Disclaimer & Notices: See the Prologue.
Started: July 10, 2007
Ended: July 22, 2007
Series 3: Putting the Puzzle Together, Story #25
The Bluest Eyes in Greece
by Red Hope
Chapter 4 – The Goddess of Gabrielle
Ephiny yelled a command to Solari, who was sprinting to the gates. She then ran off too and headed for the queen's hut. She was surprised to find Xena and Gabrielle hastily coming out of the hut and fully ready for a fight. "We have problems."
Gabrielle glanced up at her partner then back at Ephiny.
"The Athenian Army has only half mobilized." The regent adjusted her mask after she'd merely yanked it on this morning. "The scouts think something happen this morning between the commander and second in command. The army has split in half and Jericho is headed here."
"We better go," the bard commented.
Xena didn't argue and started the fast walk to the gates. Ephiny joined her on one side while Gabrielle took her right side.
"Did you see if onagers were taken?" Gabrielle prayed that Commander Jericho hadn't gotten his hands on them.
The regent's face darkened. "He has them."
"Damn," Gabrielle whispered, but Xena had explained earlier that it wouldn't matter. Gabrielle was still concerned because they were the most dangerous to the village.
The three women made it to the gates where the Amazons were organizing for the war. The Amazons were better prepared because they knew they stood a chance against half the army. Gabrielle and Ephiny gave the order for everybody to take their positions. The only ones left were a few guards for the gates, Xena, Gabrielle, and the regent.
Ephiny focused on Gabrielle and explained, "I'm going to help Solari get ready. I'll get a team together to stop those onagers."
"Ephiny, wait." Gabrielle grabbed the Amazon with her freehand. "Last night Xena sabotaged the onagers."
The regent peered up at the Warrior Princess, but she asked, "Are you sure?"
"As soon as he uses them, they'll fail," Xena promised. This morning, Gabrielle had mentioned to Xena that Ephiny now knew of her godhood.
"And if they don't?" the regent argued.
The warrior smirked and promised, "And if they don't then I'll destroy them."
Ephiny finally gave in and nodded. "I'll take care of the archers."
"Solari and I will cover the ground," Gabrielle promised. She then urged, "Go, Ephiny."
The regent grabbed her friend's hand and ordered, "Be careful out there."
"You too." Gabrielle squeezed Ephiny's hand then released. She turned to Xena when Ephiny was gone. "You're going after Jericho, right?"
Xena sadly smiled when the bard read through her. She stepped closer to her partner and urged, "I want you to stay near the back of the battle."
The Amazon Queen's shoulders slumped. "Xena-"
"I know... I know." The warrior held up her hand and waited until she was sure Gabrielle would listen. "Just... watch yourself, please." She then rested her hands on Gabrielle's hips. "If you need me..."
Gabrielle relented and actually smiled. "I'll always need you, Xena."
Xena wanted a more romantic place, but she wanted Gabrielle more. She lowered her head and hesitantly sealed her lips over Gabrielle's.
Gabrielle grasped Xena's arm for support. She'd been lost in those blue eyes, then she came to life at the feel of Xena's full lips against hers. She brought her freehand behind Xena's neck and urged Xena to deepen the kiss.
The warrior answered Gabrielle's demand, and Gabrielle returned a pleased moan. Xena pressed her body into Gabrielle's just as her tongue slowly met Gabrielle's. She was amazed by how alive the kiss made her feel. She knew it'd been the right time.
Gabrielle slowly backed out of the kiss. She still held onto her partner and remained in a brief daze. She quietly cleared her throat and shyly peered up into searching blue eyes. "I'm glad that wasn't a dream."
Xena showed a smug smile and promised, "It won't have to be anymore."
The bard noticed that Xena's statement held questioning behind it. She smiled warmly. "I'd like that."
"Hmmm," Xena softly agreed. She straightened up then reminded, "There is a battle about to start."
"It'll start with or without us," Gabrielle joked.
The Warrior Princess chuckled and ordered, "Let's go." She brought the bard with her and headed for the gates.
The Amazon Queen followed then an after thought came to her. She opened her mouth to ask, but she fell short when Xena hefty Gabrielle's staff from its leaning position on the gate. She accepted her weapon when Xena held it out to her. "How'd you..."
Xena flashed a wicked grin then answered, "I have many, many skills."
"Oh for gods'..." Gabrielle sighed loudly and stepped around her partner. "You're something else, Xena."
The warrior laughed, but she hurried out of the gates with Gabrielle beside her. She broke into the forest and led the way to the front line of Amazons. She spotted them just ahead so she turned her head to Gabrielle. "Be safe."
Gabrielle smiled and promised, "See you soon." She broke away from Xena then raced up to the front line to find Solari.
Xena hurried through the forest and went in search of the commander.
"Are we ready?" the queen questioned.
"Yes, my queen." Solari stepped away from the line. She had her mask in place and her sword at the ready. "The scouts will be here to warn us of their location."
"I imagine they can't be too far," Gabrielle decided aloud.
"Right over there, my queen," an Amazon mentioned and pointed.
Solari turned and spotted the scouts riding hard towards them.
"Look there," called another Amazon. She directed her sword at the Athenian soldiers, who marched through the trees.
The Amazon scouts halted her horses in front of the queen and Solari. One scout spoke to them. "The other half of the army has mobilized too. They're headed this way."
Gabrielle cursed and hastily asked, "The second in command was leading?"
"Yes, my queen."
"Maybe it was a trick," Solari concluded.
"I'm not sure, but they're coming for us." Gabrielle lifted her staff and faced her Amazons. "Stay clear of the onager's range. They should fire them, but Xena has sabotaged the weapons as of last night. They shouldn't work after the first attempt." She scanned her Amazons' masked faces. "Be fast and strong, Amazons."
The Amazons cheered and raised their swords in agreement.
Gabrielle started the march for the Athenian Army. She sensed Solari's close presence, and she was grateful for the Amazon's support. She signaled Solari to give the order for the Amazons in the underground traps to prepare.
Solari cupped her freehand over her mouth and gave a birdcall. Then she ordered the Amazon line to break into a charge.
"Kill them," Commander Jericho yelled to his men, "and bring me the queen." He darkly smiled when the soldiers started into a run for the Amazons. The onagers and the operators were beside him. He gave them orders to prepare the weapons and fire. He also told them to push the onagers as far forward and aim for the gates.
Commander Jericho then hurried to join his men in the battle. He came next to one soldier, who suddenly disappeared under ground. He cursed at the traps the Amazons had devised.
Solari heard the whistle of an onager's projectile. She yelled, "Incoming!"
Gabrielle raised her head up and spotted the large boulder that ripped through the tree branches overhead. She realized it was coming right for her and Solari. "Solari, move!" She cracked her staff against her opponent's face, then she made a jump for the Amazon.
Solari took a cut to her arm from her enemy, but she was knocked onto her back. She and Gabrielle rolled for several paces. Solari lifted her head from the queen's chest and looked at the boulder that'd come to a stop and taken out a few Athenian soldiers and Amazons. She peered down at the bard. "Thanks."
Gabrielle coughed and patted her chest. "No problem." She was helped to her feet, and she quickly stopped an Athenian from attacking Solari's back.
Xena landed on the last tree branch. She hoped she was quick enough, and she was in luck. The operators were about to set off the last onager. She heard the other operators screaming and hollering about the other two siege weapons breaking.
The warrior stood up on the branch and stretched out her left hand. She carefully observed the operator, who pushed down on the release lever. She held her breath and took aim.
The boulder was lifted up and flew out of the arm's cup. It caught more air, but suddenly a lightening bolt tore through the trees and struck the boulder. The huge rock shattered into small pieces and rained over the broken siege weapons and operators.
The operators became frightened and started yelling at one another. They believed it was the work of the gods and that the gods were angry. The operators were convinced, and they quickly fled from the battle.
Xena chuckled at the fact she'd easily chased off the operators. She then raised her eyebrow when she heard the distant sound of soldiers running on foot. She narrowed her eyes when the other half of the Athenian Army came into view. She also picked out Calchas's voice.
"Do what you can to arrest them, men. Avoid any attempt to kill them." Calchas soon came into Xena's view. He was running with his men. "And leave Commander Jericho to me."
Xena was relieved to know that Calchas was doing the right thing. The battle would be quite quick too. She let Calchas and his men pass under her then she jumped down. She followed behind the split army and withdrew her sword. She joined Calchas's men, and she worked her way to Calchas.
On the other side of the battle, Gabrielle remained busy with three soldiers that charged at her. She ran towards them, suddenly stopped, and knelt down with her staff coming up horizontally. She gripped the staff hard when the soldiers collided with her staff.
Several archers in the tree covered the queen and shot the soldiers. They received a few words of thanks from the queen, who stood back up.
Solari joined the queen and joked, "They seem to favor you, Gabrielle."
"I'm getting that a lot lately." Gabrielle raised her staff but ducked when an Athenian soldier's sword came at her head. "I think I prefer it when they target Xena."
Solari laughed, but she focused on her fight with two soldiers. "I'm sure she's getting her fair share."
"I'm sure too." Gabrielle took out her right opponent and focused on her left one. She grinned at his worn features, and she rammed her staff's end into his leather stomach. She was quite pleased when he stumbled backwards and another Amazon finished him.
"Hello, Queen Gabrielle."
"Gabrielle, watch out!" Solari hollered.
The queen dropped to her knees just in time before the blade caught her neck. She hurried onto her feet and raised her staff when her opponent came at her again. She wasn't at all surprised to find it was Commander Jericho.
Solari fought against three soldiers, and one was taken out thanks to an Amazon archer. She fought hard against the other two soldiers, and she noticed that Gabrielle was having a hard fight with Commander Jericho.
Gabrielle landed a solid hit to the commander's side, but it didn't much affect him because of his armor. She gritted her teeth, stepped back once, and prepared for the commander's strike. She parried his first attack then his second. She didn't expect his kick though, and she was hit hard at her stomach.
Solari saw the queen down, and she gave a wild swipe at her last enemy. She didn't care about him and came to the queen's aide. She stopped Commander Jericho's sword before it hit Gabrielle.
"Solari," Gabrielle yelled, but she wasn't fast enough. She watched in horror when the earlier soldier came up behind Solari and rammed his blade into Solari's back. She finally got to her feet despite the pain in her body. She slammed her staff end into the soldier's side then brought her other end around and into the soldier's throat.
"Solari!" hollered a panicked regent. Ephiny landed on the ground from the trees after she too had witnessed the scene. She cut through a few soldiers then protected Solari from Commander Jericho.
Gabrielle grabbed Solari, who fell to her knees. She covered the Amazon's wound and prayed the blood would stop flowing.
"I'm okay," the Amazon protested and tried to get up.
"Stay down, Solari," Gabrielle snapped. She sensed another soldier coming up behind her, and she stood up against her pain. "Ephiny, get Solari out of here." She fought against the soldier, who was rather weak from earlier fights.
Ephiny didn't listen and kept her fight against the commander. She had to admit he was fairly good too.
Gabrielle knocked her opponent unconscious. She then charged the commander and ordered, "Help her, Ephiny."
The regent gave in because she knew how dire the wound could be if it wasn't stopped. She hurried to Solari's side and helped her friend up onto her feet. "Come on, Solari. Stay with me." She helped her friend make it back towards the village and luckily other Amazons came to help them.
"You protect all your Amazons, don't you?" the commander snidely questioned.
"Just the good ones," Gabrielle shot back. She parried a few attacks then went on offense. She put her strength into her attack and manged a nice strike against the commander's temple.
Jericho stumbled back and almost dropped his sword. He was angry and lunged for the queen. He saw Gabrielle raise her staff, and he retaliated with a calculated kick.
Gabrielle hissed when her hand was hit hard. She watched her staff fly a few paces away from her. She returned her attention to the smug commander.
Commander Jericho raised up his sword and pointed the tip at the queen's throat. "If I can't have the Amazon that destroyed the temple, then I'll take you."
The bard slotted her eyes, but she felt her heart rate accelerated. She fisted her hands at her sides and thought of a plan.
"I wouldn't," the commander threatened, and he took a menacing step closer. He let the blade run close to the queen's throat.
"And I wouldn't either if I were you," snarled a dangerous voice.
Commander Jericho snapped his head to the left and was shocked to suddenly find the Warrior Princess beside him.
Xena grabbed the commander's sword and yanked it away from Gabrielle's throat. She raised the sword up and stepped between her partner and the commander. She soaked in the fact that the commander was not only dumbfounded by her presence, but he was also fearful. She showed a ruthless smile and very slowly bent the sword's blade backwards.
Commander Jericho was stunned, and he stared at the bent blade. His wide eyes rested on the angry warrior, and he whispered, "By the gods."
"You've got that right," Xena hotly snapped. She pulled back her fisted hand then let it sail at his face. She struck Jericho hard and sent him sailing a few paces until he smashed into a tree and fell to the ground.
Gabrielle sighed in relief, and her shoulders fell. "Any second later, and I swear..."
Xena watched the unconscious commander for a beat then she turned back to her partner. "I thought you could handle everything, Gabrielle."
The bard knew it was a smart remark, but she shrugged. "Well mostly everything."
The warrior slightly grinned and noticed that other soldiers were coming for them. She wasn't too worried because the battle was almost over. She ordered, "Get your staff. The fun's not over yet."
Gabrielle made a dash for her weapon and spun around to find her partner with her sword out. She hastily neared Xena and put her back to Xena's back. "Let's start counting now."
Xena spun her sword and bent her knees when her enemies came at her.
"And no cheating," the bard hotly reminded. She raised her staff when two soldiers came at her.
The warrior grumbled and complained, "Where's the fun in that?"
Gabrielle would have laughed, but she was too caught up in her fight. She did notice that Jericho's men were well thinned out. She was relieved because she was never much for battles unlike her partner.
Xena took out her two opponents quickly enough and declared, "Two."
Gabrielle hit her right opponent in the side then against his head and knocked him out. "One." She spun around her second opponent and struck him in the back of the head. "Two."
"I got it!" The Amazon Queen kicked behind and nailed a soldier between his legs. She smiled proudly and when the soldier hit the ground, she declared, "Three."
Xena smirked and came up to Gabrielle's side. She raised her sword when more soldiers came for them.
"There must be no real challenge for you," Gabrielle commented.
The warrior fought against one soldier while Gabrielle took the other. She replied over the din of weapons. "It's never challenging when it's Athenian soldiers."
The soldier, who fought Xena, became angry and swiped at her.
Xena laughed and jumped back at his attempt. She came back at him with her own attack. She easily finished him off then she glanced over at Gabrielle, who'd become surrounded by four soldiers. She cursed and hastily joined the fight.
The queen parried one attack, but she didn't expect the attack from behind. She was relieved when Xena stopped him and easily took him out. Gabrielle claimed two other soldiers, but she was tiring.
The god noted her partner was slowing down. She finished her opponent easily then saw that Gabrielle had knocked out her enemy and there was one left.
Gabrielle was hit on her side by the soldier's kick. She knew he'd come at her again, and she moved her staff around to catch his blade. She'd miscalculated, and his swing was aimed at her side.
Xena was a brief blur, but she came to a stop near Gabrielle's side. She clenched her hands when the sword blade went into her stomach.
The stunned soldier held his sword still in the Warrior Princess's stomach. He couldn't believe his dumb luck at striking the famous warrior.
Xena smirked at the soldier, grabbed the blade with her freehand, and she slowly extracted the blade. She straightened up and revealed her unharmed stomach and perfect leathers. "Nice try." She kicked his sword from his hand then stepped closer and rammed her hilt against his temple.
"Queen Gabrielle!" An Athenian soldier was calling for Gabrielle and rushed through the battle field.
Gabrielle shook off her initial shock that Xena had been hit. She lowered her staff's end to the ground and instantly recognized Calchas.
Xena took her partner's side; she still gripped her sword hilt.
"Are you okay?"
The queen offered a faint smile and nodded. "We are... thank you for the help."
Calchas lowered his bloody sword to his side and replied, "I'm sorry this happened." He glanced at Xena but asked, "Where's the commander?"
"Just over there." Gabrielle pointed with her staff at the unconscious commander. "I'm glad it wasn't any worse."
Calchas mutually felt the same, and he stepped forward with his hand coming up.
Queen Gabrielle switched her staff into her left hand then moved forward. She tightly collapsed the second in command's arm.
Xena scanned the battle field and noticed that Amazons remained or Calchas's men. Either way, everybody was hastily assessing who needed medical attention. She focused back on Gabrielle and Calchas, who were talking back and forth about what'd happened.
The battle had started and ended quickly. There were few deaths on all sides, which was a relief to Gabrielle. The Amazons first took care of their wounded then helped the Athenians with their own. Commander Jericho later woke up to the defeat and a set of chains around his wrists and ankles. Calchas planned to return Jericho back to the head of the Athenian Army where he'd find due justice for his actions.
By the late afternoon, Gabrielle was finally able to see Solari. She was happy that Ephiny had taken Solari back to the village where the healer was located. Solari had instructions to stay on a pallet for the next few days until her wound settled down, and she had her strength back. Solari had cursed up a storm because she wanted to move around and help the nation. Only after Ephiny gave her lecture did she stop her protest.
Close to sunset, Gabrielle and Xena arrived back in the hut finally. The bard was exhausted and only wanted a bath to help her wind down. Xena promised to repeat her trick from yesterday and fill the bath tub with warm water. Gabrielle then won out and bribed her partner to join the bath.
The bath helped Gabrielle clear her head and sooth her tense body. She could tell it even helped the warrior despite Xena insisted she was fine. Afterwards, Gabrielle put on her nightshift and planned to try her writing again.
Xena finished pulling her leathers on and went to her boots. "Do you want dinner?"
Gabrielle was seated on the foot of the bed, and she was brushing her hair. "You know, I'm not that hungry."
The warrior furrowed her eyebrows, but she knelt down just after she slipped her feet into her boots. "You were hit in the stomach."
"I feel fine though," the bard argued.
Xena hastily laced her boots then came over to the bard. "Lay down." She could tell Gabrielle might protest so she ordered, "Lay down."
Gabrielle grumbled, set her brush aside, and flopped back into the bed. She closed her eyes and let Xena's probing fingers check over her stomach area and sides. She couldn't find anything wrong or detected anything thanks to her godhood. She was pretty confident that Gabrielle was just fine.
"Anything?" the bard inquired. She tucked her hands under her head. Xena shook her head, and Gabrielle shrugged. "I feel great, honestly... I mean besides tired."
"And not hungry?" Xena raised an eyebrow but reminded, "You haven't eaten all day."
"I know." Gabrielle sat up and then offered, "I'll eat something... I just don't feel like going to the hut."
The warrior patted her partner's knee. "Get started on your scrolls." She walked to the door and quietly left the hut.
The Amazon Queen softly smiled because she knew Xena would get some food. She hopped off the bed and collected her scroll satchel. She extracted her most recent scroll that was the most difficult for her lately. Not because the storyline was hard, but she could never focus on it.
Tonight Gabrielle was able to better focus on her story, and she figured it was because the stress of the Athenian Army was past now. She felt calmer and more in control than what her life had been recently. She broke from her writing when her partner reentered the hut with a full tray of food.
Xena set the tray on the table and observed the bard's dubious expression.
"I'm not that hungry."
"I know." Xena stared down at the large tray of food.
Gabrielle set the scroll near the tray and peered up into sharp, bright blue eyes. She noticed how Xena had a distraught look, and she asked, "So why the big tray of food?"
Xena was silent for a beat then she focused on Gabrielle. "Because I'm really hungry." She moved and sunk down into the empty chair. "I don't know what happened. I was picking out the food, and it just hit me." She gazed over at the listening bard. "I feel like I haven't eaten in days."
"Well," Gabrielle reminded, "you haven't."
The god slotted her eyes at the bard.
Gabrielle shook her head and pushed back her damp bangs. "Why does this keep getting weirder?" She picked up a flat bread and handed it to Xena. She grabbed the other and worked on it slowly. "Blue eyes, headaches, and now hunger." She gave Xena a skeptic look but offered, "Maybe it's wearing off."
Xena picked up a bowl of soup and dipped the bread into it. "I don't think it works that way, Gabrielle. I'm suppose to get more powerful."
"It doesn't seem to be working." Gabrielle also grabbed for a bowl.
"Gabrielle, it's hot." But Xena's words were too late. She knew Gabrielle would drop the bowl so she hastily shot out her right hand to get the falling bowl.
The bard waved her hand in the air to calm it. "Gods damnit." She watched Xena put the bowl back on the tray. "I'm glad your reflexes haven't dulled." She clenched her hand and opened it up again. She had watery eyes, but she focused on her aching palm. She felt it was already settling down.
"You alright?" Xena was gazing over and noticed Gabrielle's open hand was fine.
"Yeah... thanks." Gabrielle clenched her hand briefly then looked back at the tray. "I'll stick to something not hot." She grabbed the bowl of grapes instead.
Xena chuckled and went back to her meal.
Later that evening, the partners found themselves in bed, and Gabrielle was quite tired. The bard rested on her side so that she faced her friend. She was slightly nervous for some reason, and she opened her eyes when the warrior crawled into the bed beside her.
The warrior settled onto her back like always. She brushed her bangs out of her eyes.
"I need to cut those," the bard muttered.
Xena raised her eyebrow.
Gabrielle had her eyes closed again, but she imagined the look on Xena's face already. "You cut them too short," she reminded. "Then they stick up and with the summer humidity they really will."
The warrior pucked her lips and joked, "I didn't know my mother was in the hut." She shot out her hands at the right moment and caught the bard's hand.
Gabrielle lifted her head and observed how Xena had caught her hand. She slotted her eyes at the god.
Xena smirked then laced her fingers through the smaller ones. Her other hand came to rest on her stomach.
"Hmmm." Gabrielle rested their linked hands in the small space between them. "So what you do while I sleep?"
The goddess tilted her head then teased, "I sing and dance."
Gabrielle groaned and closed her eyes. "I liked you better before the godhood." She made Xena wait for her explanation for a beat then revealed, "You talked less."
Xena unexpectedly growled and did a fast roll to her right. She found herself over top of the petite blond, and she straddled small hips. She now pressed the flat of her palms on either side of bed, next to Gabrielle's shoulders. She leaned over the bard.
Gabrielle smiled sweetly and greeted, "Hi." The only response received was a glint coming from the warrior's beautiful blue eyes. She cleared her throat then reached up. She grasped Xena's muscular arms and briefly glanced at them. "Did I mention how lovely your eyes are now?"
Xena said nothing but slightly inclined her right eyebrow. She lowered her head and easily held the bard's staring gaze.
The bard gave a sharp inhale, and she squeezed the warrior's biceps. She then tensed out of anticipation when Xena's lips came even closer to hers. Her eyes fluttered then finally closed.
Xena smirked at Gabrielle's presumption. She suddenly rolled back to her spot, and Gabrielle squealed because she was taken too. Xena settled into her spot contently and adjusted the bard's lightweight on the half of her body.
Gabrielle calmed and once she was up to speed with the changes. She settled down against Xena's body. "Xena?"
"I like how much you talk."
"At least most of the time," the bard muttered. She adjusted her right arm over the warrior's chest. "Xena?"
Gabrielle chuckled, but she seriously offered, "If you get bored tonight... you can always enter my dream."
Xena slowly smiled at the bard's words. She tightened her right arm around Gabrielle's waist briefly in a half hug. "Thanks."
Then a thought occurred to the Amazon Queen. She popped her head up and displayed her confused face. "Did you sleep when you were in my dream last time?"
The warrior hadn't considered it until now, but she answered, "I did actually."
Gabrielle stared oddly at her partner then stated, "That's so bizarre." She lowered her head back down. "This godhood doesn't make sense, Xena."
Xena had to admit that certain aspects were not adding up, but she didn't have the luxury to think over it. She turned her head towards Gabrielle's and whispered, "We'll figure it out. Get some rest."
The bard relented and settled down for the night. "Goodnight, Xena."
The warrior kissed her partner's forehead and murmured, "Sleep well." She closed her eyes and merely listened to the bard's soft breathing. She was able to focus her hearing on Gabrielle's heartbeat, which gradually began to match Xena's.
Xena's right arm slowly began to loosen from its hold on the bard. She couldn't control it or even realized it was happening until she discovered herself crossing into Gabrielle's dreamscape. She hadn't even meant for it to happen, but it was as if it'd called her. And the bard happily received Xena in the dreamscape without question.
The following days, the warrior and bard remained in the Amazon village and helped the nation get settled after the battle. Xena also kept an eye on the Athenian Army until they returned back over the lava pit bridge. Once Queen Gabrielle felt that the nation was calm, she handed her powers back to Ephiny. The dawn of the next day, Gabrielle and Xena were up early and tried to pack for what adventures may rest ahead of them.
The next adventure though was being delayed by an early morning argument. Gabrielle had brought up the topic about the godhood and what to do about it. She mostly argued that it needed to be removed, but Xena was obviously reluctant to the idea. The bard repeatedly brought up the fact that Xena would never age now.
The warrior set the saddlebags on the foot of the bed. She turned towards the washroom and called, "Nothing is forever, Gabrielle."
The bard stomped out of the washroom with her small pouch of belongings. "Well isn't that a comforting note." She stomped over then tossed the pouch at her partner.
Xena easily caught it in her right hand. She quickly understood how Gabrielle took it. "There are some exceptions."
Gabrielle shook her head and kept her back to Xena. She just rammed her scrolls into her satchel. "Maybe Ephiny is right."
"Right about what?" The warrior slightly darkened.
"That the godhood has gone to your head," the annoyed bard muttered. She shoved her quill into the bag then turned, but she slightly jumped because Xena was right in front of her now. She covered her pounding chest. "Xena-"
"You really believe that?" the warrior cut off.
Gabrielle read a mix of anger and hurt in the warrior's eyes. She cooled her temper, and her shoulders fell. "I just don't understand why you want this godhood. You've always spoken ill of the gods."
"And I'm not an Olympian god, Gabrielle." Xena folded her arms. "This could help us... and others."
"You would have never wanted it before," Gabrielle argued. "What makes it okay now?"
The warrior dropped her arms at the excellent point her partner brought up.
"What made you change your mind?"
"The fact that I can protect you better now," Xena argued. "I don't mind this and mostly because I know I still have my emotions... my identity. If I lost those, then I would be determined to rid of this."
Gabrielle sighed and looked away for a moment. She peered up into determined blue eyes. "And what are you going to do when I finally die?" She shook her head and coldly joked, "Stop by in the Underworld for visits?"
Xena sighed, but she grabbed the bard's arms and reminded, "There are ways to kill a god."
Gabrielle swallowed at the honest statement. She bowed her head and whispered, "I don't... I..."
"We'll have our next life together," Xena promised.
Gabrielle shook her head and tried to imagine her life years and years down the road. All she could see was her feeble and failing body then Xena's unaged self beside her. She closed her eyes and tried to seriously consider the benefits against the cons. She also had to think about the amount of good Xena could do as a god. Was she being too selfish?
Xena felt all the string of emotions that flooded the bard. She lowered her head and retrieved the bard's lips for a sweet kiss. She slowly pulled back after the kiss and whispered, "Let's just see how it goes for now."
Gabrielle hesitated then nodded her head. Then she moved in and hugged her partner tightly.
Xena was surprised by the hug, yet she quickly returned it. After the hug, she urged the bard to finish the packing so they could go.
About an hour later, Ephiny met the couple just outside of the stables. She strolled along side the queen and warrior, who were headed to the gates. "So, have you decided on a solution for the godhood?"
Xena was going to reply, but Gabrielle beat her.
"We're not in any rush," the bard replied. She then shrugged and added, "It may be useful."
Ephiny's eyes widened slightly. "Really?" She look between her friend and the warrior. She cleared her throat, put her hands behind her back, and rationally thought it out. "It does have it's advantages." She thought it over and moved closer to the pair. "It hasn't affected you in any negative ways?"
Xena truly tried to come up with any negative effects, but she couldn't pinpoint any. "I've felt great since."
"You know what was odd," Gabrielle brought up to Ephiny. "The night after the battle, Xena was famished."
The regent blinked and stared up at the goddess. "That's not right."
"You're telling me," Gabrielle muttered.
"Maybe it's wearing off," the regent commented.
Gabrielle glanced up at Xena, who rolled her sky blue eyes. Gabrielle giggled and turned back to Ephiny. "We don't think it's that."
"What else could it be?" Ephiny spotted the gates just ahead, and she walked slower. "Well, your secret is safe, Xena."
The warrior came to a stop and turned to the Amazon. "I would prefer it that way."
The regent shifted her weight to her right foot. "I doubt it'll stay that way for long."
Gabrielle smirked and leaned against her staff lightly. "A bard knows what details to tell... or skip." She peered up at her partner, who had a faint grin hidden. She returned her attention to Ephiny. "We'll stop back soon, Ephiny."
"No you won't," the regent teased, "Not until another crisis hits."
The queen sighed and straightened up from her staff. "We will," she promised. "Xena loves to visit." She heard a snort behind her so she quickly swatted her partner's leather stomach.
This time, Xena let it go but promised to turn it back on Gabrielle later.
"Anyway," Gabrielle continued, "keep the nation safe, Ephiny."
The regent slightly bowed her head. "Always, my queen." She showed her smile when she brought her head up. "Be safe, Gabrielle." She stepped forward and met her friend for a warm hug.
Gabrielle tightly squeezed and murmured, "Thank you for everything, Ephiny."
Ephiny swayed in the hug, but she whispered, "Don't thank me, sister." She pulled back from the hug then approached the Warrior Princess. "I don't need to tell you to be safe."
Xena only arched an eyebrow.
Ephiny chuckled and shook her head. "Thank you for the help, Xena. It would have ended far worse."
"Well I do have..." Xena lost her words when she caught Gabrielle's sour look. She smiled back at Ephiny and finished, "I have fun helping."
Ephiny pivoted on her foot and glanced back at the bard.
Gabrielle instantly smiled innocently and only lost it when Ephiny turned back to Xena.
The regent held out her arm, which was accepted in a brisk shake. "Come back soon." She knew it was the warrior had to be inspired to return to the nation more than Gabrielle.
"Oh I will," Xena joked. She released arms but urged, "Take care, Ephiny." She walked off and signaled her mare to follow.
The bard briefly watched her partner go, then she sadly smiled at Ephiny. "I'll miss you, Ephiny."
The regent smiled at the sentiment. "For once, I'll miss you." She jumped when Gabrielle tried to slap her. She chuckled yet went serious and sincerely stated, "I'll see you soon, my friend."
Gabrielle gripped the Amazon's arm for an instant, then she turned and walked towards the gates.
Ephiny folded her arms and watched Gabrielle sprint after her tall, dark friend. She tilted her head when Gabrielle took Xena's side. Then gradually a grin formed on her lips when Gabrielle hit Xena's thigh. Ephiny laughed at Xena kicking Gabrielle back in the butt.
"A couple of kids," Ephiny muttered, and she walked off to check on Solari.
Gabrielle enjoyed the serene woods that would lead them to the road outside the Amazon territory. The muses began to speak to her and danced around in her head about the latest adventures. She happy at the fact that her stories were coming back to her finally. She shaped a beautiful smile on her lips and became engrossed in her latest adventures about her and Xena.
The warrior quietly walked along side, but she touched her forehead with her freehand. She glimpsed at the bard, who she could tell was in full story mode. She groaned extremely loudly which saved her.
Gabrielle's mental story came to a screeching halt, and she glanced at her partner. "What's wrong?"
Xena dropped her hand to her side. "Do me a favor?" She waited for Gabrielle's nod then ordered, "Just recite the story aloud instead of in your head." She sighed loudly and mentioned, "I think I can handle that better than listening to your thoughts."
The bard laughed when she realized what was wrong. She touched her partner's arm and honestly stated, "I'm sorry, Xena. I didn't think about it."
The warrior grunted at Gabrielle's ironic reply.
Gabrielle tilted her head then offered, "How about we play that guess who game?"
Xena smirked at this idea. "Alright. You think of who, and I'll guess."
The bard considered it, yet she quickly caught up to the warrior's sneaky idea. "Oh very funny." She shoved the warrior away from her then shot a glare at the chuckling warrior. "I guess we can only play the game one way."
"Alright." The warrior relented. She thought of somebody, and inspiring person's name came to mind. She held back her wicked grin and stated, "Alright. Go ahead."
Gabrielle pucked her lips and thought of the right question. "Am I male or female?"
The warrior turned her head to the right, scanned over Gabrielle's body, and she smirked when the bard reddened. "Oh you're male."
The bard growled and hit Xena's side with her fisted hand. She knew Xena's automatic response so she jumped away just in time. She laughed and pointed a finger at her partner. "Missed."
Xena smirked and tormented, "I only missed because I wanted to miss."
Gabrielle laughed and slowed down until she was near Xena's side but not too close. "Sure." She tilted her head and asked, "Am I mortal or god?"
"Hmmm." The bard considered it for awhile, but it just wasn't enough information. "So where are we headed?"
The warrior shrugged then answered, "There's this area of Greece I haven't been to." She noted the bard's surprised look, which she ignored and continued to speak. "I thought we'd go there. I hear it's a quiet area... just a few little villages."
Gabrielle thought it out then nodded. "I'm sure we'll run into a warlord on the way... or something."
"Most likely," the warrior muttered.
"Did you think of a title yet?" Gabrielle randomly inquired.
Xena had a thin smile and answered, "No. Anymore bright suggestions?"
"Similar to the milk idea?" Gabrielle shot back.
The warrior chuckled and shrugged. "I thought it was pretty creative."
"Maybe for a five year old," the bard remarked under her breath.
Xena released Argo's reins and suddenly jumped for her partner. She scooped up the bard and threw her over her right shoulder.
Gabrielle screamed and dropped her staff in the process. "Xena!" She tried to push out of the warrior's strong arms, but it was useless. "Put me down! I'm not a gods damn sack of olives!"
The Warrior Princess laughed and teased, "No, you're a little cuter than that."
"Oh that's a real compliment," Gabrielle snapped.
Xena smirked, but she knew Gabrielle's mood would deflate any moment if she didn't set her down. She spun around once then set her friend onto her feet.
Gabrielle had a hot temper and mostly because she hated to be bested all the time. She pointed a finger at the god and prepared to wipe that smirk off Xena's face.
Xena was faster, and she sealed the bard's open mouth with hers. Briefly Gabrielle fought, but it quickly stopped and small hands slipped around her neck. She and Gabrielle exchanged soft moans between the long kiss, and they only broke away when they needed to catch their breaths.
Gabrielle had a dreamy expression, and the anger was gone. She was lost in Xena's deep blue eyes, and she didn't want to move out of Xena's arms. She slowly came out of daze and whispered, "Don't think for a minute that you can do that all the time and get out of something."
Xena flashed a grin and teased, "Oh I know."
Gabrielle didn't believe the warrior though. She cleared her throat and casually asked, "Am I short or tall?"
"About average," the warrior whispered.
"Hmmm." The bard nodded then slipped out of her friend's arms. She was going to retrieve her staff, but she forgot where she'd dropped it. She turned and Xena stood there with the staff. She took her weapon and replied, "Thanks."
Xena softly laughed and went to Argo, who snorted at her. She grabbed the dangling reins then continued down the road.
Gabrielle walked along side. She had a blank mind and still tried to catch up from the earlier kiss.
The warrior stepped closer to her friend and mentioned, "I have it now."
The bard blinked and came to the present. "What's that?"
The god smirk and her voice filled with amusement. "My title."
Gabrielle had a grin too. She had to hear this one considering Xena's earlier, creative ideas. "I'm listening."
Xena waited and let it draw out for Gabrielle.
"Xena," the bard demanded.
Xena chuckled and proudly declared, "The Goddess of Gabrielle."
Gabrielle stopped walking and watched Xena go another two paces.
The warrior paused and glanced back at her partner. She enjoyed the dumbfounded look written all over the bard's face. She held out her hand and softly offered, "Come on."
Gabrielle walked a few steps then took Xena's hand into hers. She softly smiled as she thought of Xena's title idea, and she had to admit it was romantically creative. She studied the forest with new eyes and a bright smile.
Xena enjoyed the silence in her and the birds that talked around her. She squeezed Gabrielle's hand for a moment and received one back. She realized that she had her skills as a warrior that meshed with her godhood, but none of that gave her the one thing she wanted. It was her heart that could only give her what she'd always wanted. Xena turned her head to the right and lowered her gaze, and she observed what or rather who she'd always needed and wanted.
Gabrielle felt those rich blue eyes on her, and she met them. She mirrored her warrior's incredible smile, and Gabrielle felt her upside down world suddenly turn right side up. She would never settle again, and she would never accept anything less. Whether Xena was a god, mortal, or dead Gabrielle decided Xena would be hers just as she would be Xena's.
"Am I Hercules?" Gabrielle's voice broke the silence.
Xena smirked and replied, "No."
"Am I blond?"
"Well," the bemused warrior started.
"Xena," the blond bard warned.
Xena's laugh filled the air then faded out, but Gabrielle's voice took over. The couple continued the loved game while they followed the trail to the road, and the god and bard still held hands.