STORY: Jealousy by New Xenalander

DISCLAIMER: These characters do not belong to me and no copyright infringement is intended.

CONTENT: Subtext, Xena and Gabrielle are in a committed, romantic relationship. If this sort of thing offends you, please find something else to read :)

This story was written for Talking Xena Subtext Central Fanfic Challenge #10 - What were they thinking? The challenge was to put yourself inside the mind of Xena or Gabrielle (or both) during an episode, and write some of their thoughts/feelings/motivations etc. I chose the episode "Antony & Cleopatra" - some of Gabrielle's thoughts and feelings as she watches Xena seducing Antony.

*******

"I'm losing sight of your plan Xena. Are you going to flirt him to death?"

I hate my jealous streak.

Underneath the bantering tone I knew Xena could hear the edge to my voice. I tried to keep it light, just a joke, warning her to "be careful, he's your type..." but having seen the way Antony looked at her in the bath I couldn't quite hide it.

I do trust Xena. In all the time we've been partners, lovers, she's never really given me cause to doubt her. I've seen all sorts of men fall for her, but she's either ignored them, looked down on them, or in some cases smashed their faces bloody until they lost interest. On a few occasions I've seen her use that allure in order to fulfil whatever mission we've taken on. Few of those men she's played with, used, have ever posed any kind of threat. But everyone has their weakness, and for Xena it's one type of man.

Bad boys.

Ares is the worst of them, he's always been Xena's biggest temptation. But he's not alone, over the years there have been a few men Xena has fallen for. Borias, Petracles, Marcus, even Ulysses, all had a certain something, an indefinable combination of looks, physique and charisma that Xena finds hard to resist.

And now it looked like Antony had joined the collection.

It brings out the worst in me. I won't say they make me nervous, as I said, I trust Xena, and I trust in her love for me. But with that type, she lets things carry on just a bit further than she would normally. It takes a little more self-control for her to stop, to pull back before things get out of hand. And while I may know it's all part of a plan, they don't. They're drawn in by it, they respond to it. And plan be damned, all I want to do is forcibly pull her out of their arms and stake my claim. She's mine, back off.

I hate my jealous streak.

Playing the part of one of Cleopatra's servants, I watched from one end of the room as Xena wined, dined and openly flirted with Antony. She is an expert at the art of seduction. I should know, I've been on the receiving end of it on many occasions when she was in the mood. As Xena hand fed Antony a honey dipped Strawberry and leaned down to kiss him, I tore my eyes away for a moment to meet Shiana's. From her expression, she couldn't quite believe what she was seeing and wasn't sure whether to be shocked or amused at the display. I let out a silent, solitary huff of laughter and turned back to Xena, who was still engaged in a deep lip-lock with the Roman. Suddenly I wasn't sure how to respond either. For one thing found it all too easy to picture myself in Antony's position, and I found myself biting my lower lip as the scene in front of me evoked a series of images, both memories and possibilities. And suddenly I couldn't stand watching it anymore. Taking a deep breath to quell the sudden fire in my guts, I cleared my throat and strode purposefully towards them.

I knew how Xena would respond. She masked the full extent of her irritation until Antony had departed, while I made myself comfortable on the cushions where he had been lounging moments before. As soon as Antony was out of earshot she rounded on me.

"What do you think you were doing? I was in complete control." She hissed. I reached over to wipe some honey off the corner of her mouth and she pulled her head away, glaring at me.

"How far were you willing to let that go Xena?" I asked, again trying to keep my tone light.

"Until he begged for my navel." My hand stopped, half way to picking up a piece of fruit, and I shot Xena a questioning look.

"Your navy?" I asked pointedly, chiding her for that slip of the tongue. Some of the irritation left her voice.

"I know what I'm doing." She said, but she was unable to look me in the eye. I nodded, but I wasn't really agreeing with her, it was more of a "yeah, sure you do" gesture. I could tell Antony was getting to her, and I didn't like it. I reached for a strawberry.

"Xena what happens if he's the one who killed Cleopatra?"

"Then he's the one I'll kill if I have to." I shot her a questioning look, wondering if she would really be able to do that now. She met my gaze briefly and then looked down into her wine goblet. "I have no real feelings for him Gabrielle, believe me." I felt my eyes narrow at the undertone of guilt in her voice. I knew she wasn't being entirely honest, with me or with herself. But the fact that she was feeling guilty meant the danger had passed for now. I turned back to finish my strawberry, letting the subject drop. After a few moment's silence, Shiana appeared at Xena's side, bearing a single stalk of flowers.

"This is from Antony." She said, handing Xena the stem.

"Really." Xena sounded bemused.

"He invites you to meet him tomorrow night, under the pyramids." Shiana told her.

"Tell him I'll be there." Xena replied. Shiana's gaze flicked to mine and I nodded. I didn't like it, but I knew the plan had gone too far to back out now. At my nod, Shiana rose and went to convey Xena's answer to Antony.

"I've got him right where I want him." Now Xena's tone was calculating, and I felt the tension in my guts ease. Xena had her feelings under control and the plan was back on track. I wasn't quite ready to let her off the hook yet though. She'd let things go too far and she knew it.

"Mmmhmm." I made a noise of false agreement in my throat, taking another strawberry and contemplating it. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Xena glance my way, and her mouth twitched, this time with amusement rather than irritation.

"Uh-huh." Xena drew out her response, sounding smug. "We still have some unfinished business after all, and he seems to be the type who likes to tie up loose ends." This time I turned to look at her fully for a moment. From her deliberately provocative tone I could tell she was baiting me now. I decided two could play at that game.

Feigning indifference, I pulled the leaves and stalk off the strawberry and dipped it into the bowl of honey Xena had used earlier, coating both the fruit and my fingertips. Bringing it towards my mouth, I stuck out my tongue just in time to catch the first drizzle of honey that fell from the tip. With lips and tongue I slowly drew the strawberry into my mouth, pretending that the piece of fruit had my undivided attention. I heard a slight hiss as Xena breathed in sharply, and from the corner of my eye I saw her lick her lips, trapping the lower one in her teeth exactly as I had done earlier. I let out a soft, contented hum as I chewed, closing my eyes to savour the combined flavours of nectar and fruit. I opened my eyes again as I licked my fingers clean, finally meeting her gaze fully. Her eyes were blazing. She reached over and wiped a drop of honey from the corner of my mouth, deliberately imitating my earlier gesture. Instead of pulling away as she had done, I reached up and caught her wrist, licking that fingertip clean just as I had done with my own. That was all it took. Before I had time to draw breath I was on my back and being kissed senseless.

I hate my jealous streak.

Luckily for me, Xena loves it.