ANYTHING
A story by Suzar
SuzarD@aol.com

The Disclaimers: As you surely know, Xena and Gab belong to Universal/MCA; I�ve only borrowed them for a little fun. Really. I�ll put �em back when I�m done. Be advised that this story is really just an excuse for lots of sapphic sex, so if that sort of thing makes you gnash your teeth and annoy those around you, don�t go any further. Be further advised that all pressure points mentioned in this story are fictional. And finally, no plots were harmed during the production of this story: I swear, I didn�t go anywhere near one.

"Five days? Five days slogging through muck with nothing at the end of the journey but Astragulus? You�ve got to be kidding, Xena." Gabrielle was more than a little miffed. After a week apart, while the Warrior Princess exerted a bit of diplomatic persuasion with the Cretes, the bard was not at all pleased with their reunion: a quick kiss as they walked through this smelly, dusty marketplace with throngs of people pushing past them, and now the news that they must immediately set off for Astragulus-- armpit of the Known World-- to help finalize a treaty.

"I know. Those Astragulean swamps are just murder," Xena agreed. "But there is another alternative..."

"Whatever it is, I vote for it."

"I�m glad to hear that, Gabrielle. Because our ship sails at midday." Xena supressed a smirk and continued walking, waiting for the inevitable explosion.

"Ship?" Gabrielle froze in her tracks and watched the Warrior Princess stride ahead, seemingly unconcerned. She called "Did you say ship? I don�t think so! Are you out of your mind, Warrior Woman? Don�t you remember what happens to me on the ocean? A little matter of barfing my guts out?" She planted her staff firmly in the marketplace dust and dug in her heels. "No way, Xena."

Xena smiled to herself, then returned to face her petulant bard. "Gabrielle," she said calmly, reasonably, and reached out to touch Gabrielle�s elbow. "It doesn�t have to be like that. Remember the pressure point I showed you on Cecrops�s ship?" She moved her fingers to lightly stroke Gabrielle�s inner arm, trailing up and down the smooth, sensitive skin. The contact made them both pause and gaze longingly at each other amid the jostling market crowd. A week apart had made both of them edgy, and the heat generated by this simple touch made them acutely aware of what they�d been missing. Their eyes met for a long, silent moment and Gabrielle could feel her resistance melting, warming, rapidly pooling into liquid desire low in her...

"Hey!" she objected, and shook off Xena�s hand. "What about the side effect? Last time I used that pressure point I ended up eating everything in sight, including raw squid. Squid, Xena. Remember how sick I got afterwards? I couldn�t get ten steps away from the latrine for a week."

The Warrior Princess wrinkled her nose in distaste, recalling the experience all too vividly.

"So I can hurl on the ship, or I can hurl when we get off the ship. And considering our destination is Astragulus, you can be sure it�ll all amount to one thing: Barf-o-rama."

Gab had moved from indignant horror to dejection. She wasn�t trying to be difficult-- she�d like to be able to enjoy a little cruise as much as the next person. It was just this damned seasickness.

Xena lay a consoling hand on her lover�s shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze. "I�m sorry, Gabrielle. This isn�t going as I�d planned. Look, I know how miserable sea travel makes you, and gods know I�ll never forget the squid incident. But I thought between the pressure point, and having me there to monitor your--um, menu-- we might be able to..."

She trailed off. "Oh, Zeus..." Xena looked at the ground, frowned, and shifted uneasily. Then she raised her eyes to gaze deep into the bard�s green eyes. She stroked the strawberry blonde locks that flowed over Gabrielle�s shoulder. "I missed you so much this week, and then when I realized we would have to head straight to Astragulus-- well, it�s such a miserable place, you know that. I thought we could at least make the journey there something special. Be alone together, for a change. The ship captain�s an old friend of mine, and we�d be the only passengers..."

Gabrielle sighed, smiling. Who would have guessed that the big bad warrior she�d fallen for back in Poteideia would turn out to be such a romantic fool?

"How many days on the water?"

"Only two."

"And just us? No grizzled old geezers handing me tentacles to munch on?"

"On my honor, not a squid in sight. Just you and me, with a cabin all to ourselves. And if necessary, I promise to feed you myself. By hand."

"Oh yeah?" Gabrielle took Xena�s hand in her own and brought it to up to stroke against her cheek, then to her lips. She kissed each fingertip in turn and lingered over the thumb, first licking it, then drawing it fully into her mouth to tease it with her tongue. She watched as Xena�s face softened, then began to color.

"Ahhh..." Xena exhaled, and licked her lips. Gently, regretfully, the Warrior Princess pulled away from Gabrielle�s mouth. If this didn�t stop-- immediately-- she was going to have to have Gabrielle right here, in the middle of the marketplace. They were already attracting some curious stares as it was.

"Then we�d better start shopping," Gabrielle declared. "If I�m going to be a ravenous fiend for two days, we�ll need some decent provisions. Lots of fruit-- strawberries are in season, and passionfruit would be good. We�ll need nutbread..." Gabrielle began scanning the market stalls, looking for a likely bargain.

"And olive oil," Xena suggested. "And some wine..."

"A nice goat cheese would be-- wait a minute. What�s the olive oil for?"

The WP smiled enigmatically and arched an eyebrow. "Never hurts to be prepared."

"For what? You don�t cook."

Xena took a sudden and intense interest in one of the stalls they were passing. "Look, frankincense. Shall we get some?" She held up a package for the bard�s approval. Gabrielle snatched it away from her and put it back. Xena shrugged and walked on nonchalantly.

"They say that for some people, the pressure point we were talking about heightens all sorts of appetites. If you get my drift."

Gabrielle contemplated the erotic possibilities of olive oil. "Are you serious?"

"That�s what they say. Of course it could just be an old wives tale. But frankly, I was suprised you didn�t notice it on Cecrops�s ship. You seemed to have an awful time keeping your hands off me."

Gabrielle snorted. "The problem was mutual, as I recall."

They bought twice as much food as they estimated Gabrielle could consume on the trip, then added more just to be safe. They hired a boy with a donkey to haul it all to the ship while they picked up a few more odds and ends. The sun was overhead by the time they reached the dock, where they found the deck of their ship buzzing with activity.

"Xena! By Poseidon�s beard, I thought we�d have to leave without you," a woman�s voice called from the helm.

A tall woman-- as tall as Xena-- strode across the deck in a bright blue robe, shouting orders to a dozen crewmen. Her dark hair was shot through with streaks of gray and as she came closer, Gabrielle could see that what appeared to be a cleft in her sun-browned chin was in fact a deep scar. She grasped Xena�s hand with her right and clapped her shoulder with her left.

"I�ve never seen you so eager to set sail, Hereifa-- got somebody special waiting in Astragulus?"

"Don�t press your luck, little girl. We�re only sailing you to that damned cesspit because I owe you one. Nobody said I had to be cheerful about it."

Xena grinned, and Gabrielle stared curiously at the woman who�d just called the WP "little girl." Meanwhile, one of the sailors shouted for her attention.

"Hereifa! Look what they�ve brought with them-- enough provisions to feed us all!"

Gab shot Xena a horrified glance, and Xena responded with a helpless shrug.

Hereifa smiled and said, "Trust Xena to remember the crew... Thanks, old friend. Now, are you going to introduce me to Gabrielle here or not?"

"Sorry. Gabrielle, this is Hereifa. She and I go way back."

"And then some," the woman agreed.

"She got me out of my first tangle with Poseidon, in fact, back when I was just a kid. Maybe if you ask real nice and share some of that Retsina with her, she�ll tell you about it."

"Oh, THAT Hereifa!" Gabrielle said, suddenly connecting the woman in front of her with a dozen tales of derring-do. "We really ought to sit down and have a good long talk. I�ll bet you�ve got some terrific stories to tell, am I right? As a matter of fact, I �ve been thinking about writing a--" The ship shifted abruptly beneath them and Gabrielle stopped in mid-sentence, stricken. "Uh-oh," she muttered.

"Already?" Xena asked, wincing in sympathy. Gabby nodded, looking ill.

"What�s wrong?" Hereifa asked.

Xena pantomimed waves and violent upchucking.

"Great. And we haven�t even left the dock yet. This is going to be a lovely journey, Xena-- remind me to thank you for suggesting it." Hereifa located a mop, tossed it in Xena�s direction, then left to supervise the cast-off.

Gabrielle�s complexion was beginning to match the hue of her bilious green midriff top.

"Come on, let�s get our stuff stowed away. And use your pressure point, Gabrielle-- Hereifa will have you keel-hauled if you mess up her deck."

Gabrielle followed the WP down the passageway, jabbing violently at her right forearm.

While Hereifa�s crew manuevered the ship away from the dock and out into the harbor, Xena and Gabrielle stored their gear in the cabin Hereifa had so generously loaned them. They stowed everything securely, so the rocking motion of the ship wouldn�t send it all skidding across the floor. The cabin was snug, but offered all they needed. The bed was an ingenious affair: a comfortable mattress on a platform suspended from the ship�s timbers, it offered a remarkably stable refuge from the craft�s pitch and roll. Gabrielle fell backwards onto the bed to test it out, and pronounced it good.

"I�m not moving from this spot until we get to Astragulus. No, on second thought, I�m not moving til we get back from Astragulus."

"Sounds like a plan," Xena agreed. She bent over to remove her greaves and her boots, then sat down on the edge of the bed and began unfastening the row of clasps that secured her breastplate.

"Let me help you with that," Gabrielle volunteered. She sat up and put her arms around Xena from behind, sliding both hands swiftly upwards beneath the loosened armor, rubbing her thumbs firmly over the leather that imprisoned Xena�s breasts. "Does that help?" she asked innocently.

The WP let out a noncommital sigh.

In a matter of seconds, the bard�s nimble fingers had unfastened the leather shift�s shoulder straps, while Xena continued to struggle with her breastplate�s clasps. Gabrielle pulled downward on the leather bodice and released Xena�s breasts, which she welcomed first with gentle caresses, then a deeper and more passionate touch.

"Um... Gabrielle? Can you at least let me get this off first?" Xena asked, knuckles rapping on the metal that still hung loosely before her.

The bard gave an exasperated grunt and turned her attention (and fingers) to the assorted clasps and buckles of the WP�s hardware. When Xena had finally been divested of her battlewear, she stood to hang it on a peg on the cabin wall. She turned to give Gabrielle a careful appraisal while she tucked her creamy breasts back inside the leather shift. She left the shoulder straps dangling.

"You�re not as green as you were. Feeling better?"

"Much better, thanks."

"Ready for a nice big lunch?"

"You have to ask?"

"What I�m very subtly trying to determine is whether the pressure point business has turned you into a glutton yet. Though I admit, the change might be hard to detect."

Gabrielle let the comment pass and tried to gauge her hunger. "Hmm. Well, better safe than sorry. I think we should plan on Titan-sized portions." She stretched languidly across the bed and combed her fingers through her hair, then toed off her boots. They dropped to the floor with a thud.

Xena bit her lower lip, then smiled fondly at the bard. "Gee, Gabrielle," she said, "why don�t you see if you can get comfortable there and I�ll go to the galley."

As she headed out the door, Gabrielle said "Xena?"

"Yes?"

"Be sure to bring some of that halvah, I�ve got a real craving for that."

Again, Xena headed out the door.

Again, Gabrielle called. "And Xena?"

"Yes?"

"Bring some olive oil, too. Never hurts to be prepared, right?"

"Ri-ight."

While she waited for Xena to return with their lunch, Gabrielle rolled onto her belly, poked absently at her forearm and thought about olive oil and ravenous appetites of all varieties. She was wildly hungry, but that was only natural-- she�d missed breakfast in her eagerness to be reunited with Xena. It was hard to say if the pressure point was making it worse. As for her sexual appetite, after a week apart from her lover, of course she was ready. More than ready. Ever since Xena�s comment about olive oil in the marketplace, she�d been in a state of readiness that would put the entire Athenian Guard to shame. Olive oil, what a wonderful idea. She could almost smell it. Feel it on her fingers, feel it on Xena�s skin, feel it between them-- a silky, tantalizing friction urging them to knead and rub and move deeper, move into...

Gabrielle found her hips moving against the bed and felt her skirt riding up. She stopped and rolled over onto her back. Maybe it was true; maybe this pressure point was some kind of aphrodisiac. And what if it was? She considered the issue carefully, then grinned. "I really don�t see a down-side to this," she decided.

The bard�s thoughts returned to the potent possibilities of oil and flesh. Meanwhile, her fingers strayed over her bare midriff and lingered at the waistband of her skirt. Should she get out of these clothes before Xena came back? Oh, definitely. As she slipped out of her skirt and undies and tossed her ragged green top to the floor, Gabrielle tried to decide how to greet Xena on her return: pull her down onto the bed and devour her from head to toe? No, she didn�t have the patience for that today. Maybe it would be better to suprise her at the door... take her by suprise, right there against the wall. Remind her what she�d been missing all week, things like body pressed to body, tongues twining, teeth against skin, and fingers probing and oh, yeah, the wall was a good idea, this could be very, very good, there was just something about reaching up under Xena�s battleskirt-- parting those dangling leather strips to find her hot and ready, wet and...

Gabrielle groaned. "Come ON, Xena," she urged from between clenched teeth. "Where ARE you?" She hugged herself and squirmed against the blanket beneath her-- an act which only seemed to emphasize her nakedness and the fact that she was remarkably turned-on. Maybe it was time to take matters into her own hands, so to speak-- just for a minute. She closed her eyes and slipped a hand down between her legs.

"Oh gods," she breathed, amazed at the wetness she found there. She began moving against her own fingers. If a pressure point was responsible for this, who was she to question it? Gabrielle located a different sort of pressure point and fingered it gingerly, then more boldly. Oh, yes. This was bliss, absolute bliss. Her mouth parted and she ran her tongue along her lower lip. Maybe if she raised her knees-- ah, perfect. But now her breasts were screaming for attention. She spread the fingers of her free hand and rubbed her palm over her left nipple, then caught it between her knuckles. It was... it was...

An involuntary moan escaped her. Shifting onto her hip, she opened her eyes for a moment-- and found Xena beside the bed, watching her.

Gabrielle had a sense that she ought to stop, ought to be embarassed, but when she glanced down at her hand as if to pull it away, Xena murmured "Oh no, Gabrielle--please. Don�t stop."

The WP�s cheeks were flushed and her heavy-lidded eyes betrayed the depth of her arousal. She shrugged out of her leather shift and dropped to her knees, kneeling next to the bed. "Don�t stop," she breathed.

Gabrielle hesitated, then smiled, as she continued stroking herself-- growing even wetter now that she knew Xena was watching. (She was a bard, after all, and enjoyed an appreciative audience.)

Xena crossed her arms in front of her and leaned on the edge of the bed, breasts rising and falling as she tried--and failed-- to keep her breathing slow and steady. She maintained a careful distance from Gabrielle, her grip tightening around her own arms when the urge to reach out and fondle the bard grew too strong.

Gabrielle lowered one knee to offer the WP an unobstructed view and kept her eyes fixed on Xena�s. Again and again, the WP�s gaze travelled from the bard�s face down the length of her body, to the hand at her breast , to the fingers moving against her clit. For Gabrielle, the effect of that gaze was electric. Her vision was beginning to blur as she rocked against her hand and her breath came in ragged gasps. She watched Xena�s left hand tighten on the edge of the bed as the right hand disappeared from sight-- but from the movements of the WP�s shoulder and the expression that came over her face, Gabrielle knew very well where that hand had gone. The knowledge nearly sent her over the edge. Though her impulse now was to throw back her head and shut her eyes as she drew near her climax, the bard resisted: instead, as her back arched she kept her eyes locked on Xena�s in passionate challenge-- loving the naked desire she found there, the wild heat she could kindle in her Warrior Princess.

Blue eyes were the first to acquiesce. Shudders of pleasure shook Xena�s body and she closed her eyes as they consumed her. It was this transformation Gabrielle had been waiting for: her lover�s face as she loved it best, unguarded and joyous at the moment of orgasm. Yes! Now...

"I.... Xena..."

Xena leaned forward, whispering hoarsely, "What is it, baby? What?"

"Oh gods... I... WANT YOU!" Gabrielle roared. Wave after wave shook her slender frame as the bard rode out her orgasm. Somehow, she ended up in Xena�s arms with the Warrior Prncess holding her tightly, quietly nuzzling the bard�s hair.

After what seemed like a very long time, Gabrielle said, "Wow."

"Wow, indeed." Xena moved the bard�s hair aside and ran a gentle finger down her cheek. "I missed you so much this week."

"Me too. I�m sorry I.. um, started without you. I guess that was kind of rude."

The WP craned her neck to look Gabby in the face. "Goddess, no!" she corrected. When I came in and found you... occupied..." She made a low growl and trapped Gab�s thigh between her own, then rubbed against her to demonstrate the effect of the bard�s performance. She put her lips to her lover�s ear and said slowly and emphatically, "Please, Gabrielle-- don�t ever apologize for wanting pleasure. I want you to have all you possibly can."

Xena took Gabrielle�s hand-- the one which, moments ago, had brought her to climax-- and pulled it to her lips, tasting the fingers, savouring them.

"Mmmm..." Taking Gab�s index and middle fingers in her own larger hand, Xena guided them over the bard�s stomach, using them to stroke the smooth undersides of Gabrielle�s breasts, to toy with her nipples. Desire reasserted itself and Gabrielle sought out Xena�s mouth, yielding happily to her agressive tongue. As Xena guided their fingers over the bard�s waist and caressed her hips, Gab giggled into their kiss.

"Tickle?" Xena asked.

"A little. It�s just such an odd... ahhh..."

Gab moaned as Xena parted the bard�s thighs and began guiding the fingers through her moist hair. Parting her silken labia. Dipping into the slick heat between them. Now stroking the length of her. Gabrielle pushed herself against the fingers--her own? Xena�s? She couldn�t tell anymore and it didn�t matter. She was long past being shy about this.

Gab couldn�t supress a sigh of disappointment when the fingers withdrew. Xena brought their hands up to Gabrielle�s face, where she painted the bard�s lips with her own honeyed wetness. She released the bard�s fingers, then bent to take Gabrielle�s face in her hands. Xena kissed her-- delicately at first, licking the juices from her lips. Then harder, deeper, demanding more. Her hands slid down Gabrielle�s body, her body pressed against the length of the bard�s and in a moment she began to move lower.

She grinned hungrily at Gabrielle.

"Okay. My turn," she whispered.

Xena spread Gabrielle�s knees and moved lower between them, then slipped her hands beneath her buttocks, the better to pull the bard�s swollen center towards her. She inhaled deeply, drinking in her lover�s distinctive scent and admiring Gabrielle�s reddish hair, the lips inflamed with desire, the glistening wet folds of skin. She parted Gabrielle�s labia with her thumbs, delving deeper, breathing warm breaths against pink flesh.

Gabrielle�s hips refused to be still: they strained forward in search of the WP�s touch. Xena slipped her tongue between the folds of flesh, tasting her, and groaned out her pleasure. The bard raised her knees higher and wound her fingers through Xenas�s dark tresses, pulling her closer. The warrior princess�s tongue stroked and explored, seeking out her clitoris-- circling it with maddening slowness, then lapping at it with gentle, liquid strokes. Soon she attacked the swollen bud in earnest, moving her head from side to side and tonguing it with quick, relentless strokes. Gabrielle�s insistent movements slowed, then ceased-- lost in the sensation, she was motionless except for her steadily tightening grip on Xena�s head and her toes digging deeper into the bed.

Xena slowed her tongue�s assault on the bard�s clit and rested the tip of one finger against the wetness at her entryway. She raised her head to ask a one-word question.

"Okay?"

"Uh-huh..." the bard breathed, and tipped her pelvis to accept Xena�s finger. The Warrior Prncess slid in gently and pushed forward once--twice--again, stroking the the velvet of her inner walls. "Oh, yes..."

Soon Gabrielle�s head and shoulders rose off the bed and she curled forward, needing Xena�s face. She made her desire known and the warrior princess shifted to satisfy

her need: with one arm under Gabrielle�s neck she cradled her, while her other hand continued its rythmic thrusts.

"More..." Gabrielle urged, breathing hard.

Then, "Harder..."

And "Yes!"

Xena pushed two, then three fingers deep inside her, increasing her pace to match Gabrielle�s urgent response. "Gods, Gabrielle," Xena whispered in her ear, "You�re so... so...." When words failed her, she dragged her teeth along the flesh just below Gabrielle�s ear. A noise that had nothing to do with speech erupted from low in Gabby�s throat.

"Let�s try something," Xena said, and began moving toward the side of the bed.

"NO-OO!" Gabrielle howled, as she felt Xena pull out and away from her. "Don�t stop!"

"Come on, you�ll like this," Xena assured her. She moved from the bed to the floor and tugged on both of Gabrielle�s hands. Unhappy at the abrupt transition but overwhelmed with need, the bard joined her on the floor. Xena reached up and swept the blanket and pillows from the bed and spread them on the floor in front of them.

"Get on your hands and knees."

Gabrielle gave her a flat stare.

"Please," Xena added, smiling sweetly. "For me?"

"Whatever." She complied, feeling vaguely ridiculous but trusting her lover without question.

"Thank you."

Xena lay a pillow in front of the bard and knelt down behind and slightly to the left of her. "Mmm," the warrior princess sighed, running her hands over the bard�s buttocks. "You really do have the most delicious ass... remind me to give it more attention." She leaned in close to Gabrielle and encircled the bard�s waist with her left arm, and with her right hand continued stroking and caressing her, trailing her fingers down the backs of her thighs, then creeping slowly between her legs and up her inner thighs, inching inexorable upward toward her sex.

Gabrielle began to see what Xena had in mind and she approved. The bard let her head bob dreamily; she could feel Xena�s breasts pressed against her back as the warrior planted her knees a little further apart to steady herself. The flat of her palm cupped Gabrielle�s warm, wet mound and she whispered, "Now, where were we?" She passed her fingertips through the bard�s ample wetness and flirted with her clit, stroking slowly around it. Then with one smooth, steady thrust forward, she slipped inside.

The bard�s head suddenly popped upright, her eyes widening.

"That okay?" Xena asked softly, pushing forward again.

"Oh, yeah," Gabrielle replied, her voice quavering. "More than okay..." The sensation was... extraordinary. Xena�s fingers were reaching parts of her she�d never felt, from an angle that was ... wonderful. Cautiously, she moved her hips, drawing Xena in deeper still.

"Oh... this..." Gabrielle began, but couldn�t complete the thought. Xena�s strong fingers were moving steadily inside her now, filling her, and Gabrielle was discovering a delirious rhythm that took her breath away. Her arms began to tremble, unwilling to support her.

"It�s alright-- I�ve got you," Xena murmured, pulling her arm more securely around Gabby�s waist.

"Sweet Aphrodite!" Gabrielle gasped, pushing back hard against Xena�s thrusts. She lowered herself onto her elbows and butted her head against the pillow in front of her. The room receded until there was nothing in the world but this: Xena filling her, Xena moving inside her, the overwhelming necessity to push back to meet her, to take her in. She wanted to speak, wanted to say "Gods but I love you" and "The things you do to me!" but the speech center in her brain had stopped working; it was all she could do to make these jagged, unearthly noises at the top of her voice...

Through the haze that seemed to envelope her, she heard Xena say "I want you to do something for me."

Straining and bucking against her lover, Gabrielle managed to force out a word:

"Anything!"

"I want you to put your fingers here." She pulled outside of Gabrielle long enough to stroke the bard�s clit.

Gabrielle raised her hand and reached back to meet Xena�s in the pulsing heat between her legs. The warrior guided the bard�s fingers to her swollen bud, pressed them firmly against it, and returned to her center. Gabrielle did as her lover requested. With only one arm now to steady herself and with Xena supporting her weight, she gave herself over fully to the sensations that swept through her, wave after wave. The noise that filled the room around her seemed to come from somewhere else, and was less a sound than a substance that played over her skin like sparks-- she didn�t realize it was coming from her until it ended, in a sob torn from deep in her belly. Spasms gripped her body and she surrendered, collapsing forward-- muscles quivering, utterly spent.

Xena lowered the bard�s hips to the floor and released her hold so Gabrielle could lie comfortably. Bit by bit the muscles that had closed tightly around Xena�s fingers began to slacken and relax, and slowly, inch by inch, she eased out-- causing Gabrielle to moan softly at the loss.

Eventually, Gabrielle rolled her head to one side and opened her eyes to see Xena, who was by now stretched out alongside her, head propped up on one elbow, gazing at her.

The bard opened her mouth to speak, but upon reflection closed it. Instead, she reached out to touch Xena�s face, then drew her fingers lazily across the WP�s smiling lips. She let her hand drop limply to the floor.

"I..." the bard began. She trailed off helplessly.

She took a few deep breaths and tried again. "You..."

Oh well. She smiled and shook her head, wanting to laugh outloud but lacking the energy.

"If I�d known it would leave you speechless, I would have suggested this ages ago," the warrior princess joked.

A chuckle welled up and escaped from Gabby�s lips.

They continued to gaze at each other for a long, loving momnet.

"Gabrielle," the warrior said, "I hope you know-- I would do anything for you." The dark brow furrowed as she searched for a way to elaborate on her vow.

The bard stopped her with a simple, throaty whisper:

"I know you would."

She stretched over to kiss Xena�s cheek. "Thank you."

Another long moment passed.

"By the way," Gabrielle said, her powers of speech restored. "What did you bring back from the galley?"

Xena began to roll her eyes at the bard�s appetite, then realized she was famished herself. "A little of everything. Hey, how�s that pressure point working? No queasiness?"

"Not a bit. As a matter of fact, I�d forgotten we were even on a ship."

"Amazing what a little distraction can accomplish."

"Is that what you call it?" Gabrielle smiled. She began poking at her forearm to keep the seasickness at bay.

"Uh, Gabrielle?"

"What?"

"Wrong arm, dearest."

"Oh." Puzzled, Gabrielle looked first at her left forearm, then her right-- the one she had been jabbing at all day. "Then what does this one do?"

Xena shrugged. "Beats me. Do you want some water? I�m just about to--"

A knock on the cabin door startled them both.

"Xena?" Hereifa�s voice called tentatively.

"Hera�s tits!" the bard hissed. "If she�s come to tell us pirates are closing in off our starboard bow, I�m going home right now."

Xena frowned. "No pirates in these waters. And I doubt Hereifa would need my help to deal with them anyway." She stood, draped a blanket around her shoulders and went to the door.

Gabrielle got up as well and crossed the room to inspect the heavily-laden tray Xena had carried back from the galley. She found the waterskin and drank heartily while trying to listen in on the conversation going on. The ship�s captain hung back in the passageway, well back from the door. Her voice was so low Gab couldn�t make out the words. But whatever she said made Xena laugh outloud-- a rare and delightful sound. Xena began to ask a question but Hereifa cut her off with more low murmurings. Finally Xena said "Thanks for letting us know, Hereifa," and closed the door. She tossed aside the blanket and sat on the edge of the bed, regarding Gabrielle with a barely controlled grin.

Gabrielle took another swig from the waterskin and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. "Well?" she asked. "Not pirates?"

"No," Xena agreed. "Definitely not pirates."

The bard picked up a flask of olive oil from the tray and brought it, along with the water, back to the bed with her. Xena gestured for her to pass the water and she took a long drink. She offered no information whatsoever about Hereifa�s visit.

Gabrielle sat down next to her, determined to wait it out. She knew that to show the slightest bit of curiosity would only egg Xena on. All Gabby had to do was feign disinterest, show an absolute lack of concern, just exert a little self-control and--

"G-ARRH!" Gabrielle hurled herself at Xena and pushed her flat on her back, straddled her ribcage and pinned her wrists above her head.

"Ha!" the bard crowed. "Not bad, huh?" Granted, the warrior princess was a fairly willing victim, but still...

"Ya got me," Xena confessed. "Now what are you gonna do with me?"

Gabrielle planted a series of kisses along Xena�s jawline, then ran her tongue just behind the warrior�s earlobe. "I�m going to torture you for informatoin," she whispered, and slipped her tongue into Xena�s ear.

"You...ah... consider this torture?" Xena whispered in response.

Gabrielle suddenly drew back. "I could stop," she threatened coldly.

"Okay, you win," Xena conceded. "Hereifa just came down to let us know that the crew was deeply concerned about your well-being. Seems they�d heard some awful noises coming from below decks, and it worried them, so they went to Hereifa and insisted she--"

"Oh, no," Gabrielle groaned. She released Xena�s wrists, rolled off her and lay staring up at the ceiling.

Xena sat up to watch her, enjoying this thoroughly. "They insisted she come down here personally. To be sure you were okay."

Gabrielle covered her face with her hands. "Could this possibly get more humiliating?"

"Sure," Xena said cheerfully, "We�ll think of something."

"Yeah, I don�t doubt it... So what did the crew think those noises--" she winced, remembering a few of them-- "were all about? What�s Hereifa going to tell them?"

"Well, they aren�t idiots, Gabrielle." Xena reached down and gave her a good- natured tickle in the ribs. "Hereifa will go up and say you�ve got a bad case of �sea-sickness�, nudge-nudge, wink-wink, and that you�ll be just fine tomorrow. Then they�ll know you�re safe down here and that those particular noises just mean you�re..."-- there was a long pause.

"...very happy," she concluded with a grin.

Gabrielle considered this for awhile. "So they thought you might be mistreating me? Or I might be here against my will or something?"

"Sad to say, things like that happen."

"But that�s so decent of them. What kind of sailors are these, anyway?"

"I�d say fairly typical of Hereifa�s crews. She�s an excellent judge of character."

"I guess so. Well, I�m deeply impressed. And touched." Gabrielle took a long breath and relaxed. "Guess we�ll have to keep the sound effects down to a more reasonable level, huh?"

"Why?"

"Well, duh! You want the whole crew to know what�s going on down here?"

"They already do, my little screamer." Xena turned around on the edge of the bed and took another swig from the waterskin.

"Oh. You�ve got a point." Gabrielle rolled onto her side and contemplated Xena�s well-muscled back. She gathered her dark hair and moved it to one side. Ever so lightly, she traced her index finger downward from the nape of the WP�s neck, following the line of her spine down to where the flesh of her ass deepened. The bard watched goosebumps rise on Xena�s skin. She returned to the top of her neck and began the downward journey again.

"So I guess there�s no use restraining ourselves, since they�ve already heard us."

"You," Xena corrected, "They�ve heard you. Not me."

"Exactly," Gabrielle agreed. "And you know, that�s what really bothers me."

Xena put aside the water to lay down next to Gabrielle, who settled in under her arm and nuzzled the side of the WP�s breast with her cheek.

"You know I love the noises you make," Xena said, stroking the bard�s hair. "It doesn�t matter what anybody thinks. If someone tries to make you feel--"

"No, no, no," Gabrielle interrupted. "That isn�t what I meant at all." She rose up on one elbow and gazed down into Xena�s look of concern.

"The thing is, they�ve only heard me. I�m afraid they�re going to think I�m selfish. Or something worse. Inept, maybe." Gabrielle reached out for Xena�s right breast and gently teased her nipple.

A slow smile crept across Xena�s lips. "You? Inept? Perish the thought."

"Still. I have my reputation to consider."

"What reputation? Nobody knows who you are."

"Oh, but they will. Don�t doubt that." Gabrielle dipped her head and circled Xena�s erect nipple with her tongue. "And I can�t have it said that the great bard Gabrielle of Poteideia was a thoughtless or clumsy lover."

Xena closed her eyes and shook her head. "Such a problem. Whatever will you do?" she asked.

"Hmmm," Gab pondered, taking Xena�s nipple gently between her teeth. Her hand passed lightly over the WP�s hips, moving to the tops of her thighs. "Let me think about it," she said, as she moved to lick the other breast, "and maybe an idea will come to me."

"Mm-hmm," Xena agreed blissfully. "You just give it some thought."

Gab trailed her fingers over the warrior princess�s thighs; her lips travelled upwards to the hollow at the base of Xena�s throat and she ran her tongue over the delicate pulse point there.

"Xena?"

"Mmm?"

"Will you do something for me?"

"Anything."

"Will you do your battle cry?"

The blue eyes flew open in astonishment.

"Excuse me?"

"You know. That high pitched ullulating thing? Your battle cry?"

"But I�m not in battle..."

"Come on, it�s only--"

"... YET," Xena threatened, glaring at her.

"Just once," Gabrielle pleaded, gathering momentum for her argument. "Really, it would be so much simpler it you�d just do it now, because you know all I�m going to think about is how to get you to make lots of noise, so they�ll hear you up topside, so we�ll be even. And it would be such a shame to have that kind of distraction weighing so heavily on my mind when there are all these wonderful things I want to do to you, especially since we�ve got the olive oil right here and I�ve got this really great idea..."

  

EPILOGUE

  

A fat golden moon shone down on a tranquil sea, and Hereifa and three of her crewmen sat peacefully at the port bow, looking up at the stars and inventing idle tales about them. One sailor puffed a pipe; another worked at splicing together two lengths of rope.

From below deck, a piercing cry shattered the stillness of the night and soared out over the dark waters. The pipe-puffing and rope-splicing and star-gazing, however, continued undisturbed.

After a few moments� mediatation, the rope splicing sailor asked, "Say, what exactly is that, anyway? The first time I heard it, I was sure it was Arabian. The second time, I swore it was from the land of Chin. The next time, I thought no, it�s gotta be from the Indies. Drives me batty every time, trying to place it. Now I�m thinking it might be some sort of Amazon yodel. What do you think, Hereifa?" Finished with his splicing, he carefully inspected his work by the light of the moon.

"No, not Amazon," Hereifa said. She rubbed at the scar on her chin, thoughtfully. "As I recall, it�s a Gaelic thing."

The crewman wound the rope around his arm and tugged hard at the join, testing it from both sides to be certain it would hold fast. Pleased with the results, he nodded to himself.

"Ah, Gaelic. Of course. That�s it..."

END

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