Title: Like Stars in the Night Sky

Summary: "If we're destined to die in this vision," she continued softly, "I'll do it loving you."

Spoilers: One Against an Army, Sacrifice, A Family Affair, Adventures in the Sin Trade, Crusader, Between the Lines

Disclaimer: I don't own any part of the Warrior Princess and the Battling Bard, though I'd love to, I'd get that revival up and running. Until then, I guess it belongs to Universal? Or whomever, seeing as the rights seem to be an issue with this show.

Author's Note: Many firsts with this story... my first Xena fanfiction, my first sex story. I worked on this for weeks and weeks, trying to get it right. So I truly hope I've been able to capture our heroes and do them justice. It IS a sex story, it definitely deserves that M rating, so please be aware before proceeding! I am proud of it, I hope you like it. Please read and enjoy!

"Dinar for your thoughts?"

Xena looked up from the fire she'd been staring into at Gabrielle's question. Her voice sounded rough, like it hadn't been used all day; which Xena realized, it hadn't. They had left the village early that morning after battling Alti yesterday. Gabrielle's hair had been cut, first by Xena's chakram, then by a proper barber. They had spoken about their intertwining karmas in the future, and it was a conversation that had quickly died. They had walked for the better part of the day, Xena wanted to get as far away from the village as she could. The normally chatty bard had stayed quiet the entire time, either lost in her own thoughts, or understanding that Xena was lost in her own with no desire to share. It seemed now though, that she had had enough of the silence.


She sighed. "Yes, Gabrielle?" She watched as her friend came around the fire to sit at her feet. She was looking down at her from the vantage point of the log she hadn't moved from since they'd settled in for the night some hours ago.

"Is something wrong?"

Xena shook her head. "Course not."

"You've been quiet."

"I'm always quiet."

"Not like this." She placed a hand on her leg. Xena felt the warmth of it on her bare skin, and tried to meet the blonde's eyes. She stopped short when she caught sight of the newly cut hair. She couldn't help wincing. Gabrielle's hand flew from its spot on her leg to her hair. "It's this, isn't it? Gods, you hate it, don't you?"

Xena couldn't help a small smile at Gabrielle's self-consciousness. "It's not that, it looks fine, Gabrielle."

"Then what is it?"

"It's nothing, like I said." She tried to stand, to avoid this conversation and admitting that it was the hair that had her silent, but she should have known Gabrielle would see right through her. Again she placed a hand on her leg, keeping her in place. Green eyes stared up at her for a long moment, and Xena saw it all click into place in her mind. Gods this woman can read me like a scroll sometimes, she thought.

"It's about what I said this morning. It is about the hair!" Xena started to protest again but Gabrielle cut her off. "It's because it's like this in the vision, isn't it?" she asked softly.

Xena stayed quiet. She wasn't about to admit how heavily it had been weighing on her mind since the moment Gabrielle had walked out with her new style. How everything had changed yesterday. From Gabrielle meeting Alti, to showing her the vision, and the drastic hair cut that now proved to Xena they were much closer to their end than she had thought they were. She had been fooling herself into thinking – hoping – Alti's vision wasn't real, just something the shamaness had shown her to hurt her. But now… now it could happen at any time. Gabrielle's hair looked just like this. For all she knew, it could happen tomorrow. This crucifixion, by an unknown foe was practically upon them, and Xena couldn't help the mounting anger and fear she could feel rising in herself at being unable to control her future, and protect the bard. She clenched her hands tightly as she crossed her arms over her chest and looked down at her friend. "It's nothing."

Gabrielle suddenly looked sad, staring up at her, and it tugged at her heart. "Xena…" she whispered, reaching out to clasp a tight hand. She pulled it away from Xena's chest, uncurling it and lacing her own fingers through them. "It'll be alright…" Xena couldn't bring herself to speak, feeling her throat close up as she shook her head. "We choose our own destiny –"

"No." Xena had cut her off. Gabrielle looked up at her. "No," she repeated. "This isn't like that. This is real, Gabrielle. This is going to happen. Alti knows the future. She showed it to us. We are heading towards that!" She knew she was rambling, stumbling over her words but she couldn't stop them. Gabrielle had moved closer, placing one hand gently on her cheek in an attempt to calm her, but it did nothing. "She showed us our deaths. We're going to die. And your hair… gods now it could happen tomorrow! I thought – I thought as long as your hair stayed long we'd have a chance but now, now I can't stop this. You're going to get hurt because of me. Again. You – you are going to die," she finished in a quiet, choked voice. "I can't save you."

Gabrielle stared at her for a long moment, green eyes locked with blue. Then she leaned forward, and did the last thing Xena expected. She kissed her. It was gentle, just a soft press of lips. It wasn't unlike the friendly kisses they'd shared in the past. Xena let her eyes flutter closed at the contact. Gabrielle smelled like the shampoo used on her new hair, and a perfume she'd picked up in the village that morning. Something warm and spicy. The kiss lasted longer than she expected, and Xena realized Gabrielle wasn't pulling away. She couldn't help extending her arms around the younger woman. In fact, Gabrielle seemed to only be moving closer to her, gaining better leverage from her spot on the ground. Xena brought her hands up to run them through the newly shorn hair, thinking how different it felt from the long strands she had loved so much. She had never really run her hands through Gabrielle's hair before – though I've wanted to, she thought, but figured she could get used to this, if the gods allowed her the time. Gabrielle was still kissing her, and Xena was kissing her back, harder now, as she pulled the younger woman closer still. Gabrielle's hands rested on Xena's hips, and Xena could feel their heat through her leathers. Her hands traveled from the blonde's hair down her neck, down her arms, and back up again. They'd never touched each other like this, and it was intoxicating. Gabrielle tasted like the sweet wine she'd been sipping earlier in the evening with their dinner, and Xena could feel her resolve cracking.

It had been for some time now, ever since she'd found Gabrielle wandering the woods alone after falling into Tartarus. She'd thought for so long she would never see her again. She had never been so happy to see Gabrielle as she had been that day, holding her tightly in her arms for nights on ends afterwards, terrified to let her go or out of her sight ever again. But she had somehow continued to hurt her, in her selfish warrior ways. She had devised to leave her with Najara, so she could be happy with someone who would keep her safe. That decision had only wound up hurting her again, as she had unknowingly put Gabrielle in danger. It had allowed a little bit of her possessiveness to come out when she told Najara, "If I can't have her, no one can," a truth she would never admit to being very real in her heart. India had been a trip to make Gabrielle happy; she'd been asking to go for months. Being here had changed them both, and as Xena ran her hands through Gabrielle's hair again, it hit her just how much.

She pulled away, breathing heavily. One hand gripped the short hair at the back of Gabrielle's head, the other cupped her cheek, a thumb gently moving across the warm skin. The air felt electric around them, but Xena didn't dare speak, in fear of ruining the moment. She wondered what was about to happen between them. She saw love in her friend's eyes, courage, and a flame she'd never noticed before. Gabrielle whispered her name, and it came out in such a low, husky tone, the she felt bigger cracks in her resolve forming at an alarming rate. A sob rose up in her throat and she tried to stifle it, but tears came to her eyes and before she could stop them, they were sliding down her face. Immediately Gabrielle's hands were there, wiping them away. She was grateful for the soft touch. "I love you," Gabrielle whispered, saying the same words she'd been saying for seasons. And in that moment, Xena felt her resolve crumble entirely. She pulled Gabrielle to her, crashing their lips together. She wasn't nice, she wasn't gentle about it. She had wanted this for so long, and had managed to keep her distance, but it was gone now. She couldn't stop, she didn't want to stop.

Gabrielle froze for a moment, but then responded in kind, kissing her hard and running her hands through Xena's dark hair. She couldn't stop the moan that came from her as they deepened the kiss, their tongues meeting and dueling for dominance. Xena's hands were everywhere as she pushed the woman down against the bedroll. Gabrielle easily fell back, bringing Xena with her. They broke apart only for a moment to breathe before meeting in another fierce kiss, desperation overtaking them both. Xena pulled back again, and was looming over Gabrielle, the firelight dancing across their tanned skin. "You're so beautiful," Gabrielle whispered, but Xena shook her head.

"I'm a warrior," she responded, though Gabrielle thought she looked far from it. She had taken her armour off hours ago, and was just in her leather dress, eyes dark with desire, skin glowing, and breathing heavily. She was truly the most beautiful thing Gabrielle had ever seen.

Xena longed to feel the blonde beneath her. She was holding herself up with her arms, using every single ounce of self-control not to take her right here, right now. She was trembling with the effort. Gabrielle seemed to read her thoughts, and locked eyes with her, running her hands up Xena's toned arms. She left trails of fire on every inch of her skin. She said nothing, but gave a small nod, indicating Xena should continue. Xena dropped her head and gently kissed Gabrielle, wanting suddenly to take her time with the young woman. She had lost some of the frenziedness she'd felt moments earlier, and was now trailing slow kisses down the blonde's jaw, eliciting delicious moans. They went right through Xena, heat rushing through her at the sound. She kissed her way around the intricate artwork on Gabrielle's chest, and then down and across her tight abs, leaving wetter and sloppier kisses at the top of her skirt.

"Sit up," she said, sitting back on her heels as Gabrielle shifted to be in a better position. Xena reached forward and lifted the small top off her friend, so she was naked from the waist up. Xena had seen this before, but she had never been able to look so freely, to show her how much she looked and appreciated Gabrielle's beauty. She wondered when her companion had gone from a small soft village girl to the strong and toned woman who was before her now. Gabrielle leaned back on her hands, a move that beautifully displayed exactly what Xena wanted. She growled in approval, and it made Gabrielle blush deeply. She still hadn't said anything, but Xena trusted her to speak up if she were unhappy or dissatisfied with something. With one hand Xena pushed her back down, and the other came up to take one breast and feel its warm weight, thumb brushing across a nipple. Gabrielle responded, Xena heard a sharp intake of breath at the touch. She tried it again, and heard the same thing. "You like that?" she asked, doing it to the opposite breast and watching Gabrielle's face. She nodded, and Xena kept up her ministrations, flicking back and forth against both of her breasts, sometimes in sync, sometimes not. She wet the tip of her thumb with her tongue, and Gabrielle let out a low moan at the new feeling. A wicked grin spread across the warrior's face. Gabrielle's eyes were half closed so she never saw the next move coming. Xena leaned in and enveloped one nipple in her mouth, nipping and licking at it. Gabrielle let out a low cry, losing her hands in Xena's hair, holding her in place. Her back arched off the ground as Xena moved to the other breast, swirling her tongue around the hard nipple.

Xena felt a tug at the base of her neck, and realized Gabrielle was pulling at her hair, which just fuelled her own arousal even more. She looked up as Gabrielle pulled again, whimpering her name. "Xena…"

"Yes love?" she replied, sliding her tongue across the nipple once, waiting for the answer.

Gabrielle's hands had traveled down Xena's shoulders and couldn't reach any farther. She was pushing at the leather straps of her dress. "Off. I want this off," she demanded.

Xena sat back and stood up, slowly sliding her leathers off, wondering if she was dreaming. How suddenly this had come to be, and she wasn't even sure what was happening. Gabrielle was half naked on her back, encouraging Xena, desperate for her touch, letting this happen, wanting this to happen, and she herself was undressing in front of her friend. Gabrielle watched her, hunger evident in her eyes. Under that powerful stare and the cool night air, Xena felt her body continue to heat up as she dropped the dress to the ground. Gabrielle groaned in appreciation at the sight before her, and Xena was down in front of her again. She slid her hands up Gabrielle's legs, over the yellow skirt, hooking her fingers into the top of it. "Lift," she commanded, and Gabrielle lifted her hips so Xena could pull the garment off of her.

Slowly she pulled it from the young woman, watching as more and more skin was exposed. She removed it completely, her eyes never leaving Gabrielle's. She shifted her body above her friend, who wrapped her arms around her. Gabrielle caught Xena in a searing kiss, taking no time to begin exploring. Xena responded in kind, her calloused touch traveling over Gabrielle's skin in a way they never had before. She felt every curve and dip the younger woman's body had to offer, trying to memorize how she felt under her hands, in case this ended after tonight, in case the bard left her for crossing this line. All thoughts of that possibility vanished the moment she felt smaller hands on her breasts; a gentle, hesitant touch. Her eyes fluttered shut and she let out a low moan, which Gabrielle rightly took as encouragement. She copied Xena's ministrations from earlier, kneading the flesh, and rolling the tight nipples between her fingers. Xena had stopped all movement, letting Gabrielle explore as she tried to control her own body. Gabrielle quickly grew bolder and took a nipple into her mouth, nipping at it with her teeth. Xena felt her arms weaken, and she stumbled over her words to keep Gabrielle going.

Finally she was able to regain some control, and pulled slightly out of reach of her eager tongue. Gabrielle huffed in response, she had been thoroughly enjoying Xena's breasts, and didn't want to stop. Xena had other plans, as she again trailed wet kisses down Gabrielle's neck, collarbone, breasts, and abdomen. But this time there was no skirt in her way, just a patch of golden hair damp with her arousal. Without being told, Gabrielle spread her legs, and Xena began toying with the curls at the apex of her thighs. She could already smell her, and her mouth was watering at the prospect of being so close and taking exactly what she wanted from the young woman. But she didn't want to overwhelm her with too much too soon, so she started out slow, pressing soft kisses to the inside of her strong legs, which trembled with each press of her lips. Within moments Gabrielle was scrambling at their bedroll, legs shaking, back arching. "Xena," she rasped out, "Xena…"

She raised her eyes. "Yes?"

"I need… I need you…"

Xena bit back a groan at this, biting particularly hard into the sensitive flesh of Gabrielle's thigh. She let out a small noise of pain, to which Xena soothed with her tongue against the mark. "Sorry love," she apologized softly. "What do you need?"

"I need you to touch me," Gabrielle replied fiercely, surprising Xena with the desperation evident in her voice. She held her gaze, breathing heavily.

"Where?" Xena ran her fingers lightly up the inside of Gabrielle's thighs, inching higher and higher. She could feel her tensing in anticipation. She hesitated right at the edge of where she was needed, but couldn't help prolonging her desperation for just a moment longer. "Where do you want me, Gabrielle?" she asked again, teasing, but also feeling this was a last chance for her to back out if she didn't want to do this. Gabrielle had no such thoughts, her hips were moving, trying to get Xena where she wanted. "Here?" she asked, sliding a finger into the warm wetness, both of them groaning at the feeling. Gabrielle whimpered as Xena circled the hardened nub a few times, trailing the wetness around.

"Yes," Gabrielle breathed, her head dropping back to the bed roll, hips arching towards the sky. "Right there, right – oh gods!" Xena had gone from circling her clit to her entrance, probing gently at the wet softness, pushing in just enough to get a response. "Xena! Xena, what…"

She'd moved her finger back up, lazily circling the bundle of nerves. "If I go farther, I'll be inside you," she explained gently. "Do you want that?" Gabrielle just nodded, her eyes bright with desire. "You're sure?" she asked. She was sinking a finger just slightly into her entrance, and out again, stoking the flame that was burning within the younger woman, heightening her arousal even more.

"Yes Xena! I need you, I need you inside me!" she cried. And with that desperate plea, Xena entered her, sliding one finger easily inside the wet heat. Gabrielle's hips bucked hard, pulling her in deeper. "More," she begged. "Xena I need more."

The warrior slid another long finger into the bard, groaning as it was enveloped by the tight muscles. She pumped in and out, savouring how Gabrielle looked and felt under her, in her powerful hands. She was beautiful, the firelight dancing across her tanned and sweaty skin, her eyes glazed over in passion. Xena wanted nothing more than to keep Gabrielle right where she was for the rest of eternity, touching her, making her feel this way, making love to her like this. It was everything she'd ever imagined and fantasized about, and she hadn't even tasted her yet. She brought her attention back down to the woman who was tensing beneath her, and crying out her name. "Xena, Xena…" she panted, and she understood. Gabrielle was close to the edge, and she curled her fingers up inside her, a thumb flicking over the bundle of nerves to bring her over. A few more pumps and she was gone, crying out Xena's name into the night air. She had never heard a more beautiful sound than her name falling from Gabrielle's lips in the throes of an orgasm.

She slowed her fingers as Gabrielle came down from her high, pulling them gently away as her head dropped back down and she opened her eyes. Xena caught her gaze and brought her fingers to her mouth, tasting the young woman for the first time. Gabrielle watched in awe as she licked the digits clean, and slowly sat up. She crawled to where Xena was now sitting back on her heels, and hesitated, before leaning forward and kissing her softly. She tasted herself on Xena's lips, her tongue snaking out to taste more. Xena couldn't help but deepen the kiss. Now that Gabrielle had been satisfied, she was painfully aware of the throbbing between her own legs, the wetness trickling down her thighs. Pleasing Gabrielle was arousing, and she was now desperate for her touch. She needed her just as badly, and was unable to pull away from their kiss to express it. But thank the gods, Gabrielle seemed to understand, and Xena found herself being pushed back, her legs spread apart by insistent hands.

"Now it's your turn," Gabrielle said, her voice low and husky as she pulled away. She ran her hands all over Xena's heated skin, kissing every inch she could reach from her position between her knees. Her hands found Xena's breasts again, and she was far from gentle, which surprised and excited Xena even more. She flicked the tight nipples, pulling and squeezing them between talented fingers. She dipped her head and enveloped one in her mouth, nipping and biting at it, causing pain and pleasure to rip through Xena. She cried out, losing her hands in Gabrielle's short hair, holding her against her chest. She switched sides, tongue on her breast and hands sliding across her strong abdomen.

The bard was surprising her warrior. Xena had expected her to be soft and hesitant in reciprocating, but so far she was playing her body like she had been doing it for years. She was now pressing kisses along her body, dragging her short nails farther and farther down her stomach. Xena was trembling, she needed Gabrielle to touch her. "Gabrielle," she rasped out, pulling her up from where she was pressing feather light kisses around her hips. "I need you," she said, echoing the same words the blonde had said earlier. "Your fingers… please." Gabrielle nodded, biting one last time at the skin covering her hip, knowing it would leave a mark. She slid farther down between Xena's legs, which were shaking with anticipation. Dark curls were covering Xena's centre, and they glistened with her arousal. Gabrielle ran a single finger through it, feeling how warm and wet she was. Xena let out a low cry, her hips bucking at the soft touch. "More," she demanded. "I need more."

Gabrielle wasted no time, finding the bundle of nerves and pressing hard, circling it with her left hand. Her right explored farther down, finding the source of the wetness and realizing that was where Xena had touched her. It had felt incredible, she inclined to think it would feel the same for Xena. Without warning she pressed two fingers deep inside her friend, the warm heat enveloping her small hand. Xena cried out into the night, Gabrielle's name falling from her lips like a prayer to the gods. Her hips bucked, and her back arched off the bedroll as Gabrielle pumped in and out of her at a steady pace. She could feel Xena tensing around her fingers, and pressed harder inside, the pressure building as she brought her to the edge of pleasure. Both of her hands occupied, Gabrielle leaned in and nipped at the sensitive skin of Xena's inner thighs, biting and sucking and leaving more small marks she smoothed over with her tongue. Soon Xena's hips were corkscrewing through the air, and Gabrielle had to abandon some of her attentions to bring her down and keep her steady. She was so close and Xena had made noises of disappointment when her hand had left her centre that without thinking, she dipped her head and closed her lips around the small bundle of nerves being neglected. Xena let out a gasp, unable to do anything but moan as Gabrielle worked her talented tongue. Within moments, she was crashing over the edge of her orgasm, crying out Gabrielle's name.

Xena fell back against the bedroll, her eyes squeezed shut. All she could see were stars against her eyelids, and she feared for a moment she might black out from the intensity of her orgasm. She felt Gabrielle gently ease out of her, and missed the contact immediately. She then felt the younger woman lie down beside her, their bodies still touching. Finally she was able to open her eyes, and found Gabrielle smiling sheepishly at her. "Hi," she said softly.

"Hi," Gabrielle replied, blushing.

They stared at one another, eyes locked as they both began to understand what had just transpired between them. Xena didn't want to say anything to ruin the moment. Gabrielle didn't know what to say, words were failing her. Silence fell over them, the only sound coming from the crackling fire and nature surrounding them. They stayed that way for a very long time, the stars began fading into early morning light before they spoke again.

"What are we doing, Gabrielle?" Xena asked quietly some time later.

The bard was resting comfortably in her arms now, their naked skin warmed by the dying fire and the rising sun. Xena ran a hand gently through Gabrielle's hair again, and Gabrielle drew lazy circles across the warrior's abdomen as she considered her answer. "Loving each other," she replied after a moment, turning to look at her friend. "If we're destined to die in this vision," she continued softly, "I'll do it loving you."

"I don't deserve you," Xena whispered, kissing the younger woman's forehead. "I don't deserve your love."

"Sure you do. Just as much as I deserve yours. I know you've been trying to protect me from this vision. Leaving me with Najara, even bringing me here to India. But Xena," she stopped to intertwine their fingers against Xena's chest. "Even in death I will never leave you," she quoted, recalling what Xena had told her once before as they had faced death.

"I don't deserve you," she said again. "But I'm going to stop this. I'll find a way," she vowed, stroking her thumb over Gabrielle's knuckles, her other hand grazing the back of her neck in a gentle caress.

"Death is but the next great adventure," Gabrielle replied, leaning into her touch.

"Always the writer," Xena mused, a slow smile spreading across her face. "You somehow even make our impending death sound bearable."

Gabrielle beamed at the praise. "I'm not going anywhere. We'll fight this. We will see out whatever is coming our way, together."

Xena leaned forward and kissed her. "Together."