The moon is shining bright. Frogs and crickets are chirping loudly all around. Two figures lay next to a smoldering camp fire, both of them women. On one side of the fire there is a woman lying on her stomach with her head resting on her forearms. An empty goblet rests loosely in her hand. Her long raven hair is spread around her like some dark crown. She is apparently sleeping.

The other, on the opposite side of the fire pit, is a petite blond tossing and turning on her fur bed roll. Her skin is flushed and slightly damp. One green eye pops open and a fiery passion can be seen burning behind it. She looks over to her companion and sees her resting peacefully. Stupid warrior…Sleeping like nothing happened…is happening. I know she feels it too.

Knowing that she cannot sneak off to relieve the ache between her legs without waking the sleeping form across from her, she decides to take care of her business right there. She pulls the furs over her body and undoes her top. One hand slips beneath the loose material to lightly caress her skin. She trails her fingers down the middle of her chest, across her taut stomach muscles, and lets it rest above her breeches. She uses the other hand to draw invisible circles around an already rock-hard peak. Her hand slides underneath her breeches and into the hot apex of her thighs. No point in wasting time.

Images flash through her mind: her companion in all her six-foot, leather-clad glory with her sword raised and her icy blue eyes blazing; standing on a ledge behind her friend with fangs poised for the bite that changed everything and hearing the words slip from trembling lips, "Do it…"; sinking her fangs into soft flesh and feeling the rush of blood on her tongue that sent a thousand lightning bolts through her body…

A soft moan escapes the blond and a hand smacks against her mouth to keep any other noises inside. Her hips can be seen moving back and forth underneath the furs. The pace with which she is pleasing herself increases rapidly and an involuntary shudder rolls through her body. The hand covering her mouth clamps down onto the bed rolls as her back arches off of the ground with the power of her orgasm. As she relaxes, she is already blissfully on her way to sleep, but one word escapes her lips, "Xena…"

Two blue eyes are seen opening in shock from across the fire. Unbeknownst to the other, Xena has been awake the whole time attempting to not disturb Gabrielle in her moment of passion, but that one word coming from her companion causes a flood gate of emotions to roll through Xena.

The next morning finds Xena waking up to the smell of breakfast. Gabrielle seems to be in a great mood, humming while she works. "Wonderful morning isn't it?" she asks Xena. Xena gives her a look that could kill an ordinary person. "Maybe to you," Xena whispers under her breath.

"What was that?" A quizzical look appears on Gabrielle's face.

"Oh…I just didn't sleep that well is all…too much to think about"

"Dinar for your thoughts?"

"It's nothing… Hey where did you get the eggs from?" Xena attempts to change the subject.

Gabrielle has her head cocked to the side, obviously trying to figure out what Xena is thinking. With a shrug she answers, "I went to the market this morning. And I found these berries a little ways outside of our camp." She pulls a makeshift basket of all sorts of berries out from behind her. Xena's beaming smile catches Gabrielle off guard and she feels the butterflies soar in her stomach. Gods, she has such an effect on me, but what is with her this morning? First she is all dark and moody and now she is all smiles…must be my amazing cooking abilities.

"Gabrielle? You okay?" Xena asks, obviously concerned.

"What? Oh…sorry I must have been stuck in my own thoughts. Did you say something?"

"Yeah, I just said that eggs and berries sound great." Xena's smile returns as she finds a rock to lean against. "So, what do you want to do today?"

"Wait you don't want to pack up and head out today? Eggs are done." Gabrielle takes two plates that were sitting next to her and fills them both with eggs and berries. She hands one to Xena and in turn Xena passes a water skin to Gabrielle.

Xena takes a bite of her food and attempts to answer Gabrielle's question with a mouthful of food. "Well…the last night of the festival is tonight." She swallows hard. "I figured we could use a break after all we've been through in the past couple days. You know, actually enjoy a celebration for once?"

Gabrielle just about chokes on her food. "Seriously? The Warrior Princess wanting a break?" At Xena's incredulous look, Gabrielle quickly back tracks. "Don't get me wrong, Xena, I want to stay and relax. You are just catching me off guard this morning is all."

"I'm sorry…Hey, do you want to go to the market this morning and do a little shopping?"

At this Gabrielle does choke and Xena has to rush over and perform the Heimlich maneuver. Gabrielle coughs up the dangerous berry and leans into Xena without even realizing it. They stay like that for only a moment, but to both of them it feels like an eternity. "Thanks. I think I'm full. What about you?"

"Yeah. I'm done. Let's clean up and head over to the village." That is the last thing said at the camp.

It is midday and the market is just now beginning to buzz. Gabrielle and Xena walk between all of the colorful booths. Gabrielle stops at one to eye a beautiful flowing article of clothing made of the finest silk from Chin. She turns to Xena and holds the garment to her body for her to see. It is in the style of India and the green color with the red accents set off the emerald color of Gabrielle's shining eyes. "Is this not beautiful, Xena?" she asks.

"Oh, it's beautiful alright." Xena's gaze does not fall on the outfit, but on the young woman holding it. Gabrielle does not notice. She looks at the price tag and says to the waiting merchant, "This is gorgeous, but I can't afford it." She returns it to the man and sets off with Xena again.

The rest of the day is spent in much the same way; Gabrielle, positively glowing with the prospect of so many purchasing possibilities and Xena, following her around like a little lost puppy dog. As the sun begins to set, Xena and Gabrielle find themselves in front of an inn. Gabrielle heads for the door and Xena stops. "Hey Gabrielle, would you get us a table and some drinks? I need to see someone about new tack for Argo."

"Yeah, sure. Don't be too long though. The festivities are going to begin soon."

"No worries, I'll be back before you know I was gone." With a smile reserved only for the bard, she takes off at a run. Gabrielle goes inside and does what Xena asked her to.

Xena is running through the merchant booths, looking for the man with the silk. Finally she reaches him and notices that what she has come for is no longer there. "Excuse me, Sir?"

"Yes, my lady?" he answers.

Ignoring the "my lady" part, "The robe thing that my friend liked, have you sold it already?" She is practically begging with her eyes, which is very uncharacteristic of the warrior.

"I'm sorry, but yes I did. I have one that is a little different right here." He pulls out a similar outfit in a dark shade of blue. "It shows a little more skin than the other one, though."

A huge smile crosses Xena's appearance. "It's perfect. How much?"

Gabrielle is sitting at a booth in the corner of one of the largest inns she had ever been in. All of the tables have been pushed closer to the walls to make room for the dance floor. There is a stage in the back of the room with instruments of all sorts resting on it, obviously waiting for the musicians to appear.

Gabrielle is acting a little nervous and has already gone through two goblets of wine and is working on her third when Xena suddenly appears in the doorway. Xena spots Gabrielle in the corner booth and heads her way. "Hey, stranger. You mind if I sit with you?" She asks with a half-grin.

"Of course you can. Did you get Argo's new tack?" Gabrielle asks.

"What? Oh, yeah…I didn't like his selection. I'll get it in the next town.

"Okay. Xena, I hope you don't mind, but I got us a room here for tonight. If we are going to relax for a bit, I'd rather sleep in an actual bed and get a hot bath."

"Gabrielle, you don't have to ask to stay at an inn. For future reference, just tell me you want to."

Dinner is served along with a mug of ale for Xena and yet another goblet of wine for Gabrielle. They eat their dinner and make small talk throughout. Their waitress is a good one. She only appears when she is needed and keeps their cups full. Both Xena and Gabrielle are flushed after the many drinks they had. The band takes the stage and begins to play a slow, seductive tune. They are talking and laughing loudly at each other when Xena suddenly grabs Gabrielle's hand and says, "Come on. I want to dance."

"Wait, Xena I can't dance."

"Sure you can. You just need the right partner."

"Oh and are you that partner?" Gabrielle asks.

"Yeah, I am." Xena leads Gabrielle to the middle of the dance floor. "See, just move your hips to the beat of the music." Xena gives Gabrielle a little demonstration, spinning in a slow circle. Gabrielle's eyes are glued to her dance partner.

"Xena…I dunno…" Xena stops and moves closer to her. She stops and moves around to face Gabrielle's back. She places her hands on her companion's hips and begins to sway to the beat again. At first Gabrielle is hesitant, but she soon begins to move with Xena's hands. Xena moves in closer and wraps her arms around Gabrielle in an embrace that has them both shivering. "Is this okay?" she whispers in Gabrielle's ear, never breaking the beat. "Yeah…" is her only breathless answer.

The dance continues on like that for a small eternity. The musicians change the beat of the music to a much more up-tempo beat, but the pair does not change their pace. Xena whispers in Gabrielle's ear, "I'm going to take care of our stuff at the camp. Do you want to get another drink and wait for me here?" Gabrielle turns in Xena's arms and looks into her eyes. "I can wait here. I've waited this long haven't I?" she asks suggestively.

Xena smiles and answers, "I'll be quick. I promise." Gabrielle walks to their table and Xena heads for the door.

Xena walks through the dark, crowded streets. Thoughts are running through her mind a mile a minute. What am I doing? I'm seducing my best friend. Is this going to change things between us? Stupid question, of course it is. I just hope it's for the better. She reaches their camp and quickly gets their stuff together. The last thing she grabs is the neatly folded package that she got at the market. Yeah, you made your decision when you spent Argo's tack money on this outfit. With that she takes off at a run back towards the bustling inn.

Gabrielle is sitting at the table with yet another glass of wine. She is not obviously drunk, but it is apparent that she a bit tipsy. A handsome, young man around Gabrielle's own age approaches her with a charming grin on his face. His intent is clear. "Hi, there pretty lady. Care to have this dance?"

"Oh, you know I would, but my uh…boyfriend is around here somewhere."

"Come on, baby. It's just one harmless dance." He makes an attempt at grabbing her hand.

Gabrielle snatches her hand away quickly. "No, really. You don't want to piss him off. He's the strong warrior type. Extremely jealous."

Not-So-Charming Boy makes another attempt at getting Gabrielle away from the table when a hand appears on his shoulder in spins him around. "I think the lady said no" Xena says in a stern voice.

"Who are you?" he asks and then looks at Gabrielle.

"That's my boyfriend." A fit of giggles erupt from Gabrielle. Xena pushes the man away and asks if Gabrielle is okay. "Yeah, I'm fine. What is it with guys anyway? They think that just because a girl is sitting alone, they have to come and be the 'big man' and impress her. Well, buddy, you got another thing coming. This girl doesn't give it up for just anybody." Xena just laughs at Gabrielle's little rant.

"So, does that mean we are done here for the night?" Xena asks of Gabrielle.

"Xena, where's our stuff?" The blond ignores Xena's question.

"I had the innkeeper send it to our room."

Gabrielle takes Xena by the hand and leads her to the dance floor once more. Xena takes the hint and follows her without a word. Once there Gabrielle begins to dance on Xena. All thoughts of insecurity are lost on the younger woman. Xena responds to her advances and they dance like that together for what seems like eternity.

Xena is once again behind Gabrielle with her arms around her waist holding her tightly against her. Her lips are dangerously close to Gabrielle's ear. Gabrielle's left hand rests on top of Xena's, but her right arm sneaks up around the back of Xena's neck to pull her in closer. Xena whispers in her ear, "Gabrielle, I don't know how much more of this I can take. You are driving me insane…" The smaller woman turns in Xena's arms and places both arms around her neck. "Then take me to bed, Xena…"

Xena unlocks the door to their room and leads Gabrielle inside by the hand. She lights a single candle next to the bed as Gabrielle locks the door and then leans against it. The warrior returns to where Gabrielle is standing and comes in so close the only thing they can see of each other is their eyes. With her forearm bracing against the door, Xena's other arm snakes around Gabrielle's waist and pulls her body in very close.

"Gabrielle…are you sure…sure that you want this?" Xena's eyes are pleading. Gabrielle closes the distance between them and places a timid kiss on Xena's lips. The kiss is undeniably soft, filled with tenderness. "Yes, Xena. I do."

Xena pulls back a little. The corner of her mouth crooked up in her trademarked half-grin. She closed the distance once again and brushes her lips against Gabrielle's again, this time using her tongue to gently flick Gabrielle's bottom lip. Both of them were pleasantly surprised at the small whimper that escaped Gabrielle. Loving how Gabrielle is responding to her touch, Xena performs the maneuver again, this time deepening the kiss. She feels Gabrielle's fingers digging into the back of her neck, attempting to pull Xena even closer.

At this, a growl emanated from deep within Xena's chest causing Gabrielle to crush their mouths together in a very deep kiss. Both women moaned at this contact. It seemed like some invisible barrier had been breached and both women were warring against each other, tongues probing, for control. Of course, Xena won and had Gabrielle pushed back against the wall. "Wait."She sighs. "Gabrielle, I want to take this slow." A shaky nod of her head was Gabrielle's only answer.

The taller woman leaned down and made contact with their lips again, continuing the kiss, but much slower this time. Slipping her hands down Gabrielle's back, she cupped her rear with both hands for several moments, never breaking the searing, slow kiss. Even though Xena was enjoying the feeling of the position they were in, she knew that she wanted to move this elsewhere. Gripping Gabrielle's ass, Xena lifted the petite woman up; Gabrielle's legs automatically wrapped around Xena's waist. Without breaking the kiss, Xena carried her like that and sat down on the edge of the surprisingly large bed. Gabrielle stayed straddled over Xena's thighs.

Gabrielle's leather skirt had ridden up and was much higher up her thighs than normal. Xena took advantage of this by running her hands up and down creamy, smooth thighs. She had momentary thoughts of disbelief that this was actually happening. That she was actually here, with Gabrielle, in a position that she had only dreamt about. Gabrielle slowly breaks the kiss and lets her head roll back, a soft sigh released from her lips. Xena took this opportunity to place feather-light kisses on Gabrielle's neck and collar bone. At this new sensation, Gabrielle threaded her finders through Xena's hair pulling closer and deepening the pleasing contact.

Gabrielle's hips started to move against Xena as if they had a mind of their own. The feeling of Xena's leather-clad body lightly brushing against her center almost sent Gabrielle over the edge. Taking this new development in stride, Xena moved both of her hands over each of Gabrielle's hips to pull her closer. She slides her right hand up the blonde's back and then moves it under the green top that Gabrielle is wearing. Breaking the kiss, Xena looks into Gabrielle's shining green eyes, silently asking for permission to take the top off. Gabrielle gives no resistance, so Xena slowly unties the lace at the front of the garment, never breaking the intense stare between them.

Once the laces were undone, Xena used both of hand to slowly push the top over Gabrielle's shoulders, exposing two small, but perfectly rounded breasts. Gabrielle smiles at the look on Xena's face, continuing the passionate kiss. Xena brushes her thumbs over her sensitive nipples simultaneously, causing Gabrielle to inhale sharply and arch into Xena's touch. The smaller woman leaned forward so she could rest her forehead against Xena's bare shoulder, nuzzling as she does so. Xena continues her playful assault on Gabrielle.

Never before in her life had Gabrielle felt such emotion and sensitivity to a single thing, let alone another person. Just when she thinks it cannot get any better, Xena catches one of her nipples and gently rolls it between her thumb and forefinger, eliciting very exciting sounds from Gabrielle. Her hips begin to move quicker against Xena's thighs. "Oh, Gods…Xena…" At the sound of her name from those sweet lips, Xena lifts Gabrielle up slowly and deposits her on the bed next her. Xena stands up and then kneels between Gabrielle's thighs. She slides her hand down one smooth leg and loosens the threads holding Gabrielle's boots on. With expert movements, Xena takes the boot off and then does the exact same thing to the other. Grasping both of Gabrielle's hands Xena pulls her into a standing position and then lets her hands trail up her arms, over her shoulders, down her back the into the waist band of Gabrielle's skirt. She slowly slides the garment along with Gabrielle's breeches off until they hit the floor, never breaking eye contact with Gabrielle. She starts to push Gabrielle back onto the bed when a small hand pushes slightly against her chest. In the most sensual voice Xena had ever heard, Gabrielle whispers, "No…It's your turn now…"

With a lascivious grin, Gabrielle walks behind the warrior and releases the clasps that hold Xena's armor in place with experienced hands. She continues to remove them from her partner and lets them fall gently to the floor. She then removes Xena's battle skirt. Gabrielle slides her hands up Xena's back, memorizing every muscle and the way it moves before she unties the laces holding the only thing between her and her warrior. Once the straps are off of Xena's should the leather dress fall to the floor, leaving a very naked, very beautiful warrior princess standing before Gabrielle. With light fingers, Gabrielle traces the scars that litter Xena's back with such tenderness that a light mist forms in Xena's blue eyes. "Xena, you are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I really mean that."

Xena turns towards the younger woman sweeping her off of her feet and cradling her to her exposed chest. Laying her down gently on the bed, Xena slides into bed with her. Gabrielle lies on her back with her head turned towards the older woman with Xena lying on her side as close as possible to Gabrielle. She leans over and kisses Gabrielle once and then slowly moves to her jaw and then her neck, leaving a trail of kisses wherever she goes. Xena's head is now on Gabrielle's chest forging a path to her right breast while Xena's right hand caresses the silky smooth side of Gabrielle's left breast. Gabrielle gasped when she felt Xena's tongue doing a circular dance around her nipple, but not actually touching it yet. The younger woman thought she might explode if Xena didn't touch her soon and as if Xena read her thoughts, she raked a flat, lazy tongue across the hard point of flesh.

"Oh my Gods, Xena…" came out as a breathless whisper.

Xena continued her relentless assault on Gabrielle's breast, claiming the other with her free hand. She shifted her body so that she was half on top of Gabrielle with one leg separating Gabrielle's waiting thighs. Unexpectedly to both parties, Gabrielle arched her body into Xena, causing soaked center to rub sensuously against Xena's muscular leg. A sharp intake of breath can be heard, but from whom is unknown. They both begin to rock against one another, quickly finding a rhythm that suits both of them.

Xena's mouth, fingers, and thigh set a pace that escalated Gabrielle's senses above and beyond anywhere she had been before. The blonde's breathing was coming in rapid gasps and Xena knew that Gabrielle was getting really close to the edge. Xena began moving her kisses lower and lower down Gabrielle's body, leaving a searing trail along the way. When she reached Gabrielle's lower abdomen, she moved her body between her partner's thighs with her shoulders resting just below them.

"You okay?" she asked with concern. "Yeah, I'm gr-…great."

Xena wrapped one strong arm around Gabrielle's leg and the other was kneading her hip. She continued her oral assault on the flat planes of Gabrielle's stomach. The hand that was massaging the blonde's hip moved to Gabrielle's center. Xena slowly slid just one finger through Gabrielle's wet center, enjoying the smoothness that could only be a woman's pleasure. It had been so long since Xena had done this, that she just moved back and forth enjoying the feeling of her bard. Gabrielle responded by writhing her hips, trying to force Xena's hand to where she wanted it to be, but Xena would have none of that. Removing her hand, Xena spread Gabrielle's thighs farther apart and began to lay hot kisses on the center of Gabrielle's thigh.

Gabrielle had never been so thoroughly loved in her life. Sure she had fooled around with some of the girls in her village, but that was child's play compared to what Xena made her feel now. Xena's mouth left her thigh and Gabrielle could feel Xena's breath on her center, which was by this point aching for attention. Part of her wanted to shove Xena's head into her wetness and force her to take action. Another part just wanted to wait and let Xena do whatever she wanted to her. Xena was obviously skilled in this department.

The thought had barely crossed her mind when Xena's tongue descended upon her. She licked her once from bottom to top. A cry was ripped from Gabrielle's chest at this onslaught of sensation. Xena performed the maneuver again and got the same reaction from Gabrielle again. Both of Gabrielle's hands clutched at Xena's head, pushing her against her hard. Without missing a beat Xena continued these ministrations without pause. With her tongue, she memorized every dip, every curve to Gabrielle's body. Xena began to hum as her own pleasure began to build. Gabrielle's hips started bucking wildly against Xena's face, so Xena used her strength to hold the writhing woman down. With a free hand Xena pushed one finger into Gabrielle and then another, never stopping her oral assault.

They once again found a rhythm that worked and the pace became faster and faster. Gabrielle soars ever higher, panting Xena's name, spurring her lover on further. She feels herself cresting, her orgasm so close. With one final thrust from Xena's hand, Gabrielle flies over the edge, screaming Xena's name, experiencing wave after wave of pleasure. Xena stayed very still, letting Gabrielle ride out her orgasm. Only when it was apparent that Gabrielle's body had finally relaxed, did she come up for air, smiling at the blissful look on her partner's face. Picking herself up, she moved next to Gabrielle. Xena gathered Gabrielle up in her arms and hugged her tightly.

Gabrielle opens her eyes. "Xena…you are amazing"

"You aren't too bad yourself."

Gabrielle's body is weaker than she had ever remembered before. Her arms lay lifelessly next to her with one leg thrown possessively over Xena's. "Gods, I am so tired. Just give me a minute."

"Shh. It's okay. Go to sleep." Xena cooed.

"But you didn't-"

Xena cuts her off, "Actually I did. Right when you did."

Gabrielle needed no more coaxing and quickly drifted to sleep in Xena's warm embrace. Her last thoughts were of wonder at how the past few days had turned out and how amazing it was that their bodies fit together like two puzzle pieces. Xena turns toward the nightstand and blows out the candle.

The next morning finds the lovers still in the same position that they fell asleep in. Xena places a soft kiss on top of Gabrielle's head. The blonde slowly stirs and is greeted by the most amazingly blue eyes; something that she will probably never get weary of. "Good morning" comes out as a slow drawl in Xena's deep voice.

"Morning. How did you sleep?"

"I slept pretty well actually."

Looking down, Gabrielle notices that she is still nude; proof that last night really did happen and it wasn't just one of her dreams. Xena sits up slowly, brushing her hair out of her eyes. "Oh wait, I almost forgot." She jumps up out of bed and grabs the package left in the corner of the room. Gabrielle wraps the sheet around her and sits up as well.

"I got you something at the market yesterday." She hands Gabrielle the package, which she promptly opens. "I know it isn't the one you wanted, but I got the next best thing."

Gabrielle unfolds the flowing silk robe with a smile on her face. "Xena…You shouldn't have."

"I could take it back if you want." Xena makes a grab for the robe, but Gabrielle jumps back. "No, no, no. I love it!" She stands and wraps herself in the silk and does a little spin for Xena. The older woman does not answer, but she does pounce on Gabrielle, forcing her to the bed. "I love it, too…" she whispers in Gabrielle's ear. They lie like that for a few moments before Gabrielle turns to Xena with questions written all over her face.

"Xena, can I ask you something?"

"You already did, but sure."

"How did you know? How did you know that I felt like that about you?"

Xena places a hand on the side of Gabrielle's head, cupping her face. She looked directly into Gabrielle's eyes and says, "Because you said my name."