The Horde. The moment I realized we were up against, I felt ice water run through my veins. Gods, I had been so close to what I wanted for so long, and suddenly realized what I was asking for just wasn't a possibility. My past was going to make sure of it.I had loved Gabrielle for some time. And recently, that love had deepened…and changed. I suppose it was gradual, but I had finally admitted it to myself just before that mess with Ulysses. I loved the bard more than I have ever loved anyone. I know why I resisted for so long…that part was easy to figure out. I have always been attracted to young innocents, and had broken a string of hearts from here to Chin. Gabrielle was different though, different from all the others. I didn't want to break her heart, making promises I had no intention of keeping. I had kept the others around because I enjoyed the feeling of power I had over them. But I didn't want that power over Gabrielle. I didn't want to break her spirit. She was way too special for that. So there I was on Ulysses' ship, wondering if Gabrielle could possibly have any feelings for me. I tried the oldest trick in the scroll…seeing if I could make Gabrielle jealous. Instead of being jealous over the affection I showed Ulysses, she encouraged it! Said she wanted us to be together! Gods, what an idiot I felt like! I was so grateful that Ulysses gave me an excuse to exit gracefully…a wife. So I averted that disaster, but was still left with a hurting heart and hidden feelings. It wasn't long after that when another opportunity arose. A beautiful river, gorgeous weather, and no definite plans. I talked Gabrielle into some fishing and that night, at the campfire, I was going to open my heart to her. But no, that wasn't to be either. The Horde arrived. I told Gabrielle I'd do what I had to do to get us out of there, but she couldn't understand. Of course not. I couldn't understand. I couldn't understand how easily I slipped into my old role as a bloodthirsty tyrant. When the men in the fort began chanting my name, the pleasure rippled through my body like an orgasm. I found myself staring at my young partner, as my first thoughts were to draw out these feelings by a night of conquest over her. Thank the gods her look of shock and horror brought me out of the daze! I'm a monster. And Gabrielle is good and pure. If I truly loved her, I'd spare her my violent lust and keep it to myself. Maybe I just needed to get laid to alleviate my building desire. Yeah, a good casual fuck would take the edge off. And if that wasn't an option, I'd settle for my own fingers and some erotic harmless thoughts of the golden-haired bard. It wasn't exactly satisfying, but it was the most I could risk. All the work I had done to make Gabrielle see how much I cared about her was undone in that fort. So now we're a few hours away from Pergos. We need supplies, and I promised Gabrielle a good night's sleep in an inn. I considered teasing her about her request, pretending I didn't really want to give in to her, but lately she had begun punctuating requests with running her hands up and down my arms and making those little pouting faces that did crazy things to my insides. With the state I was, I wisely just agreed. I know a lot of people in Pergos, and it was a town I passed through often, and never had any trouble with. I planned on getting Gabrielle settled at the inn, then visiting a few of my old haunts. Surely there was someone who would be more than glad to take care of my needs. No sense in the comfort of being in a warm, soft bed with her over-relaxing me. I can distance myself from Gabrielle's touch in our bedrolls at night; I just slide into mine like it's a cocoon, but sharing the same bed doesn't give me the same protection. Zeus, she's insisting we take baths before we even enter Pergos! What is it with her and baths lately? If I didn't know better, I'd think she knows what seeing her body does to me and she's purposely trying to egg me on! I know I probably don't smell the greatest right now, but what does she care? Taking baths requires removing our clothes and…more Tartarus for me. And there she is, naked as the day she was born. Son of a Bacchae, she is so beautiful! Her fingers pry at my armor, to get me to join her. Oh my little bard, how you have changed! My mind flits back to when we first began traveling together. She was so modest about nudity! I remember the first time I undressed in front of her; her face changed to more shades of red than I could identify. Now, I know I have a good body; I've had enough comments on it to know it's pleasing to the eye. But I couldn't resist asking Gabrielle if there was a problem. She had stammered something about "formed by the gods" and turned away. But she kept peeking…I saw her. "I can do it myself!" I snapped, and then eased up with, "Go ahead and jump in." She looked the tiniest bit hurt, then grinned and shrugged and dove into the lake. My fingers felt awkward as I undressed. I couldn't tell her I didn't want her near me because the scent of my arousal was SO obvious even over the dirt and the grime. I waited until she was completely submerged before I pulled the shift over my head and dove in to the cool water. I didn't want her to see my hardened, enflamed nipples. No sense in stirring up embarrassing questions! I survived the bath, somehow, and told her I was going to brush down Argo while she finished up. She splashed me once, with a giggle, and then headed back out toward the center of the pond. I bent over to pick up my saddlebag and obtain some dry breeches when I felt something strike me on my backside. I whirled to see Gabrielle grinning at me, the wet sponge she had thrown at my feet. What a tease! It's like her every action is designed to make me lose control. She was standing in the pond, the water lapping just below her perfectly rounded breasts, her blonde hair slicked back over her graceful shoulders, her eyes sparkling with playfulness. It was if Aphrodite had formed her with her two hands. I clenched my teeth and scowled at her. I had to act irritated, or I know she would have continued to torment me. She waved a hand at me, saying something about my being no fun, but I could tell she wasn't angry. I dressed in relative peace on the FAR side of Argo, and busied myself grooming my horse as Gabrielle emerged from the water and dressed. I answered her questions, but didn't chance actually looking at her. I knew I had to spend a little time away from her, before I did something we'd both regret. We arrived in Pergos as the sun dipped down over the horizon, and our stomachs growled in unison. Gabrielle would have gladly stopped at the first tavern we came to, but I encouraged her to pass it by for another place down the street. The first tavern was rough, full of undesirables that I'd rather Gabrielle not see. I would head there first thing after I knew Gabrielle was settled in. I directed her to another tavern, and introduced her to the innkeeper, Mantra, who is someone I've known for years. Mantra had a grandmotherly appearance, and was a charming old lady whom I knew Gabrielle would be taken with immediately. I was right. We shared a meal of fried chicken, which was delicious, and then Mantra handed us a key to our room. Together, Gabrielle and I walked upstairs to get settled in. My bard approved of the accommodations. The large window overlooked the main street of Pergos, and there was always plenty of activity to keep one occupied. The room we were in was large and clean. The bed dominated the western wall, and I couldn't help but notice how soft it looked. Shaking my head, I asked Gabrielle if she was tired. She was, as I figured. A big meal always made her sleepy. I told her to go ahead and settle into bed and I was going to take care of Argo, and would be up later. She agreed to that, thankfully. But as she began undressing for bed, I had to leave her abruptly. My situation was careening out of control and I had to make a separation and quick. I don't know if she noticed my hasty recovery, but as I exited the inn, I chanced a glance up toward the room. She was standing there, at the window, holding a towel to her bare chest and seemingly watching for me. She waved, grinned, and turned away before I could respond. Scant seconds later, I saw the towel hit the windowpane. Once again, I had to fight back a strong reaction in my body. The thought struck me again that she was deliberately trying to tempt me, but I shook my head to clear it of those thoughts. That wasn't Gabrielle's style at all. Surely she wasn't aware what she was doing to me! I made sure Argo was settled in at the stable, and made my way to the tavern we had avoided earlier, grateful it was too far away to be seen from the tavern Gabrielle was in. Oh yeah, this place is just as I remember it, dark, seedy, and full of the kind of people I tried to separate myself from when I was with Gabrielle. I heard the murmur when I entered, but just took a seat along the back wall, where I could see everything and everyone. I wasn't sure what I was in the mood fo r that night. "Hermodites," I said with a nod, as the warrior approached. He grinned down at me, and then sat down next to me, without being invited. Some people I wouldn't let get by with that, but Hermodites and I went way back, and we had always enjoyed a friendly relationship. "How ya' doing, Xena?" he asked me. "It's been a long time." I conversed with him for a while, as I watched the people around us. He wasn't a possibility. I had him in my bed once, and let's say he had a tendency to get over-excited. No, I needed someone with stamina tonight. The throb between my thighs was going to take a long time to get rid of. The barmaid brought me a mug of port, and her fingers brushed mine when she insisted on handing it to me. I looked at her more thoroughly and smiled slightly. Not bad. She had curly red hair, and big brown eyes. There was just a touch of freckles dusting her fair features. And the cleavage she displayed was more than ample. I had been thinking about searching out a man tonight, hoping a good hard pounding would alleviate softer thoughts of Gabrielle, but maybe I'd change my mind and go for a more delicate touch. There had been plenty of men approaching me, but a raised eyebrow and "the look" was enough to send them scurrying. Most of them were too dirty, and I prefer to fuck someone who has all their teeth. Then HE entered. Several pairs of eyes turned to watch the new man's entrance, and mine was one of them. He was tall and lean, with long dark hair and a tanned, handsome face. He was dressed in billowing clothes, with a long curved sword by his side. He looked every bit a pirate, but since Pergos was by no means a sea-town, I assumed that was his regular dress of choice. He smiled at a couple of men who approached him, apparently recognizing him. Then his eyes locked with mine. He read my signals correctly, and in a moment had approached me. I subtly elbowed Hermodites as the newcomer made his approach, and my old friend wisely took his leave. "Mind if I sit here?" asked the stranger, and I shrugged noncommittally. His name was Alantidus, and he was indeed, the captain of a ship. He had been escorting some important cargo to Athens, and was now on his way back to his ship. I asked him what kind of important cargo only needs one man to watch it, and he shrugged with a grin, displaying perfect white teeth. "She seemed pretty important to her father," he said with a rakish gleam. Alantidus was intriguing and we sat and talked for some time. He was brazen, which is a quality I don't always admire, but in him, it was a roguish charm that appealed to me very much. Kind of reminded me of Ares. I was tired of the teasing though, and leaned in a little closer, asking him if he had any plans for the night. Our lips had just met when I heard a disturbance in the front of the tavern. Gods! What was she doing here? Gabrielle looked as out of place here as I would in church. I felt my anger rising, then a thought occurred to me. Gabrielle wouldn't have sought me out if there wasn't something wrong. "Where ya' going?" Alantidus protested when I stood, but I put a hand on his shoulder and assured him I wouldn't be gone long. I studied Gabrielle carefully as I watched her approach, and she certainly didn't seem to be in any distress. I could feel eyes boring into us from all over the room, and my temper was flairing again. I took her by the arm and pulled her to a darkened corner, demanding with a hiss to know why she was there. She shrugged sassily and said something about not being so tired after all. I told her we needed to leave, now, but she jerked her arm away. "No, Xena, I want to stay for a while. I can take care of myself." It was a test! It had to be! Gabrielle doesn't normally taunt me like this, but she just looked at me saucily and flounced off, toward the bar. My eyes followed her every movement, and it was easy to see with my peripheral vision, that mine weren't the only ones. Something took my arm, and I turned to see Alantidus. I let him pull me back to my original seat, but suddenly didn't want to focus on him anymore. Dashing as he was, he was no comparison to the light haired vixen that was now openly teasing me. Alantidus buried his face in the curve of my neck, asking "Friend of yours?" I growled back something to the affirmative, and then caught the gleam in Gabrielle's eye. She was watching Alantidus and could that be a bit of jealousy in her green eyes? I smiled a wicked smile, and turned to Alantidus, giving him my full attention. Let's see if this gets a rise out of her! He was a great kisser, and those hands…they had ways of floating over me that enflamed spots that weren't supposed to be enflamed. I willed myself to concentrate on the physical sensations he was bringing about, determined to ignore the fact of any emotional connection I had was with another. The fact that this other was watching made it even more exciting. Oh yes, two could play this game! His pleasure made itself known against my thigh, and he was whispering what he wanted to do to me when he took me upstairs, but I suddenly risked a glance toward the bar and Gabrielle was no longer there. My attention was diverted again, and with a hasty apology to Alantidus, I stood. Gabrielle was now seated with a group of men at a far table, and looking far less than comfortable. There were six men, each of them dirtier than the rest, and I recognized some of them. Definitely not her type. Knowing I wouldn't let them actually hurt her, I raised an eyebrow and smirked as I watched how she was going to get out of this one! They tried to be charming at first, a trait that was overwhelmed by their stench, even from where I stood. They bough her a drink, and began to argue about who would take her upstairs first. Gabrielle was squirming uncomfortably, and her eyes caught mine, as they silently pleaded for help. I was very tempted to rescue her, but my anger at her defying me held me back. I'd let her suffer a few more minutes. One of the men gathered up his courage, and ran a greasy hand up and down Gabrielle's arm. That was all I could take…I wasn't planning on letting them actually TOUCH her. As I approached, I couldn't believe what I heard. Gabrielle was saying, "Sorry, but I can't. I'm already involved." The men guffawed, commenting on no one letting a pretty little thing like her to hang out in a tavern like this. Gabrielle was nonplused though, and I know my eyes narrowed as she said, "I'm here to meet them." I leaned against the wall, shocked and intrigued by the statement. What was she planning? Glancing around me, I saw no one with the exception on Alantidus who was even a distinct possibility of acting as her boyfriend. And she knew I had staked my claim on Alantidus. Surely she couldn't be planning… They were demanding to know whom, and I was expecting a hasty scramble of her eyes as she tried to pin down someone to serve as her beau. But she was looking at me! I couldn't help but glance over my shoulder to see if Alantidus was now standing behind me, but he was still seated, watching the development with amusement. "Her," Gabrielle said simply. The rest of the room seemed to swirl away as her glowing eyes locked with mine. I know my mouth opened in disbelief, but the look I saw on her face was one I had never seen before. She was confident, disarming, and so alluring I forgot to breathe for a second. I mentally shook myself to awareness as the men around her broke out into loud laughing, slapping each other on the back like they've never heard something so funny. "Her? Xena?" I heard one of them, Clatrus, say. He had ridden with my army toward the end, and to be honest, had lived so hard, I was surprised to see he was still alive. "Yes, her. Xena," Gabrielle replied, and I now had no doubt she was planning on using me in her ruse. I stared at her in disbelief. This was too much! I had reigned in my desire until it was a constant ache inside me, and now she was pushing me off a precipice I didn't know if I could survive. She smiled at me, confidently, and I'm not sure how my expression responded, but I'm sure it wasn't pleasant. "Xena? With a little chit like you?" Clatrus was lost in laughs again as were the others around her. "Yes, Xena," Gabrielle said again, and she hastily stood and made her way to my side. "What are you doing?" I growled through clenched teeth as she took my hand and looked up at me with those pleading eyes. She shrugged helplessly, and turned back to the men, her confidence restored. "So, I thank you for your offer gentlemen, but as you can see…" I could see some of them men elbowing each other and then one of them called out, "Prove it!" Tired of this charade, and wanting to get Gabrielle out of there, I spoke. "She doesn't need to prove it." "Oh, come on, Xena," one of the other men started. He was Darmon, a ne'er-do-well I had crossed paths with for years. "I've known you to take women in your bed, but you'll never convince me that this little blonde is your type." I was incensed now. "Yeah?" I asked, taking a step forward. The menacing look I gave did its work well. The six stood in unison, their hands on their swords. They were brave; I'll give them that. There was no doubt I could take them all with absolutely no difficulty. But Gabrielle had a hold of my arm, and gave it a squeeze. "Come on, Xena. I'm sorry…I don't want you fighting over me." I swallowed hard as I looked down into her distressed face. The game had gone too far. She realized that now. But the laughs of the six men were still taunting me, and I couldn't let the challenge lie. I just couldn't. "Let's give them proof," I said with a feral smile. "It won't mean anything." "Okay…" I bent over, intent on giving her a brief kiss that would shut up the noisy group. I'd kissed her before, a few times, usually under far more stressful situations, and was sure this would be no different. I brushed my lips quickly over her soft ones, then moved to straighten up, when suddenly, I felt her arms go around my neck pulling me down again. She stood on her tiptoes as she pressed her mouth to mine and her mouth opened immediately against mine. I felt the heat of her tongue tracing over my lips, and as a reflex, parted them. Her tongue was inside me immediately, in a most unchaste kiss. Once again, everything in the background faded away as our lips parted and I found myself staring at her, trying to figure out what was going on. The men were silenced finally, and resumed their drinking and carousing. Alantidus slipped away, realizing he had lost his chance. All I was aware of was the soft little body still pressed against mine, and those sparkling emerald eyes drinking me in. "Gabrielle…" I finally managed to choke out. "Let's go back to our room, Xena" she said softly. Still speechless, I let her lead me by the hand out of the tavern. TO BE CONTINUED...
Gabrielle's Scroll--Coming Clean
The Xena and Gabrielle XXX Scrolls