Subtext Reports
Those crazy posts about the episodes originally posted to the nutforum and saved here for posterity in their error riddled entirety (since they were written 'on the fly'). 
Homecoming Series
A series of five (not so short) stories about Xena and Gabrielle building their life together as a couple. 
Magic Series
Janice Covington and Melinda Pappas find love as they uncover more writings of Gabrielle about her warrior princess. 
Conversations by Campfire Series
Set during Season Four, parts of the episodes are worked into chats between Xena and Gab, particularly the subject of Najara and the bard. 
Changes of Heart Series
My take on what happened after Gabby got Chakram'ed upside the head by Xena in the Season Five ender. 
Bonding of Souls Series
This series picks up where 'Changes of Heart' ends with Xena and Gabby back together. Each 'episode' is an expansion of the episodes of Season Six.
Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace
How DID Ares get stuck in that tomb from the Xena Scrolls? This story answers that question. 
The Play
Xena and Gabrielle have to play the leads in a performance for a ruthless king to save Salmoneus' neck. Unexpected consequences and confessions are the result. 
The Queen, the Regent, the Warrior
Xena leaves Gabrielle in the care of the amazons, only to have Ephiny and Gabby fall in love. Xena does return and chaos and secret confessions follow.
The Contest
Ares and Aphrodite battle over Xena's spirit. 
Loss of Virginity
Romantic musings from one of our gals. 
Moment of Truth
Gabrielle does anything it takes to keep Xena out of a battle that's foretold to take the warrior princess' life. 
Thank the Gods For Henbane
At an Amazon festival Gabrielle has one too many henbane brownies, which results in a funny and sexy night for Xena. 
As It Should Be
The Queen gets taken by the Warrior Princess at the Amazon Village.
Family Ties
Xena takes Gabrielle back to home to spend a little time with the 'in-laws'. 
Dueling Cousins
Xena's look-alike cousin, Sappho, has always been competitive but now the Tenth Muse wants the ultimate prize - Gabrielle. 
The End
Alternate 'demise' of Xena and Gabrielle based on the Season Four crucifixion. 
Truth or Dare
Sexy romp between Callisto and Gabrielle set during 'A Necessary Evil' 
November 29th, 1942
A little romance fic between Janice and Mel. 
Inside Outside
Set after the events of 'A Family Affair', it's a scene told through the eyes of four people - Gabrielle's Father, Mother, Gabrielle herself and Xena.
Something To Talk About
Xena and Gabrielle's friends are all surprised that the pair aren't lovers so they consider why not.
Henbane, Horsenappings and Other Obstacles
A 'murphy's law' comedy where everything that can go wrong for Xena and Gabby but, of course, they still end up saving the day.
All That Matters
During Gabrielle's birthday party in' Takes One To Know One', Xena reflects on her love for the bard.  
Warlord
What if Gabrielle was actually the one behind all the folks who influenced Xena's journey toward good? 
Have Yourself a Merry Little Solstice
A little Winter Solstice tale that's available in general (not lovers) and alternative (lovers). .
Little Moments: A Day in the Desert
A tale told through the eyes of Janice and then Mel while on a dig.  
Candy or Chaos
'Classic Xena' general Halloween story with Xena and Gabby return for the Potiedaia Harvest Festival.
Conquering Heroine
Gabrielle is the Conqueror in this piece. How exactly? Give it a read and find out. 
Watching and Waiting
Set after FIN II, Xena watches from afar as Gabrielle moves on with her life. 
1971
Police Office Carol and Protestor Erin clash but find they're fighting for the same things. A short story based on my novel, 'One Belief Away'. 
March 26, 1943
Sequel to November 29, 1942. This time it's Janice's birthday and Mel has some sexy plans for her lover. 
The 10th Muse
In this traditional subtext story that's part French farce; part musical, Gabrielle has a Doppelganger, the Poetess Sappho. It's up to Gabby, Xena and Sappho's friend Aphrodite to guard Sappho during the 10th Muse Competition...Of course they must also try to repair Sappho's damaged relationship with her lover (a woman, and bandmate, who's the spitting image of Xena).

Title: Magic of Egypt Part 1 of 2

Author: CN Winters

Fandom: Xena Fanfiction, Xena fanfic, Xena fan fiction, Xena and Gabrielle fanfiction, Xena fiction

Rating: R - NC-17

Disclaimers: Miss Covington and Miss Pappas are not mine. Neither are Xena or Gabby and the Gang . I don’t write this for money, just the satisfaction of an overactive imagination. This story is about women who are deeply in love. If this offends you lighten up and read something else. If you’re too young come back later and if it’s illegal where you’re seated right now – here’s a tip – change your seat or do something to change your laws because love should never be illegal.

Synopsis: Janice and Mel make their way to Egypt in 1946 in the search of more scrolls while each fights their growing attraction to each other. 

Feedback: Please e-mail me at cnwinters71@yahoo.com I enjoy getting to chat with my readers out there. Your constructive comments are always welcome.

Magic of Egypt Part 1 of 2

Chapter 1

The University of South Carolina’s Annual Fall Semester Ball – 1946

Glenn Miller roared through the crowded banquet hall. It smelled of cigarettes, alcohol and magnolias. An odd combination, the honey-haired archeologist deduced. But the joint was jumpin’. And ‘In the Mood’ had people crowding the dance floor.

As she made her way inside, she was approached by a colleague – Mr. Stafford of the English Department.

"Hellooo," he said admiringly. "What’s a beautiful woman like you doing here all alone?"

Janice did a double-take on the man, who now had his arm draped unwelcomingly around her shoulder; breathing his alcohol riddled breath in her ear.

"Your wife here, Dan?" she asked knowingly. "Maybe I should stop by and say hello to her. I’m sure she’s awfully lonely right about now. Shame too. She’s a beautiful woman."

Upon hearing the voice and the distinctive ‘don’t jerk around with me’ stance, he realized just who he was speaking too. 

"Janice?" he said cautiously. "I... I didn’t recognize you."

It was an easy mistake to make. The khaki pants and fandora were put to rest for the night. In its place was a spaghetti strap gold number that lifted all the right areas and tucked others. The only thing that Janice did keep from her usual attire was her revolver, which was stuffed away safely in her matching purse.

The outfit made her feel total awkward. She didn’t know what to do with her hands. Her leather bomber jacket at least had pockets. But despite her discomfort with her dress she managed to keep her sense of gruffness in tact.

"Dan?" Janice began. "Go find your wife," the last statement was barked more like the order of a drill sergeant from Biloxi.

Quickly the man scurried away and Janice completed her trip to the bar. She reached into her purse and pulled out a cigar. As she went for her lighter, two men on either side of her offered theirs. She looked at each man, sizing them up. Decidedly, she pulled out her own lighter and began to puff. Sensing their defeat they turned, moving onto other conquests.

Janice eyes searched the room, scanning left to right. She looked to the end of the bar to the sight that finally made her smile – Mel. She was dressed in a navy blue dress with heels that matched exactly. The dress wasn’t too short but it showed off Mel’s lengthy legs. ‘Navy’ Janice grinned wickedly. ‘Love Navy’.

She was going to make her trip down to meet Miss Pappas but she stopped when she seen Mel throw her hands up and walk with Randell McCoy to the dance floor. Janice could feel her upper lip starting to twitch as her jealousy grew stronger. As they danced it up to a ‘service medley’ which included Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy and Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree With Anyone Else But Me, Janice grew warmer.

As she took a spot at the bar where Mel had been, a curly-haired blonde women walked over. "Howdy stranger," she said.

Janice smiled. "Why Miss Epherson," Janice said in a fake southern accent. "Whatever are y’all doing here?"

"Quit yer teasin’," she said slapping Janice’s arm lightly. "Mel didn’t say ya’d be back yet."

"She doesn’t know," Janice explained. "She thinks I’m still in Spain. I thought I’d surprise her. But it looks like she already has other distractions this evening."

"Who?" Epherson asked. "Randell?"

Janice nodded, trying to keep her disgust at a minimum. Charleston was a big city with very small circles. Last thing she needed was more speculations regarding her feelings toward Mel. Janice was convinced the tall southern belle was oblivious to her desires and she’d like to keep it that way. For all practical purposes everyone assumed they were business partners and friends... nothing more. And in truth that’s what they were... But in Janice’s fantasies, however... 

"Randell wouldn’t let up," Epherson replied, breaking Janice's rambling thoughts. "He’s been buggin’ her all night long to dance. She said she’d dance once if he’d agree to leave her alone for the rest of the night."

Suddenly, Janice mood perked up. So the brunette bombshell that had stolen her heart wasn’t interested in the man that held her in his arms, swaying back and forth. A slow number started and Janice recognized it immediately - ‘It Had to You’. She watched as Mel tried to make her way from the dance floor, but Randell refused to let her go. He pulled her back into his arms, and being the lady she was Mel tried to gently disengage herself from the situation.

"Should I go in for the rescue?" Janice smirked to Epherson.

Epherson grinned widely. "Janice you’re no stranger to the rumors that fly ‘round here ‘bout you and Miss Pappas up in that big ole house of her daddy’s." She winked at the archeologist and nodded toward Mel. "I say go for it!"

"Sounds like a winning plan Eph."

Cautiously, as not to be noticed, she crept up to Mel. As the singer on stage began to croon, Janice did the same behind Mel. 

"It... had... to... be... youuuuuu."

Mel heard the voice and turned sharply meeting the strawberry blonde. Janice swept Mel into her arms and looked toward Randell.

"Mind if I cut in?" she asked. Without waiting for a response she thanked him and whisked Mel around and around, until they were several feet away. He stood on the floor momentarily stunned that he had been rejected... and rejected for that unnatural Janice Covington at that.

Mel tried to ask Janice tons of questions, but Janice silenced her by placing her finger over Mel’s lips. "Shhh, Mel. I like this song... I wandered around and finally found somebody whooo... could make be me truuuuuue... could make me be bluuuuuuue... Or even be glad just to be sad... thinking of youuuuuuu."

Mel got into it too and put her fingers over Janice’s lips so she could take the next verse. "Some others I’ve seeeeeeen... might never be meannnnnn... might never be cross. Or try to be boss... but theyyyyy wouldn’t doooooo... "

Both women smiled and finished together. "For nobody elsssse... gave me a thrilllll... With all your faults, I love you stillllll... It had to be you... . Wonderful you... It had to be youuuuu."

Mel and Janice stopped singing and began to laugh. They embraced soundly on the dance floor and Janice relished in feeling her body this connected to Mel’s.

"Can I buy you a drink, sweetheart?" Janice asked sincerely, making sure to keep the friendly nature in the tone.

Mel looked deep into Janice’s eyes, almost as if she were searching for something.

"Why Miss Covington, that’s the best offer I’ve had all night!"

As Mel began to walk to the bar, Janice found her feet unable to move to catch up. The heated look in Mel’s eyes, the sultriness of the reply – it left Janice a little awestruck. ‘Never seen that before’ Janice mused as her feet started in motion to follow the Carolina beauty. ‘Maybe she missed me more than I realized’.

As Mel ordered wine for herself and whiskey on the rocks for Janice, she turned to the archeologist.

"You said you weren’t going to be here until next week," Mel stated, holding Janice’s upper arm to show the joy she felt.

"Well, I wanted to surprise you," Janice nodded, taking a sip of her drink. "Ahhh,’ she said after the alcohol floated down her throat. "A lady who knows what I like." She grinned.

Mel laughed. "Ya got the heart of ‘n angel darlin’ and the grin of the devil himself." She took a moment and looked Janice up and down from head to toe.

Janice felt awkward again at the appraising eye of Mel Pappas. "What?" she asked nervously.

"I almost didn’t recognize you when you first walked up. You look so... so... "

"Feminine," Janice said sharply.

Mel picked up her glass. "You said it. I didn’t," she answered in non-committal agreement as she took a drink.

Janice shrugged. "Well, your letter said semi-formal so I stopped into town after I got in last night."

Mel looked put out. "You were here last night? And ya didn’t even come see me?"

"I told you Mel. I wanted to surprise you... Okay look, next time I’ll come right over and see you. Deal?"

Mel considered it. "Nah. I think I like the surprise more." She grinned.

Janice loved that grin. She said nothing; she simply basked in the glow of it.

Mel mumbled something but Janice didn’t catch it. 

"Hmm?" she asked leaning a little closer.

Mel seemed a bit off-balance as she cleared her throat. 

"Rita Hayworth... You look like Rita Hayworth tonight," she stumbled.

"The pin-up girl?" Janice giggled.

Mel just nodded. She realized was staring at the shorter woman and with a slight jerk, she turned. She tried to grab her drink, but missed. It began to tip and Janice made the save. Mel couldn’t believe the electricity that coursed through her body as Janice’s fingertips touched the back of her hand.

"Hard to believe this is the same gracefully creature who took on Ares?" Janice joked at Mel’s clumsiness.

Who are you kiddin’ Pappas? Mel told herself. She could never love a klutz like you. Mel could feel her bottom lip start to quiver just a tad. She had to get outta there and fast. She knew she was going to explode into a shower of tears.

"Excuse me," she whispered to Janice as she darted to the ladies room.

Janice mentally kicked herself in the ass. She wanted to impress Mel. Make her happy. But instead she just ended up hurting her feelings with a joke – and not a very good one at that. Janice didn’t quite understand why, but Mel’s new pastime was becoming a real problem in their six-year partnership.

Lately, Mel would begin to weep at the simplest comments Janice made. Sometimes she tried to hide her tears, at other times, she would run away like this night. Janice downed her whiskey and headed for the ladies room.

"Mel," she asked softly as she stepped into the room. Two women were just leaving as Janice walked inside. "Mel?" she called again. "I know you’re in here, Mel."

Janice walked in front of each stall until she saw a pair of shoes – navy shoes. Slowly she pushed the door open. Mel was blowing her nose with some toilet paper and trying to brush off the incident.

"What’s wrong?"

"It’s nothin’," Mel replied, trying to sound cheerful. "Silly... Let’s get back to the party, okay?"

Janice didn’t give in as in times' past. She took Mel by the shoulders.

"It can’t be nothing or silly if you’re acting this way... You’ve been doing this for months now. You always took my jabs in good spirit but lately... Lately, I don’t know if what I say will make you laugh or make you cry... You know emotions aren’t my strong suit, Mel. So you gotta help me out here."

Mel was trying hard not to cry again. She couldn’t speak for fear she would spill her tears.

"Is it me?" Janice asked, the depression of that reality sinking into her words. "Have I done anything to hurt you? Cause I know I’m not the easiest person to be around. I really respect you Mel and –."

Mel shook her head and started to walk away to the sink and mirrors. You wouldn’t respect me if I told you why, Mel considered silently. Janice watched as Mel splashed some cool water on her face. She waiting as Mel patted her face dry, trying to improve her tear stained appearance. When Mel didn’t say anything, Janice moved behind her.

"Please," Janice begged. "Talk to me. No matter what it is, we’ll work through it like we always do."

Mel closed her eyes against the words. She could feel herself swallow hard. She knew she couldn’t go on like this but as she opened her eyes she looked at her surroundings. I’m not going to tell Janice I love her in a jon, Mel concluded.

"Please," Janice pushed once more.

"Okay," Mel agreed. "But not here. Could we call it night? Go back to my place?"

Janice smiled. "Sure. The sooner I get outta this monkey suit the better," Janice replied pulling on the dress she wore. "Come on."

The road to Mel’s house was relative silence – idle chit-chat to pass the time. Janice spoke of her latest dig yet Mel didn’t pay much attention to the conversation until Janice asked, "What do you think?"

"About what?" Mel asked.

Janice giggled. "About Egypt... The last scroll said there could be more there and I’d like you to come with me."

"Are you sure?" Mel asked.

"Yeah," Janice agreed optimistically. "I mean the war is over now. I think it’s safe for you to come along this time."

Janice spent the last few years of their partnership traveling site to site all over the world – some hot spots; some scorching spots. Melinda always asked to go and the answer was always no. Janice didn’t want to take the risk of Mel getting hurt or worse. So Mel sat and she waited. Janice would mail her a copy of the scrolls she found and Mel would translate them. When they finally met face to face, only then could they go into great detail on the scrolls together.

The proposition had Mel at the crossroads. It had been years since Janice let Mel come with her on a dig and her heart was flying. There was also this pesky problem of telling Janice what had her so uptight lately. If she confessed her love the trip to Africa, as well as the partnership, could be over. She did the only thing she could do. She agreed to go with Janice and as they drove she considered what lie to use. Well, maybe not a lie, but a small omission of truth.

Janice parked the car and unlocked the front door. "I’m going to get us a drink," Janice answered as she headed into the kitchen. "Why don’t you start a fire?"

Mel did as requested and Janice returned with a wine bottle, whiskey bottle and two glasses. She settled back on the sofa as Mel finished arranging the wood. "Here," Janice said offering the glass and bottle. "Have a drink and start from the beginning."

Janice watched with a raised eyebrow as Mel downed the glass in five gulps and went back for some more. "Thirsty?" Janice teased.

Mel grinned and took a seat next to Janice. 

"Guess this is the part where I tell ya what’s wrong, huh?"

Janice just nodded and let the belle proceed at her own pace.

"I’ve been thinkin’ ‘bout my life lately... I have this ‘fear’ that I’m never gonna find someone to love," Mel stopped herself. "No. That’s not really it. I’m worried that no one is ever gonna to love me... Do you ever feel that way, Janice?"

More than you realize, Janice considered saying, but she held it in. "Yes. Sometimes."

"I guess when I make a fool of myself, like tonight, when I spilled my drink, it makes me realize how unattractive I am; how stupid I am."

Janice frowned and straightened her position on the sofa. "You don’t really believe that do you?" she asked sincerely.

Mel only nodded.

"You listen to me Miss Pappas," Janice began. "You are the most beautiful and smartest woman I know. You have the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met. And I’m sure whoever you find – and you will find someone – will not be worthy enough for you in my book."

Mel grinned and turned bashfully from Janice’s gaze.

"See?" Mel began. "I told ya it was silly but ya didn’t believe me."

Janice was now the one at the crossroads. Mel was aching because she didn’t think she would find someone who would love her. Little did the southern belle know, she already had an admirer that would lay her life down if need be to keep her safe.

"Mel," Janice answered, breaking the growing silence. "I’m sure that someday when you least expect it you’re going to find that special someone you’re looking for and then all this will seem silly... I know it isn’t silly for you now because it’s hurting you. I can see that... Just give it time and I think someday you’ll be pleasantly surprised."

Mel finally gave Janice a full-toothed smile. "You always know the right things to say to cheer me up," Mel complimented.

"Yeah, but I’m also the one who seems to bring you down too," Janice replied, looking sorrowful into her drink.

Mel put her hands over Janice’s hand, which forced the archeologists eyes up to meet her partners. "You never bring me down," Mel said, squeezing lightly to make her point. "Never."

The two spent a few moments smiling and admiring each other. They wondered what was going on in each others’ head, how lovely they each looked, how wonderful this connection felt. They never stopped to consider that the other woman was perhaps feeling the same thing.

"It’s late," Mel replied. "And I think all that drinking and dancing has made me sleepy... I’m heading up to bed... Your room should be all set Janice," she added as she stood up. "Are you going to call it a night too?"

Janice looked up for one last admiring gaze of the evening. "I’m not that tired yet. I think I’ll stay up awhile longer."

"Well, if ya need anythang, just let me know ‘k?" the southerner offered.

"Is this was what they call southern hospitality?" Janice teased.

"No. It’s called takin’ care of a best friend... Goodnight, Janice."

Janice grinned on last time. "Goodnight, Mel."

Ancient Egypt 500 BC

"The queen awaits you," the royal guard nodded as an invitation to follow him.

Xena and Gabrielle rose from Gabrielle’s bed and left her chamber. The palace was huge, bigger than anything they had seen in Greece. So big in fact that Xena and Gabrielle had separate chambers during their stay.

As the doors opened the banquet diners all rose. Queen Cleopatra herself stood in honor of the warrior and the bard. More the warrior than the bard Gabrielle thought to herself. She never minded playing second fiddle to Xena. She liked the role of sidekick. But this woman. This Queen. Her admiration of Xena ran much deeper than that of a simple rescuer and Gabrielle knew it. Although, during their two day there so far, Gabrielle said nothing to Xena.

But then again what could she say. She would sound like a jealous lover and it wouldn’t be right. For one she had no right to feel jealous - Xena was a free, grown woman to do as she pleased. And second, they were not lover’s, only partners, fighting for the ‘greater good’.

Only when they took their seats at the table did the banquet guest sit as well. Xena’s chair was conveniently located next to the queen. Celo’s eyes did more devouring of Xena than her mouth did with the delicious food. Gabrielle picked at her plate, the queen’s admiration of her warrior, making her nauseous. The bard's lack of appetite didn’t go unnoticed by the warrior.

"Feeling okay?" Xena asked politely.

"Yeah. Why?" the bard asked trying to sound cheerful.

"It’s not like you to play with your food," the warrior teased. "Talk to it? Yes. But never play."

"I just a little tired tonight," Gabrielle replied.

Xena felt Gabrielle’s forehead. "Maybe you’re coming down with something," the warrior offered.

‘Yeah’, the bard thought. ‘Bad case of unrequited love’. "Really, I’m fine. I think I’m going to call it an early night," she said as she rose. Xena moved to stand as well. "Stay," the bard answered putting her hand on her companions shoulder. "I’ll see you in the morning."

Cleo heard the exchange. "If you need anything Gabrielle don’t hesitate to ask someone. I keep my guest well cared for," she added, making sure to throw a seductive glance toward Xena.

"Thank you," Gabrielle replied before leaving. She didn’t trust herself to add more than that. After she was well away from the party she grumbled to herself. "I keep my guest well cared for," the bard whispered in a high pitch, sarcastic tone. "I happen to be a queen too you conniving little Nile bitch."

Back at the hall, Cleo and Xena continued to talk. After a few heartbeats of silence Cleo placed her hand on Xena’s. "I have a proposition for you... I think you are brave, beautiful warrior who would do wonderful in my guard – as my personal guard, in fact. Please don’t say anything now but consider this offer. I would feel quite well protected with you near and of course Gabrielle is welcome to stay. I know she’s your best friend and I would see that she’s cared for. Take a few days to think it over... And if I may be so bold, perhaps we could discuss this in the privacy of your chambers later tonight... I could give you more information... Let you know what I had in mind."

The last few sentences came out surpey, a sweet seduction. Xena wasn’t a fool. She knew exactly what the Desert queen was up to. She considered the proposition. Not the guard assignment but the proposition of the ‘private meeting’. It had been awhile since she had taken a lover and a female lover at that. She tried to think back to the last woman she had had.

The barmaid in Cierteo six months ago, the warrior reflected with a grin. Warm honey hair, deep green eyes, well-tone muscles. She looked like perfection.

In truth, she looked like Gabrielle, but Xena chalked that up to coincidence. She just happened to look like the bard and she wanted the warrior.

After Gabrielle had gone to sleep for the night, the warrior was feeling restless and decided to check on Argo. At the stables, the young woman approached the warrior. She asked Xena point blank if Gabrielle was her lover. Xena was taken back by the question and answered no before she even considered why she had been asked. The next thing the warrior recalled was the woman’s reply.

"Good." She smiled. Seconds later, the young lady was welding her lips to Xena’s, pushing the warrior against the wall with the sheer strength of her desire. Xena’s body responded before her mind could issue any argument. Before long, their fingers prodded, hips strained, mouths searched. Xena gave herself freely to the young lady, bringing the barmaid pleasure, taking all that she herself could take.

Both women knew neither would see each other again. Love wasn’t a part of the love making. It was sex. Plan and simple. A primal need for release. And as Xena reached her release she closed her eyes and croaked out her name - the object of her affections, her bard, Gabrielle.

Xena’s body still contracted as the barmaid laughed. 

"Just friends, huh?" she asked. "Sounds to me you want much more than that."

Xena simple stared at the young woman as her realization of her want for Gabrielle came into focus for the first time. 

"I’m sorry," Xena blushed, for feeling she offended the young woman.

"Don’t be," the barmaid said kissing her soundly and passionately. "You can call me anything you like blue eyes. I’ll be Gabrielle tonight," she whispered in the warrior’s ear, sucking lightly on the lobe. "What do you want to do with me? What does your heart desire? Did you like my stories tonight?"

Xena knew what the young woman wanted. She wanted to role-play. Xena closed her eyes and thought back to the events earlier that evening. But for now the warrior was soaking up the young ladies voice that was now so close to her ear, teasing her, tempting her.

The bard brought in twenty dinars telling her stories at the inn and Xena remembered how she admired Gabrielle’s body on the stage. The firm abs, the sculpted shoulders and arms. Xena told herself she was just admiring the work Gabrielle did to keep herself fit. She realized now as the barmaid’s tongue played with her nipples, it was Gabrielle she admired and wanted. That body. That voice. How could she have been so blind to her desires for so long? As soon the questioned entered her mind, so did the answer. It was safer to ignore her longings for Gabrielle than risk everything in a confession. As the barmaid spoke again, Xena realized she needed this role-playing to cool her fires for the bard, whom she felt had no wanton needs for her.

"I have stories," the barmaid cooed in the warrior’s ear again. "Stories I could never tell a crowded room. Stories about what this feels like to have you, to take you... Oh Gods, Xena. Say it... Say my name... Say it."

Xena closed her eyes and gave in. "Gabriellllle," she whispered.

The barmaid groaned and forced her tongue through the warrior’s lips. Xena’s passion was overflowing - her undergarments sopping wet, her nipples aching for contact. She had to have her. She had to have ‘Gabrielle’.

Xena rolled the woman onto her back and plunge two fingers deep inside her. The young barmaid was so wet, so ready and Xena sucked forcefully on her nipples taking as much as she could fit into her mouth. This only made the woman wetter; her groans deeper, pushing Xena on further.

Xena kept her eyes closed as she continued to drive into Gabrielle while tasting her flesh. Gabrielle matched Xena’s rhythm striving for all the pleasure she could get. Xena could feel the erotic movements against her hand.

"Oh Gods, yes, Gabrielle," the warrior whispered. "Do you feel this? Do you realize it’s me doing this to you?"

"Yes, Xena," Gabrielle replied. "Do me... do me," she whispered huskily, fighting for breath.

Before long, the woman arched. Her legs shook and a soul-shattering cry filled the stable. Once her body subsided, only then did Xena open her eyes. The young lady looked like Gabrielle. But she wasn’t Gabrielle and that left the warrior with a mix of conflict emotions – disappointment that it wasn’t really the bard and relived because... it wasn’t really the bard. Xena did want Gabrielle. She knew that now for a fact but the idea of losing her friendship over her passions outweighed her desire.

The barmaid sensed this conflict. 

"Come on warrior," she teased. "We’ve got to until sun up to sort this out, that is, of course, if you still want to play."

Xena grinned and nodded slowly.

Cleo’s voice interrupted Xena’s thoughts. 

"Are you coming back sometime soon?" the queen asked. "You look like you just went miles and miles away."

Xena shook her head to get her focus. 

"I’m sorry," she said sincerely. "What were you saying?"

"I said is it alright if I come to your chamber tonight."

"Sure," Xena replied trying to sound neutral. "It’s your palace after all. You can go anywhere you like," she teased.

"Is that so?" Cleo asked raising a mischievous eyebrow. "I’ll have to remember that for... future reference."

Cleo motioned a guard. "See that a bath is drawn for me in the warrior’s chambers after desert is served."

With a quick nod, he scurried away. Xena watched him leave and turned back to Cleo.

"I believe negotiations should always be a comfortable experience. Don’t you?"

Xena simple grinned and took drink of her wine as she leaned closer to Cello’s ear. 

"Always," she whispered.

Chapter 2

International London Airport, England - 1946

"Cheerio Dr. Covington; Miss Pappas!" the short man exclaimed as she and Mel approached. 

"Looks like you made it in early I’d say."

"I always love his accent," Mel whispered to Janice as they walked. "He sounds so funny," she giggled.

Janice laughed openly. 

"Look who’s talking," she rebutted with a friendly grin.

Mel playfully swatted Janice’s arm as the two women were within a few feet of the English gentleman. "How the hell are you, Rollows? It’s been awhile."

They shook hands then Mr. Rollows offered his regards to Mel too. The three walked as they talked. He said, "I managed to get us a flight into Cairo tomorrow courtesy of an old friend of mine who flew during the war. He owes me a favor."

"Well, thanks for spending your favor on us. I really appreciate it," Janice said sincerely.

Rollows stopped and faced Janice. "You took that bullet for me in Rome two years ago. It’s the least I could do," he replied seriously before breaking into a smile. "What do you say we grab a bit to eat? It is tea time."

As Rollows went to the concession stand, Mel and Janice took a seat at some nearby benches. 

"You never told me you’d been shot, Janice."

The archeologist could hear the worry and disappointment in the belle’s voice. 

"I didn’t want you to worry," Janice replied, matter-of-factly. "See why I never let you come with me during the war?"

"You could have at least told me later."

"Maybe," Janice replied, looking away from Mel’s scrutinizing eyes.

"No," Mel said defiantly. "Not maybe. You should have told me." I could have lost you, Mel thought silently.

"Look Mel," Janice began. "I got hurt. That’s all. But I’m fine now... There’s hardly even a scar."

"Where?" Mel asked.

"My right thigh, okay?" Janice replied growing annoyed with the questions. "It wasn’t bad... Of course it hurt like hell, but I’m okay now."

"How did it happen?"

Janice sighed in frustration. Mel wasn’t going to let this go.

"Rollows and I went into town to get some supplies to take back to the site. A fire fight broke out and we got caught in the middle. I spotted a Nazi ready to take a shot at Rollows and I leapt up and pushed him out of the way – hence getting my leg shot. There wasn’t a hospital too far. The bullet went through and I didn’t lose much blood all in all. Is there anything else you’d like to know?... Oh wait - my nurse's name was Roselyn. There. That should cover all your questions."

Mel didn’t reply. She only watched Janice as she twiddled her thumbs impatiently. 

The archeologist caught the glare from Pappas and got defensive, and asked, "What?!"

Mel turned away and said, "Why does my caring for you scare you so much?" Mel didn’t wait for an answer. She got up and walked over to help Rollows with the tea and crumpets.

Janice knew why. Her mother cared for her and she left. Her father cared for her and he died. If you care Mel, Janice thought silently. Then someday you’ll go to. And that I could not bare.

Guest quarters of, her Royal Highness, Queen Cleopatra – 500bc

Gabrielle laid on her bed looking at the mural, too tense to sleep, too unfocused to write. She heard Xena return to her chamber a half-candlemark before. She considered going there then, but what would she say? What could she do?

She knew the Queen of the Nile had her sights set on the Warrior Princess, and it gnawed on her mind. Hercules; Ulysses. They had been different. They were men and if that’s what Xena wanted, it was something she couldn’t offer. So she supported Xena in whatever decision she would make.

But Cleopatra was a woman. Just like her. She did have what Cleopatra offered. She even had a throne of her own.

Gabrielle wiped her tears from her eyes for the hundredth time that night. She made her decision. This had to end this one way or another. She would give Xena her heart to do with as she pleased. She didn’t believe that Xena would shun her if she didn’t feel the same, but she also understood things could never go back to what they were once her confessions were made. She knew, as well, that this pain she carried was a burden and getting too heavy to carry in silence. She made her decision. Yes. She would walk into that chamber and let the warrior princess know all.

Gabrielle quickly knocked twice and opened the door. She saw Cleopatra in the tub but her eyes found no trace of Xena. The two queens locked eyes and Gabrielle asked softly, "Where’s Xena?"

Almost as if on command, Xena appeared from under the water.

"Ah ha!" she said triumphantly to Cleopatra. The queen didn’t move her head, but her eyes gestured toward the door. Xena looked over to see Gabrielle glaring at them.

"Gabrielle!" Xena said a bit shaken, trying her best to mask her surprise. "I thought you went to bed? Are you alright?"

"I just came to speak with you," she said apologetically. "I assumed you were alone. Guess I assumed wrong." 

Gabrielle turned to leave.

"Wait!" Xena replied, making the bard stop. "What did you want?" the warrior asked.

"Nothing," Gabrielle croaked. "It’ll keep until tomorrow."

Xena could feel Gabrielle’s distress. "No, it won’t," Xena challenged. "It’s late and if it’s brought you here it must be pretty important."

Gabrielle cast a glare meant for only Cleo before looking back at Xena. "I’ve decided to go home to the amazon," Gabrielle uttered. "I’m leaving first thing in the morning."

Panic flooded Xena. "Wha..... What do you mean? For good?" she asked.

Gabrielle nodded. "Have fun. I’ll see ya tomorrow."

This time, Gabrielle didn’t stop for Xena’s pleas to stay. Xena looked at Cleopatra for a moment. Then she handed the queen her lost earring she found at the bottom of the tub. Cleopatra accepted it then pulled Xena into a passionate kiss.

"You’re the best lover I’ll never have." Cleo grinned before looking serious again. "She loves you Xena. Go to her."

Could it be true? Xena wondered silently. She didn’t spend anymore time considering it. She exited the tub and donned her robe. She looked back at Cleo once she was at the door.

"Go on. Tell her before you really do lose her."

Xena nodded and made her long journey to the end of the hall.

Chapter 3

Cairo, Egypt – 1946

"Covington!" Rollows shouted. "Covington!"

The war had been over for about a year but her first thoughts was ‘Nazi!’. Quickly, it subsided and Janice knew that her name pronounced with so much excitement meant they found something.

Janice and Mel looked at each other and abandoned the vase they were working on. Both women broke into a run down the hill. They had been there for two months already, but only found some Egyptian pottery. Not that it was a bad find. This could very well help finance their next dig. Janice had worked out a deal with the National Museum of History. They had agreed to pay her for each item she returned. So far they had a large assortment of items to impress them.

Janice eyes widened as she looked inside the trunk Rollows had been working on.

"Did you open this?" she asked.

"No," he said nervously. "When we tried to lift it, the bloody thing broke. We’ll be more careful next time, Janice. I promise."

Janice wrapped her arm around Rollows neck and kissed him soundly on the cheek. Being the stand-offish Brit that he was, he found himself leaning away as best as he could from the small woman’s vise grip. Janice ignored his reaction, too absorbed by the contents of the trunk.

"Oh my word," Mel said from behind Janice looking over her shoulder.

The trunk, about five foot by three foot, was about two feet deep with scrolls. Janice shook her hands and arms trying to free some of her excitement before reaching for them. Carefully, she took them out one by one, laying them on a near by tarp.

"Take them to my tent," she instructed the staff. As the workers did as they were told, Janice turned to Mel with her sly grin. 

"Looks like you’ve got some late night reading material, sweetheart."

Mel couldn’t contain her excitement any longer and the two embraced. 

"Come on," Janice said pulling her partner by the arm. "We got work to do."

Ancient Egypt 500bc

"Gabrielle," Xena called from the other side of the door. "Can I come in?"

Gabrielle sniffed and wiped her eyes trying to get herself in check before she opened the door.

"Give me a minute," she replied, buying some time. Finally with herself more together she opened the door. "What did you need?" she asked. Her voice was cold and hollow.

"To speak with you about your recent decision." Xena replied as calmly. "May I come in?"

Gabrielle stood a moment looking at the warrior - the wet, slicked back hair, the blue robe that brought out her eyes. By the Gods, she was a sight to see... and Gabrielle felt the ache all over again. She walked away from the door leaving it open as an invitation.

"I didn’t mean to interrupt you early," Gabrielle said trying to sound neutral. "I knew that Cleopatra had a deep interest in you, but I didn’t know it was mutual... I wouldn’t have just walked in on you and I apologize."

Xena could finally hear the pain in Gabrielle’s voice, the longing. Gods, why didn’t she ever notice it until now? And why did it take an incident like this which she was sure broke the bard's heart? She wondered if Gabrielle would believe her if she told her the true feelings of her heart at this moment so she paused, planning her words carefully. Words were important to the bard and she knew, now more than ever, these words would be etched in the amazons memory forever.

"Are you sure about going back to the amazons?" Xena asked softly.

Gabrielle nodded slowly. "I think it’s for the best."

"Yes, but is that what you want?" Xena asked, stressing the sentence with urgency.

"It’s for the best," Gabrielle repeated. "We both know the day would come when I would go home and take the throne."

Xena took a seat on the bed and played with the quilt as she began to speak. "Celopatra offered me a position here in her royal guard – as her personal royal guard, in fact."

Gabrielle’s mind went into panic, but she quickly pulled a few words together. 

"I’m sure she’ll be quite well protected," the bard complimented the warrior, doing her best to keep the friendly, matter-of-fact tone.

Xena finally looked up with a grin. 

"I turned her down... She asked for a lot of things tonight," the warrior continued, "and I turned her down... on ALL of them."

Gabrielle didn’t add anything she simply watched and waited for Xena to continue. And Xena wasn’t going to dance around the subject any longer.

"There’s only one queen I want to spend my life protecting, Gabrielle," she whispered. "Only one queen that I want to be champion for – one queen that I have championed. Any ideas on who that might be?" the warrior teased.

The indecision was written so strongly on the bard's face - the nervous licking of her lips, the darting movements of her eyes. Xena rose from the bed. She looked deep into Gabrielle’s eyes and whispered four words.

"Do you love me?"

Gabrielle studied Xena for a few moments. She knew exactly what the warrior was asking.

She could feel herself starting to sob and all she could do was nod.

She turned away and went to the window. Xena’s heart leapt in her throat. Slowly, she walked up behind Gabrielle. The bard felt her approach, but did nothing to stop it. A single tear ran down her right cheek, but she refused to wipe it away. At this point, the warrior couldn’t see her face. Gabrielle didn’t want Xena to know she was crying so instead of wiping it away she let it fall, landing on her bosom.

Gabrielle felt Xena’s arms encompass her upper body, the warrior resting her cheek on the back of the bard's head, deeply inhaling the smell of her hair. 

"Oh Gods," Xena whispered, "I love you too... Not just as a best friend or family. But as a woman with needs and desires that only a lover can share."

The warrior's voice fell silent and Gabrielle could feel the warrior woman’s powerful arms beginning to shake. Gabrielle realized Xena was crying now too. Gabrielle turned to face Xena, but remained locked in her arms.

"Please," Xena choked. "Please stay with me. If you really do want to go back to the amazons then take me with you, Gabrielle. I’d live the rest of my life there, or anywhere, as long as it was with you."

Gabrielle began to cry openly too. But this time the sorrow had lifted completely and a smile washed over her ruby lips. "By the Gods, Xena," Gabrielle whispered, taking the warrior's face in her hands. She brought the warrior down to her lips, stopping just shy of contact. "I love you too," she whispered.

Xena finished the journey.

The first kisses were slow and delicate. Senses of taste and touch taking precedence over anything else. But soon the taste and touch of the lips weren’t enough. The connections became more passionate and roaming. In a matter of minutes, Xena’s robe laid in a crumpled pile on the floor after the warrior helped her bard with her green tunic. Once the skirt joined the other garments, Xena picked Gabrielle up in her arms and began to carry her to the bed.

The bard stroked the long, wet, black locks and nibbled on the ear conveniently located by her lips. Xena was unsure if her legs would be steady enough to reach her destination. The feel of those lips and that tongue was unlike anything she’d ever felt in her life. Battlelust was nothing compared to this. This was utopia.

Gabrielle moved back once she rested on the bed, she reached out her hands which the warrior willingly took. "For so long," the bard whispered, examining Xena’s naked body for the first time with lovers eyes. "I’ve wanted you for so long."

"I’m all yours," the warrior answered. "My soul.. .My heart... My body... Always remember that Gabrielle... Always."

Their lips locked once more and they made their descent to the mattress, together, in unison, as one.

Continued in Part II

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