DISCLAIMER: Many characters in this story are subject to copyright, no infringement intended. This is a slightly violent, subtext friendly( yep, some sex) story concerning our two favourite women, a certain warrior and a particular bard. It is set shortly after the episode "Return of Callisto"
All comments greatly appreciated. Rab@xgrd.freeserve.co.uk
by Rab Donald
The clouds gathering in the western sky had merged into a single mass, slate-grey, with ominous black underbelly. The colours reflected Xena's mood. She turned in the saddle, looked forlornly back down the long road, as if somehow expecting to still see Gabrielle. The warrior longed to wheel Argo around, set her on a gallop to catch up with her friend, but Xena knew it would be wrong.
"She said she needed time alone" there was a frustration in her voice, the warrior had not fully understood the bard's sudden decision. It was clear she was still mourning the recent death of her husband, but she had not mentioned Perdicus for a few days, so it was a surprise to the warrior when Gabrielle had announced she wished to return home, alone.
"I should have ….." Xena paused, she really did not know what it was she should have, could have done. Her equine audience whinnied and snorted in a manner that jolted the warrior from her thoughts. Five men had emerged from the trees carrying clubs and swords. The raven-haired woman sighed. 'Sorry boys, you *really* have picked the wrong day'. She didn't give voice to this thought, they would find out soon enough…..
Gabrielle had initially been overjoyed that she had managed to hitch a lift. The man had said he was heading straight for Potidaea. Though she did not recognise him as a fellow townsman, the blonde woman was in no mood to ask questions, and happily, the wagon-driver seemed equally reluctant to talk. Now, a few hours down the road, Gabrielle began to feel uneasy. The quiet had not given her the opportunity to think in the way she would have wanted, indeed her thoughts were now concentrated on her fellow traveller. Why was he *so* uncommunicative? Was he surreptitiously ogling her? Most of all, though, her mind kept returning to the single question. Why in Hades' name had she told Xena not to come with her?
Two of the bandits lay dead on the road, the other three had scattered with a variety of injuries. Xena sat at her makeshift camp, cleaning the blood from her sword. She had no sense of guilt. They had tried to rob her, would probably have raped her if they could. She had given them fair warning that she was not of a mind to play games. But some people just wouldn't listen.
In her mind she had imagined she could have been the young Gabrielle, all but defenceless against such brutes. That is why two of them died instantly, the third had screamed an agonising farewell to his manhood.
Ironically, it was further thoughts of Gabrielle that had saved the remaining two thugs from a similar fate. As they looked on terrified, the warrior suddenly restrained herself. Had Gabrielle been with her, she would not have been so clinical. A few well-aimed kicks was the least these men deserved, and that is what the final two received. Then she had simply walked away.
The wagon driver slowed his horse first to a trot, then a standstill. "There is a water-well just in that thicket" he jabbed his thumb in the appropriate direction. Gabrielle watched as the man slowly climbed down. It was surely hot, oppressive. The gathering storm would doubtless bring relief, but a drink right now would be welcome. The man was waiting, he clearly expected her to go with him. The young woman seemed unable to think clearly. It could be an obvious trap, a ruse to lure her from the main road to be robbed, raped, murdered. It could just as easily be as simple as the man said, an innocent and timely break for refreshment.
As she too climbed down, all Gabrielle could bring to mind was that she wished Xena was with her right now. Clutching her staff, she followed the slightly stooped, slow-walking man into the clump of trees.
There was indeed a water-well. Standing at it, were two men who looked at best, unsavoury. The taller of the two was bald, with scars crossing his face like lines on a road-map. His companion, was thick-set, unkempt, and had the most wild staring eyes Gabrielle had ever seen.
The wagon driver stopped as the two men produced knives.
"I'm but a simple farmer" he said in pleading tones "I have nothing, no money, no weapons, nothing"
Gabrielle clutched her staff more tightly, her whole body tensed up as she saw the bald man begin to loosen his belt. "Get lost, farmer!" he growled, "who wants money when so much beauty is on offer?!" To the bard's dismay, the farmer simply stepped to one side "take her" he intoned, "she is nothing to do with me"
Gabrielle took a deep breath and sprang into attack, wielding her staff with the skill of any amazon.
The bald man would have another scar to add to his collection as she cracked the staff across his cheek, before turning to jab it end on, into the stomach of his accomplice. Fighting as if for her life, the young blonde managed two further hits, one on each assailant, before she began backing off, hoping to reach the wagon before they recovered.
The ground seemed to give under her feet, suddenly the bard was flat on her back, only heavy grey clouds in her field of vision. A wave of nausea coursed through her body as two faces, uglier than ever, loomed into view. Gabrielle tried to crawl backwards, horribly aware that her staff was no longer to hand. Their grins grew wider, more evil.
It was the bald man who first registered surprise, almost disbelief before blood trickled from his mouth, and he slumped backwards. Within the blink of an eye, his companion was wearing a wider smile, a huge gash across his throat. The bard had managed to regain her feet, she looked incredulous as the stooped, old wagon-driver transformed in front of her. "Ares?!"
The god sheathed his sword. "I was never going to let either of them touch you. You did pretty well, you handle that staff with skill. Maybe I should recruit you for my new army" The war-god had adopted his more familiar guise of black leather, self-approving smile.
Gabrielle was confused, a little wary. Ares did not truly frighten her, but he certainly made her feel uneasy. "Xena is not here" she said, trying to keep her voice and face, expressionless.
"I know that" there was a heavy sigh evident in the deity's voice "it is you I have come to see"
The blonde bard could not prevent a look of total mistrust cross her face.
"Though I still find you irritating, I have somehow grown fond of you, Gabrielle" Ares had a full-on smile, as he spoke "so I have decided to offer you a favour."
The bard looked at him, her mind a confusion of emotions.
"Go look into the well, I think you will see something you like"
The woman was hesitant, but curious. When Ares stepped to one side, she slowly walked forward, carefully avoiding the two stricken men, she stepped up to the well. Peering into the darkness, her eyes suddenly lit up. "Perdicus! Perdicus is that really you?"
"He cannot hear you" the god spoke, his face a study of satisfaction.
"But the dead can hear our thoughts" Gabrielle was frustrated.
"He *cannot* hear you!" it was the god's turn to sound frustrated.
The bard again looked into the well. She saw her husband, sitting on a log, idly throwing stones into a beautiful, deep blue lake. Her face became suffused with love, her eyes sparkling, tear-filled.
Suddenly, a flash of light, then another deity appeared.
"Hades, remove these bodies, poor Gabrielle doesn't want to look at such scum" Ares was total self-assurance.
Hades simply waved his hand, and the two bodies disappeared.
He then looked at his fellow god and nephew. "What do you want, Ares?" There was an annoyance in his tones.
"Tell me, tell Gabrielle. Is Perdicus happy in Elysia?" the war-god asked.
"That is the general idea" Hades said, "he still misses his wife, but he is content"
"Content, not *happy*" Ares was pleased by this.
"Gabrielle, how would you like it if I were to restore Perdicus to life?"
The bard's face lit up with joy, then it changed to confusion.
"Can you do that?" she wondered, then "Why?" mistrust again returned "Why would you do that? Do *anything* for me?"
"Can I do that, Hades?" Ares looked at Gabrielle, awaiting her reaction, he already knew the answer to his question.
"It is possible" Hades seemed reluctant to admit this.
"You and Perdicus, back together, married, the chance to settle down have children. Quite a thought, isn't it?" Ares was pleased by Gabrielle's faraway, dream-like smile.
"And the catch?" she asked, mistrust returning.
"A very small sacrifice to make for the man you love" Ares grinned. "You can *never* see Xena again."
Gabrielle was seated on a large flat rock that she not previously noticed. Again, her mind seemed incapable of clarity, the enormity of Ares' offer, and it's consequences was simply overwhelming.
The two gods meanwhile were in hushed, but angry conversation.
"You owe me big time, Hades. You will do as I say" Ares was assured.
Hades looked irate, but concerned.
"If the other gods find out about your sister's mistake. Celesta 'gathering' entirely the wrong family, three innocent children….." Ares was grinning.
"It was just that. A mistake" Hades knew that the other god's would likely be less understanding. He was beholden to his nephew, much as he hated the idea. How Ares had found out about 'the incident' was a mystery, Celesta had been too upset to explain. But Ares *did* know, so for the time being, he had the upper hand.
"How can I choose?" Gabrielle was speaking as much to herself as anyone.
Ares broke away from his uncle. "NO contact with Xena, none at all. Instead, a long life with Perdicus, your husband, friend, lover" Ares motioned to Gabrielle, instructing her with his face and arms to again look to the well.
The image of Perdicus again appeared, he seemed to be beckoning. "I love you Gabrielle" he spoke for the first time. He appeared to look directly at her with pleading eyes. The bard ran towards him, but the vision faded.
"Oh no! Young lady" the war-god cautioned, "first you must agree to my terms"
Gabrielle was in a turmoil, just to see Perdicus again had stirred her emotions, yet she knew Ares was up to no good, and her feelings for Xena were… The bard turned angrily towards Ares. "You want Xena back! You think without me she will turn evil, become a warlord again. Well she won't" Gabrielle managed to sound certain, defiant. She began to despise the god for putting her in such a quandary.
Ares grinned, stroked his beard. "Take a look at this. It happened but a few hours ago"
The bard felt compelled to again peer into the darkness of the well. This time, she saw an image of Xena. An image of her friend dispatching two men, with ruthless efficiency. When Gabrielle saw the warrior plunge her sword into the groin of the third man, she looked away.
"That is Xena, the real Xena" Ares said, with great satisfaction, almost pride in his voice. "That entire incident took less than one second. What a warrior she is! Xena has not turned good Gabrielle. A few hours out of your company, she shows her true colours"
The young woman felt quite ill. "This is a trick" she yelled.
Ares turned to the other god. "Hades?"
"That is what happened" the god of the underworld knew that the vision did not represent the whole truth of events, but he had his sister to protect. He did not feel good about duping the mortal, but he owed her no allegiance.
"Now tell us this" Ares was walking back and forth, enjoying himself.
"What fate will befall Gabrielle, upon her death?"
"Ares, you know I cannot say" Hades replied.
"Come now, dear uncle" the war-god smirked "you *know* she will be headed for the Elysian Fields. Has there ever been *anyone* more deserving?"
Hades looked gloomy. "Such decisions are only made at the appropriate time. But yes, Gabrielle is surely destined for Elysia" he admitted.
"And Xena to Tartarus" Ares stated it as fact.
Hades remained mute, but his face rather confirmed Ares' assertion.
"You see Gabrielle. You and Xena will be forever parted anyway. What I'm offering is many years of bliss with Perdicus, a good man. A man weary of battle. And after death, you meet again in heaven." The war-god liked the sound of his own argument, this sentimental bard would surely buy it.
"You have just seen what Xena still does. If you remain with her, who knows, she may even corrupt you too" Ares was certain he was winning this battle. Soon, Xena truly would be his.
The bard sat back down. "But I love Xena" she sighed. Gabrielle wiped a tear from her face, she looked up at the grinning, preening war-god, then to Hades. "Is Xena really bound for Tartarus? She *has* changed. She has a good heart"
Hades looked on the young blonde with a little sympathy. He had a growing irritation with his nephew, and besides, he had always admired the Warrior Princess. "It cannot be decided right now. Xena has done some terrible things, but also some wonderful things. I assure you I will weigh *all* her deeds in the balance. Xena will get a fair hearing. I will be sympathetic"
The war-god heard these words and grew angry. Hades was not playing his part. He threw a warning look to his fellow deity.
"I summon Aphrodite, goddess of love" he called out, vehemently.
Both Gabrielle and Hades looked puzzled as the scantily clad love-goddess appeared.
"Can we be quick about this Ares, some wild parties going down over in Thrace, you know how I like to watch…" she gave the leather-clad god a wink.
"You spoke of love, Gabrielle. Do you think the warrior loves you?" Ares eyes were burning into her, as he spoke.
"In her own way, I think she does" Gabrielle could not fully explain, she knew Xena cared deeply for her, but love was a word that simply did not come up between them.
"Aphrodite, explain to Gabrielle what you are about to show her" said Ares.
The blonde goddess giggled. "You asked me to look into Xena's thoughts, and this one came from her mind this very morning. This is *not* a dream. What you are about to see is a fantasy. Something that Xena created herself. It is *her* mind in action, not some chance dream images"
Gabrielle looked uncertain, almost frightened as Aphrodite led her to the well. Ares and Hades gathered around too. The bard began to tremble.
The image appeared, clear and vivid. Gabrielle is lying on top of a large bed. She is wearing a simple white night-shirt. Startled to see this vision of herself, the bard backed away, but Ares forced her to return and look.
"You will hear the words too, this is great" Aphrodite said with a wicked grin.
Xena approaches the bed. She is wearing a low-cut, black shift that reveals almost all of her breasts. Her right hand is toying with her own bosom, her other hand is thrust inside a pair of tiny black breeches. She leans down and kisses the prone bard. "I am weary of pleasuring myself. I want you Gabrielle" she says in salacious tones.
"I am going to devour your body, and you mine"
The warrior unties the front of the blondes night-shirt, and exposes her bosom. With a feral grin she lowers her head and covers the bard's left breast with her mouth. The moaning and sucking noises are plainly audible. Xena then moves to the other breast, while her hands roam freely over Gabrielle's body. This seems to last for an eternity, then Xena finally raises her head from the bard's excited nipples. "Now you. Suck on mine!" It is said as a command. The warrior lowers her breasts over Gabrielle's lips.
Watching, the bard is transfixed. Unable to look anywhere but into the well, she is not aware that Ares though fascinated, is also looking unsettled.
Aphrodite is merely grinning broadly, Hades is expressionless. "This fantasy goes on for ages, let me show you how it developed" Aphrodite announced, then with a sweep of her hand, the image alters.
The bard is writhing, her legs splayed wide as Xena's head is buried against her mound. Sucking, licking, biting, the warrior appears almost possessed. Gabrielle is emitting mewling sounds, the occasional "Yes! Yes!" are the only discernible words.
Gabrielle feels herself getting very warm, her breeches soaked by her own wetness. It is enthralling viewing, she is almost unaware that the gods are still with her. She feels a strong urge to touch herself, satisfy herself……..
"I had better move things on" once again Aphrodite spoke. "That Xena sure enjoys her fantasies. This one went on for hours"
The scene is changed. Now it is the bard who has her face thrust between the warrior's thighs. Xena is obviously in the throes of orgasm. "More baby, more! Don't stop, don't you *ever* stop!" She forces the blonde head even harder against herself, before moving her hands up to savagely massage her own breasts.
"OK! We have seen quite enough!" Ares contrived to look both blanched and blushing at the same time. He was clearly agitated. Hades smiled, enjoying the war-gods discomfort. Aphrodite looked disappointed.
"There is so much more, I was really getting in to that" she sighed.
"I think I have made my point" Ares took a deep breath. "That is what Xena thinks of you, young lady" he sneered at the bard. "Remember, this was *no* dream. That is how Xena pictured you this very morning. A plaything, a toy, a sex-slave. You still think Xena loves you? Has a good heart?"
There was an anger in Ares tones. Though Aphrodite had told him what to expect, indeed it was the sort of fantasy he had been hoping for, actually seeing it had greatly upset him. He was only fooling himself that he was not jealous. He was angry at Xena for loving this irritating girl, he was angry at the girl because Xena loved her, and not him. There was one consolation.
The imagery, the vision had been disgusting. Gabrielle too must have felt sick watching it. She certainly looked quite startled.
Certain that Gabrielle would find this vision of her and Xena repugnant, especially as she had only recently been widowed, the god was convinced he could at last turn the bard against her friend.
"That was not love. It was raw naked lust. Warrior Princess? Warrior Harlot! More like" Ares was literally spitting with rage. "Your poor husband only recently departed, and all Xena can think of is her own carnal desires! I'm sorry you had to see that, Gabrielle, but you had to know the truth."
"It looked like love to me" Aphrodite interjected, with a giggle, which was met by a withering glare from the war-god.
"Very loving I thought, Xena really cares about that girl" Hades added, out of mischief, which merely added to Ares' fury.
"I'm warning you Hades! You play your part, do as I tell you or it will be all the worse for Celesta!" Ares was now yelling, his face total rage.
A women instantly appeared, white-robed, carrying her eternal flame.
"Celesta?" Hades looked astonished at his sister's sudden appearance.
"I was summoned. Ares, why did you invoke my name?" the new arrival asked.
"I didn't, I … It was a mistake" Ares stumbled over his words, this had *not* been part of his plan.
Hades immediately registered the bearded god's disquiet.
The underworld deity had a sudden enlightenment. Perhaps Ares attempts at blackmail were not fully founded. Ares was now looking less sure of himself. "What is going on? Why are you so worried by my sister's arrival?"
The god of war decided on bluster, things were falling apart, his plan unravelling. "Enough of this!" he yelled, before turning to Gabrielle. "Decide little girl, will it be Perdicus? Or do you plan to return to the warrior slut. The ruthless killer?!"
The bard was quite overwhelmed, so many gods, it was beginning to seem like Mount Olympus. "I love Xena" she said, but only softly, her mind now confused by Aphrodite's vision. Was that really how Xena felt? If only…
Celesta was not happy. "Ares! This is the second time recently you have invoked my name. You tricked me into gathering that family, when it was not their time. Happily, the Fates have restored matters, but they are not best pleased"
"Ares! Is this true? It was not Celesta's fault?" Hades was enraged.
"I did not invoke, I did not trick…." The war-god tried to insist.
"I call upon the Fates" it was Hades turn to be assertive. "Clotho, Lachesis, Atropos, guardians of the thread of life, your presence is required"
"Hey! I'm outta here" Aphrodite announced, she seemed quite forgotten in all the fuss. "Seeing that fantasy again has really got my juices going, I'm off to Thrace for some action of my own!" She then turned to Gabrielle. "By the way sweetie, your friend Xena is on her way, thought you might want to know" there was a knowing gleam in her eye.
The buxom goddess vanished. The bard looked around excitedly, just the mention of the warrior's name brought warmth to her heart, and now, a thrill to her loins.
The three Fates suddenly materialised by the well. Ares went white.
"Ladies" the god of the underworld nodded to them.
"Did Celesta fail to carry out your instructions, regarding the lives of a family of villagers in Thebes?"
It was Atropos who spoke. "Celesta was given the correct names. She failed to gather the appropriate family" she paused, then turned a scornful eye to Ares. "However we are satisfied that this was the result of a ….misunderstanding. All has been restored"
"Such interference will *not* happen again" the two other Fates spoke in unison, both glaring at the war-god.
Ares threw up his hands in despair. He appeared to be outnumbered. He now knew that his plan was thwarted. He had suspected from the beginning that separating Xena and Gabrielle would not be easy. Just glancing at the bard, he knew his plan had backfired anyway. She was flushed, her nipples erect. Dammit! She was not the entire innocent he had taken her for, it seemed that she shared the warrior's fantasies.
"Gabrielle" Hades stepped forward. "The vision of your friend Xena killing those men was true. However, you may wish to know it was purely done in self-defence. She had also given each man fair warning. I can assure you, that particular act will not count against her, come the final judgement"
This surely had been the most overwhelming time of the young bard's life. She was drained emotionally. However, she did now know one thing for certain. Indeed, Ares may have inadvertently done her a favour. She loved Xena with all her heart. It made her blush inside to admit to it, but the fantasy image shown by Aphrodite was the final winning factor. It occurred to her that perhaps the goddess already knew. If she had glanced inside Gabrielle's own thoughts only last night….
"Perdicus was special to me, but there really is no choice. Xena is my life, my very soul. You will never win her back Ares, I will *never* leave her" Gabrielle was smiling with the certainty of her words, and a sense of triumph. She blatantly turned her back on the war-god, nodded farewells to Hades, Celesta and the Fates, then walked away.
The warrior had been merely trotting her horse down the road, suddenly in her vision, a very familiar figure appeared. "Gabrielle!" there was total excitement in her voice. Argo broke into a gallop without being bidden. Within minutes, the two women had reunited, and were in each other's arms, hugging and kissing.
The bard was almost speechless with glee, she had so much to tell her friend, but for the moment, cuddling was more than any words could say.
Xena was overjoyed too. She sensed a difference in her bard, she wasn't sure what it was, but she just knew it was going to be for the good.
Back at the well, Ares had made himself scarce, scowling at the others as he disappeared.
"That girl was right you know" said Lachesis, "they cannot ever be parted"
"I don't understand" Hades said, his sister too looked puzzled.
"Yes, surely you will determine the span of their lives?" Celesta said.
"And you Atropos will cut the thread, and Celesta will gather her. It is the way" Hades finished his sister's remarks.
The two fates turned to Clotho, their thus far silent companion. "I spin the thread of everyone's life" Clotho announced, rather unnecessarily.
"We know" Hades was again losing his patience.
Clotho was unconcerned. "Xena of course was first, then some years later, Gabrielle came into the world"
Hades looked mildly bored, but Celesta was interested. "Go on" she said. "It is quite extraordinary, totally unique. At a certain point in time, there were no longer two threads. Quite beyond my control, the two threads have simply merged into one. They are indistinguishable, inextricably linked." Clotho finished.
"So you see, it is not Fate, it is beyond Fate, Xena and Gabrielle will never be apart" all three spoke together, and they seemed quite happy about it.
The vision conjured up by Aphrodite, was not far from her thoughts, as the bard eventually climbed up behind Xena on the back of the horse.
"Are we going to an inn? Maybe get a bed for the night?" Gabrielle inquired.
"Of course, if that is what you want" the warrior replied.
A little further down the road, Gabrielle spoke again. "Sometimes, fantasies can come true"
Xena turned her head, looked quizzically at her friend. Gabrielle had a wicked grin on her face. She suddenly moved her hands, from the warrior's waist, to her bosom.
"Gabrielle!? What…..?" Xena was taken aback.
"Let's just say, whatever you fantasised about this morning, will come true tonight…. And then some" Gabrielle announced with a lascivious smile.
Xena thought…then blushed….then grinned widely.