Disclaimer: The characters of Xena, Gabrielle, Argo, Ephiny and the Amazons from Xena: Warrior Princess belong to Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi, Renaissance Pictures and Universal Television. They are just borrowed temporarily because the characters were invading my mind and making me write their stories.

Subtext: Yup. There be some of that here. If the idea of two women who love each other bothers you, there's plenty of other fic out there on the internet.

Enjoy! Comments can be sent to: Ceridwyn2 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Joining, Part I
Ceridwyn2

Xena walked into the third tavern that they had passed in the large village. Each of the two previous ones were loud and the patrons obnoxiously hitting on anything in a skirt that moved. Now, normally that would have really pissed off the warrior, but that night she was not particularly up to fighting every drunken fool that tried to touch either herself or Gabrielle. Rather, she gave anyone who got close enough her patented ice-cold glare and they would back off.

Xena made sure the bard was one step ahead of her so that she could keep a close eye on her. Gabielle had the unique talent to find trouble without intending to. She was a fast talker though, which usually got her out of any trouble she found herself in. There were occasions though when Xena had to rescue the young bard's hide from being attacked. Xena had no such intentions for rescue missions this night. She wanted a nice room -- with thick walls.

They were to be heading back to the Amazon Nation for the Harvest Moon Festival. Some treaties needed to be signed by Queen Gabrielle, and she was to preside over the joining ceremony of a couple. Rigt now, however, Xena just wanted to spend sometime with Gabrielle, in comfort rather than on the hard ground that they were so used to. Xena walked to the innkeeper, spoke with him momentarily before returning to Gabrielle who had found a seat in the back corner. It was far back enough to be of some privacy, but the positioning of the bench against the wall provided Xena with a view of the entire room. Xena removed the sheath from her back and laid it down on the bench besode her then the chakram was placed on the table. Ample warning to any fool who dared get too close.

A young woman no more than twenty-four summers old, approached the thick wood table with a tray of food and drink. She was a little wary of the tall woman warrior; she'd heard stories of the warrior's past. But that wasn't entirely uncommon, though it seemed to lessen as they travelled. Xena smiled at Gabrielle. It was because of her that the warrior was not thrown out of every village they entered. The young woman placed the food and mugs down on the table and bid a hasty retreat. Gabrielle, slightly exasperated, looked at Xena. "Why do they keep doing that? They look as if you've just brought some plague into town."

"Gabrielle, you have to remember that not everyone is like you. It takes time for people to realise that I've changed my ways." Xena looked out into the room but Gabrielle knew from the look on the warrior's face, that Xena was seeing something from her past...a past that continually haunted her. "For some, they'll never know."

Gabrielle placed her hand over Xena's arm and carressed it comfortingly. "I'm sorry. Look, if this is really bothering you, we can leave. It's only another day and a half to the Amazon Nation. I'll survive another night under the stars with you." She grinned up at her partner then stretched her neck to both sides to work out the kinks that had come from a day's worth of walking and figting. "No, Gabrielle. I'll be fine. Remember, we came here for a relaxing evening. Besides you need it as much as I do. You're not going to get much rest at the Amazon village. Ephiny's bound to keep you busy, and the young ones just love your stories." Xena smiled at her bard. She loved the woman's stories , too. Unless they only focused on her. The bard had often exaggerated some of her tales, though Xena had to admit that Gabrielle was great at telling them. Gabrielle turned her attention to the food on her plate: venison, fruits, vegetables, cheeses and sour dough bread. Her mug had some spiced wine. Xena had much of the same, except her drink was some of the local mead. They relaxed for a while as they completed their meals, before gathering up Xena's weaponry and the bard's staff and heading upstairs to their room. From Xena's earlier request to the innkeeper, a hot bath had been prepared for them.

Xena walked towards the queen-sized bed then began to remove her greaves and boots. While she stretched her calf muscles and relaxed them, she hadn't noticed Gabrielle had unlaced her green top and discarded it on the bed. When the warrior did look up she was pleasantly surprised at the sight. The warrior had seen the bard's well-toned body many times, but it never ceased to amaze her how profoundly it affected her thoughts and her feelings. She sighed deeply before Gabrielle moved behind her to loosen the ties on the warrior's leathers. A strong petite hand brushed the warrior's arm as Gabrielle sought to remove Xena's shoulder armour. Then she traced her hands down the warrior's arms to remove the bracers. Once that was completed she leaned into the warrior's body, settling her face into the raven-coloured hair and nuzzled the nape of Xena's neck. The bard's hands slowly glided down the warrior's torso to rest on her hips. A slow moan escaped the warrior's lips as she leaned back against Gabrielle's body.

Before either of them could progress any further with pleasurable exploration of the other's body, a knock was rapped against their door. Gabrielle stifled a smirk in the raven hair before she reached for a nearby shift, pulled it over her head then moved towards the entrance. She pulled open the heavy oak door to reveal the young woman who had served them earlier.

"I thought you might appreciate having these with your baths and for later." The young woman deposited two towels, some bottles of oils and an unlit candelabra into Gabrielle's arms.

"Thank you, very much. I'm sure we'll enjoy them. Good night." Gabrielle closed the door behind her before she moved over to Xena and placed the supplies on the table.

She whispered into the warrior's ear, seductively, "Let's make use of these before we get interrupted again." Then she moved behind Xena and began to further undo the woman's leathers, stripping her bare. She took a sudden breath of oxygen into lungs as she admired the tall lean form that stood before her. It's not like it's the first time I've seen her nude...but goddess, is she ever a sight for welcome eyes. There was no further exchange of air from the bard and Xena began to worry.

"Breathe, Gabrielle, breathe," she said with a wry grin. Xena quickly stripped Gabrielle of her shift, skirt andboots before leading her to the steaming tub of water near the hearth.

Xena lowered the young woman into the steaming tub of water, then climbed in behind her. She rested her arms around the bard's waist and drew the woman up against her. Xena relished the touch of Gabrielle's soft skin against her own. The warrior's light blue eyes sparkled from the flames of the fire comeing from the hearth. She turned her head slightly and breathed in the scent from the bard's hair, then her neck and shoulders.

Xena rester her face against the nape of Gabrielle's neck before moving the hair out of the way with her left hand. Ever so gently, the warrior placed gentle kisses down both sides of the bard's neck. She could hear a soft moan come from the younger woman as she continued her ministrations.

For her part, Gabrielle was enjoying every sensation that the warrior was causing to soar throughout her body. Idly, she ran her fingers along Xena's that had remained rested against her abdomen. Pausing for a moment when the sensations increased to a frenzy within, Gabrielle slowly turned in the warrior's arms so that she faced Xena. The passion that the bard saw there never ceased to amaze her. She leaned in and softly rand her tongue along Xena's lower lip, causing the warrior's lip to quiver slightly. The pard placed her lips over the warrior's and continued to pay attention to her lower lip, taking it into her mouth and sucking before releasing it.

Gabrielle's hands moved up the warrior's body and curved around the strong muscles of her neck. Meanwhile Xena's hands continued their exploration southward over the bard's body, to rest on her buttocks. The warrior began to massage the bard's rear, causing the bard to wimper in excitement. They played around for a little while longer until the bathwater became cool. The next thing Gabrielle knew, she was being bodily lifted out of the high-rimmed tub and carried by the warrior over to the edge of the bed. Xena picked up one of the two large towels and began to dry the bard. Gabrielle grabbed the other towel and draped it over Xena's torso to keep the chilled draft from getting to her too much. Sleeping shirts were put on over their muscular bodies and they continued to gently carress each other as they climbed into the large bed.

"Xena, have you thought much about this joining we'll be going to?" Gabrielle queried her partner as she looked up into her eyes.

"I guess I have. It's an important symbol of two souls joining. I've thought of that for a while. About our relationship."

"Really?" Gabrielle inquired. The small smile on her face broadened. She paused for a minute or so, then spoke again." Xena, you know you mean a lot to me. I love you and that won't change anything."

"Gabrielle..." the warrior paused and bowed her head. Despite the growing intimacy between the bard and herself, Xena still felt a little like she didn't quite deserve the bard's love. But she began to realise that her feelings for the younger woman equalled Gabrielle's. She'd accepted the love and a complementary smile broadened her face. "I love you, too. We should get some sleep. We have a long day of travel ahead of us tomorrow." They settled down and fell asleep with Gabrielle resting her head against Xena's shoulder and draped her leg over one of Xena's.

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The gravel road was long and hot from the heat of the sun. They'd been travelling since early morning. Both of them were walking giving Argo a rest, alternately riding so as to not tire out the mare. Gabrielle smiled and looked down the bank to her left, there were lots of small bushes with berries. A pleading glance at Xena and she went out to pick some to put in a pouch that she carried in Argo's saddlebags.

"Xena, I've been working on some of my scrolls and I've come toa stump. I've been trying to write detail the events of the last time I was at the Amazon village." She looked away from the warrior and lowered her head. A lump formed in her throat. Her last stint with the Amazons had been when Xena died and then with Velaska. It was still a source of some of her worst nightmares. Suddenly Gabrielle felt a reassuring hand on her shoulder. She turned around, tears brimming on the lids of her eyes. She looked up at the warrior. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to get upset."

"Gabrielle, you're entitled. You've gone through such pain. I wish I could have been there to help you. Your Amazon sisters were there for you when I couldn't be. Your memories will come when you're ready." Xena gathered the bard into her arms and rested her chin against Gabrielle's head. "Would you like to sit and rest for a while? We have been going for a long time and you've done really well. But in this heat we need to take a break so we don't overheat." Xena moved slightly, keeping an arm around the bard and she reached into Argo's saddlebags and pulled out one of the waterskins. "Here, drink this, slowly."

Gabrielle heeded the warrior's wishes and rested her arm against Xena's as she found a large boulder that she sat on. She extended and flexed both of her legs a couple times to relax the muscles. "I know I should just try and let the memories just come to me in writing but it's hard. Most of them come in my nightmares."

The warrior handed the bard a couple of scrolls and the bard looked at her curiously.

"Xena, what are...?" She looked down at the familiar warrior's writing, seeing the images but not the words.

"For a while after we left the Village I found I couldn't sleep. You were having those nightmares and I felt that what you had experienced would be important to you. So I wrote down what you said in your sleep. When you'd wake, I'd ask you what you had seen, remember?"

"Yes, I remember. I guess I was too tired at the time to realise that what I had experienced would be hurtful for you. I didn't...?"

"Gabrielle, I was glad that you were able to tell me what had happened. It helped to relieve some of my questions that I din't think I could ask you when you were fully awake. Sorry." "We're quite the pair, you and I, aren't we?" We've gone through a lot together. Different ideas and experienced coulour our perceptions bit in the end we work together to help each other through the dark times."

"Come here, love," Xena spoke quietly. Gabrielle stood and walked over to where the warrior was resting against her horse. Placing her arms around Xena's waist, she leaned against the warrior and put her head on the warrior's shoulder. "Never forget that I'll love you for as long as we live."

End Part One

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Part 2
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