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, and the rest of the characters in this story belong to MCA/Universal etc etc etc and this is a non-for-profit product of my own imagination. Enjoy!
"Varia! By the gods I'm so sorry!!" cried Shayla as she hurriedly bent down to help her friend up. "Why didn't you block that? It was an easy enough kata!" She frowned as the amazon seemed not to hear her. "Varia!?!"
Indeed the warrior was in her own world at the moment...wondering why she had gotten clobbered doing a staff routine she had done only about a zillion times in her life! Shaking her head to clear the cobwebs, she stood up. "Bah!" she exclaimed as she began to dust herself off. Turning to Shayla, she held out her forearm, "Nice shot...well done."
Shayla accepted the arm and tugged the brunette towards her. Lowering her voice so as not to be overheard by the other recruits, she whispered into her friend's ear, "Tonight...you, me...a good bottle of ale, and then we can talk about what's been up with you lately. Got me buddy?"
Varia groaned and rolled her eyes as she pushed Shayla away. "Fine." she replied. "Although I'm not sure what there is to discuss." It was at that most opportune moment (or inopportune, depending on yer views) that Xena's daughter Eve crossed Varia's field of vision. She was staring and didn't even know it.
This little exchange did not go unnoticed by her companion though. Shayla followed her friend's eyes and was sent into a fit of silent giggles when she realized what was going on. She squinted a little into the sun to get a better look at the thin brunette. She had to admit to herself that the woman had a sensual grace about her...hard to imagine her as Livia, Bitch of Rome when she looked at you these days. 'Yeah...' she thought to herself, 'She really has some gorgeous eyes.' She glanced back at her friend as Eve began to walk back to the bowyer's hut, and was not suprised to find her fellow amazon's eyes following the her until she was out of sight. "Ahem..." she cleared her throat.
Varia kept staring.
"AHEM...AHEM AHEM AHEM!!"
Varia slowly brought her gaze around to meet her friend's. "Yeah?"
Shayla shook her head and chuckled as she steered her friend towards the dining hall. "And you say we have nothing to discuss??" She threw her head back and gave her best "HAHAHA!". Varia just looked at her strangely. "Come on, ale this way Var, because even if you don't need it right now...I DO!"
Varia snorted into her mug and pinned her intense light brown eyes upon her friend. "I do not like that woman Shayla. The Furies must be picking on you today." She slid down a bit in her chair, propping her feet up on the bench across from her.
"Denial. The first sign of warrior-lust." Said Shayla matter-of-factly as she brought her mug to her lips. Had she known it would be spilled all down her leather top by an angry amazon warrior, she definitely would not have picked it up in the first place. All she could do was grimace while the cold liquid ran down into her boustier, as Varia grabbed the front of it and not-so-gently yanked her in for a more "personal" discussion.
Varia narrowed her eyes at her friend. "Don't you ever insinuate that there is anything going on between THAT woman and myself." She poked her companion's nose. "Do I make myself perfectly clear?"
The small blonde grinned goofily as she noticed Eve walking up to their table. "Whatever you say buddy. No more talking about Eve."
"Should I take offense to know that people are talking behind my back?" came a voice from behind Varia. The warrior's head spun around only to come nearly nose to nose with the subject of their conversation. She watched as Shayla pointed to the empty spot on the bench, and kept watching as Eve took the seat next to Varia. "Are you guys going to stay like that for the rest of the evening?" Eve eyed the spot where Varia still held Shayla's shirt in her fist.
"Ummmmm.....no...we were just...just...playing an old Amazon drinking game...." Varia sputtered. She gave her friend a shove back across the table where Shay landed with a resounding thud into the chair.
"Ow...Hey!" replied the blonde. Glaring at her friend, she snagged a towel from the barmaid's waistband and began to dry herself and her top off as best she could. "Not everyone whispers behind your back Eve." she stated while patting another wet spot. "And even those who do talk don't always have bad things to say..."
"They don't?" The brunette raised an eyebrow in inquiry. ('By the gods, she looks just like her mother when she does that...' thought Varia) She managed to get her nerve up to steal another glance Eve's way, but Eve felt eyes on her and slowly turned to look directly into Varia's own, sparing her a sly half-smile. The warrior's eyebrows shot up in suprise at having been caught, and she quickly turned her head away. She looked again at Eve out of the corner of her eye. 'No! This is my sworn enemy!!' Eve's hand brushed her shoulder as she was talking with Shayla, and Varia's head whipped around in reflex. "I'm sorry about that.." said Eve, placing a warm hand on the offended appendage. Varia's eyes slowly swept up along Eve's arm to finally fall into the soft blue-green ones of the last woman on earth she would ever have thought she would fall for. And there they remained while her mind and emotions battled it out for the biggest prize of all...her heart. "Don't be sorry..." she said without thinking, then, realizing her faux paus, quickly added, "I mean...ummmm...no problem." She made a quick grab for her mug and sat back in her chair.
'Hmmmm...it's there alright.' thought Shayla as she watched the exchange. 'I can practically see the sparks shooting between them!' Then she noticed Varia suddenly grab for her mug and retreat a safe distance away. 'Yeah...and from the looks of things, Varia isn't going to go down without one helluva fight either!' She renewed her smalltalk with Eve while her mind raced with how to get these two featherheads together.
"Xena..." inquired Gabrielle as she skillfully unbuckled the last of the warrior's armor, "Have you noticed anything strange about Varia in the last week?" The bard gently placed Xena's breastplate and greaves on top of the armor pile sitting on the chair.
"What do you mean by strange?"
Gabrielle shifted her weight onto her other foot, her hand going to her hip as she leaned on the chair. "I mean...like today I was overseeing one of the staff sessions over at the practice grounds where she was sparring with Shayla..."
"And that's strange how?" replied Xena with a teasing grin in her eyes.
The bard smiled and walked over to stand behind the warrior in the open doorway of their hut. Wrapping her arms around Xena's waist she continued, "It's strange because in the middle of a kata, she was practically knocked out by Shay, that's why." Gabrielle ran her hands up muscular arms and over Xena's shoulders to her neck. "Shayla should have had no chance in Hades of getting past Varia's defense. She's just not that good yet." She kneaded taut muscles. "Oooooooo you're tense tonight."
"Mmmmmm, that feels great Gabrielle..." said the warrior, leaning into the therapuetic pressure of the bard's touch. "Nearly clobbered huh?" She glanced over her shoulder and got an answering shake of a blonde head. Her brow furrowed in thought. "That's not like Varia...she's one of the best staff wielders in the nation."
"Yes I know." replied Gabrielle. "I think tomorrow I'm going to have a talk with her, find out what's up." She sighed and hugged her warrior a little tighter.
"A talk? Oh no..." groaned her partner, turning around and giving her best 'that's not a good idea' stare.
"I know what you are going to say Xena, but if something is bothering her, and I suspect there is after that incident today, we can't have her getting hurt....can we?" The bard turned her sea green eyes up to meet the warrior's while her hands slowly caressed the small of the warrior's back.
Xena smiled at her lover. "No...can't have that." she said ducking her head to nuzzle her companion's neck sweetly. "Gabrieeeeeelle..." she purred into the bard's ear.
"Mmmmmmmm...yes?" replied the bard as she leaned into the soft lips that were blazing hot trails down her throat.
"Can we talk about this later?" She began a new trail up the other side of the bard's neck and teased her earlobe with her tongue. "I find it very hard to discuss matters of state when the queen's hands are roaming all over my body."
Gabrielle gave her partner a shove away. "Xena!" she played hurt. "Are you trying to blame your overactive libido on me??"
"Why yes I am Bard. Got a problem with that?" The warrior cocked her head to the side and raised a characteristic eyebrow in question.
The bard smirked. "Not at all..." she replied as the warrior took her into her arms again. "I just wanted to be sure." She leaned in and met Xena's lips with her own. And not a word about Varia was spoken for the rest of the night.
"Gods be damned!!" cried Varia as she pricked her finger for the eighth time. She shook her hand in the air until the pain went away. "I will never get the hang of this sewing crap!" Sighing, she smoothed out the leather on her lap and picked up the needle to try again.
"Ow!" She stood up and prepared to launch the hide into the heavens, but was stopped by a soft voice behind her...
"So the big, bad Amazon warrior is finally defeated by the most ferocious of all warlords...the needle and thread." stated Eve as she approached Varia. "Want me to show you an easier way?"
Varia was frozen in mid windup as she realized who the voice belonged to. After the initial shock wore off, she finally lowered her arm and held out the hide to Eve.
Eve smiled and took the proffered leather. Sitting down under a tree she patted the ground next to her. "Come sit...how do you expect to see what I'm doing if you're standing all the way over there?"
Varia shook her head and took a seat next to the woman. "Thanks..." she said, finally finding her voice. She smiled back at the brunette, watching as Eve made the stitches slowly, in order for her to learn. "Wow. Where did you learn to sew like that?" she asked.
"Gabrielle taught me." She smiled warmly. "Seems my mother can't stay out of trouble, so the Queen got very good at stitching her up." They both chuckled at the little joke. "There you go. Think you can do it now?" She handed the half-sewn skirt back to the warrior.
"Yeah I think so. Thank you for the lesson."
"Anytime." replied Eve. "Well, I have to be at the stables about now. I promised Mother I would ride border patrol with her today." She blew a stray hair out of her eyes. "And we all know it's not a very good idea to keep her waiting, so I must be off." She smiled once again at Varia as she stood up. "If you ever need help with anything else..." her voice trailed off as her eyes met the amazon's.
"Ummmmm thanks, but I think I've got the hang of it now..." replied the warrior as she averted her eyes.
"No problem. Guess I'll see you around. Bye." said the brunette, and even Varia could detect the slight sound of dejection in her voice.
'Oh great! Now I've hurt her feelings!' She sighed heavily as she watched Eve walk across the square. 'Well Varia, you certainly have a way with women don't you?' As she turned back to her sewing, she noticed Queen Gabrielle leaning against a tree with her arms crossed...just looking at her. She bowed her head in acknowledgement and was not suprised when the blonde came walking over to where she sat.
"Good morning Varia. How are you today?"
"Fine thank you. Yourself?"
"Oh just fine...just fine." replied Gabrielle. "Although something has been bothering me the last few days, and I was wondering if you had a few moments to talk?"
Varia groaned inwardly. What could she have done to annoy the visiting Queen? Honestly she didn't know, but with Gabrielle's reputation for 'talking things out', she was sure she was about to find out. "Certainly Highness. Please join me." She motioned for the queen to sit. "Thank you." Gabrielle made herself comfortable.
"What did you want to talk to me about?" inquired the amazon.
"Well..." Gabrielle turned to look her in the eye. "In all honesty Varia, I'm worried about you."
Varia's eyes widened in suprise. "Me? Why?"
"Because I watched you nearly get your head knocked off during drills yesterday, that's why." The bard paused a moment, a very serious look entering her eyes. "That's not like you."
The amazon sighed, and her words began coming out with ever increasing speed..."I know...I'm sorry Highness. I don't know why this is happening! Honest!" she hung her head.
All she got was a small chuckle, and then a soft hand on her shoulder turned her face back towards the queen. "Varia please! I'm not here to lecture you for anything!"
"Nooooooo! I came to see if there was anything I could do to help you out with whatever it is that's been bothering you." She gave Varia's shoulder a pat as she returned to her more comfortable previous position.
"Nothing is bothering me Highness." She began nervously toying with the needle and thread that still rested in her lap.
"Are you suuuuuuuurrrrrre?" drawled the bard.
"Yes, but I do thank you for asking. Your tribe is lucky to have such a compassionate Queen." She smiled nervously.
Gabrielle sized up everything she saw before her. She knew something was up here, but it was useless trying to pry information out of a completely unwilling, brooding warrior. This she knew from experience! "Alright, but if you ever need to talk I want you to know you will always have audience with me. I will see to it." The amazon shook her head in acceptance of the invitation. "I'll take my leave then." She stood and squinted at the sun's position. "Oh my....I'm afraid I will be late meeting Xena and Eve at the west border for lunch." she sighed and turned back to Varia, who's face had just gone from tanned to flushed after the bard's last sentence. Her eyebrow raised in 'Warrior Princess' fashion as the candle went on over her head. "Varia..."
The warrior snapped out of her daze at the sound of the bard's voice. "Yes Highness?"
Gabrielle looked the amazon straight in the eye. "I expect you will be entering the competition for the honor of becoming the Princess' personal guard?" It was a statement, not a question, and Varia knew it.
She gulped audibly. "If that pleases your Highness."
Gabrielle smiled. "It's not what pleases me, but rather what pleases you, that being the reason I suggested it."
She looked up into the soft green eyes of the Queen, and knew that she understood what Varia could not bring herself to say. She silently nodded her head yes, and the Queen shook her head in agreement. "I thought as much." the bard stated. "Good luck tonight Varia." She laid her hand on the amazon's shoulder in support. Then, in a softer voice..."I hope you win." Smiling broadly, she strode off to the stables to fetch her pony.
Left sitting all by herself with a still unfinished leather skirt in her lap, Varia felt very strange. The Queen had just cornered her into a competition to be Eve's personal guardian? How did that happen? "Damn she's good!" she huffed. Her next thought hit her like a wet slap at the end of a cold fist...."What if I do win???" She hadn't any time to think more on the subject before her stomach lurched violently and she had to make a mad dash for the nearest bush....
Gabrielle reigned her pony in as she approached her family. "Sorry I'm late!" she called as she dismounted. "I had to sign another warrior up for the competition tonight!" She grinned as she slid into her lover's arms for a brief hug.
Eve made a scoffing noise. "I don't know why the Amazons do this. Competing? To protect me??" She shrugged a bit. "I really don't see what point it serves when I am perfectly capable of protecting myself."
Xena chuckled a bit before answering. "Well honey, it's Amazon custom, and I found out a long time ago it's no use bucking the system." Xena chuckled and scratched her chin. "But in all seriousness now, it's a great honor for a young warrior to win one of these competitions. To be able to claim they were a 'personal guard' for visiting royalty? Now that's something for the old resume."
"I see." replied Eve. "So, there's no getting out of this then huh?"
"Nope." said Xena matter-of-factly.
"Alright...but I'm sure I won't like being the object of so much attention!" She pouted...just a wee bit.
Gabrielle sidled up to her and slipped an arm around her shoulder. "Awwwwwwww, it'll be over before you know it!" She smiled and glanced quickly at her partner. Xena gave a knowing nod and turned back to sharpening her sword. "Come...walk with me daughter..."
They traipsed along in silence for a few moments until they thought they were out of earshot of the infamous 'Warrior Princess radar'.
"I don't know if I'll ever get used to being an Amazon Gabrielle." Eve slipped her hand into the bard's as they walked along the bank of the river. "I hear some of the whispers, and I know I can never make up for all that I did to them in the past." Her head slumped forward a bit. "But yet here I am...suddenly one of them. And they're expected to just accept me?"
"Yes." was the simple answer.
"Because Xena said so." The serious look on the bard's face was shattered by the sudden laughter tumbling out of her. Eve's eyebrows flew up, and then she joined Gabrielle in the joke. After they had caught their breath, it was Gabrielle who finally spoke.
"No one ever said being an Amazon Princess was easy Eve." They stopped in the shade of a huge tree and sat down. "I do understand the shock of it all being thrust upon you in the blink of an eye though. Been there, done that...hated it!" She chuckled. "Anyways, acceptance does not come overnight. It's an earned trust kinda thing with Amazons. As far as respect goes though Eve? They do respect your sword."
Eve opened her mouth to speak, but Gabrielle shushed her.
"The respect they have for that particular skill will make them think twice about getting on your bad side, and therefore you'll find it easier to talk your way through situations." Gabrielle smiled at her daughter. "And the more you talk, the more they'll get to know the real you."
"I never thought of it that way." commented the brunette. Then she smiled. "But there's still no way I'm getting out of this tonight is there?"
She sighed. "Oh well, I guess I had better get used to the idea since the Amazons party every chance they get..." A sly grin spread across her face.
Gabrielle's eyebrows rose. "Hey! Are you saying we're a bunch of lushes???" She stood, and held out her arm to help Eve up.
"If the boot fits..." she cajoled as they began walking back the way they had come.
"Oh really." replied Gabrielle. "Just for that I'm going to keep my stomach herbs to myself then. I don't care HOW much you beg for them in the morning, you aren't getting them squirt!"
Eve's brow furrowed. "But Gabrielle, I was only kidding!"
"I know." she chuckled. "So was I...there's your Mother now..." Xena bestowed a warm hug upon her daughter as they reached her. "Feel better?" asked the warrior.
"Yes much...Gabrielle certainly has a way with words, doesn't she?"
"Yes...she does." Xena let her arm drape over Eve and smiled at her lover. "So Mavis, who did you sign up for the competition so far?"
Gabrielle smirked at the pet name that Xena now used TOO much. "Ummmm, lemme see....." She scratched her head in thought, and began ticking them off on her fingers. "Irlea...Tara...Kailee...Neesi...Marta and Varia."
Xena felt Eve's shoulders tense up at the mention of Varia's name. 'What's this?' She spared a glance at her daughter, picking up on the nearly imperceptible fidget, and felt Eve's body temperature rise slightly under her hand. 'Hmmmm....let's try this again, just to see if I'm right!' She scrutinized her daughter closely as she spoke. "Varia? When did Varia sign up?" There it was again!
"That's was why I was late." replied the bard. "She made it just before the noon deadline to enter, and if I would have put her off, she couldn't have competed." She smiled at her daughter. "And we couldn't have that could we?"
"No. Of course not." stated Eve. She cleared her throat. "I mean...it's all in the interest of fairness right?" She averted her eyes.
"Oh yes of course." replied Gabrielle. "All in the interest of fairness." She sent a quite huge smile Xena's way, who graced her with a knowing look of her own. 'So she's figured it out too! Great!' She chuckled. "Ut oh...." she said aloud, "Time to be getting back you two! I have a Council session in a half candlemark!"
They packed up their gear, loaded up the horses and headed off to the village.
Varia ducked a potentially concussive blow from the lanky blonde she was now grappling with. One backflip later she was out of the reach of those dangerous arms and desperately trying to catch her breath. Her mind raced, trying to figure a way to get through this amazon's defenses and knock her out, which was the only way to win. She had only seconds before Irlea charged her again...and there it was! The break she had hoped for! She saw the blonde's right arm reach out for her neck, and at the last second she sidestepped the grab, locked her hand on the amazon's wrist and yanked down hard, twisting her body around so that Irlea landed face first in the dirt. Varia wrapped her legs around the now outstretched arm, pinned it in place, grabbed the warrior's hair in one hand and jerked her head back. She balled her free hand into a fist and cracked Irlea one right upside her head, effectively rendering her unconscious.
"Winner!" yelled the judge.
Varia loosed her grip on her former opponent and leaned back on her haunches. She was just wiping the sweat from her brow when Shayla ran up.
"WOW! That was great Var! Where did you learn that move?!? You gotta show it to me!" She held out her arm to her friend.
Varia grasped the arm and was hauled to her feet. "My aunt showed it to me once a long time ago." she replied as she dusted herself off. "It's really not that hard to pull off."
"Yeah well it looked AWESOME!" She grinned as she noticed Xena's cocked eyebrow sizing up her friend. "Only one more event left...Archery."
Varia sighed audibly. "Yes I know. Not one of my areas of expertise though..."
The small blonde began to steer the warrior towards the nearest log. "You're right but..." a pause, "I just have a feeling you'll win."
"A feeling?" Varia snorted as she plopped her butt down onto the log. "That's supposed to somehow make me feel more confident?" She chuckled a bit. "Ever the optimist Shayla, don't you ever change!" She grinned and gave her friend a quick hug.
"Besides...you have to win, or Marta will be the one spending all the time with the princess." She cocked her head to the side. "You don't want that to happen do you?"
Silence as her friend scraped the toe of her boot in the dirt.
"I thought we agreed not to discuss this again Shay. We all know I am the most qualified person for the job...that's the reason I'm here."
"Right...and I have some oceanfront property in the desert I'm selling." replied Shayla with a playful smile. The smile disappeared as she caught Varia's steely glare boring into her.
"Alright...alright." The blonde held her hands up in defeat. "So sue me for not looking forward to having to watch you grumble and pout if you lose." She was walking a fine line and she knew it.
"Ok, ok!! I'll shut up!" She rolled her eyes. "Stubborn warriors!"
Obviously the quarter candlemark breather was over because the judge was signaling for the competitors to join him.
"You better get going woman...good luck."
"Thanks." Varia replied. Standing, she added..."No."
"No?" her friend inquired. "No what?"
"No I don't want that to happen." And she was halfway across the field before Shayla realized what she meant. 'Well well, I guess there's hope for you after all my friend!' She smiled and hurried to get her seat in the front row. This was something she surely didn't want to miss!
"Well, she's definitely my choice to defend our daughter." Xena squinted into the sun at Varia. "Look at the set of her jaw, the rippling muscles...yeah, she's focused alright."
This got her a playful nudge from her bard. "Xena, her muscles aren't rippling, she's shaking! That poor girl is scared out of her wits!"
Gabrielle reached out and curled her fingers around her warrior's warm hand. "Hmmmmm, probably the same thing that kept the love of my life quiet for nearly four years." Xena rolled her eyes and the bard laughed.
"Touche Gabrielle....touche." Their fingers entwined of their own accord. "Look, it's starting. I hope she beats the skirt off this Marta girl."
"Me too." she replied. "It took all my bardic skills to 'convince' her to compete."
"I sorta figured you were behind that."
"Well someone had to take some action. I just can't bear for Eve to have to go through what I did...lusting after some big dumb warrior who's afraid of her own heart." She chuckled as Xena's trademark eyebrow went up. "Take it easy there Warrior Princess, I just happen to be so in love with you that I would have waited forever anyways." She winked and was rewarded by a quick peck on the cheek from her lover.
"I know." Xena's smile lit up her face, and her blue eyes danced. "I'm sorry I made you wait so long Gabrielle." Leaning in so only the bard could hear, she added..."By the way, you're going to pay for that 'big, dumb warrior' line later..."
"Oooooooo...promises promises." Her attention was drawn to the tally board where the judge had just posted Marta's score. "Eight of ten. Sweetheart, this doesn't look so good for Varia."
"Faith Gabrielle." Xena smiled. "It's in the bag."
"So you say." replied the bard. She watched intently as the young warrior stretched out her arms and flexed the string on her bow a few times, checking its' tension.
Varia felt eyes on her and turned her head to meet the even gaze of Xena. The warrior merely raised her eyebrow, as if in question. Varia nodded once, and Xena nodded back. She picked up the first arrow and nocked it. Raising the bow, she sighted the target, aimed and let it fly. THUNK. Bullseye.
"SCORE!" called out the judge.
She nocked the second, and fired. The judge had to go look it was so close, but finally "SCORE!" was called out.
Number three was aimed and the result was the same. Bullseye! Varia's guts got more knotted with every shot. Her hands began to shake a little, causing her to miss on number eight. 'Damn! Concentrate...concentrate!' She paused to take a swig from her waterskin and get herself together. She took a few deep breaths before nocking arrow number nine. She brought the bow up and narrowed her eyes...focusing solely on where she wanted it to land. 'One more miss Varia and it's all over for you...so don't miss!' She released the bowstring. Thunk. Bullseye. The crowd cheered.
("Gabrielle, it's not a good thing if my sword arm falls off from lack of blood..."
The bard glanced down and noticed for the first time her deathgrip on Xena's bicep. Laughing, she quickly released her hold. "Sorry! I'm just nervous is all.")
Varia reached for her last arrow, and stood there looking at it for a few moments. This was it. All or nothing. If she lost, she would never be able to face Eve, since her inadequecy to protect her would be blatant. She looked to the podium, and their eyes met. Eve smiled and Varia answered with a nearly imperceptible one of her own.
(Xena...what's taking her so long?? I'm on pins and needles!!"
"Shush Mavis...it's in the baaaaaaaag." whispered the warrior once again, leaning back in her chair and crossing her feet at the ankles.)
Varia made her decision right then. She nocked the last one, lined up the shot, closed her eyes and let it fly. It was now in the Fates' hands...
The crowd hushed as the arrow whizzed through the air.
"SCORE AND WINNER!" yelled the judge.
Varia hadn't needed to hear the judge's voice to know the shot was good. She had felt it. She opened her eyes and looked towards the target. Dead center! She had never been that good before. 'Daaaaaang...' she thought. 'I bet I couldn't do that again if my life depended on it!' She calmly walked to the target, and jerked the arrow free. The cheers were deafening as Varia let out her battle cry and thrust her fist into the air. Eve took her cue and let Queen Marga and Gabrielle escort her through the crowd towards the young warrior who would be her guardian.
Varia stood proudly as the procession finally reached her. Eve stepped forward and the amazon warrior fell to one knee, offering the arrow up in front of her. "My life for yours Princess." The sentence was spoken with such reverance, that it brought a tear to the young princess' eye.
Eve reached out and took the gift from outstretched hands. "I accept." Her voice cracked just a little. "Rise Warrior."
Varia stood slowly, never taking her eyes from Eve's.
"Let the festivities begin!" shouted Eve, and begin they did. Within a candlemark, the tournament grounds were transformed into one big party floor and half (if not more) of all Amazons present were well on their way to blissful enebriation.
Eve cast a sidelong glance Varia's way. She had pretty much known from their first meeting in the healer's hut that she was attracted to this woman. She had tried numerous times to get the her attention, but to no avail...she had seemed totally disinterested. Now this same warrior had beaten all the best warriors in the village, just to become her personal bodyguard? Interesting. Her prayers had been answered...to a point, since she had been absolutely dying to have an excuse to spend time with Varia. 'But does she like me?' She ran through every conversation they had ever had in her head, and she had to be frank with her heart....a few looks, a comment here and there that could be taken a few different ways, but still nothing really substantial. She sighed.
"Something wrong Princess?" inquired Varia.
"You wouldn't understand."
"Maybe not, but I've always been told I'm a good listener." She smiled shyly. "Please I want to help."
Eve glanced around. "Ummmmm alright, but I'm sort of uncomfortable talking about it in front of all these people."
"Not a problem." Varia stood and offered her arm. "We'll get out of earshot." She smiled.
"Ok." Eve stood up and slipped her arm into Varia's. They walked a few paces into the trees, where the firelight still cast its glow well enough to see.
(Xena nudged Gabrielle and nodded her head in the direction of the two young Amazons.
"My money is on Varia." said the bard.
Xena scrunched her face up. "Sorry Mavis, mine is on the 'chip off the old block'. She has the genes behind her after all."
"You got it! Loser!" Xena chuckled while Gabrielle smirked.)
"So what's on your mind?" asked Varia.
Eve knew she had to come up with something valid here. I mean, she couldn't just blurt out the real reason for wanting Varia alone now could she? "Well..." she began. "It's sort of embarassing..."
Varia smiled. "Does it have to do with your initiation when they painted you blue and made you howl at the moon? If so, don't worry. I heard Queen Gabrielle had to go through the same thing."
Now it was Eve's turn to laugh. "No." she chuckled, then her tone changed to a more serious one. "Actually I think I'm falling for this one incredible woman, but I'm not sure if she feels the same."
Varia's smile left her face. Oh this was just great! Here she was, wanting to be with Eve, only to find out the girl was in love with someone else?? Well that just sucked rotten eggs. "Does this person know how you feel?" she asked, not really wanting to know the answer.
"I'm not sure...she never seems to acknowledge it. Although I have tried everything to get her attention." Her voice trailed off.
Varia shrugged. "Maybe she isn't interested."
"Well..." Eve pulled the winning arrow from earlier out of her beltloop. "She did give me this." She held it out for the warrior to see. "Even if she never feels the same about me, I will always keep it so I can remember how I felt about her."
Varia gulped when she finally realized the implications of this conversation. She turned to face the princess, only to find intense blue eyes searching hers for an answer. She unknowingly took a step closer. The pull was stronger now and soon Varia could feel the whisper soft touch of Eve's breath upon her own lips. "Maybe she does feel the same." she whispered. "Maybe she's just a little scared..."
Eve's hands slid up strong arms to tangle in dark locks. "She shouldn't be." They stared into one another's eyes before Varia finally closed the distance between them. The kiss was a tentative one, but when Eve pulled their bodies closer together, it became much, much more.
(Gabrielle held out her hand and Xena slapped five dinars into it. The bard smirked and went back to watching the dancers.)
Varia eventually had to come up for some much-needed air, and regretfully broke the sweet contact. They were breathless as they stood their staring at each other in wonder.
"What if I hadn't been talking about you?" Eve asked finally. (and nearly innocently even...)
"Then I would be running for my life at this moment."
"Because your mother would have hunted me down, tortured me and finally roasted me on an open spit for compromising your virtue." She chuckled. "And frankly I'm not ready to be the main course at dinner tomorrow." She grinned and pulled Eve closer.
The princess laughed heartily. "You know...you're right. She IS that nuts. But thank the gods, I think she sorta likes you." She leaned in and brushed her lips across Varia's. "And I sorta really like you."
"That's good to know because I sorta really like you too." She smiled sensuously. Ducking her head she kissed Eve again, allowing her well-guarded, innermost feelings to finally show through.
After a few heartstopping moments, they pulled apart. Varia cleared her throat. "Wouldn't be right for me to keep you for myself all night, especially when the whole village would miss your presence at the party."
"You're right." She sighed. "Would you like to dance with me warrior?"
"Yes..." Varia offered her arm again, and it was taken. They proceeded to walk back to the festivities. "Maybe sometime, if you're lucky, I would dance for you and not with you."
Eve nearly fell over herself as those words registered. "Oh my gods, you're so bad..." was all she could muster.
"Yes, but I'm sooooo good when I'm bad..." replied Varia.
"Is that right?"
"So you've done these kinds of private dance sessions before?" she asked, sliding her fingers down Varia's arm til they curled around the warrior's hand.
Eve smiled up at the warrior. "Never?"
"Never." said Varia, sweeping Eve into her arms as they reached the makeshift dance floor. She gazed into her eyes. "But for you, I would make a complete fool of myself." She smiled broadly.
"Really...hmmmmmm...." Eve slipped her arms up around Varia's neck as they began to sway with the rhythmic beating of the drums. "Well...the vision you put in my head looks anything but foolish." She brushed her lips across the soft ones of her warrior. "In fact, I think it's an incredibly sexy vision."
"You do?" The words brushed softly past Eve's ear.
The princess shivered from the sensation. "Oh gods yes..." She let her gaze roam freely over the warrior's body. "You are the most beautiful woman I have ever laid eyes on."
Varia flushed crimson as her eyes lifted up to meet Eve's again. "No...it's you who is beautiful." she said. "Whenever I would see you, I would find myself holding my breath." (Now it was Eve's turn to blush.) "Artemis has truly blessed me tonight."
"That is the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me." said Eve, trying to quell the flipping in her stomach. "Thank you."
"You're more than welcome." replied Varia softly.
Eve let herself be carried away on the emotions she was feeling as she stared deeply into the smoldering brown eyes of her escort. "Please kiss me now or I will surely die where I stand."
Varia's head tilted back as she closed her eyes. She took in a long breath and let it out slowly before once again meeting the princess' gaze. "Ok." Their lips met, and this time she held nothing back. It was loving, passionate, insistent and giving. It was everything and all, forever unforgetable. Varia realized something at that moment...love does conquer all.