Please read the Disclaimer in Part One!
Warning: This story is rated NC-17. Do not read it if you are under 17 years of age, or if the idea of two women in love turns you off. This story contains fairly explicit sexual content, as well as at least one four-letter word (in part two).
Special Warning: Part Ten includes somewhat explicit male-female sex! Don't say you weren't warned!
Xenite Disclaimer for Part Ten: No sunsets were available to be ridden into at the end of this fanfic, so Xena made the best of what she had.
I couldn't love you more if time was running out couldn't love you more oh, right now baby Take me by the hand, come on Be my darling, be the one I wouldn't wanna lay or ever love with another If everyone in the world could give me what I wanted I wouldn't want no more than I have I couldn't love you more if I tried. --Sade, "i couldn't love you more"
"Ares," said Xena warily, moving instinctively to shield Gabrielle with her own body. The God of War was, as usual, foul-tempered, but his beautiful sister wore a small smug smirk.
"Thought you might like to know," Ares said gruffly. "The Gods on Olympia ruled against Callisto. She's being put back in that lava flow ... for eternity this time."
Xena and Gabrielle exchanged a glance. "Really," Xena said, trying to conceal her surprise. "And exactly why did they do that?"
"Oh, you know...." Ares shrugged. "Tricking a god, misuse of her godly powers, that sort of thing."
"Oh, cut the bull, Ares," Aphrodite exclaimed. Lowering her voice, she told the women, "The truth is, Ares argued against Callisto in the hearing. Like, he was totally torqued. Told everyone all about how you dumped her in the lava after she copped the ambrosia, and how she totally needed to chill there for a while."
"It was a brilliant tactical maneuver," Ares grumbled, almost to himself. "Just think what great things a mind like that could do...."
"Forget it, Ares," Gabrielle said before Xena could speak. "You had your chance to win Xena back, and you failed. Now-" she glanced up, almost coyly, at the tall warrior- "she's all mine." Ares's scowl deepened. Aphrodite smiled beatifically.
"Like, totally rad," she sighed happily. "I'm majorly jammin' on you two. You're definitely up there with my greatest triumphs."
"We can't thank you enough," Gabrielle began. Xena gave her a look of incredulity.
"Oh yes we can!" the warrior objected darkly. She leveled a warning glare at the goddess. Gabrielle hastily took Aphrodite's arm and pulled her aside to whisper in her ear.
"Just promise me one thing ... never, ever turn me into a man again!"
"Scout's honor, babe," Aphrodite promised, nodding sincerely. Gabrielle narrowed her eyes.
"And not Xena either!"
Aphrodite pouted. "Oh... all right!"
Gabrielle was thoughtful for a moment, then whispered one last thing. Aphrodite immediately brightened.
"Bitchin'!" She turned to beam at Xena. "Hey, the kid's got brains too!"
"Yeah," growled Xena, who had been engaging in a staring contest with Ares. "Now if the two of you are quite finished playing your little games...."
"Yeah, like, let's jet," Aphrodite agreed, turning to Ares. "This forest decor is totally wigging me out."
"You haven't heard the last of me," Ares shot harshly at Xena, and disappeared with a loud pop. Aphrodite rolled her eyes.
"Dude, always the dramatic exits. How totally bogus!" She herself disappeared with a small shower of golden sparks.
Xena shook her head wearily. "Well, at least this ought to keep them off our backs for a little while." She turned to gather up their things, and noticed Gabrielle still looking thoughtful. "Gabrielle?"
"Xena...." Gabrielle spoke slowly, a blush beginning to rise across her throat. "Just how long do you think they were ... waiting?"
Ares rematerialized in his bedroom and stalked back and forth a few times, seething, before noticing Aphrodite.
"Oh, now what, for Elysia's sake?" he demanded. Aphrodite shook her head sorrowfully at him.
"Dude, you've got it bad for that Xena chick."
Ares made an impatient gesture. "She's a brilliant warrior! Or at least, she used to be. Before that meddling half-breed interfered."
"Who, Herc? I think he's kinda cute." She moved closer to Ares, putting a hand on his arm. "But that's not all it is, your macho warlord stuff. You want Xena for more than that. Come on, like, you can't fool me, ya know? This is totally my scene!"
"Speaking of which...." Ares glared down at her. "What you did before ... when Callisto was here. That was *completely* uncalled-for!"
"Oh, that," Aphrodite giggled. "Just as easily fixed." She moved her hand up Ares's well-muscled arm and grinned into his face. His eyes widened.
"That...." Ares spoke as if through gritted teeth "...was not what I had in mind."
"Oh, no?" Aphrodite pouted prettily. "Maybe you'd prefer a boy? I could call Cupie...."
"Forget it." Ares slid his arm around her waist, pulling her close. Her ample breasts pressed against his hard chest. He kissed her harshly, his tongue razing her mouth like an invading warlord. She could feel the results of her handiwork pressing against her belly. She smiled against his lips.
Ares pulled back, still slightly annoyed. "This ... has been a complete failure of a day," he groused. Aphrodite's smile widened.
"Hang on, babe, it's about to get a whole lot better," she cooed, sliding her hand between his tight leather pants and his hot skin. Her filmy robe glided across her body and pooled on the floor. Ares's eyes half-closed as he fell backward onto his bed, Aphrodite landing atop him like an inviting blanket, warm and satiny. Their mouths met again, tasting greedily. The God of War chuckled hotly.
"Don't worry about it," Xena told Gabrielle for the tenth time as they picked their careful way back down the side of the mountain. "Whatever they saw, you can be sure Aphrodite's seen it before, and Ares ... well, just don't worry about him."
"That's easy for you to say," Gabrielle replied teasingly. "You're used to having the gods interfere in your life every other week."
"Well, you certainly handled them nicely," Xena commented.
"Really?" Gabrielle tried to suppress the silly grin that always found her face when Xena paid a rare compliment.
"Yeah, what you said to Ares probably wasn't the smartest thing, but after this debacle he'll probably leave us alone for a while. Nursing his wounded ego."
"Oh... good." They walked on in silence for a few minutes before Gabrielle spoke again. "Xena?"
Quietly, now: "I love you."
Xena turned her face away; it was her turn to suppress an irresistable smile. She had to take a deep breath and carefully modulate her voice before replying. "I love you too, Gabrielle. So much."
Gabrielle moved around to see Xena's face. They both stopped walking and looked at each other, filled with wonder and slowly building joy.
"Do you think," Gabrielle said, doing her coy look again, making Xena's insides quiver, "we could find an inn? Sometime really, really soon? With...." she gave a slow grin, "...a really big, really soft bed?"
Xena smiled widely. They had reached the point where the mountain leveled off into hills. Turning, she swung fluidly up into Argo's saddle and leaned down, holding out her hand. Trustingly, Gabrielle took the proffered hand and let Xena pull her into the seat behind. The bard wrapped her arms around the warrior's waist, and leaned her head against Xena's back.
"One big soft bed, coming up," Xena purred, her words vibrating pleasantly against Gabrielle's ear. She spurred Argo into a swift, smooth gallop. The benign sun warmed their backs as they moved through the forest, together.
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