HorseNapping and Other Obstacles
CN Winters & TNovan
Xena Fanfiction, Xena fanfic, Xena fan fiction, Xena and
Gabrielle fanfiction, Xena fiction
The characters of Xena: Warrior Princess and all other
associated with the television series of the same name are
owned by MCA/ Universal Pictures. This is a work of fan
fiction and no copyright infringement is intended.
story takes place after "The Return of the Valkyrie"
and before "The God You Know" of Season Six.
and Virgil tag along on an adventure with the pair but nothing
seems to go as planned.
Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HorseNapping and Other Obstacles
The warrior glanced
sideways at her partner as they rode along toward Amphipolis.
"Yeees?" She offered playfully.
when we retire weíll go some place warm. Canít say Iím
wild about that northern region."
"Aww, but gee,
Gabrielle, you had so many Ďadmirersí up north. All of
them perfectly willing to keep you warm. Brunhilda did it for
over a year." She continued to tease.
please knock it off!" The bard took her foot from the
stirrup and gave Xena a little shove. "Your Majesty,
OíMighty Queen of DenmarkÖ" A blonde brow rose,
challenging the warrior to dispute it.
dethroned." Xena smirked. "Sentenced to death,"
She turned suddenly, playfully grabbing Gabrielleís arm.
"AGAIN!" She rolled her eyes and shook her head.
"Will they never learn?"
Just canít keep a good woman down."
"Oh yes I
can." This time Xena leered at her partner and licked her
lips. "One way or another."
her hand over her eyes and pulled down slowly trying to keep
the heat from appearing in her cheeks. How does she still
manage to do that after all these years?
youíre still gorgeous when you blush."
"I AM NOT
BLUSHING!" She squirmed around in the saddle trying to
regained some small sense of her dignity
Xena rolled her
head and shoulders, the popping that accompanied that action
actually startled Gabrielle in its intensity. The warrior
groaned a bit. "Iíll be so glad to get home so we can
sleep in our own bed."
"We have a bed
somewhere?" Gabrielle grumbled a bit.
Hmm an extended
nap does not agree with her. Step carefully warrior or
youíll be sleeping in the barn. "You know,
Gabrielle...at Motherís. She always kept a room for us. Our
room, our bed. Thatís all."
nodded. "Iím sorry, Xena, Iím just tired and grumpy.
New saddle you know." She sighed. "New saddle, new
horse, new everything," she mumbled.
take a vacation," Xena offered with a shrug.
go home. See if by chance the kids are there or if there is
any word of them and if everything seems okay, weíll take
some time off. Hopefully, Eve and Virgil wonít be in any
trouble that they need moms or favorite aunts to bail them out
"Ahh, time off
for good behavior." The bard smiled. "I like
Xena leaned over
and nuzzled her partnerís ear. "Or bad behavior. I like
that even more."
sounds appealing, howeverÖ"
"Can we call
it something other than a vacation? Our last Ďvacationí in
North Africa was far from what either of us expected."
"Well, this is
Amphipolis," Xena countered. "What could happen
"Oh I donít
know. The portal of hell could open up in your backyard,"
Gabrielle retorted sarcastically.
someone really did get up on the wrong side of the bedroll
today," Xena sighed.
sorry," Gabrielle replied. "I know youíre trying
here. Like I said, Iím just tired. You know how cranky I get
when Iím worn out."
Xena smiled at her
lover, which in turn brought a grin to Gabrielleís
Xena answered. "We could both use a little rest and
relaxation. Speaking of which, letís walk the horses for a
bit. They could use the break," Xena said, swinging
herself from the saddle with Gabrielle following suit.
itís settled then. Amphipolis it is," Gabrielle replied
with more optimism and a firm nod of her head.
"Well, look at
what we have here? Two lovely maidens for the taking."
Xena and Gabrielle
broke their affectionate gaze to see five burly, grimey
highwaymen in front of them.
and rolled her eyes.
"What was that
you were saying Ďbout trouble finding us?" the bard
this the easy way," the leader of the thugs called out to
them. "Give us your purse and youíll pass without
Xena and Gabrielle
continued to walk closer. Xena leaned down to Gabbyís ear,
"Okay whoís gonna take care of these guys Ė you or
me?" she asked.
"I think Iím
more in the mood to give someone a good ass kicking than you
are," Gabrielle replied coldly.
Yeah, she looks
like she could pull the wings off a harpy, Xena considered
silently as she watched Gabrielleís eyes narrow and her jaw
set as they approached closer to the outlaws. Heraís
curse must be coming on soon.
They were now only
a few feet away and Xena turned to face their Ďwould be
"We could give
you our purses, but your colors are all wrong. It would break
up that lovely ensemble youíve got going on." She grinned as
she pointed out their attire.
The group of men
funny." The leader grinned. "But seriously," he
said suddenly sneering, "Your money or your life?"
turned to Gabrielle. "Well, we did give them a
Gabrielle growled. "That we did."
three strides until she was nose to... chest... with the
gonna say this once - Get outta our way," she said
looking up as she threatened him.
awful cute when youíre angry," he replied, moving up to
condescendingly pat her on the head.
As the soon as the
words left his mouth, Xena winced. Ohhhh that was NOT the
right thing to say, she thought silently. I told her
that once... Just once.
Before the man
could touch a hair on the bardís head, she grabbed his hand,
breaking the manís fingers with such force it brought him
howling to his knees. With her grip still firm on her Ďtaunterí,
Gabrielle kicked left and then right knocking both men on
either side of him to the ground.
Ouch... Oh yeah that will leave a mark... Look left Gab-thata
girlÖBoy is he gonna feel that in the morning. Xena
continued to watch the bard, silently commenting in her mind.
When the last man
fell and wisely decided not to get back up again, Xena took
the horses through the human litter on the ground. She
casually stepped on one man, disregarding the Ďoohmpí
noise he made, until she was at Gabrielleís side.
go," Xena said handing the reins back to her partner.
Gabrielle answered a bit winded.
better?" Xena asked.
Gabrielle paused a
moment to truly consider the question, "Actually yeah...
I think a morning workout is just what I needed."
Xena nodded her
acceptance. "Thatís good... Shall we?" she asked
with a grand gesture of her hand up the road.
"After you, my
warrior princess," Gabrielle countered.
Gabrielle turned small circles as they walked into the
village. Village actually was the wrong term now. Xenaís
home had actually become a town in the time they had been
"To say the
least." Xena looked at all the new structures, turning
her head to watch just a moment as several men raised the wall
on another. "Theyíve been busy."
to see so many people and so much prosperity."
darted to the left where the men were hoisting a wall into
place. Noticing the sway of the structure, Gabrielle was hot
on Xenaís heals. They managed to add their backs to the wall
to keep it from falling further than it already had when Xena
heard the rope snapping.
her shoulders, gaining more footing. "You could give a
little warning next time!" She grunted, pushing back
against the structure.
"If I have
warning, Iíll give it to you!" Xena pushed, hoping that
one of these fools would get a new rope strung quickly.
"How long does
it take to say Ďrope breakingí for Godís sake!"
yell at me later! Like when thereís not a wall falling on
us." She gave a relieved groan when she finally felt the
pressure give off her back. Her lower back just hadnít been
the same since that whole being nailed to a cross thing.
The women checked a
couple of the men who had actually seemed to be hurt when the
structure had started to give, but found them to be more
shaken that anything. "Just put a cloth on that cut,
itíll stop on itís own. Itís not that bad."
Gabrielle told one man about a small cut to his forehead.
manís arm, Xena gave him a pat on the back. "No serious
The group of men
murmured their thanks as they walked away. Xena turned at the
waist, groaning while her hand massaged the small of her back.
it again didnít you?" Gabrielle eyed her lover, daring
her to try and lie.
donít think itís officially strained. I think itís just
The bard rolled her eyes. "Letís go see if the inn is
functional and get you in a hot tub of water. Then Iíll rub
some of that horse lineament on it."
out. I need to make some more. So weíll need to pick up some
supplies while weíre here."
something I havenít done in a while."
unleash you on the vendors right now with the mood youíre
in. "Well, Iím sure we can find something at the
inn for now. Besides a long soak in a tub just might do
Turning the corner,
they discovered that Cyreneís inn had indeed been restored
and seemed to be in the best shape the pair had ever seen it
in. Xena looked to Gabrielle and lifted her brows in surprise.
"Guess it really did just need a coat of paint."
great!" Gabrielle smiled and pointed at the sign.
Tavern and Inn, Finest in all of Greece. Well, now, thatís
nice. Wonder who took it over after we left?"
Dunderhead!" a voice shouted out.
"Iíd recognize that voice anywhere. Thatís Evie."
Wonder who Dunderhead is?"
me that!" A male voice called back.
The warrior and the
bard intoned at the same time. "Virgil."
The pair continued
to argue as they attempted to place some kind of banner near
the entrance. Eve sat on Virgilís shoulders as she tried to
position it Ďjust perfectí above her.
"A little to
the left," Gabrielle shouted toward the duo, razzing them
just a bit.
around quickly making Eve sway on top.
"For the love
of Eli, Virgil would you-."
Eveís eyes got
wide and her jaw nearly conked her Ďladderí on top of the
head. Virgil instinctively started toward Xena and Gabrielle
and in doing so Eve nearly lost her balance. She hooked him
around the chin to keep from falling. Quickly, Virgil
remembered he had Eve on his shoulders Ė a fact that was
momentarily forgotten upon suddenly seeing the warrior and
bard before him.
"Put me down
Dunderhead," Eve ordered.
"How Ďbout I
throw you down if you call me that one more time?" he
threatened as he began to kneel.
As fast as she
could, Eve jumped off Virgilís shoulders with such force it
put him on his backside. As he sat in a cloud of dust Eve ran
to their visitors.
Gabrielle!" she squealed.
Both women had to
smile. Eve was a grown woman, but she sounded so young
sometimes, this being one of them. The three of them embraced
as Virgil rose and dusted himself off.
so long. When I didnít get a scroll I... I thought the
worse," she said, deciding to change her choice of words
at the end. In truth she thought they were dead. She
couldnít bring herself to say it however.
just fine," Xena told her. "How you doiní,
Virgil?" Xena asked, calling over Eveís shoulder as the
young man came over.
complain." He smiled as he walked over, giving Gabrielle a
above," Eve began, "Itís been over a year. Where
have you two been?"
much needed beauty rest," Gabrielle replied with a grin.
Eve and Virgil both
cocked their heads unsure of what Gabrielle was talking about.
on," Xena said taking her daughter by one hand and her
bard with the other, heading into the tavern. "Itís a
always?" Virgil joked as he followed them inside.
Xena and Eve at the bar talking and laughing, doing some
serious mother daughter bonding. As she blew on her stew, she
had to smile at the picture, hoping that maybe their lives
would remain quiet for a time, so they could all become the
family they deserved to be. She was also very happy to be home
again for the time being. She knew Xenaís need to move on
wouldnít let them stay for long, but if she could talk her
partner into just a few weeks, she herself, felt like she
might be ready to go then too.
Virgil brought a
mug and sat down with her. "What do you dream about when
you sleep for a year?"
"I dreamt of
Xena. A lot." She gave a little grin before taking a bite
of her stew.
something." He gestured. "You gonna leave it
long?" he asked pointing at her golden locks.
She reached back to
her hair which was pulled back at the moment, in a tight
ponytail. "Well, I want to leave it and Xena wants me to
cut it again. She says sheís gotten used to it being short,
so weíre negotiating."
"It is. Every
night she has to give me a reason why she wants me to cut it
and I have to give a reason not to. The first person who
canít come up with a reason or repeats a reason,
imaginative way to handle it."
"I thought so.
Since itís my hair and I have the best reason, which I still
havenít given yet. Iím saving it for when I finally want
to win and quit playing with her."
"Which is . .
body and I say so." She chuckled, sticking her spoon in
her stew. "She still isnít quite sure how to handle it
when I do that and it leaves her speechless every time."
"Thanks." She grinned
conspiratorially. "When youíve been together as long as
Xena and I have, you learn how to be sneaky. You have
to." She favored her warrior with a smile, which Xena saw
and returned from the bar.
The warrior picked
up a basket of bread, then strolled over to the table.
"Is this a private bard party or are warriorís allowed
to join?" She placed the basket down then took a chair
across from the bards.
has to be here to keep the peace when we get drunk and
rowdy." Gabrielle lifted her mug of mead, before taking a
Xena grinned, tipping her chair back slightly. "I donít
intend to let you get that drunk Gabrielle."
The bard decided it
was time to flirt with her partner, something she hadnít
done in a while. "Why how drunk do you intend to get me?
Just enough to make me loose?""
enough for me." Virgil piped up. He rose from his seat
and gestured to the bar. "Iíll be in the back if you
The warrior and the
bard had locked eyes when Gabrielle had trailed her tongue
over her lips after that last question to Xena. "We
wonít." They answered together, their gaze on each
answer my question Xena," the bard countered as she took
her time licking the stew from her spoon, trying to pique the
warriorís interest. It didnít take much. Xena took an
unsteady breath and shifted a bit in her chair at the
seductive gesture. Sheís not gonna win, the warrior
said steadying herself. At least not yet.
have to get you drunk to make you looseÖVirgil on the other
hand," Xena smirked.
lapse of judgment," Gabrielle countered. "My
darkside coming out to play."
"And far too
much wine," Xena countered, sticking her finger into
Gabrielleís bowl and licking it off her finger. Two can
play this game my bard. "But Iíll never have to
resort to wine."
as Xenaís tongue rolled around her digit, soaking up the
stew. "Oh really?" Gabrielle asked, trying to hide
the crack that came to her voice.
Hmm," Xena nodded slowly. Gotcha my bard.
awfully cocky tonight arenít you?" Gabrielle chuckled.
cocky, Gabrielle," the warrior answered with as much
honesty as she could muster. "Iím just as good as I say
I am... Are you gonna tell me different?" she added.
I could, but
youíd never believe it because we both know youíre right.
"Yeah." Gabrielle grinned. "Youíre good Ė
youíre very, very good."
donít need wine. All I gotta do is flash my baby
blues," Xena countered, wiggling her little finger in
Gabrielleís face as a sign of how Ďwrappedí the bard
could be at times.
The bard tossed her
napkin at the warrior, hitting her square in the face. When it
hung there on the warriorís head, blocking her lovely
features, the bard grinned. Gabrielle began to imagine
Xenaís expression underneath the cloth the longer it stayed
there and the bard started to chuckle.
hit," the bard teased her.
pulled it down with one quick swipe. "Youíre gonna get
the bard answered wiggling her eyebrows and continuing to
You betcha I
promise. Xena smiled and rose from the table.
"Didnít you promise me a hot bath first?" she
asked. "I think MY promise comes first."
did," Gabrielle said rising from the table. "You
rest that Ďslightly strainedí back of yours for a moment
and Iíll set things up for you," Gabrielle said as she
walked around to the warrior.
too good to me," Xena answered, pulling the bard closer
so she could lean down and give the bard a tender kiss which
she happily accepted.
know," the bard countered in a playful monotone, dashing
away before Xena could offer a retort.
The warrior watched
her partner walk away and tilted her head to appreciate the
lovely view. "What a woman."
yeeeaah." Xena exhaled appreciatively as she slid into
the steaming hot water. "This is great." She slipped
completely under the water as Gabrielle watched from across
the room where she was gathering towels and robes to warm by
The bard placed
everything near the hearth and poured two cups of warm spiced
wine. Then she moved slowly to the edge of the tub and waited
for Xena to surface. A pale brow rose when the warrior
didnít come back up. She placed the cups on the ledge and
peered into the tub. "Xena? Come on warrior this isnít
funny." Just as she began to reach into to the water a
strong hand shot up and caught her by the wrist. She pulled
back laughing, but not capable of breaking the iron grip.
"Oh no you donít!" She tried harder to back off
only to have Xena shoot up out of the water and pull her back.
No matter how many
times Gabrielle saw it, it never ceased to amaze her and leave
her breathless. The warriorís body with water dripping down
it had to be the absolute sexiest thing in the known world.
The fact that it made her weak in the knees only served to
defeat her purpose this time around. "Xena!" She
yelped when she got pulled into the tub, clothes and all.
resurfaced, the bard pushed her bangs from her eyes and spit
the water in her mouth directly at her warrior. "I hate
you!" She teased.
Xena reached over and untied the string at the bardís neck.
The weight of the water in the material caused it to fall away
all on its own. "I knew there was a reason I liked this
new outfit. It slides right off when wet." There was an
evil chuckle followed by a slight splashing as Xena moved
forward to give a warm kiss to a very erect nipple.
XenaÖ" The bard sighed, long and hard as she felt a
familiar burn start long and hard. "Your back."
fine." She mumbled continuing to explore her partner.
"Hot bath," Her head moved up just slightly nipping
at tender flesh of a bardly collarbone. "And a hot bard
help a lot."
"Glad to hear
it." Gabrielle moaned, giving her warrior a slight push
down on the shoulders so she would resume her previous
activities. "You should be in REAL good shape by
lucky I wonít be able to walk by morning." Xena
chuckled, resuming her taste test.
lucky I wonít be able to walk in the morning."
Gabrielle released her soaked skirt and tossed it from the tub
even as Xenaís hands slid between the bardís legs, parting
them so she could get comfortable.
They were so happy
and consumed by their mutual needs and desires that they
didnít hear the door open.
"Oh I am
soooooo sorryÖ" Eve covered her eyes and tried
to get out of the room gracefully, but after bumping into the
door frame three times, she just finally removed her hand from
her eyes and dashed from the room. Leaving the door open to
anyone who might be passing by.
and pulled away from Xena, reaching for a towel. When she
turned back to hand it to her partner her elbow caught the
warrior right in the eye.
Damn!" Xena managed to grab the towel, her eye and wrap
the cloth around her body. She huffed, a bit climbing out of
the tub to grab a robe. "Evie!" She called making a
quick exit to look for their daughter.
The bard climbed
out of the tub, only to have her feet slide out from under her
on the wet stone floor. She hit the floor with a sickening
thump. She groaned when she realized she had just thrown her
own back out and it was completely out, not just slightly
She lay there
contemplating how long it would take someone to find a wet,
naked bard who couldnít get up on her own. "Shit,"
the she groaned out loud in a Ďgo figureí tone. The
fitting end to a fitting day.
She didnít have
to wait long. She heard a voice enter the room.
Gabrielle knew her
feet were probably exposed while the tub shielded the rest of
her body. She also knew that she recognized the voice. She
heard the footsteps approach, but knew she was helpless to
As Virgil peered
around the tub, his eyes widened.
.What happened?" he finally managed after a thorough
examination of the bardís body.
Xena doesnít come back in here to find you looking at me
like this," Gabrielle warned.
eyes darted around, looking everywhere else, but the bard. His
finger absently played with the tub as he muttered, "Did
you need help?"
"Help would be
nice," Gabrielle answered sarcastically. "I fell and
threw my back out. I canít move."
Virgil knew how
serious hurting ones back could be. He saw many of his friends
laid up for days when horses threw them. He even had a friend
who couldnít move his legs again as a result. With that
knowledge his awkwardness melted into concern and he looked at
the bard again.
"Can you feel
your legs and arms?" he asked, kneeling down at
she answered. "I just knocked a few things out of
He picked up one of
her feet by the ankles. "Can you feel that?" he
asked poking her sole. Gabrielle nodded and he did the same
test on the other leg. Without haste he grabbed a towel and
draped it over the bard.
you to your room," Virgil said as he carefully picked the
bard up in his arms. She gave a little groan. He began to give
a light chuckle as they moved down the hall.
"Last time I
carried you around was in the temple," he blurted.
remember. Worst mistake of your life. Donít forget that
Virgil. Without Ďdarkness in your heartí you might just
end up on the business end of a chakram."
maíam," he answered obediently as her carried her
While Virgil had
been tending to Gabrielle, Xena managed to corner Eve in the
kitchen. She too was finding a hard time making eye contact.
"Eve, look at
me," Xena ordered. For a brief moment the young woman
looked up to her mother. "You canít stand here and tell
me you had NO IDEA about Gabrielle and I." Immediately
Eveís eyes shot away again.
mother, I didnít know," she muttered. "I mean I
know Gabrielle gave me her rite of caste; I know youíve been
buried next to each other for 25 years; I know you refer to me
as Ďour daughterí... But I didnít... know."
flabbergasted Ė totally amazed. Xena wondered if Eve
sacrificed one Ďlightí for another. The castleís lit,
but obviously no one is home. How could anyone in their
right mind NOT see her with Gabrielle?!
point is I love Gabrielle. She and I have been... intimate...
for many years."
Xena asked a bit confused by the question. "Does that
matter?" she added when she couldnít think of why the
young woman had asked.
matter?! Of course it matters! Donít you think you should
make an honest woman of Gabrielle?!" Eve chastised,
trying to keep her voice down, but her intent clear.
an honest woman in her own right. She doesnít need me to do
it for her," Xena answered.
mother," Eve said shaking her head. "You donít
understand. I know Gabrielle is honest. What Iím talking
about is making it official Ė declaring before God that you
will love her for all eternity."
person I need to declare that to is Gabrielle - regardless of
Eve looked truly
appalled. "Mother, how can you say that?!"
Xena said rubbing her temples. "My head hurts, my back
aches and Iíve got an itch that needs to be scratched by a
certain blonde bard, heathen that I am, I know... We can
finish this conversation later," she said before walking
back to the washroom.
With any luck the
bard would still as... wet... and the water almost as warm.
Xena opened the door to the washroom to find a hairy, burly
man sitting in the tub. She realized her luck wasnít holding
out very well and prayed that this Ďpersoní before her
wasnít Gabrielle Ė some cruel transformation of her blonde
beauty by some petty god. Given the luck she was having she
had to make sure by speaking to himÖ
"Sorry." Xena grinned.
"Seems I misplaced a small blonde woman around
here," she said looking around the room.
hair?" he asked.
"Yeah. You saw
"Just a few
moments ago. Passed them in the hall way."
Xena asked her eyebrows shooting up into her bangs.
man was carrying her, talkin Ďbout the two of them in a
temple or something like that."
Virgil! What the
hell is Virgil doing carrying her?
you what," the man laughed heartily. "He was in a
rush to get her back to that room down there. I donít blame
him. She was as naked as the day she was born under that towel
and let me tell you-."
What the hell is
Virgil doing carrying her around naked, talking about the
temple? The temple where the two of them... Thatís it!! His
scrawny little ass is MINE! Xena saw red.
Xena said briskly, closing the door, not listening to the man
finish. She stormed down the hallway. Carry my bard around
naked, huh? I might have a sore back, but that doesnít mean
that pretty boy is gonna step in after my departure. Nah ah.
No way. When I get my hands on him . . .
Xena opened her
bedroom door to find Gabrielle sprawled out naked on the bed
and Virgilís fingerís wrapped around her bardís britches
around mid thigh.
"WHAT THE HELL
IS GOING ON?!"
have sworn she heard the rafters crack at the boom in Xenaís
voice. Virgil jumped about 10 feet from the bed, nearly
knocking over an oil lamp on the bureau behind him, setting
the whole place ablaze.
what it looks like," Gabby and Virgil said in perfect
harmony. Gabrielle sounded totally annoyed by the situation;
Virgil sounded totally petrified. Heíd heard all of his
fatherís stories. He knew what the woman was capable of...
especially when it came to Gabrielle. He began to towel his
sweaty forehead, but came to an abrupt stop when he realized
it was Gabrielleís britches he was using, which he still
"She fell. I
helped. She needed clothes. I-."
down," the bard ordered the young man casually to saving
him from his fast paced nervous babbling. "Xena, after
you left I fell down and Virgil found me. He brought me here
and he was getting me dressed when you came in. Now could you
do that Ďpop thingyí you do and put me back together so I
can at least sit up?"
Virgil took that
has his cue to leave and started toward the door. As he began
to pass Xena, she took him by the shoulder Ė with a grip a
little firmer than necessary Ė and held out her other hand.
He seemed baffled at first, but realized in his haste that he
was still holding Gabrielleís britches. With a nervous
chuckle and a bashful grin, he handed them to Xena and made a
Xena closed and
locked the door. She crawled on the bed, being careful not to
move it too much.
okay?" Xena asked as she adjusted the britches.
"Yeah, just a
little sore right now." Gabrielle grinned. Xena returned the
smile, but Gabrielle could tell there was something more
behind it. "What is it?" the bard asked.
"I saw a man
in the tub who passed you. He said the two of you were
together and I thought . . ." Xena didnít finish the
sentence. She started to chuckle at the ridiculousness of it...
at least it seemed that way now.
"The two of us
together and... ?" Gabrielle asked, the irritation rising
in her voice.
Xena could tell by
that tone, Gabrielle was not pleased. Why couldnít you
just keep your big trap shut? Stupid warrior.
"Nothing," Xena muttered. But she knew it was too
late. She knew she was busted.
"You thought I
was fooling around on you? Is that it, Xena?" Gabrielle
"Well, you two
did get quite cozy the last time we were here," Xena
defended as she rolled the bard over carefully. She began to
go to work and Gabrielle seemed oblivious to the poking and
prodding of Xenaís fingers trying to align her spine again.
believe it!! Xena, after everything weíve been through.
After all these years together you think I would just-."
"It crossed my
mind is all," Xena said cutting her off. "And I know
you find him attractive."
A series of loud
pops ensued as Xena pushed down on the bardís back, but that
didnít stop Gabrielle from responding.
really serious," Gabrielle sighed. "I donít
believe this. Have you no faith in me at all?"
Gabrielle, itís not like that. You know I trust you,"
Xena answered as she administered a final Ďpopí. "Now
howís that?" she asked as she moved so the bard could
try to sit up.
Gabrielle did sit
up, coming eye to eye with the warrior. "Obviously you
donít if you think Iíd just hop right into bed with Virgil
the minute your back was turned."
Gabrielle, but Iíve never seen you... Ďsexualí with
anyone except Virgil."
about all those times with you? They went unnoticed?"
fishing for a fight. Okay! Fine! Just shut up now while
youíre behind. No sense in digging yourself in deeper here. "I
think we should just drop this conversation right now, okay?
Forget I mentioned it alright?" Xena tried to stroke the
bardís cheek, but Gabrielle pulled back.
Gabrielle answered, all playfulness removed from her voice.
"You have to get over this. I got over you getting hot
and heavy over Lucifer. You have to get past this."
you didnít get a coat upside the head," Xena countered.
make you feel better?" Gabrielle added. "Will that
make you trust me and Virgil to be alone in the same
youíre blowing this all out of proportion," Xena
"THE HELL I
AM!" came the response.
Oh shit. Now
youíve done it, Xena sighed in her mind. She tried her
damnedest not to roll her eyes, but failed. The bard saw her
do it and it only fueled her anger more. This just isnít
my day. "Look can we just calm down here a
Gabrielle said as she rolled up the bedspread and threw it at
the warrior. "Go be calm in the barn tonight," she
ordered. She walked over and opened the door, pitching a thumb
the warrior said trying to reach her. But with Gabrielleís
toe tapping and her arms crossed, Xena knew that wasnít
gonna happen anytime soon. She resigned herself to her fate
and got up walking outside. She turned around to say one final
word to the bard for the night and got the door slammed in her
welcome for fixing your back," Xena called through the
Gabrielle shouted back. "Now go away."
Xena rolled up her
bedspread a little tighter and started down the long hallway...
Shit . . .
Xena groaned. Eve
and Virgil had indeed done a wonderful job restoring the
tavern and the rooms there. So good, in fact, that there
hadnít been a spare room for her to occupy and she had
indeed been relegated to the barn. And now her back really
hurt. "Got to soothe a grumpy bard." She groaned
again, rolling over in the hay.
miffed at her Motherís reluctance to get married had refused
to let her into her room. And Virgil had the door to his room
blocked with a heavy piece of furniture and her back just
didnít feel like shoving past it to toss him out and sleep
in his bed.
And she most
certainly was not going to go back and beg to be let back into
to their room. Gabrielle wanted to sleep alone, she could just
sleep alone. As a matter of fact she just might let her sleep
alone again tonight, just to prove a point.
One blue eye opened
as she lay on her stomach and watched below as the barn doors
"Up here Evie."
The warrior made no effort to move. This is what mother guilt
was all about. It would do her daughter good to see her own
mother despondent and dejected and laying in a pile of straw
like the family dog. God, Xena youíre so full of it. You
should be ashamed of yourself.
The young woman
climbed the ladder stopping at the top and looking to her
mother. "Breakfast is ready."
"Am I invited?
I thought everyone inside was mad at me."
not mad, heís terrified. Iím not mad, just disappointed.
Now, I have to admit Gabrielle looks madÖGurkhan raving mad
actually. She looks pretty pissed. What did you do it
Xena sucked air in
through her teeth. Flowers. Take her flowers. "So
terrified, angry and disappointed, huh? Iím three outta
three it seems. My average for offending my family is pretty
good . . .Why are you disappointed?" The warrior asked
even as she crawled over to the ladder and motioned Eve down
so she could climb out of the loft.
She backed slowly down the ladder. "Iím disappointed in
your reluctance to marry a woman you claim to love so much.
Seemed to me that if you loved her youíd want to marry
Xena looked up to
the ceiling and rolled her eyes. "Eli help meÖ"
"Oh no Mother
donít you bring Eli into this."
tell me when I can call on Eli for strength. I actually KNEW
him, donít you forget. And even HE knew about Gabrielle and
I and he didnít push us to get married."
"Iím sure he
"Evie, I love
Gabrielle and she loves me. We donít need a ceremony to
prove that to each other."
all right." The young woman dusted her hands. "I
donít want you to think Iím nagging, butÖ"
donít." Xena slid off the ladder and turned for the
door. "Just be happy that I have her in my life and that
weíre a family." She wrapped her arm around Eveís
shoulders. "She loves you as much as I do. You should
have seen how protective she was of me when I was pregnant for
you. Sheís always been there for us and she always will
"Then why is
she mumbling under her breath that youíre a horses'
"Because I was. I kinda made some comment about her and
Virgil being together," she mumbled in shame.
Sheís a free woman. She can see who ever she likes. No ring
on her finger. No siree-." Eve smirked.
Xena said firmly. Or Iím gonna choke you. "...
Any place around here to buy fresh flowers?" she tried to
Come on. I need to buy some spices for the kitchen. Iíll go
Xena followed her
daughter out of the barn and the duo walked slowly toward the
center of town. "So Evie, what brings so much prosperity
"Well, I like
to think itís a blessing from Eli, but in all honesty it
probably has something to do with the fact at he turned into a
little bit of a tourist trap."
"How did Eli
turn it intoÖ"
Eve gave her mother
a playful slap to the arm. "Not Eli. SalmoneusÖ"
must be at least seventy-five!"
"Actually he is, but Iím not talking about Old Man
Salmoneus, Iím talking about his son."
dropped. "Show me."
donít want to see it. Itís not something youíd approve
"Iím sure I
won't. Show me."
Eve sighed taking
the lead. "Come on." She led her mother about a
block from the inn, where an area had been blocked of with
heavy beams and ropes, but a large sign had been erected
proclaiming that spot to be the ĎPortal to Hellí.
grief!" Xena sputtered as she made her way through the
crowd to the front. She looked around until she spotted a
young man. She raised her hand and beckoned him to her by
crooking her finger. "You! Come here!"
The young man
smiled and made his way over to the woman. "Yes, how can
I help you?"
expecting to be grabbed by the front of his tunic. "What
do you think youíre doing?!" She yelled at the top of
IímÖ" He stammered.
An aged man leaning
on a staff slowly made his way out of a small shack. "I
may be half deaf, but Iíd know that bellow anywhere."
He paused looking sideways, like a man whose vision is failing
is want to do. "Xenaís here somewhere."
The warrior let go
of the young man and stalked over to the old man. "Salmoneus,
is that really you?"
of me, Xena." He offered her his arm and she took it
Sal, but I really figured youíd beÖwellÖ"
"I would be,
but I refuse to go until I can figure out how to take it with
help but laugh. "Trust me my friend, youíre gonna live
forever because Iíve been there, done that and thereís
just no way to do it."
"So I heard
and that suits me just fine. Do you know how much money the
boy and I are making here?"
realize that this is not the spot?"
"Yeah, but Eve
and Virgil wouldnít let me near the real thing. They refused
to be a part of the scaÖummÖbusiness opportunity."
them." Xena fingered a tunic then pick it up and unfolded
it. "What's this? ĎMy mom went to the Portal of Hell
and all I got was this lousy tunicí. Oh Salmoneus come on!
This is ridiculous."
itís our second biggest seller."
think I want to know the first," she muttered.
Ė the rocks of hell!" he said holding one up.
"The only man
I know who can sell dirt to farmers," Xena sighed. She
tossed the tunic down and looked at him. "Sal, you had
better hope that portal doesnít open back up because if it
does, you are going straight down." The warrior looked
around at the crowd wishing there were some way to disperse
them. She rubbed her temples, feeling her headache coming
back. Taking a deep breath she looked to her old friend.
"Iíll be back."
Eve and Xena
returned to the inn. Eve put the bag holding her spices over
her shoulder and headed for the kitchen. Virgil gulped and
nodded nervously from the bar. He took a step back when Xena
wandered over to him. She leaned on the bar and motioned him
closer. He stepped forward expecting this to be his last
moment to live.
sorry." She said quietly.
wasnít sure he could believe he was actually hearing this.
gonna say it again. But thanks for taking care of Gabrielle.
Iím glad you got there before the next occupant of the
welcome. Ah, Xena?"
"I grew up on
stories of you and Gabrielle. I love you both like aunts. You
know that right? I mean Iíd do anything for you, butÖI
know that youíre umm sorta exclusive to each other."
to explain that to my daughter will you?"
listen to me. For a follower of Eli she is the most stubborn
human being in the known world."
The warrior chucked
the young poet on the shoulder.
"She comes by
it honestly. Be patient. Whereís Gabrielle?"
"She said she
was going to go out back and do some yoga."
Xena head dropped.
"God! Yoga! Sheís still pissed." She lifted the
flowers she had brought and looked at them. "Shoulda
bought the whole rose bush."
"If a fight
with her is like a fight with Eve, sheíd just get mad cause
it had thorns," Virgil joked.
Xena nodded, took a
deep breath and headed out back in search of her bard. Okay
Iíll beg and grovel. I donít want to sleep in the barn
snapped open and the sais were clear of her boots and in her
hands without a second thought as she whirled around in a
"Whoa! Just a
Greek bearing a gift." Xena thrust the flowers out in
front of her.
With one quick
swipe the petals all cascaded to Xenaís feet and she was
left holding barren stems.
guess," Xena began, "youíre still upset?" Oh
yeah, sheís raging. Maybe I taught her the pinch a little
too soon. I gotta feeling thatís coming next.
re-sheathed her weapons and took two strides to come inches
"You walk out
here with flowers and thatís supposed to make it all
Xena sighed. "Itís supposed to be a peace offering so I
can at least speak to you," she added as she looked at
the stems before tossing them over her shoulder.
talk then talk. I donít need party favors," Gabrielle
Tell her the
truth. "I love you," Xena said.
"Yeah, but you
donít trust me," Gabrielle answered cutting her short.
and nodded for Xena to continue.
"I love you. I
do trust you. I just donít trust my luck or the fates."
"We make our
own destinies Xena, remember?" Gabrielle said breaking
in. Xena gave her a disapproving glare and Gabrielle held up
her hands of a sign of truce for the time being so the warrior
"Thatís true, but
I also know that some things are beyond my control. You see
Gabrielle, Iíve lost everything I ever loved. Borias, LaMao,
Marcus, Hercules, Solan Ė I loved them all and I lost them
for one reason or another. Sometimes it was my own doing.
Sometimes it wasn't. And sometimes I get so scared at the
thought of losing you that... I see shadows that really
I mean... I know
that when the darkness had you and Virgil in its grasp you
both did things Ďout of characterí. And I know that you
wouldnít do anything like that in a Ďnormalí frame of
mind. But sometimes that little voice comes back saying that
Ďyou and Ií are just too good to be true. One day youíre
gonna wake up and decide what a waste your life is with me Ė
youíll go to the academy again or go home or find some
desert boy to wash your feet," she added with a grin.
"Point is, I trust you. Sometimes I just doubt my luck
and I think the blessings Iíve been given will fade away
like so many others have gone. So Iím sorry for offending
you. Iím sorry for hurting you. And if I could make it up to
you I would. Thatís all I had to say," Xena added
before turning around to make her way back to the inn.
The sound of her
name halted her steps and she turned back around to face
"I love you
too... And Iím sorry. I should have talked to you last night
rather than sending you out to the barn. It was very childish
of me and I apologize," Gabrielle replied.
"So we can
call a truce then?" Xena answered.
and she took a few more strides to come up to Xena.
"Truce," she said offering her hand.
Xena took it and
Gabrielle pulled her down into a tender kiss, which Xena
happily accepted. "I understand that youíve been
through a lot. But know this, Xena." She grinned widely.
"Iím in this for the long haul. No academies, no
hometowns, no desert boys... Just you and me. Thatís all I
dreamed about for a year on that Norse rock and I know
thatís all Iíll dream about for the rest of my life."
wonderful. You need to tell Eve that," Xena answered.
"Eve? I donít understand."
me twice since Ďfinding usí that you and I should get
married. I told her that a ceremony isnít going to make us
love each other anymore and weíre happy with the way we live
"She thinks we
should get married?" Gabrielle asked. Xena simply nodded.
"I donít wanna get married, no offense."
And thatís good because Iím not asking, no offense."
glad thatís settled," Gabrielle replied with a smile.
"Come on, maybe I can Ďset her straightí so to
Gabrielleís arms naturally went around each otherís hips
as they headed toward the inn.
much sleep last night, did you?" the warrior remarked as
you say that?" the bard asked.
dark circles under your eyes are becoming black," Xena
answered. "Iím worried about you."
okay," Gabrielle answered. "Iíve been having
trouble sleeping is all."
that?" Xena asked concerned.
"Youíd think itís stupid."
is, if itís been robbing you of sleep, it canít be stupid.
Please tell me. You might feel better."
short of the door and let out a long sigh. "Okay, but you
Xena said, looking to Gabrielleís eyes with sincerity.
Xena sighed in
frustration. Cut to the chase bard. "Yes I
promise, now tell me."
It was Gabrielle
turn to sigh as she debated whether or not to tell Xena.
Finally she just spit it out.
I wonít wake up if I sleep for very long. So if I wake
during the night I stay up for awhileÖjust in case."
it?! "Look Gabrielle, it was a spell Brimhilda put on
you. You will wake up after youíve rested for the night
"Told you it
was stupid," Gabrielle answered.
odd," Xena agreed, trying to be as diplomatic as
possible. "But based on the life weíve led, I can see
why you might be concerned. But really Gabrielle, youíre
safe now. So donít worry."
but every time I do I just... Iíve already lost 26 years and
I donít want to lose anymore," Gabrielle explained.
"So every two hours or so if Iím restless I get up and
"Like work on
a scroll, sharpen your sais, round up more firewood than
necessary for the morning-."
about those things?" Gabrielle asked in surprise.
I mean I do have to live with you, ya know?"
"You HAVE to
live with me?" Gabrielle asked. "You donít HAVE to
live with me Xena. If thatís how you feel, then-."
on," Xena said putting her finger across the bardís
lips. "Before this turns into another war over jargon let
me rephrase. Since I live with you, I can hear or see you
doing these things at night. I wasnít sure why, but I
didnít want you to think I was Ďpryingí into your
personal time or space. I didnít know there was a fear
behind the things you were doing to keep yourself busy. Now
donít take offense," Xena warned. "But I think a
big part of why weíve been at each otherís throats has a
lot to do with this Ďsleeping problemí so WE - not just
YOU - have to find a solution. Agreed?"
considered the words, "Yes, I think youíre right. And
again Iím sorry."
okay," Xena told her. "I know how it is when
youíre tired. Your reflexes are off, your emotions sour Ė
itís very difficult to function without rest. So well have
to see what we can do to fix this, okay?"
Gabrielle gave a
small grin to her warrior, "Thank you. It doesnít feel
so stupid now since you put it that way."
important that youíre well rested Gabrielle. Especially with
us being on the road the way we are. We have to be alert and
ready. So letís spend a few weeks here and see what we can
The duo walked
inside where Xena saw Virgil in the kitchen and Eve cleaning
off a table.
she is," Xena pointed out their daughter. "Youíre
up next," she teased the bard, nudging her over to Eve
with her elbow. Gabrielle just grinned and started on her way.
"Hi there Virg,"
Xena said, slapping the young man on the back.
He nearly jumped
out of his skin at the contact. "Hmm, Hi Xena," he
answered nervously unsure of what the warriors intentions
Xena told him. "I know that nothing is going on with you
and Gabrielle." She heard the man physically sigh in
relief. "But know this, if you ever lay a hand on her
again in a sexual way, Iíll cut off both your hands and feed
your fingers to the fishes. You got that?"
wide-eyed and he gulped loudly. With that, he gave a quick
enthusiastic nod of his head.
boy," Xena answered. "See? We now have an
understanding and you and I will continue to get along
great!" she said cheerfully before giving him a pat on
the back and walking away. Heís just as gullible as his
Once Xenaís back
was turned, Virgil finally released the breath heíd been
holding. Xena for her part looked out from the pantry to see
Gabrielle and Eve at a table. Gabrielle was running a finger
through her long hair, obviously frustrated with Eve. Seems
sheís making as much progress as I did. Ha!
Xena was about to
go over and give the bard a good teasing, but a man burst into
the tavern, short of breath.
"They did it
again last night!!"
kidding?" Eve answered. "Again?"
The man nodded
firmly as he stepped closer.
"Who did what
again?" Gabrielle asked as Xena walked up to join them.
thieves," Eve answered. "They come into town and
they take one horse and goods from the bakery. Itís the
oddest thing. It would be quite humorous if it wasnít for
the fact that people are losing the horses they need to
farm," she answered.
"Who got hit
last night? It wasnít here in the stables of the inn,"
Xena answered. At least I hope not. I canít be slipping
that BAD can I?
"No, it was
just outside of town at Emmettís farm. They got a stallion, but
they were here in town because Joshua the baker said all his
nutbread was gone again."
Gabbyís your thief," the warrior joked, nodding her
head toward Gabrielle.
That got her a
chuckle from Eve and a slap from the irritated bard.
a horse thief on the loose? How long has this been going
on?" Gabrielle asked as she pulled her hair back into a
ponytail and tied with a small piece of leather.
weeks now. Eight horses have been taken in that time."
The man took a seat at the bar. Virgil poured him a mug of
cider and set it in front of him. "Thanks Virg."
Thad." Virgil leaned in on the bar, scratching his cheek.
"What I donít get is that they disappear without a
Xena lifted a brow.
"What do you mean without a trace?"
"Just that. No
tracks, no trail. Nothing. Itís like they just vanish or fly
away or something."
Eve noticed both
her mother and Gabrielle flinch just a bit. She sighed and
shook her head. "And we know horses canít just fly
depends." Gabrielle mumbled. "Xena, we should check
into this. These people are still farmers at heart. They
canít afford to lose these animals."
The warrior sighed as she considered that to get a real
vacation she was going to have to go live on top of a mountain
somewhere with no one, but her bard around. "Wonder what
else is going to crop up while weíre here."
The bardís brow arched.
"Well, as per
usual there are just all kinds of odd little things going
on." She extended her hand to the bard. "Letís go
tackle them one by one shall we?"
arenít you telling me?" The blonde inquired even as she
took the proffered hand.
believe Salmoneus and his son have a little enterprise going
here in town?"
Xena!" The bard turned around, walking backward out of
the inn so she could face her warrior. "Salmoneus must be
"Early to mid
seventies actually. Youíll never believe it," Xena
reached out and turned Gabrielle around, firmly wrapping her
arm around her waist as they walked toward the stables.
"No, I take that back. Iím sure youíll believe it;
itís a very Salmoneus enterprise. But first, letís go out
and check into these horsenappings."
From across the
square a large man took notice of the two women headed for the
stables. He drew a deep breath and headed to the inn.
"Eve!" He called as he wandered inside.
The young woman
exited from the kitchen wiping her hands on a rough towel. She
rolled her eyes slightly. "Yes, Darus? What can I do for
who just left here. Who are they?"
She tilted her head
just a bit. "That was my mother and her friend
Darus moved to the
bar and leaned in close to Eve. "What kind of friend is
she to your mother?"
"I donít see
where thatís any of your business."
"Yes, it is my
business. As magistrate of Amphipolis I make the laws here and
you know we have certain lawsÖ"
"Yes, I know
of your laws. The laws of man. Not of God, not of
natureÖ" Eve closed her eyes, silently asking Eli for
strength. "You came here six months ago and declared
yourself magistrate. Then you began creating lawsÖ"
"Laws for the
good of the town." He reminded her.
"I have to
agree with you to some extent. Some of the laws you put in
place have been very beneficial. But others are wrong simply
The older man took her hand. "You know how I feel about
you. Youíve been very supportive of me and the work Iíve
done here and Iím very fond of you. You know whatís right
and whatís wrong and if your mother and her Ďfriendí are
living that kind of life thenÖ"
She pulled her hand
away and rubbed between her brows, closing her eyes. "Darus,
my mother, is not someone who takes well to being told what
she can and canít do. Trust me when I say it will just be
better if you donít challenge her on this."
breaking our laws?"
"Not her own and certainly not mine. I love Gabrielle
too. Theyíve always stood with me, even when they were
that a daughter has such love and devotion to her mother.
Youíre a good daughter Eve. Itís your job to make your
mother see the err of her ways."
She just nodded and
smiled at him. "Donít you mean the err of your ways,
Darus?" Donít say anything to him. Just keep quiet...
Iíll get them married if itís the last thing I do.
Virgil entered from
the back with a cask of wine on his shoulder. He tried not to
look annoyed at the older man leaning on the bar, but he
wasnít very successful. The poet knew his feelings for Eve
bounced all over the place. One minute he was very fond of her
then the next minute he simply wanted to kill her, but no
matter how he was feeling about her, he truly hated it when
Darus showed any interest in her. He didnít like the older
man, there was just something about him he didnít trust.
He moved behind the
bar and sat the cask down next to Eve. "There you go.
Whatís next on the list boss?"
Eve looked to
Virgil with a bit of shock on her face. When did I become
boss? Normally itís not that nice.
Xena and Gabrielle
dismounted their horses and tied them to the posts at the
front of the house. Looking around, everything looked pretty
that people would be more upset after have a horse
stolen." Xena stated as she made her way toward the barn.
"No use in
crying over spilt milk." Gabrielle sighed.
Xena slowly turned
her head, eyeing her partner. Instead of saying anything she
just shook her head as they continued toward the barn. The
warrior was inspecting the ground as she made her way to the
barn. "Well, there arenít any fresh tracks so
A tall man came
around the corner of the barn, looking tired and frustrated.
"Who are you?" He grabbed a board from the side of
Gabrielle raised her hands. "Weíre here to help. We
heard you had a horse stolen last night."
stallion. I was going to use him for stud service this season.
But nowÖ" His shoulders slumped. "I donít know
any luck at all weíll be able to find him and get him back
heís half way to Athens by now, headed for the horse
Xena looked down a
small path before scanning around the farm. "I wouldnít
take that bet," she answered cryptically. As she started
to walk away, taking the path, the farmer looked to Gabrielle
for an answer to just what Xena meant.
back with you," Gabrielle offered as she took a few quick
strides to catch up to the warrior. "Xena,"
Gabrielle whispered as not to be overheard by the farmer.
"What in the hell are you talking about? We both know
that horse is long gone."
"Look at these
tracks," Xena pointed out. "They donít go off and
unlike what they said at the inn they donít disappear...
Theyíve doubled back."
Xenaís gesture and sure enough Ė the tracks went out
toward the pasture and stopped. When they closely examined
them, however, they saw the second set of tracks that went
backwards, right toward the barn again.
right." She paused, giving her head a good scratch.
"Are you saying he stole his own horse?" Gabrielle
"Nope. He was
robbed all right. But the person that did it wanted to make it
look Ďmysticalí. To the normal eye it certainly does look
like the horse took flight, but if you look just close enough
here you can see the animal was backed up," Xena says
pointing to a hoof print which looked a bit oversized.
"Anyone who was worth anything as an investigator would
pick up on this. Come on," Xena said with a nudge of her
head, "Letís check out the barn."
"What are we
looking for?" Gabrielle asked.
odd," Xena answered as they entered the barn.
Left over crumbs from the nutbread raid?"
Gabrielle gave a
soft chuckle as the duo continued to look around. The farmer
stood behind them watching their movements. When Xena opened
the other side of the barn she looked to the ground and turned
to face the man.
"Did they take
your wagon too?" she asked.
have a wagon," he told her.
Xena walked out
with Gabrielle on her heels. Sure enough, wagon tracks.
Headed to Amphipolis Ė not Athens. But that makes no sense,
Gabrielle considered. "Xena?"
"I donít get
it either," Xena confessed understanding Gabrielleís
unspoken question. Xena turned back to the farmer.
"Weíll keep searching. Thanks for your help." With
that she turned back to Gabrielle. "Letís follow and
see where these go."
And follow they did
Ė right back to town.
"Xena with all
impossible to tell where they went from here," she
Xena considered it
for a moment. "Letís go back and talk to Eve. See if
anyone new has popped up since sheís been here. She might be
all light and sunbeams, but Iím sure she still knows how to
smell a rat. Letís see if sheís got any ideas. While
weíre at it perhaps we can speak to the local sheriff and
see if they have any hunches."
Gabrielle nodded to
her partner and they headed back to the inn.
Eve looked up when
she heard Gabrielleís chuckle and Xena who appeared to be
nuzzling the bardís neck as they entered. Darus cast a
disapproving look to Eve, which she tried to brush off. She
rushed over to her mother as quick as her feet would carry
greeting wasnít lost on Xena and she scrunched her eyebrows
in examination of her daughter, trying to figure out what she
was up too. "Yes, daughter?" Xena teased.
you to meet someone," she said grabbing both Xena and
Gabrielleís hands, leading them to the small bar. "This
is Darus, the town magistrate."
person I was going to look for." Xena grinned, extending her
hand. "I hear youíve got a horse thief on your hands
"And I hear
youíre living in sin with the blonde," he answered
coming to his full height.
me," Xena answered, retracting her hand before he could
take it. Damn it Eve. Do you really feel the need to blab
this to the world? Now I might have to knock his teeth out for
lack of manners.
"We heard what
you said," Gabrielle piped in. "You opened your
mouth and put your foot in it."
"And I might
have to put my fist in it next," Xena answered taking a
Eve stepped between
her mother and the magistrate. "Please, Iím sure that
Darus meant no offense. Heís only trying to uphold the law
that says lovers are to be rightfully wed is all. And since
you and Gabrielle are engaged thereís no cause for concern.
Right, mother?" The Ďplease play alongí tone wasnít
lost on Xena as she looked at her daughterís pleading eyes.
itís my little girl standing here pal, Xena thought as
she examined the man with a smug look on his face. "Riiiiight,"
Xena didnít dare
look back to Gabrielle who was at her shoulder. She was sure
the bard was spitting mad behind her. And the sudden snorting
pretty much confirmed it. It was definitely Gabrielleís
ĎIím going to make you regret that Xenaí snort.
Darus began. "Thatís good to know. We have to maintain
balance and order in these parts you know? I have to mention
though, I donít see either of you wearing a promise
were now clinched in fists of rage and her breathing was
growing labored. Xena could hear her. She had to do something
before the bard erupted.
"Well, if you
had half a clue and KNEW how amazon custom works youíd know
that amazons donít exchange rings. They exchange anklets,
which is inside her boot. And no, sheís not taking off her
clothes for ANYONE in this room. Especially for a man as
unmannered as yourself," Xena hissed. The warrior
silently prayed that last act of defiance would be enough to
appease the bardís temper.
taken," he said with a grin and a nod. "Eve,"
he said nodding to the innkeeper in a gentlemanly fashion.
"Until later. "
The three of them
walked out and Eve released a sigh of relief. "Thank you
for going along," Eve told them.
Eve looked truly
frightened, hoping for support as the bard stormed toward the
to me," Xena told her. "I bailed your ass out once
already. Youíre all out of favors from me for today,"
she told her daughter.
Eve sighed and with
shoulders slumped she went to meet her fate. Her Ďfateí
looked snorting mad Ė arms crossed, toe tapping.
"You made your
mother lie," Gabrielle began.
"It was that
or send you both to jail. Besides I know someday youíll come
to your senses and the two of you will get married. I know
that youíll do the right thing."
already shaking her head before Eve finished. "You just
donít get it Eve. Xena and I are doing the Ďright
thingí. The thing thatís right for us might not be what
you or even this town wants. And who the hell is HE to dictate
what your mother and I do with our bodies. Itís wrong and
you know it!"
right. I donít agree with him. But with him in charge
thereís little I can do about it."
Gabrielle pulled on
her bangs in frustration, willing herself not to get too upset
with their daughter. "Evie... Donít you see? If people
donít stand up for what they believe then theyíll fall for
anything that this man says. And I canít believe that
youíre standing there, telling me you canít do anything
about it. Thatís crazy. Hell you were the champion of Rome
for Eliís sake."
Eliís name in vain," Eve warned. "And donít tell
me what I was. I know what I was. I have to live everyday with
what I was. I donít need your help to be reminded I was a
you see Eve," Gabrielle began. "Even in that
darkness there was something good about it. It made you
strong, it made you stand up for what you believe in. Granted
your path was misguided, but now youíve found a path that
could help mankind instead of hinder it. However, you wonít
raise a voice against those who speak evil because perhaps
itís a little too close to the darkness. I mean... is that
it Eve? Are you scared of becoming what you once were?"
Eve backed away and
started to grab some potatoes. "I have lunch to prepare.
I donít have time to discuss this."
ripped the vegetables from Eveís hands. "Answer me Eve!
What are you so worried about?"
screamed. She didnít add anything else. Gabrielle could see
the young woman collapsing inside and in moments Eve was
sobbing. She started to fall to her knees and Gabrielle
grabbed her, making the decent to the ground with her, holding
the young woman tight. "I donít wanna be a monster
again," she sobbed into Gabrielleís shoulder.
darkness," Gabrielle told her. "EVERYONE. Itís
what we do with it that matters. You can let people walk all
over you Evie or you can tap into that darkness and make a
stand. Your mother does it. I do. Everyone who believes in
fighting for whatís right needs that. The balance is not
letting that darkness overtake you. Do you understand what
Iím trying to say? Darkness can be your ally to fight
headlong into tyranny. It will make you battle bravely to the
death if need be. But as long as you have love and you have
your path... you donít need to be afraid of your darkness.
You just need to be aware of it. You can love Eli. You can
love your God. You can also stand for what YOU think is
important. Eli couldnít walk my path, the way of the
warrior. But he accepted me for the person I was anyway. Do
you see what Iím saying Evie? Do you sweetheart?"
"Yeah I think
so," Eve said trying to grin. "Quit being a whimp?"
Gabrielle had to
chuckle. "Well, thatís not exactly how Iíd put it, but
just like your mother youíve cut to the quick... Yes dear,
quit being a whimp." Gabrielle smoothed back Eveís
bangs and gave the girl a long, affectionate kiss on the
sure where to start," Eve confessed.
back to a few moments ago. If Darus had started trouble with
you the way he did with me and your mother how do you think
your mother and I would react?"
flashing, chakramÖchakraming," Eve answered.
not sure if it would be as bad as all that," Gabrielle
chuckled, "but you can bet that she and I would certainly
make some comment on his rude behavior and send him packing
until he got some better manners. Itís things like that Eve.
Once you learn that balance between being a decent soul and
not one that gets walked upon youíll do better. By rights
this is your inn, your home Ė and you let him walk all over
Gabrielle and just when I couldnít feel any worse," Eve
said as she began to rise.
Eve. I only meant it as an example. Sometimes you have to take
a stand. Learning to balance the light and the dark is
difficult. It will be a long road, but realize that your
mother and I are here to help. Okay?"
Eve gave a nod.
realize that your mother and I will not marry. Not for you.
Not for Amphipolis. Not for anyone, but she and I, if thatís
what we decide someday. Okay?"
Eve gave another
"Good." Gabrielle grinned.
"Now weíll have to start working on a plan to catch
this horse thief. Itís impossible to watch every farm in
town, but if we could have some means of tracking them . .
Eve and Gabrielle
thought it over a moment until an idea occurred to Eve.
"I have an idea of how to Ďmake a standí as you put
baker is always getting robbed of his nutbread. What if we
tainted some nutbread with something? Nothing that would kill
them - just enough to make them sick. It would certainly slow
down their departure thatís for sure."
considered it. "You know that might actually work."
what could we use?"
for a moment before a growing smile came to her face.
lethal! Iím not sure Iím up to killing anyone just yet
quantities yes it is. But with the right dose it will make the
person appear drunk as hell with one Tartarus of a head ache
in the morning," she chuckled. "You start baking and
Iíll go speak to the baker and tell him what weíve got
Ďcookingí. He can put it out in place of the untainted
bread each night. I just hope heíll remember to change it in
Grandmother still had a bunch of old recipes here in the
kitchen. Iím sure I could whip something up."
"Okay in the
onset Iíll stop by the chemist shop and see if heís got
that. You start baking and Iíll tell your mother what
weíve decided," Gabrielle added as she made her way
back to the dining area.
Xena saw her
approach and rose to meet her. "Everything all
settled?" she grinned.
At first Gabrielle
had forgotten that she had gone out back to read Eve the riot
act. "Oh yeah. We wonít be having any more marriage
woes." She grinned. "Weíve started to work on a plan
that involves henbane laced nutbread. And even before you take
another breath Iím warning you Ė not a word warrior."
"My lips are sealed... So whatís the plan?"
Xenaís arm and led her out the door, "Well, it goes
something like this. . ."
Xena took a deep
satisfied breath of the freshly baked nutbread as Eve put the
last loaf on the table, covering the four Ďlacedí loaves
with a towel to keep them fresh and warm. "Well, Evie
seems you have inherited your grandmotherís skill in the
kitchen. This smells wonderful. Too bad we canít sample
"Those no. But
I had enough ingredients left over so I baked a loaf for us.
Itís right there." She gestured to a loaf of bread on a
shelf next to the oven. "Help yourself." She busied
herself with cleaning the kitchen. "Mother, how did
grandmother feel about you and Gabrielle? Did she know?"
Xena led her head
drop and her shoulders slump a bit. Boy when this kid get
into an issue she knaws on it like a dog with a bone.
"Yes, Evie, your grandmother knew about us and she loved
Gabrielle very much." The warrior slowly sliced through
the loaf of bread then stopped and looked to her daughter.
"Do you have a problem with it?"
"No. I was
just curious thatís all. I can see that you two love each
other very much." She dusted the flour from the tabletop
to the floor. "I wonder if Iíll ever find someone I can
love as much."
sweetheart, of course you will. Just when I thought my life
was truly over I was blessed with Gabrielle. But let me tell
you, itíll sneak up on you and bite you on the bottom and
itíll be the last person in the world youíd think."
She laughed a bit, spreading a heavy cream on the fresh bread.
Eve twisted the
towel in her hands. "Thatís what Iím afraid of."
She mumbled, glancing out the window and chewing on her lip.
led firmly by her nose and her grumbling stomach entered the
kitchen and went right for the bread Xena was about to put in
her mouth. "Hmmm thatís good." She grinned at her
partner even as she swallowed the bread.
there, bard o mine." She tore off another small piece of
the bread. "You should be a thief." Her gaze was
playful and loving as she fed another piece of bread to
will." The blonde hummed with delight as she ate the
bread. "Eve this is really good. Youíre a wonderful
cook. A skill you must have acquired from your grandmother and
Xena gave her a little swat on the arm. "I cook!"
"No dear, I
cook. You turn everything into shoe leather."
jerky Gabrielle, and itís supposed to be that way so it
lasts while weíre on the road."
Xenaís hand a condescending pat. "You just keep telling
yourself that." She winked, taking the another piece of
bread from the warrior and joining Eve at the window.
"Whatís got your attention now, Eve?"
"I donít think itís a what, Gabrielle, I think itís
now?" The bard snickered. "Is there a who in your
"God, I hope
not." Eve moaned. "Thatís the last thing I need
back as Xena who grinned and wiggled her brows. Then she
turned back to Eve. "So when you see this person does
your stomach drop?"
Even slumped onto a stool.
Xena tried not to
laugh and had to shove a piece of bread in her mouth to keep
"Do you get
kinda light headed whenever theyíre around?" She gave
an evil look over her shoulder. "Like theyíre sucking
all the air out of the room?" She was rewarded with Xena
sticking her tongue out at her.
The young woman sighed.
Gabrielle nodded before going back for more bread.
"Thereís a who."
you." Xena grinned.
me." Eve just let her head drop to the table, which sent
both her mothers into a fit of laughter.
"Xena come on
and lay down here with me. We need to take a nap so we can be
awake for our little trap to work tonight."
The warrior tossed
a bracer on the table. "If I come over there, we wonít
get to the nap part for at least an hour or so."
A pale brow rose
slowly. "You were planning on rushing things?"
Xena sat up
straight in her chair and drummed her fingers on the tabletop
as she sucked air through her teeth. "Is this a
Gabrielle giggled a
bit as she adjusted the covers on the bed. "Now why would
you ask me a question like that?"
the past few days youíve been a right harpy thatís why.
And I donít want to come over there and get my face
"No, no face
slapping. I promise. Iím feeling better now and Iíd like
to play a nice round of bite the warrior and then take a nap,
but I want to do it with you."
better not be planning on doing it with anyone else."
The bard drew the word out in a long seductive breath as she
raised up on one elbow and looked to the warrior. "I
could do it by myself."
Xena grinned as she
adjusted in her chair. "Could you now?" Xena
challenged smugly, crossing her legs and folding her arms
across her chest.
expression began to wash away; replaced by a close examination
as the warrior-bard began to part her legs ever so slightly
and arch her back. Xena licked her lips slowly as she watched
Gabrielle reach behind and untie her halter. Xena blinked just
once when it came flying in her direction, landing in her lap.
In all the years
they spent together, Xena had never once watched the bard
perform for her. For a brief moment that fact surprised her, but
she pushed it away. She wouldnít let the missed
opportunities of the past tarnish what she had here and now.
She knew the bard
enjoyed touching her own body. Sometimes at night she would
wake to hear the bard Ďcoming downí from her natural high, but
she was never fortunate enough to witness it from start to
finish. By the way, Gabrielle was oohing and ahhing as
pleasured herself beneath her skirt, the warrior doubted that
she would get to see Gabrielle Ďfinishí Ė sheíd be on
her bard grinding against her before then. But for the moment
she would sit back and enjoy it for as long as she could.
feel the affect she was having on the warrior. She loved it
and she cursed herself for not doing this sooner. She could
swear the warrior was now salivating as she watched her little
show. In her mind Gabrielle envisioned them in a room full of
people as she lay on a stage enticing a crowd of on-lookers.
They would all want her. They would all want to pleasure her, but
Gabrielle knew there was only one that could do her body
justice. Xenaís hands, her fingers, her teeth, her mouth,
her tongue, herÖ ĎOh hell, all of her,í
Gabrielleís mind considered as her own hands passed over her
flesh. ĎAll of her turns me on and turns me out.í
By this time Xena
had uncrossed her arms and legs. The chair she sat on was wet
from her arousal and her fists clinched the bardís
halter-top. She brought it up to her face and deeply inhaled
the scent of her bard Ė a mix of rose petal oil and her own
unique smell. What I wouldnít give to have those britches,
she thought as she took an uneven breath.
The bard took
notice of the warrior filling her senses and she decided to
give her something else to enjoy. Much to Xenaís delight,
the bardís soaked britches landed in the warriorís lap. Damn
this woman knows me well. Xena grinned just for a moment.
The small smile didnít last long. The britches now filled
her grasp too and the smell of her bardís sex made her groan
out loud in her desire. Her tongue reached out to touch the
material, tasting juice the bardís fingers had worked into
Gabrielle began to
move quicker. Her noises got louder. The warrior could feel
her own sex beginning to contract at the sound.
She was torn.
Should she go over to the bard or stay in the chair in sweet
agony? When Gabrielle began to pant Xenaís name, the warrior
accidentally ripped the halter in two, as she willed herself
to stay seated and continue to examine the show.
hold it," Gabrielle whined. The sound - a mixture of
utmost pleasure and impatience - pushed Xena over the edge.
Xena could no longer hold it either and she gripped the arms
of the chair as her orgasm ripped through her body. She
made me come. She didnít lay a finger on me and the woman
made me come, Xenaís mind cried out as she shook in the
chair. All she could force from her lips however was the
realized that Xena had spent herself in the chair Ė the
rapid rising and falling chest, the flushed skin, the damp
bangs across her forehead Ė she felt herself explode. And
upon hearing the bard climax Xena promptly got up as quick as
her unsteady legs could carry her and hooked the chair under
still feel the contractions deep within her as she started to
chuckle. "What on earth are you doing?" she asked
of ours is gonna interrupt us this time," Xena snarled as
she dove toward the bed.
Gabrielle gave a
small yelp and a chuckle as the warrior made her descent to
the mattress. Neither seemed too surprised when the whole bed
caved in and nor did they care.
for the umpteenth time that night.
that," Xena ordered. "Youíre making me
"You wore me
out," Gabrielle countered. "We were SUPPOSED to take
a nap remember?"
heartily. "Hey I wasnít the one who couldnít keep her
hands to herself Little Miss Exhibitionist."
"You say that as if itís a complaint. Donít worry.
Iíll never do it again."
dare," Xena growled, leaning over to nibble on the
bardís ear. She might have continued, but a sound made both
of them halt any movement. Someone was coming into the barn.
And by the look of things they were staggering quite a bit.
Gabrielle and Xena
grinned. This was it. The plan worked. They got on opposite
sides of the loft and waiting until the right moment - than
BAM!! They jumped down in synchronicity tackling the bandit.
Xena pulled him up roughly to his feet and pulled back the
cloak he wore.
they both said in surprised harmony.
he drawled trying to stay upright. "Itís my two
favorite gals in the wholllllllle wiiiiiiiide worlllllllld."
drunk?" Gabrielle asked.
they heard a voice behind them answer. "He ate the
nutbread. Iíve been trying to keep him quiet in the house, but
I see he Ďgot awayí," Eve added.
"What is it
with bards and nutbread, huh?" Xena asked Gabrielle.
"Why are you
getting mad at me?" Gabrielle asked, sensing the
hostility in Xenaís voice. When Xena didnít answer she
added. "For your information, IíM a BARD and heís a
difference?" Xena asked.
a difference. You know, Xena-."
love to stay here and listen to this intellectual debate all
night," Eve interrupted, "but we gotta get him outta
right," Xena answered. "Letís get him back to the
"I WANT THE
WHOLE WORLD TO KNOW I MADE OUT WITH THIS WOMAN!" Virgil
yelled. Oh shhhhhhhhit, Gabrielle thought as she tried
to steady his steps outside with the help of Xena and Eve, who
were now trying to cover his mouth.
"Shut the hell
up!" Xena hissed. "Youíll wake up the entire
great kisser, isnít she, Xena?" Virgil asked the
warrior as they staggered along. "You are," he said
turning to Gabrielle trying to look as serious as possible.
"You are a fantastic kisser AUNT Gabby." At that
point, he burst into a fit of schoolboy giggles.
lucky heís stoned or Iíd rip out his tongue," Xena
get him into the house and let him sleep it off,"
Gabrielle told them.
daughter of yours," Virgil continued. "I know she
offed Pop and all, but... Damn you gotta admit sheís a sexy
little number, ainít she? Sheís kinda skinny thou. Must
get that from her other momís side, huh Xena? I mean
youíre mighty. Really, really mighty. That reminds me of a
"Eli give me
strength," Eve sighed as they neared the house.
"If he sings
THAT song Gabrielle heís a dead man," the warrior
warned. Both were fully aware of what THAT song was.
Virgil the Mighty. Heís very-."
it!!" The warrior started to draw her breast dagger.
the bard cried out, stepping between the two of them.
Before Xena could
even raise a hand, a sound from the barn made them all turn.
They all stood as a
horse and rider raced from the barn. A tan horse. With a white
"Son of a
bitch!" Xena screamed.
wasnít Argo," Gabrielle said optimistically.
Palominos are in that barn, Gabrielle?" the warrior said
walking toward the barn.
to be hopeful here!" Gabrielle shouted.
being realistic?!" Xena argued.
walking after the warrior. In doing so she let Virgil go and
Eve was unable to balance him alone. The duo ended up falling
to the dusty street.
Xena and Gabby did
a double take to see Eve and Virgil in a tangled mess Ė Eve
on the bottom and Virgil on top.
shit!" Gabrielle said as she raced back over to help
"Get off of
me!!" Eve yelled as she pushed.
feel so good," Virgil said as he swayed on top of her.
Eve knew that look.
"Donít you dare get-."
She didnít get
the change to finish. Xena and Gabrielle had to turn away.
Virgil said as he rolled over onto his side.
move. She was totally paralyzed. "I donít think our
plan is going very well," Eve told Gabrielle.
"You can say
that again," Xena said as she helped Eve to her feet,
trying to avoid touching anything Ďdampí on her daughter
courtesy of Virgil.
Virgil heaved again
and then again. Gabrielle knelt down to examine him.
"I gotta get
my horse," Xena hissed as she started to stomp off.
the bard called out.
she said impatiently.
look too good," Gabrielle answered. "His eyes are
really red Xena. How much did he eat?" the bard asked
loafs," she replied, suddenly her state of disarray
melted away. "Is that bad?"
good," Gabrielle answered. "Xena we have to get him
into the house."
Xena stood a moment
and whispered, "Argo. Virgil. Argo. Virgil."
the bard chastised.
right," Xena replied getting him to his feet. She looked
at him and Gabrielleís assessment was true. He wasnít
looking very well at all. "We gotta get him inside. Eve,
go get cleaned up. Weíll tend to him."
Eve raced ahead to
the inn as Gabrielle and Xena took his shoulders and his feet,
carrying him inside. They carefully carried him out behind the
"We have to
stop him from vomiting," Gabrielle remarked. Eve returned
with a clean sleeping shift on.
contrary," Xena answered. "We need to make him as
sick as possible. Eve get me the worst concoction you can come
up with. Weíre gonna have ole Virg here drink it. That boy
is gonna be so sore in the morning heíll think a speeding
chariot hit him, but we have to get as much of that stuff out
of his stomach as possible."
With a nod, Eve was
off to the kitchen.
him over, "Xena... Is he gonna be alright?"
Xena ran her
fingers through the young manís hair who now lay unconscious
in her lap, head tilted to the side so he wouldnít choke.
"Weíll do our best," she replied softly.
Eve brought back a
mug holding it at arms length, scowling and trying to keep her
eyes from watering. "Donít breath in the fumes."
Gods!" Gabrielle gasped as the foul smelling mug passed
by her. She fanned the air around her trying to clear it as
quickly as possible. "What is in there?"
want to know." Eve commented as Xena pushed Virgil
boy-o," She snickered as she tilted his head back and
opened his mouth. "Down the hatch!" She held out her
hand for the mug.
"Oh Mom let
me." Eve smirked as she approached. "Hold his nose.
I want to enjoy this."
Xena pinched his
nose shut as Eve poured the liquid into his mouth. Xena
clenched her jaw, feeling her own stomach roll at the smell of
the concoction. "Holy smokes Eve, thatís the second
most disgusting thing Iíve ever smelled. What is it?"
Xena," The Bard smirked, watching the mother daughter
team give the elixir to the young poet. "If thatís the
second most disgusting thing youíve ever smelled,
considering everything weíve been through Iím not sure I
want to know what the MOST disgusting thing is."
Iím going to say is I hope that his fatherís recipe for
radish stew has been lost to history."
A look of
recollection crossed the blondeís face. "Oh yeah! I
second that. Youíre right, that was gross."
pouring the liquid down his throat and Xena closed his mouth.
Then she stood up, laid him out on a bench and placed a large
pot by his head. "Letís get out of here and let that
leave him alone Xena?" Gabrielle scratched her cheek, she
could almost she the eruption that was about to take place.
"Do you really
want to stick around and watch him throw upÖagain?"
shook her head. "Not really."
care of him." Eve looked back and sighed. "I kinda
owe the little dunderhead. You and Gabrielle need to go see if
you can find Argo."
The warrior perked up. "Right, my horse. I want my
her shoulder. Suddenly she had flashbacks that were less than
pleasant and she could just feel the ghost of creeping crud
hanging over her head. She shivered the thought away and
turned for the door. "Come on Xena letís go find
her hand to Xena. "Oh no, my horse - I drive, you
ride." She offered her hand again.
wasting time arguing about it. The longer you stand there
being stubborn the further away the thief gets with
growled, taking hold of the saddle horn and the back of the
saddle, she pulled herself up behind Gabrielle. She found
herself making a quick grab for the bardís waist as
Gabrielle spurred the horse forward. "Who taught you how
did!" Gabrielle growled back.
Xena just tightened
her hold and held on for dear life as they raced out of town.
Following tracks that Xena could easily identify as Argoís,
the pair continued along the road until Xena nudged the bard.
"Off the road here Gabrielle, toward the old
her horse carefully into the meadow, over a short rocky bank
and down into the dried up riverbed. She slowed the horse,
allowing Xena to dismount first then she followed suit,
leading her horse and walking next to her partner.
"Xena look at
all these tracks. It looks as if an army came through
Xena knelt down and
fingered the dirt. "Maybe one did Gabrielle. There are
some old caves not to far from here that my brothers and I use
to play in. Theyíd be perfect for making a very well
"So you think
maybe the thieves are an army, stealing the horses to outfit
sense." Xena stood up and lifted her head into the
breeze. "Oh yeah we got horses. Lots of them. Question is
why is an army forming around Amphipolis?"
prosperous again. Lots of dinars exchanging hands everyday.
Lots of goods coming into town."
magistrate who wants to control everyone and everything."
Xena mumbled. She placed her hands on her hips and looked to
her partner for her opinion. "What if itís not an army
per say Gabrielle, but more of a militia?"
The bard raised a
brow. "An armed militia to Ďkeep the peaceí?"
Gabrielle closed the last the words with a motion of her
weíre Ďjust friendsí." Xena chuckled, repeating the
Gabrielle nodded, looking back to the ground. She knelt down,
running her hand over one of the tracks in the dirt.
"Theyíve definitely got Argo. Here are the tracks from
her shoes that Virgil marked with the ĎXí."
"Letís do a
little reconnaissance shall we?"
Eve sat with Virgil
in the kitchen. He had stopped throwing up and now he just sat
on a bench with a blanket wrapped around his shaking
shoulders. His eyes were red and watery and he looked as if he
had been to hell and back.
so very good Evie." He mumbled.
imagine not." She said gently, brushing her fingers
through his bangs, pushing them from his forehead. "You
nearly poisoned yourself."
"What was in
"Whose bright idea was that?"
"Well, it was
part of a plan Gabrielle and I put together to find out who
was stealing the horses and the nutbread. Until you came along
and ate two loaves before I could take them to the
He wiped his nose on the blanket and sniffed. "I didnít
know. Iíd been working out back and on the roof all day.
When I came in I was hungry andÖ"
Eve sighed, pulling him close to her and putting her arm
around his shoulder, allowing his head to rest on her own
shoulder. "You work awfully hard around here. Thank
of a family tradition." Virgil joked, even as his eyes
closed in comfort.
Eve felt her
stomach drop just a little when he rested against her. Eli
help me, I do not need this. Mother will never let me live it
Lying on their
stomachs the pair, watched several dozen men and women move
around the camp that was well hidden in a horseshoe formation
of old caves. Xena pointed and whispered. "See only one
way in and one way out."
seems to me like there may only be one way out, but there are
definitely two ways in. We are most definitely at the backdoor
Xena raised a dark
brow, giving her partner a hint of a smile. "Well,
havenít we become quite the little strategist?"
"Itís a very
useful skill Iíve picked up over the years." She
deadpanned, keeping her eyes on the camp below them.
"Looks like close to a hundred or so."
"Two against a
hundred. How do you like those odd?"
"Very true, my
love, very true. You want the tall or the short ones?"
"I say we just
go for the ones that are dumb enough to stick around for the
effective. I like it." Xena was about to get to her feet
when Gabrielle pulled her back down and pointed.
narrowed as Darus entered one of the caves, tying Argo outside
on a hitching post. "That horsenappingÖdaughter
intimidatingÖgirlfriend insulting son of a bitch."
about sums it up," Gabrielle smirked.
"Well, when we
get down there just remember, heís mine," Xena growled.
"On three then?" she said pointing to the commotion
three," Xena said quickly, before leaping into a
summersault giving her powerful war cry.
the warning," the bard mumbled as she started on her
journey toward the camp. Gabrielle knew sheíd have to make
the trip on foot. Sheíd grown into a fine warrior, but she
still didnít have those acrobatic skills of Xena.
Xena landed firmly
with a final, "Chiiiiiiiya!", before pulling her
sword. Three men rushed her. Just three huh? she
considered as they charged. They werenít much to speak of as
fighters and she took them down with easy. Five more heard the
commotion and raced to join in. But the one Xena wanted most
still hadnít shown his face.
By this time
Gabrielle made it next to Xena to join the melee. Two of the
five saw the bard as easy pickins and headed toward her.
Unfortunate for them. Soon they all lay either moaning or
unconscious on the ground.
Gabrielle looked at
the men around them. "I donít see the magistrate,"
heís tucked well inside," Xena replied.
letís go," Gabrielle answered starting toward the cave
entrance. She picked up a nearby torch and carried it along
with them. In spite of the light the fire shown, it was still
fairly dark, but soon enough their eyes adjusted.
They saw about 50
men and perhaps 6 women inside. The men were certainly the
solider types, but the women looked like they worked for Meg.
Xenaís eyes searched, coming to rest of Darus. He had one of
the women on his lap, a smile on his face as she fed him
Xena and Gabrielle
looked at each other. "So this is the guy whoís
teaching morals huh?" Gabrielle whispered.
Xena grinned and
moved from the shadows taking the torch with her. A few folks
looked up from their Ďactivitiesí to see the warrior
princess standing smugly in their domain.
"So much for
Ďfamily valuesí huh Darus?" Xena called out.
Darus nearly choked
when he saw Xena. He dropped the Ďlady of the eveningí
from his lap in his haste in trying to stand.
her!!" he yelled.
Gabrielle came out
of her hiding spot to stand behind the warrior. Xena tossed
the first two men behind her for the bard to deal with as 5
more charged toward her. With a few slashes left and right the
bard and warrior took down the first Ďwaveí.
next?" Xena asked the group, waving her sword in front of
All eyes fell on
Darus for an answer.
"What are you
doing just sitting there?" he said. "Go after
They all looked at
each other, but no one moved.
you oughta hire better help," Xena taunted him.
Darus grew madder
and began to pace. "Who do you think you are?" he
asked Xena. "I am trying to keep the peace."
Xena countered. "Youíre trying to inflict your will on
nothing, but a heathen Ė living in sin with that
woman," he said pointing toward Gabrielle.
checked stealing was a sin, lying was a sin-."
get it. Iím doing this for the greater good."
wouldnít know the greater good if it came up and bit you on
Darus was out of
options. "Enough talk! Kill her!!" he ordered.
When no one moved
Xena made a suggestion, "Iíll made a deal with all of
you. Those of you who agree to return the horses youíve
taken will be pardoned. But youíre never to show your face
near Amphipolis again."
that donít?" Darus replied smugly.
donít get to experience the chakram first hand. Itís a
tale few live to tell about I should add... So itís your
choice folks. Whatís it gonna be?"
"I am the LAW
in this town," Darus answered. "You canít pardon
Xena walked deeper
into the cave until she was a few feet from Darus and could
see the whites of his eyes. "Watch me," she hissed.
She looked around the cave and knew no one was going to make a
move against them. "So, whatís the answer?" she
asked the soldiers.
Slowly, men began
to rise and both Xena and Gabrielle headed toward the exit of
the cave following them. Darus began to rant as a result,
still babbling about the law and his plan for the greater
good. Xena and Gabrielle paid him no heed and helped the folks
get in line to take the animals back to the village.
In the midts of
getting the soldiers settled for their return Xena heard Darus
running up behind her, screaming his frustration.
Gabrielle yelled pulling her sais.
Xena unsheathed her
sword and without turning around, thrust the weapon behind
her, under her arm, driving it deep into Darusí chest.
"You made your
choice," Xena told him as the blood began to drip from
his mouth. "Damn fool," Xena muttered shaking her
head. She turned and kicked him from her sword. The group said
nothing. They just looked on in speechless wonder. They also
realized they made the right decision. So horse by horse, rein
by rein the group began their journey into Amphipolis.
Dawn was just
approaching and delighted farmers and town folks got reunited
with their lost animals. Apples went all the way around as
well as hugs to a few fillies here and there. A lot of Ďhigh
tailingí for the soldiers occurred, much to Xena and
Gabrielleís satisfaction. Upon giving Argo the attention
Xena felt she needed after the Ďtraumatic experienceí of
being stolen, the duo made their way to the inn.
They walked into
Eveís room to find Virgil asleep on her lap. The messenger
of Eli was running her fingers through Virgilís short hair.
Eveís fingers shot away upon seeing her mothers in her
doorway, as if she was guilty of a wrongdoing.
Well, Iíll be,
Gabrielle smirked silently. Maybe weíll have a grandchild
someday who looks like Joxer. Now that would be something to
okay?" Eve asked.
Xena remarked. "We got Argo. Found the other horses.
Saved the day. Same ole same ole... Looks like youíve got
your hands full," Xena added, teasing her daughter.
"Yeah, heíll be okay."
good. If itís okay with you Evie I think Gabrielle and I are
going to head off to bed. Itís late-."
technically, itís early," Gabrielle corrected.
whatever. Point is, Iím tired and Iím heading to bed." Xena grinned.
"You coming?" she added to the bard.
you," Gabrielle answered.
Moments later, the
duo were snuggled into their broken bed.
you make me a promise?"
that?" Xena asked settling in with the bard.
"Will you wake
me up when you get up? I mean, I think as long as I know
youíll wake me Iíll be able to sleep."
"Yeah I can promise that. Do you mind if I hold you for a
little bit first before I wake you? I miss watching you sleep
at the sentiment from the usually unsentimental warrior.
"Yes you may," Gabrielle replied cuddling closer.
"Itís a deal
then. Oh, and Gabrielle... Itís your hair Ė do what you
want with it... Sleep well my bard."
"You too, Xena."
In a matter of
minutes, both women were out.
Xena woke up to
feel the bard nuzzling her neck.
Xena exclaimed in a sleepy voice. "I was supposed to wake
worry. I slept all morning long. Didnít wake up once,"
Gabrielle answered. "Besides I had something to do."
yeah?" Xena said rolling completely over on to her back.
As her eyes opened, she couldnít believe what she saw.
"You cut your hair." Xena grinned. "For me?"
"But I told
you that you could do what you wanted with it," Xena
why I cut it. Youíd love me regardless of how I kept my
hair. And since I love you, Iíll give you what you want.
Besides, itís only hair," she replied.
"You look so
sexy with short hair. Mature. Beautiful," Xena answered.
youíll have to show me later," Gabrielle answered.
"Right now I told Eve Iíd go back down and watch Virgil
so she could get some rest."
"Is he still
sick?" Xena asked.
heís not feeling real well. But sheís still concerned and
Ė letís say sheís rather fond of Virgil although she
wonít admit it," Gabrielle chuckled.
"Did you ask
when SHEíS going to get married?" Xena prodded.
times and she was annoyed beyond belief," Gabrielle
gal," Xena said as she rose, giving Gabrielle a kiss on
the nose. "You know what Virgil needs?" The warrior
"A nice big
breakfast. Best thing in the world for a hangover."
"You are a
wicked, evil woman." Gabrielle offered, taking the time
to slap her partnerís backside as they both got dressed.
now figuring this out? Leeetle slow on the uptake my
me." Gabrielle grinned.
"You name the
spot and tell me how hard, Gabrielle." Dark brows
Gabrielle slipped her sais into her boots and looked to her
ahead." Xena gestured, lacing up her boots. "Takes
me a little longer to get dressed, more clothes you
"Yeah. Why is
that by the way?"
"I dunno. I
figured it was in the sidekick rule book or something?"
sidekick rule book?"
not, you should write one."
"I may just do
that. Rule number one: Always let the warrior think theyíre
two: When in doubt see rule number one," Xena added.
The bard laughed
and gave Xena a kiss, which was on the verge of turning into a
no holds barred stripping off the clothes and going back to
bed kiss when there was a knock on the door.
ofó" Xena groaned as Gabrielle stopped and pulled away
with a whimper.
kill whoever is on the other side of that door." The bard
growled, moving toward the door.
Gabrielle, could be a future son in law." Xena grinned
laying her hand on the bardís shoulder.
When the door was
opened, they found Virgil. He didnít look great, but he was
on his feet. "I just wanted to let you know that Iím
okay and Iím going to go work on the boiler room. And I
wanted to apologize for fouling up your plans."
Xena bit back the
smile. "Well, donít worry about that. It wouldnít be
the first time someone messed up one of our plans. Weíve
become pretty accustomed to changing them on the run."
Virgil looked at
his boots. "Thanks. Iím really sorry if I caused you
two any problemsÖ"
didnít cause us any problems. If anything, you helped us get
past a couple of them." Gabrielle assured him.
He looked up, with
a slight smile on his face. "Thatís good to know. Guess
it doesnít matter how long a couple is together they still
have problems from time to time, huh?"
yeah." Xena nodded. "But if you do it right, the
make-up sex is great." She huffed when she felt a firm
elbow land in her ribs.
The young man put
his hand up. "More information than I needed, Xena."
He took a deep breath, straightening his shoulders. "Well,
Iím gonna go back to work. Still a lot to be done around
helping Evie out here, Virg."
donít want someone like Darus to take advantage of her.
Sheís a little too ummÖ" He shook his head. "I
donít want anyone to hurt Eve."
"Thank you for
that." Xena smiled. She could see that the unspoken
attraction seemed to go both ways. "It makes me feel
better to know someone is looking out for her."
to do it just donít tell her."
wonít." Gabrielle linked her fingers through Xenaís.
"I have a feeling weíll be leaving soon. The road is
calling us back."
"Itís in the
blood." Virgil nodded. "Oh by the way, the baker
found out who was stealing the nut bread."
what. Seems he caught a little mutt dog making off with a loaf
The bard and the
warrior looked at each other and just gave mirroring Ďwho
The fire was banked
and burning down to the embers that would keep the camp warm
all night. The horses grazed off in the meadow, chewing up the
sweet grass that was covered with the evening dew.
Xena and Gabrielle
found themselves alternately snuggling, and then after a
little rest or maybe even a quick sleep doing things that had
scared the birds out of the trees hours ago.
The blankets were
finally moved to a position that allowed both parties snuggled
tightly under them to breathe without restriction. Gabrielle
blew out a warm, happy breath and snuggled closer.
home is nice, but this, this is us." She murmured into
her warrior pillow.
combed gently through the bardís short locks, stopping to
tickle the back of her neck. "Seems like weíre most
comfortable here. On the road, out in the open."
just werenít meant to be tied to one spot, Xena. Weíre two
of those people."
youíre right, Gabrielle. Feels like anything less would be a
lie, doesnít it?"
is all you and I have ever known. Iíve gone home. Youíve
gone home. Weíve gone to the Amazons. Nothing feels as right
as this. Weíre complete here."
"This is were
we get our strength. From each other." The warrior
pressed her lips to the bardís forehead. "From the open
space. We belong here because this is what brought us
Gabrielle cuddled even closer, pulling the thick fur over her
backside. "Whatever we find here, we face together."
The warrior agreed. "Forever?"
her eyes and lifted up on her elbow to peer into her
partnerís eyes. "Forever, Xena. I promise. This
lifetime and all the others that will follow. No matter that
happens. We will find each other."
Xena linked their
hands and pulled then up to kiss Gabrielleís. "We
and day. I love you, Xena."
"I love you