How I Met Your Mother

Ch 1

The air of day brushes low across the ground, the night's chill soon to be embraced as midnight lurks in the corner of a tavern outside the boarders of the sister cities: Amphipolis and Potidiea. A pair of cool-steel eyes observes their surroundings, like frost, bright in the encompassing world. The stage is rapt with excitement and crowded below by people eager to observe the enacted works of Sappho. Tonight seems to be full of noise, and the pints flow freely, out of barrels and through the lives of dancers, Warriors, and patrons alike. For whatever bit of relaxation she possesses, the Warrior Princess has lost it with the fall of night. But then again this is when the most colorful characters breeze through just looking for trouble. It wouldn't hurt to stick around a little longer. Besides, the cute red-headed bar-maid hasn't been able to stop giving her subtle winks every now and again; accidentally dropping a rag as she's cleaning tables to ever so slowly pick it up. But for whatever plans the girl might have had for the Warrior, her infamous cool expressions keep her from approaching. But soon, the former Conqueror does something she's never done before as everything around her is forgotten, melting away to nothing but a glow that focuses her sights. She's sure that a Goddess has just descended, and by the aura around her, Xena expects Aphrodite to walk from an Olympian cloud. But it's none of the Gods come for a piece of the Warrior Princess; it's a mere girl who's just walked in. Such an occupational hazard to be struck dumb by a woman ... perhaps the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. Reprimanding her thoughts aloud, "Stop that", the Warrior thinks herself mad. Gabrielle smiles, in a state of pure bliss, now that she was finally at the border; she pulls some coins from her satchel and approaches the bar-keep. Sure to put on her cutest face, she catches the owner off-guard, but soon he can't help but return the delightful smile the aspiring Bard gives him.

"How much for a room, dinner and bath?"

"Let's see", he opens a book pulled from under the bar, "I have one room available, that's five dinars, and I'm running a special on dinner plus the bath, another five dinars." With his attempt to match the kindness the girl's expressions exuded to him, the old man looks at the blonde to see her cheerful, rosy cheeks have vanished and a look of distaste has taken its place.

"I'm sure that is a wonderful deal. Say…do your rooms have all accommodations?"

"Well, sure. There's a bed, fireplace, and table."

"Great, but you see, here's my guess ... the bed is most likely a stuffed hay-palette ..."

"W-well ..."

"... in the corner of this room with the most delightful view of the stables to the east, smelling of Gods know what. But most of the rooms you save for last minute costumers do, don't they? And you counteract that by overpowering the food with onion and garlic, which, smelling from here, I can tell is about three times the amount anything should normally be laden with. And by the time I've had the bath, my senses are so suspended I don't have the energy to care about the extra dinars I spent so needlessly."

"Umm ... well, I ..."

"So, how's this? I'll give you three dinars for the room, and two for the food and bath."

"Umph ... sounds reasonable ... uh, five then."

"Thank you, so very much." The bar-keep begrudgingly hands over the key to the room, and with a look of chronic triumph, Gabrielle turns to observe that the other patrons, previously gathered near the stage, have taken their seats to listen to others' attempts at presenting their work in hopeful light that they too will become one of the Great Bards that the Gods had so blessedly bestowed upon this world. Luckily she finds an open table, right in the middle of the tavern…

Eyes …

Eyes emerald green,

Hinting flames of gold,

Sometimes flare

Others don't;

Burning through

Heart's defenses,

Into the soul;

Passionate, they ignite,

Causing their victims

To stare forever deeper;

Loosing themselves,

They pray to have

The strength to resist;

But the inevitable truth:

One grows weaker

By the second;

None can prevent

This violation of soul

At the risk of dying;

For when the gaze commences

The only remedy is

To meet these eyes again;

Not to retrieve stolen,

Dark secrets

But to mend the shattered pieces

Of a broken heart.

The crowd roars dully for lack of numbers, but still, all rejoice at the performer's words. Gabrielle claps ecstatically with them. But at the table behind her, she hears a round of men yelling for the boy to get off the stage, never ending with their child-like pounding of fists upon the table, and ramping of feet. Without really thinking, Gabrielle gives them the dirtiest of looks, and she sees one of the men just smiling at her as his friends continue to ignore her stares. He smiles almost sweetly, and unlike the rest of his burly companions, he isn't too hard on the eyes ... if you're into the kill-you-while-you-sleep type. He makes a production of scooting out his chair, standing as if he reaches a glorious ten feet of pure Adonis, all the while Gabrielle ignores him, hoping he'd get the hint that she prefers he not even try, but this guy's thick.

"Hey there." He pulls up a chair nearly right beside her.

"No, really, have a seat."

"What's your name, Princess?"

"Sorry, I don't talk to strangers."

"Listen, let me buy you a drink."

"No, thanks."

"Come on, I insist. 'Might help to lighten your mood a little."

"Loosen it, more like it." Way finished playing games with this goon, Gabrielle goes to move away, but suddenly he has her hand, gripping it forcefully under the table. Emerald eyes show fright, intimidation, and pure distress.

"My friends and I would greatly appreciate the company of a fine young lady, such as yourself." Strong distinct foot-steps sound in the soldier's ear, only seconds before he's able to register someone holding him off the floor, by the scruff of his leathers. Anger soon pales to fright, as does his face from shock. Those bright blue eyes emanating from his darkest nightmares chill his entire being, and all he can say is, "Xena!"

"I believe the lady said, no." Gabrielle looks on in awe, how this Xena erected the guy dumb to the exception of speaking her name. How strong she must be to lift him so effortlessly. This was going to make a great story! People were staring, this Warrior woman seeming as if she could care less. So the blonde does what she does best ... plays it out. Putting herself between Xena and her prey, Gabrielle shocks them both by shamelessly taking hold of the Warrior's hand, causing her to drop the man on the floor, "Thank you so very much, for your offer ..." Amazed at how easily this girl tamed the Legendary Conqueror of Nations, her hand unclasped at a touch, the soldier stays anchored to the spot, staring up at the blonde as she speaks, "... but I think I'll have to decline." Still holding the dark woman's hand, she envelopes it in both of her own, "Thanks, for coming to my rescue, Xena."

"You know her?" Covering his mouth immediately after the words had left his mouth, he scrambles out of reach in fear he may provoke the Warrior Princess.

"Y-yes, we're ... Old friends."

"Old friends?"

"Childhood friends." Pulling the Warrior along, now dumb-founded herself at the blonde's improvising, Gabrielle leads her to the back of the tavern, away from the crowd of on lookers, "Come, Xena. You sure have made me wait long enough!" They settle in the corner booth, where Xena had previously had the pleasure of taking in the sight of this woman, now holding onto her arm. She soon remembers why she'd been paying attention enough to this Goddess to realize her subtle cry for help.

"Well, I guess the gentlemanly thing to do would be to offer the lady a drink." The first time hearing her savior speak directly to her catches Gabrielle off-guard. Xena's voice was deep, sultry, causing goose bumps to rise over her arms, neck, and back. Such prickling seemed to be by cause of what the blonde took as fear, but when she ponders over it, she finds that she holds no fear of her hero. Finding herself entangled with the Warrior, the aspiring bard blushes, but oddly can't find the strength to release.

"Um, I don't drink."

"And I'm not a gentleman. We're even, then." Gabrielle continues to stare on, deeper into the bluest eyes she's ever seen. Her very soul seems to fall into them, and she swears that they embrace her, where once she witnessed a man nearly wet himself at the sight. With no perception of the time that had elapsed, the blonde finally lets go of Xena with a jolt, realizing how senseless their intimacy appeared for the recently acquainted. The Warrior takes it for fear, and for once is ashamed that she may have been the cause. This was certainly a night of firsts. "Don't worry. I won't bite."

"I know you won't ... I-I mean, I don't believe you'd ... do anything to hurt me."

"And how do you know that?"

"I just do." This girl was truly amazing. Xena could sense she told the truth. But why was she traveling alone? And who in their right mind would feel comfortable with someone like her, having also seen her at her most threatening? It was more of an act now-a-days, though the reputation she'd built for herself wasn't, but still. "So, you traveling alone?"

"Yeah." She was staring again, barely missing answering the Warrior's question, but she soon finds her tongue again, "I've been traveling all day to get here."

"Where're you coming from?"


"It took you all day to get here? It's just the border."

"Well, the truth is I ... sort of ran away from home. I had to wait for night-fall, then I took what money I had and left as soon as I could."

"Wow. What could be so bad that you'd run away from home? You must have a family that will miss you."

"I couldn't stay there anymore. I was to be married ... to the dullest, dumbest ... I just can't marry someone I don't love."

"Love is the most important thing when it comes to things like that." Unaware that the Warrior had made an order, Gabrielle notices the bar-maid as she brings them fresh roast and boiled potatoes.

"I overheard you at the bar and got them to send us something more edible."

"Oh, that ... you mustn't let people take advantage of their perceived image of you. I know what it must seem ... me … a cute, innocent farm-girl, in her blissful ignorance, would put up any price you give her for a room. But don't be fooled so easily. I know my way around the market."

"I'm impressed." The bar-maid comes again with drinks, non-alcoholic for the lady of course. But as she leaves, Gabrielle gets the cruelest look from her, as if she'd just defiled her mother's grave and taken her husband to bed as reward. Xena sees it all, and can't hold back from laughing under her breath.

"What was that all about?"

"Just something I'll have to take care of later." They sit in comfortable silence, eating their meals. After they've had their fill, Xena still continues to drink, amazing the blonde again. How can she still be conscious?

"Um, can I ask you something?" Looking over the edge of her cup, Xena hides a smile,

"Sure. Shoot.", 'here it comes...'

"How did you do that? To that man ... he must have been at least twice your size. Are you some sort of dark Warrior sent by Hades … with an immortal strength given by the powers of a thousand demons?"

"Well, you get straight to the point, don't 'cha?", she drinks down the rest of her pint easily and with much satisfaction. As a stray drop rolls from her chin, Gabrielle can't help but think how she longed to be that drink, 'What am I thinking?!'

"No, I am no demon. Though some have called me such. I don't blame them. Nothing can make up for the things I've done." The blonde feels hurt, its reflection in the Warrior's eyes. She wanted to mend whatever Xena saw as shattered within herself.

"You can't be that bad. You saved me." Her warm smiles have been a tool of sorts, and the aspiring bard loved how it seemed to be effective. The light shining from this woman was contagious, making Xena smile in turn,

"Yes, I suppose. But I don't know why." Gabrielle looks almost heartbroken and seeing this made Xena panic slightly, though she couldn't explain why. "Don't get me wrong. I would have saved you either way." This seems to comfort the girl, "But usually I would have left him something to remember me by, either by breaking a leg or taking a hand..." Gabrielle's eyes go wide, and her body shakes from inappropriate excitement. "What?"

"You just don't seem ... the type to do that." The Warrior Princess' eyes narrow, but in a playful manner that most don't recognize, making the aspiring Bard fall over her words, "I-I mean ... y-you are intimidating ... with all the leather, and the eyes ... you know ... and what with being so tall and dark ... and beautiful." Casting a purposeful shadow over the blonde, her height an advantage, the Warrior makes her eyes intense,


"Well, yeah. It must catch some people off-guard."

"Like how?" Knowing fully well what she meant, Xena had to hear her explanation. She just enjoyed toying with the blonde. Gabrielle hoped the Warrior couldn't hear her heart beating uncontrollably, as she was so close to her. Did she have a death wish? For no matter how much her gut was screaming for her to flee, the dangerous nature of Xena kept her still. The Warrior was pleased to sense her companion's involuntary arousal, though still shocked at how quickly she'd fallen for her charms.

"Someone so beautiful could distract their prey 'till she got them where she wanted them."


"Then do ... as she pleased."

"Is that an invitation?" An arm had snaked to the back of Gabrielle's seat, allowing her to lean in at her leisure into the raven-haired woman.

"I was being purely hypothetical, of course."

"Of course." Though the girl's heart beat said different, Xena pulls away from the girl slowly, and gets the reaction she'd hoped for. As soon as the Warrior had taken away the heat of her breath, the touch of her arm across her shoulders, the hand brushing a finger along the smoothness of her bicep, Gabrielle reached out for her. A hand lay on the Warrior Princess' leather clad hip, and kept a force that would prevent her from turning further. In a seemingly dazed state, the blonde was soon on her knees in the booth, gazing down into the sapphire-like blues of her savior. All matter of pride was forgotten, as Xena feels a delicate fire race under her skin, experiencing another first. She trembles at Gabrielle's touch, her smaller hand caressing her cheek, poetically defining her features as any true Bard would. Putting herself in the Warrior's lap, the smaller girl was soon wrapped within powerful arms, as she brings her lips closer and closer to the warm air she craved. Wanting her to make the first move, the Warrior Princess merely focuses her efforts to breathe more evenly, but was failing miserably. Finally, Gabrielle takes the Warrior's lips, instinctively using her tongue to taste the alcohol she'd been partaking as if her purpose in life was to get drunk off kissing this Goddess that was now stroking her back in heated passion.

"Um, umph ..." Xena looks at the bar-maid with a fury that could challenge the fires of Tartarus,

"What?!" Gabrielle, frightened by the anger in the Warrior's voice, realizes the indecency of their affections, 'Affections? I barely know the woman!', and quickly removes herself, Xena pleading under her breath, "Oh, come on, we were do'n fine." The Warrior gives a frustrated growl, her hands grabbing the underside of her seat in a death grip, as if to keep from killing the red-head, "We were kind of in the middle of something, Naomi."

"I could tell."

"Then why in the name of Ares did you interrupt?"

"Boss says this isn't a brothel ..." she takes a glance at the blonde, "... take your whores upstairs." The scorned woman finds herself pinned against the wall next to her within seconds. Xena's forearm pressed roughly against her throat as she gasped slightly for air, "... go on ... I like it … when you play rough ..." The Warrior let's up, not wanting to appease her antagonizer in any way. The bar-maid slides down the wall, allowed to stand on her feet, but still unable to escape,


"I knew it ... you could never hurt a woman."

"Tell her you're sorry."

"Why do you care? She's just some kid."

"APOLOGIZE!" All the while, Gabrielle had remained still. She started to have second thoughts about the Warrior. Apparently gender didn't matter when it came to threats. But then again Xena was only getting in this girl's face in her defense, and oddly, she admired the woman's sense of honor for her.

"Alright, alright! I'm sorry for calling you a whore."

"And you can forget me taking you to Chin."

"What?! You promised!"

"Well, you pissed me off by insulting my friend." Xena walks away, taking Gabrielle by the hand and leading her out of the tavern, but before they leave, the bar-maid cries out in desperation,

"You Bitch!"

"I've been called worse." Xena completely ignores everyone's stares as she shoves the doors to the tavern open and exits with the aspiring Bard, now not so keen on having an audience's eyes on her, as she gives a nervous smile while being dragged out into the night. Gabrielle remains submissive to the Warrior Princess' insistent guiding, where if it were anyone else she would have been sure to verbalize her protests. But she was so intrigued, craving to know what drove this dark woman. This obsession with appeasing her curiosity was to be the death of her, she knew it. They didn't go far, stopping at the back of the large building. The moon shined as bright as day upon them. 'Why would she bring us here?' There wasn't anything but the windows of the tavern spilling light from the kitchen, the breeze graciously blowing a balancing chill with the hot summer night, and a smell of flowers in the fields beyond overpowering the harsh aromas of the kitchen. A single table sat next to the door that led back into the tavern. She watched as Xena stopped and stared up at the moon and breathed in the air slowly and deeply. Whatever ease or pleasure the Warrior received only added to her mystery for Gabrielle,

"I wish I could feel such peace."

"This is me trying to keep from killing that little bitch!" Gabrielle retracted in shock of what depths Xena's voice could take. She held her hand up to her chest as if she was protecting her heart. 'Oh, how cute ... Stop that!'

Xena was at war with herself, where once she simply gave into one impulse or another. But this girl made her want to fight for the sake of absolute calm. She looks at the blonde, whose concern for the Warrior caused her to act like she hadn't even snapped at her. Instead, her eyes were asking permission to touch the Warrior, to comfort her. 'She keeps me sane, just by looking into her eyes. What in Tartarus is wrong with me?!'

As Gabrielle reaches out her hand, Xena continues to stare forever deeper. Time seems to freeze around them, Xena acting as a deer caught in the cross-hairs. But suddenly the Warrior breaks the spell of the moment, grabbing hold of the younger girl's hand and easily swinging her on her back like a pack. Instinctively, Gabrielle wraps her arms around Xena's neck and is amazed again as the Warrior runs, jumps onto the table, pushes off into the air, to land on the roof. Depositing her burden, Xena allows Gabrielle to stand on her own feet. Gabrielle dismounts shakily, almost tumbling off the edge of the building, but soon is swooped up again into the Warrior's arms. Xena glances off into the distance with heavy eyes, pondering the unknown, the aspiring Bard taking the moment to gaze up at her, before realizing she's in the Warrior woman's lap, holding on for dear life. Eventually she calms as she studies how Xena sits on the angled roof: confident, leaving her left leg up to brace her bundle's back, while using her right arm to hold around her waist, despite the blonde's arms still clinging to her. She brings her arms from around the Warrior's neck and hesitantly rests them, her right hand over the warrior's bracer and her left up to stroke Xena's upper arm. With this she breaks the Warrior out of her reverie,

"Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you."

"I'm fine ... a little shocked, but fine."

"Now that I think about it, you were a little too easy to get up here." Xena looks out at the moon again and sighs, "I'm sorry for ... my behavior, back there."

"You didn't do anything wrong. And it's me that should be apologizing."

"For what?"

"For coming on to you ... and in public like that! Believe me, I don't do that often."

"You are very peculiar." Gabrielle wrinkles her brow in confusion, while Xena looks off into the distance, her eyes intensely searching for answers, "You care not for the fact that I almost killed that girl, but for the possibility of having offended me. You don't run from me, though every fiber of your being tells you to do so. And ..." the Warrior radiates with warmth, though still with confusion in her voice. Gabrielle soon determines that Xena's own body seems to be the source of the heat, a slight pink tint throughout her skin, evident even through her dark complexion, "... when that man ... touched you ... it burned me. Inside, I felt a rage that I've never felt in my entire life. Gods, how I wanted to snap his little ..." Gabrielle stokes her arm again, in order to sooth her, "... but instead, your touch seemed to wash the hate away." Xena shrugged the blonde's hand away, and as it slid down her arm, she caught it with her own, finding it fascinating. She held Gabrielle's hand and brought it to her heart as she carried away with her words, all the while daring not to look the blonde directly in the eye, "... I have to admit, when you walked into that tavern ... I was struck by the light emanating from you, the warmth that touched me in your smile ... I was sure that a Goddess stood in your place." Looking down again into glossy eyes, Gabrielle seemed to blush and tears lightly welled up in her gaze, pure adoration for Xena evident,

"That's the most beautiful thing I've ever heard."

"What? Me wanting to snap some guy's neck?

"Of mine being a Goddess."

"Did I say all that out loud?!" Xena bows her head in shame and panic widens in her eyes. But as Gabrielle wraps her arm around the Warrior's neck, the Warrior Princess focuses on the woman in her lap,

"Yes, you did. It was very romantic." Xena leans into Gabrielle, cupping her fair cheek and wiping away a stay tear. Stroking the softness, the Warrior lingers over the young girl's features, eventually trailing down to her neck. Heat invades Xena's palm, as Gabrielle intoxicates herself with the view of the dark beauty, her rougher hand touching her flesh, her gentle movements allowing the aspiring bard to feel the immense density of muscle where her hand lay on the Warrior's armband, and her face like an alter worshiping the most exquisite, piercing blue eyes she'd ever experienced. How can someone possibly be so rugged, so sexy, so staggeringly beautiful, all at the same time? Instead of a kiss, she finds the Warrior going in for her neck, her hot breath all the more stimulating as Xena inhales deeply and soundly sighs in bliss.

"You come from the western part of town, just at the outskirts where Potidiea boarders Amphipolis."

"How do you know that?"

"You smell of honey suckle and lavender. Such a combination would only happen there."

"Where are you from, Xena?"


"What? That means we must have been neighbors."

"Well, I haven't been home in a while."

"You coming to visit?"

"No. I'm leaving. I tried going back, but … they don't want me there."

"Where will you go now?"

"To Chin. I want to visit some old friends."

"Take me with you."

"What? Why?"

"Well, to be honest, I want to become a bard. I write my own stories now, but ... I don't have much to work with, but what greater way to improve them than by real world experience, to have traveled farther East than any girl dared before."

"You have quite high expectations."

"Please Xena. Let me go with you."

"Alright, then", Xena stands with Gabrielle in her arms and springs from the building's roof. Landing on the soft ground, she places the blonde on level land again. "Get some sleep. We leave at dawn." Xena heads towards the woods and Gabrielle stops her, "Wait. Where are you going?"

"To the stables."

"What? No, no. You can share a room with me."

"Well …"

"It'll be way more comfortable than the loft, and a whole lot fresher."

"Yeah, I suppose you're right." Xena puts her hand on Gabrielle's shoulder, "Thanks."

"D-don't mention it."

Xena leads them back into the tavern, but this time everyone's too busy to notice. Most have their attention on the stage. The handsy soldier-boy sat at the big round table alone, his friends seeming to have given him two black eyes and a cracked skull to add to the humiliation of having been roughed up by a girl. He looks upon them in fear as they pass, Xena growling at him suddenly, causing him to halfway duck under the table. Laughing, she holds her stomach while pulling Gabrielle along, who had stopped walking as she thought Xena may decide to add to his discomfort. As they enter the room, Gabrielle notices the palette she predicted: small but big enough for two. 'If you're on your honeymoon.' Gabrielle goes to the fireplace and grabs some flint she has stashed away in her bag. After a couple of shaky attempts, her hands steady just enough for a fire to light and warm the room in turn. Silence constricts the women's movements, neither sure how this little sleepover was gonna work. Gabrielle stays by the flames, staring into the heat as she listens for Xena. She wonders if it was really a smart idea to invite a Warrior to her room. Soon there's a knock at the door. Gabrielle jumps and Xena immediately draws her sword, swinging it in one hand, and approaches the door. Another hurried knock raps upon the wooden barrier, and Gabrielle, standing behind the Warrior as she moves, grabs hold of Xena's arm with a start. Before the Warrior can open the door they hear Naomi speak,

"Hey, lady, your bath is ready. Are you gonna open the door?" All the tension in the air vanishes, leaving the blonde to ponder why there was any; they have nothing to fear. Xena steps aside, allowing the young girl to let the bar-maid in at her leisure. Gabrielle lets Naomi in,

"By the fire will be fine." She gives the aspiring bard a half way hidden snarl within an apocryphal smile. The maid leads two more girls to the table by the fire,

"That's the only place you can have it, your majesty." So used to tubs, Gabrielle is shocked, pleasantly so, to find that the table cloth came off with the table's top, discretely hiding away a built in bath, "Cool." The ladies then proceed to bring in buckets of hot water, 'till the bath is full. Xena continues to hide in the shadows the opened door creates in one corner of the room, so she won't have to deal with whatever dramatics the bar-maid would draw out of the situation. She realized that she cared for what trouble having her as a guest would cause for Gabrielle, even if it was only dirty looks of envy from the likes of Naomi. 'Why don't you just hand over your whip, Xena?' Chuckling at her inner thoughts catches the maid's attention. Her voice starts in the motions of a scream, but the sounds are muffled as Xena moves quickly to close the door as she exits. Her back bracing the door, Xena feels someone punch the wood, and as her exasperations end, the Warrior looks at Gabrielle, her face one of confusion, then bows her head and laughs,

"That girl … I just think she's so funny."

"Why's she yelling?"

"Only the Gods know." A grin still curls upon the Warrior Princess' face. Soon they stand in awkward silence once more, Gabrielle going about putting oils in the warm bath.

"Well, I'll just, um…leave you to your bath." Rushing toward the door without alarming the blonde, Xena appears desperate to get out.

"Wait." The Warrior's hand on the door stops in the motions of pulling its handle. Gabrielle sounds anxious, as if she didn't want the dark woman out of her sight.

"What is it?"

"You don't have to go. I mean the bath is big enough … for two." What are you saying Gabrielle!?

"No, it's okay. I'll just go downstairs and get Naomi to …"


"… fix me a drink." Looking at Gabrielle as if she'd gone mad, "Are you all right?"

"Yeah … sorry … I didn't mean to …" Xena raises her eyebrows and can't help but halfway grin at the girl's ramblings,

"It's alright…" for a moment the warmth of comfort rises deep within the aspiring bard's chest, the sound of the Warrior's voice as soft and gentle as it was affirming, "… a bath sounds splendid."

Gabrielle couldn't explain the sense of disappointment she felt. The Warrior had partaken in her charity, but all the while remained with her back to her.

"I can't take it anymore!" The blonde yells, but just for those in the room to hear. Springing from the bath's waters, Gabrielle takes a bit of cloth and wraps her naked form. Leaning against the wall next to the small window, the young girl stares out at the moon, "By Artemis above, why must you make this so hard on me?" Xena gets out herself and goes to Gabrielle in fear that she'd made the wrong decision in staying with the blonde.

"What is it?" Was she scared of traveling so far from home? Did she miss her family? Did the images of her attacking that bar-maid make her rethink taking part in her company? Gabrielle brought her head up to look at Xena,

"By Gods, Xena … please cover yourself." For the first time in decades, the Warrior felt shameful of her bare body, as she found something to wrap with,

"Are you missing your family?"

"No…" Suddenly Gabrielle grabs Xena's forearm which had extended to reach for a strand of stray hair and tuck it back in its proper place; a simple means of comfort. Purely out of reflex, the blonde had stopped the subliminal threat, but before the Warrior can question Gabrielle's drastic change of skill, the girl's touches smooth over her skin. Gabrielle looked upon the skin beneath her hand and became entranced with the dark woman. The blonde spoke to no one in particular, "What forces could possibly create such magnificence?" Only a whisper as she proceeded to take both arms, stoking Xena's powerful muscles, continuing up to each shoulder, massaging appreciatively as she went; but the words instill a fire through to every place Gabrielle laid a delicate caress to the Warrior's skin.

"What are you doing?" Xena regretted asking as the blonde stopped stroking her arm so adoringly,

"I have to tell you something, Xena." She motions for the Warrior to take a seat, one imbedded in the wall as a part of the window sill. Amazed at how obedient she was to this girl, she ponders the reason for such reverence. As she sat, Gabrielle began to pace in front of her, walking from one side of the window to the other. She stops for a few moments and inhales, closing her eyes in hopes that it will be easier to say without those deep, alluring sapphire eyes looking at her, "I'm not from Potidiea … I'm from the Amazon tribe of Britannia." Still with her eyes shut, she listens for any kind of reaction the Warrior would have, but all she hears is silence, "Not only that, I'm …" a lump seemed to catch in her throat and she swallowed it down, thinking how ridiculous it was for a woman of her stature to act so nervous. Standing up straight, Gabrielle opened her eyes and squared her shoulders, "I … am an Amazon Princess."

"I know."

"You knew!?"

"Well, not the whole time, but … not all girls have the symbol of the huntress tattooed on their neck." Without thinking, Gabrielle immediately puts a hand over the deep scars she knew bolded out as a representation of her allegiance to the moon Goddess. She felt the crescent just under her neck and drew two of her fingers over where the points met together, encompassing a single star. "But you did come from Potidiea."

"Well, I wasn't lying when I said I was leaving Potidiea. I heard that my real parents live there and went to see them. But they didn't recognize me … and when I told them where'd I'd come from … well, let's just say it didn't go the way I'd hoped."

"I understand. Most people don't approve of the Amazons, mostly due to their own ignorance. I still say it's because men can't deal with the fact women can form a strong and thriving nation without them." Xena earned a chuckle from the blonde at this,

"If they would just try to understand our ways before judging us … they might learn something." Both women laugh now.

"Oh…I agree … but I have to ask … why are you way out here?"

"Well, again I wasn't lying when I said I'd run away from home. My queen … she's asked me to be joined with our village's weapons master. She says it's an honorable match. You see, by custom …"

"Believe me, I'm all too familiar with Amazon custom. As is tradition, you are to be joined with a Warrior of notable courage and strength, someone willing to die in honor for her nation. She is to be your consort , worshipping you as she would your Goddess Artemis. Did I get most of that right?"

"…Yeah… are you sure you're not an Amazon?"

"Yes … I'm sure." Shooting her most dazzling smile at the Amazon, Xena recognizes the same blush she'd witnessed flushing the blonde's face earlier that night, as it made its way even further down her neck and to the expanse of cleavage the now loosening cloth, wrapping the smaller form, did expose. "And I'm also sure … that I'm in violation of several Amazon laws ..." Gabrielle stares back at the Warrior's gaze and it soon entrances her again, "… no one besides those of Amazon blood, or rights, should hold a private council with the Amazon Princess..." Xena rises and offers her hand to Gabrielle. As the aspiring bard draws her hand gently over the top of the Warriors open palm, Xena offers her other hand. Not able to resist, Gabrielle attempts to take the other hand as well. But the dark woman, mysterious as she is, surprises by pulling the Princess in "… should even look upon the Princess unless with reverence or downcast eyes …" Now having hold of the Amazon, their left hands clasped together, Xena wraps her opposite arm around the smaller girl's waist as the blonde's lands on the Warrior's broader shoulder. Feeling those soft touches against her skin again, the once conqueror swims in the pleasure brought on by the brushes of the Amazon's hand over her shoulder and down her arm, to feel the firmness expanse of muscle, uninhibited by any sort of band or bracer, "… and absolutely no one should look upon the beautiful, bare form of an Amazon unless these two intend to merge their bodies together in a sacred vow."