DISCLAIMER: Xena is a registered trademark of MCA. The characters Xena and Gabrielle are the sole property of MCA. They are borrowed here in an attempt to write something vaguely entertaining for all of us that know how things should really be. Everything else in this story is mine....nya nya. This story includes descriptions of two lesbians making love, which we all know is too much for mere mortals to handle. So, if this offends you don't read it. (Wow, what an interesting idea huh?) If this is illegal where you live, move. If you are under 18...well, sorry. Can't really do much for you there. This story is strictly for the Goddesses of Saddlehorn. Any distribution elsewhere is greatly annoying. (*I know how to throw a Chakram!) No mere mortals were harmed during the writing of this story. My Xena doll did fall from the top of my monitor due to the fury of my typing. She is now recuperating under the watchful eye of my Jadzia Dax action figure. Hey, gotta go...time for her sponge bath...
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

The Labrys
By Patricia L. Givens


Part One:

Gabrielle walked into the tavern with a sigh. It was the third one she had been in and there were two more to go. She reminded herself to make Xena be more specific in the future. Saying 'Meet me in the Tavern' in a town as large as this one was just not a good idea.

It looked the same as all the others, at least in terms of the building itself. There was something odd about the noise level though. She walked further in, taking a position by the bar until her eyes could get used to the much darker interior. After a few minutes, she realized why the noise was so different from every other tavern she had been in.

The crowd gathered was primarily female.

Her jaw dropped slightly as she glanced from one end of the room to the other. There were a few men, here and there, mostly talking quietly amongst themselves, but that was all. She counted them quickly, doing the math in her head, and came up with 29 female patrons. With a huge grin, she turned to the woman tending the bar.

"Hi!" She said brightly. "Nice place you've got here!" She glanced behind her. "I can honestly say I've never seen this many women in a tavern before."

"And?" The barkeep raised an eyebrow. "Something wrong with that?"

"No!" Gabrielle rushed to answer. "I like it. I'm just not used to it. I travel a lot with my friend and most of the taverns we end up in are frequented by ruffians and cutthroats. I like this much better."

The woman laughed. She liked this little slip of a girl. "A friend huh? Well, tell him if he comes in here to check his weapon with me. We don't like trouble here."

"Oh, it's not a he. It's a she. And she never starts trouble...she just...finishes it."

"Really?" She grabbed a mug from behind her and began to polish it. "Does your friend have a name?"

Gabrielle nodded. "Xena."

The rag came to an abrupt halt as the woman dropped the mug onto the counter. "Xena? The Warrior Princess?"

Concern crept into the Bard's eyes as she realized, late as usual, that not everyone was a fan of her best friend. "Some people still call her that. But she's changed. She doesn't do the...warlord thing...not anymore."

The woman smiled and placed a hand on Gabrielle's arm. "I know. Her name has reached here as one who would help the needy. She is welcome here, should she come. I'm Kyna. Welcome to The Labrys. What can I get you?"

"I'm Gabrielle." She reached out and shook the woman's hand. After thinking for a few moments, she thumped a coin on the counter. "I'd like to try a port, please."

Kyna eyed her solemnly. "Are you sure? You don't look much like the drinking type. I've got some cold milk..."

"I'll have the port, thank you."

The barkeep laughed. "All right." She poured the drink and sat it down, catching Gabrielle's hand as she reached for it to press the coin back into her palm. "On the house, for a friend of Xena's. I like you Gabrielle, so I will give you some advice."

"What?" She looked at her attentively.

"Don't let your guard down. This place isn't that much different than any other tavern. Oh, no one here will try to kill you, or..." She waited until the bard nodded in acknowledgment. "But that doesn't mean you won't fall prey to them."

"You mean they might try to steal my dinars?" She nodded, as though to answer her own question.

Kyna looked at her blankly for a moment and then broke out laughing. "No...." She shook her head. "I'll tell you what, you go have a look around and if you need any help, just holler."

Gabrielle nodded in confusion and wandered off, sipping the drink as she went. The corners of her mouth turned down in a grimace at the taste left behind. "By the Gods Xena, how do you drink this stuff?" She whispered to herself.

She found a corner in the back where she could sit and watch the patrons unobserved. She knew she should really be heading on to the other taverns, but she couldn't resist taking a few minutes to study this place. "The Labrys." She repeated, smiling to herself. "I like that." She was going to get stories out of this one, she just knew it.

Taking a closer look at the women before her, she noted that more than half of them wore armor of some type, with weapons strapped to their backs and waists. Many of them looked quite regal, but none had the presence that Xena commanded. She smiled at that, thinking it odd that she took such pleasure in Xena's superiority. The rest of the women looked like farmers, all except for one.

A woman dressed in fine silk and jewelry sat alone at table a little ways from her. She kept watching the door, and sighing, until the door opened again and her face lit up, a smile transforming her into a beautiful creature as a figure made its way through the bar to thump into the chair across from her.

The newcomer was a woman as well, one that made Gabrielle sit straight up in her chair. She wore black leather, black boots and had a wild shock of pale golden hair. There was a sword strapped to her back. She jumped slightly, her knees hitting the table, knocking her mug off and onto the floor with a clatter that set her teeth on edge. She started to yell for Kyna, but the barkeep was already there, smiling at her, a new cup of port in her hands. Gabrielle shook her head, her voice lost as she looked back towards the table, expecting to see hazel eyes, bright in their insanity.

Confusion stole over her when she was met with warm brown ones instead. The warrior rose and came to her table, bending down to study the necklace around Gabrielle's neck. With a smile, she pulled her leathers down to show the bard her own, which was very similar in style and make. "Hello sister." She said quietly, her voice like honey around Gabrielle's ears. "You're a long way from Amazon territory. How is Melosa?"

"Sh-she's fine...at least she was." Gabrielle tried to smile as her fear slid away. This was not Callisto, she reminded her nerves. This was another tall, blonde, gorgeous woman. She thought briefly of Ephiny. Amazon's tended to run in that pattern it seemed. "I was only there briefly."

"And Tereus?" Her eyes glittered with something that looked like regret.

Gabrielle's mouth moved but no sound came out. She sighed finally and shook her head. "She's dead. I'm sorry. She was killed by a warlord bent on taking your lands. She gave me this."

The warrior sat heavily into a chair. "That's what I thought, although I had hoped..." She touched the necklace with her forefinger. "There are never two quite the same. Somewhere in my heart, I knew she would have to be dead..." She shook her head fiercely. "She gave you her right of caste. I thought you were a little...uhm, compact to be an Amazon."

Gabrielle smiled at her attempt at tact. "Yes, she did. I tried to save her life, but it was too late."

The Amazon nodded. "Well, if our paths should cross again, know that you have a friend." She reached out a hand and clasped the Bard's forearm in a formal greeting. "I am Zo."

"Zo?" Gabrielle repeated. "that's the whole thing?"

The warrior smiled. "It's all I go by."

The bard nodded. "I'm Gabrielle."

"Well met, Gabrielle. I hope we meet again." She turned and headed back to her own table.

The bard sat quietly, watching as she went. The look she had seen in Zo's eyes was one for someone she cared much about. She wondered morbidly if she would look like that one day about.. She cut the thought off quickly, taking a large drink of her port, then tried not to choke as the warm liquor burned down her throat. When the pain had passed, she found her eyes drawn back to the table across from her, where Zo and the other woman still sat.

She knew she should go, it wasn't right to eavesdrop, but there was something in the way that the two were sitting, something in the way they looked at each other that kept her rooted where she was. She listened more intently as she sipped her drink, unable to pull her eyes away. Her heart jumped when Zo trailed a finger down the woman's face, and then clasped her hand firmly in her grip. The other woman was crying, Gabrielle noticed, and her voice raised a little with her tears.

"...I can't Zoey. If I left he would tear the world apart trying to find me."

"I think you overestimate his love for you, Mara." Zo's voice held a note she had heard all to often from Xena.

"Oh, I have no doubt that he does not love me. But I know, as sure as I breathe, that he will do anything to own me."

"Well, he would have to kill me." Zo's head cocked to one side and Gabrielle could almost imagine the dangerous look in her eyes. "Something I don't think he will be able to do."

"Oh, Zo." Mara's tears increased. "Don't say those kinds of things."

"Come with me, Mara." She leaned forward and kissed the woman gently. "You know I love you. I would die for you."

Gabrielle's eyes went wide. This was something she had never witnessed before. This was a woman, a powerful woman, in love with another. Somewhere in her chest, she felt her heart begin to thump painfully.

"That's the point, Zo. I don't want you to die for me." She wrung her hands. "He wouldn't fight fair. He would bring a hundred men, or ambush you when we were...when we were making love."

Gabrielle lost track of their conversation as she tried to envision what it would be like to make love with a woman. She tried to think of it generically, but the only woman she could envision was Xena. Something about the voices around her, made her remember some of the more tender moments she had shared with the warrior. When she had left for Potedeia, she had been lost in her own feelings, but now... In her mind, she heard Xena's voice, somehow small, plainly hurting, "But you are coming back...right?" and she kicked herself for not hearing it then, for not reacting to her pain. Then there was the time when they were trapped in that Temple to Chronus. Xena's face when she had pulled back that curtain... 'She was hurting,' Gabrielle thought to herself. 'And I didn't notice. I just yelled at her.'

A movement caught her eye and she turned her attention back to Zo and Mara. They were kissing again. Gabrielle looked around the room to see if anyone else had noticed and was astounded to see several other women engaged in the same activity. The sight was enough to cause her chest to tighten and sent a light trail of shivers down her spine.

Once again, she saw Xena in her mind, naked and wet from a swim in some river, dressed in the finery of a princess, locked in battle with a vicious warlord. The memories sped through her mind and settled on one, Xena smiling, her eyes bright, her attention directed at her as she rattled off some story she was working on. Her lips were beautiful, pale red, her smile a little crooked and all the more endearing for being so. And in her eyes...in her eyes...

Her attention was torn away from her thoughts as a figure sat down in the chair next to her. She looked up into cool green eyes and sighed. Even in a woman's tavern?

"Hello." Another warrior woman, Gabrielle said to herself. Who would have thought there could be so many? "Can I help you?"

"I hope so..." The warrior let her words trail off as she ran a hand down Gabrielle's arm. "How old are you anyway?"

"Young," Gabrielle blurted out. She wanted desperately to be alone, to sort out her thoughts. "Very young."

"Really?" She sat back and stretched powerful thighs out in front of her. "I could help you with that."

"Oh, uh, no thank you. I'm fine."

"Are you sure?" Her armor rattled as she leaned forward again to touch Gabrielle's cheek. The bard was treated to an excellent view of the warrior's bodice and what lay beneath it, including a dagger tucked into soft looking skin.

"She said no." A hand came down on the woman's shoulder and Gabrielle looked up gratefully, smiling at Zo.

The nameless warrior assessed the amazon, finally deciding that it would be a fight she might not live to regret. With a sarcastic grin, she nodded at Gabrielle. "No harm meant. Sorry."

Gabrielle nodded and watched her move off before turning to her new friends, "Thank you, Zo."

"No problem, Gabrielle." She motioned for Mara to join them. "Listen, we're leaving tomorrow.." She looked at her lover, waiting for her to nod in agreement. "We're going to take the West Hollow creek back towards Amazon territory. You're welcome to come with us, as far as you'd like. I'd like to know my sister is safe."

Gabrielle was touched at her concern for a woman she hardly knew. "Thank you, but I have a friend waiting for me at a tavern here in town. We're supposed to be leaving together in the morning."

"Is your friend able to take care of you?"

Gabrielle thought about that. "Yes," She smiled. "She most definitely is."

Zo looked surprised for a moment and then gave her a huge grin. "Good for you, Gabrielle. Goodbye, I hope we meet again."

"Me too." They shook hands and the warrior and her lover left the inn. After a few moments, Gabrielle followed them, asking Kyna for directions to the next tavern she could try.

The night was clear and she walked slowly, thinking over everything in her head. There was no doubt in her mind that Xena cared for her a great deal. But did she care for her that way? Gabrielle thought so. But she didn't know if she could return that kind of affection. She would have to give it a lot more thought.

Reaching the next tavern, she pushed open the door, her senses immediately assaulted by the smell of cheap wine and unwashed bodies. The men were loud and raucous, much more so than the women she had just left. Her eyes searched the room quickly as she was intent on leaving as soon as possible.

Her heart stopped when her eyes found what she was looking for. Xena leaned against the bar, a mug of port in her hands, amusement on her face at the petty squabbles breaking out around her. She was beautiful. Her tan skin looked warm in the light from the fire and her even white teeth showed through her smile. For a moment, her eyes went into her cup and Gabrielle knew she would give anything to know what she was thinking about. The look was replaced with a worried frown and she knew. She was worried about her.

At that moment, someone tipped a cup of wine, accidentally splattering it on the warrior's leg. She pushed away from the bar and stood, rock hard and goddess beautiful, to stare down at the man. After a few seconds, the bravado went out of him and he apologized into his ale, moving away from her quickly. She sat in his chair and began to wipe herself off with a towel the barkeep had thrown her. Gabrielle realized that she wasn't breathing and that her lungs hurt. After a few gulps of air, she began to calm down. Everything but the pounding of her heart.

`She had her answer.

She had just started to move toward her when an arm grabbed her roughly about the waist, pulling her back into a well muscled chest.

"Well, what do we have here?" She was spun around to face a large bull of a man. He would have been handsome except for the numerous scars running down his face. He turned to his men, and laughed. "Looks like we've found our sport for the night. What's say we get to it?"

He brought his lips to the top of Gabrielle's shirt as the five men crowded in closer. His mouth was a bare inch from her skin when his head was yanked back hard. A hand almost too fast for Gabrielle to see jabbed two fingers into his neck and she felt his arm go slack around her. She slid out of the way as Xena moved between them. "I say no." Her voice was flat, her eyes dangerous. "This one is mine, Antires. You and your dogs had best keep your hands off."

She saw him try to grab a dagger in his vest, but his fingers would not close around the hilt. A small smile came to her lips as she stared into his eyes. "Don't even try it. I've cut off the blood flow to your brain. You'll be dead soon. Maybe that would be better." From the corner of her eye, she saw Gabrielle's expression of horror and sighed. The world would, indeed, be a better place without this trash. But she wouldn't kill him. Not here, not in front of Gabrielle. She pinched his neck, releasing the pressure on his jugular before throwing him back to his men. "Get him out of my sight. And tell him to keep his hands off of my property." They left quickly, dragging their fallen leader behind them.

Xena picked up Gabrielle's bag, which had fallen to the floor during the encounter, and handed it back to her, a chagrined look on her face. "Sorry about all of that property stuff. It's all his kind knows."

"I understand."

"I was worried about you. Where have you been?" That warrior's eyes were anything but angry.

Despite her new feelings, Gabrielle felt herself get annoyed. "Well, it's a little hard to meet you at the tavern when there are five of them in one town!"

The annoyance in her voice caught Xena off guard. To her credit she did try not to laugh. "Come here." She took the bard by the arm and led her outside, pointing up at the sign she hadn't noticed on her way in. There were only two words there, very large, in bright gold relief against the deep cherry wood the sign was carved of:


Gabrielle flushed. "That is an incredibly stupid name for an inn." She looked at Xena and then laughed.

"Come on. We need to find a room for the night."

"Uhm, Xena...do we have to stay here? I saw another inn, where we might have a better night. It's run by women. A lot quieter."

Xena nodded. "Sure, why not. Lead the way."

Gabrielle led her back to The Labrys, reveling in the admiring looks they received as they ordered their rooms and bathes. Xena glanced around the room with a smile. "Why don't you go on up, Gabrielle. I'm going to-"

"No, you're not." The bard's voice was firm, surprising the warrior into silence. A few of the women around the bar heard their conversation and snickered into their drinks as Xena followed Gabrielle up the stairs, a look of confusion on her face. Kyna led them to a room in the front, placed four buckets of water over the fire and said goodnight with a smile.

When she was gone, Xena turned to the bard, her voice even "What was that all about?" Gabrielle didn't answer her immediately. In fact, she didn't even look at her, but wandered around the room, looking at the decoration with feigned interest. "Gabrielle?" She walked up behind her and placed her hands on the bard's shoulders, concerned that something really was wrong. The slight tremor that ran through Gabrielle's body at her touch set her heart to pounding. "Are you all right?"

Slowly, Gabrielle turned to face her, her eyes traveling slower still until they reached the expressive blue that had touched her heart so many times in the past. She didn't think, knowing she would lose her nerve if she gave herself even a few moments to do so. Instead, she laid her palm softly on Xena's tan cheek, feeling the warmth and softness there, wondering if she was as soft everywhere else.

What she was feeling must have shown in her eyes, because she felt the shudder run through Xena's limbs. She felt her heart ache as the warrior's eyes closed and her lips parted, her head turning into the warmth of Gabrielle's palm. She raised herself onto her toes and pressed her lips against Xena's, finding them softer than she had imagined. A small sound came from the warrior's throat, a whimper that caused her heart to skip and set her body on fire. Xena tipped her head down and Gabrielle parted her lips, running her tongue across the warrior's lips until she opened them and let her taste her mouth.

Xena broke away with a gasp. "Stop...Stop it, Gabrielle."

"Why?" Her whole body ached as Xena moved away.

"Because, you're not ready for this.."

"I'm not ready for this?" Gabrielle reached out and grabbed her hand, pressing it against her chest where her heart was doing its best to hammer its way out of her body. "Do you feel that? Do you know that I have never felt this way in my life?" Her cheeks reddened. "If that doesn't convince you, I know somewhere else I can put your hand that might."

Xena's eyes closed and an agonized look came over her face. She swallowed several times before opening them again. "I learned to live with wanting you. I didn't think you would ever..."

"Well I do, and I have and I am." She wrapped her arms around the warrior and pulled her close. "Now shut up and kiss me."

Xena smiled and tilted her head down, her hand going to the back of Gabrielle's head and holding her there as her lips possessed the bard, stirring her already inflamed passion to the point where the want became a need. When she heard Gabrielle's whimper, followed by an aching "Please..." She lifted the smaller woman into her arms and carried her to the bed.

Laying her down, she removed her shirt, brushing her fingers across swollen nipples, but just lightly, causing Gabrielle to shake. Then she pulled off her skirt, her eyes drawn to the pale patch of hair at the joining of her legs. She could smell Gabrielle's passion, a good, clean musk that caused a slight dizziness in her head. Her tongue moistened her lips unconsciously, something that made the muscles in the bard's abdomen tighten.

Standing, she pulled off her leathers, sliding them down her body, the friction almost sweet on her flushed skin. She threw her wrist and arm bands across the room to join her boots and knee guards. Kneeling on the bed, she looked down at Gabrielle, whose eyes had gone wide and her mouth dry at the sight of the woman kneeling before her. If Xena needed any more convincing, she had it in her eyes. They were bright with her need and something else as well. A tenderness that she knew was reflected in her own. Love.

Without words, she laid her body down on top of Gabrielle's, enjoying the feel of her skin against her own. There was something so sensual about softness meeting softness, and when Gabrielle's hands reached up to try and pull her closer, she knew that she was feeling it too.

Xena's mouth went to her throat, tasting her skin with a gentleness that was almost torture. Why a small cry, Gabrielle pushed her up and fastened her lips on one of Xena's breasts, taking the air out of her lungs. She closed her eyes as pleasure ran through her, causing her to grind her hips against the woman beneath her. Gabrielle was making soft sounds against her breasts, sounds that cried more, now. "Please," She whispered. "Not slow...not this time. I need to feel..." She let the words trail off as she could not describe what she needed. Could not explain how she could want something so badly that she had never even noticed was missing before this moment.

Xena nodded and broke away, trailing kisses down her chest until her lips found Gabrielle's nipple. The bard arched against her, her breath coming in gasps and Xena knew she wouldn't be able to take much more. She slid her hand down a silky hip and into the soft hair between her legs. Her eyes closed as warm wetness covered her fingers.

"I ...I told you." Gabrielle tried to smile, her head falling back to the pillow when Xena's fingers found her swollen bud and ran over it, pressing lightly.

Unable to wait, she slid down the bard's body and lifted her thighs to wrap her arms around them. With her scent driving any thoughts from her head, she opened her mouth against Gabrielle's swollen labia and began to stoke her softly with her tongue.

Gabrielle cried out, unable to believe that anything could make her feel better than how she had felt a moment ago, but somehow, she did. She could feel each stoke of Xena's tongue, each movement of her lips. Searching for something to do with her hands, she reached down and placed them on her lover's head, which seemed to drive the warrior more. She tried to control the wave rising within her, but it was useless. With a resounding cry, her hips lifted off of the bed and came down shuddering as her climax rolled through her. She reached down and pushed away Xena's still questing mouth. "Please...let me rest...I can't.." She heard the warrior chuckle.

"You were the one that said 'not slow'."

Gabrielle smiled as her lover rose to lay on top of her. "I know, I know. It's just that it's too much ri...oh.." Xena's legs had spread, straddling her thigh, and Gabrielle could feel her wetness against her skin. Her eyes widened when the warrior began to move slowly against her, pushing harder with her hips, her head hanging low, hair covering her face. She raised her head, reaching up to kiss her. Her lips stilled at the first taste of herself on Xena's tongue, and then quickened when she found it to her liking. A few moments more and Xena's movements stopped, her body shook silently and she laid her head against Gabrielle's breast. With a soft laugh, she brought her hand up and caressed the warrior's hair.

"What's so funny?" Xena demanded.

"For someone who makes so much noise in battle," Gabrielle grinned. "I would have expected more of a finish."

Xena smiled, her eyebrows raised. "What makes you think we're finished?"

Gabrielle swallowed. "oh..."

Now it was Xena's turn to laugh. "Don't worry, I'll give you time to recuperate."

"How much time?"

Xena slid off of her and Gabrielle's body seemed to sigh in disappointment. "As long as it takes me to have a bath." She pulled the pails from the fire and dumped them into the tub, adding water from their pitcher until it was just the right temperature. "Unless of course..." She looked up at Gabrielle, a sensual smile on her lips.

"Unless what?"

Xena held out her hand.

Gabrielle felt her heart begin to pound again as she climbed out of the bed and went to join her lover.

The End

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