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

NOTE: All works remain the © copyright of the original author. These may not be republished without the author's consent.

Any polite comments you would like the author to read send to Short and to the point would be nice. Venting at the author is not advisable since the Muses protect their own. 8-)

Chapter 1-3 4-6 7-9 10-12 13-15 16-17 : PART I 

In Search Of
A Greater Cause

J.A. Bard

~ PART I ~

Chapter 13
The General's Fall From Power

Gigantes was sitting on his divan letting his slave feed him grapes, when Captain Herodes came pounding on the door with his sword hilt. Gigantes merely opened his eyes and turned his head to the door as it was pushed open to reveal the Captain with the City Counsel.

Surprised he sat up. He had forgotten the meeting, though only a candlemark ago he had dressed for it.

"The members to the City Counsel, General."

"Of course, of course. Do make yourselves comfortable. Amand, is there enough food? We mustn’t let our guests go hungry." Gigantes giggled a little at the joke. He remembered he was the one that held the key to the city’s food surplus.

"We are fine, General. Shall we get on with this meetin’?" The others nodded and took their seats. The servant offered the various members wine which some declined. For the last few days they had their wits back, so-to-speak, and were aghast at what their memory, which was not affected, informed them of what they had been participating in. They also noted that the soldiers that they had been subservient to were now less hostile and this made their more sharper minds figure the puzzle out. They had also discussed the hostage situation of their family members with each other and decided to take things cautiously, until they could do something about it.

"General, the recent earth shake has damaged many of the farm fences. We’re going to concentrate on getting them repaired before returning workers to the wall. This is also winter solstice week and our festivities must be attended to, which also means those not repairing their walls will be getting the city ready. We are days behind."

The General sat up in his couch. "What?" The drug didn’t get rid of his awareness of his purpose in the city nor of what would happen to him if he did not make it happen. The drug hadn’t been in his system long enough for him to be bent to another’s will, just a tad bit compliant and relaxed.

"Ahhh." Gigantes struggled to get something into focus. "We don't have any visitors to have a celebration…and we have to get the wall parameter up to keep those satyrs and whatever else is with them…out. What if they capture more hostages!" Gigantes didn't realize he had put his feet to the ground and had drawn himself up, leaning over the table to try to pull some semblance of control over the meeting. But the anger, the force of emotion that he had used when these people were more malleable was missing on both sides.

"We don't need visitors to celebrate something that has been part of this city for many lifetimes." Pianet replied pushing the loose grapes before him around. He was elected to be the one to remove Gigantes out of control of their city counsel. He had been ashamed that he was the one that had been Gigantes' chief backer, believing in the man's impassioned speeches on what was going wrong and what was needed to fix it. This was his chance to undo what he had brought down on his city. They figured it had something to do with the water, wine, and food and were careful now at monitoring who got what. Since Gigantes drank wine and he wasn't in his usual mood his server determined it was in the wine and passed that bit of information onto his father, Pianet.

Gigantes looked toward Captain Heordes. "Captain, have the soldiers seen any danger…"

"General Gigantes, do not threaten us with your soldiers. We may not know how to fight as soldiers, but we have found out about the water supply…they will not be able to help you. We've made certain that they will not be bothering our citizens again." Thesus warned in a low voice. "Your game is up…we have you as hostage now. We will exchange your life…for our family members that you have captive."

Captain Herodes took a step forward, momentarily undecided at what to do since he was out numbered and though he had a sword, the servant had a knife out and it looked like he could use it.

Chapter 14
The Sacred Pool

"All right." Arri's voice directed them. "Down here. See the break in the wall where the water flows down?"

Once they were close to the wall they could hear the roar of water rushing down to another lower pool.

"Hmmm. That's not what I think it is, is it?" Gabrielle's voice didn't sound very happy.

"It's all right. No one drowns in the sacred pool." The small statue in her hand told her.

"It's not the ride down, or the water. It's being up here." Gabrielle muttered as she secured the statue under her belt, removing the small box that held the fan. She couldn't secure both under her belt. "Here, do you think you can hold onto this?" Gabrielle asked Xena.

Xena stood still for a moment, realizing she would be holding all three sacred items. She sighed and took the box, tucking it securely behind the girdle that no one seemed to notice she was wearing.

"This is cold!" Gabrielle told them both before she pushed off. The current was fast and she was pulled into its swift passage, moving downward and to the left then right, and downward. "Eeeeep!" She nearly choked on the water as she was pulled and dragged, as the current became stronger. The small statue was letting out her own screams of glee. This was fun.

"It's an exciting ride." Arri grinned at Xena before he settled himself in the cold water.

"You're going to be okay?"

"Oh, yea. It's the only thing that was worth staying in that filthy room for…besides sitting in the chair. I was riding down here almost every night and had one of the hostages meet me at the bottom to carry me up. That was before Yerik sealed the entrance. Well, have a nice ride down."

He let the current pull him down and on an exhilarating ride he was familiar with.

Xena was thinking about how lucky she was going to be if her sword and armor didn't rust with all this water she had been in lately. Xena's eyes opened wide as she was whisked away in the darkness, from one side to another then down then suddenly she was dropped with just her tailbone barely touching the smoothed rock surface the water coursed down.

She arrived in a small pool that the underwater slide dropped her into with a big splash. There were some torches lit so she easily spotted Gabrielle helping Arri to his feet.

"Ya know…that alone could bring people from far and wide to experience!" Xena told the two breathlessly.

Arri's yellow eyes brightened.

"She's over there in one of the holes." Arri gestured.

"Gabrielle why don't you wait here with him. I'll take a look and see if we can…."

Her eyes caught the patterns of designs on the walls all around them. She turned around noting that they were everywhere.

"This is the heart of the cavern." Arri informed her.

"I saw this…or…something like this…in my dreams." Gabrielle informed the two in awe. She left Arri sitting on a rock and approached stairs that led upward. There on the walls were the designs she had dreamed of. Seven of them. Two were smeared…just like in her dream.

Xena left Gabrielle to study the designs while she went to look for the priestess.

"Aerope?" She called softly down the first well.

"Over here." A tired voice called up to her faintly.

Xena moved carefully past two dark holes in the ground and leaned down the third. "How far down are you?"

"You'll need a rope." A voice came up to her from deep down.

"We don't have one." Xena studied the sides of the well. She could brace herself and climb down…but her suspicion as to why the priestess couldn't get out gave her pause.

"I'm chained down here. Do you have a key?" The priestess seemed to read her mind.

"It's over there on the wall." Arri gestured to the stairs when Xena repeated the question. Gabrielle was standing near the bottom of the stairs with her head cocked as if remembering something.

"Gabrielle, can you toss over those keys?"

Gabrielle walked over to the side of the wall where a collection of old keys was hanging. One lone key was set aside from the others. She reached for it without hesitation and tossed them back to Xena.

"Thanks." Xena paused and watched Gabrielle as she turned her attention back to the marks on the wall.

Must be something she's seen in her dreams, Xena thought, remembering Agnes' words. .

"It's the runes. They are Yerik's making. He learned some things from an old shaman's book. Those designs keep the priestess in here. Even if you should free her…she would not be able to leave as long as those symbols aren't changed." Arri explained.

"Ya?" Xena asked sarcastically, "How bout if we hit her on the head and carried her out?"

Gabrielle had moved toward the drawings remembering in her dream that she had accidentally smeared them. Cautiously she ran a finger through one of the lines of one of the ones she had not touched in her dream. Nothing happened.

"Gabrielle!" Xena's voice startled her and in turning she lost her balance on the uneven floor and put her hand out…just as in her dream. Her right palm ended up in the center of one of the patterns and the shaking of the ground beneath them told her that she may have disrupted something.

As she removed her palm the lines in the design were askew and broken. She turned toward Arri. "Just what is this doing?"

"Well, for starters…you've broken the power of that drawing. I don't know how you were able to do that…try the others. It looks like three are now broken."

While Gabrielle was moving to the other design Xena tucked the key in her leathered bodice as she felt an urgency to get out of where they were, and start her climb down into the dark well. Whatever Gabrielle was doing, or maybe it was just the buildup of the energy for the last few days, but the earth was trembling more and it made climbing down the wall difficult, though not impossible.

"It took you long enough." An old dry voice sounded close below her. Xena dropped the rest of the way noting where the voice was. There was no light to guide her so she merely grasped the frail figure whose hands gripped hers. Xena felt in the darkness for the chains and found only one around a bony ankle. She unlocked the anklet and proceeded to untie the girdle she had around her. "Here, can you hold this?" She gave the box to the old woman whose hand she could feel shaking as she took the box and tucked it between both of them as Xena hoisted the frail figure onto her back and tied the girdle around both of them.

"Are you alright back there? I don't want to lose you after all this effort to get down here." She smiled.

"You do what you need to do, but do it now." The voice wheezed. She could hear the voice chuckling. "You must be the wielder of the light."


"Oh, nothing. Just an old mind wandering. Just you keep moving out of here. We haven't much time. I can feel something happening all around us." The old voice warned.

Xena felt along the wall for the tiny bits of unevenness or places that would give her enough room for a grip or room to place her toes. As Xena began the climb up she could feel the walls vibrate with increasingly small shakes. The movements had their own mixed blessing as rocks stuck out more but the disadvantage was occasionally Xena lost her grip and was left dangling with only one hand gripping an out cropping with feet looking for somewhere to anchor.

"Next time carry rope, Xena." She muttered to herself, feeling another tremor shake the dark hole they were in. Once again she felt around frantically for grips for one hand that was loosened and two dangling feet, as the old priestesses breath stopped for a moment behind her right ear. If not the breathing, Xena would not have known she was carrying someone.

After the tremor stopped Xena continued on. "How are you doing back there?" She asked as she pulled herself up another elbow length.

"Hmm. I'm having a great time here." The voice chuckled.

"Great to hear." Xena' grunted as she moved a little to redistribute her weight. Her fingers found an small hole that would be ideal for her foot to also use. As she shifted to get a firmer hold she felt a string then a bag.

This was getting too…weird.

"That's the stone. You'll be need'n that, yes." The old voice chortled.

Xena withdrew her fingers and tucked the small pouch in her bodice. She was beginning to feel rather smug that she was carrying everything Gabrielle would be needing for this ceremony. All she had to do now was discuss it with her since they hadn't had time to talk about this part...oh, and of course, get out of the well.

The hairs at the nape of her neck rose accompanied by the familiar dark energy that tickled her body. At one time the owner of the energy was tolerated and sometimes welcomed, but always kept at arm's length and controlled by her knowing that this distance was where her power over him laid. Otherwise, she would have been like all his other toys, easily discarded as he used up their energy and found another younger challenge to corrupt. Now he was not just annoying but unwelcomed in her life.

"Of all the times for him to show up." She muttered darkly under her breath.

The lightweight on her back shifted slightly. "Hmmm. I feel it. Who'se that?" The priestess asked in a hoarse voice, that was barely a whisper.

Xena didn’t answer, but gritted her teeth, as she continued to pull them further up the dark well wall, dreading what was going to be at the top when she reached it.

As Xena’s hand reached over the rim of the well a booted foot stepped onto her hand, not crushing it, but with enough pressure to be uncomfortable.

"Ares, get your dirty boot off my hand!" Xena didn’t speak very loud but the threat was there, and she knew the god would not only be able to hear her but also pick up the dark thoughts she was directing at him if he had hurt Gabrielle.

When he did not immediately lift his boot, Xena quickly twisted her strong wrist, grabbing the god’s ankle and using it to pull herself and her burden over the rim. The motion was in a blur and would have impressed a group of mortals, but Ares was use to her quickness and lack of intimidation of him, which was what gave him shivers of excitement.

Xena calmly undid the girdle that was wrapped about her and the priestess without looking at Ares, catching the frail figure behind her as she let her slide from her position on her back. Xena’s eyes had quickly scanned the low-lit interior of the cave and noted a group of slumped forms near the gray stairway. Deliberately she turned her back on Ares as she gently moved the unconscious priestess away from the edge of the well. Her eyes did not miss anything that was behind her.

So, this is unofficial business, she surmised curling her lips in a silent snarl, and in someone else's temple, yet. Nine someone else's.

"What brings you into the bowls of the earth…in the Muses Temple, no less, huh, Ares?" Her voice was even but there was an undisguised touch of impatience. His being here told her that whatever had prevented the other goddesses from entering the cave was removed, and Ares was looking for something his sister's didn't know about.

"Xena, Xena." His sigh was dramatic and predictable. "Can’t I pay one of my once favorite warlords a visit now and then? A check up to see how you’re doing?"

"Knock off the small talk, Ares. You’re not good at it." Xena snapped. She could feel the ground beneath her continue to tremble. She couldn’t help but feel they were a prelude to something bigger, and they were not in a good place for this. She wrapped the girdle around her and picked up the fan box, tucking it in the girdle close to her body.

"Feeling a bit shaky there, huh Xena?"

"Get to the point, Ares!"

"Xena, sometimes your impatience…"

A strong shake had Xena turning to grab the priestess just in case her unconscious form would roll back into the well. She didn't trust Ares. She lifted the priestess in her arms and walked passed Ares, toward where the other bodies were laying as if frozen in sleep. Her intention was to see how Gabrielle was and to see whom all was there.

She was quick to notice that Arri was nowhere to be seen. Gently she laid the priestess next to Gabrielle’s sleeping form. She paused for a moment studying the Bard whose pose was that of someone sleeping peacefully as she was partially curled up with her head resting on a bent arm.

Xena turned to face Ares. The god was standing in a typical pose, one arm held across his chest and the other bent stroking his bearded chin letting his dark eyes openly roam her body with an undisguised look of lust. Usually it took her temper or rage to get that look in his eyes. She frowned as her suspicions mounted at his appearance where he would not normally appear. Is this about Penthesileia? Xena asked, knowing Ares could hear.

He merely pursed his lips and seemed to be thinking of what to say next.

She turned and glanced up at the stairwell then studied the smeared wall paintings. She recognized parts of the designs that were smeared from the shaman Atri’s work. They shouldn't be smeared. They needed to be neatly altered. Some of the designs looked familiar. Now what did they represent?

"Well…have you figured it out yet, Princess." Ares had moved behind her letting his finger pull back the hair from her shoulders. Xena impatiently flicked the hair out of his reach.

"If you have something to say…say it!" Xena turned around and grabbed him around the throat, shaking him then releasing him while pushing him back. Time is important here. Time! That's it! The designs have something to do with time.

"Xeeena!" he growled stepping back from the force of her push with a raised eyebrow. "I love it when you play rough."

Xena rolled her eyes and then grabbed the side of the cave wall when the rolling under her feet started again. Is he trying to keep me here?

Xena leaned down and hoisted Gabrielle onto one shoulder then lifted the priestess’s feather light form onto her other.

"What’s your hurry? Xena! Hey, I’m not finished here. Don’t you want to hear what this is all about?"

Xena felt a weak pull from Ares’ but she leaned forward and let her two burdens help her resist the pull backward. She didn’t know what was going on…she knew that was Ares…he’s the only one that put out that type of energy she felt when he was near…why is he trying to keep me down here?…and why wasn’t he using his power to keep me in the cave? Does his lack of power have anything to do with those drawings? Was he here to make sure his daughter's spirit was released? If so, why the games? Time. Those designs were representing time. Forward and backward.

Once at the top of the stairs Xena leaned against the entrance peering out startled, not sure what she was seeing. Before her was a desolate landscape…flat, gray, no vegetation, no rocks, hills or life. She shifted her shoulders under the weight she carried, then realized she lost Gabrielle…and the priestess!

"Blasted god’s business." She muttered as she turned back to reenter the cave to find Gabrielle…and the priestess. Why was it so difficult to remember the priestess?

Maybe because she is so light….

"Are you implying I weigh a lot?" An angry Bard stood before her, hands on hips, cloth pouch with her writing materials slung behind her. "Well? Don’t I deserve some sort of response?" The hem of her long tan dress was dirty and beads of sweat were across her forehead and running along her upper lip as if she had just been running.

Xena looked around her at the changed scenery. What is going on here? Her blue eyes squinted as she caught sight of a familiar figure standing between two buildings, watching her. Xena started to move toward the figure when a hand on her leathered wrist stopped her.

"I am talking to you and you just ignore me like I’m some sort of…insignificant person…" The young Bard’s voice sounded angry and hurt.

Xena tore her eyes away from the figure that disappeared between the two buildings.

"Gabrielle…can’t we continue this conversation at a later time? There’s someone over there I gotta go see." She moved her eyes quickly back to the Bard as the fingers released their hold on her wrist. Xena paused, as she became aware of the familiarity of this scene and the consequences of the decisions she had made in the past.

What would happen if I did it differently? The next day when she had found a heartbroken Gabrielle she had told her that if she could do it differently she would have…yet, she also remembered with great clarity her promise to herself not to change anything in the past if she ever got the chance again. The first and last time she did have that chance, in the Temple of the Fates, was very sharp in her memory.

Suddenly Xena became angry…at whoever or whatever was messing with the timeline of Fates. Ares!

Xena grabbed the Bard’s arm and turned around to where the cave entrance had been…she ignored the struggling as she pulled her a few more steps down the street.

Ares! I know you can hear me! Get your tight leathered ass here!

The scenery didn’t change a bit, as she finally listened to Gabrielle’s demands to let her wrist go. Xena released her grip, and continued her walk down the street looking for the stable where she had stabled Argo.

A surprised Gabrielle suddenly found her forward motion stopped and before she could regain her own balance she fell into the dust, face first.

Astonished Gabrielle looked around her before getting up and dusting herself off. What is going on here? The last I remember, I changed the fourth symbol where we were in a cave trying to free the priestess.

She looked up the road and saw the familiar backside of her leather and armor clad friend, stalking her way toward the stables. Gabrielle looked around trying to place where they were. Arcidava. Small town, two inns, one definitely not safe, one slow and willing to take on a story teller, which in one evening, paid two days of meals and a room. What else is there about this town? Here her memory supplied her with a painful incident in an early stage of her relationship with the Warrior Princess.

Gabrielle dusted her long skirt off and pulled her long hair into some type of order, then quickly walked after the retreating form of the truculent exWarlord. She could feel herself getting angry at being treated as either a young kid or as a nonperson. The least she could do was say yes or no, if long conversations were beyond her skill level, she grumbled miserably.

Gabrielle neared the barn where she knew Xena would be. She spends a considerable amount of time with Argo, which if she were a guy... Gabrielle shook her head blushing at where her anger was taking her in thoughts.

Aphrodite’s charms run amuck! she thought to herself disgustedly. I’m getting as bad as those soldiers in Pgisi’s Tavern. Better keep that impudent mouth in your tongue. Gabrielle shook her head. Hades in a horseless chariot…I mean…tongue in your mouth, Gabrielle…the thoughts that image conjured up had her coming to a stop in front of the barn door. Best just to keep still for a moment here…get yourself together…She focused on where she was, standing in front of the barn door.

This was where she…found Xena in…she took a deep breath…she remembered the pain she had felt when she walked in unannounced, into this very barn the last time. We weren’t lovers then. But it still hurt…to say nothing about being embarrassed. She paused. Xena had kept telling her she had some personal business to attend to and Gabrielle should wait in their room, or entertain the customers with her tales. It was the type of interest Xena was paying the soldier she had been drinking with. She took another deep breath to quiet her pounding heart. Xena had told her if she could, she would have done it differently, but…a year or so later, they both learned that changing situations in the past opened up other possibilities. And those were equally, if not more painful.

So, do I walk in and go through the drama again…or…Gabrielle looked at her hands that were clutched in front of her…do I turn around and go back to our room? She would be changing the future if she didn’t go in. What good came out of my seeing Xena with a man? She shuddered with fear, jealousy and…need. Wanting to be the one who was on her back…only…with Xena above her, thrusting and panting and her hips rising to meet each push …Gabrielle shook her head as a tear rolled down her cheek.

This is in the past. What is the point here? For a moment she stilled her battling emotions …if I don’t go in…it will change the present…okay…you already know what you’re going to see…it shouldn’t be so difficult…wait a moment here! What am I doing in the past? Xena!

"Xena!" She called as she opened the door to the barn. "Xena!…" she held her breath as she saw the two shadowed forms moving further into one of the stalls. This wasn’t the way she remembered it…she looked at the door to the barn…she hadn’t entered this way because it had been barred from the inside…she turned back around and closed the large door looking for the smaller one she had entered.

Argo was out in the paddock milling around with a few other horses that were moving to the wooden boxes alongside of the fence that had fresh hay in them. Gabrielle stopped for a moment. Argo was outside? Gabrielle opened the small door to the barn, peering into the darkened interior. Do I want to continue with this? Do you want to risk changing the present, she asked herself firmly. No. Just get this over with and find them where you know they are going to be. Then…maybe I can figure out what is happening here.

Gabrielle pursed her lips into a grim line and marched up the row of stalls to the one she knew she would find…Xena reacquainting herself with an old…buddy. The anger started to boil through her veins again, a jealously that set her mouth and face in hard lines.

"Well…you certainly haven’t changed much Xena." A rough voice could be heard in one of the stalls. Gabrielle slowed her steps breathing hard and finding her resolution to keep going melting.

"Well," a low throaty voice replied, "Gades, you certainly haven’t. Looks like you and your partner here are looking real healthy…"

Gabrielle closed her eyes at the groan that came from Gades' throat that turned into a deep growl and then panting.

Gabrielle needed to keep going…she needed to be the naïve…bungling kid…she had been at that time…and walk right into the stall…

The grunting was from two people now. She had to move forward. She didn’t want Xena to be pleasured by Gades…she had to keep going…was I all that naïve? Surely I knew what the noise was about…I knew Xena was in the barn…had I purposely acted dumb to stop what I didn’t want to happen. I knew Xena had to take care of her warrior's lust… but…why couldn't her sword practice or jumping in a cold river suffice?

She could now see the hairier legs of Gades…the grunts were becoming more urgent. "Xena! Are you in here?" She shouted louder than she needed to.

She heard different noises in the stall as she moved closer, a smile curling on her lips as she knew she had interrupted them.

She heard a muffled curse and Xena’s voice telling him to shut up. Then she heard Xena clear her throat. "Gabrielle, go on to our rooms. I’ll be there in a bit."

Stubbornly…she had to finish it…she rounded the corner…she stopped.

Blood left her face for a moment…as she took the scene in she felt her face suddenly flush with the on rush of embarrassment…and a twisted smile that she had been able to go through with it…again.

Xena hurriedly pushed her partner off her roughly.

"Hey!" The guy tried to grab Xena but she punched him somewhere that was enough to silence him.

"Gabrielle, I told you…" She growled her blue eyes bright slits in the shadowed stall.

Gabrielle couldn’t help it…she stood rooted where she was…she couldn’t see Gades for he was slumped on the floor…but Xena was standing without anything on, breasts free with a small red mark on one of them, and with her black patch of wet hairs showing…her long muscular legs that were trembling …why were they trembling?

Desire crept up Gabrielle’s shaking form as she silently felt her own want and need cresting…a low keening started in her throat…she hadn’t noticed that then…and a rush of wetness coating her underpants.

Xena grabbed Gabrielle’s arm pulling her out of the stall. Gabrielle's arm brushed against Xena's nipple as she tried to pull her arm from the strong grip. It gave her a shiver followed by a hot release of more fluid that coated her inner thighs.

"I told you I had some business…personal business…" she shook Gabrielle’s arm.

Gabrielle looked up into Xena’s eyes expecting to find the cold stare but she was surprised …there was sorrow there…and…tenderness…

"Gabrielle…go back to our room. Wait for me there…please…We need to talk about …privacy and…other things." She had told her quietly in a low voice. Then she pushed her firmly toward the door she had came in.

Just like in the past…Gabrielle cried on the way back to their room…why? Because for some reason…her heart was actually breaking…she wanted Xena…for herself.

She shook her head over her folded hands on the table that was in their room. She was composed now. She knew Xena would come and look for her…she had done that in the past…she needed to pack her things…not much to pack…leave her a note…she sighed. Even knowing that Xena and her had become lovers…it still hurt.

Why was she going through this again? This is the past? Arri…the cavern…Xena was rescuing the priestess…a flash of light…and now she’s here. Reliving a painful past.

Gabrielle found herself standing under a tree…the tree Xena found her under…crying. She didn’t remember the walk here.

She was tired. She dropped her bag under the tree and leaned up against the trunk, closing her eyes and taking comfort in its firmness behind her. Then the tears started to flow again.

*   *   *   *

Xena reluctantly headed for the barn…she wanted to get this awkward situation over with. She had met Gades one of her soldiers from her warlord days. One of the few she actually took a liking to in more than one way. They started to renew their…more heated type of relationship in the inn over a few mugs of beer while Gabrielle told stories to a growing crowd. Xena intended to get the business with Gades out of the way before Gabrielle finished her stories, but Gades talked her into more mugs of ale than she had in a long time …then Gabrielle appeared next to her. That proved to be awkward. It hadn't helped when she felt a desire for Gabrielle rushing through her. She dispatched the annoyed Gades to get a private place ready and she would meet him…as soon as she got rid of Gabrielle. Xena had some battle lust to discharge and it was making her cranky…to say the least. She hadn’t been with anyone for a while and Gades happened by at just the right time… then there was Gabrielle.

If she wasn't so naïve…really just a kid…Xena would have thought she was acting like a jealous lover. She tried to interfere and stick to Xena’s side no matter what Xena told her as Xena tried to meet Gades for their private encounter.

This is the past, she reminded herself. Now that she knew what Gabrielle’s feelings were …was she really as naïve as she thought? Xena pursed her lips as she entered the barn through the main door, and turned to latch the front door.

"It’s been a long time, Warrior Princess." A low male voice, full of lust, growled near her.

She turned to face Gades. "Hmm. It has been. You still the stud you were back then?" She asked gripping his leathered shoulder and pulling him closer to her while grabbing him between the legs and biting his lip. She suppressed her repulsion at the feel of his rough bearded face on her tongue.

"Hades balls, Xena!" Gades shivered. "You always gotta lead?"

"That’s the way, Gades. I seem to remember…that’s the way you liked it too."

"I didn’t have much choice then…but you do have a way with c’ha." He growled in a low voice. If Xena didn't have his swollen throbbing manhood in her hand the tone of his voice would have told her the man was ready to beg for release. It was a power thing with her and she felt her heart beat increase and her fluids flow at the anticipation of what was to come.

Xena pushed down the guilt of knowing this was past and things had changed… considerably… in order to let the lust she had been feeling at the time take rein. They moved toward the back of the barn where, near Argo's stall she removed her boots noticing that one of the stalls was freshly cleaned out with a few blankets thrown over the fresh cover of hay. Gades smiled in the shadows.

"Nice and private." He advanced toward her pulling her in for a rough kiss. She opened her mouth to him biting his lips then sucking his tongue, while pushing him into the back of the stall and onto the blankets…

They were past the getting reacquainted and exploration stage when she heard Gabrielle call for her. Had she heard her in the past also, over their heavy breathing?

She had told her to leave her be, gave her, rather bluntly, the reason why she needed to let off some of this energy. She needed to get this out of her system. She reached down and squeezed Gades’ balls to make him work harder, and he did increase his rhythm with a sound that was between a growl and a howl. She groaned at the fullness of his cock inside her and the fire it nourished. She liked the feel of the penetration. She blocked out the present memories of Gabrielle and how they pleasured each other. This is the past…this is the past. She needed to get this over with…what in Aphrodite’s cloud of lust was all this for? What is the point?

She grunted and groaned as she felt her body reacting to the long full thrusts from Gades, and the pleasure her insides were experiencing at the friction and being filled. She had to close out of her consciousness the smell of him and the feel of the thicker and coarser hairs rubbing against her body that no longer brought her sexual arousal. Instead, the image of Gabrielle on top of her appeared in her mind…thrusting and grunting…panting and groaning. Soft lips around sharp teeth, latched on to her neck as the smaller woman’s hips joined hers, taking up the age old rhythm. Heat in her body flared as her lover pounded her bones with their stiff toy, bringing her a profound release that lifted them to shared heights they had never experienced with others.


Goddess…her timing is terrible. Xena thought as she felt a sudden panic at the anger in Gades as he moved his hand to throw a knife lying near his belt that was next to Xena's face, not missing in his strokes. Xena groaned in anticipation at the impending stop to her pleasure. Gades had a low tolerance for someone interrupting his fucks. Was that what she was? No, she controlled this. It was for her release that she needed this hard pounding and grinding…she needed it to let out the burn that was in her body from the fire of the competition she had experienced earlier.


Xena knocked Gades out before he could flick the knife her way. She felt his cock quickly soften inside her, withdrawing into his own body, lying flaccid between them. Xena fought her mounting frustration at the distress calls her libido was sending out for immediate gratification and at the same time fighting with her guilt of knowing…that Gabrielle had loved her then … physically as well as emotionally and that it had been mutual. Aphrodite's brew! She cursed to herself silently as she rose to her feet somewhat awkwardly.

She didn’t fail to note Gabrielle’s eyes were staring at her swinging breasts then moved down to her patch of wet hair…nor of the licking of her lips as her green eyes widened with desire. She shivered at the thought of Gabrielle’s face between her legs, tongue licking, mouth sucking…she shook her head and angrily grabbed Gabrielle’s arm steering her back out the door she had entered. Nearly loosing her resolve as Gabrielle's skin bushed her erect nipple.

Aphrodite’s tits in a leather and lace bodice, Xena thought disgustedly. Now she was really horny. If she had her saddlebags with her she would be pulling out her toy, strapping it on and ridding out her frustration on Gabrielle. Xena wiped her brow in exasperation at the dual feelings, then turning back to Gades who was moaning as he came back to consciousness.

Xena remembered she and Gades had resumed their workout, just so she could get it out of her system, as well as save Gabrielle a lot of grief from Gades. She was afraid if she went to talk to Gabrielle now…especially now…she would either strangle the Bard from frustration or pin her to a wall and ravish her…Xena took a deep breath and advanced back on her prey. It didn’t take much to get him back up. She rode him until he no longer could keep up.

Xena already knew where she would find Gabrielle. Gades was satiated, her fire was quenched, now she needed to complete the last part. This was the painful part. It wasn’t just because it was going to be a sensitive chat with a woman…yes…she was a woman… attractive…strong…and in love with her…and that was the painful part…hurting someone she loved then and especially now…then, there was the going through all this…again…why in Fates is this happening again?

Suddenly she was standing in the shade of a tree…no Gabrielle near her…it was a familiar rest spot. She was dressed in armor, leathers, sword on her back…Argo was next to her…where was the Bard? Ahhh. She was bathing in the small river near their campsite. She frowned a moment…that's not how she remembered it happening.

She had left Gabrielle at dusk the night before, in a secluded campsite…safe…while she went ahead to see where the smoke was coming from. They had a really long day of fighting three separate groups of soldiers on the road that were looking for trouble and even earlier in the morning helping a caravan that was hit by a group of mercenaries out of work. Both of them were tired…but Xena's cautious nature wanted to make sure whoever left the smoke signals wasn't headed their way.

She liked that particular hidden part of the river and was looking forward to a quiet night of routine puttering around and if she got it right, she would give Gabrielle a massage. Gabrielle needed it. She was emotionally drained with facing so much violence in one day. So, Xena was going to insure their peace and quiet. But even the best laid plans had delays…instead Xena spent a long night picking off the raiders who were trying to pick off the remaining town's people whose huts they had set fire to.

Alright Ares! Do you have anything to do with this? Show that pathetic face of yours. Xena snarled mentally, knowing he could hear her. She was not going to go over this scene again.

The prickly feeling that sent goose bumps, the unpleasant kind, over her arms and legs started. "Ares…I know you’re here."

A light flash and the smirking bearded tight-leathered athletic figure of Ares appeared before her.

"Xena….how did you like that replay? Hmmm. Make your….juices flow?" He purred in her ear.

Xena’s hand was out and quickly grabbed part of his beard pulling him around to face her.

His hand came down to hit hers away but she evaded it and stood in front of him defiantly with hands ready at her sides.

"So…" He raised an eyebrow. "I kinda liked the show…especially after that stupid little bard of yours left." He grinned. "My type of action…hmmm."

"You don’t know why this is happening…do you?" Xena ignored his baiting her and pressed on with her hunch.

"Of course I do." He replied arrogantly, but there was something about the way he held himself that Xena knew he was lying. After all the years of working with him…she knew when he lied or was telling half truths…which was usually all the time. He never could give her a straight answer. In her position as a Warlord…she needed reliable information and…he became an unreliable source of information. She had her own ways of gaining information reading what she could in what he would tell her and what he left out. He became too predictable.

"Hmmm. So, why?" She asked.

"Well, ahh. I think it would do you some good to use that…" he came close to her until she put a hand out to stop him from getting any closer. "pretty head of yours to figure it out yourself."

"Ares…you're no bull so cut the poop out. You don’t know and you’re hoping I figure it out for you." She regarded him for a few moments. "Does it have something to do with that part of the cavern?"

Ares sighed. "All right…" he shrugged his strong shoulders and grinned at her. "We don’t know. It’s something Yerik brought with him. It’s not just the stone he has in that cave but the drawings on the walls. You’ve probably noticed them…swirls…little dots…stuff I don't go in for."

"Why are you?" Xena asked pointedly. She didn’t bother to add that the cavern was considered the Muses and his other three sister's territory so-to-speak…making this something Ares would definitely not help with…willingly…unless there was something in it for him personally.

"Daddy dear." Ares barely made the mumbled answer audible.

"Huuhhh?" Xena asked not sure if she heard right.

"It’s got the old man in a huff."

"Come on, Ares." Xena frowned glaring at him.

"Well…if you want to know…I’m helping the old man out."


Ares was looking uncomfortable but was sticking his chin out so Xena knew it was something he was not going to be pushed to talk any more about. Someone's got him by his godly balls. Xena smirked at the god, her blue eyes sparking but without warmth. It was a look that excited Ares, and though he could read the thoughts of mortals…there were some thoughts of Xena's that were not heard by him…nor by any of the other gods. There weren't that many mortals that had that ability to think out of their range.

"So what do these blasts into the past have to do with this Yerik thing, she asks?" Ares spoke in a mocking voice.

Xena laughed to herself letting Ares know she was aware he was changing the mood to relieve his discomfort. She was aware Ares was uncomfortable on two levels…from the subject and from her. Xena rolled her eyes at both.

"Well…" Ares paused and looked Xena up and down with a predatory male look.

Old stuff, Ares. Xena shook her head. He's still plays his games of trying to put her off balance by his change of moods and tactics…but he's predictable and boring…and wasting her time.

"So…who all does this effect back home?" Xena drawled, implying Mt. Olympus.

"Xena, I thought that quick romp in the hay would have taken some of that edge off you…but I can tell it has just…wet your appetite. You're so impatient!" Ares was drawing a path with his finger from her chin, her neck, her shoulders and across her armored bodice, letting his large hand come to a stop cupped against her left breast. His thumb drew a circle right where her nipple was.

Xena didn't back away but kept her eyes focused on Ares with a look of disdain on her face.

Ares' heart beat faster at the thought of capturing this emotionally distant mortal whose fire he had once ignited, but only in her warrior heart. He had witnessed her sexual games and possession of others, then discarding them…or the few that got away with discarding her…and it furthered his desire to have her under him…sexually and emotionally. He willed his heart to stop beating so fast, knowing she was aware of her effect on him. She couldn't miss his swollen manhood pulsing against his leathered pants.

Suddenly he pulled back…the image of Xena disdainfully flicking a finger at his bared extended offering that was so close to penetrating between her strong thighs had his swollen member wilting quickly. She had purposely let him read her mind.

Anger filled him as he remembered that Hercules had been to bed with her. His little brother…half mortal…who was not only bigger than he was in those particular parts that men bragged about but that Xena had given herself to him willingly…and it was he, Ares…not Hercules that made her the legend!

"What's wrong Ares…your leathers suddenly too tight?" Xena asked in a low sultry voice. "Are you ready to get back to what you're better at?" Xena watched the handsome bearded face of the god struggle to maintain his hold on his temper.

Oh, yea. Someone's got your balls locked up in a strong box. Xena turned for a moment to give him a chance to compose himself and to see what scene was behind her. Normally by this time the god would be strong-arming her into a corner somewhere…not giving her half hearted verbal duels.

The river was empty…the scenery was the same…the air…she sniffed …hmmm …blooms …like it's the early morning…smoke…someone is letting their morning campfire smoke…didn't bank it right at night or not watching it carefully for their morning fixings…

Xena found herself leading Argo into the neatly made camp that she had left Gabrielle in the night before. Weary from the previous day and night. She was short tempered, as usual and no Gabrielle about…oh, yea…she's picking berries…not paying attention to what is going on around her…

Xena left Argo near the tree with Gabrielle's gear while she quietly climbed a tree to get a bird's eye view of the area. There they were…five men stealthy creeping in a circle around Gabrielle who was picking berries, eating berries, and practicing a story on the surrounding shrubbery …as if the berries would willingly trade their life for a story. Xena smiled. Of course they would.

Xena located Gabrielle's staff just out of her reach. She watched the familiar scene unfold… Gabrielle will find a bunch of berries out of her reach…get her staff….pull the berries toward her then whap the first guy that thought to reach out for her. The other four were more patient and thought to bide their time with taunts until their fifth member awoke. Meanwhile… Gabrielle was trying her damnedest to talk them out of what they had in mind. Xena sighed. She knew if she dropped down now she could take them all out in no time…but she wanted Gabrielle to learn some things about herself…like, she needed to pay attention to her campsite, her surroundings, always have her staff near at hand, and that she could take these men out herself. What Xena had learned afterwards was that the words the men had used to taunt her had hurt her more than a few of the punches they got in. Here was her chance to change that… should she? This was something…that seemed so minor…after all, Gabrielle did learn a lot as they went on in life…but, practice…practice and exposure is where strength is built from. Xena shook her head…this was miserable watching Gabrielle take the verbal insults as if they didn't mean anything to her, yet knowing they did….Fates! This was in the past. Where the Zeus is Ares!?

"You called!" Ares announced happily grinning as he leaned against the branch in a casual manner. Xena ignored the fact that his reclining position on the branch defied a mortal's laws of gravity.

"We were talking about this going back in the past…stop wasting time Ares and just tell me what's going on, who's affected." She didn't have to add that she could care less if it was merely affecting the gods, but she and Gabrielle were also effected. And where is the present Gabrielle?

"That little blond trouble maker is right there." Ares pointed to the Bard who was now fighting the rest of the men, easily reading Xena's thoughts as if she had spoken them.

"So…she's re-experiencing the same past as I am?" That gave her a partial relief for if she also was aware…then she wasn't changing anything either.

"Hmm. You both are rather boring to watch a second time around…you know?"

"If we are being given second chances…that means…your mother will be given another chance …to decide whether to take Zeus as her consort or not." Xena guessed. "That also means…that if Hera does not give herself to Zeus…he does not become joint ruler of Mt. Olympus…you aren't born…in fact…it may go all the way back to Ge's time…"

"Very good Princess."

Xena frowned…it meant mortals would cease to exist…perhaps.

"What about this stone you spoke of…what does it have to do with all this?" Xena asked.

"The stone gives added power, focus, to the symbols."

"So…the drawings keep you away and changes the time line?"

"His drawings are about connecting past, present, future. At some point Yerik is going to realize he can move around in time…but he hasn't figured that out yet. He only knows it gives him the power to hold the priestess and to keep the gods of this land away from him. He wants the three ritual objects to take to your nemesis in Rome…" Ares pointed to Xena. "I see you have them all…including the stone."

Xena looked down at her dress. To her eyes she was wearing her usual warrior dress.

"In this timeline you can't see them…but you still have them."

"In the cavern?"

Ares nodded.

"It's not just about your father, is it?" Xena asked softly.

Ares didn't answer. Xena knew it was too personal.

"So…how do we go about stopping this bouncing back and forth? She asked him.

"I can't say." He told her looking frustrated. He really meant it. "You're smart Xena."

"So…getting the stone is not the important part…getting rid of the drawings is. Why not just rub them off…I saw some of them were smeared." The continuing battle going on below her was not lost to Xena. If Gabrielle is aware that we are reliving the past then she knows I'm above her and that she will be able to take out most of the men. And if she knows we are reliving the past…she still walked into the barn knowing how hurt she was going to be…just so she wouldn't change the time line.

Here Ares looked pained as he moved into a sitting position. He looked down at the Bard between his dangling legs and the two remaining would be rapers. "She's pretty good with a long stick…" Ares chuckled at his double meaning. Xena let it go without comment but she had to struggle with a smirk that wanted to cross her face.

"It seems…your friend down there is the one with the ability to get past…whatever he has protecting the drawings…and smear them…as you say."

"Hmmm. So…she smeared a few from what I could see before we left, and we're here."

Ares shrugged his shoulders. "With the five that were smeared, I'm able to appear…but not for very long…which means…I gotta go." Ares faded.

Xena took a deep breath…her time to appear below to take out the one guy that was coming around who had a knife he could toss into her back was…now. Xena silently dropped out of the tree and did her part. Both women, knowing they had to replay their parts in this experience went through the motions, all the while both thinking to themselves how they had moved from one life experience to another separated by months. Xena pictured them sitting on the rock staring up at the stars they had been enjoying a few days back. Who said it had to be painful moments?

"Geez, Xena!" Gabrielle breathed. She pressed herself up against the warm linen clad woman, knocking the fur that covered them from the cold to the ground below their perch.

For a moment both of them remembered that Gabrielle had dozed while waiting for Selene to reach the top of her climb, when the stars were the brightest in the skies…and she had awaked from a dream that she had said she couldn't remember.

"Careful…you're going to have both of us falling off this rock." That comment was from the past, Xena took a deep breath, as she was about to change the rest…unless…she could incorporate it into the stories they told that night! Xena pulled Gabrielle close to her sliding her hands around the bard's waist and burying her face into the sweet smelling soft hair.

"Yesss." Gabrielle pulled her close letting her hand slide down her strong thighs, moving to the insides of them.

"Gabrielle…this is…" Xena paused remembering that they had for a short time gotten sidetracked from watching the stars for a about a candlemark.

"I want to feel you." Gabrielle whispered in her ear. She guided Xena's hands between her own legs that were slicked with moisture. "Inside." Gabrielle panted.

Remembering the look in Gabrielle's eyes when she had interrupted Gades and her, in what seemed like only a few candlemarks ago, brought a groan to Xena's throat. She slid her fingers between Gabrielle's wet undergarment and felt the swollen wet lips, bringing another groan to Xena and one from Gabrielle.

Gabrielle pushed the warrior back into a sitting position and straddled her hips, lowering herself onto Xena's long fingers. Both women groaned as Gabrielle pushed down, impaling herself, then raising again, and increased her upward and downward movement as if in urgent need. Her wetness dripped down the two fingers that were increased to three. Gabrielle cried out as her bud was stroked by Xena's thumb that sent her into an uncontrollable shudder of rapture.

She's so ready, Xena thought as she relished in the feel of the wetness coating her fingers and the contracting of muscles around her fingers as Gabrielle pushed down. With each downward thrust Xena stroked her bud, feeling the thick sensitive knob ready to explode. Gabrielle's body shuddered against her accompanied by quivers in the muscles that surrounded her fingers, then a fresh release of juices slid down her cupped hand.

Gabrielle bit Xena's neck as she pushed down as far as she could, not wanting to give up the feel of Xena's fingers inside of her just yet. She could feel Xena's heart pounding against her breasts. Moving slightly, she let the wet fingers withdraw from her core. Smiling against the neck her lips were pressed against, Gabrielle slid off the rock, pulling Xena's long legs over her shoulders. Gabrielle leaned against the cold rock pressing her face between Xena's legs, sucking on the wet swollen lips and groaning as the tangy nectar coated her face. Gabrielle rubbed her face in Xena's womanhood, humming at the response from the muscular woman, whose legs tightened around her and hands pulled her face closer into her. Gabrielle sucked her swollen lips, sliding three fingers into the dark cavern that tightened around her fingers as soon as they entered the throbbing entry. She let Xena set the pace, her hips moved quickly, pushing for release. Xena's low growl and the shivering of her inside walls signaled she had peaked. Gabrielle waited before withdrawing her fingers, enjoying the feel of the muscles contracting and releasing around her fingers. Finally Xena shifted and pulled Gabrielle back onto the rock, on top of her.

"If we go through any more of those…" Was all that Gabrielle mumbled in Xena's neck that indicated she was aware…not daring to change any more of their past conversations.

For the rest of the night they used the game of identifying star constellations with lying out a plan. Both hoping they had the same understanding…then Xena nodded to Gabrielle and as in the past suggested they return to the cavern…

Chapter 15
A Return to the Cavern

Both were back in the core of the Sacred Cavern, ground shaking under their feet. Xena looked around in their dusty surroundings. The bodies of satyrs and men were near the bottom of the stairs unconscious. Xena had only noticed five paintings were messed up, and if she understood Gabrielle's message imbedded in a tale dealing with one of the star constellations there were seven on the wall, and she believed she had only messed up two in her dreams. So…what had happened to the others, if only Gabrielle could reach them…why were their memories different?

Xena felt Gabrielle's hand on her leathered wrist as she tried to keep her feet under her and study the drawings on the wall. As she tried to focus, they became blurry, whirling around. Alti had said the symbols were alive and some people could see them as living entities, thus being able to manipulate them. So, time is fluid and a living presence.

"Gabrielle, maybe that's it! God's don't dream because they don't sleep…so they can't change the patterns on the wall…that makes sense…shamans use the dreamtime as part of their normal world…You said you dreamed of changing two of the patterns…that's what I had seen when I looked at the wall when we were first here." Xena grabbed Gabrielle's arm as the ground shook under them again.

"Well, I don't remember this happening…so that must mean we're….Xena I don't remember what happened to those three drawings. Whooooa. We're on some shaky ground here." Gabreille increased her grip around Xena's arm trying to steady her balance as the ground beneath them rolled.

"Can you see those designs?" Xena asked, as she relaxed a little when the rolling motion stopped.

"Well…ya. There are seven of them. There are five that are smeared. I only remember touching two in my dream."

"Thinking back to the barn, you didn't meet me in the street, you just suddenly appeared in the barn, then I sent you back to our room, where I later came in and explained…"

"No, no. That's not right. I followed you out of the inn asking you to tell me where you were going, which you refused to say…and you didn't come back to the rooms while I was there. I left…I don't exactly remember when…but you caught up with me outside of town, under a tree."

"Gabrielle, we had the sensitive chat, remember, you sitting on the cot with your skirt all twisted up in your hands, I…"

"Xena, you came riding up to me where I had fallen asleep, under a tree. It was…hmmm. I can't remember…oh, must have been morning…or, maybe evening…well, it would make better story if it was in the morning." Gabrielle shook her head. Some of the small parts were missing. Was it real? Oh, yea! The visit to the barn did happen. It's the other stuff that becomes hazy. Memory is so fickle!


"Xena…why Ares?" Gabrielle asked uncomfortably.

"Because he's been dropping in…and just before all these visits to the past started."

Ares? "Wait…wait…memories….Mnemosyne. What if it's not from our memories but from Mnemosyne's."

Xena was thinking about the mother of the nine muses too. This problem was getting to smell like a family secret not buried very deeply in the family yard, and confusing. What is the real issue? Zeus sent his son, Ares, whom he knows we don't have the greatest of relationships, down to get me to…do what? Get rid of the drawings when they know that only Gabrielle can reach them? Why didn't Zeus just ask Gabrielle, or have Artemis ask Gabrielle? Zeus and his fathering the nine Muses from Mnemosyne wasn't something that Hera would be angered by…Hera…Hercules had sent her to where Cronus was held, in the dark abyss…would both be plotting to get back at the gods that remained on Mt. Olympus? Hera would…Would Ares help? Only if he could get something out of it for himself. Is Hera's anger still a threat, now directed at all the gods and mortals?

Hera focused her anger on Zeus, those he dallied with, and their offspring. Hera had once been the goddess of family life until Zeus, who was to be the male balance of the family energy, failed to contain the creative force of the faithful father and husband. The energy was too much for him, and he was now running amuck in it's force, fathering whoever and whatever in all sorts of forms. He had become servant to the tool, the staff, that he was to have been the master to. And Hera, rather than trying to bring it all back under control, went the other way. Both failed to replace Ge. Xena blamed neither for their failure to contain the image of a reasonably happy household. She didn't believe in perfection, though she attempted it in her workouts and actions, and she certainly had enough troubles containing her own drive to do great bodily harm to some. So…she had little room to judge…which brought her to Ares. Something was being left out…did all the god's know that the designs and stone could change life on Mt. Olympus, or even that the time line was being tampered with? And where was Yerik in all this?

"So…are we present or are we future?" Gabrielle murmured as she looked around her.

Xena frowned. "What I learned with Alti…is that there isn't any time, as in the sense that we know it." Xena put a hand to her head. "What I mean is…in the dream state…which is where shamans spend a lot of time…they don't have physical reminders," Xena gestured to what was around them, "of the passage of time…therefore…what passes in the dreamtime as a life span of adventures can turn out to be but a night's sleep. So…whoever is doing all this…it's someone's dream…and gods don't dream."

Gabrielle's eyes opened wide. "We are in someone's dream?"

"I think our own, now. In the beginning it may have been Mnemosyne's recording of events in our past but…those drawings that are smeared. It's not canceling out the power but distorting it…changing the direction. When I look at the drawings…I'm seeing the ones you had disturbed, influencing the ones next to it."

"Ohhhhh." Gabrielle was recalling her lessons in India about energy and…she looked down at her hands. "Xena!"

"Hmmm?" Xena glanced at the smaller woman whose head was bowed looking at her hands. Xena leaned over toward her brushing the long hair out of her face. Green malachite eyes moved to hers…looking worried. "What is it?"

Gabrielle reached up and touched the fingers that were entangled in her long hair. "My….my hair is short in the present….and…" she lifted her hands palms down, "the…" She left it unsaid.

"Great. Just where are we?" Xena glanced around and noticed they were alone. No bodies, no bones, no light coming from the torches…no light coming from the stair well. How on earth are we seeing in this cavern without light?

A rumbling from above them followed by a shout had them both looking up at the sudden light shinning from the stairwell…

Xena was suddenly moving up the stairwell….they mustn't come down here!

A small light stabbed through the darkness shinning on the walls of the stairwell.

"What d'ya think those marks are about, Mel?" A familiar voice asked.

"I don't know. Here, hold this…I want to draw these…"

Nooooooo. Xena cried out in frustration. Xena could go no further than the bottom of the stairs.

"Mel? Do you think we can set up a camera here? It's kinda hard to duplicate these smears?"

Xena closed her mind to the people at the top of the stairs that she could only hear and sent out an explosion of energy in her own mind that she was going back to a memory of…

"Gabrielle…have you ever pondered the meaning of silence….I mean…really tried to get an understanding of it." A snippy warrior queried the small woman that was ridding behind her. Normally she would have told the wanna-be-bard she was going to ride ahead and check the road out, and left her walking to catch up but she had twisted her ankle and was riding up behind her on Argo. She should have just found a cold river and left her soaking the ankle in the water while she went about her business….but it wasn't safe around here…raiders… displaced villagers looking for a quick dinar or food…or someone to victimize to lessen their own pain.

"Ahhhh. Sorry…I was just trying to keep you awake."

Xena snorted and twisted to look in disbelief at her passenger. Her breath caught, as she looked into green eyes squinting against the sun that her shoulder had been shielding her from. Unconsciously she moved giving her small blond-haired rider some shade so she could see the sea green eyes open wider …sparklingly with mischief…warmth… love…and intimate familiarity.

Gabrielle's long skirt was hoisted up her thighs to allow her to straddle Argo's back, which Xena noticed only when she had unconsciously placed one of her hands on a bare leg. She looked down at the bare white leg turning a pinkish color from the unaccustomed exposure to the sun. She swallowed a few times realizing how…the rubbing of the soft hairs on her own bare thighs was making her edgy.

Looking back up at Gabrielle she could see that Gabrielle was aware they were somewhere, where their relationship was developing into a friendship. How long had they been together then? Six months. They were definitely not intimate, friendly, or even on speaking terms…by Gabrielle's definition of speaking anyway. Oh, goddess. This is a toughie. Xena groaned as she could feel the heat between her legs build.

"So…isn't this where you get off the side of the road and find a cold stream?" Gabrielle asked innocently.

"Whhhaaat?" Xena was nonplussed. She couldn't remember for a moment just what they had done.

"Cold water…soak the ankle time…you take off for a while of peace and quiet time in the woods…or whatever…and I soak my ankle…write…and get into some usual 'young woman attracks trouble’ stuff so you can come rushing back and…save me."

Xena was still twisted in her seat and was not paying attention that she had applied pressure on one side, thus redirecting Argo. Redirected they were going to pass under a few low hanging branches along the side of the road.

Xena's quick reflexes only saved them from a painful drop, but both ended up being swept off Argo's back onto the ground. Argo continued toward where Xena knew was a campsite that was safe to spend the rest of the day and night at.

Then Xena realized she was holding the blond haired woman…no…girl…in her arms. She was going to drop her to her feet when Gabrielle's arms tightened around her neck and she looked around expectantly.

"Well…where's the river? Xena…yoooouuuu hooo!"

"Hmmm? Oh…right…soak foot…check out the parameter…get food…" Xena mumbled as she started after Argo's retreating figure with her light burned in her arms.

"Xena…this never happened." A quiet voice whispered in her ear.

"Hmmm?" She asked startled.

"Well…in case you haven't noticed…the vegetation is a bit strange…Argo is even stranger looking…for a horse…and you do look quite…different…this gettup…what is it?"

Xena looked down at herself…letting Gabrielle slide gently to her feet. Her upper body was covered in clothing that was in varying shades of gray, she was wearing some kind of short pants with an obvious protrusion budding against her front. Her heartbeat was pounding loud in her ears and against her straining member.

Gabrielle had slid her hand down her chest, past her waist and came to rest against her erection caressing it and making it throb to a point of urgent need for release. Her fingers seemed to know what they were doing, as they pulled a small strip of fabric back so that a full sized erected penis popped out, waving invitingly in the breeze.

One part of her groaned and another part was asking, "What the…." She brushed her rough cheek against the head that was kissing its way down to the body part of hers that needed immediate attention.

It suddenly dawned on her that whatever that four wheeled gray creature was that they had been riding…it wasn't Argo….and she wasn’t what she remembered herself to be. She could feel her knees starting to buckle as a mouth engulfed her throbbing staff, she fell to her knees, Gabrielle following her down, keeping a hand around her member that was struggling for release. A part of her remembered her tryst in the barn and her desire to ride Gabrielle instead of her male partner.

"Quite a flash back, Xena. Just what life is this?" Gabrielle teased, not seeming to mind the change...She pushed Xena on her back and stroked the swollen member back to a stiffer erection them moved herself to straddle it. Xena did a double take for she was now noticing that this young woman did not have the same face as Gabrielle’s.

Xena closed her eyes to get a grip on her wits. Mnemosyne! She then opened one bright blue eye as the feelings in her body subsided.

Continues here

Chapter 1-3 4-6 7-9 10-12 13-15 16-17 : PART I 

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