She heard running water, and a light breeze through treetops. She lay on thick furs spread over cool grass. The chill air on her heated face told her it was late night. Gabrielle was near, she could feel that too. Xena opened her eyes.
"Hey, you." Gabrielles greeting was quiet and immediate; she must have been sitting at her side for some time, waiting for her to surface. The bards cool palm smoothed Xenas forehead. "Youre stoking a good fire, in there." Her green eyes crinkled in a smile, which died early as her slender fingers stroked a whisp of dark hair off her brow. "How do you feel?"
"Like I cant stay long, Bri."
Gabrielles fingers in her hair stilled. "What do you mean?"
"I need to go back under." Xenas mouth was so dry her tongue wasnt cooperating.
Gabrielle uncorked a flask of spring water. She slid her hand beneath the warriors hair and cupped her burning neck. Xena took two sips before her stomach cramped and she had to stop. Gabrielle rested her head back gently on the piled furs.
The fever had settled deep in Xena, and smouldered much too long -- days, without
a sign of breaking. Gabrielle knew Xena to be notorious for terrible fevers,
she had nursed the warrior through several in their years together. But she
could still be shaken by their ferocity, and she certainly was this time. Xena
had been unconscious a full day and night.
"Will you come back?" Gabrielles expression was bleak. They were both remembering other sojourns, by other pallets. Their luck couldnt hold forever, and they knew it. "Tell me the truth, Xena."
Xenas blue eyes met Gabrielles evenly. "Yes, Ill come back."
Gabrielle nodded, and played with Xenas cold hand. "Okay," she whispered.
"Now listen. Two things. Im going to need all the usual care we would give anyone unconscious. You know what to do."
"I do, yes." Gabrielles eyes still held oceans of dread as they moved over the dark womans face.
Xena tried to convey reassurance in a smile as she reached up to cradle Gabrielles face in her hand. "Second. Dont get so distracted by caring for me that you forget were in a wilderness. Never assume safety -- earn it. Keep your senses sharp." Xena frowned. "You look tired, Bri. Sleep and eat occasionally, all right?"
Gabrielle laughed, and a tear splashed down onto Xenas thumb. "If you think Id skip meals, you have to be delirious."
Xenas arm dropped weakly back to her side. The long speech had taken a lot out of her. They looked at each other silently for a moment.
Gabrielle bent over her, and their lips blended in a warm rush. Gabrielle slid one arm beneath Xenas bare shoulders to support her. One part of her mind couldnt help but measure the warriors fever with her lips and hands -- but most of her mind was swept up in the sweetness of the kiss.
To Xena, the bards mouth was blessedly cool, like a drink from a fast river after a days fighting. She let the sensation of feeling perfectly loved follow her down, swirling into a gray light that faded as she fainted.
_____ *** _____
Xena moaned and tried to blink what felt like cobwebs out of her eyes. She was startled to feel no worse. Her fever had vanished; she could think a coherent thought without fighting for it -- therefore, she wasnt awake. She had expected to find herself floating in the featureless haze of intense meditation. Shed been deeply out -- but now that she was back in, where in Tartarus was she?
Xena cracked open one eye and peered up the length of her muscled left arm. Her wrist was manacled to a wooden beam overhead. She looked to the other side, and saw her left wrist was cuffed as well. Then Xena looked down to confirm what all her senses were telling her -- she had been stripped naked as the day she was born. Her legs were spread widely apart, and her ankles were manacled by two other short lengths of chain to the floorboard.
She lifted her head and shook her dark hair out of her eyes. First she saw a white box, then a black and red box, with a white thing in it. That was helpful. She squinted, and the images resolved into a series of four marble steps, a draped platform bearing an ornate throne, and Gabrielle sitting in it, smiling down at her.
"Gab -- " Xena closed her mouth, her eyes focused now. She stared up at her young partner. "Wait -- is this a vision?"
"Well, you certainly are a vision."
It wasnt the odd response, or even the low timbre of her voice that gave her away. It was the predatory pleasure in the lovely green eyes as they drank in the sight of Xena, spread and naked, and the seductive positioning of her body on the throne.
"Hello, Hope." Xena stifled a quiver of nausea. "Loathsome to see you again."
"Hello, Xena." The tone was honied. Hope smoothed her abundant red-gold hair around her shoulders. She wore what could laughingly been called a wrap -- it was a wide, folded ribbon of satin across her breasts and hips, nothing more. Her muscular legs, belly, and bare shoulders gleamed darkly against the white fabric. "I have to admit that the sight of you is rather stimulating, warrior. Were flirting with incest, arent we? Technically, you are my stepmother."
"Another title to retch at." Xena tested the manacles holding her wrists and ankles, and found them daunting.
"Now, dont jerk around and cut yourself on those," Hope reproved with mocking solicitation. "You look beautiful fighting your chains, but I dont want you to tire yourself. Your fevers already doing a wonderful job of that, out there."
"Out there," Xena repeated. "You mean, out of this little hallucination of mine, out in the real world?"
"Oh, this world is very real. My father made it for me." Hope smiled, charmingly. She looked around the large, white chamber, empty except for the platform, throne, and rack. "You could call this my private boudoir."
Xena had no time for verbal acrobatics. "Hope, what do you want? Just tell me, so I can make sure you never get it."
Hope turned on her stomach and perched her chin on her hand, watching Xena with hooded eyes. If Gabrielle had assumed that pose, wearing that expression and little else, she certainly would have had Xenas attention. Seeing Hope do it only made her queasy again.
"Whats your hurry, Xena? You dont have anything better to do, do you?"
Xena stopped studying her chains and looked at Hope.
"Oh. You do?" Hope feigned surprise. She sat up and folded one leg over the other demurely. "Thats right. Youre supposed to be in deep trance, arent you?"
Xena said nothing.
"Dont let me stop you." Hope gestured, gracefully. "Go on, concentrate. Its important, isnt it? If you dont use this time well, Xena, you just might not make it back to a living body, after all."
"All right, Hope." Xena shifted her weight to her other bare foot. "Do you want to kill her, or just punish her?"
Hope looked off-balance for the first time. "What?"
"Gabrielle," Xena snapped. "Youre trying to distract me, to keep me from healing myself. Do you want me to die so I cant protect her, or because my death would -- "
"Destroy Gabrielles life? Yes, it would." Hopes tone chilled by several degrees. "Unlike my own demise, which only filled my mother with unmitigated joy, as we both know. No, Xena, distracting you now is purely tactical. Committing matricide will be far easier with you out of the way, yes. And removing you both from the face of the earth seems my wisest course. The two of you do persist in thwarting my fathers destiny." She raised her voice, sharply. "Come!"
Xena heard heavy footfalls approaching behind her, and she turned her head, trying to listen. It was maddening to stand naked, with her back vulnerable to open space behind her. Not that Hope, in full view, made her feel particularly safe.
"You're looking fit, Xena."
Xenas blue eyes blazed wider as Cortese came around in front of her, smiling. He folded his muscled arms, and regarded Xena with an undisguised leer, his gaze moving slowly over her breasts, down her belly, to the dark triangle between her wide-spread legs.
"So this is Tartarus." Xenas eyes moved from her first enemy to Hope. "Hades has no imagination."
Hope smiled. "Dont worry, Xena. Dahak does."
Xena looked at the old warlord ogling her, and she blinked, disconcerted. Cortese was not an old warlord anymore; he looked as if he were in the prime of life. And his face no longer bore scars, not even the ones Xena had dug in his flesh herself.
"Been nipping the ambrosia, Lentil-dick?"
Cortese chuckled. "I havent needed any, warrior." Then he turned to Hope, with apparent eagerness.
"Take her from behind, Cortese."
Hopes command was so soft-spoken that it didnt register at first. When it did, Xenas features betrayed only one quick moment of horror, before she shielded her features with the remoteness she knew she would need under torture. Rape was a part of the old life, and her instincts were still sound. She began drawing deep, even breaths, and tried to relax the muscles in her belly. She would figure out how to get out of here later -- for now, she would survive this, and whatever came next.
Cortese circled back around Xena, taking his time. He rubbed his hands together as he studied her bound body, and his voice was warm with relish. "Just look at you, Xena. Do you know how many times I imagined you, exactly like this? Stripped like a harlot and stretched on a rack?"
"Ive always had excellent posture." Xena kept her eyes level in front of her. "Get on with it, Cortese."
"Soon, warrior. I want to appreciate your bounty first." Cortese came up behind Xena, and lowered his chin over her left shoulder. His eyes fastened on the tight, uplifted globes of her breasts. "Youre gold and shining in the torchlight, Xena. Entirely exposed to me. You cant prevent my hands from probing your nakedness -- "
"Yeah, yeah, bore me to death or just fuck me, Cortese."
"Do it!" Hope hissed. Even from the frame, Xena could see the demons nipples rising beneath the sheer fabric.
"Your command, my queen," Cortese replied. Xena heard the ripping of cloth.
There were no more preliminaries.
The warlord gripped Xenas waist and lifted. His thick organ, freed from the torn trousers, nosed upward until Xena felt the brush of its bulbous head across the dark hairs of her slit. Xena fought an almost uncontrollable urge to try to close her legs. It would be futile, and the attempt would only arouse her rapist.
"No," Cortese breathed in her ear, "I like another angle better."
He released Xenas waist and slid his hands around to the backs of her parted thighs. He lifted them, and Xenas knees bent slightly. She closed her eyes with a stab of shame she couldnt suppress. This position exposed the front of her pussy to Hopes watching eyes, which sparked with pleasure. Xena felt the urgent nudging at her netherlips again.
Then Cortese was through them. The tip of his cock socketed neatly into the opening of the warriors vagina, and he jerked his hips forward and plowed up into her. Hard, like a thick spear impaling her, with one savage thrust. Xena grunted loudly in spite of herself, and her head fell back in shock.
She heard Hopes voice, soft and musical now. "Ream her thoroughly, please."
The big man let Xena drop fully on his skewering cock. His hands snuck around her waist and slapped over her full breasts, his thick fingers digging into them. Xenas eyes squeezed shut as Cortese withdrew his cock half way, then surged up into her again. Her entire body lifted with the force of the thrust, and her breasts jerked and shuddered beneath his squeezing hands.
Xena forced boredom into her voice. "Let m-me know when youre -- ready to st-start, Cortese."
Cortese hefted her up again on the end of his digging cock. "Dont pretend you cant feel this, princess bitch," he whispered. He let her weight settle fully on him, and then began a slow, lewd twisting, his hips moving with the same rhythm his hands used as they churned against her taut breasts.
She was fully engorged with his flesh, the ridges of his thick organ raking through the tunnel of her cunt. The turgid pole deep within her seemed to pulse with heat. She felt the subterranean quivers of arousal, and quelled them firmly.
"So, Hope." Xena forced her eyes open. "Tell me. Why. . . why wont you st-stay . . . decently dead?" A guttural groan issued from her at a particularly vicious thrust.
She received no answer. Xena blinked sweat out of her eyes in order to see Hope, then regretted the effort. The blond demon was watching her rape with avid interest, her cheeks filling with hectic color. Her eyes were intent on the fleshy pole pistoning hotly between Xenas spread thighs, and she licked her lips.
"Im the daughter of Dahak, Xena. You cant believe he would allow two mortal women to disrupt his plans forever. Her nipples, Cortese -- twist them."
The warlord complied with gusto, and Xena bit back a moan of pain.
"Daddy c-cant be too -- pleased with his little girl," Xena gasped. "Not after you -- allowed two mortal women to stop him -- twice -- ahhh -- "
"Dahak understands that conquest after struggle is a far sweeter triumph, Xena." Hopes fascinated gaze was still pinned on Xenas humping mound. "When I bring him Gabrielles heart, hell know Ive earned his -- Cortese, no!"
With a bellowing roar, Cortese exploded deep in the warriors cunt. Xena felt the spasming of his cock inside her, and the frenzied squeezing of his fingers on her breasts as he climaxed.
"No!" Hope cried, enraged, and rose from the throne. "You cant -- "
But Cortese was already slumping against her back. Over Hopes fury and the sated panting of the warlord impaling her, Xena heard another sound -- a soft tapping, and another voice, calling her name.
The lines of the white room began to blur around Xena, and Hopes cheated scream shattered it into shards of light.
_____ *** _____
"Open your eyes! Xena, please, look at me!"
Gabrielle was straddling her waist, and the tapping shed heard was the bards hand slapping her cheek. Xena pulled her eyelids open, and her dazed vision filled with Gabrielles pale features.
Her partner sat up with a gusting sigh of relief, and then clasped her shoulders. "Xena, whats happening to you? By the gods, your heart was pounding so fast I couldnt -- "
"Hope," Xena stammered, and Gabrielle stared at her. Her green eyes were enormous; they filled the warriors sky.
"Where?" she whispered.
"In here." Xena felt herself falling again, and she looked up at Gabrielle in helpless regret.
"Xena! Dont, stay with -- "
But she was gone again.
_____ *** _____
Xenas gut clenched. She opened her eyes to see Callisto kneeling before her, her hand lifted in the hope that a second blow would be needed. The blond hair, high cheekbones, and doe-brown eyes were all the same -- as was the expression of lascivious excitement that corrupted Callistos beauty into something profane.
"Good morning, Xena," Callisto purred, her eyes glinting with delight as they met hers. "I hope you slept well, hon, because reveilles going to be a bitch."
Hope was there, standing over them with blazing eyes. "You dare try to escape me, Xena?" Hope was breathing hard, and the flush on her cheeks had deepened to the redness of rage. "Did you go running back to my pathetic mother? Did you tell her Im coming for her?"
Xena started to answer, but then emitted a guttural groan in response to the probing cock rooting inside her. Her arms had been bound behind her, her wrists wrapped tightly in thick links of chain. Her legs were again spread widely, and cuffed to the floor in front of her. Xena jerked her head backwards, hoping to impact with the nose she could feel sniffing her hair. She heard coarse laughter behind her.
"Still a wildcat, warrior princess?" The man beneath Xena humped his hips up, driving his cock deeper between her tense buttocks. Xenas jaw dropped and her eyes rolled back, unable to hide her horror at the hideous sense of invasion.
"Mmmmm." The man ground his hips slowly, grunting his pleasure into her dark hair. "You should recognize my voice, Xena, if not my tender touch."
"I know your stench, Aganon." Xena let out an explosive breath. "What is this, Hope? Old home week?"
"Hopeful has called together a few of your nearest and dearest, Xena." Callisto beamed at her, and lifted a delicate gold chain. At either end were small clamps, lined with blunted metal teeth. "She wants us to keep you bright and alert, until your luscious body out there goes up in flames."
"You should, dear, youre sitting on it." Callisto thumbed open the clamps, then fit them lovingly over the dark woman's nipples. She looked into Xenas eyes as she released them, and giggled as Xena gasped at the pinching burn suffusing the tips of both breasts.
"Oooh, Ive long dreamed of making these warriorly titties bounce like that," Callisto sighed, and smiled brightly over her shoulder at Hope.
"Youre getting weaker, Xena." Hope had regained her composure, and she looked above them and nodded. "Out there. You cant hear Gabrielle calling you, but I can. She sounds like a puling little girl, not an Amazon queen. Were exciting you so completely, your poor heart is going to explode in your chest if you dont blow off some pressure soon."
Hope crouched gracefully, and balanced her elbows on her knees as she studied Xenas sweating face. "But this kind of treatments not likely to bring you much relief, is it? We can arouse you, deeply, but youd never let yourself go. Not by any hand other than my weak, willing mothers -- am I right?"
"Absolutely," Xena said at once. Her blue eyes regarded Hope with feline disdain, even as her back arched sharply with another thrust of hot flesh punching up into her -- the classic pose of a woman being fucked from behind. She accepted the tossed gauntlet so readily that Hope stared at her for a moment -- or stared at her thrusting nipples, swelling in the jaws of the clips.
If Dahaks daughter had sworn she would make Xena scream under the scourging of a bullwhip, she would have met the same intractable resistance. Xena had accepted her challenge -- do with her body as she would, Xena was willing to die before granting Hope the satisfaction of forcing her to pleasure through rape. Hopes eyes turned feral.
"Callisto, split her apart," she snarled.
Callisto smiled at Xena, and the pink tip of her tongue skated across her full lower lip. "All right, old friend," she hummed, and rested her hands on Xenas knees. She pushed, roughly separating the warriors thighs as widely as her manacled ankles would allow.
"Lets scout out the territory, shall we?" Callisto's voice lowered. "Hope, take a look at the warrior-bitchs cunt. Let her feel your gaze on her wet slit."
Hope had eyes for nothing else. They crawled over the warriors upturned pussy, glistening and vulnerable beneath the predatory gaze of three enemies. Xenas arms and legs, her back -- all of her -- was so smooth and muscular, her naked body was coiled power restrained. But this feminine, plump mound, exposed and helpless, provided such carnal contrast that Hope licked her lips again, and nearly bent to suckle her.
"Im like you, Xena." Callisto regarded Xenas motionless form without guile. "I prefer a frontal assault. Fast, hard, and take no prisoners."
Callisto put one hand on Xenas knee to balance herself. She narrowed the other, and leaned over her. She paused, and smiled at Xena, who was gazing at nothing over her shoulder. Callisto reached down, and wiggled the tips of her fingers between the base of Xenas public lips, almost playfully.
"Amazons attack," Callisto whispered, and skewered her.
The narrow width of the mad warriors hand darted into the opening of the warriors vagina, and ground its way deep. It disappeared inside her to the wrist, and Xena muffled a scream, her hips convulsing. The penetration pressed her tender tunnel against the probing cock deep in her rectum, and a flashfire of heat washed through her cunt and clipped nipples.
"Spear her, Callisto" Hope whispered, her green eyes wide and staring. "Make her rut, hard."
Xena grunted as Callisto tugged her hand partially out of her hole -- and grunted again, louder, as she shoved it back in. She began to see the scene through Hopes eyes, and found she couldnt banish the image. She saw herself being fucked like an animal, held down, her knees pried apart, encircled by ravenous eyes, her ass and soaking cunt mercilessly stuffed.
The swirling heat in her belly subsided briefly, as Callistos hand stilled inside her. With the other, she lifted the chain connecting the warriors clamped nipples and twisted it, slowly, stretching her swollen, tender buds with cruel delicacy. Xena groaned harshly, her eyelids fluttering -- and before she could stop herself she humped her hairy mound up around Callistos impaling hand.
"Callisto, take them off." Hopes tone held the calm command that Gabrielles assumed in moments of crisis. "Then get low."
The warrior opened her blue eyes, knowing what came next and trying to brace for it. Callisto winked at Xena, and pulled the chain viciously, snapping the clamps off her sensitive nipples. Her breath exploded between her clenched teeth as her damp breasts clapped together.
Over their slapping, Xena heard the soft snap of leather strips. She didnt have to see the small whip Hope had picked up, she recognized the sound. It was a many-tethered flail, an instrument she often used herself in her former life. It was excellent for sexual punishment, of any kind.
Many sensations assaulted the pinned warrior in the next minute.
Hope threw the flail across her naked breasts, the leather snapping Xena's right nipple, enormous now, throbbing and red. The hiss of pleasure that escaped Hope at her writhing was appropriate accompaniment to the sinister sting of the lash. Xenas appalled eyes fastened on her shuddering nipple, and the mild welts rising across the creamy globes of both her breasts. Gasping, her eyes filled with dread, and moved to her left nipple, quivering and vulnerable, and almost inevitably the next sweep of leather popped against that turgid nub. Xena let loose a hoarse groan and undulated against Aganons chest.
Then Callisto attacked again, and Xenas head fell back, her mouth yawning open in a silent cry. The blond warlords hand slithered hotly through her greased depths, twisting and rubbing.
Callisto, it seemed, was settling in for a nice, long fuck. She lay down on her stomach, to clear the warriors breasts for Hopes lash, and began pumping her hand and wrist in and out of the dark womans juicing cunt. Xenas old nemesis raped her with a patience and exquisite timing that spoke of long anticipation. She worked her with an apparently tireless vigor, as the man raping her from behind thrust in and out of her anus.
Xena called Gabrielle. Not aloud, but within the reaches of her mind, and the call held elements of desperation.
Hopes eyes were flashing green light, and her lips were fixed in a smile that could rightly be called demonic. "I finally understand what Gabrielle sees in you, Xena," she breathed. "Imagine, it never occurred to me. I'm delighted to find you beautifully -- endlessly -- fuckable. Twist for me again." She whipped Xenas breasts, hard. "If Id had the good fortune to realize this sooner, Id have captured you in your body, and played with it for years, before I killed it."
Hope nudged Callistos hip with her foot. Her lovely features were suffused with excitement. "Stretch her cuntlips up, show me her clit."
"Aye aye, capn." Callisto's brown eyes were gleeful. Four fingers of her free hand flattened at the top of Xenas seeping slash. They nudged up, with insidious gentleness, and the warriors large clitoris slithered out between her pussylips, glistening and engorged in the cool air.
Hope let loose a joyous battle cry, and her flail slapped down across the chained womans exposed clit. The strands of leather detonated in her juices in fiery streaks of agony and pleasure that roiled wildly through Xenas groin, and she bit her lip hard enough to bleed to keep herself from coming.
Aganon barked with laughter as the force of the whipstrike drove Xena back against him, grinding his cock more deeply up into her. "Why dont you bring down your look-alike to join us, girl?" He panted, winking at Hope. "Ive wanted me a taste of red-haired bard-snatch for years. Ever since -- "
"Uh-oh," Callisto hummed, her fascinated eyes still pinned to the warriors uncontrollably thrusting cunt. "Mistake, Aggie."
Xena could almost feel Hopes outrage radiating from her in waves as the green eyes focused on Aganon behind her. She breathed a prayer of thanks for the brief distraction, and sent a last summons to her partner, with absolutely no idea how the bard could respond.
She didnt see what killed Aganon, but she felt a burst of heat rush past her face. The warlord screamed, and then disintegrated into empty air. Xena dropped into the space where Aganon used to be.
Callisto was unprepared for the quick movement, and she looked up. There was enough give in the chain binding Xenas ankle that she could lift her foot and kick the necessary inches into Callistos unprotected chin. At the same moment, the warrior twisted and rolled left, targeting the edge of the platform. Her forehead connected against it with a satisfying crack.
This time, before the light faded, Xena heard both Hope and Callisto scream, in mingled rage and loss.
_____ *** _____
"Gabrielle?" Disbelief in Xenas tone.
"Were in fog muck."
As always, Gabrielles summation was earthy and accurate. The two women were both naked. They stood facing each other in a shapeless void of swirling fog. Thicker than fog, it was smoke, but it held no odor, and no power to chaff the lungs. The mist glowed white and gave off a dampness like steam, though the air was cool.
Xena could hardly stand. The sexual pressure building inside her had crested just short of climax, and now it held there, sending her blood screaming uselessly through her veins. Her knees felt like taffy. She bore no injury, though -- there was no stinging in her lower lip, and her more sensitive regions rang with lust, but not pain.
She stared at Gabrielle, who seemed only now to realize they were standing naked in fog muck. Some part of her noted that the bard's hair was long again, lush and soft around her bare shoulders. Her arms began to cross automatically over her full breasts, but then she looked up at Xena, sharply. She crossed the distance between them in three fast steps and took Xenas forearms.
"Listen to me. Youre dying. I cant stop you. Tell me what to do."
"How did you get here?" Xena panted. "Not that I know where here is -- "
"I dont know, and its not important." Gabrielle shook her slightly.
Xena looked down at her, and again admitted that Gabrielle could have whatever she wanted from her, forever. She would never be able to see that lovely, intense expression and deny her anything -- she was hooked.
"I'm here," Gabrielle continued. "Youre out there, burning up. Tell me what to do to help you!" She shook her again, which was a mistake, because Xenas knees buckled and she dropped like a stone. "Xe -- !"
At least Gabrielle was in crisis mode, fully alert, and moved quickly enough to drop with her, easing her to an invisible ground. "Talk to me!"
"She kept me from going under."
Xena nodded. "I can still heal, if I can just focus."
Gabrielle let go of her quickly. "Do it, then," she urged. She sat back and looked at Xena expectantly.
"Gabrielle, Im not sure I can." Xena didnt want to go into details, but she had to give the bard something to work with. "I dont think I can turn off my mind right away -- all my senses are keyed high. Hey, maybe you can tell me a really long, boring poem -- something with men in it. Gabrielle?"
"Xena, I know exactly what Im doing." Gabrielle threw her arms around Xena and tackled her, laying her flat, and began kissing her with an ardor and abandon rarely seen, even in Greece.
"Gabri -- what are you doing?"
"What I always do when youre too stubborn to sleep properly." Gabrielle swarmed over Xena, kissing her way down her body. "Which happens with blessed frequency," she added, and she shot Xena a smile both shy and devilish.
Xenas confusion disappeared as Gabrielle slid down between her legs and pried them apart. She reached out to touch the beautiful red-blond hair, but Gabrielle caught her hand. She held Xenas fingers to her lips for a moment.
"Not this time," Gabrielle murmured. "We need to work fast. Im going to take you, Xena, its my turn, finally. Now just lay back, and focus."
A slow grin dawned on Xenas face. She lay back, and focused.
Gabrielle had been unacquainted with the joys of loving women when they first came together. Xena had handled the bard with gentleness, and great restraint, for months before their lovemaking deepened into something more natural. Her pleasuring of Gabrielle with her mouth was almost courtly at first, but lately this most intimate form of lovemaking had assumed whatever form they needed at the time. They still touched with great tenderness, often, but claimed each other roughly after a harrowing day, finding explosive climax a wonderful restorative.
Now, Gabrielle was as relentless and ruthless in her love as Xenas enemies had been in their hatred. She lowered herself between Xenas wide-spread legs, and began to feast.
The blond head bobbed between her thighs, the small, sharp tongue probing insistently between her swollen lips. Its stroke on Xenas turgid clitoris, both soft and rough, might as well have been the strike of flint -- it set off sparks of sizzling pleasure through her cunt.
Xena began to moan, and her hips undulated in Gabrielles grasping arms. Gabrielle matched her sound for sound, humming her pleasure as she continued an orgy of licking. She batted the flat of her tongue forcefully against her lovers aching vulva, then swirled its tip in excruciating, teasing circles. She pursed her lips and drew in a small whirlpool of suction against the tip of the engorged bud of her clit, again and again, and then returned to relentless licking, both of them groaning deeply now.
Xena felt her knees sliding along the ground, drawing up at right angles to her hips, exposing her ravenous pussy as fully as possible. Gabrielle lifted her head, drew in a gasping breath, and sank back down, screwing her tongue deep into the flooded channel before her teeth fastened over the clit and nibbled, rabidly.
The torrent of fire coursing through Xena hit an unbearable crescendo, and then topped it, and the warrior screamed mindlessly, jerking against Gabrielles madly chewing mouth. She writhed sinuously, black lights flashing behind her eyes.
And then the blackness won, temporarily. Xena felt her consciousness, along with all physical sensation, flooding wetly out of her as she collapsed in the mist.
_____ *** _____
The forest, again.
Still night. Or perhaps the next night -- Xena had no sense of time.
Every muscle in her body was thoroughly relaxed, saturated in a warmth far more healing than the heat of fever. She felt as if she'd slept, well and deeply, for at least a week.
She was laying on furs, but she was covered by a firm, young body. Xena lifted her head weakly, and peered down at Gabrielles blond hair. The bard was laying fully on top of her, sleeping deeply against her shoulder. They were both naked -- again, or still -- and the smooth curves of the bards shoulders and hips glowed whitely in the moonlight.
"So this is the Elysian Fields," Xena murmured, and rested her lips in the soft hair.
"Xena?" Gabrielle mumbled. She put a hand on the furs at Xenas side and lifted herself, groggily. She blinked up into Xenas fond gaze, and then her own eyes widened abruptly.
"Hey. Hey!" The bards hand darted to Xenas forehead and held there for a moment. Then, not trusting good news, she felt the warriors face with the backs of her fingers, one side, then the other, then she cupped Xenas throat in her hand, then cupped the back of her neck. Xena allowed herself to be handled; she was exhausted and mellow.
"You broke. It broke! Youre only warm." Gabrielle smiled, and she was beautiful. Then she leaned forward and looked hard into Xenas eyes, searching for any other symptoms that threatened to rob her of such sweet relief. "Come on, dont make me ask."
Xena grinned. "Im fine, Gabrielle."
"You were out for two full nights." Gabrielle presented this information as if to refute Xenas claim.
"Im not surprised." Xena studied her young wife for a moment. "Hey. Youve been asleep, right? Do you remember -- coming to me, in there?"
"Coming to you?" The bards brow furrowed, and her nipples bobbed gently as she shook her head. "Where? Did you see me in a dream?"
"In a manner of speaking." Xena shivered, and only then realized her body was covered in a sheen of sweat. As always when a bad fever broke for good, she was left feeling hollow and a bit shaky, rested or not.
Gabrielle shivered too, as if in sympathy. She reached over her shoulder and pulled the fur up over them both, then lay her cheek back down on Xenas shoulder to warm it. "My last resort was going to be lugging you into the stream. Im serious," she insisted when Xena chuckled. "Your fever almost went that high. But your heart started going like a hammer, Xena, incredibly fast -- "
"And you knew the cold water might kill me as well as cool me," Xena approved.
Gabrielle nodded. "So I just lay down, here. You were like a -- bed of coals under me, I swear. I guess I thought I could either cool you, or comfort you . . . "
"You did both." Xena kissed her hair.
"Are you going to tell me what happened in there?"
"Are you sure you want to hear?"
Their old warning. Gabrielle sometimes deferred to it, opting not to hear details of past events she knew Xena would find painful to remember. But shed been badly frightened the past five days, and tonight she needed to know.
Xena told her, briefly, and Gabrielle grew still in her embrace. The bards arms tightened around her as she listened. They were both silent for awhile when Xena finished.
"Cortese, Callisto, Aganon." Gabrielle thought she knew the answer, but she asked anyway. "Were they really all there?"
"No, Gabrielle." Xena didnt remember if shed always known it; the reality of their physical presence had been compelling. But both the warrior and the bard knew their true enemy well. "It was all Hope, her manifestations. Or those of Dahak, maybe." Xena paused. "She said she wanted me dead because shes coming for you, Bri."
Gabrielle said nothing, staring sightlessly into the darkness. She shrugged, finally. "I believe her."
"Im not sure."
Gabrielle lifted her head to look at the warrior. "Youre not?"
"Not entirely. I believe Dahak has commanded Hope to kill you, she may even intend to. But she still speaks of you with such loss, Gabrielle -- "
"Stop it," Gabrielle whispered. She raised herself again, on one arm. "You, of all people, Xena. Youre trying to make me see Hopes human side?"
"Im pointing out a potential weakness in an opponent." Xenas tone was gentle. "Im sorry, Bri, but if Hope is threatening you, I have to be ruthless about finding her chinks."
"I know." Gabrielle lowered her head to the swell of the warriors shoulder again, and sighed. "I know you are. Im still trying to snap back from realizing I almost lost you, again, to a monster I helped create, okay, give me a moment."
Xena nuzzled Gabrielles hair. "Well be careful. Youre going to balk at this, but Im not letting you out of my sight until this is finished."
"Oh, great." Gabrielle yawned. "That means I cant even go into the woods when necessary, because youre not moving off these furs until that fevers been gone a full day."
"Cyrene, please. Im not even dressed."
Gabrielle laughed softly, and kissed Xenas shoulder.
They slept the sleep of the innocent until the sun rose high.