Part 4

(E-Mail Rachel)

Gabrielle heard the thundering hooves long before she saw the horse and rider. Her heart skipped a beat when she recognized the figure coming through the trees....then she heard the voice that never failed to move her so....

"Gabrielle......Gabrielle!"

She reigned Argo in and fairly flew off the horse's back in her hurry to reach her bard.

"Gabrielle! Thank the gods you are alright! I was so worried something happened!" she cried as she crossed the distance between her and the blonde in 3 steps.

"Xena!" Gabrielle threw her arms around the warrior's neck pulled her lips down to meet her own.

After a moment, the bard pulled back to gaze into her lovers' eyes, the eyes that held so much love and concern for her now.

"I'm fine...." she said to Xena. "Everything is ok! Oh Xena....don't cry, I'm here, it's alright honey!" She reached up to wipe away the tear that had fallen to the warrior's cheek, then rested her head upon the warrior's shoulder, hugging fiercely.

"I...I know, I can see that now, but gods I was so scared she hurt you. Even though Callisto seemed sincere, you just never know with her." she whispered into the bards' ear. "I don't trust her as far as I can spit."

"Hmmm..." replied Gabrielle...."You can spit pretty far there Xena..better rethink that cliche." She felt the warrior begin to relax her tense body...then she felt a chuckle.

Xena looked down to meet the eyes of her soulmate, and smiled into them. "You know, I think you may have a point there." she said. "But then again Gabrielle, you always have a point don't you darling?" She grinned, and brought her lips down to meet the bards' once again, immersing herself in the soft, sensuous feeling of them. 'This must be Olympus' she thought as her love for this woman flowed through her very soul.

When they finally broke for air, Xena stepped back (not letting the bards' hand go, mind you) and drew her lover to sit down by the fire. They plopped down on a log, and the warrior looked questioningly into the bards' eyes again. Gabrielle knew it was explaining time. Xena wanted answers, and she knew she had to give them to her.

"Gabrielle...i know you have a way with words, but WHAT did you say to Callisto??"

"Now now love, don't get your breeches in a bind!" She giggled...what a visual that was! "The herbs you gave her put her out, and then she seemed to be having a nightmare. I guess i just wanted to make her feel better Xena, I really didn't know i was doing it until she woke up and tried to get away from me." Her eyes took on a compassionate look as she remembered the moment. "I gave her something to eat, and then we just started talking."

"Talking? Since when does Callisto talk?" This was a statement from the warrior, moreso than a question. "How did she get loose? I thought i told you not to let her go no matter what?"

"I know Xena...I know. But you had to be there I guess." said Gabrielle. "Callisto started telling me all about her childhood....about what happened after you...ummm....did what you did." The warrior frowned, and Gabrielle noticed the change in her demeanor. "Honey, don't fret about it...it's alright now. The wheels have begun to turn in the right direction finally, and there is no need to relive the past anymore. It's over and done with." She pulled her warrior closer into a tight embrace.

Xena sighed...."I know Gabrielle. She found me....we talked some. She seems to understand that it can't go on like this anymore. Honestly? I guess I can see it now too....I thought i saw it before, but i was fooling myself. Now i know it to be the only way. But Gab, i still will worry about the future....i mean, come on, how can she just swap sides so easily? After what she's done!"

"Darling...." Gabrielle smiled her most beautiful smile as she remembered the day she met her Xena. "Look at yourself and then ask that question again."

Caught! 'Damn this bard!' (a smirk) 'How does she always know just how to make me see things I don't want to?' thought Xena. "Point taken my love. I guess the next step is to find someplace for her."

"I've already been thinking about that Xena." stated Gabrielle. "I want to take her to the Amazons..." Xena started to giggle, which became a chuckle, which became all out laughter within the span of a short moment. "Xena? Why are you laughing?"

"Oh...no reason Gabrielle, except that i was thinking the same thing." She laughed a bit more. "I don't know whether I was thinking your thoughts, or you mine! Anyways..." she calmed herself..."I think it's a great idea. We both know she doesn't have to stay here at all, but in a way i think she really wants to. Besides, she likes the gods about as much as i do. I know this will cause a stir in the village Gab, but i have faith that you can smooth things over." She smiled again.

"I'm not too worried about that, not with your dark and foreboding presence standing next to me." She laughed now too. "Face it Xena, you radiate compliance!" she grinned.

"Oh is that it? I always thought it was just my winning personality." Xena replied with a raise of her eyebrow.

"Yes yes, of course that's it." said Gabrielle teasingly, running a finger along the smooth length of Xena's jawline, caressing the full lips, and tracing the slope of her throat down to where the warrior's heart was now beating wildly..."But we can't just throw aside your 'many skills' either."

"Gabrielle...." Xena managed to get out..."Are you flirting with me?

"Mmmmmm, maybe." replied the bard. "Question is, what are you going to do about it?"

"I can think of a few things." said Xena, with a playful glint in her eyes.

"Really now...hmmm." replied the bard as she stood, and held out her hand to her lover. "I think i wouldn't mind finding out what those things are." The passion in her eyes now unmistakable.

Xena took the proffered hand and allowed herself to be led over to where their bedrolls were laid out, where they fell into each other with a reckless abandon that would have made even Aphrodite blush.

"Xena, where is Callisto?" asked the bard.

"Don't worry my love, she will be back in the morning."

"Oh........OH my!" The bard's thoughts were cut short by the lips on her throat, and the feelings they were evoking from her. "Gods Xena, did anyone ever tell you you are soooo good at this?"

Xena stopped what she was doing, raised her eyes to meet the bards, and replied...."Yes Gabrielle, but not anyone I cared to hear it from before."

It was a simple statement, but one of complete truth, and Gabrielle surrendered herself to her warrior.....lost forever in the love and commitment now freely offered from her soulmate.

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Callisto popped into view behind Xena as she was stoking the fire for breakfast. Peering over the warrior's shoulder she was about to say something when she was mercilessly grabbed and flung across the camp.

"OUCH!" she yelped as she hit the ground butt first. Skidding to a stop after about five feet, she turned back to see Xena laying on the ground holding her stomach and laughing uncontrollably. "Oh you think that was funny Warrior Princess?" She spat, then looked at herself sitting there with probably a green grass stripe up her backside, and started laughing too. Xena crawled over to Callisto and slapped her on the back hard, making her splat face first in the dirt. Of course this made Xena laugh even harder so she didn't see Callisto pick herself up and body slam her into the ground. They laughed harder causing the still sleeping bard to stir in her bedroll. Xena looked at Callisto, put her finger to her mouth..."SHHHHHHHH!" she said, and it was quiet.........for about three seconds untill they couldn't hold out anymore. At that, the bard was awakened abrubtly......

"BY the GODS can't anyone get any sleep around here!" mumbled Gabrielle. "I swear I think I am going to regret it now that you two are getting along...you are like children!"

Xena and Callisto looked at each other and busted out laughing again. This time Gabrielle joined in and they all enjoyed just being together and not wanting to kill each other for a change. The laughter finally died down, and Xena excused herself to go ready Argo.

Callisto watched Gabrielle begin to disassemble the campsite, and walked over to her....

"Need some help?" she asked.

"Sure Cal...wanna help me pack the saddlebags?"

"Alright." said Callisto. "Ummm Gab?"

"Yeah?" replied the bard.

She cleared her throat. "Xena mentioned something about visiting your village?" she semi-asked the question that really wasn't a question if you really looked at it.

"Yes Cal. We are leaving for the Amazon village now. I heard you may be interested in staying on there?"

"Well, I'm just worried they won't be too hip on the idea Gabrielle....I mean, they all know what I've done in the past."

"Yes, well....I think I can handle that. They do trust my judgement these days." said the bard as she finished packing away the frying pan. "You're just going to have to trust me Callisto."

"Hmmmm, well I really am kinda sickened by the thought of life on Mt. Olympus. I mean, Ares and me are not the best of friends, and I hold no love for any of them." stated Callisto matter-of-factly.

"It's settled then...you are coming with us." Gabrielle stated. "There are many positive things you can do for the village.....BUT....." she paused, "There is one condition..."

'Oh no...here comes the catch...' thought Callisto...."What's that Gabrielle?" she asked, cocking her head to one side.

"You will work closely with Eponin, the weaponsmaster, in guarding the village from attacks. You will train with her, and learn the protocol you will need in order to take the spot as Captain of my Guard. Is that understood?"

"Do I really have a choice Gab?" She laughed. "Alright, it's a deal....I can do that." Callisto smiled.

"No, no choice really...." the bard laughed again. "Well, I know I will sleep better at night now that I know my home village is completely safe. I think?" she laughed harder. "I'm sorry Cal, just a bit of a joke there. I am trusting you, please don't let me down."

"I won't Gabrielle. You'll see.....everyone will love me sooner or later." she chuckled.

"Well, just don't think it's going to be all peaches and cream Cal.....there will be some who will have a hard time accepting you even after I talk with them."

"I know, I am prepared for that. I mean, what can they do? Kill me??" she laughed again.

"Callisto..." said Gabrielle as she picked up the saddle bags and rose to take them over to Xena..."I don't know if I will EVER get used to hearing you make jokes!" she chuckled as she walked away, leaving Callisto kneeling there smirking to herself.

"Ya know..." she thought, "Maybe this isn't so bad as I thought! It's actually fun!" She smiled as she rose to follow Gabrielle.

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The trio traveled throughout the day endlessly chatting away....laughing and relating stories. Callisto had never really listened to Gabrielle tell a story before, and she was mesmerized by the way the bard spoke. It was like a song, in a way....but not a song....the words were melodious but still strong. Gabrielle told of their adventure in Troy, where they saved Helen, and helped her escape....and even Cal had to admit it was a wonderful story. Then Gabrielle launched into the story of Velasca, and Callisto was shocked when it portrayed her as one of the heroines.....

"Gabrielle....you can leave me out of all that. I didn't do anything really to help you. We both know i did it only to serve my own interests."

"I know Cal, but it's not the motive that is important....it's the deed you did, and how it will sound when I tell it to the village counsel!" The bard laughed, and Callisto was struck with a completely dumfounded look on her face.

"Thanks?" she said and grinned at Gabrielle.

She contemplated the story she had just heard, and she guessed it was true if you looked at it a certain way. She decided she liked the feeling it gave her to hear someone say something nice about her for a change. "Gab?" she asked....

"Yeah?" replied the bard.

"Thanks for helping me out." And she turned away and strode on ahead a few paces.

Xena pulled Argo up next to her bard and grinned at her. 'That was the "You did a good job Gabrielle" look I think...' thought the bard, and she smiled brightly as she trudged on down the path to her village.

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Continued in Part 5
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