The usual disclaimers are in order here...If u are under 18 or live anywhere this is considered against the law, please page back at this time! Otherwise...(takes deep breath...) Xena, Gabrielle, Eve, Varia, Ephiny, Callisto, Solari, Eponin, and the rest of the characters in this story belong to StudiosUSA/MCA-Universal/RenPics (whatever it's called now hehe!) etc etc etc.(except the ones invented by me...) This is a non-for-profit product of my own imagination. Enjoy!
"But Queen Marga....please! You have to help us!!" Shayla dropped to her knees and raised folded hands in beseachment. "Pleeeeeeeease! Our bodies can't take much more abuse!" She quickly began showing the queen her numerous cuts and bruises from the "workouts", as Varia had called them.
Marga stood, folded her arms and began pacing in front of the blonde amazon recruit. "So, let me see if I have this correct Shayla..." She scratched her chin. "You want me to 'invent' some celebration and invite the princess from a sister tribe, all because you think Varia is going overboard with lessons?" She casually leaned against the hut wall, arms still crossed, and scrutinized her subject closely.
Shayla rolled her eyes and blew her bangs out of her way. "No! It's why she is going overboard my queen!" Realizing she was practically yelling, the little blonde cleared her throat and lowered her voice. "It's because Eve's not here. Because she's all pent up, so she takes it out on us!" She turned her best "pleading look" on her queen and was rewarded with a chuckle. She frowned.
"She's right you know." said a voice from the doorway. Marga nodded her admittance and watched as Weaponmaster Cassandra entered, striding purposefully across the hut floor and taking a seat next to Shayla. She pinned intense brown eyes on Marga, raised a long leg and draped it over the corner of the table. Pointing at a large and incredibly ugly purple and yellow bruise, she stated, "Look here..." Marga's eyes went wide at the sight. "Yeah, and if she's doing this to me, think of how it must be for them!" She dropped her leg back down to the floor, and with a thud of finality she said, "Something must be done."
The Queen nodded her head in agreement. "Understood Cassandra. I don't need an incapacitated army now, do I?" She laughed. "Very well, find Varia and tell her I wish to see her in my quarters in a half candlemark." She met Shayla's eyes and seeing the relieved look in them, she chuckled again.
"Yes my Queen." And with a flip of her ponytail the weaponmaster was out the door and sprinting across the village to the practice field.
"Thank you ever so much! The Amazon Nation is indebted to you!" said Shayla with a huge smile.
"My pleasure. My apologies for not seeing this pattern sooner, but as you know, the negotiations with the Cyrians were weighing heavy on my mind as of late..." Marga replied. "I hope you can forgive your most pre-occupied Queen?" A curly blonde head was shaken heartily. "Good because as soon as Varia leaves with the invitation, it will be YOUR job to make sure everyone in the village knows to pretend this festival happens on a regular basis." The blonde curls shook again. "I will take care of getting the real musicians together to play during the evening hours, but you must round up entrants for the amateur competition alright?"
"Indeed!" (Shayla actually LOVED organizing stuff) "You can count on me! I'll have it done quicker than you can shoe a centaur!" And with that she was dashing off to get the plan into motion.
"The Festival of the what???" Varia's face scrunched up in confusion. "I've never heard of that before."
Marga was trying real hard to look completely innocent at the moment. It was the best she could do in the short amount of time she had to prepare this little fiasco. "The Festival of The Muses! How could you have never heard of it? It only comes once every five years!" She raised an eyebrow. "Oh that's right, you have only been here four years." She patted her second's shoulder in mock sympathy. "That's alright though...you won't have to bother with the details since you will be making sure Princess Eve of Arboria is safe the whole time she is here."
Varia's eyes snapped up to meet the queen's. "Eve will be coming here?" she asked incredulously.
"She will be if she accepts our invitation to judge the music competition." replied Marga, a sly grin edging up the corner of her mouth as she picked up a rolled parchment and handed it to the amazon. "Take this to the Princess. You and Magdelena are to wait for her reply, and if she accepts you are to escort her back here for the festival."
Varia couldn't help the smile that was now plastering itself upon her face as she took the scroll. "Yes my Queen! We'll leave right now." She stood, bowed her head and exited the Queen's hut.
"So far, so good..." thought Marga as she leaned back in her chair. "Now I just have to prepare for a festival that didn't exist yesterday." She shook her head and chuckled as she mentally chose her 'volunteers' to help with the plans. "Things will go off without a hitch..." she told herself. "What could go wrong?"
(Author's Note: Murphy's Law - "If anything can go wrong, it will.")
Gabrielle watched from the doorway of the library as Eve slammed the book closed and snorted in exhasperation.
"What did that book ever do to you honey?" the bard asked with a hint of a smile in her voice.
Eve turned a frustrated gaze upon the bard. "Gabrielle....some of these laws really make no sense at all." She sighed. "And there's so many! How am I supposed to memorize all this?"
The bard crossed over to where Eve was sitting and took a seat next to her. "Don't try so hard. Just let it come. You'll be suprised when you find you know things later on that you didn't think you knew at all." She smiled at her heir.
"I know, I know..." said the brunette. "I just can't seem to concentrate lately." Sighing again, she laced her fingers together and laid them upon the book in front of her.
"Hmmmm, maybe you're missing someone huh?" She laid a hand on Eve's shoulder. "I have the same problem when Xena goes off on her little escapades alone. I get lonely."
Eve's eyes turned up to meet those of her Queen. "You do?" Gabrielle shook her head. "How do you get through it? I mean, all I can think about is Varia...like what's she doing now, is she thinking about me, does she miss me...you know...all that stuff."
Gabrielle nodded her head. "Well, I tend to try and occupy myself with my job here, since there is always something that needs my attention or whatnot. But when it gets really bad...." Here she leaned in close, "There's not much you can do except go down to the practice field and let off some pent up energy, if you know what I mean." She nudged her daughter.
Eve blushed crimson and nodded. "Yes I suppose you're right. I have been neglecting my sparring since I hit these books anyways." She pushed her chair back and stood up. "I don't suppose I could interest you in a trip down to the field with me hmmmmm??" She grinned devilishly at the bard.
"No...no. Your mother has already seen to it I can't shoot a bow for at least a week." She turned and displayed a large bruise on the back of her right shoulder.
Eve giggled. "Today?"
"Yes today...before the gods be damned birds were even awake." She huffed just a bit. "I swear to Artemis that if they could make chains that would hold Xena, I would chain her to the bed so just ONE morning I could sleep late!" She stamped her foot to emphasize her annoyance with the situation, but was suddenly overwhelmed by the vision of her warrior lying there...bound up and at her mercy.
Eve caught the strange smile that had come over the bard's features and didn't like it one bit. "Gabrielle...if you're thinking what I think you're thinking, you better stop it right now or I am going to be ill."
The bard blushed at having been caught in her little moment of fantasy. Clearing her throat she replied..."Oh my, I'm sorry!" She giggled just a bit at the serious look on Eve's face. "Honey, just because we're your parents doesn't mean we don't have the same types of illicit thoughts as the younger generation. We're just older...not dead!" Her eyes danced with playfulness. "I mean come on Eve, are you going to tell me you've never had an impure thought about Varia?"
Eve's eyebrows nearly shot clean off the planet. "Gabrielle!" Her hand went to her chest. "I can't believe you just asked me that!!"
"Why yes I did just ask you that. I heard the words, you heard the words, so why are you asking me if I just asked you what we both know I asked hmmmmmmmm???" The bard grinned a very silly grin as she watched Eve try to make sense of her last sentence. "So just answer the question sweetie. You know you can tell me anything..." Gabrielle wiggled her eyebrows up and down for effect.
Indeed, that slew of words had completely discombobulated poor Eve's train of thought, and she blurted out what she thought was a safe answer to whatever question it was she was supposed to be answering. "Yes?" She shrugged, hoping for the best.
"I knew it!" said the bard, slapping her knee with her hand. "After that little display you and Varia put on at the competition celebration last moon, I knew it was getting serious!" She leaned in close, looked around to make sure no sneaky amazons were evesdropping, (don't believe everything you hear...Amazons love to gossip...) and then she whispered..."So did you get to the 'good stuff' yet?"
This question left Eve totally dumbfounded. All she could do was stare at the queen. And Gabrielle just sat there, waiting patiently for the brunette to decide if she was going to answer. She felt a little guilty for prying into her daughter's private life, but the look on Eve's face was absolutely priceless, and worth every moment of it.
Poor Eve. Had one of her parents just asked her if she had had sex yet? Nooooooo, had to be a figment of her imagination! Wait, reality check...yes she did. 'Question is Eve, how do you answer that?' She frowned. She could just lie and say no, or she could be honest about her life. Truth was, she and her parents had never really talked about her past. Sure a few things here and there, but Xena respected her wishes to remain silent, because she understood. Now Gabrielle was another problem altogether, since she knew the bard would someday no longer be able to refrain from the curiosity she had kept in check for some months now. She sighed and looked the bard straight in the eye. "No Gabrielle. Varia and I haven't gotten to the 'good stuff' yet." The bard opened her mouth to say something but Eve held a quieting hand up. "Although that doesn't mean I haven't done the 'good stuff' in the past." She looked away, finding an interesting crack in the wall while she continued in a shy voice, "I just haven't done it with a woman before."
"You haven't?" asked the bard.
"Wow, now there's a shocker!" exclaimed the bard. "I would have thought..."
"I know." interrupted the brunette. "Everyone thinks that, and truth be told, I let em keep thinking it." She smiled. "I didn't want to do anything that would make them dislike me, so I just let them believe what they wanted to."
Gabrielle nodded her head in agreement. "Very wise daughter. I see I'm finally rubbing off on you huh?" She grinned.
"You always rub off on me Gabrielle." She smiled warmly. "And I'm grateful for that."
The bard flushed. "Awwwwwww, thank you. That really makes me feel good inside!" She gave her daughter a fierce hug. "You're great for the ego honey, I bet Varia feels like she's queen of the world when you're around her..."
Eve giggled, then took on a serious tone. "Varia is the queen of my world Gabrielle." She smiled. "I just hope she feels the same way."
"Oh I don't think there's any doubt about that. Especially after the way she kissed you that night."
Eve gasped. "You were spying???" She took on a semi-hurt look.
"It wasn't intentional dear, we just happened to be looking in your direction when it happened. Honest." She held up her fist in confirmation of that fact. (little did Eve know the bard had her fingers crossed behind her back) "Just for the record, your mom and I were both very happy it finally happened. The tension between you two was getting to near dangerous levels."
Eve smiled broadly. "Yeah, it was for sure one kiss that I will never forget either." She giggled.
"Yes, I know exactly what you mean dear daughter." Her mind drifted off, into a memory of suprisingly soft lips covering her own for the very first time. It had been like lightning prickling her skin with its' heat, it had been the single most intense moment in her life, it had been like nothing she had ever known. She sighed in contentment. "Well it's getting late dear. I can't spar with you today, but I know where I can find an old nag who owes me a favor..." She grinned. "Come on."
"Right behind you!" replied Eve. Catching up to the Queen she asked, "Do you think I can get her to use florentine style again?"
Gabrielle cringed. "Ooooh no honey, I don't think so. Remember what happened last time..."
"Oh yeah, you're right." said the brunette. "I nearly forgot about that!" She smirked. "Well I'm gonna ask her anyways just so I can watch her squirm."
"Eve, you are sooooo bad. You surely don't get that from me!" She laughed as they headed across the village. "That's definitely ALL from your birth mother!" A smirk. "No doubt!" They shared quite a few laughs at Xena's expense on the walk over, and had the Warrior Princess known....she would have joined right in with them. :)
Varia's eyes scanned the early morning horizon and back to their present surroundings. "Yeah, it's nice for sure." She slowed her mount as they approached the Arborian border. "We're here." They dismounted. "We proceed on foot until the patrol shows up."
"Fine with me, my backside was beginning to get blisters anyways." Grabbing her pony's reins, she fell in beside Varia. "I hope they have good food here, I'm famished."
Varia laughed heartily. "Oh you better believe they have good food! Queen Gabrielle demands quality in her diet, not to mention quantity." She grinned. "I once saw her polish off four helpings of venison, two plates of steamed vegetables and another two helpings of pickled croatia for desert. And that my friend, is no lie."
Mag's eyes grew larger with every added entree. "So the rumors are true then eh?" Varia shook her head affirmatively. "Holy mackerel, that's unbelievable! I gotta see this for myself!"
"You will, the Queen is quite the Hostess." Her smile was quickly erased by her "imposing warrior" look as the border patrol stepped into their path.
"Halt. State your affairs." commanded the Amazon at the head of the group.
Varia thumped her chest with her fist and bowed. "Princess Varia to see Princess Eve on behalf of Queen Marga of the Northern Tribes."
Realization suddenly lit up the Amazon's face and she bowed. "My apologies Princess, I didn't recognize you at first. It's been a long time." She smiled and held out her forearm.
Varia grinned. "No apologies neccessary Sarina." She soundly grasped the other woman's arm. "Indeed it has been a long time. Too long. How have you been?"
"Pretty good actually." replied the slim blonde, her long curls blowing in the breeze. "I haven't any complaints except the usual."
"Still can't find the right woman huh?"
Now it was Sarina's turn to smile. "Oh I found her, she's just interested in someone else I heard..." She chuckled.
Varia blushed and cleared her throat. "Well ummmm, what you heard is pretty much correct." Her tone lowered. "I'm sorry Sar.."
The blonde smiled back at her in such a way that Varia's fears of hurt feelings were thrown to the wayside. "Don't fret about it my friend." she said. "There will be others."
"Of that I have no doubt!" replied the brunette. "And how are your parents? Gabrielle said Ephiny was pregnant?"
"Yes she is. It's going to be nice to finally have a sibling to boss around and corrupt." She added a small snicker to the end of her sentence. "But I have to warn you, she's been mighty ornery lately so you might want to keep your distance, if you know what I mean..."
"That far along huh?" The blonde shook her head. "I'll try to stay clear of her then."
"Very smart move." replied Sarina. Squinting, she pointed ahead. "There's the gates. The Princess was down at the practice field beating up on old Pony last I heard. But that was before my shift started." She scratched her head. "But we'll try there first anyhow. Considering her mood lately, my bet is she's still there pounding away."
Varia's eyebrows scrunched together. "Her mood?"
Sarina's eyes sparkled and danced. "Oh yeah...it's been just unbearable for some of us that have to be around her all the time. Talking to her is like talking to the wall...it's like she isn't even listening!" She grinned and laid a hand on her old friend's shoulder. "But I think all that's about to change." Sarina pointed towards the now within sight practice grounds. "See? There she is, just as I suspected."
But Varia's attention had already been captured by the sight of one certain Amazon Princess who was beating the snot out of a very frazzled-looking retired Weaponmaster. Her face broke into a wide smile as her pace quickened. Already ahead of the group by quite a few steps, she turned (still walking...backwards mind you...) and blurted a quick apology, "Sar, you'll have to excuse me, I have a duty to the Nation to save that horse!" She turned tail and took off at full speed away from her friends.
"Yeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh..." sighed Magdelena as she watched her princess tear across the the ground at near blazing speed. "Ok you guys, I'm takin bets on whether they go at each other with swords, or just go at each other." She held out her hand. "Any comers?" They all laughed, then got quiet and watched in appreciation as Varia reduced her pace to a slow, sultry walk.
"How does she do that???" asked Sarina.
"Do what?" replied Mags.
"Strut like that!" She held her hand over her eyes and squinted into the distance. "It's a damn sin." She shook her head and whistled in appreciation.
Mags couldn't help but burst out laughing. "Quit looking at her ass! You pervert!" She playfully slapped Sarina on the back, catching her by suprise and nearly causing her to swallow her tongue. "Best not let Eve see you ogling her woman that way, or you'll end up how poor Pony is about to..."
But 'Poor Pony' didn't end up out cold on the ground like they thought she was going to be. Yes, Eve was bringing her sword down for the winning blow, but it was efficiently blocked by another sword that seemed to have come out of thin air.
"Hey there hot stuff. Why don't you pick on someone your own age?"
Eve's eyes snapped up and met those of the one person she had been needing to see so badly. "Varia..." She spoke the name softly.
The warrior lowered their swords and took a step closer. Her free hand slid up and tangled its' fingers in soft tresses. "I've missed you so much Eve." Senses tingled as she took in the scent of myrrh that always seemed to cling to the Princess. To Varia, it was intoxicating. Her stomach felt like it was being zapped mercilessly, her heart pounding in her chest as they stared into each other's eyes for a very long moment.
"Me too. I missed you too..." replied the princess, dropping her sword and wrapping her arms tightly around Varia's waist. Pulling their bodies together she whispered, "I can't believe you're here."
"Believe it." replied the warrior, leaning in and claiming Eve's lips with her own.
During this time, Eponin had been laying flat on the ground trying to catch her breath. She raised her head up and saw Eve in a pretty intense liplock with what looked like Varia from up north. "Thank the gods..." she mumbled to no one in particular, and proceeded to pass out from exhaustion, her head making a loud thunk as it fell back to the ground.
Lips slid apart as Varia turned to see where the sound had come from. She began giggling. "Sweet Artemis Eve, what did you do to the poor woman?? Don't you know you gotta take it easy on the old-timers?" More giggling.
"Better not let my mother hear you say that." Eve smiled dangerously. "She'll make you eat your words."
"Yeah, you're right." replied Varia. An image of Xena kicking her ass all over that bridge a few months ago flashed through her mind, and she grinned. "That wouldn't be pretty."
"Nope!" replied Eve. A thought ran through her head. "You hungry? It's a beautiful day, so maybe we can go have a picnic by the lake. What do you think?"
"I think it's a great idea, cause I'm starved!" Her stomach rumbled its' agreement with the statement. She grinned sheepishly. "Was a long ride..hehe."
Eve giggled. "Alright, meet me at the stables in a candlemark. I'll go pack us up something nice and have Torin ready a fresh mount for you. Nona will show you to my hut." A sly, sensuous smile slid across her face. "There's a private bath there you can use." Eve brushed her lips over Varia's as she turned and strode off towards the dining hall.
"Ok." the warrior barely managed to squeak out. She shook her head to clear it. "Wow." Nodding at Nona to proceed, she cleared her throat. "She's something else huh?"
"That she is." Nona gave her a wink. "This way Princess." Varia shook her head once more and quickly followed, each step bringing her closer to a nice hot bath and some clean clothes. Not to mention a rendezvous with one undeniably sexy woman she could not stop thinking about. She smiled as they walked along, completely absorbed in her thoughts.
Oh this was the best! Varia could practically feel the stiffness of the day's ride sliding right out of her. She sighed contentedly, stretching her arms out along the edge of the tub and letting her body sink lower into it's relaxing heat. Ever the warrior, her eyes took in her surroundings....'What's this?' Reaching out she snagged the small brown vial and unstoppered it. 'So this is how she does it!' Chuckling she put the vial of myrrh oil back in it's original place. She stretched out once again, leaning her head back, not meaning to close her eyes at all...really! The next thing she knew, she felt something soft touch her arm. It trailed up over her shoulder to her neck and pressed gently on her pulse point, making her breath catch. "I love it when you do that baby..." she breathed softly.
"Do ya now? I'll be sure to tell Eve to do it more often." came the reply.
Varia nearly threw her back out as she reflexively flung her body to the other side of the tub. "Xena!!" She frantically scanned the immediate area for a robe, a towel, a piece of parchment...heck anything would do right now! "What the Hades are you doing here???"
The warrior stood up from her kneeling position and crossed her arms. Raising an eyebrow, she replied, "I could ask you the same thing."
The amazon gulped. "It's not what it looks like Xena...honest!"
"Is that right?" Varia nodded her head up and down vehemently. "So...the fact that you're naked, in my daughter's private bath, and snoring loud enough to raise the Titans should be completely ignored...am I correct?"
"Well ok, you have me there...but I SWEAR I am only here for the bath!" replied the amazon, spying her towel just out of arm's reach.
"Uh-huh...let's go back a few moments in time shall we? To the point in the conversation where you made the, 'I love it when you do that baby...' comment." Xena stretched a long leg out, snagged Varia's towel on the toe of her boot, flipped it up into the air, grabbed it and smirked. "Bet you'd like to have that one back huh..." She glanced at the towel. "And this too." She chuckled.
The panic was evident on the amazon's face and Xena was enjoying every minute of it. On the outside, she appeared every bit the parent who has caught the suitor redhanded, but on the inside she was laughing hysterically as she watched the poor woman try to formulate an explanation. She nearly gave herself away as a chuckle rose in her throat, but she managed to stifle it.....barely. She then calmly watched Varia reject the first idea...try another, find that to be full of holes as well and finally shrug in helplessness. "Harpy got your tongue there oh mighty warrior?" Xena smirked as she slowly closed the distance between them.
('Oh no..' thought Varia, 'There's that damn eyebrow again! I'm toast!') "Ok!! Ok!!" she squeaked. "I thought it was just a dream!" She threw her arm out in defense. "Please don't kill me!" Varia covered her eyes with her other hand so she wouldn't see it coming.
All that greeted her was a hearty laugh, and her towel being tossed over her head. "Whaaa?"
"Get dressed you silly woman."
The amazon looked up in suprise. "You mean you're not going to kill me?"
Xena laughed again. "Varia, what you and my daughter do, or do not do, is really none of my business." Her eyes danced. "I was just giving you a hard time. It's my job. I'm a mother."
The brunette let out a loud sigh of relief. "Thank the gods! I thought I was dead for sure."
"Far from it." She smiled fondly at the young amazon. "Anyone who makes my daughter happy enough to skip all the way from the dining hall to the stables is ok in my book."
"She did that?" Varia blinked in amazement.
"Well, it's been nice chatting with you, but I heard there was a psychotic Regent running rampant through the village, terrorizing the cooks. I've been hired to take her out." She grinned and walked towards the door. As she passed through it she said over her shoulder..."Treat her right Varia." And she was gone.
The amazon was still sitting there a few moments later when Eve came crashing through the doorway. Varia's eyes flicked to meet those of the princess's, flicked down to where she was barely covered with the towel, flicked back to meet Eve's stare again, and promptly blushed.
"You're ok???" gasped Eve as she tried to catch her breath.
Varia looked perplexed. "Why are you asking me that? Of course I'm ok."
Eve took a moment to get her breathing under control before she answered. "Well, my mother just told me that some wild animal must have gotten into my hut because there were horrible growling noises coming from inside..." Her eyebrows knit together. "Waitaminute..."
Varia had to laugh at the look on Eve's face. "Wild animal huh?" she asked.
"Ummm yeah, that's what she said." replied Eve, raising her eyebrow.
"Well..." said the warrior with a wry grin, "That's a switch. I've been referred to as a female dog more times than I can count, but a wild animal?? Never!"
"Oh I don't know..." said Eve, flipping her hair back. "I've found, as of late, that I tend to be a bit partial to wild animals. Hence my entrance." She smiled seductively as she grabbed Varia's leathers and tossed them to her. "Best put these on before we leave...might attract attention if you don't." She smiled.
"What if I said I was only interested in your attention at the moment?" replied the warrior as she stood up and stepped out of the tub, allowing the towel to fall to the ground in front of her. The shock was clearly written across the other woman's face. "I see I have it." Her eyes never left Eve's as she slowly dressed, her every movement causing the Princess's heart rate to increase until it was thumping so loudly she thought it would burst right out of her chest.
"By the gods Varia..." she rasped, "Are you trying to kill me?"
The amazon smiled as she finished lacing her last boot. "You don't look very dead to me." She stood and closed the distance between them. "In fact, you look kinda flushed. Not the kind of look a dead person would be having about now." Running her tongue sensuously across Eve's lips she whispered against them, "But just to be sure.."
The princess closed her eyes as soft lips pressed against her own. Sliding her arms down Varia's back, she pulled her closer, intensifying the kiss and eliciting a soft moan from the warrior. How many lovers had she had in the past? Too many to count. But this woman...this Amazon, was making her feel things she had never known existed. Her head was spinning as she felt Varia leading them towards her pallet, inch by agonizingly slow inch. A small whimper escaped her as the exquisite kiss ended. Opening her eyes slowly, she found soft brown ones staring back at her.
"You....do things to me no one else ever has." Varia whispered. "I look at you, and I burn in here (she placed her hand on her stomach) and in here." (now she touched the spot above her heart) "I think I love you Eve."
"Y-y-y-you love me?"
"Yeah." Was the simple reply.
Eve smiled. "Wow." She pulled Varia in close again and teasingly ran her lips along a strong chin. The warrior shuddered from the sensation, Eve's breath caressing her ear as she spoke softly, "I love you too."
Varia's heart lurched as those words were repeated back to her. Never in her life could she have imagined that someday she would find a woman like this. Eve was the "one", the only one that would ever matter, as far as she was concerned. She was completely blown away. "Eve..."
The princess smiled. "Shhhhh, you don't need to say a thing." She wrapped her arms around Varia's neck and pulled her down to the pallet behind her. "Just love me."
"Oh I will." replied the warrior. "Forever."
****A little while later, across the village in the dining hall...****
Xena grunted as she plopped down into the chair next to Gabrielle.
"So did you find Ephiny?" inquired the bard.
"Yeah I found her..." replied Xena, struggling to remove a burr from her long dark locks. "Did you know she had poor Lisana on 24 hour kitchen duty the past two days??" She snorted.
Gabrielle's eyes went wide. "Nooooooooo! You're kidding me!!"
Xena shook her head in confirmation. "Yup." She smiled. "I took care of it though sweetheart." She reached out and affectionately ruffled the bard's freshly-cropped hair.
"Xeeeeeeeenaaaaa....." said the blonde, noticing the devious glint in her partner's eye, "Just how did you take care of it?"
The warrior snagged an apple from the basket on the table. "Easy..." she replied. "I just told her that if she didn't lighten up on the poor cooks, that Callisto might just somehow find out who REALLY put the sand in her leathers." Xena grinned. "Simple as that." She took a bite out of her apple and chewed contentedly.
Gabrielle's grinned broadly. "You are so bad!" She leaned over and nuzzled the warrior's cheek. "And soooooooo clever..." As she was about to explore her lover's earlobe more intimately, a long piercing wail split the air.
The bard's head snapped around. "What was that??"
"Oooooh, I wouldn't worry about it Gabrielle." the warrior commented offhandedly. "Mating season you know..."
"Yeah...in fact sometimes the forest creatures even wander into Princess's huts and fall asleep in their bathtubs." Xena's shoulders shook in quiet laughter.
"Huh??" Poor Gabrielle was lost. "Huts? Bathtubs? They do???"
Xena could control her amusement no longer. "Well not really..." She chuckled at the bard's completely confused look. "Seems Eve told Varia she could use her personal bath to clean up." She smirked. "I just happened to be walking by when I heard these loud noises coming from inside. Being the concerned mom, I decided to check it out."
Gabrielle finally caught on. "You just happened to be walking by huh?"
"Uh huh." replied the bard. "Go on..."
"So I cruised in and there was Varia, snoring away, naked as a baby's bottom in Eve's tub." Xena caught the reprimanding look in the bard's eyes. "Gabrielle, I just couldn't resist...you understand don't you?"
The blonde bard chuckled softly. "Yes Xena. I do."
The warrior smiled again. "Good! Because later I'm gonna..."
Gabrielle playfully socked Xena in the arm. "Noooooo...you are NOT!" She giggled as her wife grabbed her 'injured' arm and plastered a look of mock pain across her face.
"You're mean Gabrielle." Xena said, scrunching her eyebrows together. "I don't wanna play with you anymore." She stood up from the table, stuck her bottom lip out in a heart-wrenching pout and started to leave.
The bard rolled her eyes as she got up to follow the warrior. "Xena...wait...." She giggled.
Xena just pouted some more and headed for the door. As Gabrielle hurried to catch up to her, the warrior grinned devilishly, stuck her tongue out at the bard and made a mad dash into the crowd of people milling around outside the dining hall.
"Ooooooh...so you don't wanna play with me anymore huh?" said Gabrielle to no one in particular as she sprinted after her partner. "We'll see about that!" Her own evil grin spread over her face as she chased Xena across the village and back, through the stables, and out the front gates.
Solari nudged Eponin out of a loud snore. "Hey look at that..."
"Ugh...huh...what? Can't I ever get any sleep around here Soli?" She rubbed her eyes and glared at her partner. "First Gabrielle drags me out of bed this morning to spar with her furkin horny daughter, then I get the leather beat off my ass for four whole candlemarks, and now yer wakin me up AGAIN? For what?" Solari pointed out over the field and Pony's eyes went from irritation to amusement as she caught sight of Xena racing across the ground backwards, obviously teasing the bard, and Gabrielle struggling to catch up to her. Crossing her arms over her chest again, she resumed her previous comfortable position, with her head in the brunette's lap. "Awwwww, ain't you used to that yet?" She grinned as she looked up at her lover's profile. "I think it's part of their new daily workout routine."
"Yeah...well it's just that..." Her voice trailed off.
Eponin raised an inquiring eyebrow. "Just what?"
Solari blushed. "Well...I remember..." She paused and looked into Pony's eyes, noticing the crow's feet that now tugged at the corners of them. She sighed. "I remember when you used to chase me like that..."
Eponin's heart just melted. "Soli, hey..." She sat up and pulled the woman close to her. "It's ok." She tried to smile a comforting one. "If it makes you feel any better, I always think about chasing you like that."
"I miss that."
"Me too." Eponin thwapped her bad knee. "Wish this had never happened."
"Well it did." replied Solari, wrapping her arms around her wife. "And I should just be happy you're still here with me." She smiled. "It's just that sometimes I feel a little sad we can't do all the things we used to."
"I know how ya feel Soli. Believe me I understand completely." She squeezed her lover's arm gently. "Although..." (Solari didn't miss the look in Eponin's eyes) "We can always invent something else to take the place of those other things..." She wiggled her eyebrows a couple times as she laid back down.
The brunette's smile nearly reached from ear to ear. "I'm all for that darling."
Eponin grinned. "Ok...after my nap. I had a sorta rough day." And she closed her eyes and drifted back to sleep.
Solari just sighed, chuckled and leaned back against the tree, content to laze away the afternoon with the most annoyingly wonderful person on the entire face of the earth.