Please read the Disclaimer in Part
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) and one five-letter "b" word (in part 5).
Xenite Disclaimer for Part Eight: Romance novelist Nora Roberts' work was not consulted during the production of this fanfic. (If you don't get the joke, see http://www.cnn.com/SHOWBIZ/9707/30/romance.plagarism.ap/)
from the earth below to the heavens above that's how far and funny is love at any time, anywhere if you gotta make love do it everywhere that's what love is, that's what love is -Queen, "Funny How Love Is"Gabrielle clutched at Xena's shoulders, dizzy with sensation as the warrior's strong knowing mouth moved over hers. Kissing Xena -- for real, not through any man's body -- was everything she had imagined, almost overwhelmingly delicious. The simple sensation of muscles moving underneath the dusky skin on her love's upper arms sent chills of desire through her body. The kiss seemed to stretch into eternity as the fire crackled cheerily and the forest creatures twittered.
But at length Xena ended the kiss, softly, pulling back to look an apology at the bard. "Gabrielle..." her voice was husky and low "...there's nothing I'd like more than to lay you back right here on the ground." Her lips brushed Gabrielle's again, feather-light.
"Go with it," Gabrielle encouraged breathlessly, trying to pull Xena closer.
"But I can't," Xena added, with intense regret, pulling away. She looked around uneasily. "Callisto might not have gone far. We need to be on the lookout. And I'm still owed that explanation."
"I can do that for ya," Aphrodite said, materializing on the other side of the fire. She had forcibly thrown off the blanket of dark emotion lain over her by the encounter with Callisto, and was once again cheerful. She smiled beatifically at the two women. "Like, about time, you two!" The new lovers exchanged self-conscious glances.
"Okay, Aphrodite," Xena said with exaggerated sternness. "Get on with it."
"Like, okay already ... chill!" the goddess replied. "Well, like, see, I heard Gabby thinking about being a man and I thought, like, bitchin' idea! So I did it." She and Gabrielle both grimaced. "But then that Callisto chick shows up and she's like, 'Hey, totally rad, why not just leave her like that?' But I'm like, no way, babe!" She shook her head ruefully. "I didn't know she'd snarfed the ambrosia, dig? I'm like, here's some idiot mortal trying to tell me what to do. But then she goes, 'Let's make a bet, If Xena kills me, Gabby has to be a boy forever.' So I'm like, rockin', 'cause I figured no way will Xena kill her, and anyway, if she's dead, she can't collect on the bet, right?"
"You still didn't know she was immortal," Gabrielle put in.
"Exactly! So I said, okay, ya got a deal, and then I found out she's a god and I'm like, totally bummin'. And then Ares shows up and he's like, 'I'll totally take care of this, you deal with the babes.' Only I couldn't tell you what was up, 'cause it was a bet. And a god has to honor a deal, even if she's tricked into it."
"How exactly were you supposed to 'deal' with us?" Xena asked suspiciously.
"Oh, well ... um ..." Aphrodite looked sheepish. "Callisto didn't do her homework, or she would have known. The original condition of my spell was Gabby would be a man till the two of you admitted your love to each other."
"Ahh...." Gabrielle breathed. She couldn't contain a small smile.
"Yeah. So, like, I was tryin' to push you into it. You girls are like way stubborn, you know?" The lovers exchanged another grin. Aphrodite sighed melodramatically.
"So, that's the story, babes!" She dismissed the entire saga with a wave of her hand. "Anyway, that Callisto won't be bothering you for a while. You can totally trust me on that. So I'm gonna leave you girls alone for a bit." She winked meaningfully at them. "Take advantage of it, all right?" And she was gone.
"Oh, now this *is* a pretty sight," said Ares, observing how Callisto struggled against her restraints. "Pity you're not my type."
"Ares!" Her lovely face twisted with anguish, Callisto looked pleadingly at him. "You have to do something. Help me!"
"Sorry," Ares shrugged. "You wouldn't take my help when I offered it to you, and now ... it's out of my hands. I warned you not to mess with the children of Zeus. You've angered the king of the gods, and there's nothing I or anyone else can do to help you now."
"No...." Callisto whimpered, hanging her head. Her crying spell in the woods was behind her now; her eyes remained dry although her shoulders heaved. Ares was unmoved.
"You're just lucky everything worked out all right with Xena," he added, "or you'd have me to answer to as well." He crossed his arms over his chest and leaned against the wall, preparing for a long wait.
Gabrielle shook her head ruefully. "Pawns in the games of the gods, yet again. Is it this bad for Hercules?"
"Worse," said Xena. "He's related to them." She narrowed her eyes at her friend. "Gabrielle ... there's one thing you haven't told me."
"Oh, what?" Gabrielle asked nervously. She had a feeling she knew what was coming.
"Why were you wishing to be a man in the first place?"
"Um -" Gabrielle looked away. It all seemed so stupid and banal, now. "I was just trying to figure out how to tell you how I felt," she muttered in a small voice. "I thought it might be easier if I were a man." She looked up again; self-deprecating humor tinged her voice. "And gods, was I wrong!"
Xena gave a small snort of laughter. "Great Zeus, Gabrielle. You really are something else." Her demeanor changed suddenly; something smoldering in her eyes made Gabrielle take an involuntary step back. Xena closed the distance between them in a single long stride; her arm curved firmly around Gabrielle's waist, pulling their bodies into closer contact. Her mouth descended on Gabrielle's again, this time fierce and demanding. Her tongue pushed its way between Gabrielle's lips. She ravished the bard's willing mouth for a searing moment before pulling back slightly. Her voice rasped in her throat, rumbling vibrations against Gabrielle's stomach. "Don't ever wish for anything like that again," Xena ordered heatedly. "Don't ever think I want anything from you but you."
Dazed from the kiss and the events preceding it, Gabrielle could only nod obediently. Xena's hot, dark blue gaze inches from her own eyes had her mesmerized. It was all she could do to keep her eyes from drifting sensuously shut as Xena nudged her legs out from under her and lowered her to the ground.
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