT reason we are going to go get you washed up now." stated the bard matter-of-factly. "Didn't you ever wonder why I kept my distance from you on certain days? You know what they say...'Cleanliness is next to Godliness." She gave her warrior a push toward the awaiting mineral springs.

"Godliness Gabrielle? Please don't bring them into this or you will never get me NEAR that hut!"

"Oh please..." said the bard. And with that she gave her lover a last shove towards the one place that would allow her nose a chance to recover.....

~ ~~~~~~~~~~ ~~ ~~~~~~~~~~ ~

It was dusk and the ceremony would begin when the moon reached its' highest point in the clear night sky. They walked together toward Cal's hut staring at the stars and each other.

"You know Eph...." said the warrior...."I've really never looked at the stars before. I had no idea a night sky could be so entrancing. In the last couple of days, I realized exactly all that I have been missing." She sighed. "I remember when I made Xena confess her crimes in some no-name city, in front of all those strangers....I think that was that moment in time when it started to get through to me that everything I was doing was wrong...." A pause. "And when I think of the cruel joke I made about Gabrielle's husband..." She shivered.

"Dearest...." whispered the regent..."Don't be so hard on yourself. We all make bad choices in our lives, but all we can do is learn from our mistakes and move on. You shouldn't punish your soul for what is in the past, especially when so much can be learned from it." She leaned over and gave her lover a quick peck on the cheek. "Besides.....look how it all turned out..." She smiled warmly. "I think The Fates have worked in our favor, don't you?"

Callisto smiled back and sighed again. "Alright already...I see your point. I'll try not to do that in the future."

"Good." stated Ephiny. "Because I don't want to see you beating yourself up over something we can't change now. The future is ours to make, so I propose we make it the best future we can."

"Agreed." replied Callisto. "But Eph? I have to ask that you take it easy on me for a little while....I mean, I'm a goddess....and my senses are a tad more heightened than yours are....Gods woman, you almost killed me back there in the woods!"

A full scale blush crept up onto Ephiny's face. "I'm....ummm...sorry..." She giggled nervously. "It's just that.....ummmm.....I couldn't help myself! I never intended for it to go that far...just you looked so...what's the word I'm looking for....irresistable....yes that's it!" A pause. "I wanted to make you feel you just what you mean to me Cal." The regent suddenly felt very awkward, and turned her eyes away.

"Eph....hey....don't feel guilty. I loved every moment of it." said Cal. "I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have never felt anything so right in my life...really. I'm just saying that if it's always going to be like that between us, I don't know how many times a day I can handle it!" She laughed as they neared her hut. She leaned over close to the regent and dropped her voice...."But I never said I wasn't willing to find out just how many times the limit is...." She let her tongue trace Ephiny's earlobe and was pleased at the shiver she felt go through the woman's body.

"Cal honey...if you keep that up, I'm sure we will be late for your induction ceremony."

"Would that be such a great loss?" inquired the warrior.

"Well......certainly not my loss...." She giggled again. "Come on, let's get you ready." she said as they entered Cal's hut.....

"You know...." said Solari as she and Eponin watched the exchange from across the courtyard...."I could swear Aphrodite is putting in a LOT of overtime around here as of late...."

"Oh yeah?" replied the weaponsmaster. She stopped her work on the preparations for the nights' festivities...."That would explain many things."

"Such as?"

"Ohhhhhh nothing....ummmm just an observation."

"Is that so?" said Solari.

"Yeah that's so. What did you mean by that?" said Pony as she went back to her task tying off the posts for the podium.

"Nothing...nothing at all." She cast a sidelong glance at Ep, silently appreciating the way the woman's muscles moved as she worked. 'Nothing at all...Yeah right!' she mused to herself as she went back to her tasks with a very devilish grin on her face.

~ ~~~~~~~~~~ ~~ ~~~~~~~~~~ ~

The drums began beating as Ephiny escorted her through the crowd. She couldn't remember ever feeling so good excited about anything. Two days ago she was a wanton killer of men, women and The thought of it was almost enough to make her lose her lunch. She pushed the horrid thoughts from her mind and straightened her stance as they neared the podium. 'Yesterday doesn't's what I do from now on that counts.' They reached the stairs and proceeded to climb them. She stole a quick look at Ephiny. 'What a beautiful woman.' she thought. 'And a courageous one at that! I can't believe she wants to be with me...after all I have done.' She sighed softly.

Ephiny chose that moment to give her shoulder a gentle squeeze as she met her new lover's eyes. was all there for Callisto to see. They reached their spots and the drums stopped. A few seconds later they began again as the queen made her entrance.

Cal's eyes swept toward the oncoming procession....'Whoa!' she thought...'That's Gabrielle? Oh I have definitely been too hard on her over the last few years! I guess she really isn't a kid anymore.'

Indeed Gabrielle looked every bit the Amazon Queen. She could feel the inner strength practically rolling off the bard the closer she got. And there was Xena, at her immediate side, carefully scanning the area to make sure no one tried anything funny. 'Typical.' She smiled inwardly.

The procession finally made it to the podium and took their places. The drums stopped...Gabrielle turned to the crowd and began....

"Sisters of Arborea....As most of you already know, Callisto has petitioned to join our great Nation. The council has met and agreed on this." She turned back towards Callisto and Ephiny. "Who sponsors this warrior?"

"I do." said the regent stepping forward and kneeling before her queen, raising her token in two hands.

Gabrielle took the token, holding it up and and turning around so all could see it as Ephiny returned to her place.

A woven leather shoulder strap in purple and gold lay draped between the queen's slender fingers. Cal's eyes popped out in suprise as Gabrielle lowered her arms and crossed over to the blonde warrior. She felt a gentle pressure on her shoulder encouraging her to kneel, and she did so.

"Callisto of Sirra....You have petitioned for acceptance into the Amazon Nation. What do you swear?" inquired the queen.

Cal looked up into the softest green eyes. They gave her courage to find her voice and she spoke....

"I swear to defend the Nation with my life, to live with honor, and respect all my sisters. I swear fealty to you my Queen and never another. My sword is yours to command until my dying day." She bowed her head.

"Rise sister of Arborea." said Gabrielle.

Cal rose slowly, and the bard took a step forward to attach the strap to her outfit. "Let this emblem signify your rank among our people." She attached the strap to Cal's left shoulderpiece and turned back to the crowd....

"Sisters, I present to you your new Captain of the Guard. Accept her with open arms."

With that Ephiny led her to the front of the podium and raised their joined hands for all to see. The village erupted in joyous hoots and applause that didn't die down for quite a few minutes.

Cal couldn't keep the beaming smile off her face. This was definitely going to be added as one of the best moments in her that would not be forgotten ever. Her thoughts were interrupted as Ephiny raised her free arm to finally try and calm down the crowd.

"Sisters!" shouted the regent above the din..."Attention! May I please have your attention for a moment more!"

The crowd quieted considerably as Ephiny patiently waited.

"Tonight's celebration is more than just an induction party." she continued. "I stand before you and ask that you not only accept Callisto as one of us, but as my consort."

Gabrielle's jaw hit the floor, followed by Solari's, then Eponin's...and then everyone else's, except for Xena who just smirked.

The regent continued..."I understand what some of you might think, but in that respect I ask you know me, and you know I do not make rash decisions." She looked at Cal. "This woman is no longer the person we once knew, but a caring and loving individual. One that I care very much about. I cannot explain what has happened to my heart so quickly, but I can honestly say this feels right, and I ask that you support us on this."

There was dead silence, Then she heard two sets of hands begin to applaud....she looked over and Gabrielle winked at her, her eyes twinkling and the regent knew the grilling session would not be far off. Xena just smiled that winning smile and kept clapping. Soon the village was in uproar again, applauding wildly and enthusiastically.

During this whole speech Callisto could do nothing but stand there and be in shock while sporting a truly goofy grin on her face.

Ephiny again motioned for quiet and proceeded..."The joining will occur one moon from tonight on the eve of the summer solstice. Thank you sisters for your support." She bowed and turned to Cal, meeting her eyes and lifting their still entwined fingers to her lips, placing a gentle kiss upon them. "I love you." she said simply.

A single tear began its' trek down Callisto's cheek, and she closed her eyes in order to imprint this memory into her mind forever. She felt Ephiny reach over to softly wipe that tear away, and opening her eyes, she found herself falling into the regent's own, her heart feeling as if it would burst from the intensity. At a total loss for words she did the only thing she could think of....she raised her free arm to caress the regents' face and pulled her close, into a kiss full of love and commitment. The crowd once again broke into applause, and the drums began in earnest signaling the start of the celebration.

As the kiss ended, Callisto spoke softly to the regent. "A new beginning...." She smiled.

"Yes." replied Ephiny smiling back.

And with that they descended from the platform and into the throng of well-wishers.


Well I hope u all enjoyed my little story as much as I enjoyed writing it for u! Like I stated at the beginning, this was the first piece of FanFic I have ever written, so please be gentle as I re-learn the bardic skills I haven't used since my school days. (hehe) I like to think it's like riding a bicycle...the more u do, the easier it gets, and once it's inside u it only takes a little while to resurface. ;) It looks as if Alexiares and myself will be combining our efforts on the next story...should be quite interesting as we are now throwing ideas back and forth as to how to integrate our characters and plotlines. I don't have a date as to when u will see the first few parts show up, but if i have my way, I'm sure u all wont have to wait too long hehehe. I thank u again for taking the time to read "Diary", and a special thank u goes out to all who wrote me with encouragement to keep going. Lexi, u crazy bard...couldnt have done it without u! And Ted, Skip and Jenny...I owe u all thanks. Until next time....... Rachel

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