Summary: The Conqueror leaves Greece to visit Cleopatra and meets a slave/gladiator named Gabrielle but all is not what it seems.
Disclaimer: See Part 1
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Enjoy the show! Or so to speak.
Authors Note: I've been updating this story much faster than I intended to, cause I've been getting so many emails and comments and I'm loving it. I've actually written ahead and almost completed the whole story, so updates should be coming in every two or three days c: I'm glad you guys have been enjoying it, and if you want to email me, my email is jacklavigne13@hotmail .com
I woke up to the feeling of fingertips tracing my skin. They travelled along my cheek before making their journey over my jawline and down the side of my neck. The feather light touches didn't stop until they rested upon my chest, over my heart, caressing my skin lovingly. I let my eyelids flutter open and gazed up into midnight blue eyes that were smiling down at me.
"I didn't hear you come in last night," Alexandria said softly as she rested her hand over my heart, her head tilted as she looked down at me. Her hair was a mess, and her eyes were slightly glazed, telling me she'd only been awake for moments.
"That was the plan," I replied with a sleepy grin as I rolled her over and laid my body ontop of hers, resting my head against her chest.
"You came in here just to sleep?" She asked me, her voice tinged with surprise as she ran her fingers through my raven locks.
"Don't sound so shocked," I muttered as I nuzzled my nose against her breast. "I'm not a complete animal."
I could feel her chest shake with silent laughter and she gently gripped my hair to turn my face towards her. I stared into her eyes to find her looking back at me with her own twinkling orbs.
"I know that," she said with a grin. "You don't let people see it often, but you are human, Xena, I know this. Now, tell me what that slave did to have you crawl into my bed without waking me."
I gave her a slightly surprised look and she just laughed, shaking her head as she patted my cheek. "Don't look at me like that, Conqueror. I am with you almost every moment of every day. I can see the way you look at each other and I know there is something there."
"You're not even jealous!" I exclaimed as I leaned up on my elbows to look down at her in disbelief.
"No, I'm not jealous," she replied with a small smile playing her lips. "How can I be jealous when she makes you happy? How can I feel anything negative towards her when she brings out this side of you?"
"She doesn't make me happy," I grumbled, resting my head back on her chest once more. "She makes me miserable."
"What has she done?" Alexandria asked me, her voice filled with so much concern that it made my heart clench. I have done horrible things to this woman and yet she still cares about me. How did such a compassionate and kind woman end up as my second in command? What was such a loving person doing in bed with me?
"She asked me to be her friend," I replied flatly and Alexandria's hands in my hair paused for a moment and she contemplated this information.
"Just a friend?" Alexandria asked curiously, her fingers once more brushing through the hair at my temple, her short fingernails scratching my scalp lightly.
"Yes, just a friend."
"You're kidding?" Alexandria said with genuine disbelief in her voice and a little bit of amusement. "You must be mistaken, Xena."
"I'm not," I grumbled. "She told me herself that is all she wants from me. Friendship and nothing more."
There was silence for several moments as we both got lost in our own thoughts.
"Then be her friend," Alexandria said finally, her voice soft as she gently rubbed my back in a soothing motion.
"What?" I exclaimed, turning to face her.
"Be her friend, Xena," Alexandria repeated. "If that is all she can offer you, take it. I know it's not something you're used to but being friends with her is better than nothing, right? Especially if she makes you feel the way that you do, being friends with her can only benefit you."
I mused over Alexandria's words, considering them. It was true, being around the slave did make me feel good, happy even but it hurt as well. Not being able to touch her was almost physically painful but maybe it would pass.
"I guess," I muttered finally, smiling when I saw Alexandria's grin.
"Hardly," I grinned ferally as I leaned in to bury my face in Alexandria's neck, nipping at her skin. The sound of her laughter echoed throughout the room and I smiled, my somber mood disappearing with each passing second.
"Good morning, Conqueror," Cleopatra smiled at me as I walked into the courtyard, Alexandria trailing a few steps behind me.
"It is a beautiful morning, isn't it?" I replied cheerfully, winking at the Egyptian who gazed back at me in amusement. She, like everyone else, had noticed the change in me but she seemed to be embracing it.
"It's quite beautiful, yes," Cleo grinned, leaning back in her chair. She waved towards the seat across from her with a smile. "Take a seat, Xena."
"Actually, I won't be joining you for breakfast this morning," I said apologetically. My gaze drifted throughout the room until I found who I was looking for. "I was actually heading out to the practice field for some sparring and I was wondering if I could borrow your slave?"
I don't know who was more surprised, Cleopatra or Gabrielle. The gladiator was leaning against the wall, her eyes wide as she stared back at me. Cleopatra raised an eyebrow before shrugging her shoulders with a smile.
"That shouldn't be a problem," she said with a smile. "I'm actually spending the day in court today, so she is free."
"Excellent," I beamed as Cleopatra waved her hand towards Gabrielle who was immediately at my side. "I will see you tonight for dinner then, Cleo."
"I look forward to it," The Egyptian replied before turning her attention to the food being brought out to her.
With a smirk at the still stunned slave, I turned on my heel and left the dining room with Alexandria and Gabrielle trailing behind me silently. Once outside, Alexandria instantly made her way over to the royal guard that were waiting for us, leaving me alone with the slave.
"What do you want?" Gabrielle asked as soon as Alexandria was out of ear shot, her voice cold.
"To spar," I replied calmly as I looked at the array of weapons hanging on the wall in front of me. Finally, I pulled two staffs down, throwing one to the gladiator while I swung the other around my body until it felt like an extension of my arms. The slave watched me silently until I turned to face her once more, the staff hanging limply in her hand.
"I thought you were avoiding me?" The slave asked with narrowed eyes.
"I changed my mind," I shrugged, returning her gaze with a small smile. "It's better to be friends than nothing at all, right?"
The slave seemed to consider this for a moment and then brightened considerably, her frown turning into a large grin. "Right."
"Good," I returned her smile before bringing my staff up into a defensive position. "Now, let's spar, friend. "
For the first time in over a week, I found myself returning to my own room with a smile on my face. I had enjoyed my day immensly, from start to finish. I had sparred with Gabrielle for most of the morning and had found her to be a formidable opponent. While I could still beat her, she had definetely kept me on my toes. She fought almost like a wild animal, her teeth bared and her strikes fast and ruthless, not much different than myself. There had been several moments when I thought she was going to knock me down, and only my superior strength kept me on my feet.
The rest of the day had gone smoothly as I joined my royal guard and Alexandria for lunch before taking a ride on my horse until late afternoon. Even dinner with Cleopatra had gone well and I found myself actually able to have an enjoyable conversation with her as long as we both stuck to our opposite sides of the table.
I opened my door with a grin, intending to have a bath before going straight to bed. I had decided to stay in my own room tonight, even if I couldn't sleep alone. It wasn't fair to Alexandria to keep sharing her bed when we both knew I wanted to be in the arms of another. I sighed as I let my cloak fall to the floor, leaving me in my black leather pants and white silk shirt as I walked towards the bathroom.
"You know, that has to be my favourite outfit so far."
I didn't even try to hide my smile as I turned towards the woman who was seated on my bed, her back leaning against the headboard with her tanned legs stretched out in front of her. I wasn't surprised to find her here, having come to terms with the fact that she was the only person who could sneak up on me.
"Shouldn't you be with Cleopatra?" I asked the slave with a raised eyebrow, crossing my arms over my chest.
"She dismissed me after dinner," Gabrielle replied, resting her arms behind her head as she snuggled down in the bed, smiling easily. "She decided to spend the night with an attractive nobleman."
I found myself wondering how anyone could choose another when they could be in bed with this goddess. I let my eyes wander over the body that was now stretched out on my bed, her muscles rippling with every movement. It would be so easy to go over there and lay my body o-
Stop it, I commanded myself angrily. She only wants to be your friend. You just had a wonderful day, don't ruin it now.
"I see," I said slowly before turning and continuing my journey to the bath. I pulled the lever besides the sunken tub and watched as it started filling with steaming hot water before removing the rest of my clothes.
"Do you need any help?"
I closed my eyes, letting out a small sigh of pleasure as I sunk into the hot water, letting it soothe my sore muscles. I could feel the slaves eyes on me from her place in the doorway but I tried to ignore it as I picked up the sponge from besides me. "I'm fine."
"If you say so," Gabrielle smiled as she sauntered over to the bath, her eyes wandering over my muscular body before she sat down besides the pool, reaching over to hand me a bottle of scented oil.
"Thanks," I smiled at her as I took the bottle of oil that I had brought with me to Egypt. Sandalwood and myrrh, the scent I always used since a day almost ten years ago when Alexandria commented on how nice it smelt on me.
I poured a small bit of the oil onto the sponge before rubbing it over the skin of my arms, still trying to ignore the slave's stare. I could feel the heat from her body and it was more than distracting as I washed the day's grime from my skin. The silence eventually became too much for even me and I spoke, attempting to keep my voice from cracking.
"So, what are you doing here?" I asked as I reached behind myself in an attempt to wash my back.
"Nothing in particular. I just wanted to talk," the slave replied absently as her hand shot out to take the sponge from my hand and then moved to kneel in the spot behind me before I could protest. "Let me do that."
I wanted to tell her not to but the moment her hands touched my skin, I was powerless to do anything. She washed my shoulders and back gently, and before I knew it, her hands had replaced the sponge, massaging my tense shoulders.
"You have really soft skin, has anyone ever told you that?" The slave breathed into my ear and I shrugged, knowing that I would embaress myself if I tried to speak. Gods, did she know what she was doing to me?
"You're really tense, Conqueror. What in Hades name are you thinking about?"
You! My mind screamed as her hands caressed my skin. Your hands, your touch, your lips.
"Conqueror?" Gabrielle said softly, her voice tinged with amusement as she stopped the movement of her hands.
"Oh Gods," I whispered as I quickly dunked myself under water, hearing the muffled sounds of her laughter above me.
By the Gods, she was evil. She knew exactly what she was doing to me and she was loving every second of it. Well, two can play at that game, slave.
I burst from the water and ran my fingers through my hair, smiling inwardly as her laughter immediately stopped at the sight of my wet and naked body. Her eyes tracked a drop of water as it trailed down between my breast and over my abdomen before it was lost in the dark curls below. I stepped from the tub, feeling her eyes burn into my skin as I reached for the towel hanging by the water, making a point to dry my hair before wrapping it around my body.
I turned back to the slave finally, a small smile playing my lips at her expression. Her lips were parted as she gazed up at me with flushed cheeks, her eyes shining with desire.
"What did you want to talk about?" I asked as I left the bathing room, smiling as I traded my towel for a skin robe from Chin that left little to the imagination. I grinned as I heard her scrambling after me, her jaw still dragging along the floor after my little display.
"I- uh, anything," she finally said as she watched me lie down on the bed, her eyes on my exposed thighs. "I wanted to talk to you about anything.""Then talk, slave," I grinned at her, motioning for her to sit on the edge of the bed beside me. "Talk to me about whatever you desire."
To Be Continued
Return to the Academy