© Dark Angel.


Disclaimer: Here is yet another piece of fiction based on the characters of Xena; Warrior Princess. Being the rightful property of Universal Studios, it is not my intention to infringe on related copyright laws or to make any profit.

Surrender is the fifth and concluding story in the series I have affectionately dubbed "The Pay for Play Chronicles". It's pretty essential you've read all that proceeded it to make any sense.

Warning: Just in case you've forgotten, if you had difficulty dealing with the content of the previously mentioned stories, reading this will put you no more at ease. It falls strictly under the definition of adult fan fiction - Plenty of sex, plenty of talk, all involving women, all of whom are of age and consenting - most of the time.

Moderate S/m and bondage alert. Some four letters words also strewn through out.

It would be just after dark on the eve of the next new moon before Gabrielle saw Xena again. The ex-warlord had disappeared ten days prior without a trace into the many alleys and faces of Corinth as it struggled to recover from a month worth of flooding.

There were strangers everywhere, families forced to sleep in the streets, orphaned children wandering aimlessly who needed attending to. No one who wasn't injured or starving was given a second glance by the weary residents. There just wasn't the time or energy to search for a woman who was intentionally avoiding detection, and Gabrielle was forced to rely solely on her own resources to find her. However as more days became nights, and the sun rose tirelessly time and again, the usually optimistic bard's belief that the two friends would simply be able to pick up and move on from where her deception had led them began to seriously wane.

On this particular night, Gabrielle had retreated to the sanctuary of her room on the first floor of the whore house, choosing to turn in earlier than usual in the hope of a full nights rest. Sleep had remained elusive to her since the night she had witnessed what Xena paid Arnise to do for her. It hadn't been what she'd actually seen that disturbed Gabrielle, though some of it surprised her. But the look of absolute betrayal etched across Xena's face.

A knock at Gabrielle's door and subsequent appearance of another young prostitute, she only knew by sight, gave her a glimpse of hope. Xena had returned.

Unfortunately her relief was short lived when she learned the condition the warrior was in. The girl told her that Xena appeared to be heavily intoxicated, shouting abuse at the proprietor. She had been sent to find Gabrielle in the hope that the bard's presence may be able to defuse the situation. Bracing herself against what she feared she would find, Gabrielle followed the girl quickly back downstairs.

She found Xena slouching over the reception counter, still dressed in the Athenian General's uniform she'd been wearing the night she had fled the brothel. She appeared clean, rested enough, apparently no worse for her time in exile.

As Gabrielle drew closer, still protected by the darkness of the room she could hear the House owner arguing quite vehemently with the warrior. On the counter before her rested their shared money pouch.

"I told you before." The rotund little woman insisted. "Arnise is not available tonight. Nor any night when you come here in such a state."

Xena snarled and shifted her weight adopting the familiar gesture that indicated she was readying to draw her sword. If at first sight, Xena appeared to be amenable to reason, Gabrielle knew then the situation had reached a point where she needed to intervene. But as Xena's hand settled on the hilt strung at her shoulder, a door behind the reception counter opened, admitting the blonde whore Xena had been demanding to see.

Cautiously Arnise moved around the counter, keeping a watchful eye on the warrior. Like Gabrielle, she had made her own inquiries as to the dark woman's whereabouts. And like Gabrielle she had turned up nothing. But she knew Xena would come. Sooner or later, she would coming looking to settle a score with her.

"It's all right, Bertha." She assured her employer calmly. "I am available if the customer..."

In a burst of rage Xena reached out, grabbing Arnise roughly by the throat before she had a chance to finish her invitation. Then holding her firm, she used what little dexterity her inebriated state permitted she separated ten dinar from the contents of her money pouch.

"You don't have to do this." Gabrielle argued stepping clear of the shadows.

For a moment, the older woman actually seemed to be physically jolted back by her words, registering that it was Gabrielle's voice she was hearing and struggling to comprehend. But it didn't last. Before Gabrielle could prevent the strike, Xena seized her by her free arm.

Stale breath labored heavily against Gabrielle's neck leaving little doubt of the warrior's intentions.

"Sure, I do." She muttered.

Ignoring her companion's obvious discomfort, Xena steered both women down the narrow corridor to the whore's workroom.


Once inside, her behavior continued to deteriorate.

"You want to know why I come here?" Xena flashed, answering a question the bard hadn't posed, at least not out loud anyway.

A signal shove sent Gabrielle stumbling downward onto the bed. "What I pay for?"

The bard watched, horrified, as Xena refastened her hold on Arnise, pushing her back in her embrace and kissing her viscously on the mouth. It was as if she was feasting on the young prostitute, mauling her face and lips until she had drawn blood. Then, suddenly repulsed, she broke off, pushing the girl hard against the closed door.

"I pay for this." Xena repeated, licking a droplet of blood that had been left to settle on her own lips. She grabbed Arnise again, this time around the throat, spinning her around in Gabrielle's direction . The thin layer of clothing she wore was ripped open bearing bare flesh and most importantly, a tiny X that adorned her left breast.

Xena bit down hard on the exposed neckline.

"I pay for this!"

Gabrielle had to force herself not to look away.

Arnise didn't struggle, but she didn't try to help either. She simply let the warrior turn and pull at her body in whatever way she seem to want. It wasn't until Xena spun her back around once more, forcing her face down across the table top that she knew a decision had to be made. One that would without a doubt, end their association. And if handled wrongly - possibly her life.

Xena had hooked the sheer robe up around the girl's waist exposing her rear, and was still trying to negotiate the buttons on her own trousers when Arnise started to struggle. A strike to the back of her head sent the room churning about her and the bard to her feet.

"Xena, please don't..." Gabrielle maintained her distance, uncertain weather she should try to physically intervene.

The warrior looked up momentarily, as if seeing her traveling companion for the first time again.

"You wanted to see, Gabrielle." She told her coolly. "Well I'm showing you."

The expression on the bard's face pleaded for it to stop. But Xena turned away, unhooking her money pouch, and refocusing her attentions back on Arnise. A sudden thud as it was deposited unceremoniously close to where the younger woman's head rested made her startle.

"There is over a thousand dinars in that bag, whore." Xena told her distastefully. "Earn it."

Arnise's turmoil doubled. The amount of money offered for simply submitting to the warrior's whim could easily free her from her debt bond to the House. It might even give her enough left over to acquire some land. She tried to tell herself that Xena wasn't totally responsible for her actions here tonight. Still, some part of her couldn't get past the sight of the blonde still sitting on her work bed. Gabrielle's expression had not faulted. Even in her position, Arnise could see her counterpart's gaze travel the length of her upturned body, over her semi nakedness. And though she made no attempt to speak or look away, her face betrayed the mock courage her staying insinuated.

Xena herself remained bent over next to the table, apparently having little success in opening her trousers in her drunken state. The delay only serving to make the situation even more deplorable.

Arnise wanted to yell at Xena to get on with it, or let her go. But the torment continued unaddressed.

Helplessly she wandered if Xena had any idea what kind of struggle she was causing in the young prostitute's mind? But then again, she probably did and it was mostly likely contributing to the detestable treatment. In the past Arnise would have served the warrior for a fraction of the cost. And been grateful for it.

What was on offer was a fortune.

Before long the warrior's mild frustration in trying to open her pants had turned to anger, giving voice to a string of obscenities. She had used similar language with Arnise in the past. The kind that was designed to showcase exactly who was in charge. But until now it had never been with the intention of degrading her personally.

Then from somewhere far off in her mind she heard Xena call her a poor excuse for a lay. Not worth half of what she paid for her. That Arnise should be grateful anyone wanted her at all. Let alone the once Destroyer of Nations. Did she like getting her ass fucked by someone who could just as well cut her heart out? Did she like it in front of an audience looking so innocent? She wasn't innocent though was she? She loved being treated like a whore because that was all she was good for - being somebody's whore.

The last insult delivered the girl's only real choice....

Before Xena could deflect the blow, the set of manacles kept as a business prop on the table connected with the side of her head. The shock and the sheer weight of the iron, forced the already unsteady warrior backwards providing a margin of escape for her captive. Arnise took it, frantically ducking out of the larger woman's grasp and backing away as far as the confines of the room allowed.

"Don't you ever speak to me that way!" She spat.

"You've never complained I wasn't good enough before. We both know the only real complaint you've ever had was...."

From her vantage point, Gabrielle witnessed the mock restraints find their mark with excruciating accuracy. She scrambled to her feet for the second time, eager to ensure the warrior's injury was not life threatening. A raised hand from Xena not to approach made her settle back.

Xena did her best to brace herself as the room distorted before her. Bile rose in her mouth and she fought to maintain her footing. Tentatively she touched her hand to the gash across her temple, trying to assess the amount of blood running from it. Arnise ignored the blood and the shade of gray the warrior's features had paled to.

Too over wrought to control her outburst, and too frightened to care, her verbal bombardment continued.

"I get top dinar for being yours for a candle mark or two. Better money than I can usually make in a quarter moon with my other regulars. "

She chuckled sadly, pausing a moment to release a stream of tears down already flushed features.

"Do you know what the other whores call me around here?" She asked shooting the bard a desperate glance. "They call me, Xena's Girl."

Another hollow laugh followed but her eyes gave away the level of desolation somehow absent in her voice. She crossed the room, uncaring what the larger, more powerful woman could do to her. She had pulled her robe back around her out of modesty when she escaped the warrior’s hold but now she didn't care and the garment hung gaping.

Only a footfall away from the bard, the final shreds of loyalty Arnise felt towards Xena were falling away.

"But do you know what your mighty warrior calls me?" She whispered.

Gabrielle opened her mouth to reply unable to find the words.

"She calls me, Gab-ri-elle."

The whore's disclosure landed like a stone cast into a shallow pool.

How foolish did the warrior believe her friend truly was? How untainted did Gabrielle believe the warrior could be? Certainly the bard had done nothing to actually harm her, but the agonizing silences between the two, the unsaid truths, had brought all three to this impasse.

"She paid me 100 dinars to cut me here. Not before doing me back and front with her thing."

She continued retaining her focus on Gabrielle.

"I rearranged all the furniture in the room while she did me...She was drunk then too, but not like now - just horny. And you know, that's good. Horny always means Xena's spends a lot more money. She knows if she does it often enough and she's drunk enough - she can forget I'm not you."

A fresh flow of tears spilled out unguarded.

"And you know what I did with the money?"

Gabrielle shook her head fighting the urge to cry herself.

"I sent it back to the orphanage where I grew up. The same place that used to do me for free."

Arnise stopped, realizing her fury had spilled into territory she'd not intended to impart. Her mouth suddenly felt very dry, her eyes prickling from the proportion of tears shed. Off to her right she could see Xena still holding her hand firmly against the cut at her temple. Blood continued to trickle from it whenever pressure was released, and she wondered indifferently if it might need a stitch or two.

The room's time candle continued to burn's occupants too entangled in their own thoughts to care about the pace at which it burned. Yet its very existence had set in motion the basis of their bizarre triangle, had defined it and kept it in check. Tonight's events pushed far beyond those limits, and the room in which it burned. Their lives would be irrevocably entwined with one another now in a way that could not be unraveled. They would leave the room eventually, all three understood that. They would part company and go on with their ways, but they would always carry something of this night with them.


"Sit down, warrior." Arnise was the first to break the silence.

"If you're going to bleed all over my work room floor, the lest you could do is try and contain the mess."

The prostitute's tone sounded a lot more irritated than it was. Mentally she scolded herself for the lapse in decorum, while also acknowledging Xena's behavior earlier had left her few options in how to respond.

The warrior eased herself down into chair, waiting reticently as Arnise fetched a bowl of water and clean clothe. Arnise worked quietly to clean the cut. Some moments later the wound was deemed less serious then initially thought and Arnise finished her ministrations.

"You two need to talk," She concluded setting the medicinal items aside. Without waiting for a response from either women, she retrieved a light wrap and made her way back towards the doorway.

"Don't go." Gabrielle entreated softly.

Arnise glanced back, feeling a little of the bard's desperateness. But she was also no longer able to justify her presence when it was clear the two friends needed to talk. Wearily she ran a hand through her disheveled hair.

"You need to start being honest with one another. You don't need me here for that."

"You've been paid for." The warrior supplied, finding more of her usual composure.

"If Gabrielle wants you here - you stay."

With the parameters of their relationship redefined, Arnise nodded her assent. Inwardly she understood that she had breached the most sacred of customer/purchase agreement. She had betrayed a trust so warily bestowed - of course Xena would make her pay for that.

Gabrielle stepped forward, sensing her words balanced on a knife's edge.

"Arnise is right, Xe. We need to be honest with each other."

The warrior just stared into empty space.

"You came back," Gabrielle added hastily. "You came back so I'm hoping its because you love me and are willing now to accept that I love you. I...what was done in this room the last time was because of how much I want to be with you - for no other reason other than to show you I can't stand being kept from knowing all of you."

Somewhere earlier on that day, Xena had started drinking much in the fashion she had every other day since she and Gabrielle had been separated. She been left with the choices of continuing to drink herself into a stupor or making her way back to the whore house to gather her belongings and making one final call on Arnise. The more the warrior drank the more she believed a score needed to be settled between them - a betrayal to be paid for. But she also had to admit she needed to get laid. The longer she had stayed away, the more she convinced herself that her sexual proclivities had ended any hope of ever being with the woman she loved. As much as it grieved her, their life together was over.

The last thing she expected was to find Gabrielle waiting for her return, and certainly not with intentions of them resuming their relationship as it had been.

"What are you proposing?" She asked.

Gabrielle bayed a brief glance at the whore and the time candle.

"You said your time with Arnise is paid for. For another mark of so?"

An elegantly shaped brow arched quizzically as Gabrielle took another breath.

"I want to share in the purchase. I want to see what you like....without having to peek through curtains."

Cynically the warrior shook her head refusing to accept what she was hearing.

"I know some of what you like already. I mean from - before. But I'm assuming there's more."

An uncertain nod agreed.

"I thought that, well I would like you to show me. So I can - please you."

Xena snorted in disbelief, enough was enough.

"You don't know what your saying."

"Sure I do," Gabrielle told her easily sounding a lot more confident than she actually felt. But weather she understood all the implications of what she was saying or not, the one thing she was absolutely certain of was she wasn't prepared to let Xena walk out of her life. Not after all they shared - or what they felt.

There it was, all so very simple. Gabrielle had thrown down the challenge and the warrior had to wonder if it had been the intention all along, to share the services of the prostitute with her. Her way of bringing about a mutual conclusion while each maintained a safe distance.

"You make it all sound so simple." Xena told her. "You're not bargaining with some shop keeper for cheap parchment."

"No." Gabrielle agreed. "I'm bargaining with the woman I love for a better life for us both."

For the first time, Gabrielle braved approaching her love. She reached out taking stronger hands in her own.

And then whispering, "I'm bargaining for my heart - our hearts."

For a moment the warrior's face retained its stony reflection, giving away nothing of the battle that transpired within her. Gabrielle watched her rise and approach Arnise - and pass by her without acknowledgement. Her heart dropped as suntanned fingers stretched out to the door handle. But instead of opening the entrance and escaping as she had done the last time they were all gathered together, Xena lifted her hand a little higher and fastened the latch.

She turned back to face Gabrielle, eyes glistening as she surrendered to her most primal self. Never to far from the surface, it surged through her like liquid. Her voice cracked, hesitant and awkward to start as though years had passed since she'd spoken.

"All right."

Standing only a breath away, Arnise saw the transformation take place and knew if she let herself she would feel fear in it's wake. It was too late for that now she realized. She nodded at the other woman's inquiring glance and stepped closer.

Xena leaned down and kissed her, testing the prostitute's interest. Then she looked up, over Arnise's shoulder, studying the mesmerized features of the bard.

"What do you want to see?" She asked her huskily.

Gabrielle sat back down on the pallet as she breathed her first sigh of relief all evening. She gestured at the table feeling the first wisp of arousal slither into her groin. To her credit, her voice didn't falter.

"Whatever it was you were going to do when you got here."

Easily interpreting the request, Arnise pressed her lips to the warriors once again. The kiss deepened and quickly became forceful. That wasn't so unusual, in fact it was expected when servicing the dark woman, only this time it was Arnise who was leading the fervor. She could smell the scent of Xena’s arousal, could hear the labored breathing. Her hands moved unrestricted, across the polished breast plate and along the muscled contours of broad shoulders and back. She arched closer desperate to engage her senses.

The warrior too, explored the woman in her arms. Parting silken cloth and pushing it back over slighter shoulders to expose torte nipples. Hands reached blindly to tug them to erection. The robe hung to the girl now only by its sash and Xena worked to loosen it, eventually letting it slide off and pool at their feet. Her lips found and sucked along the girl's nape. Biting now to exert her strength. A silent cry tore out as Arnise leaned back exposing more of the tender flesh, willing the treatment to go on.

Without breaking contact, Xena slid one hand slowly down her own front, over the coarse fabric of her own tunic and trousers. She released the hooks holding the latter secure without effort, directing a hand through the opening and finding what she required. She glanced up again, under hooded eyes this time, to offer Gabrielle the opportunity to see what her battle lust looked like up close. As close as she dared for now.

Returning her attention to the woman in her arms she commanded softly.

"Over the table."

Arnise turned away, freeing herself from the embrace and positioning herself across the cleared surface. She tried to settle herself anticipating what was to come. A slight tap from behind told her she needed to better her angle for their purposes. Shifting her weight, she pressed one leg firm against the table leg, bringing the other up under her. The warrior stepped up close, placing both hands on the inside of the prostitute's thighs spreading them apart. Moisture glistened as her reward. Fingers grazed the silken folds spreading the warmth.

Now there would be no fantasy, no charade of what or who she may or may not desire. Tonight that reverie would become as real to her as the scares she carried upon her skin, as the memories of a darker self held close to a ravished heart.

Placing the tip of her phallus at the girl's opening she uttered a single word of instruction.


Arnise obeyed, pushing back onto the rigid length, undulating against it until it's mass had filled her. Larger hands griped and held her in place. With her chin pressed against the table top, her loins full of the warrior's invasion, she found a familiar crack in the paint work to study.

If Xena was feeling inhibited by the bard's presence, it didn't show. She rode the torrent of her needs to the fullest, making Arnise work for what she would gain and establishing as she always did, that the whore was purely the vessel used to purge her longings - not the cause. All the while Arnise could see Gabrielle's eyes fixed just above her own prostrate body, watching the vista of her companion's desire.

The object inserted deeply continued to drive her forward. An agonizingly slow and deliberate torture evolved as time and again it forced her closer to the edge of pleasure but never quite allowed her to rise above a low burn. The pumping went on as did the constant flickers of an unlightable flame in her core. Her skin dragged back and forth against the table, grabbing and letting go with the sweat gathering. Above her the warrior's breathing was going wild. She lowered her head, dropping her gaze to the wooden surface needing to wait only seconds before a soft cry ushered without guard from behind her.

Arnise didn't need to be told it was over, or that Xena would no longer want a reminder of the event now she'd finished. She waited long enough for the warrior to compose herself, feeling the phallus being pulled free and being secured out of sight before she stood up without word, righting her own clothing.

"Now what?" Xena asked directing her question to her companion sitting quietly across the room.

"Now me." Gabrielle told her softly. And before the warrior could protest, she leaned back on the collection of cushions adorning the pallet, positioning herself provocatively. Nervously she arranged her own garments that had ridden up in the process. She didn't dare look at where Xena stood, simply allowing herself to succumb to the sensations of the warm quilt and textured pillows. She listened to the sounds of movement. She felt her approach, heard the hushed timber of a voice like satin to her.

"How?" was the only word uttered.

Without hesitation, she answered. "However you like." And then, "Just be with me."

Xena crawled onto the bed, moving with the poise and predatory ease of a she wolf surveying it's prey. Her hair shone like silk in the candle light and draped loosely about her face. Her eyes appeared to have darkened to an even deeper blue. Mysterious and sensual, they possessed Gabrielle in their hold as she crouched over her on hands and knees.

She seemed to hover there, capturing equally poignant shades of emerald before lowering herself and sliding her tongue across the bards lips, caressing them softly with calculated desire, then drawing back and enjoying the sight of flushed cheeks and a mouth left open as if waiting for further nourishment. Both women's desire was acute.

She remained deliberate in her movements, precise and opportune as her right hand drew up and was placed on Gabrielle's leg, just below the hem of her skirt. Slowly she slid along the soft skin of the bard's thigh, pushing under the material to run up over her hip and across her stomach.

The warrior's actions were intoxicating, making Gabrielle's head feel light, while her body remained heavy and uncoordinated. She felt her breathing quicken, as trickles of pleasure stirred through her belly, and slivered like Greek fire down to the juncture between her legs. Xena leaned down, kissing the blonde woman's full mouth while keeping her own body suspended, allowing her right hand to persist with its erotic exploration. Practiced fingers traced around a nipple which rose immediately under its touch. The hand then trailed across, massaging the still hidden matching bud, manipulating it to the same firmness through the now all to restrictive fabric. Gabrielle gasped into the warrior's mouth, accepting a probing tongue as it pushed past parted teeth.

Knowing hands made their way lower. Gabrielle's heart pounded unattended, aware that beneath the exquisite costume her lover wore, the phallic object she had just used on Arnise was nestled. Through her undeniable excitement she pressed down on the fear of receiving the devise for the first time, recalling how the whore had strained from its mass.

Anticipating her lover's thoughts Xena continued to stroke and ignite various parts around the bard's lower abdomen, she averted her eyes briefly from their task.

"The first time; I want it to be just me." She breathed.

A pleasant shiver washed across Gabrielle's skin at the intimate vow as long digits continued to dance about her, pooling the essence flowing from her and circling over her bud. Her hips rose in time with the movements and Xena's fingertips slid through a fine patch of hair.

Arching her back, Gabrielle brought her knees up enough to allow both to fall open to the warrior. Xena raised her eyes but not her head, ostensibly pleased the bard appeared to have received some prior tutoring. Then oddly, she felt the slight depression of the mattress below her as Arnise joined them on the bed. Coming to sit at her counterpart's side about her upper torso. Before she could register what was happening, warrior and whore had repositioned her languid form so that she was sitting at the head of the bed, her own legs spread so Gabrielle rested cushioned in her lap.

Silently she loosened Gabrielle's top, bearing both breasts , handling them wantonly for brilliant appreciative eyes.

Movement at Gabrielle's belly slowed, as Xena found it increasingly difficult to concentrate at the first sight of the younger woman's body being played so sweetly, then finding new purpose, intensifying their strokes.

As the fingers danced about her, the bards feelings - a mix of delight and fear - intensified and helplessly, she groped for something to hang onto. Arnise reached down, capturing the smaller floundering limbs in her own. Allowing the gentle imprisonment to give full concentration to the sensation between the bard's legs. The warrior rose up a little higher taking time to completely draw the fold around skirt away from Gabrielle's waist line. Next came the softer fabric that held her britches as she guided them down and off, leaving the bard naked accept for the briefest portion of attire left around her breasts.

Xena's eyes finally settled directly on her own, dark and monovalent, yet somehow safe and equally unsure of what was about to happen. But the brief glint of uncertainty passed over quickly and the steel set jaw of the warrior princess in totally intoxicated arousal bore back.

"Are you frightened, Gabrielle?" she asked already aware of the answer.

"A little." the bard managed.

A gentle eyebrow arched. "Do you want me to stop?"

Gabrielle shook her head. For all the racing thoughts, the expected pain involved in what Xena was about to do, she could not let what she so desperately craved - what she knew they both craved - end here. There was too much at stake.

"Do you offer yourself freely, Gabrielle?" She husked in a tone so much deeper than was usual.

Gabrielle could barely contain herself, well beyond forming intelligent sentences, her body writhed in anticipation.

"Yes. Yes I do,"

She watched her beloved's head dip slightly in acknowledgement, and the pain enveloped her, blinding her only to the fierce invasion occurring in her sex. Three fingers entered and pressed forcibly through the thin barrier to her center. A multitude of sensations encapsulated her being - a sense of indisputable assault, immobilizing and imprisoning her.

Then the shock subsided, and she sensed her body rise and fall, her voice speak without her consciously forming the words. All the while Arnise continued to stroke the lines forming along her forehead, mopped the perspiration from her brow and whispered for her to allow the sweet torture to claim her. Deceptively powerful muscles clenched around the invading digits sucking them until they were joined by another. She drew her legs up about her breasts as she accepted it - welcomed all that was being bestowed upon her.

Arnise shifted slightly, tucking her own hands under the bard's bent knees holding her body splayed. Gabrielle relaxed against the restraint. Her head thrust back as far as it could go and more guttural words, some she hadn't been aware she knew, spilled out mixing with her liquid desire.

"I claim you as my own, Gabrielle."

In that moment, as Xena took all that was hers to give. As the sudden thrust accompanied by a tearing pain shot through her, it was obvious she was never ever going to belong to another.


Gabrielle rolled over luxuriously in a state of semi consciousness, bringing an unsuspecting face directly into a stream of sunlight beaming through a gap in the tiny room's curtains. Grudgingly she opened her eyes, stretching muscles gingerly to take in her surroundings and squinting a little against the full force of day break washing across her upper body.

Beside her, Xena's sleeping form was taking up a sizable portion of the bed space. Raven hair fell haphazardly around her face and shoulders, licking its way about one exposed nipple while completely blanketing the other. Pouting lips continued to make gentle murmuring noises.

Discarding a colorful bedspread no longer needed, the bard lay back admiring their mutual nakedness. It had been a night dominated with forceful yearnings, mixed in with the most tender of touches. A shared urgency that could not be quenched though they had sought to gratify it long after leaving Arnise's workroom. She vaguely remembered Xena using her last ounce of energy to pull the covers up over them just before dawn.

She lay watching the warrior continue to slumber, her fingers playing idly in the dark beauty's hair for another half mark before she finally stirred.

Xena blinked sleepily at the bard.

"You do that often when I'm sleeping?" She asked by way of a greeting.

"Nope," Gabrielle offered nonchalantly continuing to twirl the raven strands. "First time."

None of the previous night's activities or revelations had been lost on the older woman and she was now, in the light of day, unable to read the expression on her young lover's face, hoping it all hadn't been some huge mistake. Fortunately Gabrielle sensed the apprehension and decided that it was up to her to show that those things that had changed between them were only for the better. Their relationship had not been damaged from what had occurred, only strengthened and made clearer than either believed possible.

Gabrielle drew herself closer to her lover, nuzzling amongst the coverings and flesh till she had fully enmeshed herself against the warrior's chest. Smaller more delicate hands reached out and laced themselves around the proud shoulders and neck as she kissed her way from breasts to lips, ignoring the slightest hesitation before the passionate display was fully returned.

"By the Gods, you can kiss," Xena muttered, sending little shivers along the bard's neckline.

"You would have known that much earlier if you'd been a bit more adventurous." Gabrielle told her capturing the straying lips and kissing her again. Hands continued to roam, molding and plying tanned flesh.

"Will you promise me something, warrior?" The bard asked when the exchange finally ended several moments later. Xena's hands rested around the smaller woman's waist.

"Anything," She replied easily. The answer was resolute, knowing that she would no longer be able to refuse the bard a thing, no matter the request.

Gabrielle quirked a playful grin reminding Xena of her youthfulness and pulling lovingly at her heart at the same time, before she too, grew more serious in her statement.

"When the need arises no matter the reason, or time. Bring it to me - no one else."

Xena kissed her again with a passion that sent the other woman's body surging.

"Absolutely." She confirmed without hesitation.

Her hands moved lower and again she covered Gabrielle's lips with her own.

The End

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