Please read the Disclaimer in Part One!
Xenite Disclaimer for Part Six: Xena's ultra-butch reputation was not harmed in the production of this fanfic.
Gabrielle shivered slightly as she and Luther followed rapidly behind Xena. The evening had grown chillier during the fencing match, and her long dress and jacket were not entirely equal to the task. She crossed her arms again over her middle and concentrated on the moisture between her rapidly striding legs, the touch of Xena's fingers that she could still almost feel sliding across her slickness.
Luther glanced sideways at Gabrielle and was about to offer her his coat when Xena, abruptly, stopped walking. They stood in the middle of Harvard Yard, surrounded by stark bare trees and ancient brick buildings, the sky a morass of clouds above.
Xena stood frowning slightly, considering. "Noooo...." she said slowly, like one who has been asked a difficult question. Then "No," more firmly, with resolve. She turned to look at the two following her.
"Go home," she said to Luther. "We'll contact you tomorrow."
Gabrielle looked surprised. "But-"
"No," Xena said once again. "No more for tonight." And to Luther, "Go."
Luther steeled his jaw and replied, "But I left my briefcase in your room."
Xena grimaced and sighed. "Oh, all right. Come on then." She turned and resumed her brisk pace.
When they reached Xena's room, she refused to let Luther come in. He stood feeling conspicuous in the hall for a long moment before Gabrielle reappeared and handed him his briefcase. Her look when she met his eyes was apologetic, but she said nothing.
As the door closed. Luther could hear Xena quietly admonishing.
"Gabrielle, try to remember the point. You ... we ... are not having a relationship with this boy."
"I know that, Xena. But does it really hurt to treat him like a human being?"
The closing door cut off the end of the final word and Luther turned, shrugging to himself, to return to his stark apartment and his chill empty bed.
Xena moved away without answering, going back into her room, turning to push the door closed behind Gabrielle. Mutely, both removed their jackets. Xena looked at her smaller lover, registering Gabrielle's slight trembling and the goosebumps dotting her bare arms, and a strange sentiment darkened her eyes. She reached for the comforter which, much earlier, she had folded on a chair, and opened it, wrapping it around Gabrielle, pulling the redhead onto the floor and into her arms, wrapping the comforter securely around both of them. Gabrielle, still shivering, felt completely enclosed, the warmth of her lover's body reflected back by the blanket and beginning slowly to smooth out her goosebumps.
"I'm sorry," Gabrielle said softly, and felt Xena's head shaking behind her.
"No...." the dark woman said yet again. Her hands slid down Gabrielle's arms and, with a tenderness she never displayed in public, engulfed the poet's small cold hands in her own, rubbing gently. Gabrielle felt a warmth more than physical seeping into her depths, and shivered violently with more than cold. She pressed backward, huddling luxuriously in the warm double embrace, as if to push her entire self inside Xena and share with her that delicious warmth. The persistent rubbing restored feeling to her sensitive fingers and made them tingle. She closed her eyes.
After a while, drowsing cozily, Gabrielle became aware that the touch on her hands had grown less firm, more idle. Xena's long, slender fingers stroked slowly across the meat of a palm, tested the skin's texture inside a knuckle, toyed with bending and straightening a finger. Once Gabrielle focused on the sensations, she felt the rest of her body beginning to respond as well. But she remained quiescent, savoring the arousal as it built, slowly, so slowly.
Then Xena's fingertips were passing across her palm and Gabrielle moved her thumb languidly, stroking it into Xena's palm, feeling her lover pause slightly in reaction. Xena took both her hands and squeezed them, and Gabrielle twisted around to look up at her lover's face. Xena's eyes were half-lidded with sleepy pleasure and there was no hurry in her movements as she lowered her lips to meet Gabrielle's. They kissed familiarly, fingers twisting together, for a slow eternity. Gradually the heat built in Xena as it had in Gabrielle, and she reached for the dress, pulling it up and off. Now Gabrielle was naked under the blanket, but still utterly warm. Xena's fingers dipped leisurely between her thighs, testing her wetness. Gabrielle pressed her legs together, strong thighs closing around her lover's wrist. Xena slid the hand farther underneath, her other arm gripping Gabrielle's shoulders. Smoothly she rose to her feet, bringing poet and blanket along, and moved the two steps to the bed.
Lying in almost the same position, cocooned under the comforter, they kissed again, moistly. Gabrielle turned in Xena's arms and they faced each other, mouths meeting and parting unhurriedly, hands caressing. Eventually, rather than reaching a peak, the passion tapered off and Gabrielle pressed her face gratefully into her lover's neck. Xena's hand was still caressing her vulva with a slow, undemanding touch; her other arm cradled Gabrielle's head against her. Gabrielle fell asleep with their humid breaths mingling to perfume the air.
Gabrielle woke again in the same position, enveloped in Xena's embrace, with Xena's free hand lightly resting between her thighs. It was the chime of Xena's computer, turning itself on as it did every morning, that woke her body; it was the look in Xena's eyes, when Gabrielle sleepily opened her own and found her lover watching her sleep, that woke her soul. They smiled slowly into each other's eyes.
"Still cold?" Xena asked in a near-whisper. Gabrielle shook her head mutely for "no." On impulse, she stretched up and kissed the tip of Xena's nose. Xena smiled ... almost.
Gently disentangling their limbs, Xena sat them both up. Gabrielle was still naked and Xena still wore the sweatpants and tank top of yesterday, though somehow she had managed to remove their shoes. Xena stood slowly, and Gabrielle watched enraptured as the tall lean woman raised her arms to the ceiling and stretched the sinuous length of her lean body. Easing out of the stretch, Xena turned to Gabrielle and tossed her a towel.
Stripped naked, the two women walked through the living room to the small bathroom. Fortunately, Minya was an early riser and had long since left the suite. Xena started the shower, running it hot, and stepped in, Gabrielle right behind. On the door rack, their towels hung in a comfortable embrace. In the shower, the hot water streamed across their flesh as Xena poured liquid soap over Gabrielle and rubbed it vigorously into a thick lather with her bare hands. Sighing, Gabrielle luxuriated in the feel of her lover's hands sliding wetly across her shoulders, slipping over her breasts, twanging her tight nipples, smoothing across her hips. She turned to reciprocate and realized as Xena caressed her buttocks that they both still carried Luther's stickiness between their legs.
Now Xena rubbed the soap between Gabrielle's thighs with one hand, between her own with the other, and the lather foamed and the smell of peppermint from the soap filled the air along with the humidity of the shower. Xena's fingers were slippery and sly against Gabrielle's outer lips, and the smaller woman shuddered slightly. Xena went to her knees and the water cascaded over her shoulders, plastering her long dark hair to her head and making it gleam. The soap and the water and Gabrielle's juices mingled on her tongue as she stroked it against her lover's center. Gabrielle moaned and shuddered, leaning back, bracing her arms against the shower wall. Xena's fingers were spreading her open and sliding inside her as her knowing tongue sought and found. And Gabrielle cried her lover's name breathily as she climaxed.
Rising to her feet, face flushed, Xena reached for the shampoo bottle. She held it in her hands for a moment, looking at it speculatively, and Gabrielle tensed, opening her thighs again. But Xena removed the cap and squirted shampoo on Gabrielle's head, moving to rub it in with a vigorous touch. While Gabrielle, still trembling, lifted her hands to rinse, Xena lathered her own thick hair and then allowed Gabrielle to rinse it for her. The poet delighted in the feel of the heavy, silky strands running clean and clear through her fingers.
Finally Xena reached for the tap, and Gabrielle hopped out of the shower stall a bare instant before the water turned freezing cold. Grabbing her towel, she shivered in sympathy and rubbed herself dry. In another moment Xena turned the water off and stepped out, her skin glowing. Her lips were slightly blue, but she reached casually for her towel and dried off as they walked back toward the bedroom.
Gabrielle fidgeted as they reentered the room and pulled on clean underwear, and finally her natural talkativeness got the better of her. "You know," she said brightly, "I bet I could write a paper about this for my women's studies class. 'Deconstructing the Patriarchy: An Experiment,' I could call it. I bet the professor would love it."
Xena snorted softly. "Some experiment. Only one test subject." After a moment, moving for her computer, she added, "Although I suppose you could claim the entire male sex as your control group." Flicking the mouse, she started up her email program and reached for her student directory while watching the messages download.
"He was good, wasn't he?" Gabrielle ventured, feeling a sudden odd need to defend Luther.
"He followed the rules, mostly," Xena admitted grudgingly.
"He wasn't as repressed as we originally thought, either."
"Mm." Xena shook her head absently, leafing through the book. "No," she said, agreeing. She looked up, meeting Gabrielle's eyes. "But we found his boundary, didn't we?"
Gabrielle's eyes widened a little. "You mean ... but Xena...." She paused. "Are you really going to fight Hank for him?"
"Xena, the idea terrifies him."
"Because it turns him on," Xena stated with a calm certainty. "Like all men." She snorted softly in derision. "He's frightened of his own desires. Scared to give in to something he might like." The words resonated strongly inside Gabrielle, ringing all her mental bells and making her look with troubled eyes at her lover, but she couldn't bring herself to form the question.
Xena was dialing the phone, looking at the book. Now she handed the receiver to Gabrielle, who put it slowly to her ear. She listened to it ringing as Xena took her free hand and put it to her own breast. Gabrielle felt the velvety texture of her lover's skin, still slightly damp, but warm, moving under her fingers as Xena breathed. She moved her thumb across the nipple and said, "Machine."
Xena scowled and held up a finger. Gabrielle listened to Luther's noncommital recorded voice, waited for the soft beep, and then spoke.
"Luther, this is Gabrielle. Meet us at the coffeehouse by the Yard at one o'clock. If you have a class, skip it." She looked at Xena, who was nodding. "Bye." Gabrielle put the phone down and leaned over to replace her other hand with her tongue on Xena's tight nipple. She scraped her teeth lightly across it and felt the taller woman quiver slightly. Then Xena pushed her away.
"Get dressed. I want to read my email."
Half an hour later, Xena dropped Gabrielle off outside the building where the young poet had a class. Standing on the top step outside the door of the three-hundred-year-old building, Xena pulled her lover roughly against her, grasping her ass, and kissed her possessively. As the tall dark woman turned and walked away, a few sets of eyes watched her, but no one dared approach.
As Xena emerged from Harvard Yard and stepped out onto Massachusetts Avenue, a bright red sports car whipped around the corner and screeched to a dramatic halt just inches from her. Xena, who had not so much as flinched, folded her arms across her chest and glared murderously at the driver. Holding her gaze, he leaned across to unlock the passenger door of his car.
Ignoring the obvious invitation, Xena walked around to the driver's side and gave him the full force of her angry Look. He quickly touched a button and his window slid down.
"Aaron," Xena said with silky displeasure. "You don't know when to quit."
"Xena, let's talk."
"Fuck off," she suggested, turning away.
"You know you want to! Don't fucking deny me!" he yelled, but she affected indifference. A car behind him honked in annoyance. Glowering, the dark athletic coach threw his Ferrari into gear and roared off.
Heedless of the honking cars, Xena proceeded slowly across the street and headed for Tower Records. To her great lack of surprise, she found Ian in the book section.
"Hey," he greeted nonchalantly. Xena nodded curtly.
"You liked what you tasted?" she asked bluntly. Ian raised his eyebrows and nodded.
"Tell Hank we can talk," Xena instructed, and turned to leave, not waiting for his nod of acknowledgement. Ian watched her back for a moment, unable to stem the flow of memory, but only for a moment. He turned back to the books.
When the clock atop the Cambridge Savings Bank building read 12:33, Gabrielle arrived at the coffeeshop to find Xena already there. The tall woman's long black-clad legs were stretched out across the aisle, her body slouched negligently in a chair, her dark eyes once again scanning the passersby through the front window.
Gabrielle bought two steaming mochaccinos and brought them over. "Hi."
Xena grunted in greeting.
"What are we going to do?" Gabrielle asked somewhat timidly, taking off her coat and sitting. Xena watched her for a silent moment, focusing at last on the inch of cleavage revealed by Gabrielle's low-cut sweater. She regarded it quietly, then moved her eyes up to fixate on her lover's full lower lip.
"Dunno," she said at last. She observed with fascination as Gabrielle's mouth tightened and then opened to speak.
"Can't we just explore the bondage aspect of it, and leave the other alone? At least for a while longer," Gabrielle entreated. "Until he gets more comfortable with the whole scene."
"His being uncomfortable is the entire point of the exercise," Xena pointed out, lifting her cup to her lips. Gabrielle dumped a packet of sugar into hers, then another, frowning.
"I know ... that's not what I meant."
"We'll play it by ear," Xena said, just a little less than truthfully. Gabrielle grimaced once more and shrugged acceptance.
"Okay." Carefully, she changed the subject. "Did you talk to Hank?"
Xena shook her head in the negative. "Asshole."
"Oh, Xena, don't start that again."
Xena's head was still shaking slowly back and forth. "You have too much faith in men. Assholes, all of 'em."
"I like to believe all human beings are inherently decent, regardless of gender," Gabrielle said quietly, in the resigned tone of an argument frequently engaged and never resolved.
"I love you for it," Xena said with breathtaking candor, "but it's fucking stupid."
Gabrielle was silent, regarding her lover with considerable surprise. Xena took another sip of her unsweetened coffee.
They passed a few minutes in silence, but both looked up alertly as the door blew open and Luther entered.
Spotting them immediately, he headed over to them and stood somewhat awkwardly beside their table. Not looking at him, Xena put out a foot and shoved a chair back from the table. Quickly, Luther sat. Gabrielle gave him a friendly smile.
"Hi," she said encouragingly. He returned the smile.
Now Xena was watching him, gauging every twitch, every flicker of his eyes. The attention clearly unnerved him, but he held fast, managing not to cave. After a moment she spoke.
"Tell us about your sister."
"You said yesterday that I reminded you of your sister. Tell us about her."
"Oh ... um...." Uncertainly, he looked at Gabrielle. "Well, she's ... she's four years older than me ... she's not quite as tall as you are, but her hair is the same color, although hers is wavier. She's very ... well ... forceful."
Gabrielle smiled slightly. "Nice choice of words."
Xena waved impatiently. "Screw looks. You haven't told me about her."
"Well, I could introduce you," he said a little dubiously, "if you wanted...."
"Medical. She's in her final year of premed. She's going to be a psychiatrist."
Xena's eyebrows lifted. "Great. A shrink."
"She says it comes naturally from being the oldest in the family."
"Oh, a philosopher too." Xena gave Gabrielle an amused look, but as always there was an undercurrent of something more. "So, she's here at Harvard."
"Yes, but she's out of town at a convention this week. Maybe when she gets back-"
"Enough," said Xena, curtly. Luther shut up. Xena pulled her legs underneath her and rose, tossing shining dark hair back over her shoulder. For a moment, she towered over the other two, freezing them, before they both scrambled to their feet as well. "Let's go."
"Where?" Luther asked anxiously. Xena gave him a bland look, but a fierce hunger lurked behind it.
"Back to my room." She smirked cruelly and added, "Unless you're not in the mood?"
Luther gulped and shook his head mutely. Xena snorted contemptuously and whirled, stomping toward the door. Gabrielle and Luther hurried to follow.
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