~ Xena and the Dancing Herb ~
by Ralene

Feedback will be appreciated but be gentle this is my first story.

Disclaimers: Xena, Gabrielle, Varia, Cyane, and any other character from the series Xena, Warrior Princess, belong to some one else. I don't know whom but neither does any one else but I am positive I don't own them. I have just barrowed them for the time being. I am also absolutely sure there will be no profit earned from this story.

Fan Fiction Disclaimer: I have read a lot of Xena fan fiction in my time and there are bound to be apparent influences and recurring themes from those stories in this one. Please don't be offended. Think of it as a kind of warped homage to the writers who keep Xena and Gabrielle alive for us. They have my sincere gratitude and deep respect.

I would like to thank by two Beta readers: IfeRae who gave me great editorial advice and wrote the synopsis below and XWPacolyte who did the tedious job of finding my misspellings, errant punctuation, and missing quotation marks and also stroked my ego while doing all this. They are two great friends.

Also DJWP has issued a challenge to fan fic writers. Take up you keyboards and write more classic Xena fan fiction. It is becoming a rare commodity and if you don't I'll have to write more stories and you may not want that to happen.

Silly story warning: Speaks for itself.

Aphrodite helps Xena give Gabrielle a birthday gift that extends beyond the warrior's usual many skills and provokes uproar among the Amazons.

Warning: This is a "mature" story, with adult humor, sexual situations, and references certain body parts. It is also alt.

Now on with the story?

It had been over a year since Xena and Gabrielle returned from Egypt. The couple was exhausted after their epic battle with the forces of evil in that desert country. Xena especially had to have time to recover from her death and then resurrection at the hands of the Egyptian gods. So the couple decided to return to the Amazons to settle down until they decided what to do next. Most of the tribe under Cyane's leadership was happy about the pair's return. Varia, however, was less than enthusiastic for some unknown reason but she had another mood swing and was now once again disenchanted with Xena and Gabrielle. Not many Amazons paid attention to the disgraced queen and Xena and Gabrielle settled down in the village. Gabrielle became a valued adviser and tribal historian. Xena took over security for the nation and trained many of the young Amazons to be vigilant security guards for the nation's boarders.

The couple valued their time with the Amazons. Gabrielle was always happy to be surrounded by people but surprisingly Xena too seemed to enjoy village life. When Gabrielle asked her about this, the warrior would just shrug and say it was very lonely in her pot and she now appreciated people more. Xena, however, was always very careful to say the person she enjoyed most was Gabrielle thus making Gabrielle very happy and ensuring Xena's domestic harmony.

It was now the time for Gabrielle's birthday and the village planned a big party. The Amazons always loved big parties and the bard's birthday gave them an excuse for a real orgy. As the party plans progressed, Xena made plans for her present for the bard. She of many skills used a lot of them for her partner's birthday. She constructed a clever writing desk for the bard, which could be folded up into a small table that just fit into their hut but then could be expanded into a large writing surface with plenty of space for quills and inkpots. She was very proud of her work and the desk was beautifully carved. She couldn't wait to give it to Gabrielle.

Gabrielle, however, was less than enthusiastic about her approaching birthday. She tried to hide her slight depression but she was very aware of the passing time. In her role as tribal historian she often told stories to the Amazon children and her exposure to them led her to wish that she and Xena could have a child. Gabrielle, of course, was very aware that she and Xena were very hard on children and there was a tendency for their children to be evil or even dead. Nonetheless Gabrielle, ever the optimist, felt that she and Xena could raise perfectly normal happy children if gods and demons just didn't interfere. Gabrielle's main problem was how to begat her children. She didn't want to follow the Amazon custom of slugging some unsuspecting guy and dragging him behind a bush for a quickie. No, she loved Xena too much for that option and besides, the quickie business reminded her too much of Perdicus. So she decided adoption was the answer and she planned on bringing up the subject with her partner after the birthday party.

The bard's birthday celebration turned out to be one the biggest events of that year. Three boars were roasted and eighteen barrels of ale were tapped. Gabrielle received many presents among them were: three sets of chobos, two staffs, two pairs of sheaths for her sais, six necklaces, a bottle of perfume, and a punching bag from Varia. She also received a strange looking long cylinder that fit into a leather harness that caused Xena to blush and which the warrior hastily hid under the table. Xena then excused herself and dragged a certain smirking group of Amazons out of the hall. Those Amazons were strangely missing for the rest of the evening.

Gabrielle, curious about the missing Amazons, didn't have time to question Xena about them because Xena suddenly called for silence. The bold warrior now shyly gave Gabrielle her present. The bard was enchanted with the desk and touched by Xena's thoughtfulness and hard work. She was so happy that she burst into tears. Xena, of course, was nonplussed at this as she always was when Gabby cried for no apparent reason but when the bard reassured her that she loved the desk and her tears were those of happiness, Xena beamed with pride and happiness. To be frank Xena despite all her heroic deeds seldom felt proud of herself but when she made her wife happy she truly felt like a hero.

That evening the birthday party was great success. About midnight, Gabrielle and Xena excused themselves. They knew the younger Amazons were anxious to turn the party into a drunken brawl and the presence of their legendary queen and her commanding consort would dampen the young people's spirits. So Xena carefully picked up the desk and Gabrielle gathered her presents and bid the revealers good night. The rest of the ruling council left too leaving the young people to their debauchery.

Xena and Gabrielle returned home with Xena carrying the little desk and Gabrielle loaded down by her many presents. Gabrielle immediately started to rearrange the furniture to accommodate the desk. Since the cabin wasn't that big it didn't take long for the desk to find its proper resting place. Gabrielle was thrilled with the desk and lovingly stroked the smooth wood.

"Xena I can't wait to start writing on it."

Xena beamed with pride. She then asked, "What are you going to do with all those necklaces and chobos?"

"I don't know. I don't want to insult anyone so I guess I'll wear a different necklace everyday and find three people I don't like to beat up with the chobos. Maybe I'll start with Varia," Gabrielle said with an evil grin.

"Hmm, I didn't think the punching bag made much of an impression with you," Xena said with a grin.

"Oh it made an impression with alright. Gods Varia is such . . . such a?" Gabrielle stammered

"Brat, jerk, bitch?" Xena supplied.

Gabrielle laughed; her good humor restored. "Yeah something like that. By the way, talk about presents making bad impressions, what was up with you and the strap on? Xena, you turned every shade of red there is."

Xena sniffed. "It was an inappropriate for some one to give you something like that. You're a queen and elder and this was a public celebration. It wasn't respectful."

Gabrielle looked at her mate in disbelief. "Xena, may I remind you, Solari gave us exactly the same thing at our wedding. I don't remember you getting all huffy then. In fact we still got it and perhaps?." Gabrielle trailed off.

"Well that was Solari and she was our friend and, you know Solari?. she was just a bit?"Xena waggled her hand. "This was different. Didn't you notice who gave it to you? It was Varia's little crew. It was meant as an insult."

"Are you sure? Perhaps it was just bad taste."

"No it was meant to be a jab at us."

"Xena, I don't get it," Gabrielle said in confusion.

Xena sighed. It was always hard to get Gabrielle to understand that some people just had a nasty side to them. "OK Gabrielle. There are those that think I dominate you. That you are just some kind of pet I keep around for my amusement. That little toy they gave you was a symbol of submission to me."

Gabrielle was unconvinced. "Xena you're reading too much into this."

"Perhaps, but when I called those featherheads on the carpet for it, they sure as hell knew why I was mad. They didn't even pretend that the gift was genuine."

Gabrielle mulled this over and then looked slyly at her partner. "Uhmm, Xena? Those girls are still in one piece, aren't they?"

"Yeah, they're fine but they will spend tonight mucking out the stalls." Just then there was a loud bang outside followed by a lot of laughter.

"Xena, what was that?" An alarmed Gabrielle asked.

Xena shrugged, "Sounds like someone just fell into one of the large drums."

"Oh gods the Amazons are all going to be hung over tomorrow. All except Varia's crew, of course."

"Yeah," smiled Xena. "I guess those girls are going to be the only ones able to spar with me tomorrow. I hope they bathe," Xena muttered under her breath.

Gabrielle looked sternly at her partner. "Don't hurt them."

Xena innocently looked at her partner. "I promise? I won't hurt them?much." The "much" was added very quietly.

Gabrielle gave her partner a stern look but the prospect of Varia's little band of followers getting trounced by Xena didn't disturbed the bard too much. In fact, the fact that she wasn't upset by Xena's planned torture upset Gabrielle more than the torture itself. Shouldn't she be worried about the girls? Shouldn't she talk Xena out of her plans? Isn't that what an elder of the tribe should do? It was times like this that Gabrielle thought she was a tad too self-analytical. Gabrielle decided that she would put these thoughts out of her mind and get on with her serious chat with Xena.

Xena was blissfully unaware of the coming sensitive chat. She lit the fireplace and retrieved some packages that had been delivered earlier that day. They were from Gabrielle's sister and niece. They were obviously birthday presents but one of the boxes was for Xena.

"Gabrielle a courier arrived from Poteidaia today. I think you got a couple of presents from your family."

Gabrielle took the packages. One held a couple of loaves of nut bread. Xena shuddered at the nut bread. She secretly loathed nut bread - nuts always made her itch and her eyes water. She kept this fact from Gabrielle simply because she knew her partner would somehow feel guilty about enjoying something Xena couldn't. Xena never understood this - Gabrielle hated ouzo but it never stopped Xena from enjoying it. She watched in amusement as her partner took a big bite out of one of the loaves. She then cringed as Gabrielle offered her some.

"No, no, Gabrielle. You just go ahead and enjoy your treat. I wouldn't want to deprive you of any part of it."

"Xena you know you're always so unselfish about the nut bread. I know you have a sweet tooth yet you always let me have all the nut bread. You are so sweet."

Xena smiled benignly. "Yes!" she thought (with a mental fist pump). "Score one for the warrior. She thinks I am wonderful - yippee. I bet I can get the little red dumplings out of her because of this."

Gabrielle opened the second package. This was from Sara. Gabrielle looked at her present in astonishment. It was a beautiful sheer robe. Hand stitched in a beautiful shade of green. She then noticed Xena had an identical package.

As Gabrielle held the robe up to herself, Xena looked at it in astonishment. It was stunning and very, very sheer. Xena couldn't wait to see Gabrielle in it. She had forgotten about her own package. Gabrielle waived her hand in front of Xena.

"Xena open yours. I can wait to see what you got."

Xena open her gift and there was a very similar robe. But this one was a brilliant blue but not quite as sheer. It too was beautifully made.

Gabrielle read the accompanying letter. Sara had learned the art of fine sewing while in Gurkhan's harem. Since she returned from North Africa she had become a well-known seamstress and now provided a good living for herself and Lila. She wanted Gabrielle and Xena to have something special to celebrate Aunt Gabby's birthday and Xena's return from the pot.

Xena was eyeing both robes with a speculative expression. "Well it looks like the girl at least learned something besides how to be a bitch in that harem."

"Xena that wasn't very nice."

"What?! All I said she learned a good trade. You know she kicked me in the nose and I let her get away with it, so can't I be just be a little sarcastic?"


Xena shrugged, "OK, I apologize for being mean. Should we try these robes on?" Xena asked hopefully. She knew new clothes always made Gabrielle happy.

Gabrielle nodded but she insisted they dress separately. She wanted the new robes to make an entrance. Xena went into the bathing area and changed and Gabby stayed in the living area and got undressed.

When Xena reentered the living area her mouth dropped open. Gabrielle's robe was nearly see-through but discreet patches of embroidery covered the more sensitive areas of Gabrielle's anatomy. The effect was incredibly erotic.

"Oh wow," Xena breathed. "That girl can kick me in the nose any time she wants. That is stunning."

Gabrielle blushed a bit but she was too entranced by Xena to take much notice of what her partner was saying. Xena's robe was more conservative than hers but the severe lines of the cut of the robe made the warrior look even more powerful and sexy than she usually did. Gabrielle was dumbstruck.

Xena smirked. "I gather from the silence I look pretty good too." She looked down at herself. "You know this a really comfortable robe; I'm going to like wearing it. It isn't nearly as drafty as yours is," Xena smirked.

Gabrielle looked a bit puzzled. "The robe isn't drafty at all. It's very comfortable." Then Gabrielle looked down at herself and was shocked at how much of her was exposed. "Oh my gosh. Xena it's a little? flimsy."

"Oh no. It should hold up quite well. After all once you put that on you're not going to be wearing it for long anyway," Xena helpfully supplied. "In fact I think we should get right into bed and take that robe off before it just disintegrates right off of you."

Gabrielle was not opposed to Xena's suggestion and in fact she was just as anxious to peel off Xena's robe but she had her mind set on a sensitive chat and she was not about to be distracted. She wasn't even going to be distracted by the fact that Xena was now standing very close to her and had her hands on her and was about to kiss her. Nope there was going to be a sensitive chat even if they both died from frustration. Gabby stepped back from Xena.

"Xena we have to talk," Gabrielle staunchly announced.

"FUCK," Xena thought loudly (she tried not to be vulgar around Gabrielle) so she said, "Crap" but very softly. She just felt there was an impending sensitive chat in the air. She hoped that sex would have delayed it or, if worse came to worse, the late hour would put it off. She knew this was a vain hope. When Gabrielle wanted to chat, they chatted. Xena steeled herself.

"OooKee. What exactly do you have on your mind?" Xena settled down on the couch in front of the fire. There was no escape; a graceful surrender was in order.

Gabrielle braced herself and plunged in. "Xena, it's been over a year since we got you back from the land of the dead. It was a rough couple of months since - you know how you were. You'd flinch whenever I started a fire and you wouldn't even be caught dead, I mean alive, in a room with a tea pot in it."

Xena cringed. She hated to be reminded of her post-mortem phobias. The warrior, however, reminded herself that she quickly recovered her equilibrium.

"I'm much better now. I let you start fires all the time and I've stopped sleeping with my pot. I think I'm right back to being my old kick ass warrior self. You should have seen how I put the fear of Ares into those smart aleck Amazons today and I have fought any number of raiders."

"Xena that's exactly my point. You aren't back to your old self at all. You seem happier and more at ease. You really have been redeemed and it shows. Oh you can still fight like a warrior possessed but you just seem more centered, and when we are together you are so sweet. I have never been happier."

Xena sighed in relief. She did feel happier and certainly she hadn't been this carefree since before Cortese. She was glad Gabrielle saw this and it made her happy. Xena relaxed, nothing too traumatic was going to come up in this chat. Gabby just wanted to talk about being happy. No harm here.

"Xena, I think it is time to start a family."

If Xena weren't a stoic warrior her eyes would have bugged out of her head at that announcement. Oh no! Not morning sickness, bloating, peeing every ten minutes. I don't want to do this again. I have such rotten luck with kids. Please, please say you are joking - it's a strange Poteidaian custom to scare the shit out of your partner on your birthday.

Xena thought all these thoughts but she calmly said, "Well, Gabrielle that's an interesting idea. But I don't think I could have any more children - having been dead and all."

"Oh no Xena, you wouldn't have the child."

If Xena weren't a stoic warrior her eyes would have bugged out of her head at that announcement. Oh no! She wants to have the kid. She wants to slug some guy on the head and drag him behind a bush and have the Amazon way with him. Wait! Gabrielle couldn't slug some guy - CRAP! She'll probably want me to slug him and stand guard over them while she has the Amazon way with him. Then after they're done, I'll have to cut the guy up in little pieces and bury him in the woods and hide that fact I killed him in a fit of jealously so she won't feel bad about another dead boyfriend and my reverting back to my dark side. Oh, this is going to put my redemption back years.

Xena thought all these thoughts but said with false bravado, "Well, Gabrielle, if you want to have a child, you know I'll be there for you."

"Oh no Xena I couldn't be with some one else - you know that. I love you and only want to be with you," Gabrielle assured her insecure lover. "No I was thinking of adopting. What do you think?"

Xena sat back and considered this new turn of events. It had real advantages. First off there would be no body to bury unless of course Gabrielle picked out a kid whose parents weren't dead then of course there would be two bodies to bury instead of one, but she thought that would be highly unlikely. Second there would be no morning sickness, bloating, mood swings, peeing or danger to Gabrielle's health, the biggest plus. Third perhaps they could escape what seemed like their curse when it came to their children - no demons or angels interfering with their lives. Now, did she want kids? Xena smiled - yeah she liked kids. She thought they were interesting. She liked being around Solan and she thought Eve had real potential to be a sweet kid. Gabrielle would be a great mom - full of stories to tell. She wouldn't be bad at the mom thing either come to think of it - she could teach it a lot of her many skills - they all didn't involved maiming people. She would be firm but Gabrielle would temper her. Yeah she wanted a family.

"Well what do you want? A boy or a girl or both," Xena answered.

Gabrielle was surprised at Xena's quick acceptance of the idea. She studied her partner closely trying to see if Xena was really pleased or if she was just trying to please her. To her relief and joy Xena looked genuinely happy about the idea.

"Xena you want this, don't you," Gabrielle didn't ask but stated.

"Yeah I do. I want to raise a family with you. It seems right, Gabrielle."

Gabrielle plopped herself down in Xena's lap and kissed her soundly. Xena laughed, "Well Gabrielle if I was a guy and got kissed like that adoption wouldn't be an issue."

Gabrielle suddenly got a wistful look in her eye. " Kinda' wish that was true."

"What? That I was a guy," Xena's insecurities raised their collective heads again.

"No silly. I just always had a fantasy that I would have your baby. You know one that came from our love. It would be a part of us together. That's silly isn't it?"

Suddenly a blinding pink light lit the room. Aphrodite appeared in all her glory with a loud bang. Xena and Gabrielle jump to their feet. Xena instinctively grabbed her chakram and threw it at the intruder. Aphrodite's perfectly coiffed head went rolling around the couple's living room.

"Xena," cried Gabrielle, "you've cut off Dite's head, again!"

"Well if she'd knock at the door like any other visitor instead arriving with all those pyrotechnics it wouldn't happen."

"Excuse me," Aphrodite interrupted indignantly. "I'm getting lint in my hair from the carpet. Will someone please put my head back on?"

Gabrielle went over and picked up Dite's head and gave it to Xena, because Aphrodite was just a little too tall for her. Xena took the head but with a wicked smile placed it on the goddess's body backwards.

"Very funny, Xena ? now put it on right before I get stuck?oh?wow. Look what a cute fanny I have," Aphrodite exclaimed as she got a good look at the side she never saw before. "No wonder men just follow me around. I'd follow me around, if I could."

Xena sighed. It was just no fun being wicked when the one you are tormenting is thrilled with the torment. Xena turned Aphrodite's head around.

"Xena I should be furious with you but if you hadn't cut my head off, what is it with you and beheadings anyway, I wouldn't have known about by beautiful fanny. Thanks warrior babe."

Xena chuckled and shook her head in amusement. Aphrodite was a good friend and she always tolerated Xena's sometimes bazaar jokes with good humor. But more than that, she saved Gabrielle and Eve's lives and Xena would always love her because of that.

Gabrielle ran over to her friend and gave her a big hug. Aphrodite's friendship was something Gabrielle treasured and she was always happy to see her, even if things became exceedingly strange whenever she showed up.

"Dite what are you doing here?"

"Sweet pea. It's your birthday. I always visit on your birthday. Get any good presents?"

"Sure. Xena made me that beautiful desk. It has a place for my quills and scrolls. Look how clever it is."

Aphrodite had little interest in desks. Her tastes ran towards clothes and jewelry. "Yes it's lovely. Where did you get that robe - wow?"

"My niece made this and the one Xena's wearing. Aren't they beautiful?" Gabrielle pirouette to show off the robe, forgetting about the see through properties.

"Uhm" smirked Aphrodite. "I see I'm not the only one with a nice fanny. Mine's better but yours is very good too."

"Hers is better," Xena stated flatly.

Aphrodite looked slightly offended at this but watching Gabrielle turning in furious circles trying to see her own fanny distracted the love goddess. Xena caught the bard and stopped her spinning, "Sweetheart you're going to get dizzy."

"I thought there was embroidery coving all the private areas. I didn't realize I was exposed. Why didn't you tell me?" Gabrielle whispered to Xena.

"Because I was enjoying the view," Xena answered honestly.

Gabrielle gave her mate an exasperated but fond look. And then sat firmly on the couch. "So much for everyone's view."

"What's wrong with her?" asked a perplexed Aphrodite.

"She's shy," Xena answered.

Aphrodite suddenly got very serious and sat down beside Gabrielle and took her friend's hand in hers and said in a motherly tone. "You should never be shy about having a great fanny. It's a blessing. You have never been shy about your lovely breasts. You have always worn them proudly. Let's not forget about those abs. Always beautifully presented. It's about time your fanny got its proper due." Aphrodite then patted her friend's hand.

Gabrielle blinked owlishly at the goddess, just a bit stunned by the discussion of her attributes. Xena on the other hand was having a hard time containing her impulse to laugh at Gabrielle's stunned expression.

"Anyway enough about your body. Let's talk about me. I have come to give you your best present. I didn't know what to get you but I just found the perfect gift." With that Aphrodite pointed her finger at Xena and a bolt of lightening sprang forth and hit Xena square in the gut. The warrior yelped and fell to the ground in excruciating pain.

Gabrielle leaped from the couch and fell beside her mate, grabbing Xena as she writhed in agony. "Aphrodite, what in Tartarus are you doing? For Eli's sake, stop this you're killing her."

Aphrodite looked very distressed. " I didn't think it would hurt like that, honestly. The book of spells didn't say anything about pain. It'll be over soon, I promise."

"Spell! What kind of spell?" an irate Gabrielle demanded. Her attention was drawn back to Xena when the warrior suddenly calmed. The terrible pain passed. She lay in Gabrielle's arms breathing heavily but apparently all right. "Aphrodite what have you done?"

Now that Xena seemed all right Aphrodite recovered some of her self-confidence. "It's your present."

"Torturing my wife is my present! Gads, thank the gods it isn't our anniversary or I'd be a widow, again."

"No, No," Aphrodite assured the bard. "I wasn't torturing her. Look under her robe. Go on. You'll see. It's good. Honest."

Gabrielle gave Aphrodite a suspicious and unfriendly look but she lifted Xena's robe and looked.

"Yikkes!" screamed Gabrielle. She leapt away from her partner so suddenly she dropped Xena's head, which bounced painfully on the floor.

"Hey!" protested the outraged warrior. "First your friend tried to disembowel me and now you're trying to crack my head open. What the Hell is going on?"

Gabrielle gulped and helped Xena up from the floor. "Come over here and sit down on the couch. I have something to show you."

Xena followed her mate to the couch. Gabrielle looked - green. Oh things didn't look good. As Xena sat down, Gabrielle kneeled before her and parted Xena's robe and mutely pointed to Xena's nether region. Xena looked down. She gapped in disbelief.

"I have a penis, ? balls, ?pubic hair," she announced in a dazed voice.

"Xena, you always had pubic hair," Gabrielle pointed out.

"Oh excuse me. I was just taking inventory, I didn't know I was supposed to only count the new equipment," Xena's voice rose to a dangerous pitch on the word "equipment". "Where the Hell is my sword? I'm going carve that bleach blond into so many pieces even your niece couldn't sew her together," Xena growled.

"Calm down. We'll get this fixed. No swords. Just relax." Gabrielle hastily assured her berserk mate. "APHRODITE FIX THIS NOW!"

This was not going the way Aphrodite had envisioned this moment. She expected joy, happiness, kisses, even worship. Things just were going horribly wrong. Wait! Of course they are upset she hadn't explained things. Silly goddess.just wait until they hear the good news.

"Xena and Gabrielle you are just over reacting."

Xena growled. She had grown inarticulate in rage. She wanted a lethal weapon - she didn't want to be redeemed; she wanted to be evil - so she could rip the goddess limb from limb. Gabrielle was never inarticulate but she was having trouble forming words. She took a deep breath, put a claming hand on Xena and barked at Aphrodite, "TALK!"

"I just gave you what you wished for, Gabrielle. You said you wished that you could have Xena's child and now you can. Ta Da!" The "Ta Da" didn't go over as well as Aphrodite hoped. Xena looked murderous and Gabrielle was still a bit green.

"You were eavesdropping on me and Xena?" Gabrielle asked evenly. "Do? you?watch?us?"

"Of course I do. I'm a god - I'm omnipresent - you know ? everywhere. Always around. Looking in on you and Xena. You know just keeping an eye on my favorite couple of gals." Aphrodite was trying her best to make her voyeurism seem natural but again things weren't going well.

"We'll have to talk about that later, but now fix Xena."


"What do you mean 'can't?" Xena had regained the power of speech. "You did this, undo it - now!"

"I can't because the spell can't be reversed until it accomplishes what it's suppose to do. When Gabby gets pregnant - puff your little visitor will be gone and everything will be back to normal. Bye!" Aphrodite twinkled away in a flurry of pink sparkles. It had to be said that the sparkles were just a bit subdued.

Xena sat back and contemplated her situation. She had been crucified twice, had her legs broken and healed by magic, was burned to ashes and raised from the dead by two different sets of gods. Now she had a sex change. She decided her life was decidedly odd and she was tired of it. She was going to have a normal life if it killed her, if it killed Gabrielle. That is as soon she got her partner pregnant and lost her penis. Xena sighed - her life was so odd.

Gabrielle sat back and contemplated her situation. She had been crucified and raised from the dead, bore a demon child, fell in love with a woman who kept getting killed and resurrected and now has had a sex change. Her life was just so odd. She was tired of it. She would have a normal life if it killed her, if it killed Xena. That is as soon as Xena got her pregnant and her partner's penis fell off. Gabrielle sighed - she wondered if Xena ever thought how odd their life was.

The two partners contemplated each other. Xena finally spoke, "Well this sure tops the dildo as a present."

"Xena this isn't a laughing matter. I just made an idle wish and look what I've done to you. I am so sorry." There were tears in Gabrielle's eyes.

Xena sobered. "Gabrielle this isn't your fault. You just said something rather sweet. You couldn't know Aphrodite gets her kicks spying on us." That's a rather disturbing thought - I wonder if she watches us all the time. Oh I better not think of that or I'll never get Gabrielle pregnant, Xena suddenly thought. "Anyway it's done. Now we live with it. Are you ready to have a baby?" Oh Gods I hope she hasn't changed her mind or I am going to have to figure out if I dress right or left.

Gabrielle looked curiously at Xena. "Yes Xena, I'm ready to have a baby. I just wanted it to be a normal child. Nothing special - just a nice normal happy kid."

"You know with you as its mom it just has to be special," Xena said with a smile - she just loves that mushy stuff - that'll make her smile again. Gabrielle smiled and Xena continued, "You know once you get past the conception, the pregnancy will probably just be a normal pregnancy, the baby will be born the regular way and it will just be that normal kid you and I want."

Gabrielle nodded. Xena was right. Now all they have to do is make love and then she'll get pregnant and everything will be fine, Gabrielle reassured herself. Suddenly Gabrielle was struck with a horrible thought.

"Xena do you think that thing will work. You know how Dite is - she might have gotten the spell wrong. Maybe you have a dud."

Xena was slightly insulted at the unintentional slur on her manhood or half manhood - it was a bit confusing. She never had any problems in that department but of course she never really had to - ah - rise to the occasion before. OH GODS what if it doesn't work!

"Gabrielle," Xena said bravely, "the only thing to do is take this puppy out for a test ride." Xena got up from the couch and stood before Gabrielle. Drawing the smaller woman to her she kissed her passionately. Gabrielle responded without hesitation. Xena began to run her hands up Gabrielle's sides and soon the belt of her robe was loosened. As they kissed Xena put her hands inside Gabrielle's robe and cupped a breast. Suddenly Gabrielle drew back a fraction.

"Something's poking me," she announce a bit breathlessly.

Poking! I don't have my armor on, Xena thought hazily. Then suddenly her mind cleared. POKING! Xena now stepped a little father back from Gabrielle and peeked inside her robe. "I seem to be fully functional," Xena announced in satisfaction.

"Oh good," purred Gabrielle. "It's baby making time."

Xena grinned and picked Gabrielle up in her arms and carried her to their bed. Gabrielle's robe fell away as she was laid on the bed. Xena untied her robe and it fell open. Gabrielle gasped as she looked at Xena. A breeze was blowing from the open window. Xena's robe fanned out behind her and her hair ruffled. She was bathed in moonlight. Her breasts and hips every inch a woman but her member stood erect. Gabrielle reached for her lover and Xena shrugged off her robe. Gabrielle could hardly breathe and Xena came to her. Gabrielle parted her legs. Xena was about to climb on to the bed when there was loud banging at the door.

"Xena!" the voice of a young scout shouted.

Xena growled and yelled, "Go away we are very busy."

"Raiders have been spotted on the eastern border. We need you and Gabrielle."

"I'll be there in a minute. Go away."

Gabrielle raised an eyebrow at this and whispered to her frustrated lover, "A MINUTE!" Thereupon Gabrielle dissolved into giggles.

Xena let out a deflated sigh. She gently bump her forehead against Gabrielle's and received a sympathetic kiss. Xena then reluctantly left the bed. As she was putting on her robe she felt a very odd tugging sensation in her groin but she ignored it.

"I'm coming," she called to the scout. She flung open the door. Janna a young boarder scout stood nervously before her feared commander. She knew full well that she probably was calling Xena away from a romantic evening but she had no choice. She felt awful and it didn't help when Gabrielle appeared in her new flimsy robe. Confronted by an obviously angry warrior and her nearly nude wife nearly undid the young woman.

"Gabrielle, go put on your flannel robe before Janna swallows her tongue," Xena ordered in mock gruffness. Gabrielle smirked but did go get another robe.

"OK what is going on?"

The girl swallowed but made her report as quickly and thoroughly as Xena taught her to do. "Twenty mounted raiders were seen at the western border trying to sneak down the Strymen pass. The border guards haven't engaged them since they are out numbered but they are following their progress. We believe they will reach our first forest traps in about two candle marks."

"Excellent report. Go inform Cyane and wake the rest of the council. There are four women cleaning stables. Tell them to saddle Argo and Cyane's and the council's horses. We will meet the raiders at the first trap."

As the scout left Xena went back into the cabin and began to dress. Gabrielle too was getting into her battle dress.

"Are you going to meet the raiders with just the council and the border guards?"

"Yeah we should be OK. Cyane and the council are the best and most experienced warriors. They make at least five for every one of the young warriors. I would like you to stay here though."

Gabrielle turned on her friend. "No the last time I wasn't with you your got killed. I'm going!"

Just then there was a loud commotion in the courtyard as the drunken Amazons spilled out of the dining hall.

"Gabrielle I want you to stay here so you can sober up those drunken Amazons. They respect you and will listen to you." Off of Gabrielle's doubtful look, Xena added with a lopsided grin, "you are very good at getting stubborn warriors to do what you want. So get those women sober and up to fighting speed in case they are needed."

Gabrielle knew Xena was right. With Cyane and the council gone some one had to be in charge and she was the logical choice. She didn't like it but it made sense.

Gabrielle nodded. The women finished dressing and just as Xena finished buckling on her last bit of armor, she heard the scout arrive with Argo. Xena stepped out on to the porch with Gabrielle. A saddled Argo awaited her, as did Cyane and the council. Xena gently cupped Gabrielle face and gave her a loving kiss (since being dead again Xena always kissed Gabrielle good-bye as if it would be their last kiss). Xena then stepped back, promised to be careful, and jauntily leaped onto Argo. A strange look appeared on Xena's face and suddenly she realized that jumping on horses might not be such a good idea right now.

"Xena you look funny. You haven't been drinking too," Cyane asked with a wink. "Or is it frustration?"

"Ah no, no everything is fine," Xena gulped. As they rode off at a furious gallop Xena regretted buying a saddle with such a large saddle horn.

Gabrielle surveyed the Amazon compound from her hut's porch. She had actually managed to get a significant number of her tribe members sober enough so they could at least stand guard. It was not an easy task. It was first very difficult to make any one understand that there were raiders in the territory then it was equally difficult to stop the drunken women from staggering out to fight them. She finally herded the women into the baths for a quick dip in the cold baths - that too was a chore - it was like herding cats - drunken cats. Amazons either kept wandering away or would simply lie down on the ground and go to sleep. She got about half the number she started out with in the baths and they sobered up fairly quickly. They were now out in force - they were a bit green around the edges and Gabrielle was reminded of that old top she use to wear. To this day she never figured out why it kept getting smaller. Xena always said it was because she was developing muscles but Gabby always thought Xena had a guilty look whenever she mentioned it.

"Oh Xena where are you?" Gabrielle now started to worry again. It was now mid-morning and nothing had been heard of the patrol that left last night.

"Amazons approaching!" called Verna the sentry in the guard tower. Gabrielle was thrilled to hear the news. Unfortunately the hung over Amazons were not so happy. Verna had a voice that bore a striking similarity to chalk on a blackboard. That's why she was the village's crier - it was loud and carried. Twenty-four Amazons now cringed in agony with their heads nearly exploding.

The patrol rode into the village. Gabrielle immediately saw Xena and counted heads. Everyone was accounted for and they all seemed in an exuberant mood, all except Xena. Gabrielle knew that look. Xena was hurt but she was doing a good job of hiding it from everyone except Gabrielle.

Xena stiffly dismount her horse and called an Amazon over. She gave Argo's reins to her and ordered that the horse be cooled down and given extra oats. Gabrielle joined her partner and was about ask her what was wrong, when a raucous voice broke in. "Give Argo extra oats?! Hell! Give Xena extra oats. She kicked ass like there was no tomorrow. That's what they get for interrupting Xena's romantic evening." Matilda an elder of the tribe known for her vulgarity and good nature was just getting wound up. "By the gods Gabrielle you should have seen her. I never saw her ride like that. She rode into those raiders like she was on fire. Jumped off Argo and laid into them. She was fighting like she usually does but then some SOB kicked her in her pussy and she went off like one of them Roman candles. I though she wasn't going let us have any fun at all."

Xena smiled tightly and murmured under her breath, " I was on fire." Gabrielle looked at her curiously. "Chaffing," Xena whispered. Gabrielle tried not to look toward Xena's crotch but the temptation was too much. Xena caught her, "Hey don't look - you'll see it soon enough." Gabrielle looked coyly at Xena but something in her partner's eyes told her she wasn't being flirtatious.

"So you drove the raiders off?" Gabrielle asked.

Cyane replied. "They won't be back. The traps knocked off a few before we attacked. Our patrol killed quite a few and the rest ran off. We then harried them out of the territory, that's what took so long."

"Yes we did our job. It wasn't all Xena, you know." Varia added snidely. Although she had been stripped of her queen-hood Varia still had a place on the council. She was an excellent warrior but her resentment over losing the crown had only grown over time. She had become sarcastic and often foul tempered.

"No Varia. It wasn't all me. Everyone did a good job, especially the young scouts who had the good sense to call for reinforcements and keep an eye on the raiders. They showed wisdom and good judgment. Something that was lacking in some warriors in the past." Xena could be nasty too.

Varia bristled but Cyane stepped in. "Well, we are all tired and before we say something that will led to a fist fight let's go get some rest. Looks like the village has enough security. Tell someone to wake the sleeping beauties littering the grounds so they can take over for their hung-over sisters. Gabrielle take your warrior to bed, she needs some rest."

"Rest! Hell!" Brayed Matilda. "Bet she picks up where she left off last night. A kick in the pussy won't slow her down and it if it does Gabrielle can kiss it and make it better. HAHAHAHAHA!"

Xena glared at the older woman. "Matilda remember, Gabrielle is a queen and she deserves respect. And she's my wife, what we do when we are alone is not for discussion in the camp."

"No harm meant, Xena. You know me ? always a big mouth." Matilda said. She knew she often crossed the line but she was the type of person who actually never meant any harm.

"Matilda there is no offense here," Gabrielle said. Then she winked at the big woman, "In fact I just may follow your medical advice."

That broke the tension and everyone laughed. All except Xena who gave Gabrielle an exasperated look and then gave her partner a small wink. Gabrielle took Xena by the hand and led her away from the warriors to their hut.

As soon as the got into the hut and the door was closed, Xena collapsed against it. Gabrielle stifled a cry of alarm.

"Xena, are you badly hurt? Are you wounded? I'll call for the healer."

"Gabrielle, don't fuss. I'm all right but, by the gods, that bastard kicked me in the balls and it hurt like Hades. Then the damn saddle horn rubbed all the way out to the field and then it banged against the bruise all the way back. Gabrielle, I think I broke it." Xena said with touch of panic.

"Xena we've been kicking and hitting guys in the crotch for years and we never broke one." Gabrielle answered sensibly.

"How do you know? We've probably single handily caused a population decline in Greece." Xena said plaintively.

Gabrielle cocked an eyebrow at Xena but said nothing. She led the warrior over to the bed and had her lie down. She undid Xena's battle skirt and removed her under garments. She then inspected the injured part. Gabrielle blanched.

Xena saw Gabrielle's sudden paleness and broke out in a cold sweat. Oh gods, I did break it. I'm going to be stuck with that thing for life and it isn't even going to work. FUCK - oh no there'll be none of that will there, Xena thought morosely. She however said to Gabrielle, "Things can't be that bad. Let me look." Xena tried to peer at her nether region without much success.

"Xena it's swollen, and not in a good way. It's also turned purple with shades of green."

"What's swollen and purple?"

"The penis."

"How about the balls?"

"What about them?" Gabrielle asked curiously.

"How do they look?" Xena asked with growing concern. She didn't want to be a woman turned into a man turned into a eunuch. That would just be too bizarre. "Are they - um- still round? You know - not flat?"

"They're purple but they are still nice and plump. A little like plums." Gabrielle added helpfully.

Xena gave her partner an incredulous look. Everything just relates to food with her. "Well that doesn't sound too bad, I guess. A cold compress will take the swelling down. Then we'll add heat for the bruising."

Gabrielle nodded. She got some clean rags and soaked them in water. She then put them on Xena's injuries. Xena hissed.

Gabrielle quickly took the rag away. "I hurt you. I'm sorry."

"No, no it was just cold. Put it back, it actually feels good."

Gabrielle gently sat on the bed and studied Xena's crotch now discretely covered by the wet rag. "You know what would help? If you went over to the bath house and used the cold pool for a while. Then you could move over to the hot pool. You could alternate. That would work better than the compresses, don't you think?"

"Yeah it would but I can't go."

"Why not?"

"Gabrielle, I can't be seen like this," Xena said.

" I know you have your pride but so what if people see you are injured. No one will think less of you."

Xena look curiously at her wife. "Gabrielle I can't be seen naked. The Amazons would freak out if they see that I am a man."

"You are not a man," Gabrielle answered reasonably.

"I have a penis and all the stuff that goes with it. For the Amazons that pretty much defines man. They don't like men that much and they certainly don't like them living with their queens in their village."

Gabrielle blinked at Xena. "I never thought of that. We'll have to leave." She looked around their home. There wasn't anything she would miss but she wasn't going to give up that desk. She was just figuring out how they would get it on Argo's back when Xena interrupted her train of thought.

"We're not leaving. You love it here and we made this our home. We'll just wait it out. As soon as you get pregnant I'll be back to normal and no one will ever know. We'll then take a short trip and just say you got pregnant in the Amazon way. No one will ever be the wiser."

Gabrielle bit her lip and considered Xena's words. She didn't like lying and certainly wasn't fond of deception. She thought it caused more trouble than it was worth, but maybe Xena was right. Xena was respected and seemed to enjoy training the Amazons. Certainly the Amazons were better off with Xena here. Look at those raiders. If this were two years ago those guys probably would have ridden right into the village. It was Xena's security plans that saved them last night. The Amazons are lucky to have her around. No they will stay right here. After all how long could it take to get pregnant?

"You're right. I'll be pregnant before any one suspects anything?right?we make love a lot. It shouldn't take long."

"Sure but we are going to have to wait a bit - until, you know, it heals a bit. It really, really hurts," Xena's voice faded off.

Gabrielle nodded sympathetically. However in her gut she felt life was going to be more complicated than that. Gabrielle shrugged and then rewet Xena's compress. Since neither she nor Xena had had any sleep for over twenty-four hours she decide it was time for the two of them to take a much-needed nap. She quickly undressed and went to climb into bed beside Xena.

As Gabrielle started to get into bed, Xena eyes grew wide with alarm. "What do you think you are doing?" she asked in a slight panic.

"I'm going to bed. I've been up all night and so have you. What's the matter?"

"You're naked," Xena whispered.

"Yeah, I always sleep in the nude when we're alone. You're naked too. Except for the wet rag, of course," Gabrielle replied a bit annoyed.

"Ah. Well you see - ah - the sight of you nude it is - ah - getting me -ah - aroused." Xena said in a tight voice. "That's not a good thing right now. It's incredibly painful."

Gabrielle stared at her lover and then turned her head so Xena couldn't see the grin she had on her face. "OK - um I have that flannel nightshirt I wear when you are away. It's really unsexy."

"Good, good - flannel sounds like just the thing."

Gabrielle got up and rummaged around her trunk and found the shirt. It was very ratty and having once been Xena's and it was way too big for her. Gabrielle was sure no one would ever find her attractive in it.

Unfortunately Xena found her even more attractive - in a poor waif kind of way. Xena sighed and closed her eyes. What to do? Suddenly an idea came to her - she would think of Matilda. The older Amazon was a good friend but she did look like a cross between a Roman war dog and one of the bull fighting dogs from Britannia. She also smelled of the camphor that she liberally spread on her body to ward off the aches and pains of advancing age. Yeah that did the trick. Xena's visitor settled down.

Gabrielle now finally was able to get into bed. She leaned over to give Xena a kiss. Just before her lips met Xena's, Xena whispered, "Think of Lila."

That startled Gabrielle to no end. "What?"

"Kiss me like you kiss Lila. You know sisterly - not like you usually do."

"Xena this is ridiculous. You can't possibly find everything I do arousing."

Xena blushed in embarrassment. The truth was out. She did find nearly everything Gabrielle did arousing. Well of course not everything or she would be useless, but certainly when beds were involved then it practically went to a hundred percent.

Gabrielle saw the blush and grinned in pleasure at what that meant. She then put on a serious face and chastely kissed Xena on the check. "Can I sleep on your shoulder or would that wake?"

"Yes, Gabrielle, you can sleep on my shoulder ? I think Mr. Herbert is asleep." Xena said with a twinkle in her eye.

Gabrielle sat up and peered down at Xena. "You named it Mr. Herbert? Why?"

"Well we can't refer to my penis as a penis, in case we are overheard. So we should have a code word. I knew a Herbert once - a bald guy and he was a real dickhead but kind of cute. I thought it fit." Xena explained with a false logic.

Gabrielle giggled and lay down on Xena's shoulder. If Xena could be silly about this whole situation why should she worry. She relaxed and soon began to gently snore. This was of course Xena's plan. She wanted the bard to stop worrying and get some sleep. If a bit of foolishness accomplished that, then, she would be foolish. Xena however had a sneaking hunch Mr. Herbert was going to be a lot of trouble before his visit was over. Xena then closed her eyes and feel asleep. She was going to need her rest if she was going to deal with those troubles.

The pair slept through the day. Gabrielle awoke in the early evening and got some food for the couple. Xena awoke soon after. Herb was still very sore but less swollen. The two women spent the evening tending to him and discussing their future plans. Gabrielle was getting very excited about being a mother and was full of plans. Xena was more cautious. She reminded Gabrielle that it sometimes took a while to get pregnant and that they would have to be careful. It was going to be hard. Amazons lived communally - they eat together, worked together and bathed together. The bathing issue was going to be a problem.

"So do you have a plan? I mean you are going to get a little ripe if you don't bathe. Also what about going to the toilet?" Gabrielle asked.

"Well, I can put a shower in the wash room. We'll just say I've suddenly gotten anti-social. Knowing me they should expect that."

Gabrielle gave her partner a look.

"What? You know it's true. I can be a real bitch so if I suddenly want to be left alone, no one will think that's strange. As for the toilet - we have a chamber pot here and I'll just be careful not to be seen peeing standing up."

"OooKee. Sounds like a plan." Gabrielle reluctantly agreed. "When do you think you be up to having sex?"

"My, straight forward, aren't we," Xena smirked. "I'm a fast healer but I've slowed down a bit since my last dirt nap. I'd say two - three days."

Gabrielle nodded and began to count in her head. Oh no there might be a problem. Well maybe she'll be late this month. Gabrielle hoped.

She wasn't. On the third day of the injury, Xena awoke feeling ready to make babies. Gabrielle however wasn't in bed. She was sitting by the fire with a hot brick on her abdomen. Xena went over to her and sat down beside her.

"Got your period?" Xena asked sympathetically.

"I'm sorry Xena. I messed things up again." Gabrielle had tears in her eyes. She had convinced herself that as soon as Xena got well again she would be pregnant in no time at all. Now they would have to wait again. "It'll only be a few days right."

"It's all right Gabrielle. It's a good thing you have your period. That shows you're fertile and in good working order," Xena added with a slight grin. "We'll start as soon as your period stops." Xena now started counting in her head. She knew from her own personal experience that sex just after and just before her period had always been safe. It was that period just in between was the time you most likely got pregnant. That's what happened with Solon - after Japa she lost track of time and she miscalculated and wound up pregnant. Perhaps it would be that way with Gabrielle - if that was so, then they had about two weeks to wait. She didn't say anything to her partner about this because she knew Gabrielle was worried enough.

Xena now began to plan her day. She knew Gabrielle liked to be left alone when she wasn't feeling well so she planned a busy day. She had been out of commission for three days, just long enough for her young Amazon trainees to get a tad lazy. She thought this would be a good day to have them drill and she looked forward to it. Since she was both good and redeemed it was hard to find excuses to exercise her evil side. Yes Xena still had an evil side but it was well controlled and often not very evil - now it just had a tendency to be real annoying. It did like to get out once in awhile and putting young Amazons through the warrior's exhausting drills and sparring sessions seemed to satisfy it very well. Xena chuckled, evilly, yes it was especially fun to torture Varia's tiny group of admirers.


Xena called the young Amazons to attention. "All right, ladies. You've had a few days off and I'm sure you had a very nice vacation. Well it's over now. I'mmmmmm baaaack. Let's start by some laps around the compound."

The young women began to run around the compound. Like all Amazons, they were scantily clad and their usual attire was not always suited for running, especially among the well endowed. Xena often thought about getting Gabrielle to whip up some of those tops she use to wear back in the old days for the women. Xena was ruminating on this very subject when she felt an odd sensation. It was a slight movement in her nether regions. It wasn't arousal, exactly; it was more of a twinge. It unsettled the warrior but she thought it might have been just an after effect of her injury. After all she had seen the Amazons in various stages of undress and she barely even acknowledged that they were women. Xena really did only have eyes for Gabrielle.

Unfortunately for the Amazons Xena became a bit preoccupied with her twinge and forgot about the galloping women. They were becoming terribly winded. They were however Amazons and they ran on and on and on.

"Xena!" shouted Cyane. "I think the girls have had enough!"

"Huh?" Xena answered intelligently. She then noticed her gasping and panting troops. "That's enough. Uh, excellent conditioning - there. Yes if you were ever forced to run for your lives, I see that you would all survive." Xena turned away from the now collapsed women to hide her rueful expression.

Cyane however saw the expression and sidled up to Xena. "Are you OK? You had the strangest expression on your face."

"Oh I guess I was just a bit preoccupied." Xena decided that now was as good a time as any to start to lay the foundations for Gabrielle's eventual pregnancy. "I was just thinking that some day Gabrielle and I will have a daughter in training." She'll however have one of her mom's BGSB - no bouncing around for her so perverts can ogle her. Was I ogling the girls? Am I a pervert? Xena suddenly thought in alarm.

"There you go again. Drifting off. Perhaps you should go lie down a bit. The sun is hot today and you were injured. Jeeze Xena! I wouldn't have thought getting kicked - you know - there would be so debilitating. Perhaps I should talk to Ife our healer about this. Perhaps we aren't paying enough attention to the long term effects of such injuries." With that Cyane strode off to have a serious talk with the healer.

A puzzled Xena watched Cyane walk off to the healer. In truth she wasn't paying any attention to what the queen was saying. She was still preoccupied with the fear that she was lusting after her charges. Speaking of the charges, they had now recovered sufficiently to be eager to continue their training. The Amazons were often distressingly enthusiastic about training.

"We are ready for our sparring session, Xena." Mavis spoke up. The petite blond was one of Xena's most enthusiastic trainees.

Xena broke out of her trance and smiled at the young woman. She studied the girl and suddenly thought if she and Gabrielle had a daughter, she might look like Mavis. Xena was surprised at how much joy that thought gave her.

"Ok. Everyone pick a partner. Today we will start with some staff work and then we will work with wooden swords."

The women soon paired up. They began with a rhythmic set of exercises of attacks and defenses. As the exercises progressed the speed began to pick up. As the speed increased the women began to make changes in their attacks and parries. Her students were very good and Xena often used these exercises as a warm up for the sparing class. Today the young women were particularly good. Xena watched them with great pride and joy. She loved to watch well trained bodies do their jobs well.

Much to Xena's surprise and embarrassment it appeared that her newest body part decided to demonstrate its joy also. Herb decided to dance. Well not dance exactly but it was swaying in rhythm with the women as they sparred. Xena couldn't believe what was happening. She snuck a quick peek down and to her mortification saw that the pleats of her battle dress were definitely moving. She quickly looked around to see if any one else noticed but no one seemed to. "This is bad." Xena thought to herself. "I can't ? I'm not attracted to these girl. By whatever gods there are left I'm their teacher and I love Gabrielle. I must be having some kind of post death trauma." Then Xena was struck by a more terrifying thought, "What if Gabrielle finds out I'm a randy old lady ?man?whatever? Gods, that pot is looking better and better."

Once again Xena drifted off into her own horror-filled world and once again the Amazons were running out of steam. Xena however quickly came to herself and called a halt to the exercise before anyone collapsed. "Take five." Xena ordered. The girls sat down on the ground winded but not exhausted. In fact, they felt invigorated and with a light sheen to their skin, they were very sexy. Xena was terrified to look at them. What would Herb do? Xena however was always ready to face unpleasant truths so she studied the girls before her. Herb did nothing. No dancing and certainly no attempt to come to attention. "Uhm, perhaps I'm not a pervert after all," Xena though in relief.

Xena was now ready to continue the lesson. She would however be very careful and give Herb no chance to get ?worked up. She planned to introduce the young women to sword work today. This would be the first time these girls would be using swords. Xena now began to hand out the wooden training swords. They had the weight and feel of metal swords but would not injure anyone.

The new weapons excited the girls. It was an important milestone in any trainee's progress toward being a warrior. The weapons mesmerized them but soon their attention was riveted to Xena. She was the greatest sword in the land and she was about to teach them. Life couldn't get better than this.

Xena was less enthusiastic. She had been looking forward to teaching the girls this skill but Herb was presenting a problem. What if one of the girls asked for help and Xena had to take her in hand? Would Herb behave himself? And if he didn't would it mean Xena wasn't behaving or did Herb have a mind of his own? Are men actually right when they said they had no control over themselves? That was a frightening thought. "Well," Xena thought. "I'll just start them off and stand back. Can't get into trouble that way."

So that's what Xena did; showed the girls a few basic moves and had them pair up to practice. Everything was going fine when Celia, a particularly buxom and pretty young lady, was having problems with a particular move. She asked for help. With dread Xena approached the girl and stood behind her to help guide her hand. To Xena's great relief Herb behaved. In fact as more and more girls asked for help Xena soon forgot she had her new appendage. Everything was going smoothly. The young women picked up the sword skills very quickly and soon were sparring with grace and ease. Xena watched her charges with pride and joy. Then Herb started to dance, again.

Xena was mortified. She surreptitiously peered down at herself. Sure enough the pleats of her skirt were flapping in the breeze. What is going on? I know I am not attracted to these girls. Why am I reacting like this? Xena was as sure as she could be that it wasn't arousal. She was sure of it but she needed to test the theory. She called a halt to the sparring, Herb calmed down immediately. Xena went over and inspected each girl very closely just to make sure the no one had been injured, she said. Nope, no reaction from Herb. That was a relief. The girls now left and Xena pondered her problem.

Suddenly out of the corner of her eye she spied Gabrielle talking to Cyane, Matilda, and Ife, the Egyptian healer. Xena was a woman of action. She strode over to Gabrielle and kissed her passionately and deeply for at least two minutes. Gabrielle's companions gaped in surprise and envy at Xena's sudden ardor.

Just as suddenly as the kiss came, it was broken. Xena stepped back from a stunned Gabrielle. Xena looked thoughtfully at her partner then smiled in triumph. "Yep that's arousal" Xena thought with satisfaction. Whatever Herb was reacting to before it wasn't passion or lust or even attraction? No sir, Xena now felt passion, lust, and attraction and Herb was at full attention. Only Gabrielle could do that. Xena quickly turned on her heels and retreated to their hut for a nice cold shower.

The Amazons all looked at their former queen. Gabrielle had the look of a person who had just been struck by lightening - frazzled but charged up. Gabrielle stared after her rapidly disappearing wife and turned to her awestruck friends. She could think of absolutely nothing to say. So, she just smiled sweetly at them and rapidly followed Xena into their hut.

"You know Xena's been acting oddly all day," Cyane observed. "I never would have thought a kick to the groin could rattle some one that much. Ife we have to devise some kind of protection for down there. "

"If you'd ask me I sure as hell hope some one would kick me there if that's what it does to you," Matilda then added. "In fact next mating season we ought to line the women up give them all a swift kick and we would have a bumper crop of kids come the spring."

Ife said nothing. Something was up with both Gabrielle and Xena. Gabrielle had appeared particularly anxious and had asked a lot questions about childbirth. She had assumed Gabrielle was thinking about having a baby. She wondered what Xena thought about it and if she was agreeable. The warrior was becoming more and more aloof and was staying by herself. She thought there might be trouble about Gabrielle's wish. Now she was more uncertain than ever. The public kiss was out of character for Xena. Did it mean Xena was asserting her ownership over Gabrielle or was it her tacit approval of Gabrielle's plan? Being an analytical person, Ife decided to ponder the ramifications of Xena's actions.


Gabrielle entered their home and heard Xena whistling a jaunty tune in the shower. Xena soon emerged wrapped in a towel. She seemed in a really good mood and sat down on the couch before the fire. She looked expectantly at her partner. She knew Gabby must be bursting with questions and she was ready to answer.

"Xena, what was up with that kiss? It was terrific but you never kissed me like before in front of others. You do remember that I don't like to be intimate when I have my visitor?"

Xena looked startled for a moment and actually looked around for the "visitor", then remembered that Gabrielle liked to use euphemisms. Sometimes she actually made them up on the spot. Apparently "visitor" was a new one.

"Yeah I know. That wasn't why I kissed you. It was an experiment!" Xena announced.

Gabrielle thought about this. "Experiment? What exactly where you trying to find out? If you could actually curl my toes with a kiss? The answer is yes and that isn't all you curled."

Xena smirked.

"Or had it to do with those watching the kiss? Were you trying to see if their eyeballs could pop out so far they would actually fall out and roll around on the ground?"

"OOH! What an intriguing idea that was," Xena thought. She amused herself by picturing assorted Amazons scrambling after their rolling eyeballs while bumping into each other. It's a good thing she never thought of this when she was an evil warlord - yuck. Xena shuddered.

"No. That wasn't it, at all," Xena answered. "No I was trying to figure out exactly what arousal felt like now that I'm different. So I kissed you to find out."

"Why are you suddenly curious about that?" Gabrielle asked suspiciously. "You certainly were aroused the other night. Couldn't you remember? I doubt if you got amnesia when you got kicked. Oh my gosh, Xena you don't still think it's broken?" Gabrielle peered anxiously at Xena's crotch.

"No, no, no. It's fine. In fact it's more than fine." Xena assured her. Xena had thought long and hard or at least as long as it took to shower whether to tell Gabrielle about her dancing penis. At first she thought it would be wise not to tell her wife that Herb took to dancing when confronted by nubile young women exerting themselves, however, Xena knew instinctively that Gabrielle would find out - somehow she always found out everything. And when she found out Xena would be in deep manure. So it was best to 'fess up and make the best of it.

"Today something rather odd happened." Xena began. "Ahm, while I was watching my trainees spar?ah? Herb began to move... a bit."

"What do you mean Herb 'moved'? And why are we still calling your penis Herb. I though that was a joke."

"Shhh!" Xena put her finger to her lips and looked around. "Herb is our code word for ?penis. I don't think we should mention that word more than we need to in the village. You know how Amazons react to penises - they either want to kill their owners or screw them. There doesn't seem to be any in between with them."

Gabrielle stared at Xena. She was sure there was some kind of slur in there about the Amazons but she wasn't sure exactly what it was. Xena did have truth on her side. But she was being distracted from the issue at hand. Xena's penis? err Herb? was moving when around other women. Gabrielle was not pleased.

"Xena what exactly was Herb doing?"

Xena could tell Gabrielle was getting aggravated but there was no going back now. "When I was watching the girls spar, they were really good and they had this great rhythm and Herb got caught up in it?and started to sway in time?you know ?like dancing." Xena was profoundly embarrassed now that she had actually announced out loud that she had a dancing penis.

Gabrielle swallowed hard. Gabrielle had many faults, as she was the first to admit, but the one she was most ashamed of was that she was jealous of Xena. She handled men fairly well but women really set her on edge. Hell she nearly got Xena killed because she was jealous of Loa Mao. She thought she had a handle on it. She certainly took Akemi in stride - the fact the girl was dead helped a lot, but still she behaved beautifully. However alive, young, beautiful women who had warrior skills was another matter entirely. Gabrielle wanted to know exactly what was going on and she wanted to know now.

"So Herb was 'dancing'. Do you have any idea why he was dancing? You do know he is attached to you, Xena. So perhaps the better question is why you made Herb dance?" Gabrielle's voice rose just a bit on the final question.

Xena licked her lips. Gabrielle was upset and jealous. Shit! Just what she wanted to avoid. Perhaps if she kept this as clinical as possible everything would be fine.

"I was concerned about this development. It was a shock. I mean I have been around half naked Amazons for a while now and frankly I never thought of them as half naked women. I just saw them as sister warriors. I never was attracted to any of them." In fact I found most of them annoying as hell, Xena added silently to herself. "So at first I thought I was being aroused by them. But when the women stopped sparring Herb stopped dancing. Then we started some sword drills and Celia asked for help."

"Celia? The pretty girl with the big?"

"Yes exactly," Xena answered hastily. She didn't like the glint in Gabrielle's eye. Xena plowed forward with her story. "I had to get really close to her and nothing happened. Herb was dead as a doornail. And... and then I help other girls and nothing . Herb was not moving at all. But when they started their sparring drills, he started dancing again. So I wanted find out if that was arousal or not. So I kissed you to see what Herb's reaction would be."

"And what did you find out?" Gabrielle asked now curious in spite of herself.

"I found out what arousal is. I kissed you and Herb just leapt to attention. He leapt so much I either had to take a cold shower or take you right then and there."

Gabrielle looked at her anxious partner. She knew Xena was telling the truth. She wouldn't lie about this. The warrior loved her and only her, she knew that, but she was a bit worried that Herb would cause some kind of change in Xena or her libido. Her mother always said men followed their heads too much and she didn't mean the one where they kept their ears. Gabrielle wasn't sure that she was relieved or not. What did Xena's experience mean?

"So when you kissed me you were aroused?"

Xena nodded vigorously

"But you were not aroused by the Amazons?"

Xena nodded with equal vigor.

"So what was happening with the Amazons?" Gabrielle was now fascinated by Xena's predicament.

"I think Herb was reflecting my feelings but not sexual feelings." Xena amended quickly. "I felt a lot of pride as I watched by students and I was really pleased with their progress. In fact I can say I was really happy as I watched them and I think Herb was reflecting that joy. He was dancing because I was happy. He reflects what I feel. That night I had to leave you to fight the raiders; he was actually tugging at me - trying to go back to you. He was reflecting by wish to stay with you. So Herb seems to be manifesting my emotions." Xena now finished sat back and awaited Gabrielle's reaction.

Gabrielle wasn't sure what to make of this development. The fact that Xena had a dancing penis was disturbing enough, but the fact that Xena seemed to regard that appendage as having a will of its own scared her. What if Xena couldn't control it (Gabrielle refused to refer to it as a him)? What if he ? no it...acted up when people could see it? Perhaps it would just be best to leave the village until she was pregnant and Herb was gone.

"Xena if you can't control yourself perhaps it would be best if we took a short vacation until you're yourself again." Gabrielle ventured.

Xena sat up straight. Gabrielle was implying she was out of control. She was never out of control. Her control was legendary. Where did Gabrielle get off questioning her self-control? Sure there was the incident where she tried to throw Gabrielle off the cliff and the time she tried to massacre that village when she thought the people had killed her father, but those were simple aberrations. She was the master of her domain.

"Gabrielle, I am in complete control here. Yes Herb did a little dance but I have complete control over him."

Gabrielle was really beginning to hate the fact Xena kept referring to her penis in the third person. She had a sneaking hunch Xena hadn't faced up to their predicament. Xena had an out of control appendage.

"Xena do me a favor. Take off your towel and let me take a look at Herb."

Xena raised an eyebrow. "I thought you weren't interested in fooling around," Xena said with an anticipatory smirk.

"I'm not," Gabrielle said flatly. "I want to do my own experiment now."

Xena unveiled herself. Gabrielle studied her with such intensity that Xena actually began to blush - a rare occurrence for Xena.

"OK Xena. Make it dance."


"You say you have complete control over it. So make it dance or make it twitch or sing a song, I don't care. Just control it."

Xena looked a bit startled at the demand but she was never one to back down from challenge. She studied Herb and willed him to move. Nothing. Ah well she just had to think of those sparring Amazons. She pictured them sweating and fighting. Nothing. Well she then imagined Gabrielle sweating and naked. Still nothing. This was not good. It was her appendage and she would control it. . Gabrielle always said she took orgasmic joy in fighting. So she pictured a hundred crazed fighters coming after her and fighting them off in an orgy of blood and guts. Nada, nothing, no movement on the front line. This did not bode well. Perhaps Herb did have a mind of his own. Yikees, this was embarrassing.

Xena shrugged at Gabrielle. "I can't seem to make him move. Perhaps if you sat on my lap and gave me wet sloppy kisses he would be inspired." Xena asked hopefully.

Gabrielle gave Xena an exasperated smile. "I'm sure I would inspire him but we are not going there tonight. Xena you do realize what this means?"

"Yeah a goofy goddess gave me a goofy Herb. It won't be here forever. We'll cope. What is worrying you?"

"Xena, what if some one notices our dancing visitor. You never can tell with these Amazons. They're a nosey bunch. Some one sees something out of the ordinary it will be all over the village before Herb can put away his dancing shoes."

Xena would have answered Gabrielle's concerns but the picture of Herb in dancing shoes suddenly struck her. It took some minutes for Xena to regain the power of speech.

"Gabrielle, I don't think anyone will notice."

"Could they?"

Xena seriously considered this. Could someone notice his movement? They would have had to be really watching her. Her skirt did flare a bit but wouldn't someone just think it was just the breeze? No one would think anything as absurd as the truth.

"Gabrielle someone would have to be watching me awfully closely to notice anything. Who would be paying that much attention to me?"

Gabrielle sighed. "Just every hormonal Amazon in Amazonia, you big oblivious warrior, Gabrielle thought. But she said, "You're right who in the world would be looking at you that closely."


Later that night in the hut of Mavis and Celia, the two friends prepared for bed and talked about the days events.

"Did you notice how odd Xena was acting today?" Celia asked her friend Mavis. The two friends had just settled in for the night. They shared a hut and were friends since girlhood. They discussed everything and one of the things they discussed most often was Xena. Both had crushes on the warrior, and even though they knew it was a hopeless or more precisely because of that, they reveled in their mutual admiration of the blue-eyed warrior.

"Do you mean the fact that Xena kept zoning out? Or are you referring to the fact that she kept running us into the ground." Tonight Mavis was very sore and her love for Xena had waned considerably.

"Yeah that but?she was also doing other strange things." Celia whispered to her friend, "Did you notice she kept looking at her crotch with?I don't know ?like she was watching it or something. Then you remember when she was helping me with the sword she kept looking at me like she was waiting for something to happen. Then suddenly she just looked relieved and nodded to herself. It was weird."

"I don't know maybe she was worried about down there. They say she was kicked hard the other night. Maybe it was still bothering her or something." Suddenly Mavis giggled, "Maybe she was just horny. Did you see how she kissed Gabrielle? WOW! Every Amazon in camp was turned on."

Celia now turned to her friend. "Yeah that was odd too. I mean she kissed the queen like she was going to take her right then and there, and then she just turned around and walked off. I mean I never saw her kiss her like that in public but then just suddenly to leave Gabrielle like that was? like insulting ?or maybe like she just sort of forgot what she had done. I don't know," Celia finished lamely.

Mavis was quiet for a moment and the asked with a bit of embarrassment, "When Xena was helping you today did you notice something funny about her?"

"I just said I thought she was acting weird," Celia answered a bit peeved. "Gods now Mavis is spacing out, too. Is it something in the water?"

"No, I mean not strange like she was acting strange - I mean strange, physically."

"Huh? What do you mean?"

"Well, when Xena was helping me today she was standing behind me and I accidentally backed into her?"

"Accidentally?" Smirked Celia. "So you thought you would do a bit of flirting with the Warrior Princess. Oooh, you hussy. I didn't think you had it in you." Celia was enjoying this. Mavis was usually such a prude. Rubbing up Xena was definitely a new side of her friend.

"It was an accident." Mavis protested vehemently perhaps a bit too vehemently but she was turning a rather brilliant shade of red. "Anyway I felt something odd," Mavis was not going to be distracted. "It felt like Xena had a ? a thing on."

"A thing?' Celia was perplexed. "What kind of thing? What are you talking about?"

"You remember the night of the birthday party Gabrielle got that gift from Varia's gang and Xena got really mad. Well, I think she was wearing it today." Mavis finished in a rush. This was so embarrassing but she was also fascinated by the thought of it. She counted on Celia to tell her if that was possible. To Mavis, Celia was a true sophisticate.

Celia sat back and thought about this. She liked that Mavis thought of her as worldly. Many people did - it was amazing how a pair of over develop breasts made people think you were an expert on all things sexual. The fact was Celia didn't have much first hand experience but she had read extensively about such things in the Amazon library. She didn't like to disappoint her public.

"Ah yes. Well I doubt it. It would be very uncomfortable." Celia opined with authority. "No, a dildo, it's called a dildo with a harness you know, is usually not worn all day, just when it's in use. I guess," Celia thought with a mental shrug. "No, you know what? She probably had her period and you just felt her pad or maybe she had a bandage on from being kicked."

Mavis seemed unconvinced. It was really strange. She wished she had more experience. She wasn't inexperienced, of course. She had a girl friend and everything but she wasn't considered old enough to go out into the world of men. Amazonia wanted their women to be mature enough to raise a child before they went to mate with men. Why was she thinking of men anyway? They were talking about Xena. Suddenly Mavis was hit by an absurd thought. But was it? Everyone said Xena was different. Almost godlike - maybe she was really different.

"Celia," Mavis didn't want to be thought a fool but she had to tell someone about her idea. "Maybe Xena is a man!" Mavis announced. "She's been hiding her true gender behind a clever disguise. I've heard of men dressing like women. You've heard about Autolycus."

Celia stared at her friend. God you'd think anyone with such small breasts would be smarter. "Well there's two things wrong with your theory. Xena's got great breasts?"

"I said the disguise was clever," Mavis pointed out patiently.

"?and she has had children - Solan and Eve, remember. She must have cleverly disguised herself with a womb." Celia finished sarcastically.

Xena's children did not discourage Mavis. She had another theory ready. "Maybe Xena is a hermadite."

"Hermadite! What the heck is she talking ?oh!" Celia suddenly thought. "Hermaphrodite!" She had read about them. People who were both man and woman. Well that is interesting. Could it be? She certainly had the strength of ten men and had a masculine way of acting sometimes. But she was all woman too, yum.

"But she has had children, Mavis. I don't know if hermaphrodites," she emphasized the proper word - no use being well read if you can't sometimes rub it in, "can have children. Anyway if she was one of those people it would have gotten around."

"Why would it? Solan's father's been dead for ages and Gabrielle wouldn't tell. Xena's never been with anyone else that I ever heard of. Every Amazon and guy within ten feet of her has thrown themselves at her but she never strays. Not natural if you ask me. Perhaps she is hiding something. Also think of Eve. Who's her father? Not a hint of who the father was. It's a big mystery, isn't it? Just maybe Xena was the father of her own daughter. Just think of that!" Mavis finished triumphantly.

Celia did exactly as she was told. She thought about it. Then she pictured it. She bent her head and squinted her eyes as she tried to imagine the mechanics of the act. To fornicate with oneself, not as metaphor, but as an actuality, boggled Celia's mind. More than that she was dumbstruck. Perhaps it was true. Could it be true? What did it mean? Was the man part of Xena an affront to the Amazons? Was the woman part of Xena a true Amazon? How would you reconcile the two? Celia got a headache.

Mavis suddenly bolted up right in bed. "Celia, maybe we should warn the council about Xena. Maybe this is some kind of strange male plot."

Celia mimicked her friend and bolted up too. "No we should not warn anyone! If it was true, which would be really odd, then it isn't any of our business. I don't see what kind of plot there could be. Xena and Gabrielle have always been there for the Amazons and saved our nation lots of times. It's kind of shitty to suddenly denounce them because of a silly idea. Exactly what do you think would happen if we were believed? Hey, Cyane, Xena is a man-woman make her drop her drawers to show you her pussy. Now what do you think Xena would do then - I see blood all over the compound and we're looking for a new queen - again. Go to sleep and forget about the whole thing!"

Mavis however would not be mollified. "I'm going to investigate this. The truth is out there!"

Oh by the gods! I should have never lent her my Mulderus and Scullius books. Some people should never be taught to read. "OK, we'll investigate this. But I'm only doing this to prove you are wrong. I also don't want you skewered by Xena or Gabrielle for trying to see Xena naked or something. We'll have to be clever. Let's just go to sleep and we'll figure something out in the morning."

"You'll see Celia, I'm going to be proven right." A confident Mavis proclaimed and happily turned over and fell sound asleep.

Celia groaned and never did sleep that night.


The next morning it was obvious to Xena that something was wrong with Gabrielle; she was too quiet. They had been at breakfast a good quarter candle mark and Gabrielle hadn't said a word. This worried Xena. Gabrielle was always very chatty at breakfast. It was one of the reasons Xena always insisted that they eat alone in the morning; she liked to be the bard's sole audience. Today, however, the woman was positively mute. Xena wondered what was wrong.

"Gabrielle, what's bothering you? You haven't said two words this morning. Aren't you feeling well?" Xena asked with concern.

"Oh it's nothing," Gabrielle answered dismissively. Xena raised an eyebrow and gave her that look. "OK, well? I just had the strangest dream last night."

"A nightmare?" This perplexed Xena. Usually she knew when Gabrielle was having nightmares and it bothered her that she hadn't realized that Gabrielle was upset.

"No, not exactly, it was just disturbing." Gabrielle sighed and then shrugged. "There were all these dancing penises in the courtyard. They were just hopping around and having a great time. Then suddenly the Amazons saw then and they went berserk and started chasing them with swords. And the penises panicked and started running and yelling for help and then this penis dressed in your leathers flipped in and started fighting the Amazons. It was just a really strange dream." Gabrielle finished.

Xena simply stared at her friend. Yep that's why she wanted to be alone with her bard. It was never dull when Gabby was around. "Oh well, uhm, that's interesting. It must have been quite a sight." Xena rubbed her ear and looked steadily down at her plate. It wouldn't do to laugh right now.

"Yeah it was." Gabrielle said seriously. "Those cute little guys were so happy and then they were in mortal danger. Thank god Herbert arrived to save them." Gabrielle then frowned thoughtfully. "Gods, Xena, am I losing it? I now am dreaming about penises like they're people or at least little creatures with little personalities. This can't be good," Gabrielle said with concern.

"Gabrielle, this is an odd situation. And after last night it's no wonder you started dreaming about them. I just think you're worried that Herb will act up again. I have been thinking about this and I think I have a solution to our problem." Xena got up and went over to the desk. "I know I can't stop Herb from dancing by my will alone. So, I'll just have to tie him down. I made this while you were obviously dreaming about those fancy free fellows." Xena smirked but then showed off her creation. It was a pouch that was attached to a waistband and had straps that you stepped into. It was apparent that Herb would be inside the pouch. "You see once Herb is inside he won't be able to move around."

Gabrielle came over and examined Xena's creation. "Are you sure it will work? Will it be comfortable? I mean I don't want 'Herb' acting up but I don't want you to be in any kind of discomfort."

"Oh I tried it on already. It's actually very comfortable and I rather like the fact he isn't just swinging around down there. You know it's an odd sensation when you aren't used to it." Xena pondered this oddness for a moment before continuing. "As for working we'll really find out today. It's hand-to-hand combat day. The trainees will be wrestling around all day."

This piece of news alarmed Gabrielle. "Xena is that wise? I mean if Herb gets excited at just watching women swing swords at one another just imagine what he'll do when he ? or you ?see women rolling around on the ground together. I mean he won't just dance he'll spin out of control."

Xena winced - that sounded painful - but she was sure her invention would work. "Well hopefully that won't happen. Anyway I can't change the schedule. The girls have to have this training - they're going to have their first tests next week and they have to show that they've mastered hand-to-hand so we can concentrate on sword skills. So it's either put Herb in his pouch or I spend the day with my hands covering my groin and that would be conspicuous."

Gabrielle reluctantly nodded. There was nothing for it but to try this. Gabrielle counted quickly to herself. Tomorrow she should be able to take her purification bath and then she and Xena would get to making love. She was sure pregnancy would occur quickly - worry always was a great motivator wasn't it? Gabrielle suddenly thought of something. "Xena what if you have to wrestle someone?"

"Gabrielle I told you I don't find that arousing. He won't dance - I'm sure."

"No, no. I mean? what if some one tries to grab you there? You know that is a good offensive move."

"Hmm, well I have an equally good counter-move," Xena answered evilly.


Later that morning Mavis was discussing the plan she had developed with Celia. "Ok today is hand-to-hand. It's going to be really intense - right? I mean with this practically being our final exam. So Xena will probably call for volunteers to fight her. She always does, right? So you'll volunteer. When you do, you can grab her crotch and feel around for anything strange?" Mavis looked brightly at Celia hoping her friend would understand how brilliant her plan was.

Celia looked dubiously at her friend. "Why don't you volunteer and grab her crotch?" Celia asked flatly.

"Because I already know something odd is going on. It's you that needs convincing. Anyway Xena wouldn't pick me to fight her. I'm not in her league. You're a better fighter and she only picks the students whom she knows she won't accidentally hurt.

Celia wasn't going to be swayed by blatant flattery. There was flaw in this plan. She would be caught groping a dangerous woman who happened to be a queen's consort. "This is probably treason so if Xena doesn't knock me into next week, Gabrielle gets to behead me," Celia thought glumly. "Mavis this isn't a great idea. Maybe we should think of something else. After all there is no guarantee she'll fight me anyway."

Mavis was disappointed at the answer but she had a plan Beta. "Well I have another plan." Mavis looked quickly around their hut just in case anyone was listening. "We will follow Xena around after class and when she goes off to the bushes we'll follow her and catch her with her pants down. Or maybe tonight when everyone is in their cabins we can sneak over to Xena and Gabrielle's hut and cut a small hole in their wall and hope to see Xena naked." Mavis waited for Celia's approval.

Celia was appalled. That's right Mavis we'll just become peeping Joxers. We'll get caught spying on the queen in her bedchambers and have our eyes poked out, and then we can wander the countryside begging for money and tell our sad story in taverns to the amusement of all. Celia did not say all this, she just stared morosely at her friend and said flatly, "I'll volunteer to grope Xena."

"Oh good. I have a lot to do today and I just didn't want to waste a whole day waiting for Xena to relieve herself. Although I would have liked to see Xena naked - I never saw a man-woman before," Mavis said with a strange glint in her eye.


At the training field Xena gave her final instruction for the hand-to-hand combat training. She wanted the students to go all out, but they had to show discipline and not hurt any one seriously. A few bloody noses were all right but no broken bones, she admonished. Then she ordered the students to pick partners and begin their drills.

Xena, breaking with tradition, did not volunteer to partner up herself. Mavis suddenly saw her brilliant plan turning to dust before her eyes. Celia on the other hand suddenly had visions of her and Mavis drilling holes in the queen's cabin that night. In unison both leapt to their feet and yelled, "Wait! Aren't you going to fight too?" Both women looked startled at their mutual outburst.

Xena too looked startled. She had planned on foregoing this little ritual. Although she told Gabrielle the truth about not being aroused by these young women, she didn't want to put Herb to the test. It was best to leave sleeping dogs lie so to speak. Xena cleared her throat, "Oh I thought you guys could give yourself a pretty good work out. You don't need me to show you anything - you've learned it all so well."

The students really loved to see Xena fight and soon they also were clamoring for their teacher to give them one more demonstration. Xena didn't quite know what to make of this. She was flattered at her students' adoration and she did love a good wrestling match. Anyway it would be a good test to see if Herb could control himself in dicey situations.

"OK, I'll give you guys one more little demonstration. Who'll volunteer?"

Celia and three other girls raised their hands. Xena looked them over. They were all excellent fighters so she decided on a quick competition. She drew a circle and had the four girls step into the circle. The last one remaining in the ring would fight Xena.

Celia looked at her competition. They were big strapping girls and it would be tough to toss them out of the ring on her best day. Then again she thought, "if I don't win I'll spend the next few days trying to catch Xena peeing." With this motivation Celia fought like one possessed. She punched, gouged, and threw caution to the winds. When the dust cleared she was the last one in the ring although she was minus one tooth and had a large bite mark on her ankle.

Xena was impressed. She clapped Celia on the shoulder and declared her the winner. She told her to clean up and meet her in the ring. Celia and Mavis adjourned to the water basin.

"Celia, that was great. Now you know what you have to do. Knock Xena down and get between her legs and just grab on."

Celia nodded grimly. Mavis had the knack of making the impossible seem easy. She had seen Xena fight and she knew she was no match for her. She just hoped Xena wouldn't go full out, but just having beaten the three best fighters in the class, that would be a vain hope. Xena was going to kick her ass - she just knew it.

Celia went to the ring. Xena looked absolutely elated. She was bouncing on her toes. She just loved a good knock down drag out fight. Celia was a surprise to Xena - she never thought the girl had that kind of killer instincts. This was going to be fun. Xena however suddenly remembered that Herb liked fun too. She stopped for a moment to reflect on Herb. She could feel him twitching but the pouch had him contained. Good. Let the fight begin.

Xena and Celia stepped into the ring. The loser would be the first one to cross outside of the circle. They crouched and began to circle one and another. Xena made the first move and swept Celia's legs out from under her and soon the two were grappling on the ground. Xena was doing her best to try to get a grip on Celia in order to toss her out of the ring but Celia had a very strange strategy. Instead of countering her moves or trying to get leverage on Xena, she was simply trying to scoot under the warrior. Xena couldn't quite figure out what she was doing. It wasn't giving Celia any kind of advantage but it was effectively preventing Xena from getting a good grip on her opponent.

Celia was at this point focused on her mission. Once she got her hand between Xena's legs and felt for the appendage, she would be free to get herself tossed out of the ring. Then she could tell Mavis she was full of it and life could go on. This, however, was not an easy task. Xena was strong and agile and was able to avoid Celia's wandering hand. Luckily Xena hadn't noticed what Celia was up to yet.

Suddenly Xena tumbled to Celia strategy, or so she thought. She felt Celia's hand start to move between her legs. "Why that little so and so, she's going to try the short hair pull," Xena thought in surprise. It was a good plan and she might have let her get away with it just to build the girl's confidence but not with Herb around. So just as Celia was about to reach her objective Xena made a quick turning maneuver and executed her own short hair move. Her hand shot between Celia's legs and she pulled with all her might. Celia screeched and fairly flew out of the circle. Xena won the match to the acclaim of her admiring students.

Xena went over to Celia. She hoped she hadn't hurt the girl. "Celia that was a brilliant move on your part. You really had me going there. Of course you have to be careful when you are trying that move. The short hair pull is effective as you can attest to." Tears were running down Celia's checks. "But it leaves you vulnerable for a counter strike." Xena now felt a bit guilty about the counter-strike and gave Celia a final bit of praise, "However you were brilliant in your fights today and so I am giving you the rest of the day off."

Celia nodded and waived weekly to acknowledge Xena's praise. As Xena walked away Mavis ran over to her friend and whispered excitedly, "So what did you learn?"

With tears still running down her checks Celia answered in a strained high-pitched voice, "Never listen to your friends."


Later that day Xena met up with Gabrielle.

"So how did the Amazon training go today?" Gabrielle asked.

"Very well. The girls out did themselves. Celia even challenged me. She had to fight off the three best warriors to do it but she did it. Then she nearly fought me to a stand still. You know she had the gumption to even try the short hair pull." Xena beamed with pride.

The short hair pull made Gabrielle stop in her tracks. "Oh no." Gabrielle quickly looked around and whispered, "She didn't encounter," another quick look, "Herb?"

"I told you I had a counter-move." Xena said smugly and then she added a bit more contritely, "It was a little too effective I'm afraid. I had to give her the day off. I may have over done it." Xena said with a slight grimace.

"It's all right. I'm sure she's over it by now. How did - uhm - the garment work?"

"Oh another success. Herb tried but he couldn't get much of a rhythm going. So I think I've solved that problem." Xena then looked lecherously at Gabrielle, "How about your problem?"

Gabrielle gave a saucy little wink, "I'm ready to go whenever you are, Stud."

"Hmm so tonight we'll start. I can't wait to try out old Herb."

Gabrielle winched a bit. "I don't know if naming it was such a good idea. I just am feeling odd having someone named Herb inside of me."

"You've had someone named Xena inside of you and you never complained," Xena whispered into Gabrielle's ear.

Gabrielle blushed and looked around, "Yeah, well you've never tapped danced inside of me and Herb just might."

"I'm sure he will, my love, because every time we make love I tap dance in my heart." Xena frowned - did she just say that out loud. It sounded so stupid. Then Gabrielle suddenly kissed her.

"You're so sweet."

Perhaps it wasn't stupid; maybe it was brilliant. "Perhaps we can go home and get a head start on tonight."

"Yes but you need a bath and so do I. You're a bit ripe after your work out. I'll go to the bath house and you can take a shower."

"Why don't we both shower together, huh?" Xena asked seductively.

"I'd love to but there's not enough water and it's too small. Anyway I like baths better. Maybe I can shoo everyone out of the bathhouse - you know queenly privilege - and we can bathe together."

"I have a better idea. It's going to be warm night. Why not get a picnic and go down to our private swimming hole? We'll eat and swim and make love all night. Oh! I feel Herb getting all antsy at just the thought."

Xena was being her most charming and Gabrielle was tempted - very tempted. She bit her lip and considered. "What if we are caught?"

"Sex is always more fun when there's a touch of danger," Xena said rakishly. "Let's risk it. No one ever has stumbled upon us before and we've made love dozens of times there. It'll be romantic. Aphrodite will be very pleased," Xena added coyly.

Gabrielle loved when Xena got that devilish look in her eye and she was a goner'. "OK it's a date. It's getting late anyway. I'll get the food. You get the blankets and we'll meet back here.

Xena laughed and kissed Gabrielle soundly. She couldn't wait to be with her wife. She was also sure Herb would be relieved - he seemed very over wrought right now.


"Celia, why are you walking so funny? Mavis asked with concern.

"Why do you think, idiot. The warrior princess nearly plucked me bald. And it hurts."

"Still?" Mavis asked in all innocence.

"Yeah, still! Maybe that's why we don't practice that move very often. I always thought it was because of modesty. Obviously not. That really is painful. Gods! Imagine what Xena would have done to me if I had pulled the move off. She'd probably have torn me limb from limb. No wonder she was acting strange after being kicked."

"It would have been different. You would have just pulled on her penis. I don't know what that effect would have been." Mavis said thoughtfully.

Celia looked at Mavis out of corner of her eye and said sarcastically, "Oh I'm sure that would have been much better. She probably would have only torn off one limb and then beat me to death with it."

"Probably," Mavis was no longer listening to her friend. She was now planning her next move. She was plotting where to find a drill so she and Celia could drill her peephole in order to spy on Xena in her cabin. She found out that there was small crawl space between the floor of the cabins and the ground. She figured she and Celia could squeeze in there. Drill a hole and spy on Xena. It would of course be a perfect vantage point to see Xena's nether region.

"Do you think the carpenter would lend us one of her drills?" Mavis asked Celia.

"A drill? What for?. Oh no. Don't even think it? We are not going to drill a hole in the queen's wall."

"Of course not, silly. We would be caught." Celia's relief was short lived. "No we are going to drill it in her floor. We will peer up at them. No one will see us and it will be the perfect vantage point." Mavis now expected her well deserved praised. She was about to be disappointed.

"You can do whatever you please but count me out. I've lost a tooth, been beaten to a pulp and plucked like a chicken. I've had enough. I'm going down to the stream and soak my aching body." With that Celia marched off towards the stream.

Xena and Gabrielle arrived at their private swimming hole. It was a secluded inlet in the stream that flowed past the Amazon village. It was one of their favorite trysting places and very private.

Gabrielle soon had the blankets arranged and the food set out. Xena tested the water and it was warm and inviting. She turned and looked at her lover and beckoned Gabrielle with a little wave of her hand. Gabrielle came to her and they kissed. Xena then stepped back and smiled. "Ready for a nice dip in the pool." Gabrielle nodded and got undressed, as did Xena. As Xena turned to help Gabrielle into the water, Gabrielle took the opportunity to look Xena over.

"Xena, it's still so strange to see you like that."

"Does it bother you?" Xena asked with some concern. "I never really asked you about your relationship with men. I mean perhaps you don't like being with men. I ? uh? never liked to think about you and Perdicus." Xena ended lamely. Gods this would be a hell of a time to discover she doesn't find me attractive anymore.

Gabrielle looked pensively at Xena. "I only was with one man and that was only for one night. I can hardly judge whether I like being with men or not." Then she gave Xena a sexy little smile. "I do know I love being with you and I think that won't change just because your anatomy has changed." Gabrielle came up to Xena and kissed her. "You taste the same." She then nuzzled her neck. "You smell the same." Then with a devilish glint she grabbed Xena's new appendage and gave it a tiny yank. Xena squeaked in surprise. "You squeal the same, too." With that Gabrielle hastily dove in the water.

"Hey you can't milk that thing, you know," Xena shouted in mock outrage. With that she took after Gabrielle. Soon the two women were cavorting in the water. The two women were like young lovers rediscovering each other's bodies. Soon they were on dry land making love. For the first time Xena entered her lover as a man. Gabrielle welcomed her and the two were joined.

Gabrielle lay on Xena 's chest. "I have an answer for you now," Gabrielle said leaning on her elbow so she could look into Xena's eyes.

"What's the question?" Xena asked a bit sleepily.

"It doesn't bother me that you are different, physically. You make love the same way. With passion and gentleness. You're the same person that I have always loved. I guess it doesn't matter to me what we do together as long as we do it with love. What about you? Was is different for you?"

"Yeah a little. Physically it felt different, not better or worse just different. It appears that you excite me and please me however I love you." Xena then went very serious. "There is one very profound change, however."

Gabrielle looked apprehensively at her lover. "What is it?"

"Well apparently humping like a man makes me really hungry." Xena said gravely. "Let's eat!"

"Do you have to be so crude?" Gabrielle chided in a teasing tone.

"I'm a guy now." Xena burped and held her finger out to Gabrielle, "Pull my finger - go ahead."

Gabrielle swatted the offending digit away and got up to get the picnic basket. Xena now was sitting cross-legged on the blanket and eyed the basket with anticipation. "Xena, do you think we should get dressed before we eat?"

"Why? You'll just get crumbs on your clothes - you know what a sloppy eater you are. So if we are naked it will make cleaning up so much easier." Xena said all this while munching on a chicken leg.

"Oh how thoughtful of you. But you know you're pretty messy yourself." With that Gabrielle smeared a bit of cream from desert on Xena's chest.

Xena looked down at herself but never stopped eating. "Humph, I guess as soon as I refuel here we're going to get that spot cleaned up. Aren't we? Gabrielle, oh look where you just dropped a raisin. I'll have just take care of that in a minute." Xena happily munched away. While Gabrielle began to make certain there was lot of cleaning to do that evening.

Celia relaxed in the stream. The water that was gently flowing around her was just the right temperature to sooth both her aching body and frayed temper. She had even managed to fall asleep for a candle mark or so. She was now in that pleasant twilight state between sleep and wakefulness when she heard stealthy footfalls. She opened one eye and saw Mavis and Hortense standing before her. Celia was not pleased. Oh she was happy enough to see Mavis; she wanted to make up with her anyway but Hortense was another matter entirely. The girl was one of Varia's little sycophants and she was a notorious gossip. She was also Mavis's blood cousin and often tagged along after her. Mavis usually managed to avoid her but obviously not today.

"Feeling better?" Mavis asked shyly.

"Was," Celia answered shortly, eyeing Hortense.

Hortense smiled just a bit too sweetly. She knew how Celia felt about her and she felt the same way about Celia. She however had spent the afternoon with Mavis and from what Mavis was saying, or more precisely what she wasn't saying, she knew something was up with the two friends. Her natural curiosity was aroused and she attached herself to Mavis like a leach in order to find out what was up with the two friends.

"Oh," Mavis was glum. She loved Celia like a sister and wanted to make up with her. "I brought you some supper. It's a pudding with cream and red berries. It's nice and soft. I know your jaw hurts."

Mavis looked so woebegone that Celia had to forgive her. "Thanks. I'm really hungry. I'm sure the pudding will hit the spot." Celia got out of the stream and walked over to where she had some linen to dry herself. She noticed that Hortense was eyeing her speculatively.

"You have something to say," Celia asked Hortense sharply.

"You're not bald down there. I heard the Warrior Princess plucked you like a chicken. I guess its just more hype about the famous Xena." Hortense said obnoxiously.

Celia just rolled her eyes and dressed quickly. She took the covered bowl from Mavis and settled herself down on the ground to eat her dinner. Mavis and Hortense sat down in front of her and took out some snacks and joined her in her meal.

"So what was it like fighting the great warrior princess," Hortense asked. "I mean everyone says she is so great. I think it's just a lot of big talk."

Celia shrugged. "Why ask me? Ask Varia; she's your buddy. Everyone knows Xena kicked her ass. She knows better than me what it's like to get beat by Xena. Xena pulled her punches with me and still whupped me pretty good."

Hortense frowned. Varia was her idol. "You can't talk about Varia like that. She'd still be queen if Xena hadn't had her little lap dog depose her."

"Hortense have you been in the henbane again." Celia sniffed. "Everyone knows that Varia tried to kill Gabrielle right in the middle of a war. She betrayed the sisterhood and got off light. If Gabrielle hadn't forgiven Varia, she would have been exiled. Varia owes her position on the council to Gabrielle. So what's your problem?"

"Xena isn't an Amazon, that's the problem. And Gabrielle is just a wannabe Amazon. They act like they belong and they don't. We don't need them around. Anyway they're weird - one moment they're dead then they're alive - it's spooky. They just aren't normal."

With those words Mavis quickly looked at her friend. Celia gave her friend a warning glance. Now wasn't the time for Mavis to start spouting off her kooky theories, especially not in front of her cousin.

"Xena and Gabrielle have done a lot for the tribe and haven't asked anything in return, except to be left alone." Although Celia's remarks seemed to be directed at Hortense she made sure Mavis knew they were directed at her. "Nobody in our tribe is normal anyway. I like them - Xena is a tough teacher but she's fair and Gabrielle treats everyone like they are the most important person in the tribe."

Celia finished eating and was ready to get back to the village. She quickly got dressed as the other two girls cleaned up the area. Celia started on her way to the village when Mavis called to her to stop.

"I thought while we were out here we could get some berries to take back to our cabin." Mavis said plaintively. She knew Celia was still angry with her and she was desperate to make things right. She knew her friend had a sweet tooth.

Celia wasn't in the mood to spend more time with Hortense but she knew her friend felt badly about her being hurt and having to put up with Hortense was small price to pay to make her friend feel better. "OK, lead on to the berries." Celia said with sigh and a smile.

The three girls now traveled a bit farther down stream when they suddenly heard some odd noises. They stood stock still for a moment. Suddenly the girls realized they were about to interrupt somebody's romantic interlude. Celia and Mavis were embarrassed and were ready to make a hasty retreat when Hortense got a malicious look in her eye and darted forward. The two friends were torn but curiosity got the better of them and they followed their companion.

They crept quietly towards the sounds. They finally reached their quarry and peered over a convenient bush and were surprised to see Xena and Gabrielle naked and making love. The three girls were momentarily spellbound but Celia recovered first and grabbed Mavis and quickly turned away from the couple. She was mortified when she realized Hortense was still watching and she yanked her down by her hair quickly covering her mouth so she couldn't yell.

Celia motioned for them to leave - fast. Hortense was torn but she couldn't wait to get back to camp and tell everyone what she saw. Mavis however refused to leave. She sidled up to Celia and whispered, "Now's our chance. If we just stay longer we'll see Xena naked."

"We've seen her naked and Gabrielle naked and we've seen enough." Celia whispered back frantically.

"No we only got a glimpse. We didn't really see much, if we wait we can see it all." Mavis whispered back stubbornly.

"We aren't?" Celia started to say when suddenly a very naked and irate Xena appeared before the crouching girls providing the proof that Mavis was wanting for. Unfortunately for them Xena also had very large sword in her hand and it looked like she was about to use it.

The girls stared at Xena and her appendage. Celia and Mavis were frozen but not Hortense, who took off like a jackrabbit on speed.

"Ares Balls!" Xena cursed and then grabbed her two captives by their hair and dragged them into the picnic area.

Gabrielle was now hastily putting down her sais and was dressing quickly. When she saw Xena's captives she had the impulse to laugh. The girls were comically terrorized and they couldn't take their eyes off Herb.

"You are a hermadite," Mavis declared triumphantly.

"Hermaphrodite," Celia corrected automatically.

"Am not," Xena declared indignantly. "I'm enchanted." She added with a sniff.

Gabrielle handed Xena her little pouch and Xena put Herb away and quickly dressed. Then the two women turned their attention to their captives.

"Why were you two watching us?" Gabrielle asked quietly.

"Three were watching us. One got away. If I had had my chakram there would now only be two who saw us." Xena added less gently.

Gabrielle gave Xena a warning glance. "Be nice. You're scaring them."

"Good. Little busy bodies should be scared. Don't you know enough to mind your own business and not be snooping around in bushes? You're lucky I've mellowed or you both would be headless now." Xena was not happy, Herb was not happy, and she was determined that these two would be even more unhappy than her or Herb.

"We didn't mean to snoop. We just heard noises and looked. That's all." Celia explained quickly.

Unfortunately Mavis was the soul of honesty. "Well I meant to look." Everyone turned and looked at her. "I knew you were different and you are. You see Celia; I was right. Xena is a man-woman." She then looked expectantly at Xena. "Did you really get yourself pregnant with Eve?" Mavis was really curious about that.

"What? No! That's ridiculous. An angel knocked me up. That's a whole 'nother story." Xena said dismissively.

"Mavis, are you saying that you suspected something was different about Xena? That's why you were spying on us?" Gabrielle was back handling the interrogation.

"Yeah I sort of accidentally bumped into Xena the other day and felt something funny. I told Celia we should investigate. Honestly she didn't want to but I made her help me." Mavis was now spilling the beans. Celia groaned.

"So the short hair pull was a plot." Xena glared at Celia. "Kid you're lucky I didn't know or I would have pulled your innards out instead of your hair." Xena growled.

Gabrielle sighed. As Autolycus would have said, the jig was up. Herb was out of the bag. "OK, you guys now know the truth. Xena is different. Does that make any difference now that you know?"

Celia thought for a moment. It didn't make any difference to her. She didn't care. It was just a surprise and she was curious about how they kept it a secret for so long.

Mavis however did care. Xena was different and she wasn't sure she liked that. After all she was an Amazon and she strove to be like all other Amazons. She wasn't sure that you could be an Amazon and be different. All Amazons were alike weren't they? Mavis stared at Xena and said defiantly "Amazons don't have penises."

"You're right, kid, but I ain't an Amazon, remember. So as a non-Amazon I can have any damn thing I want." Xena answered with equal defiance.

Gabrielle looked at her mate with exasperation. This wasn't going well. Xena was getting more annoyed by the moment and Mavis was getting more petulant. Things were getting out of hand.

Suddenly Celia spoke up. "What did Xena mean when she said she was enchanted?"

Gabrielle looked at Xena. Xena shrugged. "Tell her. Everyone's going to know any way soon enough. I recognized Hortense running away. Everyone in the village will know by the time we get back anyway."

"On the night of my birthday I was visited by Aphrodite. I made a wish that I wanted a baby and so Aphrodite changed Xena so that could happen. Once I'm pregnant Xena goes back to normal. It's that simple." It was far from simple but it was the truth, Gabrielle thought.

"She still has the penis." Mavis pointed out. "Why isn't it gone?"

"Because I'm not pregnant yet," Gabrielle explained patiently.

"You were making love when we saw you. So you should be pregnant. Didn't Xena do it right?" Mavis asked suspiciously.

Xena snarled. "I was doing it right until I was interrupted by three peeping Joxers."

"Xena!" Gabrielle warned again. "It's not that easy. It takes time."

Celia was by now beyond uncomfortable and embarrassed. Why hadn't she told Mavis she was being silly when she thought up her stupid plan? She now fervently wished Mavis would just shut up. They had interfered enough and she was feeling a little sick at her part in the whole affair. "Look we honestly didn't come looking for you. We were just looking for some berries and we stumbled upon you two. We shouldn't have spied on you. We'll just act like nothing happened. OK?"

Gabrielle looked at Xena. Xena just shook her head. "Too late for that. Hortense saw everything and will no doubt tell Varia. She'll probably go straight to the council. Even if Varia doesn't believe her, it will be enough to embarrass us. We'll be called in front of the council to answer questions, whatever happens."

Celia now looked at her elders. "No one will believe Hortense if I say she's nuts and making stuff up. Mavis will back me up, won't you?" Mavis thought for a moment. She didn't know what to do but she didn't want to go against her friend. She finally just nodded her head.

Gabrielle smiled. "No, you won't lie for us. If you are asked, you'll tell the truth. It won't come to that though. If we are called forward we'll just tell them about Aphrodite's gift. Nothing bad will happen. Xena and I will just have to leave the village for a while. Don't worry about it."

"Why didn't you just tell the council about Aphrodite's gift in the first place? Mavis asked Gabrielle.

Xena answered. "Because it wasn't their business. Everyone has the right to privacy. What happened was beyond our control and we would have dealt with it in our own way. There was no reason for Gabrielle to lose her home over this." Xena added sharply.

Gabrielle went over to Xena and placed her hand on her arm and whispered just to her, "You are my home, never forget that."

Xena nodded at this and smiled. She then motioned for the girls to clear up the camp and they started back to the village.

Back at the village Hortense, as predicted, made straight for Varia's cabin. She told the former queen what she saw. Varia didn't know what to make of this. She knew perfectly well that Xena was a woman; she once exchanged clothes with her and saw proof of Xena's womanhood. Yet Hortense was so positive.

"Maybe what you saw wasn't a real penis. It might have been that present you gave Gabrielle at her birthday." Varia said to the excited young woman.

"No! I know what I saw. It was flesh and blood and it looked angry. "

Varia raised her eyebrow at this observation. "You mean Xena looked angry?"

"No, she looked furious, the penis looked angry. I don't know how I know that, but it just did."

Varia didn't quite know what to make of this. Yet where Xena and Gabrielle were concerned anything was possible. After all, this time last year Xena was just a pile of ashes in a pot. If a woman could grow a penis then she would bet Xena could.

Varia considered her possibilities. What to do now? The presence of a man masquerading as a woman in the Amazon camp would be a great scandal. And if a queen were involved then it would be a crime. If she proved Gabrielle had knowingly conspired to keep a man in the village then she would be disgraced. Her prior actions would be suspect and perhaps Varia could once again become a queen. She would call the council together at once and demand an inquiry. If it turned out this tale was untrue she could blame Hortense and still have the satisfaction of embarrassing Gabrielle.


Xena, Gabrielle and the girls arrived back at camp. They sent the girls home and made their way back to their own cabin. Gabrielle looked around their home. She had grown found of the stability it represented but she knew her real home was with Xena. If they had to leave for a while so be it. Her main concern was Xena's desk; she wanted that safe.

"Xena what should we do about the desk?"

Xena looked at her wife and gave a small chuckle. "We are about to be called before the council to explain how I got a penis. And you're worried about that desk. I don't know. I can remove the legs and pack it on a horse and take it with us."

"Take it with us?" Gabrielle asked in surprise. "You know we are going?"

"Yeah, I thought we'd go to my grandparents' farm. It's private, it has a bedroom with a nice sturdy roof, and plenty of chickens - they may be wild by now - but they still lay eggs and can be boiled for soup." Xena seemed very unconcerned about the council's imminent summons.

"You've been thinking about this, haven't you?" Gabrielle observed. "Why didn't you mention this plan before?" It was obvious that Xena had contemplated leaving the village just as she had.

"Because I didn't think we would need it. Gabrielle, I didn't want to take you away from our first real home. You love the Amazons. I like it here too. I figured we would get through this just fine but it's always good to have a back up plan just in case - well - just in case what happened, happened." Xena said with a shrug.

Gabrielle thought about this. "I think that your idea is a good one. I was afraid that you would want to wander around instead of heading somewhere safe and I want you safe. I'm glad you thought of going to the farm." Gabrielle suddenly started to tear up.

Xena went over and put her arms around her. "I promise you I will keep both of us safe. There will be no more wandering around looking for trouble." She then held Gabrielle at arms length and looked seriously at her. "But for the life of me I don't know why you thought living with Amazons was safe. Every time we meet up with them there's some kind of mortal danger involved. Now my poor Herb is in trouble." Xena pouted comically.

Gabrielle laughed despite herself. "Oh poor little Herb." She then patted Herb on his head.

Xena looked askance. "Hey don't wake him up. And by the way, Missy, he is a fine specimen. I never was quite the tart everyone said I was, but I have seen a few specimens in my time. Remember, I was with Iolaus."

Gabrielle suddenly looked interested. "Not Hercules?"

Xena raised an eyebrow and shook her head. "Nope. Didn't you ever notice how big Iolaus's feet are."

Gabrielle looked at Xena with a thoughtful look. Now that was something to think about.

Just then there was a knock at the door. Xena answered it. Before her stood two council guards, who announced they were ordered to the council chambers at once.

Gabrielle looked at Xena and with a sigh and said, "Well I guess its show time."

Xena frowned, "Well I certainly hope not."

Gabrielle gave Xena a startled look as she followed her out the door.

In the council room Cyane, Varia, and the elders were gathered along with an excited Hortense and her two miserable companions. Xena and Gabrielle entered and looked at the assembly. They took their stand before the seated council.

Cyane cleared her throat. "Queen Gabrielle there has been a fantastic charge made tonight. Varia charges that you have knowingly harbored a man in our midst and that man is known as Xena, Warrior Princess. We can hardly give credence to this allegation but there is an eyewitness who has sworn it to be true and has stated that she has corroboration. How do you answer this charge?"

Gabrielle bit her lip. Actually she didn't quite know what to plead. To her Xena was still a woman and not a man at all. But as Xena said the penis pretty much defined manhood. "Guilty." Gabrielle proclaimed.

Xena looked startled, she expected Gabrielle to give an explanation. Her bard hardly ever stopped at one word. She waited for Gabrielle to continue but she was silent.

Ife the healer, suddenly spoke up. "This is absurd. Just last month Xena received a cut to her groin area and I sutured it. She was a woman then. People just don't suddenly grow penises."

Gabrielle turned to Ife, "I beg to differ with you. Sometimes they do. Especially when the goddess Aphrodite enchants them. When a divinity decides to bestow a divine gift on someone, anything is possible. Aphrodite, in her godly wisdom, has decided that Xena and I should have a child, together.

Xena was impressed. Gabrielle was both haughty and regal. There, let the council chew on that awhile. How do you punish people who are favorites of the gods?

Varia suddenly interrupted. "Are you saying you're playing hide the cock on orders from Aphrodite?"

Xena bristled. "Well it's better than hide the arrow in the Queen's back."

Varia made a menacing step towards Xena. Xena gave her a feral smile. "Come on, Varia. It is time for me to knock some humility back into you," Xena thought.

Gabrielle held up her hand. She was taking charge. "Enough. What I am saying is that Aphrodite wanted Xena and I to have a child together, as a gift to me on my birthday. Xena's condition is temporary. Once I am pregnant Xena will go back to the way she was. The only thing that has changed is one part of her anatomy - that's all. We don't consider Xena a man? just a different type of woman."

Cyane frowned. "Gabrielle, there is only one type of woman and it doesn't have a penis. Xena has a penis and she is therefore a man and must be banished at once."

"Very well, we will leave, and once the situation is corrected, we will return." Gabrielle acquiesced. "Oh this was going well" Gabrielle thought. "Banishment for a fortnight or so isn't bad."

"Gabrielle you don't understand. Once Xena is banished she can't come back and if you follow her you will have to abdicate the throne and also be banished from the nation. Furthermore your name will be stricken from the queen's roll. Your acts and accomplishments will be expunged from the records. You and any mention of you will disappear from Amazon history. No one will even dare speak your name." Cyane said all this with authority but with much sadness.

Gabrielle stepped back as if she had been slapped. The Amazons meant so much to her. She didn't mind not being queen - it never meant that much to her - but to have the Amazons deny her existence was beyond comprehension.

Xena was now furious. "Just a minute. Gabrielle has been a queen for more years than most of you have been alive. She fought beside you and led you into battle. She has written your history for all to read. You ungrateful bunch of bitches. Without her there wouldn't be an Amazon nation. Pompey would have sold you off for slaves years ago. Now you want to wipe her from your history. Without her there would be no history."

Xena glared at the council. She looked each woman in the eye. Gabrielle had nursed them when they were sick, comforted them in grief, and celebrated with them in their joys, and now they would turn their backs on her. They were lucky that she was reformed because she was contemplating a slaughter that would have made the old Xena proud.

"This is not right. What has happened to us was not of our choosing. We are not sorry it happened. We want our child. And we will have it. It would be nice if the Amazons could appreciate the miracle that this child will be but if you are so closed minded then perhaps it is best that we leave. You know I don't think you deserve to have Gabrielle as an Amazon."

Xena took Gabrielle by the hand and was about to lead her off when Gabrielle turned back to the council. "What about Xena?" Gabrielle asked.

Cyane was puzzled. "She is to be banished. You know that."

"No, what I mean is, is she to be wiped from Amazon history too? The woman who stopped the war with the centaurs, and defeated Valesca, Pompey, Belleraphon? Is she just going to disappear from your history like she never existed because of a change in her appearance that you don't like?" Gabrielle charged furiously.

Cyane shook her head sadly. "It's the law, Gabrielle. She's a man and his deeds like yours will be forgotten."

Suddenly Mavis spoke up. "She isn't a man."

Everyone turned and looked at the girl. Mavis swallowed and continued. "Well, she's part man but not all man. Part of her is a woman too. I saw her naked and I know what I'm talking about. She can't be completely banished since she is part woman."

"What do you expect us to do? Banish just part of her. That's ridiculous." Varia sneered.

"Just a minute." From the back row of the council stood Kaytal, one of the most senior members of the council. Although never a warrior, she was a leading philosopher and had the most knowledge of Amazon customs and laws. "The girl has brought up an interesting point. If Xena is both man and woman, the female side can't be banished from the tribe without just cause. We must be sure we are doing the wise thing. As Gabrielle has pointed out, Xena has been a great asset to the nation. Gabrielle, as a queen, has also served us well and true. Also is it is very unwise to spurn a gift from a goddess."

"DAMN STRAIGHT!" Suddenly before the council stood Aphrodite dressed in a shocking pink shorts and halter. It was obviously Aphrodite's attempt at fitting in. "I gave my pals a nifty gift and you want to punish them for it. Well all I have to say is Amazonia is going to be a love free zone for a very long time." The goddess then turned to a very startled Xena and Gabrielle. "Come on Sweet pea and Studly I'll zap you anywhere you want to be, along with any furniture or smelly horses you care to bring along."

Xena seized the moment. "Excellent, Aphrodite. You can just take me and Sweetpea out of here and leave the Amazons to be very lonely for the next decade or two. If the Amazons can't be fair why should we be fair? Do your worst, Dite. Nuter'em - oh all except Celia and Mavis, they're good kids." Xena then turned her back and smirked down at Gabrielle and poked her in the ribs. Suddenly Gabrielle was galvanized into action.

"No Xena we can't let that happen. Everyone has the right to love and be loved, even if we are banished and forgotten. I will ask that the Amazons be spared or at least be given the chance to repent of their - BLASPHAMEY." Gabrielle finished with a flourish. She then turned to Xena, quirked an eyebrow and gave a little shrug.

The council was in an uproar. There weren't many gods left and it seemed like a really bad idea to insult the one everyone really liked - especially the Amazons. Yes they were fierce warriors but they also were passionate lovers and no one wanted to lose that aspect of their culture any time soon. A compromise was needed and quick.

Matilda now stood up. She liked both Xena and Gabrielle and she liked sex. The prospect of loosing her friends was sad but loosing sex was a disaster - it was time to take charge. "Gabrielle is right. We are committing blasphemy if we throw Aphrodite's gift out. After all, what do we have to fear from one penis more or less? Hell I've seen plenty in my time - I got seven daughters - and they ain't nothin' to get so riled up about. We can live with a temporary one ?as long as it is temporary. It is temporary, right?" Matilda directed at Aphrodite.

"Yep, as soon it does its job - phtttt - it's gone." Aphrodite assured the council.

"OK, we let it do its job. Once Gabrielle's with child, Xena will be back to normal and we'll make sure of that with a proper medical exam," Matilda looked at Ife who nodded and then at Xena who looked unhappy but nodded too, "We'll consider this matter closed. There won't be any banishment."

Varia, seeing her chances slipping away, now made her objections. "How do we know Gabrielle will get pregnant? This could go one indefinitely. If we are going to allow Xena and Gabrielle to stay there has to be some kind of time limit. Gabrielle must be given a deadline."

"Yes there must be a schedule," Kaytal agreed. "We must know that they are working diligently at their appointed task. They can't just take their time at this. After all they have had at least two weeks to work on it so far and they have nothing to show for it." Kaytal looked at the pair with a hint of disapproval.

Matilda joined Kaytal in voicing her reservations about Xena and Gabrielle's copulating skills. "I had seven men and seven nights and I had seven daughters. I don't see what's taking you two so long. Get a move on for Aphrodite's sake. If you two hadn't been lollygagging around you wouldn't be in this mess." Matilda said in a huff.

Xena had enough. Everyone seemed to be questioning one of her many skills and although a very new skill, she was sure she was doing everything right. Hell she hardly even had a chance to practice this skill. What with being kicked, Gabrielle being out of season, and voyeurs popping up in the midst of lovemaking, someone ought to cut her some slack. Xena was about to explode when Gabrielle gentled her.

"Xena, be good. I think they just want to help. Let them have their moment so they can say they were tough on us." Gabrielle whispered gently to her partner. She then cleared her voice. It was time for tact and diplomacy. "Matilda and Kaytal you are both wise elders of the tribe, what counsel do you offer Cyane? Xena and I will accept your wisdom."

Cyane, who now was relived that she didn't have to banish her two friends, was actually enjoying the show Gabrielle was orchestrating. She also now addressed the two elders, "What do you suggest, ladies?"

Kaytal and Matilda exchanged glances. They were elders and respected but it had been some time since their advice was sought in so public a manner. Matilda now deferred to Kaytal. Kaytal spoke with an authority the shy woman seldom had a chance to exhibit. "When an Amazon goes courting the male she is given eight weeks to accomplish her task. As I understand it, Xena has been in possession of ...uh?her gift for two weeks. So I think the couple should be given six more weeks to rectify the situation. If in that time Xena is still ?uh?encumbered by her enchantment, she should be banished. Gabrielle will then choose whether to follow her or not. If Gabrielle chooses to follow Xena, her and Xena's names will not be stricken from Amazon history. They are too important a part of our people to be wiped from our history - to lose them is to lose a part of ourselves."

Matilda now chimed in, "We also have to make sure these two get at it. So they need a schedule. Havin' babies, missies, is no walk in the park. Hell you know how many guys I had to club on the head before I found seven who could get it up for me. It was hard work let me tell you. Now you two have an advantage. Gabrielle you don't need to club Xena, do you?" Matilda asked. Gabrielle vigorously shook her head. "Now Xena you like sex, don't you? And that gadget works well doesn't it?"

Xena by this time was staring at Matilda in open mouth wonder and managed to give a weak nod but she recovered and added with an enthusiasm, "I love sex and Herbert works great."

The name Herbert startled the assembled council. Someone shouted, "By the gods, they got another one hidden around here!"

Matilda held up her hand to quiet everyone. "It's all right. Xena just probably named that penis. It's not uncommon, for some reason. Now Xena did you name your little guy?" Matilda asked in a disconcertingly motherly fashion.

"Yes, ma'am." Xena answered contritely. She would spend many years living down that slip of the tongue.

"OK, here's my schedule. Anything worth doing requires hard work and dedication. Having babies is no exception. I would say three times a day should get Gabrielle pregnant in no time at all, if you two work at it. Now not that I don't trust you but frankly the younger generation has a tendency to slack off, so every time you two have sex I suggest you ring a bell which will be installed on your front porch. Now that will prove that you are diligently performing your duties." With that Matilda abruptly sat down.

The council chamber was deathly quiet. Xena and Gabrielle were standing in shocked silence. They were prepared to do their duty and were, in fact, looking forward to it and although three times a day was a trifle daunting, it was doable. The bell ringing was not doable and never would be doable. The Amazon's pried into their business enough and they weren't going to announce their most intimate moments to the whole village.

"No bell." Xena announced. "We'll do it three times a day but no ringing the bell. When we do it will be our own business and no one else's."

Matilda now rose again. "Xena we have to make sure you are performing. You haven't been living up to our expectations."

Xena was now angry, "I am living up to Gabrielle's expectations and she's the one who counts."

"The tribe has expectations too and don't forget the nation has a stake in this. If you two are going to breed, get to it. After all it will be a great honor to have Aphrodite's gift in the tribe."

Now Gabrielle was incensed. "Breed! We aren't prize livestock. We want a child because we love each other. Not just to make little Amazons to populate the tribe. We are willing to compromise, but our love lives and any child that is born of that love isn't the property of the Amazons. We will stick to the schedule but no bells."

Ife now rose. It was time for a sensible suggestion. "Perhaps the bell is a bit much, Matilda. How about if you or Xena discreetly report to me that you have fulfilled your obligations. I'll make a note of it in my healer's journal. If there are any questions I will be able to confirm that you two have been ? dutiful."

Gabrielle bit her lip and looked at Xena. Xena mulled this over. "OK, but it better not become common gossip."

Cyane now rose and held up her hand. "I believe we are now in agreement. Xena and Gabrielle will be given a six-week reprieve. During that time they will make every effort to rectify the unusual position they have found themselves in. Is this agreeable to the council?" The council said aye except for Varia but she was out voted. "Xena and Gabrielle do you agree to the schedule and the reporting requirements?" Gabrielle assented. Xena seemed to hesitate but Gabrielle poked her hard and Xena nodded. "Does this satisfy the Goddess of Love?" Cyane now asked Aphrodite.

"Honey, sex with either Xena or Gabrielle three times a day would satisfy anyone." With that Aphrodite gave Xena a saucy wink and disappeared in a shower of rose pedals.

It was Cyane's turn to blush but quickly regained her dignity. "Very well this council is adjourned." She then turned to Xena and Gabrielle, "Ladies? or whatever Xena is, you have work to do, better get at it."

With those words the council members made an indecently hasty retreat leaving Xena and Gabrielle alone in the council hall. Gabrielle stuck her tongue in her cheek and looked at the empty hall. "I think they thought we were going to do it right here."

"Nope, if they thought that they would have stuck around and watched." Xena said sardonically. "But you know this palace is kind of spooky when it's empty. Spooky is good for sex." Xena waggled her eyebrows at Gabrielle.

"No. No danger, no spooky. We go home, to our bed, where we won't be interrupted or spied on." Gabrielle said firmly.

"Dreamer," Xena answered phlegmatically.

So the warrior and bard went home and that night they made love. In the morning they made love. At noon they made love and that night they made love. And so it went for a week. They worked, ate, and made love. They dutifully reported on their conjugal efforts. At first the constant lovemaking was exciting but after the second week there came a subtle shift; sex became just another thing to accomplish during the day. Train the troops, attend council meeting, get naked, have sex, sharpen a sword, write a scroll. And so it went. Sex was becoming boring but more than that it was soon becoming fraught with anxiety because Gabrielle was not pregnant

The two women were dutiful but nothing was happening. Herb was ever ready to carry out his part but by the end of three weeks even he was beginning to look a bit frayed around the edges. Xena being a zealous person tried harder and frankly her lovemaking was becoming predictable. Since sex now had a purpose she was loath to do anything that wasn't going to accomplish that purpose. Xena kept her head down and plowed on with abandon. Unfortunately sex soon became merely a means to a goal. Xena the passionate and considerate lover was no more; in her place was just a stud doing its job.

Gabrielle now was becoming concerned that she would not be able to conceive. This would have been a terrible disappointment under any circumstances, but with the stakes so high, Gabrielle was racked with worry. If she could not conceive, Herb would be with them forever and though she had grown fond of Herb, she wanted Xena back to normal. Not just because Xena should be a woman, but also heterosexual sex was becoming just plain boring. Gabrielle also was concerned about the banishment - she didn't want Xena back on the road again. She had convinced herself that Xena's very safety was some how connected with life in the Amazon village. As Gabrielle became more agitated, the relationship between the two women began to fray around the edges. Oh they were not about to break up but they did snipe at one another more as sex became more of a chore than an expression of love.

In the village the two women's plight became a source of common gossip. At first there was some titillation at their predicament but as the days wore on many became worried about their friends. It was obvious something was wrong. Xena was more irritable than usual. Her frustration was making her troops a nervous wreck; she worked herself and them harder every day and no one knew what new torture awaited them. It was always worse after lunch; Xena would go to Gabrielle and come back even more charged up. It was then that she would spar with the cadets until she had vented every frustration she had. The young women would then limp home too weary to even pursue their own romantic interests. Gabrielle, on the other hand, became more pensive and quiet. The woman who always could be counted on to tell a story or share gossip now was quiet and withdrawn. Something had to be done. Scrolls were consulted and potions brewed. Now was the time for a couple of brave souls to offer up unwanted advice.

Xena had just dismissed the cadets for the day when Matilda approached her. "Xena can I have a word with you?"

"No," Xena answered. She didn't want any words with any one much less the woman who thought up her "schedule".

"I just want to talk to you for a moment."

Xena glared at the older woman but relented. "What is it? I have to get home - I have a job to do." She added sarcastically.

"Uh, how is the job going?" Matilda ventured.

Xena glared at the older woman and said nothing. She hated the fact that everyone in this village seemed to think they could ask the most personal of questions.

"I wasn't just being nosey." Matilda assured Xena.

"Yeah, right." Xena was unconvinced.

"Listen as you know I have seven daughters. Now I know a thing or two about how to get some one pregnant." Matilda drew Xena aside with these words.

Xena shook off Matilda's hand. "No, you know how to get pregnant. You don't know nothin' about how to get some one pregnant." Xena said acerbically.

"Xena, look at me. I'm no great beauty and let's face it I had to do some mighty hard work to get seven guys to make me pregnant. I only had one shot at it every time. So I had a little help in that department." With that Matilda reached into her pouch and brought out a little jar and pressed it into Xena's hand.

Xena had to admit Matilda had a point - the woman was down right ugly yet her seven daughters were some of the most beautiful women she ever saw. She often wondered what magic Matilda possessed that enticed seven obviously handsome men to her bed. Perhaps she held the secret in her hand. Xena cautiously removed the jar's cap. Inside was a cream. It had no odor but when Xena tool a bit on her fingers if made her skin fairly tingle and warmth spread up her arm. "What is that stuff?"

"I don't know. I got it many years ago when I first was trying to breed. It wasn't easy to get guys to - ahhh - want to mate with me - you know even a knife at their throats didn't work." Xena raised an eyebrow at this confession. Matilda continued. "So I was really depressed when I met this old gypsy woman. She saw I was troubled and I told her my problems. She then offered me this cream. A guy rubs this cream on his penis and bang he is up and at 'em in a second."

Xena thrust the jar back at Matilda. "I have no trouble in that department." Xena was offended everyone seemed to question Herb's abilities and it was pissing her off.

"No, Xena, that's just part of the magic. The cream also increases the man's fertility. A little dab on the balls and bang you can make babies every time. That is if your partner is fertile." Matilda eyed Xena speculatively.

Xena was once again peeved. If people weren't casting aspersions on Herb, they were picking on Gabrielle. "Gabrielle is fine. We are just having a few problems, that's all." Xena thought for a moment. "Matilda, I can understand the part where the guy would have an erection and be fertile but why did that make them want to be with you - no offense but does this stuff affect the eyes?"

Matilda gave a raucous laugh. "No offense. Well you do have to be careful. Once you put the cream on you have the overwhelming urge to have sex and you'll do anyone in sight. So make sure only Gabrielle is around when you use it. The effect doesn't last long and once you complete the act the cream stops working."

Xena looked startled at this and quickly wiped her fingers off. She then carefully put the lid back on the jar. She wasn't sure she wanted to use the stuff. There was after all just a touch too much magic in her life as it was, but if this could help them to conceive she would try it. She wanted this whole mess over as soon as possible so she and Gabrielle could relax again.

"I'll try this stuff but let's keep this between ourselves. There are too many people now who know our personal business." Xena warned the older woman.

"Of course. You know, I like you two and I want you to stay here and raise a family. We need more outside blood and you guys are about as outside the box as it gets." Matilda then slapped Xena on the back and strode away.

Gabrielle too was about to get some advice from an elder. Gabrielle was sitting quietly by the stream that ran past the village. She was brooding once again about her inability to conceive and the fact that she was becoming more and more irritable. She was running over the scene she had with Xena just this afternoon after they had their usual midday sex break.

"Where are you going?" Gabrielle snapped at Xena as she was dressing.

"Where do you think? I have cadets to train. I have to get back to the training grounds before I'm late." Xena answered in a rush.

"Can't you just spend a moment here with me? You know you always seem to be in a rush." Gabrielle groused.

"Gabrielle, you know as well as I do, it doesn't matter how much time I spend afterwards nothing really changes." Xena said with finality.

"What do you mean by that?"

"I mean the only thing that matters right now is the act. All the cuddling and mushy stuff isn't going to accomplish our goal here. We did our part for now. Let's now get on with our lives. Hell, it isn't like we aren't going to be here again in about six hours. We can cuddle tonight, all right. I've got work to do now and so do you. Don't you have to be at a council meeting?" Xena was by now exasperated. Once again she had failed and she didn't want to linger at the site of her failure.

"You use to like to be mushy," Gabrielle said sadly.

"We just don't have time for mushy right now. We've got to stick to the plan and get the job done. I'm doing what I can, I'm sorry it's not enough," Xena said with a touch of anger. With those words she slammed out of the house.

Gabrielle sighed. She knew Xena was frustrated and angry at the fact that she was failing Gabrielle. Gabrielle however was also frustrated because she felt the problem was with her and not Xena. She had a secret fear that having Hope damaged her in some way. She just didn't know how she was going to tell Xena that their cause was hopeless and it was her fault.

As Gabrielle stared moodily into the water, she never heard Kaytal approach her from behind. When a hand suddenly gently touched her shoulder, she nearly jumped out of her skin. "I'm sorry, Gabrielle. I just wanted to talk to you for a moment and share some research I've been doing."

Gabrielle wasn't in the mood for conversation but she never could be rude to an elder. She smiled slightly and motioned for the woman to sit beside her. "What have you been researching?"

"Fertility rituals." Kaytal answered with enthusiasm.

Gabrielle stiffened. Did everyone in the village take an interest in her business? Gabrielle was about to tell Kaytal that she had no interest in her research when she suddenly changed her mind. Nothing she and Xena had been doing was working, might as well listen to what Kaytal had to say. "What about them?" Gabrielle asked cautiously.

"Well you know they are very interesting. I know you and Xena have been diligent in you endeavors. Now don't worry. Ife hasn't violated your trust but I know that you two are the kind of people who take your duties seriously." Kaytal awkwardly patted Gabrielle shoulder. Kaytal was not known as a touchy feely type of person, she was after all a scholar and a rather solitary person, but she was compassionate. She also had great sympathy for the young bard. In her younger days she very much wanted to have a child but was just too shy to go mating. She contented herself with teaching but she always regretted that she was childless. She wanted Gabrielle to have an experience she never had the courage to have.

"Yes we have been very diligent, " Gabrielle said with a sad smile. "But it's been no use. I can't?" Gabrielle sniffled quietly.

"Well I have been looking up some incantations and rituals and maybe I have something that can help." Kaytal added briskly. She then unrolled a number of scrolls. Gabrielle just couldn't help herself when she saw the scrolls and was instantly fascinated by them.

Kaytal picked up the first one. "Now have you and Xena offered up prayers to Bacchus, the god of fertility?" Kaytal asked hopefully.

Gabrielle quirked an eyebrow at her friend, "Can't. We killed him. Sorry."

Kaytal was stunned. "I knew you killed Athena, Hephaestus, Artemis, Discord, Poseidon but I didn't know you fought Bacchus too."

"Well it was a long time ago before we ... uhm? killed the others."

Kaytal looked a bit askance at this news. It was a shock to learn that her friends had been in the habit of killing gods. "Oh I see. So prayers to Bacchus won't help."

"Nope," Gabrielle woefully shook her head.

"Kill any Egyptian gods?" Kaytal asked with some trepidation.

"Well just one but he was a bad god and the other gods were really happy. That's how Xena came back to life. So we're in good with Egyptian gods." Gabrielle happily informed Kaytal.

"Well that's very good. Now I asked Ife about Egyptian fertility customs."

"I thought you didn't talk to Ife about us." Gabrielle was now truly annoyed. She had just returned from having a thorough examination by the healer to make sure there was nothing wrong with her. The dusky woman had assured her that she was the picture of health. She trusted the healer to keep her visit private but she seemed to have violated that trust.

"No I didn't talk to her about you. I just said I was researching a scroll on fertility customs," Kaytal explained quickly.

Gabrielle gave her a stern look. "She believed that?"

"Well probably not. She made a point of saying such practices are unscientific and unreliable. But Gabrielle I have been studying magic for many years and there is much in this world that is unknown and mysterious. Anything I suggest won't hurt you and may help. I offer this advice to you out of friendship," Kaytal said with embarrassed sincerity.

Gabrielle was touched by her friend's words. "I believe you." Gabrielle now was ready to give the scholar her undivided attention. "So what do I have to do to appease the Egyptian fertility gods?"

"Now, do you have a cat? Bast, the cat goddess (Kaytal showed Gabrielle a picture from her scroll) is the goddess of fertility and fire protection - uhm interesting combination but then again Athena was the goddess of war, wisdom and weaving. I wonder how these things are decided. Just think how unrelated?"

Gabrielle cleared her throat. Kaytal had a tendency to stray from the topic at hand when her scholarly interests were aroused. "About Bast. I have met her you know. Very nice god as gods go and if I remember correctly she was about to have a litter of kittens when we left Egypt, but we don't have a cat, Kaytal. I'd like to have one but we never settled down long enough to have a pet, except for Argo of course." Gabrielle also had a tendency to stray form the topic at hand.

"Yes pets do take up a lot of your time buts cats are easy to take care of and you know if they are good fire protection perhaps every home should have one. I think I'll make a point of suggesting that at the next council meeting." Kaytal made a note in a small tablet she carried.

There was a moment of silence then Gabrielle asked, "Any other ideas? "

"Oh my yes. You don't need a cat. You can substitute a frog." Kaytal answered after consulting her notes.

"What exactly do I do with the frog? You know once in Gaul we ate frog legs. They didn't agree with Xena at all. You know she has a very sensitive digestive system; she was up all night with gas. It was terrible." Gabrielle confided to Kaytal.

"Uhm yes it's best not to eat foreign foods. Well you're not going to eat the frog. You will catch it and place it under your bed in a whicker basket and if it croaks at climax - you're pregnant."

Gabrielle thought about it. She had a basket and she was sitting next to a stream so a frog was no problem. Making it croak at climax seemed problematic to her. "What else do you have?" Gabrielle asked with interest.

"Hmm, didn't like the frog?" Kaytal asked with a hint of disappointment.

"No, no, I'll do the frog but I'd like another option to go along with the frog." Gabrielle assured her.

"Oh well there's the dance." Kaytal opened another scroll. "But to be frank you have to be very limber to do it. You have to swivel your hips in a seductive manner and at some point bend all the way over, backwards. I don't think?" Kaytal was interrupted by an enthusiastic Gabrielle who grabbed the scroll.

"I can do this? Heck, I've done this." Gabrielle pointed excitedly at the illustrations. "I've done this dance before. I was trying to kill someone at the time but I can adapt and use it to get pregnant. You know I still have my outfit. Xena loved that on me. She has one too - do you think she should dance too?"

"I don't know. It doesn't say anything about the man dancing. But all that bending backwards might not be good for the? appendage. Puts a lot of strain on it and all." Kaytal said seriously.

Gabrielle nodded gravely. "Right. I should dance and Xena should watch. She likes to watch." Gabrielle said with an impish grin.

Kaytal blushed.

"Ok we better find that frog. Does it say what sex the frog should be?" Gabrielle asked with a frown.

"Err, no" Kaytal answered after consulting the scroll.

Gabrielle nodded. "Good. I don't know how to sex a frog anyway." With that Gabrielle waded into the stream and in a matter of minutes she had captured a large slimy bullfrog, who was indignantly croaking his protest. "Good," thought Gabrielle, "the more he croaks the more likely he'll croak at the right moment." Gabrielle was pleased with herself. As a rule she never was one for superstitions or odd rituals but she was desperate. At least catching frogs and planning her fertility dance gave her something to do besides worry.

That evening Xena and Gabrielle were excited. They both had plans that they hoped would end with Gabrielle becoming pregnant. Xena had her little jar ready for use. She was just about to ask Gabrielle if she was ready for bed when her wife suddenly asked Xena to wait for a moment. Gabrielle then disappeared into the bedroom.

In the bedroom Gabrielle retrieved a small basket from a shelf. She then removed the frog from the box she had him in. She made sure it was comfortable and well fed. Unfortunately the frog supped too well and was very sleepy. She was concerned that it was napping too soundly and would not be awake at the proper moment. She gave it a vigorous shake and the frog's eye immediately popped open, and then in a fit of pique, spit in Gabrielle's eye. Gabrielle yelped.

"Is everything all right in there?" Xena asked from the other side of the door.

"Yes, yes I'm fine. I just ?err?bumped myself. I'll be out in a minute. I have a surprise for you." Gabrielle thought for a moment and then shrugged. She grabbed Xena's blue robe and tossed it out to her. "Why don't you get undressed while you wait?" Gabrielle peered at Xena through the crack in the door. She gave Xena what appeared to be a saucy wink but was actually the frog venom tearing her eye.

Xena, however, saw the wink and thought Gabrielle was flirting. She was excited - it had been a while since she and Gabrielle made love. Oh they had sex three times every furking day for three weeks but there wasn't anything erotic about it. Xena now had hopes things were about to change. She quickly got undressed and put on the robe. She then perched seductively on the couch and awaited Gabrielle. She was not disappointed when Gabrielle emerged from the bedroom dressed in her belly dancer's costume. Xena was thrilled beyond words. "Oh man now with this cream and Gabrielle about to strut her stuff, I might get to use that book I bought in India," Xena thought with gleeful lust.

Gabrielle was about to dance when it struck her that she had no music. For a moment a brief flash of panic crossed her face. Xena, however, began to sing a seductive melody. Gabrielle smiled a relieved and sexy smile at her lover who simply nodded back at her.

Gabrielle began to dance to the melody. She seductively swayed her hips and danced in slow erotic movements. Xena sang on and picked up the tempo. Gabrielle knelt before Xena and bowed low to her exposing her cleavage to the entranced warrior. Gabrielle then rose and turned away from Xena, letting her have a good long look at her undulating backside. Xena took that moment to quickly dab the cream on Herb. Things were reaching a fevered pitch. Gabrielle now prepared for the dance's climax and she bent backwards. Suddenly Gabrielle screamed. She was seized with a terrific cramp. She was frozen.

Xena leaped from the couch and caught Gabrielle before she could tumble backwards. "Gabrielle what is it?" she cried in near panic.

"I can't move. My god this hurts." Gabrielle said in anguish.

Xena lifted her up and although she was terribly concerned about Gabrielle's plight she also mortified to discover she was highly aroused. The damn cream had kicked in. Herb was not only at attention he was straining at the reins. Xena was now also in agony.

Xena however steeled herself and carried Gabrielle into their bedroom. She was about the lay the bard down their bed when an enraged bullfrog guarding the bard's pillow confronted her. Xena, now juggling the bard in one arm, tried to throw the frog from the bed but it kept jumping away from her grasp.

"Xena, just put me on the bed and chase the frog later," Gabrielle gasped.

"I don't want that frog near you Gabrielle. They spit and their venom is toxic." Xena explained as she was now trying to find a weapon in order to skewer the frog.

"What do you mean toxic?" Gabrielle asked in alarm.

Xena hoisted Gabrielle a little higher in her arms. "Toxic. It can paralyze a person."

"The frog spit in my eye tonight," Gabrielle said in a frightened voice.

Xena stood stock still for a moment and stared at Gabrielle. "How in the world did that happen?"

"I was shaking it." Gabrielle explained, trying for all the world to make it sound like an everyday occurrence.

"You shouldn't have done that," Xena said matter-of- factly.

"Xena I'm paralyzed. Don't be so calm!"

"It'll wear off soon enough, don't worry." Xena said distractedly. She saw the frog now settle down at the foot of the bed and she seized it and flung it out the window. Xena then laid Gabrielle down on the bed. Laying on her side the bard was just about eye level with Xena's crotch. She yelped, again.

"Xena, by the gods, you're swollen. The frog must have gotten you too. It's enormous." Gabrielle said in wide-eyed astonishment.

Xena stepped back and took a look at herself. She was enormous and it hurt. This was not what she expected at all. She wouldn't use that thing on Gabrielle - not if it guaranteed triplets. Xena blushed. "Matilda gave me a special cream." Xena said simply.

Gabrielle's eyes grew even wider. "Xena I don't think I could?." Gabrielle said with a touch of fear.

"No, no? I didn't realize it would ?do this, honest. I just thought it would make me more potent. I didn't think it would make me gigantic." Xena then grimaced in pain.

"Are you all right," Gabrielle asked in concern.

"Gabrielle will you be all right for a moment," Xena asked hurriedly.

"Yeah the spasm has passed. I can relax now. What's wrong?"

Xena just nodded and quickly stepped into the bathing room. After a few minuets a loud groan was heard and the sound of water splashing. Xena emerged white-faced with her robe open. Herb was hanging limply.

Xena limped over to the bed and lay down beside Gabrielle. "How are you feeling?"

"Sore and stupid. The frog and the dance were fertility stuff." Gabrielle shrugged.

"Oh. The dance was good. Could have lost the frog." Xena sighed.

"Next time, no frogs." Gabrielle giggled. "How about you?"

"I'm OK. Herb is a bit drained," Xena added with a smirk.

Gabrielle and Xena were now facing each other on the bed. "Do you think that we can just forget about sex tonight, Xena? I'm really tired."

"I couldn't if I wanted to," Xena assured Gabrielle. "You know Matilda must be what they meant when they invented the term ball buster," Xena said sleepily and with that the two women touched foreheads and fell asleep.

The next morning Gabrielle awoke cradled in Xena's arms. It was well past sunrise and she looked at her sleeping companion in surprise. Xena however seemed very peaceful. Gabrielle rose slightly and kissed her mate softly on the chin. Xena opened one eye and looked dubiously down at her lover.

"Hey I'm sleeping here," she protested slightly.

"I see. Shouldn't you be up by now doing sword drills, preparing to make cadets miserable, or whatever else you do in the wee dawn," Gabrielle said softly with a hint of gentle sarcasm.

"Not this morning. I'm sleeping in. The sword can rest, the cadets can be happy and the dawn can be wee without me." Xena then snuggled down into the covers and drew Gabrielle closer to her.

Gabrielle was just a bit shocked at Xena's sudden lackadaisical mood. She was pleased but still she was curious. "Xena what's going on? Not that I'm complaining - I love snuggling but I had the impression snuggling wasn't on your agenda lately." Gabrielle felt Xena stiffen slightly at the possible reproach so Gabrielle quickly added, "I'm glad you have changed your agenda. You are very good at snuggling."

Xena relaxed. "I have many skills and snuggling is just one of them. I'll have to use it more. I don't want to get rusty."

Gabrielle was happy to snuggle but now that she was awake she also had an urge to chat. Lately the two hadn't chatted much and morning was the one time the couple usually liked to talk things over.

"I'm sorry about last night," Gabrielle said.

Xena who had her eyes closed now opened one and peered down at her companion. "Sorry for what? The dance was really good. I was enjoying it. I just don't understand why you had the frog?"

"We don't have a cat." Gabrielle said as if that was the obvious answer to Xena's observation.

"OK. If we had a cat there would have been no frog?"

"That's right."

"I don't understand." Xena couldn't wait for Gabrielle's explanation.

"Remember Bast."

"Yeah the cat god from Egypt. Very clean and pregnant," Xena observed.

"She's the goddess of fertility and Kaytal told me you could call upon her if you wanted to get pregnant but you needed a cat to do that. We don't have a cat but you could substitute a frog. Frogs are also fertility symbols. So if you caught a frog and put it under your bed and it croaked when you came, you would get pregnant." Gabrielle was by now embarrassed. The whole thing sounded so absurd.

Xena stroked her chin and thought about that for a moment. "That's mighty iffy. Frogs are notoriously un-cooperative. They are liable just to spit in you eye." Xena said dourly.

Gabrielle looked up at her lover who was being terribly serious. "Yeah I noticed. That's why I took out some insurance. The belly dance was a fertility dance."

"Hmm. I don't know if the dance would have gotten you pregnant but it certainly would have gotten you into the position where pregnancy might indeed have occurred. Why were you doing all this anyway?"

Gabrielle became very silent and began to absently play with Xena's fingers that were holding her around her waist. Gabrielle took a deep breath. It was time to confess her fears. "I was afraid that I was the reason we can't have a child."

Xena interrupted softly, "Gabrielle, who says we can't have a child."

"We've been trying for weeks, Xena. It's obvious that something's wrong and it's me. I know it. When I had Hope I must have injured myself. It was such a traumatic pregnancy - it had to have done some type of damage." Gabrielle said all this in a rush and verging on tears.

Xena gently turned Gabrielle' face to her. "This is nonsense Gabrielle. You can have a child, I'm sure."

"How can you be sure?" Gabrielle asked timorously.

"Well, Aphrodite is a goof but she isn't cruel. She wouldn't have put us in this position if she weren't sure we could carry out the plan. She loves you and she wants you to be happy. She wants you to have a child. With me on the other hand she could just be playing head tricks but not you." Xena logically explained.

Gabrielle thought about this for a moment but then asked, "Xena if you are so sure, why the cream? I know it wasn't for that enormous erection. Was it?" Gabrielle asked wide-eyed.

"NO!" Xena answered quickly. "That was a surprise. My God, Gabrielle I wouldn't do that to you." Xena then took a deep breath. "No I guess I had the same fears as you. I thought I might be the problem. After all I haven't taken very good care of Herb. I got him kicked and I wouldn't let him dance when he just wanted to be happy. So I thought maybe he needed some help. Well now he is just exhausted and won't be up for his duties for awhile." Xena said sadly.

The fact that Xena was still referring to her penis as a third person was really beginning to bother Gabrielle more and more. "Why do you still refer to your penis like it's a person and not part of you?"

Xena shrugged. "Well at first I did it as a joke but actually it doesn't seem like it is part of me. I know it sounds weird but it has it's own little personality and reactions. It is like I have a visitor down there. I've grown fond of him but there is no use getting attached, he'll be gone soon enough."

Gabrielle smiled at Xena's sudden flight of fancy. "Well I guess Herb will be resting today." Gabrielle chuckled, "What will we report about last night and this morning?"

Xena laid out the stark choices. "Well, we can tell Ife the truth. You got frog paralysis while doing a belly dance and I had an erection so big I could have used it in a pole vaunting competition. Or we can simply lie."

Gabrielle thought for a nanosecond. "Let's lie."

"Good choice. As for this morning, well, it's not over yet," Xena raised an eyebrow.

Gabrielle looked at her lover in concern. "Xena, I'm still a bit sore and you said Herb needed his rest."

"Hum. Gabrielle, I never needed a Herb before and what I have in mind might actually make you feel better." Xena grinned lasciviously down at Gabrielle.

Gabrielle smiled her own lascivious smile. "Well, well, I do want to feel better and I can't think of any better remedy than what you can provide. Let's see if we can remember how to make love the old fashioned way."

A candle mark later a contented Gabrielle was lying with Xena's head on her chest. Xena had not lost any of her many skills and she was feeling much better. It was the best sex she had in weeks. Gabrielle was very happy.

Xena too was very happy. She made Gabrielle happy and it was the best sex she had had in weeks. There was no agenda to accomplish and its only goal was to make her lover happy. Xena hadn't been this fulfilled in what seemed like a very long time.

"Xena do you think this counts towards our obligation." Gabrielle asked sleepily not really caring what the answer would be.

"It's sex, Gabrielle. The council oddly enough never stipulated what 'sex' should be, so yes it does count." Xena answered with confidence.

"You would have made a great lawyer." Gabrielle said with just a slight smirk. Xena was only slightly offended but was mollified when Gabrielle decided to try her own oral experiment. The experiment was a resounding success. Xena and Herb were very happy for the rest of the day.

The days now went by with a lot less stress for the couple. They resolved to take it one day at a time and not worry about having a baby. They certainly made love but they now did it at their own pace and in a way that satisfied them. They reported to Ife as ordered but they were adamant about throwing out the schedule. They had their own schedule now and were very content.

The village on the other hand was not content. It began to look to many that Gabrielle could not get pregnant. This concerned many in the village. If Xena remained a man then she would have to go and Gabrielle would surely go with her. This would mean two valuable members of the tribe would be gone and despite what had been decided at the now infamous council meeting, no one really wanted to see that happen.

Mavis was especially worried. She felt a great responsibility for the plight of the village and her two heroes. If had only she and Celia had minded their own business Xena and Gabrielle would never have been exposed. She was determined to find a way to help the queen and her consort. It didn't take long for the girl to come up with a plan. It was brilliant, of course, but it would require Celia's co-operation.

That night Mavis discussed her plan with Celia.

"Celia, we have to do something." Mavis declared as the two women were preparing for bed.

"About what?" Celia answered absently.

"About Xena and Gabrielle, of course."

"I think we have done enough about, or more precisely, to them." Celia answered sharply. "We should leave them alone."

"Well, we are responsible for their problems," Mavis huffed.

"We!? We are responsible? Don't include me. I told you to leave Xena alone. But did you listen - NO! You had to investigate and now the tribe is about to lose them. I think you have done enough." Celia hoped this would end the conversation.

"You're just as responsible as me. You went along with my plan and if you hadn't been soaking in the stream we wouldn't have caught them in the act." Mavis was full of righteous indignation. How dare Celia say it was her fault?

Celia sighed. Mavis was right - if she hadn't listened to her friend in the first place or gone along with her stupid plan, the tribe wouldn't be in trouble now. Although Celia agreed with Mavis, she wasn't about to be lured into another hare brained scheme. "All right! I'm responsible too. Satisfied? Let's get to bed."

Mavis was now somewhat placated. Celia felt guilty too. If she felt she was as responsible as Mavis, then she would just have to go along with her plan to solve Xena and Gabrielle's problem.

"Celia, I have a plan to help Xena and Gabrielle." Mavis stated proudly.

"Good. When you are done carrying it out let me know." Celia stated casually as she got into bed.

"I may need your help." Mavis said quietly.

"No!" Celia said emphatically. "You don't need my help. I'm sure you are perfectly capable of carrying out your plan. So Good Night." Celia blew put the lamp and turned over.

Her friend was undaunted. "Yes I think I am very capable of carrying out my plan but I think Xena and Gabrielle deserve a choice, don't you?"

"Yeah, Yeah. They definitely deserved a choice. Now go to sleep," Celia commanded. Wait! A choice?! Why do they need a choice? A choice about what? OH Gods! Now what!?

Celia hastily sat up and relit the lamp. "What are you talking about?' What choice?"

"Between you and me of course. Now I'm small and blond and look like the queen, just a little, so maybe my baby would look like her. You, however, are tall and dark and your baby would look like Xena, don't you think?" Mavis was very interested in Celia's answer.

"Baby? We don't have any babies." Celia said in trepidation. She knew she wasn't going to like Mavis's plan.

"Well not yet but if my plan works out one of us will." Mavis said reasonably.

"NO, no, no, no, no, no. We will not be having any babies in the near future. Understand. So get that idea out of your pea brain right now."

"You haven't even heard my idea."

"I know what your idea is. You want us to go to Xena and Gabrielle and offer our services as baby makers. Right?"

GOSH! Celia was so smart. Although Mavis was impressed with her friend's deductive abilities, she was disappointed that she didn't get a chance to tell Celia about her brilliant plan. "Well yeah that is the plan but it's a good plan. When the baby's born they will adopt it. See, this solves all the problems," Mavis concluded brightly.

"No it doesn't," Celia answered sharply. "The spell wouldn't be over. Gabrielle has to have the baby. Even if we - no - you have Xena's baby she would she still have," Celia looked around and whispered, "the penis."

Mavis nodded her head thoughtfully. "Yeah that's a toughie but I'm afraid there isn't anything we can do about it. It does appear that Xena is going to be stuck with that thing." Mavis shrugged, "So it might as well be put to good use."

"Huh? What are you talking about? As far as I know Xena is putting it to good use. She is trying to get Gabrielle pregnant."

Mavis shook her head sadly. "But it's not working. I know the queen and her consort are being diligent - that's just the way they are- but it's obvious that Gabrielle can't get pregnant. They will have to leave the village but they can still have a child or even children to raise. That's the least we can do for them." Mavis felt incredibly noble.

Celia felt incredibly exasperated. "What makes you think Gabrielle can't get pregnant?"

"She's old," Mavis answered logically. "Look she was frozen for twenty-five yeas and asleep in a ring of fire for another year. She and Xena went to Japa and wandered around with Xena's pot for two years." Mavis now counted on her fingers. "She has to be over fifty by now. Much too old to have babies."

"Yeah, well Xena is older than Gabrielle so maybe she can't get Gabrielle pregnant," Celia countered.

"Nonsense, men can have babies when they are really old, so that's not it. No I'm afraid Gabrielle has old eggs. What they need are young fresh eggs. That's where we come in."

"Mavis we aren't chickens. These are people you're talking about." Celia was worried that her friend just wasn't dealing with the real world here.

Mavis rolled her eyes. "I'm not a fool. I know we aren't chickens," she answered sarcastically. "But Celia we can give Xena and Gabrielle what they really want - children. Isn't that a good thing?"

Celia was now truly afraid simply because Mavis was almost making sense. If Gabrielle couldn't have children then the couple would have to leave the tribe and they wouldn't even have a child to comfort them. On the other hand she was pretty sure what they wanted and what Aphrodite wanted for them was to have their own child. Nope, Mavis's plan wasn't the answer.

"Look, Mavis your idea makes some sense?" Celia began.

Mavis beamed.

"But there is a problem. How did you plan on telling the queen that she is just too decrepit to get pregnant by her consort? And we are volunteering to bed her mate to do that little job for her."

"Well at dinner, of course. We have a nice dinner tomorrow night and announce our plan." Mavis said brightly.

Celia stared at her friend. "You mean somewhere between the soup and desert you would announce that Xena would be getting one of us pregnant by evening's end. Well that ought to go over well. I don't know whether they will just laugh themselves silly or Gabrielle will have us arrested for treason. No, no we will not be doing this. Understand. By the gods do you realize that you are contemplating not only embarrassing but insulting the queen. Xena gets pissed off when some one gives Gabrielle a joke gift; imagine what she would do if we announce her wife isn't good enough to be the mother of her child. She'll chop us up in little pieces."

"I didn't say she wasn't good enough." Mavis said defensively. "I said she was too old."

"Nice distinction but I doubt if that would go over any better. Listen. Forget about it. It's a bad idea. Let's just go to bed." Celia climbed back into bed.

Mavis bit her lip and said, "I've already invited them to dinner. I slipped a note under their door tonight."

Celia sighed. "Fine, we will have them to dinner. We will however not talk about babies, penises, Gabrielle's advanced age, poultry or anything else that will embarrass the queen or cause Xena to chop off our heads, understand!"

Mavis meekly nodded her head and turned over in her bed. Gosh I thought Celia would have been more altruistic. She'll see- Gabrielle and Xena will be overjoyed when I tell them of my plan. With those happy thoughts Mavis drifted off to sleep.

Celia stared at her friend. Gods what kind of idiot thinks that Xena would ever consider being with any woman except Gabrielle. Celia sighed and turned over and went to sleep.

"All right Varia, why exactly have you called us together in the middle of the night? And why hasn't Gabrielle been summoned to your little gathering." Cyane had just settled down for the night when Varia demanded an extraordinary meeting of the council. She wasn't pleased with the former queen's imperious message and was even less pleased to see that Gabrielle wasn't present. She knew Varia had something unpleasant planned for the queen and her consort. "Oh I know. We're going to plot against her, right? Varia, for the love of Dido, get over this obsession with Gabrielle and let us all go back to bed. I, for one, have someone to get back to." With that, Cyane got up to go.

The others in the council chamber may have shared Cyane's exasperation but they were unwilling to dismiss Varia so unceremoniously. If she called them together at this late hour they had to assume it was important. Matilda sighed and stood, "I want to go back to bed too but we should listen to what Varia has to say. Varia make it short and it better not be another half ass plot against Gabrielle."

Varia smirked but got down to business. "Well I'll be quick. Ladies we are missing a great opportunity and time may well be running out to take advantage of a chance to make the Amazon nation the military power of Greece."

The council now grew deathly quiet. Even Cyane sat back down eager to hear what Varia had to say. Although she never wanted great power she knew that the Amazons were being pressed on all sides. Anything that would make Amazonia more secure had to be taken into consideration. "Varia this better not be about another alliance with Ares. I will not allow this nation to be plunged into war for the sake of the god of war."

"No. This doesn't have anything to do with Ares. This is about Xena," Varia said.

Cyane leaned forward and asked suspiciously, "What about her? Are you suggesting that Xena is going to make us a great power? She doesn't appear to want power."

"No, you're right Xena doesn't want power." Varia conceded. "She however will play a vital part in securing the power of the Amazons - for the future." Varia now turned and faced the assembled elders. "Xena is the greatest warrior in Greece whether she is a man, a woman, or something in between. Imagine a generation of Amazons sired by the fabled Warrior Princess."

Varia now waited for her words to sink in. At first there was a confused hush then the implications of what Varia was proposing struck the assembled elders. The assembly started to excitedly discuss what this would mean to the nation. The prospect of having a warrior stud in their midst never occurred to the Amazons before but now fate had presented them with a unique opportunity.

One of elders rose to question Varia. "I assume you are proposing to have Xena impregnate the fertile women of the village?"

Varia slowly nodded her head.

"That's quite a task - there must be at least forty women of child bearing years in the village right now. "

Varia shrugged, "Well she is Xena. I'm sure she is up to the task."

Another elder rose. "Perhaps. But she hasn't been successful with Gabrielle as of yet." She looked to Ife. "You haven't heard anything to the contrary, have you?"

Ife gulped. "No but ? but they are working on it as we speak. This may be moot by morning. Besides Xena is enchanted. Aphrodite wanted her and Gabrielle to have a child - not Xena and every Amazon in the tribe." Ife could feel things getting out of hand. Her friends were about to be put in a very awkward position by Varia.

Kaytal now leapt to her feet. "Exactly. We have no idea what safeguards Aphrodite put in place. This is insanity to think we could use Aphrodite's blessing for our own purposes."

Varia eyed Kaytal calmly. "Perhaps but we will never know unless we try. As far as we know Xena is fully functional. Her failure with Gabrielle is undoubtedly the queen's fault. I, for one, have always wondered if the queen was woman enough for Xena." The assembly shifted nervously at these words. Although they liked Gabrielle many of the assembly had their doubts about their queen's ability to satisfy the woman who had been notorious for her carnal appetite.

Matilda now rose. She wasn't going to stand for anyone insulting the little queen. "Watch your mouth Varia! I'll have you know that many a time my girls have stood guard outside the queen's hut and they told me that little woman made Xena yell her head off." Satisfied that she had defended Gabrielle's honor, the large woman abruptly sat down. For years afterwards she would wonder why everyone got so deathly quiet after her pronouncement.

Cyane now rose. After giving Matilda a slightly stunned look she asked Varia a question everyone else forgot to ask. "Varia what makes you think Xena will go along with your little plan?"

"Why wouldn't she?" Varia asked with a smirk. She turned and faced her sisters. "Let's face it. We Amazon's talk a lot about having the "Amazon way" with men but really do any of us?" she then spied Matilda, "...ah, I mean, do most of us need to force any man to be with us? Men find us most desirable, why wouldn't Xena?"

"Because she loves Gabrielle." Cyane said succinctly. The queen faced Varia. "Xena has lived among us for a long time and she has never shown the slightest interest in anyone except Gabrielle. As Matilda graphically pointed out, Gabrielle seems to satisfy her in every way. Do you really think Xena is going to betray a woman she has died with and came back from the dead for?" Cyane then gave Varia a sly look, "Even if you offered yourself up to her on a silver platter."

Varia took a step towards the queen. "What are you implying? " She asked tightly.

"Varia I know you aren't the brightest Amazon in this hut, but even you should figure out what I meant. You want to get into Xena's pants. You always had a thing for her and it galls you that she only thought of you as some kid. Don't tell me that you haven't been imagining yourself as the mother of Xena's child." Cyane looked at Varia with a touch of amused pity.

Varia drew herself up. "Yes I do see myself as the perfect mother of Xena's child. No one here can dispute my abilities as a warrior. Who better to raise a child to be a great warrior than me?" Varia let her eyes sweep the room. "My child will lead the Amazons to greatness, especially if she has an army of Xena's offspring to lead."

The council chamber now grew quiet again. Suddenly what seemed like a passably good idea now began to look down right dangerous. Varia apparently had ideas that went far beyond protecting the nation. This was her bid for power. The council didn't like it but the idea of a generation of super Amazon warriors was appealing.

While many of the elders seemed mesmerized by the idea of this new Amazon army, Matilda was disgusted. "Varia are you just plain nuts? Do you really think any Amazon mother is going to let you use her kid as catapult fodder just so that you can be the big power in Greece?" Matilda now looked Varia in the eye. "I'd kill any one who would sacrifice my kids for their own power and I doubt if Xena would feel any different. I can't see her being your stud."

"Besides," Kaytal now spoke up, "I can't see Gabrielle accepting the idea of Xena providing her?uhm?services to the whole Amazon nation. You seem to have forgotten adultery is against the law and you're proposing that Xena should commit that crime on a grand scale."

"It's not a crime if the spouse of the supposed adulterer gives her permission. Tell Gabrielle that if Xena becomes our stud she can stay our little queen emeritus and she will jump at the chance." Varia said slyly. "I think the time has come for the council to decide. Should we allow this golden opportunity to pass us by because of outdated prejudices toward a particular piece of anatomy that has attached itself to an unsuspecting member of our society? Or shall we overcome this prejudice and embrace our new member with enthusiasm and become better for it? I call for a vote on the resolution that we make Xena, consort to the former queen, official stud of the Amazons in order to ensure the prosperity and the power of the Amazon nation for generations to come." Varia finished her statement with a mighty thrust of her fist into the air. The reception to her dramatic statement was met with enthusiasm by about half of the chamber while the rest looked decidedly uncomfortable.

Cyane sat back on her throne and eyed Varia with distaste. Her contempt for the former queen and her brazen attempt to steal both Xena and power was, to Cyane, both appalling and ludicrous. She was however worried that many in the council would find the vision of an army of little Xenas dashing about the countryside thrashing Amazon enemies too appealing to be ignored. If they passed a resolution and demanded that Xena act as the official Amazon stud she was afraid to imagine what Xena and Gabrielle's reaction would be. She had visions of a badly battered council when the couple got the news. At the very least the warrior and her bard would pack their bags and that damn little desk and get the hell out of the village. They were valuable assets to the nation, and her good friends. She had to stop the council from making a horrible mistake.

Cyane was about to make her objections known when Kaytal rose from her seat. "Varia has made a compelling argument for her vision of a new role for Xena in our nation." The council was astonished at Kaytal's words. They knew that the philosopher and teacher had little use for Varia and often spoke about the need for the nation to follow a more peaceful path. Kaytal continued, "But we should not be hasty about passing any resolution. After all we can't compel Xena to ?uh?perform on demand. It might be more productive if someone approached Xena privately about this ? project. If she is amenable there would be no need for a resolution and if she isn't then we are saved the embarrassment of passing a resolution we can't enforce. I propose we send Varia to offer Xena her new position in the Amazon nation."

Varia hastily addressed the council. "I don't know if I am the one who should approach Xena. After all such an important and delicate matter should be handled by...our queen, Cyane," Varia finished brightly.

Cyane sat back on her throne and crossed her arms. "No, I don't think I have the necessary tact for this little job. Varia it's your idea, you should talk to Xena. You're not afraid of her reaction to your proposal, are you? We could send?" Cyane now scanned the room and saw a decidedly grumpy Matilda staring at Varia, "Matilda along to back you up. I'm sure she would be happy to lend you a hand in this endeavor. What do you say?" Cyane asked with a grin.

"Huh," a startled Matilda grunted. "I don't want to be part of this." Matilda almost whined.

"Oh sure you do. I think you would be the perfect person to report Xena's reaction to Varia's plan. I'm sure you would make sure Varia explains her novel idea to the queen's consort and champion." Cyane gave the large woman a little wink.

"Huh," the obtuse woman answered.

"Oh gods," Kaytal muttered. "Matilda you would be a perfect witness to the historic meeting between Varia and Xena."

Matilda still looked confused. Kaytal sighed and then leaned over to her friend and whispered, "You'll get to see Xena beat the crap out of Varia."

"Oh," Matilda said gleefully. "Yes. I'll make sure Xena understands Varia's proposal and I'll make equally sure Varia gets full credit for it."

"Varia I suggest you talk to Xena first thing in the morning," Cyane said quickly. All in favor of sending Varia as an emissary to Xena say yea." A chorus of yeas rang out. "Opposed - nay." Nothing was heard except for a small squeak that may have come from Varia. "The yeas have it." Cyane pronounced and turning to Varia, she clamped her on the shoulder, "Tomorrow you have the honor and pleasure of telling Xena that you have decided that she should become the nation's stud. Now be sure to tell her that you will be her first ?" Cyane winkled her brow, "?. brood Amazon?" Cyane now smiled at the perturbed Amazons who were a little disturbed at the term 'brood Amazon' and then announced "Meeting is adorned."

Gabrielle was staring thoughtfully at the front door when Xena emerged from the bathing room. "What's that?" Xena said pointing to the note in her mate's hand.

"It's an invitation from Mavis. She and Celia have invited us to dinner tonight. She writes that she wants to discuss something important with us. Do you think she and Celia want me to preside over a joining ceremony?" Gabrielle asked as she turned from the door. All thoughts of the young woman's letter fled when she saw Xena wet and naked. Hum, I wonder if we have time for a quickie. Gabrielle frowned for that last couple of days all she could think about was sex and that was odd. Now she never was shy about sex but she was becoming abnormally oversexed, or so she thought.

Xena saw the gleam in the bard's eye and the pensive frown. Xena went over to the bard and gave her a lingering kiss, "Can't now, I have to get going. I'm teaching the girls chobo techniques this morning."

Gabrielle gave her partner a startled look. "Did you read my mind - rather, my perverted mind? You know lately all I want to do is make love with you. Doesn't that bother you?"

"Frankly, no. I'm enjoying it." Xena said with a rakish smile. "I like to think you find me irresistible."

"Xena this isn't normal, is it?" Gabrielle waited for Xena's reassurance.

"Well you have been a bit more randy than usual but considering all we've talked about for the last month has been sex, I don't think it's that odd. Anyway now that we have relaxed and you're used to ole' Herb, I think you're just enjoying yourself more. Also you want that baby and your hormones are kicking in." Xena quickly dressed as she reassured her bard.

"I don't know Xena." Gabrielle looked around and whispered, "It feels like I'm in heat or at least what I think being in heat is like. I mean, I wouldn't know, would I - not being a cat or ? whatever. Gabrielle trailed off realizing she was babbling in embarrassment.

Xena regarded Gabrielle seriously. She took the bard by the hand and led her to the window and studied her eyes. "Oh my, Gabrielle. It looks like you are right. Things aren't right. I fear you're suffering from the effects of the frog spit."

'"What?" Gabrielle exclaimed in alarm.

"Yep you know frogs are very oversexed and now you're sexy like a frog," Xena finished with a toothy grin. Before Gabrielle could stop sputtering Xena made a hasty retreat from the hut.

Xena was in a happy frame of mind as she set off for the practice filed. She was whistling that odd little tune that always meant she was happy. I wish I could remember where I heard that. She loved the fact that she could be silly with Gabrielle and when she caught the bard off guard with some little joke, it always made her day. Her happiness was cut short when she saw Varia approaching her. "Crap," Xena muttered. Gods that woman can kill a good mood.

"Xena!" Varia called out to the warrior. "Matilda and I have something important to talk to you about," Varia announced as they approached Xena.

"It'll have to wait, Varia. I have a class to teach and then I'm going out to check the outposts. Maybe this evening - no wait, I'm busy tonight. Tomorrow." Xena tried to brush pass the woman.

Varia grabbed Xena's arm, which stilled the warrior. Xena gave the younger woman a cold look and Varia wisely let go of Xena. "Xena this is council business. Matilda and I have been ordered to talk to you." Xena raised an eyebrow and looked questioningly at Matilda.

"Actually Varia has been sent to talk to you. I'm just here to watch," Matilda said cryptically.

Xena was puzzled. Varia looked nervous and Matilda looked like Gabrielle did whenever they attended a new play - full of excited anticipation. "Ok," Xena said slowly. "Talk but make it quick."

Varia cleared her throat. "As you know Xena your time with the Amazons is running out. You and Gabrielle have not conceived a baby and soon, in fact in three days, you will be forced to leave the nation. This has been of great concern to the council but?"

"This ain't quick," Xena said sharply. Gods did the whole nation have nothing better to do than worry about our sex life.

"Xena has anybody told you that you are rude." Varia had neither tact nor good sense but she did have a bad temper and Xena's obvious contempt for her was irritating.

"Yeah lots of people, but they're dead now. Want to join them?" Xena said with just a hint of menace.

"Xena please don't kill Varia now. Wait till you hear her out." Matilda pleaded. Both Varia and Xena gave the older woman an odd look. Matilda looked a like a child who was told she might miss the circus.

"Varia get on with it," Matilda ordered the young woman.

"Xena I have come up with a way for you and Gabrielle to stay in the village. All you have to do is agree to father a generation of Amazon warriors." Varia now stepped back and looked expectantly at Xena. Whatever reaction she expected she wasn't prepared for the one she got.

Xena started to laugh. Not just a little laugh of contempt but a full out belly laugh. "Gods Varia, I never took you for a joker but damn it you got one hell of a sense of humor."

Varia's temper got the better of her. "I'm serious. If you want to stay you better listen to my proposal."

"I don't give a rat's ass about your proposal and if Gabrielle and I have to go then we go. Now get out of my way." Xena again tried to walk away but Varia stepped in her way.

"Xena think of the power you would have; the father of a generation of warriors who would make the Amazons rulers of Greece and at their head our daughter. Our daughter, think of that - sired by two great warriors. I'm a fifth generation Amazon - with my linage and your dark power we would be the natural leaders of the Amazons. We would rule the nation through her." Varia's eyes fairly sparkled in anticipation of the bright future she envisioned for her and Xena.

Xena on the other hand had grown cold and leaned in close to Varia. "The child I will father will be with Gabrielle. Our daughter, if we have one, will be anything she wants to be but the one thing she will never be is your pawn."

Varia stepped back and gave Xena a calculating look. "Are you sure Gabrielle will feel the same way? This is the only way she can stay here. I'm sure she would be more than willing to sacrifice a little of your time so she could stay here and be our beloved queen. She'll trade your fidelity for power in a moment. After all, Xena, you have always been her ticket to power in this tribe. She would do anything to keep what she has here."

"You're wrong, Varia" a quiet voice interjected. Everyone turned to see Gabrielle standing at the edge of the clearing. "Xena is not negotiable. I know what I owe her and it's not power or glory but a loving home, and hopefully, a child who will love her for the good person she is. So Varia get away from her or I'll make you wish you never were born."

Now it was Varia's turn to laugh. "Are you threatening me?" she asked incredulously. "Gabrielle, I kicked your ass once and I'll do it again. You're a pathetic excuse for a warrior and a queen."

Matilda was about to intervene when she was startled to hear Xena begin to growl. Once as a girl she had barely escaped a rabid wolf and she would never forget that sound and now forty years later she heard that same sound again from Xena. What surprised her most was that Gabrielle gentled her furious mate with just a touch on her back.

Varia however was oblivious to the danger she was in. "You will never be enough woman for Xena. I am." Varia puffed out her chest. "With Xena by my side I will?." Varia never finished her sentence. Instead she hit the ground with a violent thud.

Everyone turned and looked at Gabrielle who had whacked Varia smartly on the head with a chobo. Gabrielle stared dispassionately at the unconscious woman.

"Well! That was unexpected," Matilda expressed with subdued glee.

"She's right you know." Gabrielle sighed

Xena looked at her wife. "Gabrielle what are you talking about? You know you will be the only person for me."

Gabrielle waved her hand at Xena. "Oh I know that. She was right about kicking my ass. I'm not an idiot Xena. I just decided on a pre-emptive strike."

Xena was impressed. "Excellent strategy. Effective, forceful, and certainly got the job done."

Gabrielle nodded but then frowned. "I didn't kill her, did I?"

Matilda nudged Varia with her foot and the woman groaned. "Nah, head's too hard, but I guess we should get her to the healer." Noticing Celia and Mavis standing spell bound in the bushes she waived them over. "You two get over here and help carry her over to Ife's. Xena, you better take Gabrielle home. She's looking a little green."

Xena eyed Gabrielle with concern. She didn't look good. Oh hell, every time she beats up some slob she gets all guilty and remorseful. I better get her home and take care of her damn conscience. "Come on Gabrielle, we're going home."

Gabrielle was still staring at the downed woman but when Xena spoke she finally looked up. "But you have a class to teach."

"The girls can have a holiday today. Tomorrow I'll let you demonstrate chobo techniques." Xena teased gently. Matilda snickered and even Gabrielle gave Xena a wan smile. Xena then took Gabrielle by the hand and lead her back to their hut.

"All right you two. Mavis you take Varia by the shoulders. Celia get over here and grab that foot and I'll take the other," Matilda ordered. "Now one, two, three lift." With that the three women lifted Varia and started to make their way out of the clearing.

"Uh, Matilda, what happened?" Celia grunted. Varia was heavier than she looked. Their class had been waiting for Xena and when she was late the two girls went looking for her. They arrived at the clearing just in time to see Gabrielle clunk Varia on the head.

"Ah well, Varia said she wanted to have Xena's baby and Gabrielle clobbered her. Hey! Mavis be careful you dropped her," Matilda yelled.

Mavis gulped and eyed the unconscious woman. "Th?That doesn't seem like Gabrielle. I mean to just haul off and hit some one." Mavis took up her burden again.

"Ugh." Matilda grunted as they took off again. "Kid the surest way in this world to get your brains knocked out is to tell some one you want to fuck their mate." Matilda gave Varia a dubious look, "Of course it takes a real jackass to tell some one that."


"Oh for Eli's sake will you stop dropping her. It's going to take all day to get her to the healer if you keep that up," Matilda groused. The women picked up Varia again.

Celia bit her lip. "You know that chobo was my birthday gift to Gabrielle," she said proudly.

Matilda was impressed. "Good weapon." Looking at the rising knot on Varia's head, "very effective. You might have a bright future as a weapons crafter."

Celia beamed. She then gave Mavis a hooded looked. "You know, we gonna have Xena and the queen over for dinner tonight. Maybe Gabrielle will demonstrate her chobo techniques after dinner. Right, Mavis?"


"For the love of the gods, Varia's head ain't that hard. Celia get over there and help Mavis hang on to her." Celia gave Matilda her leg and grabbed Varia's left arm. "OK let's get her to the healer before she looses the few brains she has left."

Xena studied Gabrielle as she sat dejectedly at their kitchen table. "Oh crap! She's going to start crying over slugging that bitch," Xena thought morosely. The only time Xena felt truly helpless was when Gabrielle cried and it was even worse when she was the cause. Why didn't I just slug her myself? Xena sighed. "Gabrielle please don't cry. . . I mean she did want me to fuck ?err make love ?.no ?fuck the whole Amazon nation starting with her. Anyone would have the done the same thing, in your place." Crudely put but accurate.

Gabrielle looked up into Xena's concerned eyes. "I know. But I didn't hit her because I was jealous?"

"I never said you were jealous. I mean you know me, I would never cheat on you even if you gave me permission," Xena frowned. Hmm I never thought I would ever consider getting someone's permission for anything. I guess I am whipped. Surprisingly that thought didn't trouble the warrior at all.

Gabrielle gave a small chuckle, "I don't think I would be giving that permission any time soon. No, you are the most loyal person I know. You would never dishonor me or yourself in any way."

"OK so you aren't feeling bad about hitting Varia because you were jealous. Well she did insult you and you have no reason to feel bad about hitting her. She threatened you and it was a smart move on your part to take her out fast. Not that you needed to, you could have taken her."

Gabrielle gave her partner a dubious look. "Xena, I don't feel bad about hitting Varia. I feel bad about you. I am so ashamed. How can I ever make it up to you?"

Xena looked at her bard in complete astonishment. She quickly ran over the events of the morning in her mind. Let's see Varia offered me the Amazons and herself, I said no, then she offered me the Amazon nation, I said no, Gabrielle arrived, Varia insulted her, I growled and contemplated murder, Gabrielle stopped me from ripping her limb from limb, then she slugged Varia. Nope. Nothing she should be ashamed of here, especially nothing involving me. "I don't understand what you are talking about, sweetheart. You didn't do anything to me."

"I brought you here. I'm so sorry, love," Gabrielle said tearfully.

Xena was confused. She looked around the cabin and for a minute she thought Gabrielle was apologizing for the accommodations. The cabin was really nice, much better than what she ever provided for Gabrielle. "You mean you are sorry we came to live with the Amazons. Why? I know they got a bit carried away over Herb but you know how Amazons are, they're an excitable bunch. So what if they wanted me to breed a tribe of Amazon warriors? I wasn't going to it, so it doesn't matter. And it does make sense in a way. They had me, the retired Destroyer of Nations, on hand; who better to produce a batch of blood-thirsty Amazons?" Xena gave her lover an amiable look.

Gabrielle however was furious and began to pace the room. "Xena how dare you talk about yourself like that? You are not the perfect person to breed bloodthirsty killers. You are the perfect person to raise happy and well-loved children. You were robbed of that chance by Ares and ?by me," Gabrielle suddenly turned from Xena as she thought of poor sweet Solan.

Xena gently turned Gabrielle towards her, "Solan wasn't your fault. Please don't blame yourself anymore. Please," Xena said earnestly. So it was the children that upset Gabrielle so much those unborn Amazons that were going to be used in Varia's wars of conquest. "Gabrielle there is no reason to be upset over something that is never going to happen. I know that the thought of children?"

"No, you just don't get it. I'm not worried about Varia's imaginary army or her phantom child. I am upset that these people who should know you by now would think that you would be content to have children that you could ignore or use for your own purposes. Xena, do you think I am as blind as the Amazons? I see you with the tribe's children. How they gather around you. How you always make time to listen to their stories and take them for a ride on Argo. How at every birthday each child gets a hand made gift from you and how happy they are when they receive something from their hero."

Xena blushed. The children were a soft spot but she had hoped no one would notice, well she was right about everyone else, except Gabrielle. "Yeah they do like those little bows and arrows and spears, don't they," Xena said with a small grin.

"Well, they are Amazons and they love your gifts," Gabrielle studied Xena for a moment and added, "but I have been meaning to talk to about the wisdom of giving sharp pointy things to four year olds."

Xena winched; one small spear caused havoc in one child's hands. "You know Petra will be a champion javelin thrower someday," she said with a pout.

"Yes, I'm sure you're right," Gabrielle said with a small grin. Gabrielle sobered and took her partner's face in her hands, "You are such a good person. I thought the Amazons knew this and I wish you could get that through that thick head of yours. Xena,
I wanted to raise a child with you not just for myself but so that some one else would know your goodness." Gabrielle gently kissed Xena. "And I wanted you to know the kind of person you truly are. The kind, good, loving person?"

Xena swallowed hard and whispered, "Gabrielle with you I may be all those things but you can't ignore my violence. Sometimes I am not good or very nice. The Amazons may be right; perhaps my children would as blood thirsty as I was? look at Eve."

"Then perhaps I shouldn't have children either. I gave birth to Hope?."

"Don't you say that," Xena said angrily. "Hope was never your child. She was a demon from birth and you never raised her. Maybe if you had, if I hadn't?" Xena trailed off.

"No I never raised Hope and you didn't raise Livia, the killer, either. But when you came back into Livia's life your love and forgiveness changed the killer back into the sweet woman Eve was always meant to be. Hope never had a chance because she was missing her soul. Our child will have a soul and she will be shaped by our love and our goodness."

Xena raised an eyebrow, "So she will be pretty special, huh?"

With a twinkle in her eye, "Yes she will - after all she will be the offspring of the Battlin' Bard and Warrior Princess. How can she not be special?"

"Well she could be a he. Would he still be special?" Xena stroked her chin as she eyed Gabrielle.

"Damn straight he would be special. But we won't let on; you know how boys and their egos are. We'll just pretend he is extraordinary then let him know he's special when he is older."

Xena laughed and gave Gabrielle a calculating look. "So you bopped Varia because she insulted me. You mean you weren't just a wee bit jealous over her obvious carnal intentions?"

"Well I can't blame her for something I'm certainly guilty of," Gabrielle said with a saucy grin.

Xena gave her a look of mock shock, "Oh my! You have carnal intentions, I'm shocked, but that does make it convenient since I have the same intentions toward you." Xena looked at her partner lecherously.

"Oh you do, do you? Did you have those intentions toward Varia?" Gabrielle asked innocently.

"Oh gods, Gabrielle, you do know how to spoil a mood." Xena was actually horrified at the thought of she and Varia together.

"Well that's why I'm not jealous. I can't blame her for falling for you. Half the Amazons have fallen in love with you."

Xena now took Gabrielle in her arms and kissed her and said seriously. "No they love XENA, THE WARRIOR PRINCESS. You love Xena, the grumpy, who can be difficult, contrary, and at times, suffers from a very bad digestion, which makes sleeping with her a heroic choice. That's why they could never entice me."

Gabrielle stuck her tongue in her cheek and contemplated Xena, "How's your digestion, today?"

"Great!" Xena answered enthusiastically.

"Then take me to bed, my grumpy warrior, I do believe the frog spit has kicked in."

Xena laughed and did exactly that. The couple spent the day making glorious love and fell soundly asleep. Gabrielle awoke in the early evening and remembered the couple's engagement with Mavis and Celia. "Xena we have to get dressed."

"OK," Xena looked intrigued. "Hmm then I get to undress you again. I like it. Go on. You get dressed and then I'll undress you and then I'll get dressed and you can undress me. Sounds like a plan." Xena was ready to hop out of bed.

"No I'm serious. Remember we are supposed to dine with Mavis and Celia this evening."

"Oh crap," Xena was not happy. "You're disappointing Herb."

Gabrielle patted Xena's arm. "He'll survive," she said flatly.

Xena sighed. It looks like she was going to lose this argument. Damn Gabrielle's good manners.

Gabrielle quickly got out bed. "Oh it's gotten cold." She threw Xena her robe. "You better put this on."

Xena removed the robe from her head were it landed and pulled it on as she got out of bed. She yawned a mighty yawn. The last love making session had really worn Xena out. Oh boy! I'm getting old. I never fell asleep so fast in my life. Hmmm maybe Gabrielle really was affected by the frog spit - she was on fire today. Xena smiled a cocky and satisfied grin, and so was I.

Gabrielle strolled over to Xena and put her arms around her mate. "Now what is that grin for?" She asked slyly.

"You know exactly what it's about. Unfortunately I can't repeat my amazing performance of this afternoon because we must dine with our little Amazon buddies. Unless some one has changed her mind?" Xena gave her bard a hopeful look.

Gabrielle stepped back and gave her warrior a critical look. "You can repeat it tonight when we get home. Right now we are going to get ready for dinner. Now march yourself into the bathing room and take a shower. You smell?sexy but that's not an aroma I want to share."

Xena raised an eyebrow at Gabrielle's comment, "OK and I'll start a fire under the water heater - you need a shower too, my love. I will take a cold shower," Xena leaned down and kissed Gabrielle, "so I can make it through dinner without shocking our little Amazons."

Gabrielle shivered, "It's really chilly, perhaps you should wait until the water warms up before you shower."

"Nah," Xena waived a dismissive hand, "I'm a tough warrior, not some wimpy bard - I thrive on cold showers." Xena then threw back her shoulders, kissed Gabrielle soundly and marched into the bathing room.

Gabrielle smiled and shook her head and left the bedroom to build fires in the kitchen and living room. As she entered the kitchen she heard the shower start and then a startled yelp, tough warrior, my ass!

As Gabrielle began to putter around the kitchen she noticed a note had been left under the door. She went over and opened it. It was from Celia:

Dear Queen Gabrielle and Xena,

Mavis has suddenly been called to visit a sick relative in Corinth and has departed forthwith. I believe she will not be gone long since her departure was unplanned and very hasty. I am sorry we will have to postpone our dinner since I was going to ask you for some tips on chobo fighting. Queen Gabrielle I am so proud that you chose my gift to defend your and Xena's honor today and I know that Mavis was also impressed. Since we will not be having dinner tonight I left some of the vitals we were going to have in a basket on your doorstep. I hope you enjoy them.

Your most loyal subject,

Gabrielle stared curiously at the letter. Nice letter. The Amazon writing master is doing a good job. I'll have to make sure I congratulate Genice. I didn't know Mavis had relatives in Corinth? Hmm? I didn't remember those were Celia's chobos but they did come in handy - it's a good thing Xena forgot them this morning or Varia might have sais sticking out of her.

Suddenly Gabrielle's stomach rumbled and she realized she was very hungry. Sex does build an appetite. She retrieved Celia's basket from the porch and took inventory: a cold chicken, some fruit, little dumplings with red stuff inside (Xena will love that), and nut bread. Gabrielle sniffed the bread - something was missing. It needed something? Suddenly Gabrielle knew what it needed - fish sauce! She rummaged through the cupboards and found the jar. She broke off a piece of bread and poured some fish sauce on it. She tasted it - it was delicious - why hadn't she thought of this before?

Gabrielle picked up the basket and jar of fish sauce and walked back into the bedroom. "Oh Xenaaaa, we can have a repeat performance and we don't even have to stop to?" Gabrielle stopped in mid sentence at the sight of a stunned Xena standing stock still in the middle of the bedroom clutching her robe shut. "Xena, what's wrong?" Gabrielle rushed to her partner's side.

Xena gave Gabrielle a curious look. "He's gone," she said distractedly.

"Who's gone?" Gabrielle was confused; no one could have delivered bad news to Xena without her knowing about it.

"Herb. He's disappeared."

Gabrielle looked wildly around the room. "He's escaped!? We have to find him before an Amazon catches him." Gabrielle was verging on panic.

Gabrielle's distress snapped Xena out of her thrall. She quickly went to her partner, took the basket of food from her and led her to a chair. "Please calm down. Sit here. You shouldn't be carrying this heavy basket," Xena began plumping pillows to put behind Gabrielle's back.

Gabrielle waived Xena away with annoyance. "Stop that! We have to find Herb. The gods only know what those?those?anti-penis Amazons will do to him if they catch him. Xena, we need him in good working order," Gabrielle said desperately.

Xena knelt before Gabrielle and took her face in her hands. "Listen! Herb didn't run away. He's just gone," Xena snapped her fingers, "poof?gone."

"Gone? But we still need him. I mean, if you're a eunuch how can we have a baby?"

Xena was annoyed - everyone seemed to cast aspersions on her masculinity. "I am not a eunuch," Xena proclaimed haughtily. "I'm a woman?again." Xena then parted her robe to prove her word.

Gabrielle gaped at her partner's nether regions. "Xena you are a woman. Do you think??"

"Yep. We are going to have a baby." Xena gently kissed her wife but quickly drew back. "Gabrielle have you been eating something rotten?"

"Xena, you're not rotten," Gabrielle said innocently.

"No, something else," Xena rolled her eyes.

"Oh! Just some nut bread dipped in fish sauce," she held out the tidbit she still had in her hand. "Here, have a bite."

Xena swallowed convulsively, "Nah I'll let you enjoy it." Gabrielle shrugged and took a bite of her treat. Her partner eyed her with a mixture of disgust and admiration for her cast iron stomach. "Now I'm positive - you're pregnant," Xena said under her breath.

Gabrielle held out her hand for Xena. "Come here and sit with me." Xena got up and settled into the chair with Gabrielle on her lap. "What do we do now?"

Xena shrugged. "Well, I've been meaning to put a central heating system in before winter. So I'll get started on that. I want you to be warm during your pregnancy. I'll also need to add a room but that can wait until she's a little older. Of course I can start making some baby clothes and a cradle."

"Oh, woman of many skills, what am I suppose to do while you're building, sewing and carving." Gabrielle asked with a grin. "I assume I could be of some use."

"You will be resting, eating, writing baby stories, and thinking up names. You will be doing the important stuff while I do the boring stuff." Xena said with a lopsided grin.

"Sounds like fun but I meant, what do we do about Varia? I did assault her and I'm sure there will be consequences." Gabrielle was now feeling guilty about whacking Varia on the head.

Xena waived a hand and said airily, "Ah screw the Amazons."

"Xena, we no longer have that option."

Xena raised her eyebrow at that.

"They might demand that we leave the village."

Xena snorted. "Well you aren't going any where. I want you here where you can be cared for. Let's face it, no one can make us do anything we don't want to." Xena's voice grew colder, "if they press the point I'll take it as a challenge to you and I know how to defend my queen."

Gabrielle looked at Xena with a touch of concern. "You said we could go to the farm. Have you changed your mind about that?"

"We can go there but the place needs work. You are not spending a winter there in your condition. We can move there but not until I believe it's safe for you and the baby. I don't want any arguments about this, Gabrielle. I don't want you to worry about Varia or anything else. I'll handle it." Xena was brooking no arguments. She would care for Gabrielle even if she had to challenge every Amazon in the tribe.

Gabrielle bit her lip. She disliked being told what to do but she instinctively knew now wasn't the time to challenge Xena. Her mate was in full protective mode and it would be best to just let her think she won this argument. Time to change the subject. "You know we should tell Aphrodite about the baby."

Xena, startled by the non sequitur, didn't have time to reply because suddenly there was a shower of tiny pink teddy bears. "I think she knows," Xena said dryly as she picked a small bear out of her partner's hair.

With a puff of baby powder, Aphrodite appeared. Aphrodite was dressed for the maternity ward, granny glasses, a pink Mother Hubbard hat on her head, a nurse's apron with tiny safety pins pinned to the bib, and underneath, a pink bustier with blue roses. "Sweetpea, congratulations. I knew Herb could do the job."

Gabrielle jumped up to give Dite a hug but Xena was miffed. "Hey! You don't congratulate the hammer for building the house. I did the job and don't you forget it."

Dite gave Gabby a small wink, "Studly you are so right - it ain't the wand but the magician that does the trick." Dite then turned to Gabrielle. "So, now how do you like your birthday present?" It was obvious that the goddess expected praise.

Gabrielle gave her friend a calculating look then grabbed her by the ears and gave her big kiss on the lips, "This has been the best gift ever."

Aphrodite was shocked by the bard's exuberant kiss but suddenly the goddess screwed up her face, "Ew! What have you been eating?" She gave Xena an evil look.

"Don't look at me. The preggie has been munching on nut bread laced with fish sauce." Xena picked up the treat that Gabrielle had abandoned when Dite popped in and held it out to the goddess, "Here, it'll make a nice change from ambrosia."

Dite sighed. "Very funny. At least Gabby knows how to thank a goddess. What about you?"

Xena gave the goddess a hooded look and rose sinuously from the chair. "Oh I know how to thank a goddess," she said silkily.

Dite gulped and gave Gabrielle a small panicked look. Gabrielle just shrugged. Xena approached the goddess then suddenly gave the deity a hearty slap on the back and a bone-crushing hug. "Thanks Dite. We'll call when the kid needs her diapers changed." Gabrielle and Xena burst into laughter at the goddess's disconcerted look. Then Xena sobered. "I really do thank you. This is not only Gabrielle's dream but you have given me a chance to see a child of mine grow up. Also thanks for knocking me out when Herb left." Xena said with a smile.

"Figured that out, huh? I really didn't know that the transformations would be painful. I couldn't fix that so I just added a sleeping spell so that you wouldn't feel the next transformation." Aphrodite now clapped her hands. "I assume the girl, if it is a girl, will be named after me. Aphrodite, Jr." She gave the couple an expectant look.

Xena stuck her tongue in her cheek and gave Gabrielle a look. Gabrielle scratched her chin, "Well, I don't know, Aphrodite. That's an awful burden to place on a woman - to be named after the Goddess of Love and the most beautiful woman in the world. Don't you think?"

Aphrodite was disappointed but nodded sagely. "Yes that would be an unfair burden. I mean you are both babes and I'm sure your child will be very bodacious but you are right, she'll never be my equal."

Xena gave a quiet sniff at that but remained tactfully quiet.

Aphrodite was disappointed, she wanted to be part of this child's life in some way. "I guess I can settle for being an auntie," she said in a small voice.

Gabrielle regarded the sad goddess with amused sympathy. She looked at Xena who gave a small nod. "Well actually I thought you could be her or his god's mother. If that's alright with you?"

Aphrodite beamed. "Oh boy! That's better than an auntie, right? I'll have responsibilities and duties?this won't be a lot of work will it?" Asked the suddenly concerned goddess.

"No, basically you will just have to come to birthday parties and give presents," the bard reassured Aphrodite.

"Oh I can do that," a relieved Aphrodite said. "In fact I have presents for both of you right now." Unclipping the safety pins from her apron she gave them to Gabrielle, "You'll need these." Then turning to Xena she gave her a small box "I thought you would like a small memento to remember this occasion." With that Aphrodite blink out in shower of tiny blue bears.

Xena shook her head; "I'm going to have a memento in about nine months."

Gabrielle however was trying to figure out the safety pins. Suddenly she stuck herself, "Ouch, these thinks are dangerous. What in the world am I supposed to with these?" Gabrielle asked Xena.

Xena shrugged, "I guess you could use them to pin the diapers but they look kind of dangerous."

Gabrielle went over to the desk and placed the dangerous implements in a drawer. "What did you get? I hope it's more useful than those pins."

Xena shook the box vigorously and then open it. "Herb!" Xena cried happily.

"What !?" cried Gabrielle in concern and ran to Xena. She gingerly took the box from Xena and cautiously peeked in. Sure enough there was Herb or at least a replica of him. He was now a marble statue with wings and four feet. "Xena that is so?"

"Pornographic?" Xena helpfully supplied.

"No?yeah? no, it's just disturbing," a flustered Gabrielle answered. "What are we suppose do with this thing?" Gabrielle asked as she hastily handed it back to Xena.

Xena shrugged and placed it on the nearby desk. The phalluses little legs supported it perfectly. "You could use it as a paper- weight." Gabrielle gave her partner an evil look. "Or perhaps not," Xena added quickly. "I know, we'll put it on the fireplace mantle. It'll make a great conversation piece. I can imagine the Amazons will have a lot to say about it." Xena said with faux seriousness.

Gabrielle gave Xena a dubious look. "I don't know if I can live with Herb staring at me every day from the mantle. I mean it's embarrassing."

"He can't stare, he doesn't have eyes." Xena said reasonably. "Besides when we were in Rome we saw hundreds of these little statues hanging from every doorway we passed. Some were even wind chimes. You weren't embarrassed then."

Gabrielle drew herself up with great dignity, "When in Rome I did as the Romans did. But I was embarrassed - I just tried not to look at them. Didn't you notice how I kept bumping into things? That was because I was trying not to look at those things."

"Oh, I thought you were just clumsy," Xena said seriously. "Well you're going to have to stifle your prudish tendencies because it was a gift from your friend and it would be rude not to display it. You know I always thought good manners were a real bitch but I guess being reformed has changed my outlook," Xena said happily as she placed the statue in a place of honor on the mantle.

Gabrielle and Xena awoke late the next day. They had spent the remainder of the evening playfully arguing over Herb's new status as family heirloom and making plans for the new baby. Xena went into great detail about how she was going to heat the family hut with hot water piped under the floors. Gabrielle much to her surprise found the subject fascinating, probably because she found everything about Xena fascinating. Between discussing phalluses and plumbing, Gabrielle came up with baby names, Ephiny Cyrene if a girl and Lyceus Herodotus if a boy. Xena was touched that Gabrielle thought so highly of her family that she chose the names without even consulting her. The evening passed quickly and the two women retired to their bed for some celebratory lovemaking.

The couple was just finishing a late breakfast when there was a knock at the door. Xena answered it and was surprised to see Cyane standing on the threshold. What puzzled Xena more than the queen's appearance at her door was her obvious nervousness.

"Xena, I need to talk to you and Gabrielle for a minute. If you don't mind." Cyane was not looking forward to this conversation and it showed.

Xena sighed, "I guess this is about yesterday. Well come in." As Cyane entered the house Xena caught her arm and hissed under her breath, "Don't upset Gabrielle, understand!"

Cyane was startled at Xena's vehemence but silently nodded her head. Oh boy, this is going to be more difficult than I thought, and more dangerous if that look Xena gave me is any indication.

Gabrielle rose from the table to greet her friend and urged her to take a seat. "I guess this is about what happened yesterday. Let me say right off that I am sorry I struck Varia, it was the wrong thing to do."

"Bullshit. She propositioned me right in front of you and threatened to kick your ass. She's damn lucky it wasn't you she was trying to get into bed or she would be the main guest at an Amazon funeral." Xena fumed. "You had every right to knock her on her arrogant ass."

"Xena! I didn't have the right to hit her. Granted, she probably was asking for it and it certainly felt good at the time, but I was wrong. I'll submit to any punishment that is warranted, Cyane."

Cyane scratched the back of neck. "Well I'm not exactly here about Varia. I'm here because according to the calendar today is the deadline for your pregnancy and we need an answer about Xena?uh?about Xena?doing..uh?

"The Amazons, " Xena supplied helpfully.

Cyane gave Xena an embarrassed look, "Basically yeah."

"Can't," Xena said as she settled herself in her favorite chair.

"I see," Cyane sighed. "Then I guess you will be leaving the Amazons." Looking at Gabrielle, "I guess you'll be going with her."

"Where Xena goes, I go," Gabrielle settled herself in Xena's lap.

"Of course," a resigned Cyane sighed. She then addressed Xena again, "I know this is a lot to ask, but would you reconsider your decision."

"Well if you had asked me yesterday to reconsider my decision, I would have, but I still wouldn't have changed my mind. Today, I wouldn't have reconsidered my decision if I could have, but now I couldn't even if I wanted to, which I don't. Understand?" Xena looked at Cyane intently.

"What? No I don't understand." Looking at Gabrielle, "What in Hades is she talking about?"

Gabrielle gave her partner an exasperated look, "Xena is trying to be funny. Xena can't father any Amazons because she has lost her penis," Gabrielle explained.

"People don't just lose penises," Cyane said suspiciously.

Xena sighed. These people had a real problem understanding the concept of enchantment. "Cyane go over to the mantle and take a look." Xena waved at the fireplace.

Cyane gave Xena a curious look but went over to the mantle and looked. "Yikkes! What is that?"

"That is my penis or a representation thereof, I'm not sure which," admitted Xena. "It was gift from Aphrodite. Gabrielle, tell her why we got such an unusual gift." Xena now handed the ball over to Gabrielle.

Gabrielle smiled slightly at Xena and whispered, "You were right, it is a great conversation piece." She then turned to Cyane, "Xena lost her penis because I am pregnant. That is Aphrodite's baby shower gift."

Cyane, still mesmerized by the winged phallus, took a few moments to process the information but finally what Gabrielle said registered. Cyane strode over to friends and took Gabrielle in a huge bear hug and gave Xena a hardy handshake. "This is wonderful news and it's a load off my mind."

Both Xena and Gabrielle raised their eyebrows at this declaration. In unison they said "Off your mind!"

"Oh gods yes! Haven't you noticed that nothing's been getting done around here? Everyone has been obsessing about Xena's penis, whether Gabrielle's pregnant today, if Xena could or would spawn a herd of Amazon warriors, worrying about how much everyone would miss both of you if you left. Gods, it's been a traumatic time for the Amazons." Cyane sat down with an exhausted sigh.

"Sorry to put the tribe through so much," Xena said sarcastically. "If we would have known we would be causing so much worry we would have tried to keep things private. Oh wait! We did, but everyone had to know everything about us."

"I'm sorry. I know you think we pay too much attention to your personal life but mainly the women have been worried about you two. I don't know how to explain it but your plight hit very close to home for a lot of Amazons. We do worry a lot about having children and we do consider it a tremendous disappointment when we can't have them. We are, after all, women before we are warriors and most of us yearn for children. When you were having problems it reminded us just how much a child means to us. I also think a few us got a bit giddy at the prospect of having a means of having a child right at our fingertips," Cyane gave Xena a rueful shrug. "Can you forgive us?"

Gabrielle smiled at Cyane, "Of course we can. We just never understood why the Amazons were so interested in our plight, besides the obvious novelty of the situation. I guess I understand better now. However it's going to take me a bit of time to get over the fact everyone wanted to bed my mate. That annoyed me to no end," Gabrielle huffed.

"Possessive little thing, isn't she?" Xena gave Cyane a smug little smile and then settled her arms around her wife's waist.

Cyane shrugged and gave Xena a little smirk, "Well, not everyone wanted to sleep with you. I certainly never did."

Xena gave the queen a little nod but Gabrielle was not so sanguine, "Why not?" Gabrielle demanded. "Xena's wonderful. You should be so lucky to have her in your bed." Gabrielle suddenly frowned as the two women stared at her. "I mean ?uh?not that I want her to be in your bed?but?that?she's really good in bed?uh?I mean ?uh?"

Xena patted her lover on the back. "Baby you're going to hurt yourself. I know what you mean - I'm wonderful and everyone should want me but they should keep it to themselves," Xena said slyly. "I'm sure Cyane just meant she had too much respect for you and her own mate to want to sleep with me. Right?"

"Exactly. I meant no disrespect to Xena." Cyane looked at the couple. Gabrielle seemed mollified and Xena was looking at her mate with amused affection.

"So, now that Gabrielle's pregnant and Herb is just an interesting keepsake on the mantle is our problem with the Amazon nation over?" Xena asked.

"Well once the pregnancy and your womanhood is confirmed by Ife," Cyane answered. Xena gave the queen and exasperated look. "Xena, the council is going to want confirmation, I'm sorry."

Gabrielle now spoke up. "Xena, I want to visit Varia anyway. So when we go to the hospice, Ife can examine you."

"Don't want to be examined," Xena pouted. "You examined me in the bedroom and Aphrodite gave us little Herb. That should be good enough for the council."

Gabrielle sighed. Xena was going to be difficult. "Yes that should be enough but the council needs an official verification because they are an officious bunch of biddies, OK. Also I want to make sure you are all right. After all you've had your innards rearranged twice and I want to make sure there aren't going to be any after effects."

Xena took on a long suffering look, "Well if it makes you happy, I'll do it, but as far as the council is concern they can go straight to ?" Xena's tirade was halted by Gabrielle's hand which covered her mouth.

"Yes dear, we get the idea - you're not happy." Gabrielle got up and pulled Xena up with her. "Come on we might as well get this over with. Don't forget I have to face Varia. I doubt if she is going to be happy to see me." Gabrielle then got a wicked look in her eye, "On the bright side, I get to tell her she will never ever have the opportunity again to even think about getting you into her bed."

Ife was just finishing up her morning notes on her only patient, Varia. She was worried about the Amazon's condition. Although she was recovering well from the blows to her head inflicted by Gabrielle and the clumsy Amazons that brought her to the infirmary, Varia was not herself. The healer was puzzled and was about to examine her patient again when Gabrielle, Xena and Cyane entered the hospice.

"Ife, I'm sorry to disturb you but Xena needs your professional services and I want to visit Varia, if I may?" Gabrielle said quietly not wanting to disturb any patients in the hospital.

Ife gave Xena a concerned look but other than looking profoundly annoyed the warrior seemed fine. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing," Xena said curtly. "Just my wife being overly cautious and the Amazon council being a pain in the ass." Xena drug a chair out and abruptly sat down.

Gabrielle gave Xena an annoyed look. "I'm not being overly cautious." Turning to Ife, "We have some very good news, I'm pregnant and Xena's a woman again."

"Oh that's wonderful. But why does Xena need an examination?" Ife asked.

Cyane now spoke up, "Because you have to certify her return to womanhood."

"And I want to make sure all that shuffling around with body parts didn't hurt Xena," Gabrielle added.

Ife shrugged, she had nothing better to do and it would keep her from worrying about Varia. "OK. Do you want to be with her while I do this?"

"I know she's a woman. I've seen the proof." Gabrielle said with a little smirk. "No I want to see Varia and apologize for hitting her. How is she?" Gabrielle was guilty and worried about her former friend.

Ife scratched her chin. "Physically she is fine and is nearly recovered from her injuries." At the word "injuries" Gabrielle looked puzzled. "Apparently Varia was dropped four or five times before she got to the hospice," Ife explained. She gave Xena a stern look when the warrior started to snicker. "It's her mental state that puzzles me. She's just not herself. Gabrielle, I'd appreciate you opinion after you're through with your visit."

Gabrielle now was really worried. "Are you sure she will see me? I don't want to upset her. I'm sure she is furious with me."

"Ah hell, she's always furious about something," Xena mumbled from her chair. Everyone turned and gave Xena a dour look. Xena would not be stifled. "Look Varia's been in a perpetual bad mood since we've been here. I don't give a rat's ass about her mental state." She then addressed her wife, "I know you - you'll get all guilty and remorseful and feel bad about slugging that bitch. I don't want you upset especially not now."

Gabrielle looked fondly at Xena but she had that stubborn look her partner both hated and loved. "I have to do this. I won't let her upset me I promise. Xena, while I'm visiting go have your exam. Cyane go with her."

"Why does Cyane have to go with me?" Xena asked indignantly.

"Because the council might want another witness, that's why," Gabrielle's temper was beginning to fray. She was nervous and didn't feel well. The fish sauce with eggs might have been a mistake this morning.

Xena decided to be petulant. "Oh great! When I was a man you hit people who wanted to see me naked but now that I'm a woman everyone can take a peek at me. Cyane why not run out and get the council in here. We can sell tickets."

"Xena! Shut up and get in the examination room," Gabrielle rasped.

Ife and Cyane were stunned. They never heard anyone tell Xena to shut up, and from the look of fury in Xena's eye, she hadn't either. Suddenly the anger left Xena and she shrugged. She motioned to Cyane and Ife, "Come on Doc lets get this over with." Xena meekly went into the exam room, but as she went, she whispered to both women. "Mood swings. Very bad. Should've seen what I did to Corinth when I was carrying Solon."

Gabrielle watched her partner enter the exam room. She then turned to the door of Varia's room and with a sigh she pushed the door open and peeked in. She didn't know what she expected, but from the Egyptian healer's words, she felt whatever it would be, it wouldn't be good. Therefore she was surprised to see Varia happily fletching some arrows and humming a little tune.

"Varia, may I come in?" Gabrielle asked hesitantly. She was stunned when Varia gave her a big smile and waived her into the room.

"Of course. Sit down. I'm really glad you came to visit. I wanted to talk to you about yesterday," Varia said.

"Yes, yes. I wanted to talk to you too. I wanted to say that I'm sorry about hitting you." Gabrielle was straightforward but she had a hard time meeting her victim's eyes.

"Gabrielle, look at me." Gabrielle lifted her head and was surprised to see compassion in the brown eyes looking back at her. "First off, let me say that I don't think you owe me an apology. I've been a first class bitch for some time and it was only a matter of time before some one knocked me on my ass. As for yesterday I did threaten you so I guess you were only defending yourself."

Gabrielle shook her head. "No I hit you for a lot of reasons and the threat was only one and even that doesn't excuse my attack. I still want to say I'm sorry and if you want to press charges against me with the council, I'll accept my punishment."

Varia smiled, "Let's see the punishment for assault and battery is flogging." Gabrielle looked startled. "But I can't see the council sentencing a pregnant woman to that." Gabrielle again looked startled. "The walls are very thin here. I heard everything." Varia explained. "Also I can't see Xena calmly accepting that sentence. So I think it would be a waste of time to press charges, even if I thought I should and I most certainly don't think that." Varia said with unusual serenity.

Gabrielle looked at Varia with astonishment. The woman who was sitting before her was certainly very different from the woman she had known over the past year. Even when they had been friends, Varia had been short tempered, difficult, and arrogant. This Varia was confident like the old Varia but she now had an air of maturity about her. Gabrielle scratched the back of her neck; she was confused, "Varia are you sure you are feeling alright? I mean you don't seem like yourself."

"You mean I'm not bitter and angry. No, I have had an epiphany."

Gabrielle actually jerked when she heard the word "epiphany". The bard was astonished to even think that Varia knew the word much less what it meant. "What kind of epiphany?" Gabrielle asked with some trepidation.

The young warrior settled back and explained, "Gabrielle I have been examining my life. You know I thought I was angry because I lost the throne. But that wasn't the real reason. My anger came from my subconscious recognition that I failed as queen. I made just awful choices - I followed Ares, I allowed Belleraphon to convince me to kill you - heck I couldn't even secure the tribe's borders. Let's face it; I was a lousy queen. I just don't have the temperament or judgment to be a queen. I couldn't face that so instead I decided to play the victim making myself and everyone around me miserable. I am now ready to face reality. I have analyzed my strengths and weaknesses and although I was and would always be a rotten queen, I would make a dandy weapon's master." Waiving the arrow at Gabrielle, Varia concluded, "I am working towards that goal right now."

Gabrielle gaped at Varia. "So you have completely re-examined your entire life and chosen a new life path since yesterday morning; all this while recuperating from a half dozen blows to the head."

"Oh, I had help," Varia replied.


"I had a dream in which I was lying on a pink leather couch. A woman was talking to me; asking me all kinds of questions about my life. I told her everything and slowly I began to realize how miserable I was and that my recovery was my own responsibility. I alone was the key to my own happiness. Once I recognized my weaknesses and my strengths and made decisions accordingly, I would be happy. That's why I'm fletching arrows," Varia concluded happily.

Gabrielle shook her head as if to clear it. "What did this woman look like?"

"Don't know. She was just out of my line of sight. But she was very wise and smelled like rose water," Varia said dreamily.

Gabrielle sat back and contemplated the happy warrior. Aphrodite you're simply amazing.

"Varia I am truly happy that you have had an epiphany. I hope everything works out for you as weapon's master," Gabrielle was still a little nonplussed at how the visit was turning out.

"Gabrielle, I hope that we can be friends again. I really do want to be your friend and in that vein I would like to confess something to you."

"OK," the bard said curiously.

"Remember when I said I could kick your ass?"


"Well I can't."

Gabrielle shrugged her shoulders. "Sure you can. You don't have to say that. You beat the crap out of me in the challenge fight. I don't hold that against you."

"I had help in that fight."

"What?" Gabrielle gave Varia a puzzled look then the penny dropped. "Ares!"

"When we were fighting Ares gave me a power boost."

"That dirty low-down son of a bitch bastard," Gabrielle hissed.

Varia cocked her head at the bard, "Funny, he said you would say that."

Cyane, having seen proof of Xena's womanhood, now could report to the council that all was well. Gabrielle was pregnant and the couple would be staying in the village. The council received the news with great joy and much relief. Relief predicated not only on the fact Xena and Gabrielle could now stay in the village but also on the fact the tribe would not have to cope with a generation of warrior princesses. Even those who were most enthusiastic about Varia's proposal began to consider that one warrior princess was a handful and whole generation might be unmanageable. However what worried them most was the thought that the warrior princess generation might be attracted to warrior bards. The elders were certain the Amazons could not survive a whole nation of Xenas and Gabrielles.

As for Xena and Gabrielle, once Xena promised that she would make sure Ares paid for his little prank, the couple settled down to preparing for the baby. Xena was a whirlwind of activity. She did put in central heat, which kept her bard nice and warm during the long winter. Xena also carved a beautiful cradle which was big enough to hold two since it was the warrior's opinion that any pregnant woman who ate as much as Gabrielle was going to have twins or a humongous infant (she naturally kept the humongous part to herself.). As for Gabrielle, she sat at her little desk and wrote scrolls and scrolls of children stories and when she became bored with that, Xena taught her to knit. Gabrielle loved knitting especially the pearling part and soon there were enough baby clothes to outfit quadruplets.

As for Xena and Gabrielle's friends, they too were very happy. Celia retrieved Mavis from the swamp where she was hiding. There were of course no relatives in Corinth just one scared Amazon terrified of a small jealous queen. Matilda and Kaytal were both sure that their creams and rituals were the real reason behind the bard's pregnancy and therefore saw themselves as grandmothers to be. Varia's good mood stayed on and she did become weapons master. As for Ife, she was so fascinated by Varia's epiphany that she decided to make a case study of the Amazon's behavior. She studied the Amazon so closely the inevitable happened - the healer and Varia fell in love. They made a very cute couple and Xena and Gabrielle stood up with them at their wedding.

As winter ended Xena and Gabrielle awaited the birth of their child with more and more eagerness. Much to Gabrielle's surprise Xena insisted that they attend special birthing classes that Ife held for expectant parents. Although Gabrielle enjoyed talking to the other expectant mothers she secretly thought all that panting and pushing was a little silly. Xena, on the other hand, took the classes very seriously. Gabrielle was a good sport about it until the day came that they had to bring something to class for the expectant mothers to focus on.

"You are not going to take that to class," Gabrielle was stunned to see what Xena had chosen as her focal point.

"Why not?" Xena asked curiously. "It's perfect. It's just the right size and it has great meaning to us. Ife said we should bring something of importance in our lives. I'd say this was pretty important."

"You can't take a statue of a penis into a room full of pregnant Amazons," Gabrielle said calmly.

"Why not? It isn't like they've never seen one before. I mean how do you think they wound up in a birthing class in the first place," Xena said reasonably.

Gabrielle scratched the back of her neck. Xena had a point but still? "You know Amazons just don't like to admit that they had to rely on one of those to get pregnant,"

"Well they did and they will just have to get over it. Herb was an important participant in making us a family and I think he should be there in the end." Xena's sense of justice was now aroused. True Herb was just a stone statue but she felt he would somehow be insulted if he weren't in at the culmination of all his hard work. It was irrational but that was how she felt, damnit.

Gabrielle sighed, "They are going to absolutely freak when they see that? Herb." She then gave Xena a sharp look; "You know I thought it was odd you should sign us up for this class. You are not a joiner but you were awfully anxious to get into this class. Xena, did you sign us up knowing you were eventually going to get a chance to freak out a whole bunch of Amazons when you produced Herb in the middle of class one day?"

Xena was the picture of wounded innocence. "Gabrielle I'm shocked and hurt that you would think I would use the birth of our baby as an excuse to play a juvenile prank on poor unsuspecting Amazons. I just thought it would be useful to know how to deliver a baby when no one was trying to kill us."

"Ah uh," Gabrielle nodded. Although still unconvinced about Xena's sincerity, she wasn't going to make it an issue. After all Xena was right, Herb was a reminder that their child was a true miracle and should be at the birth. Gabrielle also couldn't wait to see the Amazons freak. "OK. Lets get to class but please put ? him? in a sack until we need him."

"I got his pouch, right here," Xena dangled his cloth bag in front of Gabrielle.

"Great, let's go," a resigned Gabrielle said. As the bard turned to open the door she briefly saw Xena's evil smile as she tied the pouch to her belt but Gabrielle decided it would be best to ignore it.

When Xena produced Herb at the class, the Amazons did freak. In fact there was such uproar Xena and Gabrielle were banned from the class. It didn't really bother either woman too much since the sight of the enraged Amazons was very entertaining. Besides both women felt they were well prepared for the birth of their child. Now it was just a waiting game, a game that Xena took very seriously. The emperor of Rome could not have had a more dedicated guard than Gabrielle had in Xena.

In fact Xena's vigilance just about drove Gabrielle crazy. Every time the bard winced or burped Xena was at her side ready to carry her to bed. She watched her wife like a hawk and if for some reason she couldn't be with Gabrielle, the every helpful Mavis was called in to watch over her. Gabrielle's nerves were just beginning to fray when the waiting was suddenly over.

"Xena!" the bard called one morning.

Xena dashed into the kitchen and immediately saw that Gabrielle's water had broken. She picked Gabrielle up and started to carry her into the bedroom. "Don't worry, sweetheart, everything will be fine. I'll send for Ife."

"I don't want Ife," Gabrielle said plaintively just as a contraction hit. "I want you to deliver the baby, please."

Xena placed her bard on their bed and contemplated her wife. Now this was an unexpected complication. Xena had plans laid out. The toweling and linens were ready. Herb was waiting by the bed. Celia was sitting on the front porch steps ready to dash off to the healer as soon as Xena gave the signal. Ife would deliver the baby and Xena would help if necessary but her main job was to comfort and support Gabrielle. The warrior was sure she had explained all this to her partner.

"This isn't the plan. Ife is going to deliver the baby. We worked this out, remember," Xena said calmly.

"Screw the plan," Gabrielle nearly shouted as a stronger contraction hit. "I want this baby out now."

"Gabrielle, the only babies I have ever delivered had four feet and a tail and I used sharp weapons to do it." Xena was exasperated. "Now either I call Ife or I start sharpening my chakram. Your choice." Xena then whipped out her chakram and stood over the bard.

"Ife! I choose Ife," the bard said forcefully.

"Good choice. Now try to relax and I'll be right back." Xena gave the bard a quick kiss and then ran to the front and shouted to Celia, "Go."

Celia was off as if she had been shot from a bow. The young Amazon made an amazing run to the healer's hut where Ife, having heard Xena's shout, was already starting on her way. Celia grabbed the healer's hand and took off with her and they made it back to Xena and Gabrielle in record time. Out of breath but ready to go to work, the healer found Gabrielle having a very quick delivery.

The delivery went smoothly. Gabrielle never called Xena any bad names but she did mutter darkly about throwing Herb out the nearest window. Finally Ephiny Cyrene and Lyceus Herodotus entered the world to the great joy of their parents.

Xena looked at her two children and she thought her heart would burst with love. Her daughter had Gabrielle's green eyes and sweetly stubborn expression. She then looked at her son and knew immediately that he would grow into the fine man that Solon would have surely been. Xena leaned over and kissed her bard on the forehead and whispered, "Thank you, my love."

Gabrielle, looking up from the two small bundles at her breast, could only chuckle. Xena went through so much to give her these gifts. She had been enchanted, had her anatomy rearranged, had her privacy invaded, and was treated like a prize bull by the Amazons just so she could give Gabrielle these two precious children and now she was thanking her. Gabrielle never in her life felt such love and affection for Xena as she did at this moment. She looked into the glistening eyes of her warrior and whispered. "No, Xena, thank you." And then with a small smile she looked over to the bed stand where Xena had placed a small statue, "and thank you, Herb."

The End

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