We Never Say Goodbye by T.Novan

we never say goodbye

Disclaimers: The characters of Xena: Warrior Princess™©® and all other associated with the television series of the same name are owned by MCA/ Universal Pictures. This is a work of fan fiction and no copyright infringement is intended.

Sex: Yes! There are scenes of two consenting adult women making love and lots of it. If it offends you don’t read this. Move on. If you’re under 18 move on.

Violence: There’s an accident, which could be considered painful.

Drugs/Alcohol: Umm yeah, one of the characters works in a bar and there is social drinking.

Other: Immortality performed by Celine Dion on the CD “Let’s Talk About Love”. Written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb. Used without permission.

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We Never Say Goodbye
by T.Novan

1964

Xena stood there looking down as the wind and the rain pelted her head and face. She knelt down, her knees sinking into the mud of the freshly covered grave and ran her hand over the top of the stone.

“I won’t say it.” She said softly. “We never have and I know that as long as we don’t you’ll come back to me.” She forced back the tears as she leaned in and kissed the cold marble stone and placed a single white rose on top of it. “I miss you already bard. Hurry home.” She ran her hand over the engraving of the chakram with the quill in its center. “I love you.”

She stood and took a deep breath and wondered how long she would be alone this time.

1999

Casey walked along the alleyway toward the entrance of the club. It was early so she was shocked to see more than the two cars that belonged to the owners in the parking lot, but the black Mercedes would stand out about anywhere in this section of town. Casey wondered if the owner was brave or just plain stupid to bring that car here and park it in an unsecured lot. It was just begging to be stolen.

“Well, I’m glad it’s their money and not mine.” She mumbled as she continued to the club entrance.

She opened the door and stepped into the front entrance room. A woman popped up from behind a little counter next to an interior door. “Oh Casey hi.” The red head said as she continued to dig around under the desk for something without actually ducking back under it. “You’re early.”

“Yeah I got done with my class early and thought I’d come grab a bite to eat before work. Hey Gail any idea who that shiny black Mercedes belongs too?”

“Ohhhhhh yeah…” She said with a grin as she pulled a hand stamp and a pad out from under the desk. She leaned forward on her elbows and grinned. “It belongs to the longest, tallest drink of water this place has seen in a long time. She came in about an hour ago. Oh man!”

“That good huh?”

“OH MY GOD! I’m so bummed I’m watching the door, I’d much rather being in there watching her.”

“Well now makes me glad I’m tending bar tonight. Hmm maybe I’ll get lucky.” Casey said with a grin.

“Oh I’ll hate you forever!” Gail said as she swatted at her friend. Casey ducked the hand and went into the bar.

The place was empty except for Ashley and that long, tall drink of water Gail spoke of. Ashley was the other bartender. Now all she had to do was find out the name of the tall dark haired woman who was sitting at the bar nursing a drink. Man, Gail wasn’t exaggerating about his one. She was gorgeous. Dark hair, long legs, clothes that most certainly didn’t come off the rack. Not your normal customer for this place. If she were here to find someone to go home with she wouldn’t be disappointed. Casey wondered if she fit the bill of what this tall beauty was in the market for.

She slipped into the back and made herself a sandwich and grabbed a bag of chips. She headed for the bar and as she managed to find the jar of pickles and dispense a soda. She also managed to get a better look at old H2O. So she had to wipe up the first soda but it was worth it. Man oh man. Blue eyes to boot. ‘Where have you been all my life’ she thought as she got a second soda.

“What’s the matter Case? Can’t take the strain?” Ashley asked as she stacked glasses next to her friend.

“Is it really, really hot in here or is it just me?” Casey asked as she drained her soda and got another.

“Oh, it’s been warm since she came in here. I can’t keep Gail out by the door. Good thing we don’t get crowded ‘til later. You two might have it under control by then.”

“Has she ever been in here before?”

“Not that I remember. I think I would have remembered her too.”

“You’d have to have a building fall on you to forget her.” Casey said as she pulled the bag of chips open and popped a few in her mouth.

It was about that time that she heard ice rattle. She looked up to find H2O was raising her glass in their direction. Ash started for her, but Casey grabbed her arm. “You’re busy. I’ll get it.”

“Oh how kind of you.”

“You know me. Always willing to lend a hand.” She wiped the crumbs on the legs of her jeans as she walked over. She smiled and leaned in. “What was it?”

“Scotch. Chivas, straight.” H2O said with a slight smile.

Casey turned and pulled down the bottle and poured the drink.

“Make it a double.”

Casey poured the double. “Rough day?”

“Rough life.” H2O said as she pushed a bill across the bar and lifted the glass to her lips.

Casey hated the fact that she had to turn her back to make change thank God for the mirror behind the bar. She turned around and laid the change on the bar. “I’m not officially on duty yet. Want to talk about it? That’s what bartenders are for you know.”

“If you’re sure you want to hear it. Sure.” H2O said as she tipped the glass again.

“Be right back.” Casey returned to the end of the bar and retrieved her dinner.

“Slut.” Ashley teased as Casey gathered her food.

“God I hope so.” Casey said as she picked up the pickle jar and headed back to H2O.

She put everything down and got one of the two stools and took a seat across from the dark beauty. She extended her hand. “Casey.”

“Xena.” She said as she took Casey’s hand.

‘Xena. Oh that’s better than H2O’, thought Casey as they shook hands. ’Much better.’ “Well that’s certainly a unique name.”

“It’s Greek. Ancient Greek as a matter of fact, it’s not used much anymore.”

“Parents history buffs?”

“No. Ancient Greeks.”

Casey laughed as she tried to get the lid off the pickle jar. She struggled with it for a few seconds before a strong hand reached across the bar and took it from her. She looked up as Xena opened the jar and set it in front of her. “Thanks.” She said as their eyes met for the first time. “Have we ever met before?” She asked as she slowly fished a pickle out of the jar.

“You could say that. Probably in another lifetime or two.” Xena said as she took another drink.

“You seem very familiar to me.”

“You probably don’t remember because is was so large, but I gave a lecture to your history class a few months ago.”

“Professor Gabriel? Right?” She smiled at the sudden recognition.

“Right. Guilty as charged. Ya’ got me.”

“Yeah I remember that lecture. I got an A on that paper. I was the first A I got in that class.”

“Glad I could help.”

“Well you managed to make the subject matter seem so…real. Tangible.”

“Well I learned a long time ago to go with what you know.” Xena said with a grin.

“So are you a full time instructor somewhere?”

“No actually I deal in antiquities. I just happen to hold a few degrees as well.”

“I’m impressed.” Casey said with a smile as she sipped her soda.

“Well I had a lot of time on my hands when I was much younger.”

“Yeah like you’re all that old now.”

“I’m older than I look, but enough about me. Let’s just say that I know what I like and I’ll pay any price to have something I like.”

“Oh well now is that a fact?” Casey grinned at her as Xena sipped her drink.

“Yup.” She said as she drained the glass and stood up. “Well I’ve got a meeting this afternoon. You working all night tonight?”

“Ummm actually no. This is only a part time thing for me I work first part of the night and then someone else takes over later.” Casey could barely hold back the smile that wanted to break out across her face. “I get off about ten tonight.”

“Would you be interested in a late dinner with me?”

“Oh absolutely. You could show me some of your antiques or something.” Oh she just knew that sounded dumber than hell, but it was too late now.

“Or something.” Xena grinned as she slipped on dark sunglasses and turned to leave the bar.

When she was sure Xena was gone Casey brought her and into a tight fist and pulled it through the air to her side. “YES!”

Ashley walked up drying her hands on a towel. “You know you would have saved a lot of time if you have just gotten naked and offered yourself to her right here on the bar. Does the word subtle mean anything to you?”

“You be subtle, I want to get laid.”

The door opened again. Casey looked up hoping Xena was coming back. Gail stuck her head in and waved what appeared to be a business card. “Oh how I HATE YOU!”

Casey just climbed over the bar and crossed the room at a sprint and grabbed the card. The gray linen card felt like silk in her hand on the front it read:

X&G Antiquities

Xena Gabriel, Appraiser

(212) 555-1515

Leave a message. All calls returned.

Allow 24 hours.

Casey flipped the card over, on the back in a very elegant script:

Casey,

I’ll pick you up out front at 10pm.

X

Casey looked up at Gail who glared. She smiled and turned on her heel and headed back over to the bar. “Just so there is absolutely NO DOUBT in your mind Casey McGuire I HATE YOU!” Gail barely heard the evil chuckle that filtered back across the room as the door closed.

****

Casey found herself looking at her watch almost all night long. Time just seemed to be creeping by tonight. It was about to drive her insane. It was more than just the prospect of a roll in the hay with tall, dark and gorgeous. Xena excited her, made her blood rush. It was an odd feeling that Casey had never felt before and if she got lucky too that was just a bonus.

Ash snuck up and pinched her on the ass as she looked at her watch again. “Hey!” Casey yelped as she pulled a beer out of the cooler and put it down in front of a customer at the bar.

“A watched pot never boils kiddo.” Ashley said as she reached in and grabbed a couple of long necks.

“This pot’s boiling, trust me.”

“So are you going to give her time to buy you dinner before you jump her?”

“Maybe.” Casey grinned. Ashley just shook her head as she walked away.

****

She nearly broke her neck getting out of the bar at ten. She pushed open the door to the outside and sitting right in front of the entrance was Xena leaning against the most beautiful red convertible Mercedes see had ever seen. Xena was dressed all in black and was more stunning than she had been earlier. Casey considered just throwing her across the hood of the car. Then she realized everyone who was waiting to get into the bar was watching them. Xena grinned and pushed off the hood of the car and handed Casey a single white rose as she opened the passenger’s door.

“Shall we?”

“Oh yes let’s…” Casey purred as she took the rose and slid into the passenger’s seat of the car. She watched as Xena slid across the hood of the car and jumped over the door and landed in her seat behind the wheel.

She turned and smiled at Casey. “So do you still hate boats?”

“Ahh yeah. How’d you know that?” Casey asked the surprised evident in her voice.

“Some things never change.” Xena chuckled. “Okay then, the penthouse or the beach?”

Casey smiled and smelled the rose. “The beach I think.”

“The beach it is.” Xena reached over and hit the keypad on her cell phone. She put the car in gear and pulled away from the curb as the phone on the other end rang.

As they pulled out into traffic a voice came on the other end. “Yes Miss Gabriel?”

“The lady wishes dinner at the beach.” Xena said smiling at Casey.

“Yes Miss Gabriel. We’ll be ready upon your arrival.”

“Good we’ll be there in…say…twenty minutes.”

“Very good Miss Gabriel.”

Xena reached over and hung up the phone. She looked over at Casey. “How was work?”

“It was work. It pays for my books and I have a good time with it, but tonight I couldn’t wait to get out of there.”

“Hmmm. Any particular reason why?” Xena grinned as she exited for the highway.

“No can’t think of a one.” Casey returned as the breeze picked up with their speed. “How was your meeting?”

“Profitable. I made about two hundred fifty-thousand for twenty minutes work.”

“Gee I should give up the archeology thing and go into antiquities.”

“Well they kind of go together don’t they?” Xena shifted the car and looked over at Casey.

“You know as well as I do that archeologists for the most part hate antiquities dealers.”

“Well maybe you and I will have to work on changing their minds about each other.”

“Sounds like it could be fun.”

“You like having fun, don’t you Casey?”

“You betcha.” She looked Xena’s long form up and down and couldn’t help but feel a familiar rush run through her body that settled somewhere between her heart and her legs.

“Here.” Xena handed her the phone. “Call whoever you need to call and tell them your leaving town for the weekend.”

Casey took the phone. “And exactly where am I going?”

“We’re going to have some fun.” She shifted again.

“Just like that?”

“Just like that.”

“But I don’t have any…”

Xena raised her hand and her eyebrow as she looked over at Casey. “Trust me I have everything you need. All you need to do is make a few phone calls and tell the people who will be worried about you that you’re going out of town.”

Casey chewed on the inside of her mouth for a minute and put the phone down. Xena glanced over. “There really isn’t any one.” She said with a slightly sad little smile.

“What about the woman you work for at the bar?”

“Oh I can call her later and tell her, she’d be too busy right now anyhow.”

“Later it is then.”

Casey looked over again and watched as the wind from the road blew Xena’s hair like a long, dark main behind her just for a moment she had the unusual sensation of deja vu.

****

The airstrip was not where Casey expected to end up, but as the Mercedes pulled up next the private jet she had a feeling she had better learn to expect the unexpected with Xena. As she got out of the car Xena tossed the keys to a young man who stepped forward. “There are bags in the trunk.” She said to him before moving to Casey and putting her hand in the small of her back. “Ready to have some fun?”

“Absolutely.”

Xena guided her over to the plane and up the stairs. Upon entering Casey couldn’t believe this jet. It was wood and leather forever. It was the most amazing thing Casey had ever seen. Another young woman who smiled at Casey met them and showed her to the main lounge area of the jet, Xena hadn’t followed. “Relax, Miss Gabriel will be right back. She’s speaking with the Captain. Make yourself comfortable. The champagne is iced and if there is anything you need my name is Jill. Just let me know.”

Casey settled down into a plush leather chair next a window and waited. This was all too wild for her. Not only had she caught the eye of an extremely good-looking woman, she was apparently loaded too. “Wonder what I’d have to do to spend the rest of my life with her?” Casey mused aloud and her hands ran over the arms of the chair.

Feeling something at her fingertips she looked at the wooden caps on the arms of the chair. The carving was one of the most unique she had ever seen. It was of an ornate circular object with a feather in the center of it.

“It’s a quill and a chakram. It’s my logo.” Xena said as she came in and sat down on the couch across from Casey.

Casey could feel the plane begin its taxi onto the runway. She looked up and smiled softly. “It’s very interesting. Is there a story that goes with it?”

“Oh yes. Several actually.” Xena stood and poured two glasses of champagne. She turned and handed one down to Casey. “Those are tools Casey. The tools of a warrior and a bard.” She sipped her champagne. “But there’s plenty of time for that later. Listen, why don’t you go in the back and lay down? We’ve got a four hour flight ahead of us and you might want to get a little sleep before we land.”

Casey sipped her champagne and made eye contact with Xena over the rim of her glass. “What about you?”

“Oh I don’t require a lot of sleep.”

“I’ll bet I’d be fine with a couple of hours.” Casey grinned.

Xena held out her hand and helped Casey to her feet. She drew her close using one strong arm wrapped around her lower back. She leaned in and whispered. “Tell me what you want Casey. Do you want me to take you to bed is that it?”

Casey felt the jet lift from the ground and the shift forced her body harder into Xena’s, who stood strong against the incline of the jet as it climbed into the air. “Honestly yes. It’s all I’ve been able to think about all night and now here we are…”

Xena leaned in and captured her mouth before see could finish her sentence. Casey moaned into the kiss as their mouths and tongues began a passionate dance. This is what her body had been aching for all night. She felt herself being pulled toward the back cabin. She went willingly never breaking the kiss.

Xena broke the kiss, leaving Casey more than breathless. With a smile Xena pushed the door to the rear cabin open and motioned for Casey to go in. She went in and found a very comfortable sleeping cabin. She heard the door close and turned around to find Xena leaning on the knob. “Is this what you had in mind Casey?”

“Well actually I had imagined something a little closer to the ground, but this is good too.”

“Hmmm.” Xena moved forward, she took the champagne glasses and sat them to the side and began unbuttoning Casey’s shirt. “I’m glad you approve.” She said as she lowered her mouth to Casey’s ear and took a lobe between her teeth.

Casey heard her own breath catch in her throat as she felt Xena’s teeth find the sensitive skin of her earlobe. “Oh yeah…I more than approve.” She ran her hands over the shirt she now realized was silk and began unbuttoning the buttons as well. She unbuttoned the shirt and placed her hands under it finding a strong muscular back.

“Oh yeah…” She grazed her nails up and down Xena’s back as the taller woman continued the assault on her neck with her mouth.

Xena slipped Casey’s shirt off and unhooked her bra with a snap from one hand. A brief thought crossed Casey’s mind that Xena had done that before. She felt it being removed slowly from her shoulders and then down her arms. Xena’s hands then began roaming over the exposed flesh of her torso. Then she felt herself being lowered back onto the bed as warm soft lips wrapped themselves around the nipple of her left breast. It hardened immediately. “Ahh yesss….” Casey moaned as she pushed Xena’s shirt off her shoulders.

Xena shrugged the shirt off, continuing her exploration of the sweet flesh her mouth had been waiting to devour once again. “So long…” She said softly as her head moved to the other nipple and licked it. She pulled back and watched it as it hardened before her eyes. She gave a wicked little grin and looked up to Casey. The younger woman’s eyes were closed and her breathing had increased three fold. “Like that do you?” Xena asked as she took the nub into her mouth again and gave it a gentle bite as she continued to watch Casey’s face.

“Yeeesss…oh yes.”

“Yes.” Xena said determinedly as she took the flesh into her mouth and began devouring it. Her hands worked the button and the zipper on Casey’s jeans with little effort.

Casey kicked her sneakers off and lifted her hips to help as Xena’s hands slid into her jeans and worked them over her hips and down her legs. God she could feel the fire burning out of control between her legs. Xena slipped down as she pulled the jeans free, kissing the exposed flesh on her way. She stopped briefly and placed a soft kiss on soft blonde curls that simply were dripping with Casey’s juices. Xena growled as she stood and pulled the jeans free, leaving Casey naked on the bed before her.

“So beautiful…” She murmured as she unbuckled her belt and kicked off her shoes. She watched as Casey’s hands began roaming over her own body. “Ohhh…yess…you know don’t you…” She whispered as she watched the young woman tease her own nipples and begin writhing from the pleasure. “Yes you do.” Xena growled as she slid out of her pants and returned to the bed.

It didn’t take their bodies long to meld together. Hands, mouths and lips searched for any exposed flesh. Casey heard Xena’s breathing coming in raspy bursts as she found the dark haired woman’s breasts with her hands and the nipples with her lips and fingers.

Xena lifted her head as a growl escaped deep from her chest. Holding her weight on one hand she reached down and parted Casey’s legs with the other. She ran the tips of her fingers lightly up one slick thigh across those wet curls, causing a thrusting motion from the blonde body under her and then ever so lightly back down the other warm wet thigh. She closed her eyes and brought that hand to her own lips and inhaled. “God you smell so sweet Casey.” She licked her lips and let the tip of her tongue dance over her fingertips.

Casey watched as Xena lick her from her fingertips. “Please…” She whispered. Her own hands started their exploration of the older woman’s body. Casey didn’t want to waste time. While taking one of those delightfully hardened nipples in her mouth her hand moved to Xena’s waist. One moved to her firm ass, the other to her dark wet patch. Casey didn’t stop with dancing across them she slid her fingers into the wet fold she found there and began rubbing the engorged warmth.

“Ohhh God!” Xena growled as she found herself putting her other hand down on the other side of Casey to keep from collapsing on top of her as the young woman began taking her body places she hadn’t been in almost thirty-five years. She felt herself begin to rock with Casey’s motions. “Yesss…Casey…oh God Casey…”

The sound of Xena calling her name in unison with her low moans and growls made Casey more determined. She moved from one nipple to the other with her mouth licking, biting and sucking. Her free hand drug itself up Xena’s back digging her nails into the flesh, this seemed to make Xena happy, very happy. Her fingers and hand now completely covered in Xena’s sticky warmth continued to explore the depths of her lover. She paused just outside the opening as she watched Xena’s face. Her eyes were closed and she was biting down on her lower lip. Her head nodded in silent approval as her hips rocked hard into Casey’s probing hand. The fingers that entered her were firm and strong in their intention. “Yeeessss…oh yeess Casey…”

Casey could feel Xena’s every response to her touch and kisses. Every thrust, every twitch, every spasm. She began matching her loving stroke with Xena’s thrusting. Xena’s head dropped as her hips rocked and thrust hard into Casey. “Ohhh Casey…I’m soooo…”

“Let yourself go Xena…come for me…”

Xena lowered herself on top of Casey as her body gave a few final thrusts. Her mouth fought to capture Casey’s for a long and passionate kiss as the orgasm gripped her body. Finally, covered in a light bead of sweat and totally out of breath Xena rolled away from Casey probing hands. “Stop…stop…” She took a deep breath and reached out and pulled Casey on top of her and licked her lips. She drew a deep breath as she looked into Casey’s smiling face. “God Casey thank you.” She kissed her long and lovingly. “And now for you my love.”

“Yeess…please…” Casey begged breathlessly as Xena grabbed her thighs and drew the younger woman up on her knees and slid down the bed stopping between her legs.

“Hold onto the headboard.” Xena told her as her face drew closer the wet blonde curls. Casey gripped the headboard hard as Xena’s mouth began to play magic in her folds. Licking, sucking, stroking with her firm tongue.

Casey rocked back and forth slowly at first, enjoying the sensation on the firm warm tongue that pleasured her. Soon however as she looked down and watched the pure expression of pleasure that spread across Xena’s face and the sounds that she made Casey could only rock harder and faster as Xena consumed her. “Oh my God…unggh…oh God yess…” Casey moaned as Xena held her in place and continued to drink her. Her body shuddered long and hard as multiple climaxes shook her body.

“Xena…God…ohhh…”

She loss the grip on the headboard and fell forward her long hair falling over her shoulders covering Xena’s head as her body ached in a rigid arch as the final explosion overtook her. She slumped forward resting against the headboard trying to catch her breath.

Xena slid out from under her and pulled the covers down. She took Casey by the waist and gently pulled her into her arms and guided her under the covers. Casey could feel the cool smoothness of the silk sheets against the tingling of her skin, then the warmth and comfort of Xena joining her and pulling her into her arms. She felt the soft kisses to her forehead and she felt the covers being pulled over them. She heard the words of love as she drifted off to sleep.

She didn’t hear the important declaration. “Welcome home my bard.” Xena kissed her and held her close. “God Gabrielle it’s so good to have you back. I’ve missed you so much.” She reached above her head and picked up a telephone receiver. “Jill will you wake us about thirty minutes before we land? Thanks.” She replaced the receiver and pulled her bard close to her before turning out the cabin lights. She closed her eyes and drifted into a dreamless sleep, her world complete for the moment.

The phone rang. A sleepy Xena reached up and pulled it down. “Thank you Jill. Yes that’s fine.” She replaced the receiver and turned the cabin lights on. She couldn’t help but smile. Her bard was home. Draped across her as if they hadn’t been apart. She kissed Casey on the forehead, “Hey sleepyhead come on wake up.”

Casey opened her eyes, smiled, murmured something, closed her eyes and started to drift off again.

Xena could only allow herself to smile. “Some things just never change.” She said as she stroked Casey’s back. “Now come on Case I’m serious here we land in thirty minutes we need to get up.”

“You first.” Her sleepy companion challenged without moving a muscle.

“’Kay we can do it that way if you want.” Xena teased as she wondered if all the old ticklish spots remained intact.

“Don’t even think it.” Casey mumbled as she rolled off Xena and blinked her eyes to adjust to the soft cabin lights.

“Think what?” Xena asked innocently as she stretched and ran her fingers through the long blonde hair she had missed for so long.

“I know that tone. Okay so I’m not the easiest person in the world to wake up. If you let me stick around long enough you’ll find it to be charming and even endearing quality.” Casey said with a grin as she buried her face in a pillow.

“Oh I know it is.” Xena kissed a bare shoulder and sat up, stretching again. She hadn’t slept that well in years. The dreams from the last time had haunted her nearly every single night since she had lost the bard in that horrible wreck. She shook it off and leaned over and kissed a bare shoulder again. “Did I say thank you for earlier?”

“I think you may have moaned something like that in my general direction.” Casey said as she pulled her head out of the pillow and accepted a long and passionate kiss.

Blue eyes locked onto those green ones again as Xena’s fingers caressed Casey’s cheek. “Thank you.” She said softly.

“And thank you too.” Casey replied as she kissed Xena’s fingertips.

They were lost in each other’s eyes. The phone brought Xena out of it and with a quick kiss she sat up and answered the phone. “Yes? Thank you Jill. No that’s fine, perfect as a matter of fact.” She said as she smiled and captured a roaming hand as it crept up her leg under the covers. “Yeah we’ll be right out.” Xena hung up the phone and pulled Casey into her arms by that hand that she had captured. “So you want to play huh?”

“Now Xena aren’t you they one who said we have to get up?” Casey asked trying to divert the look and tone she could see was going to be big trouble for her.

“Yeah I guess I did. Boy you’re lucky.” She said with a smirk.

“Somehow I know that.” Casey giggled as Xena got up and stretched.

“You are so beautiful.” Casey said as she lay in bed looking at the woman who had in such a short time begun to become a part of her heart.

“So are you.” Xena said as she stripped the covers back from the bed. “And if you don’t drag that beautiful body of yours out of that bed I’ll do it for you.” Xena advanced.

“I’m up, I’m up.” Casey said as she moved to her knees in the center of the bed and threw her hands up in defense.

“Okay.” Xena moved to a closet and took out a robe and put it on. “I’m going up to talk to the captain for a minute. The bathroom is in there.” She indicated a door behind her. “You can freshen up and there are clothes in the closet that should fit you.”

“How can you be so sure?” Casey asked playfully.

Xena leaned over the bed and kissed her on the forehead. “I have many skills…” She grinned and left the room.

****

The plane touched down as expected. As they were leaving Jill handed Xena a briefcase. Xena just rolled her eyes and took it. “Work.” She mumbled as she guided Casey from the plane. On the tarmac set yet another surprise for Casey. A limo, driver standing by waiting patiently. Casey noticed the plates on the car read X N G 1. She was beginning to wonder who ‘G’ was. It was clear that ‘G’ wasn’t Gabriel, Xena’s last name. ‘G’ was a person.

The driver opened the door and Casey climbed into the limo. It was just as everything else had been so far this evening, perfect. Xena climbed in next to her and settled into the leather seat. She started to toss the briefcase onto the adjacent seat when Casey caught her arm.

“Hey is there something in there you’re suppose to do?”

“Nothing that can’t wait a few days.” She started to toss the case, but was stopped again.

“Oh no. If there is something in there you need to take care of, do it.”

Xena sighed and put the case in her lap and opened it. She pulled out a few papers and began sifting through them. She also pulled out a pair of glasses and unfolded them. Casey watched as she read the documents and slowly unfolded the glasses. She never put them on, she held then in her hands for a few minutes and then began chewing on the earpiece.

“Hey.” Casey nudged her. “Shouldn’t those go across your eyes they’ll work much better there.”

“Actually no. I don’t need them. This is just force of habit. Someone liked the way I looked in them once and I’ve kept them ever since.”

“Very interesting.” Casey said as she let her hand come to rest on Xena’s leg under the case. She let her head drop back to the seat and closed her eyes.

“Tired?” Xena asked as she watched Casey’s chest rise and fall a deep sigh.

“No just enjoying all this and wishing it didn’t have to end.”

“Who say’s it has to?” Xena couldn’t help, but feel a little panic setting in. She hadn’t considered that Casey might not want to stay with her.

“Yeah right.” Casey chuckled. “Like you’re going to want me to stick around after the weekend.”

“Wait a minute. You think this is just a weekend fling don’t you?”

“Isn’t it?”

“Not if you don’t want it to be.”

Casey opened her eyes and looked to Xena. She was now fidgeting with those glasses and her expression was quite serious. “You serious aren’t you?” You want me to stay.”

“Yes…please…”

“You don’t even know me.”

“Yes I do.”

“How can you possibly know me? We met, what twelve hours ago?”

“Yes and you trusted me enough to leave your home without calling a single person, get on a jet and fly away to God only knows where…”

“Speaking of that where the hell are we?’

“Los Angeles…”

“California?”

“Do you know of another one? You said you wanted to go to dinner at the beach.”

“I was thinking, oh I don’t know, the Atlantic Ocean maybe.”

“You got something against the Pacific Ocean?

“No I don’t have anything against the Pacific Ocean. I don’t even know the Pacific Ocean, we’ve never met.” Casey said with a defiant little smirk hoping to win this particular round.

Xena couldn’t help herself. She threw her head back and laughed out loud at that comment. She actually had to use the palm of her hand to wipe the tears from her eyes. “Well remind me to introduce you when we get there.” She said as she put her things back in her briefcase and snapped it shut before tossing it over to the other seat. She then pulled Casey onto her lap, so that the woman was facing her, straddling her with her knees resting on the seat. She ran her fingers through Casey’s hair as she looked deeply into her eyes. “Casey this can be whatever you want it to be. If it’s a fling for you then it’s a fling and I’ll be grateful for our time together. I just hope it’s more. I want you to stay with me. I need you. I don’t need much in this life but I need you. I always have and I always will.” She didn’t even give her time to respond before she pulled her into a long and passionate kiss.

Casey began to melt into the kiss, her hands started to roam Xena’s body in reflex to the dance their tongues were currently engaged in. Those roaming hands finally came to rest on breasts with nipples hardened and pushing against the fabric of Xena’s shirt. She heard the moans that came deep from within her dark haired lover as her thumbs brushed across the fabric of the shirt. She felt the button of her jeans give way and then the zipper being pulled down. She began unbuttoning Xena’s shirt as she felt her hands travel into the backside of the jeans and began a firm massage of her ass.

The kiss was broken long enough for Xena to whisper, “Take them off.”

It took Casey all of ten seconds to stand up just enough to remove her shoes and her jeans as she watched Xena recline and stretch out in the seat, eyes half closed, shirt open to the waist revealing those perfect breasts and firm stomach.

Xena reached for the woman and drew her back down ot top of her in that straddling position so that her stomach and Casey’s curls came together. She lifted the tee shirt Casey had chosen and began kissing the exposed flesh of her stomach as she began rubbing her own abs against Casey’s damp curls.

“Hmm…” Casey moaned as her breath began to come in short bursts. She closed her eyes and rested her hands on Xena’s shoulders as her body began to stroke against the firm, warm flesh of her lover’s stomach.

They soon reunited in another soul searing kiss as Xena’s hands came to rest on Casey’s backside. She used this to her advantage and set the pace, guiding the grinding motion of the other woman as she thrust her stomach to set the pace. She could feel Casey begin to flow and the thought of this woman’s juices on her stomach began a flood of her own. “Oh yess…” She moaned as she buried her face in Casey’s neck and gave a little nip. “God what you do to me…” She whispered into her ear as she gently suckled the tender flesh of the lobe into her mouth.

Casey could feel herself throbbing against Xena as every grind, every thrust and every stroke was delivered with such passion and intensity she thought she’d die from the want of it. Her hands traveled to Xena’s breasts and began rubbing and pinching the hardened nipples, which encouraged Xena to move their bodies together harder and faster. Xena moaned as she forced her head back into the seat. Her eyes closed and lips parted slightly. Casey wondered why the sight of this woman’s face in a moment of passion could make her feel so damned possessed but it did. All she wanted to do was make Xena happy. She found her self rocking and grinding harder and faster into the woman under her, realizing that these motions were bringing Xena to the edge of climax as well. “Xena…my God…ohhh…” Casey moaned before biting her lip to keep from it.

“Let me hear you Casey.” Xena begged as she felt more of the sticky warmth pour onto her stomach.

“Unhh…Xe…I…ohhhh…” Casey slumped forward again as they continued their passionate movements together toward a climax that would set them both free. She wrapped her hands in Xena’s hair and leaned in for a kiss. As their tongues found each other and began their slippery dance, both bodies reached their climax and began shuddering together. Moans echoed into each other’s mouths. Casey nearly screamed when Xena arched into her from her own climax, sending her into yet another spasm.

Finally after long minutes quaking and shudders both bodies fell into each other. Xena wrapped Casey up in her arms and held her close to her chest. Casey rested against the shoulder of her lover and listened to the words that where being whispered to her.

“Don’t leave me…please…don’t. You make my life complete. I know you don’t understand, but you’re the only one…” Xena said softly as she hugged Casey to her. “I love you.”

****

Redressed and recomposed the pair sat nestled together until the car came to a stop about ten minutes later. Xena sat up and shrugged her shoulders a bit to relax them as the driver could be heard getting out. Casey sat up and stretched as the door opened. Xena climbed out of the car and held out her hand for Casey. Instead of Casey’s hand she got her briefcase. She groaned and smiled at the little blonde as she got out of the car and planted a quick kiss on Xena’s cheek. “You forgot that.”

“I didn’t forget it, I left it. I want to spend time with you not paperwork.”

“There’s plenty of time for both.” Casey said as she took Xena’s free hand and gave it a squeeze.

Xena’s heart leapt into her throat. She didn’t dare believe that maybe Casey was thinking of staying with her. So far the woman had made it clear that this was just for the weekend and as much as it hurt, Xena knew she wouldn’t try to hold her if she wanted to leave. She’d just live without her again and hope for the best with the next reincarnation. All she wanted was for the bard to be happy.

As they turned and headed for the house Casey gasped. It was absolutely the biggest friggin house she had ever seen. She could hear the roar of the ocean from behind it. Xena handed the briefcase to the driver and took both of Casey’s hands. Walking backward, facing the blonde she grinned, “Come on let me introduce you.”

They walked past the house and down a side path that led to the beach. The waves crashed hard against the shore as the light of the moon danced off the water. Soft lights from the house lit up the section of beach enough that they could see, but not so much that they were obtrusive to the beauty of the beach.

Xena moved in behind Casey and wrapped her arms around her in a gentle hug. “Casey I’d like to introduce you to the Pacific Ocean. Ocean Casey, Casey, ocean.”

Casey leaned back against Xena and relaxed into the hug. “God Xena it’s beautiful.”

“I can only think of one thing that’s better.”

“What?”

“You.”

Casey turned in Xena’s arms and looked into her eyes for any insincerity. She didn’t see any at all. “I swear Xena it sounds as if you are declaring your undying love for me.”

That hit home and Xena wasn’t expecting it. Tears came to her eyes and she whispered. “I am. You have no idea.” A single tear fell from those perfect blue eyes and Casey wiped it away with her thumb, leaving her palm planted on Xena’s cheek. Xena leaned into her hand and turned her head to place a soft kiss there. Casey shuddered from the kiss. “Cold?” Xena asked softly as she rubbed her cheek in the palm of Casey’s hand.

“Umm yeah a little.” Casey lied.

“Let’s go up to the house.”

They walked back up the beach and up the back stairs to the deck and entered the house through a sliding glass door. Just as with everything else tonight this house was amazing. The fireplace in this room was alive and roaring. Dinner was already served and placed on a candle lit table in front of the sliding glass door giving a beautiful view of the beach and the ocean. There were antiques everywhere.

“My God Xena this place is incredible.” She said as she wandered around and tried to take everything in.

“Feel free to look around. I do have one quick thing I have to do in my office.” Xena started to climb a circular staircase that was predominating in the room. Casey watched as she disappeared up the stairs and she returned to looking at the furnishings. She couldn’t believe some of the antiques in the room. Items that she would only be able to dream of seeing. There was a bust of Ares, the Greek God of War that caught her attention. She wondered why it had a little noose around its neck.

She finally moved to the table and poured two glasses of wine. She had just taken a sip when she heard Xena call to her. “Yes Xena?”

“Why don’t you grab the wine and come up here?”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah this is going to take a little longer than I thought come on up if you want or go ahead and have dinner I’ll be down in about ten minutes.”

Casey decided she wanted to see more of the house and this would be a great time to do it. She grabbed the wine and the glasses and started up the staircase. Xena’s office was the first door to the left. She went in and found Xena sitting behind a computer looking completely disgusted. She handed her a glass of wine and moved behind her and leaned over and kissed her neck. “Something wrong?”

“Nothing a large caliber handgun wouldn’t fix. This man is a moron if he thinks I’m selling him this piece at this price.”

“What price?”

“Two million.”

“Two million? As in dollars? U.S. currency?”

“Umm-hmm.”

“And if you don’t mind my asking…how much of that is your profit?”

“This piece is in my private collection so it’s all mine.”

“So what’s this piece worth?”

“Well he’s not getting for less that three.” She looked at the screen again and growled at it. “Dumb ass.” She typed something into an email message about his intelligence, his heritage, a counter offer went with it and then she hit send.

“That wasn’t nice.” Casey giggled.

“Not nice, but true,” Xena said as she sipped her wine and rolled back from the desk and pulled Casey into her lap. “My God you must be exhausted.” She looked at her watch. “It’s three a.m. your time.”

“No I’m fine really. Some nights I don’t get out of the club until at least four. Never home before five and never into bed before six.”

“A night owl huh? Me too.” She smiled and gave her a soft kiss. The computer announced an incoming message. Xena clicked the mouse button and read the message. “Ah-ha gotcha you silly little bastard!” Still holding Casey in her lap, she reached around her and typed another message and hit send.

“Three million for five minutes work?” Casey couldn’t resist.

“Three point two actually.” Xena grinned and wiggled her eyebrows and the younger woman. “Ready for dinner?”

“Sure.”

****

After dinner the pair sat on the sofa in front of the fireplace and talked. Casey eventually ended up stretched out with her head in Xena’s lap. Soon after that she was sound asleep. Xena sat there until the sun came up just watching her bard sleep and running her fingers through Casey’s hair.

When Casey awoke in the morning she found her head nestled in a soft pillow and she was covered with a warm blanket, snuggled down on the leather sofa. She stretched and yawned as she focused she found a glass of juice and a note on the coffee table in front of her. She pulled herself up and took the note.

Out for my morning run. Make yourself at home, look around enjoy the place. I won’t be gone long.

The cook’s name is Katherine. Tell her what you want for breakfast and she’ll set you up.

If you want a shower and a fresh change of clothes, my room is at the end of the hall upstairs. Everything you need is there.

Oh yeah, call home (use the black telephone on the desk in my office) and tell them where you are before they issue a warrant for my arrest for kidnapping.

If you need anything at all just pick up any white phone in the house and someone will take care of you.

Love,

X

Casey smiled and took the juice to the window and opened the blinds. The ocean was more beautiful this morning than it had been last night. She sipped her juice and wondered if Xena was serious about this being whatever she wanted it to be. It was just too good to be true. This beautiful, wealthy woman had just walked into that dreary little nightclub, swept her off her feet and brought her to paradise, claiming it was hers for the taking. God there had to be a catch.

She started to wander around the house as she sipped her juice. It just seemed to go on forever. She found a library, game room, at least six bedrooms, and multiple bathrooms. She made sure to pay attention so she could get back to where she had started. There didn’t seem to be any one else around but yet the note spoke of at least one other person. She stopped when she happened upon a door marked Gallery. She tried the knob, finding it unlocked she went in.

As soon as she entered the lights came on automatically, there were several small displays in this room. She also heard soft music playing in the background. She noticed that all of the displays in this room had a very personal feel to them. They consisted of two items each, from various time frames in history. As she turned to look a piece in the center of the room caught her eye.

On a tall marble pedestal, under a glass case, with lights delicately lighting it was that chakram Xena spoke of. It was balanced ever so delicately on its edge and was rotating very slowly and running through it as if suspended on air was a fine quill. The quill gently turned over in place as if pushed on a burst of air. Casey examined them wondering how in the devil this was being accomplished.

As she walked around the case she noticed a plaque:

So this is who I am,

And this is all I know,

And I must choose to live,

For all that I can give,

The spark that makes the power grow

And I will stand for my dream if I can,

Symbol of my faith in who I am,

But you are my only,

And I must follow on the road that lies ahead,

And I won’t let my heart control my head,

But you are my only

We don’t say goodbye,

We don’t say goodbye,

And I know what I’ve got to be

Immortality

I make my journey through eternity

I keep the memory of you and me inside

Fulfil your destiny,

Is there within the child,

My storm will never end,

My fate is on the wind

The king of hearts, the jokers wild,

But we don’t say goodbye

We don’t say goodbye

I’ll make them all remember me

‘Cos I have found a dream that must come true,

Every ounce of me must see it through,

But you are my only

I’m sorry I don’t have a role for love to play

Hand over my heart I’ll find my way

I will make them give to me

Immortality

There is a vision and a fire in me

I keep the memory of you and me, inside

We don’t say goodbye

We don’t say goodbye

With all my love for you

And what else we may do

We don’t say, goodbye

Casey noticed as she read that the music that played behind her was actually the words on this plaque. She cocked her head to listen to the beautiful arrangement as she reread the words. The song played on a loop and she simply had to wait for it. She felt the lump in her throat as she stood there reading these words written with so much love and tenderness. She looked back at the chakram and the quill.

“It’s called The Eternal Dance.” Xena said softly as not the startle Casey. She was still dressed in her running clothes and was soaked from her exercise of the morning.

Casey looked up a little embarrassed, “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to pry…”

“Hey I told you to look around, I meant it. There aren’t any rooms off limits to you here.”

“How did you do this?” Casey pointed to the display.

“Would you believe it’s enchanted?”

“My guess would be that there’s a story?”

Xena nodded and came into the room. “You see the warrior and the bard fell in love with each other. They settled down and even had a family, but the Gods interfered and they cursed the warrior. As the years passed the warrior watched as the beautiful little bard grew older, while the warrior’s reflection never changed.”

She moved a little further into the room and closer to the display as she continued, but she didn’t make eye contact with Casey. “Then one spring morning some sixty years after they met, the warrior watched as the bard simply slipped away.” She paused, Casey could see her fighting to control her emotions. “She…ah…died surrounded by her children and her grandchildren with her ageless warrior at her side. Before she slipped away she started to say it, but the warrior wouldn’t let her.” She stopped and drew another deep breath before continuing. ” The warrior’s final promise to the bard was to find an answer to the curse that would keep them apart. After the bard passed away Aphrodite came to the warrior and asked for the chakram and the quill. She enchanted them just as you see them there.” She pointed briefly, looking up for just a second before dropping her head again. “Aphrodite said it was a gift of remembrance because the day the bard died, true love died with her.”

Casey wanted to say something, anything. She could tell this was hard for Xena, but she remained quiet and allowed her to continue. Xena moved a little closer to Casey, but still just out of reach.

“Aphrodite told the warrior she couldn’t undo what had been done by other Gods. But as long as the warrior kept the faith and the love for the bard and kept the chakram and the quill safe, she would try to make sure that the bard would be guided back to the warrior, lifetime after lifetime. It was the best the Goddess could do and it was more than the warrior could hope for.” Xena looked up there were tears in her eyes. “So it’s been that way as you see it now for more than fifty of the bard’s lifetimes. Some have been long and happy, some cut dreadfully short, but the warrior never lost faith that she would be returned and never stopped loving her…” She paused and added quietly. “Never stops looking for her…” Tears slipped down Xena’s cheeks and she wiped them away quickly.

“That’s beautiful.”

“The truth usually is.” She finally stepped forward and rested her hands on Casey’s shoulders. “Casey I told you this can be whatever you want, but promise me that if you leave you won’t say it. If you do…”

Casey placed her index finger over Xena’s lips. “I promise I won’t say it. I would never rob you of what you believe.”

“Thank you. Thank you.” She said as she ran her knuckles down Casey’s cheek.

“What was her name?”

Xena continued to softly caress Casey’s cheek and look deeply into her eyes as she drew a deep breath. “Gabrielle…” It came out as a call to a long dead lover, not the answer to a simple question. “Gabrielle…” She said softly before turning away.

“Xena I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“It’s okay, you really needed to be told. To help you understand.” She drew a deep breath and exhaled. She turned back around. “Well I smell like a pig so I’m going to go grab a shower and get changed and then well decide what to do today to have some fun okay?”

“Okay. It sounds like plan.” Casey agreed trying to lighten the mood. Xena took her hand and kissed it laying it on the plague before she left the room. Casey realized immediately that Xena was giving her permission to make her own decision about her offer. Her fingertips had been placed on the lines, ‘I’m sorry I don’t have a role for love to play. Hand over my heart I’ll find my way.’ She found herself wiping tears from her eyes as she took one last look at The Eternal Dance.

****

Casey went back to the area where Xena’s room was. It was then that she realized she too needed a shower. She smiled. A shower, yes a shower would be good right now. She headed down the hall and opened Xena’s bedroom door. She heard the shower running and began stripping out of her clothes dropping them in a line to the door as she went. As she entered the bathroom she could see the silhouette of Xena’s firm, strong body behind the hazy glass of the shower door. There was something intensely erotic about knowing what was behind the door, but not actually being able to see it.

“So are you going to stand there and stare all day or are you going to join me?” Xena asked from behind the door.

Casey smiled and opened the shower door. “Now how did you know…never mind I don’t want to know.” She stepped into the shower and nearly fainted as she got a good look at Xena, wet, hot and soapy. “Oh my…” She sighed.

“See something you like?” Xena asked as she ran soap-laced hands across her breasts and down her stomach.

“Oh yeah.” Casey grinned as she stepped forward and began rubbing her hands over Xena’s body, smearing the soap around. “Ohhh…yeaah…” She moaned as she moved her body into the older woman and began working the soap over the both of them using her own body.

Xena’s hands slipped around Casey and she began soaping her back with her hands gently grazing her nails over her back and ass. “Casey…ohh you feel soo good.”

“I’m glad you like.” She said as she moved her mouth to Xena’s neck and gave it a light nip. “I want you to take me…now.” She took Xena’s hands and guided them to her breasts and helped her get started. It didn’t take long.

Xena pushed Casey against the wall and began kneading her breasts taking already hardened nipples between her thumbs and forefingers she gave them firm pulls as she brought her mouth down on Casey’s for a kiss. Their tongues fought for control of each other. Xena was amazed at Casey’s insistence. She moved her under the water so the soap would be washed away. They continued the rub their bodies together allowing the water to coat them.

“Unnnh…Xena…yess.” She took a hand away from her breasts and placed it between her legs and then guided Xena’s head to the now hard and lonely nipple. Xena took the nipple in her mouth and began sucking greedily on the hardened nub. “Ohhh yess just like that…please.” Xena slipped her hand into Casey’s folds and found her warm and wet and it wasn’t from the water of the shower. Casey’s back arched into Xena’s mouth, her hips began a slow loving grind against the hand that was working her slippery folds.

“God Casey…ohhh…” Xena moaned even as her mouth remained firmly attached to the nipple continuing to suck. “Yes.” She growled.

“I…need…you…down…” Casey moaned as she pushed Xena to her knees and guided her head to her center. She continued to hold her head into place even as Xena slipped her tongue into the folds and began drinking the flow of juice Casey gave forth for her.

Xena moaned as Casey began sliding up and down the wall as she licked her taking her bud into her mouth and giving it a firm suck. Holding it between her lips she began to run her tongue over it. “Oh God!” Casey cried as she held strands of wet black hair in her hands and began to thrust into her lover’s face. Xena wrapped her arms around Casey’s thigh to hold her in place as she continued to consume her. Casey strained against the wall as Xena’s tongue worked her into a frenzy. “Yeess…please make…me…come…”

These words sent Xena over the edge and she pushed her face hard into Casey and then brought her hand into play. Her tongue dipped deep into Casey as her thumb worked the nerve center. The groaning, and moaning of the blonde made her more determined to give her lover all the pleasure she could. She was about to begin a new exploration when Casey suddenly cried out and her muscles began to spasm and contract. Xena grabbed Casey by the waist so she wouldn’t collapse. Casey hadn’t released Xena’s head or attempted to move her so she stayed there and continued licking, sucking firmly stroking. Finally Casey released Xena’s head and slowly began sliding down the wall. Xena caught her and they sat against the wall of the shower. Xena held Casey close as her breathing and heart rate returned to normal. “Oh God thank you.” Casey moaned as she reached up with a shaky hand and caressed Xena’s face.

“Happy to be of service.” Xena grinned. “Where in the world did that come from?”

“Oh I don’t know. I figured this was as good a place as any to have some fun.”

“Well you made my morning.” Xena chuckled as she kissed a wet brow.

As soon as Casey was able to stand on her own two feet they finished their shower which included long moments of just holding each other as the warm water ran over their bodies.

****

After their shower and a quick breakfast Xena went to check her email. Casey didn’t understand it but watching this woman at her computer turned her on. Then again watching just about everything she did turned her on. ‘Man I’m getting it bad.’ Casey thought as she watched from the doorway.

“Case would you be awfully unhappy with me if we had to stop by my gallery for a minute?”

“Good God no! You have your own gallery?”

“Umm-hmm. My manager just sent me a note and we got a new shipment in and there’s a piece I’m really wanting to look at.”

“Why are we still talking about it? Let’s go.”

Xena actually made a small show of preparing her briefcase for Casey who grinned at her from the doorway. She tossed a couple of files into the case and then began looking for something else. She lifted a few papers and continued to look. Casey crossed the room and lifted a stack of papers and fished out the glasses and handed them to her. She tossed them in the case and snapped it shut. “Thanks.” She took the case in hand and gave Casey a soft kiss.

“So where is this gallery of yours?” Casey asked as she lingered in Xena’s arms, playing with the button on her shirt.

“Beverly Hills.”

“Oh I was hoping you’d say that.” She broke out in a broad smile.

“So you want to go to Beverly Hills huh?

“Oh yeah. I hear it’s the best shopping in the world.”

“It is if you can afford it.”

“Hmmm. That could be a problem.”

“Oh puuullleeezeee.” Xena said as she rolled her eyes.

“Hey I’m serious here. You’ve already done so much. I wouldn’t think of trying to take advantage of your kindness.”

“Listen to me. You have no idea how much this time with you means to me. I’ve been alone for thirty- five years Casey waiting for you…” She dropped the subject she didn’t want to push it. “Any how this is your weekend for fun. You get what ever you want that will make it fun for you and if running me to ruin on Rodeo Drive will do it then so be it.”

Casey chuckled as they headed for the door. They walked with their arms around each other’s waist. Casey had to admit they did fit together well and she had never been this comfortable with anyone before, but just how much of this could she really believe? Xena was so nonchalant about revealing everything. Casey had to think that somewhere all the synapses weren’t firing here. Either Xena was telling her the absolute truth or she was spending the weekend with a lunatic. Granted a lunatic who was great in bed, but a lunatic none the less. Still she wasn’t afraid of her. She could sense that Xena would never hurt her and if she decided to leave she knew she’d be free to go.

She pulled herself back as they approached the limo. The driver opened the door and Xena stepped aside to let Casey in first and then she climbed in after telling the driver to head for the gallery. As Xena settled into the seat and tossed her briefcase across to the other seat Casey took her hand and played with her fingers.

“Xena?”

“Hmm?”

“What did she look like? She asked quietly.

“She looked like you. Blonde hair, green eyes…sweet, soft voice.”

“Do you think that maybe you want to believe I’m her because I look like her?”

“No.” Xena said quietly. “I know all this is hard to believe and you probably think I’m nuts. I won’t blame you when you go back.” Xena let her head drop back into the seat. “I’ve just learned after so many times of doing this that the direct route is always the best and then you’re always allowed to make your own choice as to stay or go.”

“Makes sense I guess. How many times have you done this?”

“Too many. I don’t know, somewhere around sixty I think.”

“Do you always end up together?”

“No. Sometimes we don’t and I wait again. Sometimes you come back as a man, weird but okay. You’ve had red hair, brown eyes…it’s just this time you’re almost a dead ringer.” She stopped and grinned. “Sorry bad choice of words.”

Casey nudged her playfully and the conversation was lost to the tickle fight. “AHH THEY STILL WORK!” Xena yelled as she held Casey down and tickled her senseless.

Casey began begging for it to end when she realized she was pinned on the floor of the limo with Xena on top of her holding her down and she couldn’t wiggle free. “You win Warrior you win!”

Xena sat up and looked at her. “What did you say?”

“I said you win.” Casey said as she tried to recapture her breath.

“No what did you call me?”

“Warrior. That’s what you are, aren’t you? You’re the warrior.”

“Yeah, but no one has called me that since…”

“C’mere Warrior.” Casey pulled Xena down and kissed her. At the end of the kiss she whispered, “I’m staying. I don’t care if you are nuts.”

Xena pulled back and gave her a smile that lit up her face like a small child that had just been turned loose in a toy store. “Really?”

“Really. I can’t explain it, but it feels so right. It really does. We belong together.”

“Yes we do.” Xena said as she stretched out next to Casey on the floor of the limo, with her feet up on the seat. “The rules have changed…no running us to ruin on Rodeo Drive.” She chuckled as she pulled Casey into her arms. “We’re going to have to go back to New York and tie up all the loose ends there and get you in into a school out here and…”

“You talk too much.” Casey said as she drew her in for another kiss.

****

After a brief trip to Xena’s gallery, the pair began a slow walk down Rodeo Drive. Casey was having a ball. Xena watched her with a wide grin as she stopped in front of the shops and marveled at the displays and then pretty much decided the items were less than her style.

“It’s actually a little gaudy isn’t it?” Casey asked at one point, resting against a storefront.

“Yeah it is. But hey they keep me in business so who am I to complain?” Xena agreed with a smile. “Coffee…”

“What?”

“Coffee. I need coffee.” Xena said as she looked around for a Starbucks or something.

“Just decide that did you?” Casey asked as she poked Xena in the ribs.

“Un-huh.” Xena flinched at the poke in the ribs revealing that it just might be a tickle spot of her own. “Be nice…” She growled playfully at Casey lifting an eyebrow for emphasis.

“Me? I’m always nice.” Casey said as she pushed off the building and gave Xena two quick pokes in the ribs before taking off running down the sidewalk.

“Oh you are in so much trouble when I catch you!” Xena said as she took off after her.

She finally caught her around the waist at the corner, when Casey hesitated for just a second trying to figure out where to go next.

“Damn!” Casey giggled as she felt the strong arms wrap around her waist.

“Now your in for it…” Xena started as the sound of screeching brakes assaulted their ears.

Xena looked up and saw three things. The truck that couldn’t get stopped, the child in the middle of the road and the horrified look on the face of a parent so stricken with fear she couldn’t move. She released Casey and made a running leap for the child, pushing her out of the way and into the arms of the mother who feared for her.

Casey watched as the truck plowed into Xena sending her crashing to the ground in the intersection some thirty feet away. “NO! GOD NO!” She started to run to Xena, but the golden light that surrounded her held her in place.

2002

She planted the flowers in front of the stone as she talked in the soft voice her partner always loved.

“You came back yesterday. Right here in sunny southern California too. You’re almost making it too easy this time. At least you didn’t make me wait for that. Now I just have to wait for you to grow up. Seems like I’m always waiting for you to grow up. Even when you’re an adult you’re nothing but a big kid.”

She began another spot for another patch of flowers. “Hey by the way what is with you and taking top billing in everything we do? I went through the papers you set up when Casey was born. Geeze partner…you’d think you’d give the bard a little credit once in awhile.” She put the flowers in the ground. “I started setting everything up for you today. I hope we don’t need it this time. I hope…” She paused and brushed dirt from her jeans. “Hell it doesn’t seem to matter what we hope does it love? This is a cruel curse the Gods bestowed on us.”

She fell back on her hands and looked at the stone and the engraving of the chakram and the quill. They had decided long ago not to reveal to each other certain facts about the curse when they finally came back together each time.

The first was that if the partner who currently held the curse died in an accident the surviving partner would then have to carry it. The surviving partner would then have all memories restored, all the memories of all the lifetimes of all the times together no matter how long or how short. Gabrielle’s memories of her last time with Xena were sweet ones, even though they were only together for less than two days.

She smiled and continued planting the flowers. “Had to go out like a hero didn’t you? You know I still get cards from that woman on that little girl’s birthday. She sends cards and pictures…she was seven last week, thanks to you.”

The second was that if the mortal partner didn’t want to stay the immortal partner wouldn’t interfere, of course this meant the partner who carried the curse would have to wait for the next opportunity. The cursed partner also would have to continue to carry the curse upon the natural death of the mortal partner, but both agreed it was worth it if they got to spend a lifetime together, which they did, sometimes.

They had also learned to set up a very intricate system of passing along all their property to each other. It was handled through trust accounts and things of that nature when the mortal partner was reborn. All the immortal partner had to do was find out what name the baby carried and from there it was all pretty easy.

“By the way, they named you Artemis. Artemis Brock, which is pretty damn funny when you stop and think about it.” She grinned as she ran her hand across the chakram on the stone. “I love you and I miss you…”

Finally they agreed never to say goodbye, for fear that the curse would be broken and they would be separated forever.

2025

Gabrielle had decided today was the day. “Time to go get my warrior.” She said, aloud as she tossed her car keys up in the air and caught them. She looked at the black Porsche and grinned. “If this doesn’t get your attention nothing will.” She slipped into the seat and started the car.

The read and blue lights popped up on cue. “Aha gotcha!” Gabrielle giggled as she slowed down from eighty-five to a more respectable speed and finally stopping along side the side of road. She got all the papers she knew she would need and she waited, watching in the rearview mirror. She watched as the door of the police cruiser opened and she stepped out.

“Oh the hair’s a little lighter and a little shorter than normal, but I can live with it. Those eyes had still better be blue though damn it.” She growled. “Don’t put sunglasses on.” She whined and slumped in the seat just a little. She sat back up at the tap on the window. She smiled and rolled it down. “Yes Officer?”

“I’m Officer Brock with the LAPD ma’am and the reason I stopped you this afternoon is because you were exceeding the speed limit. Is there an emergency I should be aware of?”

‘”Yeah and it’s been brewing for twenty six years’ Gabrielle thought as she smiled and said “No officer.”

“Driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance, if you don’t mind.”

Gabrielle handed the requested items out the window. Brock studied the license. “How do you pronounce your last name?” She asked with that same wonderful smile.

“Amphipolis…” Gabrielle answered. ‘The uniform is a plus.” She thought as she smiled back. ‘Hmmm…handcuffs…’ Her mind began to wander with the possibilities.

“Interesting.”

“It’s Greek. Ancient Greek to be exact.”

Gabrielle entered the Gallery. She paused to rearrange the glasses and the briefcase, just a little bit. “It’s called The Eternal Dance. You see the bard and warrior fell in love with each other…” She said as the approached she tall woman with the blue eyes who studied the quill and the chakram.

The End.

Part 2: Warrior Spirit

2028

Gabrielle sat on the couch with the yellow lab puppy in her lap. She stroked the puppy’s head absent-mindedly as she stared out at the ocean remembering the night that she had been brought to this house which was now her home. How Xena had held her and introduced her to the Pacific Ocean. Those blue eyes brimming with tears as she tried to make the woman Gabrielle had been then understand that she truly loved her.

Then, to wake up suddenly on the sidewalk, with all her memories intact. Stumbling forward through the crowded intersection and watching them cover Xena with the sheet. Knowing immediately what had happened. They had been torn from each other once again, just as they were about to begin a long happy life together.

Twenty-six years of waiting had given Gabrielle Artemis Brock, Xena’s newest life. Oh she was Xena. Every ounce Xena and it didn’t take long for that to become quite clear. It also didn’t take long for them to get together once the bard had gotten Officer Brock’s attention that day along side the road.

Three years later and Gabrielle was alone again. “Brock”, as she preferred to be called in this life, gunned down in the middle of the street while doing a traffic stop, just like the one she had been doing the day she met Gabrielle. The bard wiped the tears from her eyes as the visions of the police funeral filled her head again.

Hundreds of cruisers from all over the country, almost a thousand police officers all coming to pay their respects to a fellow officer lost in the line of duty. The procession had taken almost two and half-hours to the graveyard where Gabrielle Amphipolis had laid to rest another lover. She buried Brock just a few hundred feet from where she had buried Xena Gabriel so many years before. Another marble stone with a quill and chakram went up as a tribute to the passing of yet another warrior.

“Come on Argo let’s go for a walk. I need some air.” She got up from the couch and grabbed the puppy’s leash as they went out the sliding glass door and down the stairs onto the beach.

The puppy, named Agro by Brock without any prodding from Gabrielle at all, was a gift from the cop just a little over a month ago. Brock had brought her home after seeing her in the window of the pet shop and falling head over heels in love with her. She had come in with the pup tucked in her gym bag and tossed her in the middle of the bed very early on a Saturday morning after her shift had ended.

Gabrielle found herself pounced on by the little beast as Brock yelled, ” Sic her Argo!” from across the room. Luckily the bard’s aim was still good and the pillow hurled at the cop found its mark as she fought the onslaught of wet puppy kisses. She too fell in love with the little addition and it didn’t take long before the three of them were curled up together in the big bed sleeping another Saturday morning through.

Argo however, had learned very quickly that Saturday afternoon would relegate her to the laundry room where her own bed was, because apparently mommies needed privacy for their own playtime. Gabrielle remembered a very long time ago when she had been scared half-witless by another Argo who had gotten a little to close for comfort during a rather intense moment of passion. From that point forward she had always maintained a strict no animals within fifty feet policy.

She watched as the puppy bounded into the surf and out again after getting an unexpected snout full of seawater. She sneezed repeatedly trying to clear the water from her nose. “Silly dog. Think you’d have learned that lesson by now.” Gabrielle knelt down next to her little companion and gave her a hug as the tears flowed freely down her cheeks. “Oh Argo I don’t know if I can do this again. God it hurts so much to be taken away from each other like this.” She looked out into the expanse of sea in front of her. “Damn it Xena how did you manage to do this so many times? It hurts like hell!”

Xena looked at her hands, flipping them over and inspecting them carefully. Yup they were hers. Not hers in another body, but her own hands the ones she had been attached to when she was born the very first time. The hands that had wielded sword and chakram, the hands that had caressed and loved her bard.

“Okay something is up.” She said aloud just to see if her it was her own voice. It was. “Something’s definitely up. I’m here, I’m me and I have all my memories.” She looked around the Gallery. The Eternal Dance still stood in the center of the room continuing as if nothing had changed. Something had changed. She remembered Brock being torn in half by the semi automatic gunfire from the car she had stopped. She remembered the valiant fight for life the cop had put up and how her last thoughts were of Gabrielle and her love for the little blonde.

Xena headed for the door anxious to find her bard so they could figure this out together. As she reached for the doorknob, she really realized something wasn’t quite right. Her hand passed through the knob, she tried again with the same result. “Aw hell!” She growled as she made a third swipe at the knob. “Think Xena think. You want out how do you get out?” She made a fist and with a tentative punch she took a swing at the door. Her hand passed through the door, her arm passed through the door and before she had time to think about it, her entire body passed through the door. She turned around and cocked a dark eyebrow. “Okay that was creepy, but I’m out.”

She strolled down the hallway then down the circular staircase to the living room she found the remnants of Gabrielle’s self-imposed bed on the couch. She looked around the house that she had purchased and made her home. Gabrielle and Brock had done some redecorating. She looked at the ‘modern’ art that was hung over the fireplace. “Oh well that has got to go!” She looked around at the room and realized she didn’t care for most of the decor. “Oh Ri we need to have a long talk about your taste in furnishings.”

She moved to the sliding glass door and tried to grasp that handle as well, with the same result as trying the door to the Gallery, it passed right through. “Son of a bitch! What’s going on here?” She stood there staring at the handle. She didn’t really want to do that creepy walking through the door thing again. Just as she was about to give up she saw Gabrielle coming up the steps with Argo hot on her heals. She took a step back and waited with a broad smile.

Gabrielle opened the door and stood to the side to allow Argo the chance to go in first. The pup stopped just short and the hair on her neck bristled. She growled and barked at something just on the other side of the door. Gabrielle looked into the house wondering what could be upsetting Argo so much. She slipped into the room very carefully staying close to the wall and moved to a cabinet on the corner. She carefully and quietly opened a drawer and removed a .45 caliber Glock. Quickly she inspected the gun, chambered a round, gripping it in both hands, like Brock had taught her she brought the gun to the ‘low ready’ position. She was about to begin searching the house when she realized Argo was still barking at the door. “Argo quiet!”

“Yeah Argo quiet!” Xena growled at the dog that then disappeared under the table on the deck with her tail between her legs.

Xena didn’t like this. She didn’t like this one damn bit. Gabrielle had come in and walked right past her. It was then, she realized that her partner, her love, the other half of her soul couldn’t see or hear her, “Well now this just sucks.” She groused as she looked at the cowering pup. “You can see me though can’t you?” The pup cringed again and tried to get further under the table. She turned back around and spoke calmly to Gabrielle. “There’s nobody here who’s going to hurt you Ri put the gun away.”

Gabrielle turned back and looked at Argo cowering under the table on the deck. “Oh some watch dog you’re gonna be.” She removed the magazine from the gun and cleared the round from the chamber. Replacing the round into the magazine she then popped it back in and put the gun in the cabinet. “Come on Argo, come on girl.” She called the dog as she slapped her leg and made soft kissing noises. The pup refused to move. “Oh you big coward! We should have named you Ares. Your namesake was one of the bravest animals I have ever known.”

She went out on the deck and pulled the quivering dog into her arms and carried her into the house. As soon as she was put down she scrambled out of the room and to her bed in the laundry room. Gabrielle sighed as she watched the dog disappear. She turned and closed the sliding glass door, reaching through Xena as she did.

Gabrielle didn’t notice it, but Xena certainly felt something and she shivered a little. “Oh I don’t like this at all.” She moved to the side and freed herself from Gabrielle’s intruding arm.

After she closed and locked the door she returned to the couch and sat down. She pulled her legs up and curled them up under her as she brought the blanket into her lap and covered her legs. The tears came again. “Xena…” She cried as she tried to find comfort in the couch and the blanket. “I miss you so much. Hurry home.

Xena rushed to the couch and knelt right in front of her bard. “I’m here my love. Oh Gabrielle don’t cry, please don’t cry.” She tried touching the bard only to find that she couldn’t do it. “Shh it’s okay my bard it’s okay. I’m here I’m right here with you.”

“Xena…” Gabrielle wiped her eyes. She almost had ‘the feeling’, the feeling that they got when the baby was reborn. She cocked her head and waited for the feeling to ‘settle in’ as it were, but it wouldn’t. She chalked it up to wishful thinking. “I miss you Warrior.” She whispered.

“Oh Gabrielle come on you can hear me…or feel me or something I know you can. I can see it in your eyes. Look at me.” Xena waved her hand in front of Gabrielle’s face.

Gabrielle continued to stare out the door at the ocean. Xena stood and began pacing around the room. “There has to be a reason Gabrielle. There has to be a reason that I’ve been sent back.” She noticed the bust of Ares was still on its perch by the sliding glass door. She walked over and stared down at it. “If you’ve ever done anything useful in your life you dirty bastard let this be it.” She concentrated before placing all the energy she could muster into taking a swing at.

The bust toppled to the floor, shattering into a million pieces and causing Gabrielle to come up of the couch with a strangled scream. She looked to the spot where the bust had been sitting. She turned her head just slightly as she took a tentative step forward. “Xena?”

The warrior smiled. “Yes love I’m right here.”

The bard moved slowly to the spot, reaching her hands out slowly in front of her. “Xena? Are you here?”

“Yes darling I’m right here.” She stepped in front of Gabrielle once again her hands entered her body and passed through. “Oh that is just really creepy love.” She stared down at the hands that penetrated her body. “Talk about having someone under your skin.”

Gabrielle cocked her head. She wasn’t sure but she thought she heard the word ‘love’. “Oh I’m losing it.” She quickly turned away and picked up one of the white house phones. “Michelle, I need a brush and a dust pan up in the living room. Thanks.” She replaced the receiver and returned to the shattered bust. She dropped to her knees and began collecting the larger pieces placing them on the table. “Yup losing my ever loving mind.”

The blonde continued to pick up the larger fragments as Xena continued to pace around the room. “I just don’t fucking believe this! Three thousand years I played by your damned rules!” She knew she was shouting at the Gods who had cursed them and that they probably weren’t listening, but it made her feel better. “Kept the chakram and the quill safe! Spent a majority of my life without her! Hoping that you would let us come back together and now you do this to us. Damn you! Damn you all!”

“Chill babe…”

Xena whirled to see Aphrodite standing by the column that the bust had been standing on.

“Aphrodite what in the hell is going on here?” She stormed over to the Goddess, as Gabrielle remained completely unaware of them.

“I’m like trying to help you out here sweets, calm down.”

“Calm down? Calm down? How do you expect me to calm down when Gabrielle can’t see or hear me and now apparently I won’t be coming back.”

“But you are back you big dumb warrior.”

“Oh yeah great! I’m fucking Casper.”

“For right now yes, but I’ve made a deal for you and if you meet your end of it you will be returned whole and,” She winked as she motioned to the bard. “Solid, if you know what I mean. You’ll also be made immortal in the true sense of the word. You and little bardypoo can spent the rest of your unnatural lives together.”

“What do I have to do?”

“Find out who murdered you.”

“What?”

“Well, find out who murdered Artemis. Sis doesn’t take well to namesakes being gunned down in the street. Even if that namesake was you.”

“And if I find out who did it, you will restore me?”

“To all your tall, dark and dangerous glory.”

Xena looked down to the bard and smiled. “I’ll do it.”

“Somehow I figured that would be your answer.”

“I’m going to need her help.” She waved a hand at Gabrielle. “Any chance you could let her see me or hear me or something?”

“Well yes and no.”

“Oh that’s helpful.”

“Hey I’m really sticking my neck out for you two as it is. You could try and like be just a little grateful you know.” The Goddess pouted, turning her back to the warrior.

“Umm yeah. Look Aphrodite I’m sorry. I just know I can’t do this without her and it would be a lot easier if we could communicate.”

The Goddess turned around to face Xena. “Oh you can communicate with her babe. Just use the worlds oldest language.”

Aphrodite disappeared in a shimmering that always reminded the warrior of a waterfall. “World’s oldest language?” Her brows furrowed together as she considered Aphrodite’s words. When the meaning finally struck home she straightened and yelled into the air. “Oh yeah that’ll be easy, considering she can’t see or hear me!”

“You’ll manage babe….” The disembodied voice sang back at her.

A young brunette woman entered the room. She wore a gray maid’s dress and was carrying a brush and dustpan. “Miss Amphipolis what happened?”

“Umm must have been the wind when I let Argo in.” She looked up at the maid as she got off her knees. “It just fell off the pedestal.” She lied hoping the woman wouldn’t question her further. She didn’t want to explain that the damn thing had just jumped off the pedestal.

“Too bad, it was a nice piece. If it was accurate he was a very good looking man.”

“Yeah with the personality of a sand viper.” Gabrielle mumbled as the maid handled the task of cleaning up the debris.

“Excuse me?”

“Oh nothing just thinking out loud. I’m going to take a shower and lay down for a bit Michelle. Will you tell Katherine I’ll take my dinner in my room?”

“Yes ma’am.” The young maid looked at her employer. “Miss Amphipolis?”

“Yes?”

“I know that you may think it’s too soon after…” She slowly finished sweeping up the mess. “But we’re, the house staff that is…we’re having a cookout this Saturday and well we’d like it if you’d join us. Some fresh air and sunshine would do you some good. I’d like it if you came.”

“Oh I just bet you would.” Xena scowled as she watched the young woman watching her bard.

Gabrielle smiled at the young woman. “I’ll think about it.”

“Good.”

Gabrielle headed for the stairs, climbing them quickly with the warrior hot on her heals. “And what was that missy?” Xena growled as she followed the bard. “Looks like the maid wants to give you really personal service.” The bard continued down the hall to her room. Xena just managed to slip in behind her before the door closed. She sat on the bed and watched as Gabrielle began removing her clothes. “Oh Gods Gabrielle that’s really not nice.”

The bard removed her sneakers, kicking them into the corner. Then she unzipped her jeans tugging them over her hips. Xena cleared her throat as she felt the blush climb up her neck. “Hmm this is taking voyeurism just a little too far.” The warrior growled as she stood up and moved the to bay window with her back to Gabrielle. She listened as Gabrielle removed the rest of her clothes then moved into the bathroom.

She turned when she heard the shower start up. She looked around the room at the discarded clothing then to the bathroom. From her position in the room she could see the outline of Gabrielle’s body in the shower. She moved slowly toward the bathroom, swallowing hard as she did. She remembered making love to her bard in that same shower the very morning they had made that fateful trip to Beverly Hills.

She watched through half lidded eyes as Gabrielle ran her hands down her body. “Gods it’s hot in here.” She mumbled as she took another step toward the bathroom. She leaned on the counter and crossed her arms across her chest doing her best not to watch Gabrielle through the shower door. She looked down at the counter and wondered momentarily how come she didn’t fall through. Not having a good answer at the moment she let it go and took a deep breath.

“Well my love we have a chance here to make everything all right again, but I need your help.” She glanced at the shower again. “So how do I get your attention?” She sighed again as the water stopped running. The door opened and she felt like she was going to pass out. “Wonder if a ghost can faint?” She rasped as the bard reached to the counter for a fluffy towel.

She steeled herself for what she knew was coming. “Oh what the hell.” She finally gave up and just enjoyed watching the bard towel the water from her firm young body. “You know when I get this solid thing worked out my bard you are in big trouble.”

The warrior followed the bard back to the bedroom. Gabrielle paused long enough to grab her robe from the back of the bathroom door tossing it to the foot of the bed before lying down on the comforter. Xena stopped in her tracks when she realized what her little bard had in mind.

“Oh no,no,no,no,no that’s just tooooo cruel Gabrielle. Don’t do that to me pleeeaasseee.” She gulped hard as the bard began doing exactly what she knew she was going to do. “It won’t do you any good to try and kill me Bri, I’m already dead.”

“Xena….” The bard moaned as her hands traveled over her body.

“Oh Gods….” The warrior gasped as she felt her knees go weak. She knelt next to the bed just inches from her beloved bard. “I love you Gabrielle.” She watched as her lover’s hands caressed her own body, slowly moving over the flesh she so desperately wanted to touch and hold again.

“Xena.” The bard moaned again as her hand slipped between her legs. “I love you.” Her hands worked the heated flesh as her mind flashed images of her beloved warrior behind closed eyelids. “Miss you….” She rasped as her hips began grinding against her hand.

“OKAY THAT’S IT!” The warrior stood and began stripping off her shirt. Again she wondered very briefly why her clothes felt tangible, but as her eyes traveled back to the writhing, moaning woman on the bed she really didn’t care. She finished undressing and moved onto the bed. The only thought in her mind was to be close to her bard. “Gabrielle. I love you.” She reached out a shaky hand wanting so badly to touch her.

She was amazed when she actually felt warmth under her hand as it came to rest on the bard’s shoulder.

“Oh Xena…yes….” Gabrielle called as her fantasy took her closer to the edge. She could almost feel the warrior’s gentle touch on her shoulder. Then her mind carried to her the sensation of Xena lying next to her, touching her, kissing her neck and ear.

Xena moved her mouth to a sensitive earlobe and took it between her teeth. She moaned, not caring how this was being made possible. All that mattered was that she was loving her bard and the bard really seemed to be enjoying it. Her hand traveled down the bard’s arm to the hand between her legs. She lightly brushed the hand aside and slipped her own hand into the warmth.

“Oh God Xena….” Gabrielle arched into the fantasy touch, believing with all her heart that her warrior was loving her. Her body that was just going with all the sensations was shutting down her mind at the moment.

“Gabrielle….” The warrior moved closer, placing her body over the bard as she continued to make love to her. She felt the sensation of settling just under her beloved’s skin.

“Yes!” The younger woman gasped as the climax overtook her body. She actually felt her warrior with her, loving her. “Xena…I love you.” She murmured as the orgasm rippled through her body leaving her shaking and weak. When it was over the tears came freely. She rolled onto her side and curled into a little ball drawing her knees to her chest, wrapping her arms around them. “God Xena I miss you so much.”

The warrior tried to wrap herself around her love to comfort and protect her. She couldn’t manage it and it broke her heart to hear the bard sobbing. “I’m right here love. I’m right here.” She whispered as she lay as close as she could. She listened as the bard’s breathing evened out and she fell asleep. The warrior closed her eyes and drifted off.

The knocking on the door woke them both at the same time. Gabrielle gathered herself up and tossed on her robe. Xena just rolled over on the bed and stretched out as she watched the bard move to the door. “If it’s the maid you can tell her you’ve already been seen to.” The warrior chuckled as she crossed her long legs and put her hands behind her head.

Gabrielle opened the door, taking a step back she allowed the maid to bring on a tray of food. Michelle looked briefly at her employer, dressed only in a robe. “Where would you like this?”

“On the bed. Thank you Michelle.”

“You’re welcome ma’am. Will there be anything else?”

“NO!” The warrior yelled from her spot on the bed.

Gabrielle pulled her robe a little closer as she glanced back at the bed. “No…no I’m fine thanks. I’m just going to have dinner and go to sleep.”

“Yes ma’am. Goodnight then.”

“Goodnight.”

Michelle left the room, closing the door quietly behind her.

The blonde moved back to the bed taking a seat in the center and pulling the tray to her. She looked around the room, mumbling “Remote, remote…”

“In the bedside table on your side of the bed. Just like always.” Xena grinned as she sat up next to the bard and looked at the tray. “Steak! What I wouldn’t give for a steak.” She teased as the bard climbed across the bed retrieving the remote from the drawer.

Gabrielle returned to the tray and clicked on the TV. She flipped through about a half dozen channels before settling on a movie. When Xena looked to the screen she absolutely began howling with laughter. “Ghost! You must be kidding.”

Gabrielle sipped her juice as she lay out across the bed, watching the movie. Xena was torn between the movie and the bard. She watched it very carefully. They were showing the penny against the door scene.

“Hmm where’s Whoopi Goldberg when you need her?” The warrior grumbled as she stretched out behind Gabrielle with her head resting on her fist. She draped her arm over the bard’s waist as they watched the movie.

Xena brought her hand up caressing the bard’s hair in soft, gentle strokes. “Love you. I wish I could do the penny trick.”

****

Gabrielle awoke the next morning, having fallen asleep lying across the bed watching the movie. She stretched as Xena watched her from the window. The sun was just starting to break over the horizon sending an orange glow into the room. As the bard looked to the window she blinked several times as she saw an outline in the window.

“Oh yeah Gab you’re losing it.” She stated as she shook her head. “First you think you can feel her making love to you and now you’re seeing things.”

The warrior perked up and took a step forward. “Gabrielle…no you’re not seeing things. Come on sweetheart look at me.”

The blonde looked to the window again. Again she saw it, an outline of the warrior. Xena reaching out for her, holding out her hand. She smiled as she reached out “Xena?”

“Yes.”

Gabrielle’s extended hand returned to her lips as she gasped at the sight before her.

“You can hear me?”

She nodded as tears began to run down her face.

“Oh Gabrielle. Thank the Gods…or at least one Goddess in particular.”

“Aphrodite?”

“Yeah.”

“Xena what’s going on?”

“Well it’s kind of hard to explain.”

“Try. I’ve been waiting for you to come back and now you’re not going to be able to. Oh Xena I can’t live this life without you.”

“Aphrodite struck a deal for me Gabrielle. If I find out who killed Artemis Brock they’ll lift the curse and we’ll be together again.”

“Oh Xena really?”

“Yeah really. Umm Gabrielle can you really see me?”

“Well it’s just kind of an outline. It’s because of the sunrise. You’re all orange.”

“Orange huh? Does it suit me?”

“No. I much prefer tan.” She could almost see the smile on her partner’s face.

“Well I’m gonna do my best to get my tan back, but I need your help.”

“Anything.”

“First, I have to admit that my mind is kind of Swiss cheese when it comes to Brock. I need all the information you can give me about when she was killed.”

“Okay, ah, it was two weeks ago. She was doing a traffic stop and the driver opened fire as she approached the car.”

“Don’t they have the plate?”

“Stolen.”

“Damn.” She turned and looked out the window.

Gabrielle took two steps toward the outline of her partner. She tried to touch her only to have her hand pass right through.

“I gotta tell you Gabrielle that really gives me the willies. Please don’t do that.” Xena chuckled.

The bard pulled her hand back. “I’m sorry I just wanted to touch you.”

She turned and smiled. “I know sweetheart. Just as much as I want to touch you, but right now it’s just not possible.”

“You know I had the weirdest experience last night…”

“After your shower?”

“Yeah I was…HEY you were here! You dirty dog you.”

“You didn’t complain last night.”

“Xena I was missing you so much.”

“I know and I stayed with you all night. Laid right behind you while you watched the movie.”

“I felt something, but I kept telling myself I was imagining things.”

“Well you weren’t.”

“Apparently not.” She smiled. “You really spent the night with me?”

“With my arms wrapped around you as much as I could.”

Gabrielle started the Porsche, glancing over at where Xena should be as she revved the engine. She couldn’t see her anymore, but she could still hear her. “Love a fast car.” She grinned as she pushed her sunglasses into place.

“This from the woman who wouldn’t get on my horse.”

“These horses are much lower to the ground love.” She put the car in gear leaving rubber on the driveway as she pulled out.

“For the love of Zeus Gabrielle slow down. You trying to get us killed?”

“Ah, but you forget my fearless warrior, I’m immortal and you’re very dead.”

“Still Bri, let’s not take any chances until we get this whole mess sorted out and make sure that we are both truly immortal. Besides a wreck can still do damage. To be honest I’d rather not spent eternity in different pieces.”

She slowed the car down as she grinned. “Oh all right. Since you begged so nicely.”

“You know I’m keeping track now and when I get restored to my former self you are really gonna get it.”

“Promise?”

“Oh yeah.”

“I can’t wait.”

They pulled into Parker Center. Several of the officers milling around recognized her immediately and came over to offer her words of condolence. She smiled at them and thanked them as she made her way inside. “You still with me partner?” She whispered as she held the door just a little longer than necessary.

“Right behind you Gabrielle. You don’t need to hold the doors for me. I can, well I can walk through them.

“That sounds painful.”

“Not painful, just kinda creepy.”

She walked down the hallway finally stopping at a bank of elevators. ” Internal Affairs is investigating Brock’s shooting. We need to go up to the third floor.”

“Gabrielle, sweetheart…it might be better if you don’t talk to me while we’re here. No one can see me remember. They still keep wrap around dinner jackets on hand here and I’d hate to try and get you out of one of those in my current condition.”

She started to speak, but just nodded as she rang for the elevator. They both stepped onto the crowded elevator. When the doors closed Xena realized she could have some real fun. “You know Gabrielle I can’t wait until this is all over with. The things I’m going to do to you….” She grinned as she watched the blush creep up the bard’s neck. “Oh yeah I’m going to tie you to that big bed of ours and I’m going to make love to you until you scream my name.”

The bard gave a little warning growl low enough that only Xena’s sensitive ears could pick it up.

“Ummhmm my Queen, I’m going to start at the very top of your lovely head and kiss, lick and suck my way own your body veeerrryyy slowly….”

“Stop….” She growled just a little louder through clenched teeth.

“All the while my hands will be roaming all over that supple young body of yours. On your neck, breasts that very firm ass….”

“Behave….” Gabrielle smiled at the uniformed officer who glanced over at her.

“Aww come on Bri. You know you like it when I talk dirty.” Xena’s grin widened.

The elevator came to a stop, for which Gabrielle decided she would be eternally grateful. She stepped off and took a deep breath to chase the blush from her face. “I hope you can hear me Warrior Princess,” She whispered as she walked slowly down the hall. “Because if you don’t behave yourself, you’ll be sleeping on the couch when we get this cleared up.”

“Oh sure. I know you better than that my little bard. You’ve threatened me with the couch before. Even if I end up there so will you. Remember the couch in Paris that we had to throw away after….”

“I’ve never been able to look at a crepe the same way since.” She giggled as she placed her hand on the knob of the required office. She took a deep breath. “Be serious now and behave.”

“Yes ma’am,” She paused biting back a grin. “All serious.”

“I mean it.” She pushed open the door moving into the room. She recognized one of the officers from Brock’s baseball team. “Hey Jim!” She smiled as she crossed to his desk.

“Gabrielle! Hey it’s great to see you.” He stood, bringing the bard into a warm hug. “How you doing kiddo?” He asked as they broke the embrace.

“Well, you know. As well as can be expected I guess.”

“Yeah it’s hard.”

“It is. Listen Jim that’s why I’m here. Is there any new information on the shooter?”

“Not yet. All we know it that the car was stolen.” He sighed and looked down at his hands. “You know I’m not suppose to discuss the case.” He looked up and whispered at her. “But I’ll keep you posted, k?”

“Jim that would be great. I just need to know something is being done.”

“Yeah I know. Trust me this case is at the top of everyone’s list. Cop killer’s are our least favorite people.”

“See if you can get a copy of the report love.” Xena crossed her arms as she watched the bard and the cop.

“Ah…Jim any way you could slip me a copy of the file?”

He drew a deep breath and shook his head slightly. “That’s big trouble kiddo.” He smiled as he looked at the little blonde. “Okay, but if you get caught with it…”

“I found it under a magic rock.” The bard offered.

He nodded as he pulled a file out of a pile on his desk. “Be right back.”

Gabrielle watched him walk away as she sat on the edge of his desk. “Good thinking warrior. I thought maybe we were already at a dead end.”

“Oh that’s funny.” The warrior growled.

“Sorry that didn’t come out quite right.”

Gabrielle sat on the deck picking at a salad as she looked through the file. Xena sat next to her looking into the file as the bard slowly turned the pages. “I don’t see anything here that could help us.” The bard groused as she flipped the pages.

“There has to be something.” Xena leaned in closer to her love.

Gabrielle drew a deep breath as she turned the last page of the report. Under the report she discovered Jim had also included copies of the crime scene photos. “Oh God….” She closed the file as she turned a slight shade of green.

“Gabrielle what is it?”

“Pictures. Pictures of Brock.” She shook her head. “I’m sorry Xena I know these things shouldn’t bother me but….”

“Hey it’s okay.”

“This is all so damn confusing. I know it was you and I know that you’re here now, but I just can’t stand to look at what they did to you.”

“It’s okay. Just open the file so I can look at the pictures.”

She blew a frustrated breath as she opened the file to the photos.

“Tell you what love. Why don’t you spread them on the table for me and take Argo for a walk?”

“Good idea.” Without looking at the subject matter she laid the photos across the table. “I’ll be back in a bit.”

“Take your time sweetheart.” Xena smiled at her bard as the blonde opened the door grabbing the leash, calling for the puppy.

Argo came bounding to the door until she sensed Xena, then she began barking and pawing nervously.

“Same to you pal.” The warrior growled as she glared at the pup.

“Okay you two.” The bard grinned. “Be nice to each other.” She leaned over and picked up the puppy. We’re all going to be living together eventually.”

“Hey, I didn’t bring the little beast into the house.”

“Technically darling, you did.” The bard wanted to kiss the warrior and stopped just short realizing she couldn’t. “Oh Xena we got to get this fixed. I’m just aching to touch you.” She scratched the dog behind the ear.

“You do realize that when we get this mess sorted out it’ll take us a week to get out of bed?” Xena grinned.

“Only a week? Geeze I’m disappointed.”

“Take the dog for a walk. The sooner I get this done the sooner we get on to other things.” She grinned despite the fact that the bard couldn’t see her.

Gabrielle clipped the leash to Argo’s neck they set off down the steps for the beach. The warrior watched them walking away. “Aphrodite you’d better not be playing with us. I swear by everything I am I’ll make eternity miserable for you if you are.”

****

As evening settled in, Gabrielle sat down to a completely decanted pasta dinner while the warrior sat with head resting on fist grumbling just a bit. “It’s not fair. In this state I can’t have any of the things I enjoy.”

“Sweetheart it’ll be all right.” The bard said softly trying to soothe her grumpy warrior. “As soon as we get you back and whole I guarantee you that you can have everything you enjoy.”

“Hmm I can’t wait. We still have one big roadblock. We don’t know anymore today about who kill Brock than we did yesterday.”

“Well if you could remember something about that night that might help.” Gabrielle sipped her wine.

“I know and I just barely remember the shooting. She…we…I…oh hell…. The point is Brock barely made it to the car before the driver opened fire. She didn’t have a chance. She didn’t even get her gun out of her holster.”

Michelle came into the room with more rolls on a tray and a very sweet smile for her employer. Xena sat up glaring and growling. “She has got to go!”

Gabrielle ignored the comment as she smiled to the young woman. “Thank you Michelle.”

“You’re welcome ma’am.” The young woman stood awkwardly before her employer. “Umm if there is anything I can do for you….”

Gabrielle heard the low rumble that she knew was coming from deep within her very jealous warrior. “Ah no thank you Michelle I’m fine thanks. Why don’t you take the rest of the night off.”

Looking crestfallen the young woman simply nodded. “Yes Ma’am.” She tuned and left the room with a heavy sigh.

“She wants you.” Xena growled as she watched the young woman leave.

“Xena every woman does not want me. Beside even if she did, my heart, soul” she paused smiling seductively, ” and body belong to you.”

“Gabrielle what would have happened if I hadn’t come back for a long time? Would you have found comfort with someone else?” She moved to the sliding glass door peering out at the ocean.

“No. Oh Xena no…never.” She stood, following her lover’s voice to the window. “Xena I love you, only you. I waited for twenty-six years for you to come home. I would have waited forever.” She moved beside where she believed Xena to be standing. “You are the only one who has ever possessed me like that and you are the only one who ever will.” She turned and grinned. “What about you Warrior? You were alone a lot longer than I was. You did this more times than I have. Did you ever find solace with someone else?”

“The first few times, yes.” She admitted quietly. “It just hurt so much to keep loosing you over and over again, but finally I couldn’t do it anymore. Taking someone else into my bed didn’t ease the ache I felt when I lost you. So I stopped. That’s when I started concentrating on other things.”

“Oh yeah, you mean like making more money than the Treasury Department.”

“Ummhmm. I figured eternity would be much more pleasant if we could enjoy it properly.”

“You did good Warrior.”

Xena chuckled as she turned to look at her bard. “Thanks. Too bad you spent some of it on that ugly painting.” She gestured to the fireplace.

The bard whirled around to the item in question. “Hey I like that painting.”

“It stinks.”

“No it doesn’t. It’s very good. I bought it from a young artist on Venice Beach.”

“Ummhmm….” The response was skeptical at best.

“One of these days it’ll be worth a fortune.”

“It’ll take at least two hundred years. Good thing we’ll be around to get our money back.”

****

Gabrielle prepared for bed. Freshly showered she emerged from the bathroom wearing a soft blue robe.

“Take it off and come to bed.” The disembodied command was low and throaty, but very clear.

The bard smiled. She couldn’t see the warrior, but the thought of her being in their bed was just so delightful she had to believe that they would be able to find comfort with each other. She slipped out of the robe and under the covers. She turned on her side commanding her eyes to see the warrior. Willing her brain to make it possible, demanding her body to feel. Hey eyes snapped shut as she felt a slight jolt at her breast. “Ohhh Xena….”

The warrior grinned as she flicked her tongue over the tight nipple. She didn’t understand it, but it didn’t matter. All that did matter was that the bard was responding to her touch.

****

Gabrielle curled around the pillow and inhaled, she could smell the aroma of their lovemaking and the faint spicy scent that was the warrior. She languished in the blissful feeling that coursed through her body. “You know,” She purred as she curled against the pillow. “This is rather interesting and very pleasurable. I thought that over the eons we had discovered everything there was about making love, but I was apparently wrong.”

“Well, I’m glad you’re happy my love.” The warrior watched as the bard continued to move against the pillow. “When I get back to normal…you owe me and I’m adding interest.”

“Oh I promise to make it interesting.”

“I’m compounding that by the hour you know.”

“And you say it’s only going to be a week.” The bard giggled as she tossed the pillow to where the warrior should be laying.

“Move the pillow bard.” Xena growled as she looked down at her groin where the pillow had landed. She felt a slight tingling sensation as the pillow was pulled away. “Maybe I should compound that by the minute.”

“Xena…are you staying here tonight?”

“Yup. I’m staying right here with you sweetheart. Go to sleep. I’ll be right here.” She reached out stroking her fingers through the long blonde hair as the bard fell into a soft, content slumber. “I love you Gabrielle.”

****

Xena eyes shot open as she sat up in bed. “Gabrielle wake up!” She reached over attempting to shake the bard. “Honey I need your help. Wake up!”

The bard groaned and mumbled something before burying her head in the pillow.

“Three thousand friggen years and you still sleep like a log. Come on honey wake up!”

“Hmm?” She lifted a very sleepy, pillow marked face. “What?”

“I remember something from the shooting. I need you to get up and see if we can find it in my records.”

Gabrielle shook her head trying to get more awake so the words the warrior were saying would make a modicum of sense to her. “Records? What records?”

“The records from the antique gallery. There was a tattoo on the arm of the man that held the gun. I want to try and find the design.” Xena climbed out of bed retrieving her clothes, realizing two things, one she couldn’t wait to get a change of clothes and two she was really glad she didn’t sweat right now. Wearing the same clothes over and over again would be just a little gross if not for that small reprieve.

The bard got up and threw on her robe as she glanced at the clock. “Three thirty in the morning. This had better be good Warrior.” She teased as they headed out of the bedroom then down to the hall to the office. She flipped on the light then settled down in front of the computer. She yawned as she turned the machine on waiting for it to boot up. “So,” She yawned again. “Where do we start?”

“China.” The warrior replied as she watched over the bard’s shoulder. She noticed the shiver that ran down Gabrielle’s spine. “What’s wrong sweetheart?”

“I’ve always hated China.” She clicked the mouse opening the file. “Now what?”

“Open the subfile marked Chin.”

“Gods….” She groaned as she did as requested. She heard the deep sigh from her partner as she clicked through the various images in the file. “Anything?”

“Not yet. Keep going.” Xena’s eyes scanned the images as the bard opened each one. “Stop! That’s it!”

Gabrielle let her hand slip from the mouse as she stared at the image before her. “Oh no not again….” She gasped as she felt the comfort of the warrior’s hands settle on her shoulders.

“Mieng T’ien….”

“How Xena? How?”

“Hmm I’m not sure. Reincarnation maybe.”

“It’s the Green Dragon though isn’t it?”

“Well it’s his symbol. Maybe someone just dug it up.”

“I hope so.”

“Me too.”

****

They waited until sunup. Having a shower together, which Xena admitted was a truly interesting feeling. Then Gabrielle tortured the warrior by having Eggs Benedict for breakfast. “Cruel. Very cruel.” She growled as she watched the bard lick the Hollandaise sauce from her lips.

Then it was back to the Porsche for a trip to China Town. The warrior made the bard promise to keep it down to a respectable speed.

“Chicken.” The bard teased as she dropped the car into gear.

“What happened to the limo?”

“I keep it for special occasions, but I don’t use it on a regular basis like you did.”

“What about Rory, the driver?”

“Oh. he left us about two years ago. He got married and opened his own limo business. We’re investors. He’s turning quite the profit for us darling.”

“Well done.”

“Yeah I thought so.” Gabrielle grinned as she hit the freeway.

“Gabrielle!” Xena growled as the needle began to climb.

****

Gabrielle parked the car setting the alarm as she closed the door. It was early and there were very few people on the streets. “So love where do we start?”

“I’m not sure. Let just take a slow walk and see what we come up with.”

“Well this is certainly an interesting sight I’m sure. Little blonde woman roaming around China Town in the early hours of the morning by herself.”

“You’re not alone sweetheart and even if I never get back to normal, you never will be again. You can hear me Bri and that’s enough. I’ll be with you forever, I promise.”

The bard smiled. “I love you Warrior and if that’s what I have to settle for then I will, but I know in my heart we’re going to find out who murdered Brock….”

“Gabrielle. You have to be prepared for the fact that even if we do,” She paused hating the next words she was going to say. “There’s a chance that the Gods won’t keep their promise. They are after all the same Gods who cursed us in the first place just to keep us apart. Why would they change now?”

“Xena it’s been three millennia maybe they’re ready to forgive you for being so umm….”

“Arrogant?”

“That’s a polite word for it.” She snickered as she looked at the storefronts hoping to find something to connect to the Green Dragon.

Xena looked around also hoping something would catch her attention and spark her memory. At the corner she saw what she needed. “Oh shit….”

“What?”

“On the corner. That group of boys. Look at the jacket the tall boy in wearing.”

The bard stopped. There was a group of about six young men on the corner. The tallest boy wore a black satin jacket with the Green Dragon emblazoned across the back. “Xena….”

“A gang Bri. A youth gang….”

“Do you think Mieng T’ien has any influence?”

“I don’t know. I’m guessing that since dragons are a large part of the culture, they just inadvertently came up with it by accident.”

“Gods I hope so.”

“You’re not the only one. You umm got your cell phone?”

She reached to her back producing the item in question. “Have phone, will travel.”

“You think maybe your friend at the department would come down here and ask a few questions if you asked him to?”

“Yeah if I call him with more than, ‘Hi Jim it’s Gab…saw a guy wearing a black satin jacket in China town. I think he may have killed Brock…’.”

“Okay, okay I get the point. We need to do a little more snooping around.”

“Ah yeah.”

“Well let’s keep an eye on them and see if maybe they lead us somewhere useful.” The warrior looked around for someplace that Gabrielle could go without rousing a lot of suspicion. “Hey over there, the diner on the corner. You can go get some breakfast.”

“I already had breakfast.”

“It’s been two hours, don’t even try to convince me you couldn’t eat again.”

“No really….”

“All right then tea, coffee, soda water….” The warrior grumbled.

“I get it. Geeze, you know being disembodied hasn’t done anything for your disposition.”

****

Gabrielle took a booth that allowed her to keep an eye on the young men. She ordered a cup of coffee stirring it thoughtlessly as she stared out the window. She wanted to talk to her warrior, but it just wasn’t practical in their current location.

“Have I told you recently that I love you Gabrielle?”

She shook her head just a little and smiled.

“I do you know. I love you more than anything, I always have. I always will.”

“Me too.” The bard replied softly.

“Bri look.” The warrior pointed out the window even though she knew it wouldn’t do any good. The boys gathered around a red Mercedes. “Didn’t the file say something about a red Mercedes?”

“Yup.” Gabrielle said as she stood and started for the door.

“Gabrielle wait!” Xena followed quickly, but the door closed before she could get through it. She took a deep breath, then stepped through. “Oh bard you’re gonna pay for that.” She growled. “Gabrielle damn it stop!”

The bard stopped turning to the sound of her partner’s voice. “What?”

“You don’t just go rushing….”

“Xena give me a little credit. I just want a look at the plate.”

“It’s probably been changed.”

“Yeah, but it’ll come back stolen too…right?”

“Could I guess.”

Gabrielle stood at the opposite corner and flipped open her cell phone. She glanced over at the car as her friend picked up the other end. “Burlington….”

“Jim it’s Gab….”

“Hey kiddo. Listen I don’t have….”

“Yeah I know, but I might. Can you run a tag?”

“Yeah sure. Go ahead….”

She gave him the plate number waiting patiently for him to come back on the line. “Come on Jim….” She tapped her foot impatiently.

The phone clicked. “Gab?”

“Yeah?”

“Comes back stolen. Where did you get this?”

“It’s kind of a long story and you’re just really gonna have to trust me. I’m in China Town…there’s a red Mercedes here…that’s the plate on the car….”

“Red Mercedes huh?”

“Yup. Fitting the description that Brock gave to the dispatcher….”

“Where exactly are you?”

She gave him the location then promised to go back to her car and wait. Promising only to get involved if they moved before the police arrived. She and Xena returned to the Porsche watching and waiting.

When the black and white unit came into the area the boys took off on foot and the Mercedes peeled out. The officer’s jumped from the cruiser to pursue the boys on foot; Xena could hear them calling for back up over their shoulder mics.

“Aww shit!” Xena yelped when she heard the engine of the Porsche turn over. “Bri don’t! They’ve got other cars on the way.”

“Oh no Warrior we are this close I don’t intend to let them get away from us!” She slammed the car into gear and peeled out.

She took the corner as the Mercedes shot through the first intersection. Xena was grateful it was still early enough there wasn’t a lot of traffic to deal with as Gabrielle hit the gas and shifted again. Xena had to admit that the bard handled the car extremely well and she was gaining fast on the Mercedes. Of course the black and white cruisers were gaining too. “Umm Bri I think you can stop now.”

“Forget it….” Gabrielle growled as she continued after the Mercedes.

****

Gabrielle walked down the beach with Argo. She stopped as she flipped open the paper and read the headline again. ‘Drug Ring in China Town Broken. Suspects in Slaying of Police Officer Taken into Custody’. She tucked the paper back under her arm as the tears began again. “I should have known they were lying to us.” She cried as she looked out to the ocean. “You were right Xena I should have known better than to trust the Gods!”

As soon as the men were taken into custody Xena had begun to fade. It didn’t take long before Gabrielle couldn’t hear her voice anymore and the feeling of being alone settled in again. “Damn you!” She screamed as she crumpled to her knees pounding the sand with her fists.

Argo interrupted her tirade, barking, growling and jumping at something down the beach. She turned her head to find empty beach. She wiped her eyes as she pulled the puppy into her arms falling back into the soft sand. “Shh Argo it’s okay. It looks like it’s just gonna be us from now on girl.” The puppy broke free from her arms charging down the beach barking and growling.

The bard rose to her feet to follow the pup. As she started to chase the dog down, she stopped suddenly as the space in front of her began to ripple and shimmer. Slowly she began to take shape. With each step that carried them closer together, the warrior became clearer to the bard. Long, dark hair blowing in the sea breeze, a smile as bright and brilliant as any sunrise. She continued to move forward, becoming so solid now her footprints could be seen in the sand. Her arms opened wide to welcome her bard home. Gabrielle ran the last half dozen steps throwing herself into those strong arms, which wrapped around her without hesitation.

“Xena! Gods Xena!” More tears came now. Happy tears mixed with tears of disbelief. She ran her hands over the tall frame of the warrior, dressed in modern clothing of a denim shirt and blue jeans.

“Shh Gabrielle I got you sweetheart.” Xena pulled the bard closer kissing the top of her head. “I got you honey. We’re together. Together forever now.”

“They kept their promise?”

“Yeah believe it or not they did.” Xena lifted the bard’s chin, peering down into water green eyes. “We are never going to be separated again.” She lowered her lips capturing the bard in a kiss that promised an eternity of love and devotion. She gave a mischievous little grin as she pulled back from the kiss. “And you owe me.”

“Hmm yeah, yeah I guess maybe I do.”

“Oh you bet you do.” The warrior growled as she picked the bard up in her arms then headed for the house, kissing her every step of the way.

****

“Bedroom or couch….” The warrior mumbled into the bard’s mouth refusing to give up the kiss.

“Floor…” Gabrielle moaned as she felt her feet hit the floor. She bent her knees pulling Xena down by the back of the neck.

The door slid shut, giving Argo just enough time to get in. “Argo bed!” Gabrielle growled as she simply tore the buttons from the warrior’s shirt, forcing it over her broad shoulders. The pup headed for the laundry room. Clothing was quickly discarded, mostly in pieces. Gabrielle hadn’t realized how easily denim could be ripped given the proper inspiration. It didn’t surprise her to find out her own jeans were coming off in two pieces as Xena growled over her, “Too many clothes….”

Their lips met and it didn’t take long for lips to part so tongues could explore and reacquaint themselves. Hands roamed, legs intertwined nipples hardened as breasts rubbed against each other and flesh began sliding together.

“Xena….” Gabrielle moaned as her mouth found an ear tucked behind ebony locks. She took the lobe into her mouth giving it a nip and a tug with her teeth. “Yes my Warrior…oh…yes….’

Xena’s hands explored her bard’s body. Mapping it once again, remembering familiar contours and sensitive spots that would make her lover scream her name. Her questing hand settled gently between the bard’s legs, which were only too happy to open at her warrior’s touch. As she ducked her mouth to a hard nipple, her fingers slid into the moist folds of the bard. “Love you Bri….”

“Ungh….” Small hands twisted into dark hair as Gabrielle’s body arched into Xena’s loving touch. “Love…you…too….”

Gabrielle’s hands pushed down her warrior’s back, massaging on the down stroke, then digging in and clawing on the up stroke. “Yes!” Xena growled, tossing her head back as the sensation of the nails on her back made her own desire build toward what was bound to be a fiery explosion for them both. She felt Gabrielle’s hands move to her breast, kneading them, pinching taught nipples. Her own hand continued stroking the bard, hard and fast.

“More Xena…please more….”

The warrior planted her mouth firmly on a patch of neck, nipping lightly. As she entered her lover, she realized this was the first time in a very long time that they both could remember the love that they had shared for more than three thousand years. She was rewarded with a long, deep, throaty moan and the bucking of her bard’s hips to meet the thrusting of her hand. “Feel so good….” Xena moaned into the ear that her tongue was currently exploring.

Gabrielle felt the sweat breaking out on both bodies as they rubbed against each other. She had missed this, making passionate love to her warrior. Even when they were together during the curse it was different, but this, this was the touch that she had known from the beginning. This was her warrior pushing her to the edge again; getting ready to send her to that special place that only Xena’s true touch could take her. The bard brought her hand between the slick bodies sliding down to the place that she desired. She pushed one of Xena’s legs over her own as she slid her fingers into the warrior’s warmth. “So good….” She moaned as she pushed down further to what she knew the warrior was waiting for.

“Yes…Bri please….” Xena’s head was tossed back again as the bard entered her warrior, thrust with almost as much power.

Grinding and thrusting against each other they carried each other to the ultimate pleasure. Both bodies shuddering and convulsing with the climax that they gave over to at the same time.

The warrior collapsed next to the bard, pulling her into her arms, planting soft kisses on her forehead as Gabrielle placed tender kisses to a bronzed collarbone. They didn’t speak, they didn’t move. They merely enjoyed the bliss that was their love and the passion that they shared. They were together again. Now and forever.

Fini

Part 3: The Price of Love

2028

“That,” Xena said as she kicked her heels off and began fumbling for the zipper of her dress. “Had to be….” Her voice strained as she tugged at the zipper at her back.

Gabrielle moved to her distressed partner and brushed her hands way, deciding to undo the zipper before Xena opted to rip a seven hundred dollar dress off her own body.

“Thank you.” The warrior grinned as she slipped it from her shoulders. “The worst party we have ever been to and we have been to some parties.” She winked at the bard as she slipped out of the dress and tossed it over the back of a chair.

“Well it wasn’t good.” Gabrielle agreed as she removed her own dress, then laid it with Xena’s.

“I swear,” The tall woman growled as she put her robe on. “If one more flashbulb had gone off in my face I was gonna start shoving cameras where the flash couldn’t be seen.”

“Thanks so much for that mental image.” Gabrielle snickered as she took the robe offered by her partner and slipped it on before sitting on the bed to give her aching feet a little attention. “However darling, you did make a large contribution to the children’s hospital. What did you expect?”

“I expected them to accept it gracefully and leave me the hell alone.” She groused as she moved to the bathroom.

“Xena it’s not every day that they get a donation like that.” Gabrielle was still amazed at Xena’s reluctance to accept praise for her good deeds. “Are you hungry?”

“I’m starved! On top of everything else, the food was lousy too.”

Gabrielle smiled as she got up and moved to the bathroom door. Leaning against the frame, she watched as Xena removed her make-up and brushed her teeth. “Do you want the cook to fix something or should we order out?”

“Oder ot.” The warrior attempted as she almost choked on her toothbrush.

“Pizza?”

The warrior just nodded as she rinsed her toothbrush then her mouth.

“Pepperoni, mushroom?” The bard asked as she turned to make the call.

“Extra cheese too.” She wiped her mouth with a towel then looked to the bard who had stopped and returned with a scowl on her face.

“Hey, it’s not like it’s gonna kill us.” The warrior teased as she joined her partner in the doorway. Xena gave the bard a kiss on the forehead then headed for the bed.

Gabrielle sighed. Xena was right of course. All the things that they had to be concerned about before weren’t important anymore. That had become quite apparent a few weeks ago when Xena had broken her leg skiing. It had healed itself a few days after being set. The fun part was watching Xena tear the cast off with her bare hands when it started itching.

She returned to the bed. Pulling a small phone book from the bedside table she ordered the food then curled up next to the warrior who wrapped a strong arm around her. She rested her head on a broad shoulder watching TV as Xena flipped through the channels.

“Give me that!” The bard snatched the remote. “You have no idea how annoying that is. Geeze.”

“Wha’d I do?”

“You need to learn that a remote control is not a video game. You don’t need to keep pressing buttons.” The bard felt her warrior chuckle as she settled on an old movie. “Yeah laugh it up stretch.”

“I love you.” Xena smirked as she brought her other arm over engulfing the smaller woman in a fierce hug.

“Hey, hey don’t break the bard.”

“Eh you’ll heal.” Xena captured Gabrielle in a passion filled kiss. Slowly she rolled the smaller woman over on her back continuing to kiss her as her hand traveled under the robe her partner was wearing.

“Xena…” Gabrielle whispered as the kiss came to an end and the warrior’s lips traveled to her neck.

“Hmm?”

“We have dinner coming.”

“If I play my cards right dinner won’t be the only thing….” The warrior mumbled into the soft skin under her lips.

“Xena please….” Gabrielle gave the warrior a little push back.

Xena leaned up on her elbow giving her partner a concerned look. “Hey Bri what’s wrong?”

“I’m just not…umm…I’m just not in the mood.”

This got a lifted brow then Xena retook her place leaning against the headboard, opening her arms to her partner. “Okay. Want to come back here though?”

“Oh absolutely.” Gabrielle wasted no time in returning her head to the shoulder that was truly her home. Once again she felt herself wrapped in strong, warm arms.

“Want to talk about it?”

“Nothing to talk about. Just really not in the mood.”

“Okay.” Xena rested her cheek on top of the bard’s head as they settled back to watch the movie.

****

By the time dinner arrived the bard’s mood had improved a bit. The pair sat in the middle of their bed eating pizza straight from the box and sipping sodas as one movie ended and another began. Xena wiped her mouth with a paper napkin as the second movie began. “Casablanca? Who programs this crap?”

“Hey this is a true classic you heathen, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Movies don’t get any better than this.”

“They don’t blow up anything.”

“No, but people get shot sweetie just wait for it.” She patted her partner’s knee in a reassuring manner.

“Oh very funny.”

“Hey this is a true love story.” Gabrielle gestured to the screen.

“No my love,” Xena leaned over brushing her lips to the bard’s, “We are a true love story.”

****

Xena stretched, waking slowly. She reached out to find the bed empty. As she sat up the bedroom door opened, Gabrielle entered carrying a breakfast tray.

“Well good morning sleepyhead. I wondered if you were gonna get up today.” She smiled as she sat the tray across Xena’s lap.

“Three things Bri, one what time is it?

“Almost nine….”

“Two, how did you beat me out of bed?”

“Woke up before you did….” She grinned as she tapped the morning paper against her leg.

“Okay. Three, what did I do to deserve breakfast in bed?”

“This.” Gabrielle flipped open the paper.

Xena’s head dropped as she got a look at the picture of her and the bard from the party the night before. The caption under the photo read, ‘Millionaire Couple Makes Large Donation To Children’s Hospital’. “Aww hell.” The warrior growled as she took the paper and scanned the article. “You know they make it sound like a big deal.”

The bard took a seat next to the warrior and poured two cups of coffee. “Xena it is a big deal. With that donation they’re going to be able to finish the intensive care unit for premature babies.” She took a deep breath then tried to smile as memories came flooding back. “Just like we wanted.”

Xena dropped the paper looking to her partner. Even after three millennia it still hurt Gabrielle to remember the son they lost when he was born two months early. “I’m sorry Bri. I should be more sensitive.” She caressed the bard’s cheek with her knuckles.

Gabrielle grinned, knowing that she needed to lighten up. That had been a very long time ago. “Eh, after three thousand years why start now?”

“Hey, I resemble that remark.” The warrior chuckled as she put the cream and sugar in her coffee.

“Yup you sure do.” The smaller woman leaned over placing a soft kiss on her lover’s lips. “But I love you anyhow.” She sat up smiling as Xena sipped her coffee. “You maybe an insensitive jerk, but you’re my insensitive jerk.”

Xena laughed out loud which almost caused her coffee to exit through her nose. She managed to keep it from happening, but found herself holding her napkin to her mouth until the coughing jag passed. “Why thanks so much.” She said as she managed to catch her breath. “Glad to know you’re gonna keep me.”

“Oh yeah. Can’t think of anyone else who’d put up with you for eternity.”

“I can’t think of anyone I’d rather spend eternity with than you.”

“Guess were stuck with each other.”

“Guess so. So my love what’s on our agenda for today?”

“Not much to be honest.” Gabrielle got up moving to the window. “No meetings, no plans, nothing….”

Xena sat the tray aside then moved to her partner. She stroked her hand gently up and down the bard’s arms. “Bri please tell me what’s wrong. I know something is bothering you.”

The bard sighed. “I’m bored silly Xena.”

The warrior chuckled just a bit. Then she realized she was doing that insensitive jerk thing again. “Honey what can I do to make it better?”

“I’m not sure there is anything. You know? I mean here we are, we have everything we could want. We are together now and forever and so totally financially sound the world would have to explode for us to go broke.” She felt a slight tremor. “Oh go ahead and laugh. It is funny in a way. I just wish there was something I really wanted to do.”

“Vacation?”

“Where?”

“Where ever you want.”

“Mars.”

“What?” Xena cocked her head to make sure she had heard that right. “Did you say Mars?”

Gabrielle turned around in Xena’s arms laughing hard now. “It was a joke Xena.”

“Ah humor, I got ya’.”

The bard wrapped herself tight against the warrior. “I’m sorry for being so silly.”

“Hey we have lived a rough life. Actually we’ve lived several rough lives to get where we are today. You’re allowed to have an off day.”

“Thanks. You know,” Gabrielle smiled as she began unbuttoning the top of Xena’s pajamas. “I’m feeling better.” She undid the last button of the shirt then slipped her hands under the material. She heard her partner’s breath catch as one hand stroked the broad back and the other grazed over already hardened nipples.

“Oh really….” The warrior managed with just a little gasp.

“Ummhmm.” Came a reply from a mouth that had found a delightful little spot at the base of the warrior’s throat.

****

Gabrielle lay spooned in the warmth and love of her warrior’s arms and body. This had to be her favorite position after they made love. Xena’s arms wrapped around her while the warrior’s entire body met hers. She always felt so safe and loved like this. She could hear steady, deep breaths coming from her sleeping warrior. She smiled as she closed her eyes hoping to return to sleep as well.

She had relaxed enough that she probably would have managed to do just that had the doorbell not disturbed her. She closed her eyes once again planning on letting one of the staff get the door then she remembered it was Sunday and the house staff had the day off. “Damn.” She murmured as she tried to extract herself from the warrior’s grasp. Xena protested in her sleep tightening her hold. “Honey I need to get up….”

“No….” Xena mumbled.

“The door Xena. Someone’s at the door. Let me up.” The tall woman growled and moved her arm. Her eyes fluttered open slowly as she focused on the bard retrieving her robe. The bard looked to the bed and smiled. “Go back to sleep. I’ll be right back.” Xena nodded then rolled over, clutching the bard’s pillow in her absence. “I’m gonna want that back.”

” ‘Kay….” Was the very sleepy reply.

Gabrielle tied off her robe, ran her fingers through her disheveled hair and tried not to look like someone who had spent the entire morning making love. She left the bedroom closing the door behind her as she took once last look at the sleeping form of her partner.

She finally made it to the front door, which was actually at the lower level of the house. They didn’t use this part of the house much. Generally, they came and went through the sliding glass door near the beach. That section of the house was their home. This front section was a more formal setting where they entertained when the occasion was right.

Taking one last look in a hall mirror the bard pulled the door open to find no one. “Well now this just su….” Her comment was cut short by the sound at her feet. She looked down to find a baby in a car seat. “What in the hell….” She bent over taking the seat by the handle. She lifted it up brushing back a blanket to find an infant and a piece of newspaper. She stepped outside to have a look around. The estate was empty. The only sounds to be heard were the ocean and the seagulls.

The baby fussed, bringing her attention back to the child. She stepped inside setting the child on a large hall table she pulled the blanket back. Taking the newspaper out she unfolded it. It was a copy of the clipping of her and Xena from the morning paper. At the bottom in handwritten scrawl, ‘I know you can care for this child. Please love her too.’

“Shit….” She folded the paper then turned back to the child. Carefully, she reached into the car seat and lifted the baby out. “Well hello little girl.” She cradled the child as she took steps back toward the bedroom and her sleeping partner. “Who did this to you?” The infant flailed a tiny fist. Gabrielle could tell the child wasn’t more than two or three days old. “Well your gonna be quite the surprise for my warrior.” She smiled, wondering how Xena was going to react to this.

She opened the bedroom door. Xena was still curled up around the pillow. Gabrielle smiled down at the baby as she gently tugged the pillow out of her warrior’s grasp. Xena continued to sleep, but relaxed and opened her arms waiting for the bard to return.

Xena was just awake enough she recognized two things right away. One it wasn’t Gabrielle in her arms and two the soft scent of a baby. She opened her eyes to find the baby in the crook of her arm. “Bri? What in the name of Artemis….” Her first instinct was to jerk upright but the child in her arms kept her from doing it. She sat up very carefully cradling the child to her and her eyes found Gabrielle sitting on the edge of the bed. “Bri is there something you forgot to tell me?” She pushed the blanket back from the child’s face.

“We got a visit from the stork.” The bard chuckled as she watched Xena cradle the baby.

“Oh yeah funny. Bri where did it come from?”

“She, and I have no idea.” The bard handed the clipping to the warrior.

Xena glanced to the article then groaned. “Oh no. Gabrielle call the police.”

The bard got up moving to the phone. She picked up the receiver, hesitated and looked to her partner. “Xena….”

The warrior looked over, recognizing that look in the bard’s eyes. “Oh no Gabrielle! No way! Forget it!”

“Xena think back to your memories of being Brock. You know as well I as I what’s going to happen to that baby. They’ll take her and turn her over to family services. Then she’ll be passed around and moved from location to location….”

“Gabrielle we can not keep this baby.”

“We can keep her until we find her parents….”

“And how do you suggest we do that?” Xena shifted the baby in her arms as she got out of bed. Then she realized that putting her robe on wasn’t going to be an easy task. She offered the baby to the bard, who was more than happy to put the phone down to take the child back.

“Xena we have all the resources we need.” She cradled the baby close as the warrior threw on her robe and headed for the phone. “We could hire a private detective.”

“Gabrielle don’t be stubborn about this….” She picked up the phone and began dialing.

“Xena please….”

The warrior’s shoulders slumped. She dropped the receiver, slowly turning her head to look at the bard. Her own memories were flooded with visions of the bard holding their own children so long ago. The maternal instincts in this woman were the strongest she had ever seen. She sighed in defeat as she dropped the receiver back to the cradle. “All right Gabrielle. We’ll do some poking around and see what we can come up with, but if we can’t turn anything then we call the police okay?”

“Okay.” The baby began fussing, then crying. “I think she’s hungry.” Gabrielle smiled at her lover as she tried to comfort the baby.

“Well don’t look at me.”

“There’s a car seat down in the front foyer. Will you go see if there’s a bottle?”

“Sure.” Xena left the bedroom quickly to find the requested item hoping that there was indeed a bottle for the child.

“Shh little one it’s okay.” The bard cooed as she paced with the baby. “We’ll get you all taken care of. It’s okay, you’re safe.” She brought the child to her lips placing her lips to a small forehead. She turned to find Xena in the doorway holding the car seat in one hand and a bottle in the other. There was a soft smile on the warrior’s face as she offered the bottle to the bard.

“Gabrielle, please honey don’t get attached to this baby. We are either going to find her parents or turn her over to the proper authorities. We can’t keep her.”

“I know.” She bard said softly as she took the bottle. The thought of giving the baby up already pained her heart, but she knew they had to do what was best for the child. The infant took the bottle the bard offered. “She’s got a healthy appetite.”

“You sure she’s not yours?” The warrior teased as she examined the car seat.

“Ha ha….” She took a seat in a large chair in the corner as she fed the child. “What are we gonna call her?”

“No naming her….” The warrior pulled the blanket from the car seat to find a single small diaper. She picked it up and waved it at the bard. “Well there’s a piece of luck.” She chuckled.

“Yeah we’re gonna need that.”

“We’re gonna need more than that. You my love have the only bottle and that is the only diaper. We’re gonna need a few things.”

“Why don’t you go get a shower while I feed her. When you’re done, I’ll grab a fast one then we can take her shopping.”

Xena groaned again, but knew this shopping trip was going to be an absolute necessity. “All right love.” With a glance to her soul mate so contentedly cuddling a newborn baby Xena went to find some peace in the shower. She knew this was not going to be fun and that in the end it would be painful for someone. As she stepped into the shower she knew who it would be and she hated the thought of her bard being hurt like that.

After she was showered and dressed Gabrielle handed her the baby and the diaper. “Remember that deal we always had….” She grinned as she turned for the bathroom.

“Thanks so much!” The warrior called as she lay the child on the bed. She un-wrapped the baby from her blankets, carefully inspecting her clothes for any clues as to where she might have come from. “Hmm nothing here huh Princess? You are a beautiful little thing aren’t you.” Xena stroked the baby’s downy blonde hair and looked at her blue eyes. She sighed as she began the task of stripping the sleeper from the child. “Geeze what am I doin’? Hold on sweetheart.”

Xena slid the child into the center of the big bed then went to the bedroom for a wash cloth and alcohol wipes. She searched the cabinets for another item.

“Problem?” The bard asked from the shower.

“Nah, just a little out of practice. Where’s the baby powder?”

“Left hand medicine cabinet.”

The warrior retrieved all the required items then returned to the bedroom. She pulled the baby back to the edge of the bed to change her. She smiled down at the child as she began the chore. “Whoa!” The warrior flinched as she continued to clean and change the child. “Man they should issue gas masks these days.” She glanced over at the bottle on the dresser. “What do they put in that stuff, nuclear waste?” The warrior managed to finish the task at hand as the bard came out of the bathroom. “That was truly one of the grossest things I have ever had to do.” She commented as she redressed the baby.

“Oh how bad could it be?”

Xena considered the used diaper on the bed that had been wrapped up tightly into a bundle. “I’d show you, but I’m not that unkind. You just wait. You get the next one.”

“Fair.” The bard grinned as began pulling clothes from the closet.

Xena made sure the baby was once again safe in the center of the bed then she took the diaper and disposed of it in the waste can in the bathroom. “Man that was truly disgusting.” She washed her hands then returned to the bedroom.

Gabrielle had the baby again. She was standing at the window with the child cradled in her arms humming a tune Xena hadn’t heard in a very long time. She recognized it as a lullaby she had written for their children. She slipped up behind the bard watching over her shoulder as her partner held the baby. “She’s beautiful isn’t she Xena?”

“Yes Gabrielle she’s beautiful. Please sweetheart I’m begging you here. Don’t get attached to this child….”

“Too late….”

“I knew it. Okay Bri all bets off. I’m calling the police.”

“Xena, please don’t. Not yet, please let’s give it a few days.” She turned to face the warrior. “Maybe whoever left her will realize they made a mistake and come back for her.”

“Bri….”

“Please?”

“This goes against my better judgment. You’re gonna get hurt here Gabrielle and I don’t want to see that happen.”

“I know love and I appreciate that, but I needed something and maybe, just maybe she’s what I need. Even if it is for a short time.” She looked down at the infant who slept soundly in her arms.

The warrior nodded and gave her partner a kiss on the forehead. “All right sweetheart, all right.” She found herself reaching down for a tiny hand which curled around her finger. “I’ll go get the car. I think we’ll take her in the Rolls….”

“No Porsche?”

“No Porsche.”

****

Xena hadn’t considered what a pain in the butt a car seat could be until she tried to get it just right, making sure it was secure and the baby would be good and safe. The warrior and the bard might be immortal, but their precious cargo wasn’t, she wanted to make sure everything was done properly. When it was finally settled to her liking she moved back to allow Gabrielle to place the baby in the carrier.

The bard made she sure that the baby was comfortable then she closed the door. Turning to her partner she smiled as Xena slipped her sunglasses on. “It suits us you know.”

“What?” She opened the door of the car for the bard.

“Motherhood.” She said softly as she got in the car slipping on her own glasses as Xena closed the door.

“Good Gods….” Xena mumbled as she walked around the Rolls Royce and got in behind the wheel.

****

Several hours and about a thousand dollars later, they had what they needed. They also had a lot of stuff they didn’t need, but Gabrielle wasn’t about to stop Xena when she decided she liked this ‘shopping for the baby’ thing. The bard stood by with a huge grin on her face as she watched Xena choose a lot of truly unnecessary items, right down to the little sling like carrier that was worn in the front to carry the baby.

“Kinda reminds me of the backpack you made when Jordon was born.” The bard grinned at her partner as she took the sling off and put it in the cart. “Hmm a trend setter and you didn’t even know it.”

“Just brilliant and before my time.” The warrior teased, as she looked at a small stuffed penguin before tossing it in the cart.

“Oh and let’s not forget modest.”

“Right.” Xena watched as Gabrielle shifted with the baby. “Here trade me. You push, I’ll carry.”

Gabrielle looked at the cart, filled almost to the top. “You think I can push that thing around?”

“Give me the baby.” The warrior held her hands out for the infant. The bard smiled as she passed the baby to Xena.

“Think we have everything?” She inspected the cart, not believing for one second that the warrior had over-looked anything. Larger items would be delivered to the house the next morning.

“Well, if we need anything else I’m sure we’ll figure it out.” She answered before returning her attention to the baby making soft clucking noises with her tongue. “Hey she just smiled at me.”

“It’s gas.” The bard offered as the headed for the check out.

“It is not.”

“Okay. If you say so.”

“I do.”

****

Once they had returned home, they settled the baby in the center of their bed as they began unpacking items and putting things away. It didn’t take long for the room next to theirs to become a makeshift nursery. Gabrielle organized everything as Xena considered the bassinet. She realized as she looked at the instructions she should have bought one that was ready to go, but that would have required it to be delivered and the baby needed a bed tonight.

After gathering the required tools she returned to the bedroom, settled down in the middle of the floor with a Pepsi, the remote for the TV, the instructions and what seemed to be about six million pieces parts. She picked up a plastic bag that appeared to hold one type of every known screw or nut and bolt known to modern man. “I could make a cradle faster than I’ll be able to get this together.” She peeked up at the baby who was sleeping soundly between two pillows. “Like you care.”

She flipped on the TV to a baseball game, cracked open the Pepsi taking a long drink before returning her attention to the instructions. She glance up at the screen noticing the game was at the bottom of the second inning.

Everything was going pretty well until Argo bounded into the room demanding attention. The puppy barked and bounced back and forth between Xena’s legs, lowering her head and front legs raising her rear into the air as she growled at the warrior.

“Argo, by the Gods be quiet, you’ll wake the baby.” She growled as she gestured to the bed.

The puppy sat up, tongue lolling out of the side of her mouth as she followed her mom’s hand to the bed. She moved to it, putting her front paws on the edge. Her ears flopped forward at the sight before her, she whimpered.

“Yeah I feel the same way girl. Now go find your Mom.”

The puppy bounded out of the room starting a search for Gabrielle.

By the top of the eighth, Xena was fastening the hood into place. Gabrielle had continued to put things away and organize items between their room and the nursery, stopping occasionally to snicker at her frustrated partner and shoo Argo from her heals. The puppy had finally just given up and curled up in the corner for a nap.

“Laugh it up bard. You get diaper detail next.”

“Hey speaking of which, I think that since the baby will be in here with us we should put the changing table in here when it arrives.”

“Okay,” She agreed as she prepared the bassinet with sheets and blankets that the bard had washed while she put the bed together. ” Well, I think it’s ready.” She gave the sides a gentle push just to make sure it wasn’t close to collapse.

Just as Gabrielle was about to move the baby to the bassinet she woke with a loud cry. “Oooo now from the sound of that she could be yours.” The bard grinned as she cuddled the child.

“Hmm hungry again you think?” Xena glanced at her watch. “It’s been a long time since lunch.”

“Probably.”

“Shall I try my hand at fixing a bottle?”

“Well, unless you want to listen to this for the rest of the night….”

“You know I have just discovered the major perk to breast feeding.”

“Sorry, all out.” Gabrielle rocked the baby slowly until she started to calm a bit. “So go to it Warrior.”

“Back soon.” She grinned as she picked up her tools then headed out.

Gabrielle simply reveled in the delight of having a child in her arms again. She did her best to calm the baby until her bottle arrived. It didn’t take the warrior long.

“Okay let me have her.” Xena said as she sat down in the chair.

“Oh really?” The bard quirked a brow.

“Yup.” She held her hands out for the child. “I’ve earned the right since I fought with the bassinet.”

The bard smiled as she placed the baby in the warrior’s arm. “Don’t get attached to her Warrior.” She whispered as she gave her partner a kiss on the cheek before leaving the room to go fix them some dinner as well.

****

When Gabrielle returned with a dinner consisting of sandwiches and juice Xena had tucked the baby into the bassinet and was changing into pajamas for the evening.

“She all set?” The bard nodded to the bassinet.

“Oh yeah. She ate, spit up all over me, left me with another present then went soundly to sleep. Ah motherhood….” The warrior chuckled as she buttoned her shirt. “Let’s take this to the office and see if we can find any clues to our little guest.

“You go ahead. I’m going to change I’ll be there in a minute.”

Xena grabbed their dinner on her way out, leaving the bard to get ready.

****

The warrior flipped on the computer then began searching a few places she thought might be helpful. She leaned back in her chair sipping her juice as she moved from site to site. She sighed heavily when she didn’t have much luck. She knew the longer this child was with them the more Gabrielle would hurt when it would be time to let her go.

The bard entered the office, pulling a chair up next to Xena. “Anything?”

“Not yet. I’m checking local sources in our area to see if anyone has reported her missing or worse yet kidnapped.” Xena gave the bard a look out of the corner of her eye. “It would be bad, my darling for us to be in possession of a child that had indeed been kidnapped.”

“No kidding.” The bard chuckled as she gave her partner a little shove. “So what sites are you checking?”

” TV station sites. Missing persons….”

“Want me to give Kate a call? I could see if she could make some discreet inquiries around the department for us.”

Xena smiled, the bard was talking about Brock’s partner Kate Evens. “Well Bri you know if you call her, it might turn official.”

“Nah Kate wouldn’t do that to us.” Gabrielle picked up the phone and dialed the pager number that would reach Kate eventually. She had no idea what the woman’s work schedule was now or even if she had returned to work since Brock had been killed six months before. Kate had laid a lot of the blame on herself for Brock’s death because she had called off sick that day, leaving her partner to go on patrol alone. “Well she’ll get back to us eventually.”

“In the meantime I’ll keep poking around to see what I can come up with.”

“You sure?” The bard purred as she moved behind the warrior’s chair running her hands down the front of her shirt.

“Bri behave….”

“I mean,” Gabrielle whispered as she licked a tender earlobe. “I’m sure we could find other things to do.”

“You are really rotten you know that?” The warrior captured the bard’s roaming hands. “You know we need to….”

“We don’t need to do it tonight Warrior.” She growled as she nipped that same earlobe. “There’s always tomorrow after we’ve gotten a good nights sleep.”

Xena laughed as she brought the bard’s hands to her lips placing soft kisses on each one. “You think we’re actually going to get a full nights sleep with a baby in the house?”

“Hey she might sleep the night through. Some babies do you know. Alecia did.”

“She did didn’t she?” The warrior smiled with the memory of their daughter. “We’d never get that lucky again.”

“Never know Warrior.” She blew a light breath onto a section of neck she knew the warrior couldn’t resist.”

“Oh not nice!” Xena jumped out of her chair rubbing her neck. Gabrielle backed away with a giggle. “You are in soooo much trouble.”

With a little yelp the bard made a run for it, realizing what a bad idea a long nightgown had been. “Damn!” She giggled again as she lifted the material just a little and headed for the staircase.

The warrior who was in the mood to play gave her a little head start then just proceed to jump the railing, forgoing the entire staircase. She landed at the bottom just as she bard cleared the last step. Gabrielle skidded to a stop just as the warrior lunged for her scooping her up in her arms.

“Aww now that’s not fair!” Gabrielle squirmed in Xena’s arms. “Some of us have to stay on the ground you know.”

“Yeah, but some of us don’t.” Xena grinned as she carried the bard into the living room tossing her down on the couch. As she stood over the bard unbuttoning her shirt she noticed that the bard had stopped trying to squirm away. “Giving up?”

“Nah.” She slipped her nightgown off and tossed it at the warrior who batted it away. “Giving in.”

Taking in the sight of her bard lying nude before her convinced her that everything else could indeed wait until morning. She finished stripping off her clothes then joined her soul mate on the leather sofa. She lay on her side, head propped on her fist as her other hand caressed the bard’s stomach. “I love you.”

“I love you too Warrior.” She turned on her side so that they faced each other.

Lips met as hands caressed. Tongues danced in hungry mouths as bodies came together and passions rose. Moans broke through the air as legs intertwined. They loved each other like it was the first time. Slowly, passionately, intently, every desire silently spoken then fulfilled. They caressed each other as their bodies came down from the heights they had gone to. Whispering words of love and devotion as they held each other close. The warrior kissed a damp blonde brow as the eyes under them slipped closed. As she closed her own eyes to sleep with her bard for a bit she cocked her head as her ears picked up a slight whimper that didn’t come from her lover.

She smiled as she gently extracted herself from the bard’s grasp. She dressed then scooped the bard up then climbed the steps. In their room, the warrior placed the bard in bed covering her with the sheet. Argo sat near the bassinet looking back and forth between it and the warrior, tail thumping slightly against the carpet. The pup gave a little yelp as the baby fussed again. “Hold on you two. I’ve only got two hands.” She got the bard completely situated, then turned her attention to the baby. “Well sweetheart,” she cooed at the child as she picked her up, “I hope your timing is always this good.”

She cuddled the child who opened her eyes to seemingly stare at the warrior. A little hand flailed out and was captured by the much larger one. The tiny fist then was covered with soft lips. The baby reached out with the other hand as if to touch the face before her. “You are a beautiful little girl. Why would anyone give you up?” She settled down in the chair as she held the baby close.

Argo jumped up on the foot of the bed curling into a tight little ball. The warrior looked to the sleeping bard then back to the baby. “You’ve got her by the heart you know that? Just like three others did so very long ago.” The baby gurgled. “Oh you want to hear about them huh, okay. Well, it was a long time ago. You’ll learn all about it in school, but they’ll call it mythology. Take it from me, it wasn’t. Anyhow, a long time ago that wonderful woman and I settled down in a little village and built a home. She became a teacher to the local children and I served as, well we didn’t really have a word for it then, but I guess you could say I was the town sheriff.” Another gurgle. “Yeah I know, but I was good at it.” The warrior smiled. “So after about a year of teaching the local children she decided she wanted a child of her own. Now you can probably tell from being so close to me that I’m not quite capable of making that possible. Too soft.”

She played with tiny fingers as she smiled. “So as luck would have it an old friend of ours wandered into town. He had no idea we were there and when I arrested him for stealing from some of the local merchants he was just a touch surprised, but you see my little lovely, Autolycus was a thief that’s what he did. So, I convinced him that in order to stay out of jail Gabrielle and I needed his help. Now, to be honest I wasn’t wild about it, but Autolycus was my best friend and I wasn’t about to deny Gabrielle the chance to have the child she wanted. So I umm…well…let’s just say I survived it and nine months later Jordon was born. Autolycus paid us four visits over the years. Bri had a daughter the second time and we named her Alecia. The third time our son was born too early and he died shortly after and Gabrielle had a really hard time of it too. I was afraid I was going to lose her. She hemorrhaged for two days. It took everything I had to save her.”

Xena looked over as the bard rolled over and curled into the pillows. “So the last time Autolycus came to visit us for that purpose, we decided I would be the one. I didn’t want to risk Bri’s health. Well, we had another son. We named him Galen. Three wonderful children who all grew up and lived long and happy lives. As a result we have a number of decedents roaming the world. Hey, you might even be one of them. With that blonde hair maybe you’re some relation of short, blonde and cocky over there. This would not be a bad thing if you were of her line. She is the kindness heart I have ever known. I am the fortunate one to be bound to her by my very soul.” The warrior looked down to find the baby was sound asleep. She moved back to the bassinet placing the child down for the night. “Sleep tight Princess.”

The warrior climbed into bed, as she settled in, the bard snuggled close. “And you said you didn’t know how to tell a story.” She whispered as she kissed the warrior’s neck.

“You little faker you.” Xena rolled over to face her partner. The bard smiled. “I thought you were asleep.”

“I know. Short, blonde and cocky huh?”

“You know it, the only one in my life that has ever had the guts to put me in my place when I deserved it.”

The bard snuggled closer. “It’s a job I wouldn’t give up for anything.”

“Glad to hear it.” She kissed the top of her partner’s head then they both drifted off.

****

It didn’t quite register in Xena clouded mind. It had been a long time since a baby’s cry had woken her from a deep sleep. By the time she was awake enough to comprehend the entire situation the bard was already on her feet putting on her robe and gathering up their little houseguest. “Okay Warrior drag that body out of bed and fetch us a bottle.”

“Uggg….” She was on her feet and headed out the door before another word could be said. She yawned and stretched all the way to the kitchen. She gave herself a mental pat on the back for preparing bottles ahead of time, when she fixed the first one. She remembered hearing somewhere once you shouldn’t microwave baby bottles and as she warmed the bottle in a pan on the stove she wondered where she had heard that and why you shouldn’t do it. She made a mental note to find out if there was any truth to this, cause the damn microwave would certainly speed this process up. She glanced down at her watch, three thirty. Could be worse, could be two a.m.

The warrior made her way back upstairs. She climbed into bed and opened her arms to the bard as she settled back against the headboard. Gabrielle smiled as she took a position in Xena’s arms leaning against her as she gave the baby the bottle. The bard felt a very old sensation flooding her memory as Xena held her while she fed the baby. “Don’t you sit back there and go to sleep Warrior.”

“I won’t.” She yawned. She smiled as she watched Argo creepy crawl up the bed sniffing the air. “What’s the matter girl, jealous?” She gave the pup a scratch on the head. The pup whined then laid her head on Xena’s thigh. “Ah it’s okay.”

“What took you so long with the bottle?”

She nodded and offered with another long yawn, “I had to heat it up.”

“What did you do rub it between your hands?”

“In a pan on the stove thanks.”

“Xena why didn’t you use the microwave?”

“I heard somewhere once you shouldn’t microwave baby bottles….”

“Not the bottle darling, the water to warm it in.” The bard glanced back as she heard her partner’s head hit the wall with a thump and a groan.

“Didn’t occur to me.” She admitted.

“Slow learner huh Xena….” She grinned as she patted the warrior’s leg. “Some things just never change.”

“Don’t push it bard.” She chuckled as she placed a kiss on a blonde temple, looking down at the baby as she contentedly took the bottle. “I forgot how nice this can be.”

“Yeah it is isn’t it?”

“Ummhmm. It really is. I’m sorry we can’t keep her Bri. I know she makes you happy.”

“Well I’ll enjoy the happiness as long as we do have her. Then hopefully we’ll have something else.”

“Oh it is going to be a challenge to keep you occupied and happy for eternity isn’t it?”

“Yup!” She grinned as she checked the baby’s progress with the bottle. “But if anyone is up to the task, it’s you.” The infant refused the bottle when it was presented to her again. “You want burping duty?”

“Why do I get all the smelly, dirty jobs?” The warrior asked as she took the child placing her at her shoulder.

“Because,” The bard climbed out of bed to retrieve a cloth for Xena’s shoulder which she tossed to her before heading to the bathroom. “You were last out of bed.”

“Ah okay I got you. Well, now that I know the secret, watch out.” She rubbed the baby’s back in small circles giving soft pats then would bring the desired effect.

The baby snuggled against the warrior’s shoulder burying a tiny face in her neck. The warrior’s eyes closed as her head dropped back slightly. When the bard returned to the room, that’s how she found them, both sound asleep. Xena leaning against the wall, holding the baby carefully in place one strong hand splayed across her little back, the other gingerly holding the back of her neck and head. The baby snuggled in with a little hand on either side of her head, perfectly content with her newfound bed. She smiled at the duo as she climbed into bed and clicked off the light, comfortable with leaving them as they were.

Little legs kicking against her chest brought the warrior into consciousness once again. She drew a deep breath as her eyes opened. She smiled, slipped down to the flat of her back, shifting the baby on top of her as she rubbed the diminutive back under her hand. The baby settled down into Xena’s chest and very soon they were once again asleep.

****

When the warrior awoke for the third time the baby and the bard, were gone. Yawning and stretching she gathered her running clothes as she prepared for her morning run. Changed and about half awake she headed downstairs. She wasn’t surprised the find the bard on the deck with the baby on the table in the small sling type chair they had purchased for her the day before.

She opened the door testing the air as she did. Not too cold and the bard had the baby properly covered from the ocean breeze. She closed the door, then nuzzled a bardly neck. “Good morning love.”

“Yes, yes it is….” She smiled as she read the paper with one hand while the baby held a finger on the other. “There’s nothing in the morning paper. No articles about missing or abducted infants.”

“Well I’m going for my morning run. When I get back we’ll get started. Try Kate again while I’m gone okay?”

“Yeah sure.”

“Promise?”

“Promise.”

Xena gave her partner a soft kiss. “Back soon.”

“Take you’re time. We’re in no hurry.”

“Un-huh.” Xena descended the steps to the beach. She took her first few strides then turned around running in place as she faced the bard. “Call her!”

“I will, I will.” The bard waved her hand. “Just go for your run.”

The warrior turned starting down the beach. The bard turned to the baby who seemed to be very content staring at her as she sucked on the bard’s fingertip. Gabrielle returned to sipping coffee and reading the paper when then phone rang. With a heavy sigh she picked it up. “Hello?”

“Gab? It’s Kate. Did you page me?”

“Umm yeah,” The bard shifted uncomfortably in her chair. “Listen Kate I’ve got a real unique problem here and I need some help, but it has to be really discreet help.”

“What’s up?”

“Maybe you should come over. Could you come for lunch today?”

“Lunch no, I’m on duty, but I could make it for dinner.” Kate gave a light laugh as Gabrielle chewed the inside of her mouth.

“Okay dinner it is. How about Xena and I take you out?”

“Hmm where?”

“You name it.”

“Oh it must be a biggie for you to let me choose.”

“It is.”

“Okay I’ll call you later when I decide. Hey Gab how’s it going with Xena by the way? You guys got together so soon after….”

“I know, but I can honestly say I felt like I’ve known her all my life.”

“It’s good then?”

“So very good.”

“I’m glad Gab, I really am. Well, I’ll give you a call later ‘kay?”

“Yeah great, I’ll make sure I forward everything to my cell phone if we go out.”

“Cool. I’ll talk to you later. Gotta get going.”

“See you later Kate.” The bard hung up the phone and turned to the baby. “Maybe I just bought us another day. I know if you’re a missing person that we’ve only got a few days at most. Could be just a few hours.” She gave a smile to the baby who gripped her finger tighter.

****

Xena returned from her run to find the bard dealing with a little mess of her very own. She chuckled all the way to the shower. As she stepped under the hot water, she tried to force the muscles in her body to relax. She braced her hands against the wall allowing her head to drop forward under the powerful jet so that it beat against her neck. “Ohhh….” She moaned as she twisted her head and shoulders. The door slid open then small but strong hands began working their magic on her sore shoulders. “Ohh that’s nice….”

“Thanks. My, you are tight. What’s wrong?”

“You know very well what’s wrong Bri. I’m worried about you getting attached to this baby.”

“I know love. I know she’ll be leaving us, one way or the other. I spoke to Kate. We’re going to take her out to dinner tonight.”

“Good.” Xena nodded as she stood up. She turned to face the bard. “Bri I’m sorry….”

The bard dove into the blue eyes before her, so full of love and concern. She tangled her hands into long dark hair, pulling the warrior to her in a passionate kiss. “Love me….” She whispered into the warrior’s ear after the kiss.

“You have a thing for showers?” Xena smiled.

“You complaining?” Gabrielle moved her body into the warrior’s.”

“Nope.” She backed her bard up against the wall of the shower.

The bard’s body arched hard as the pleasure washed through her like the water washing over her. Nails dug into bronzed shoulders generating a loud deep groan from her lover.

****

“Well, what should we do today Princess?” Xena asked the baby as she scooped her up from the bassinet. “Hmm? You want to take Aunt Bri to the park?” The warrior looked to the bard who was perched on the edge of the bed putting on her sneakers.

Gabrielle just looked over and shook her head with a smile as she tied the laces. “If she wants to go to the park, it’s only cause Aunt Xena has a craving for one of those nasty hot dogs the vendors sell.” She chuckled as she stood up tucking her shirt into her jeans.

“Did you hear that Princess? Did you hear her call my favorite food in the world nasty? Now that wasn’t very nice was it? No it wasn’t.” The warrior looked to the bard with a grin. “Does this mean we can go to the park?”

“Of course we can go to the park, but you can’t eat one of those nasty hot dogs, at least not in front of the baby. I don’t want you corrupting her. They might not kill you, but I’m not taking any chances with her.”

“Oh kiddo you have no idea what she’s depriving you of there. Hot dog covered in sauerkraut and onions with hot mustard….”

Gabrielle took the baby. “Death on a bun for a normal person sweetie. Stay away from them.”

****

They packed up what they needed, then headed for the park. Xena pulled the collapsed carriage from the back of the Land Rover and unfolded it. She smiled as she passed it to Gabrielle who took the baby from the car seat then settled her into the carriage pulling the hood up to shield her from the sun.

The warrior stowed the diaper bag on the rack at the bottom. “Ready?”

“Yup. Are you really gonna get one of those disgusting things?”

“Oh yeah. Maybe two.”

“Yuck.” The bard cringed at the thought, shaking her head as she placed a light blanket over the baby. “Three thousand years and she still has some disgusting habits.”

“Well at least you got me to stop running people through with my sword.”

“Oh very funny.”

They moved into the park. Gabrielle smiled as Xena took her hand intertwining their fingers. They had long given up caring what people might think. It was for certain that they were perfectly teamed to head off trouble that might arise from any display of affection between them.

They walked for a while then choose a spot under a large tree where they spread a blanket then proceeded to get comfortable. Xena leaned against the tree and Gabrielle stretched out with her head in the warrior’s lap, the baby completed the picture as she slept peacefully on top of the bard.

Gabrielle held her partner’s hand looking at the palm, running her fingers over the skin. “They’re so soft now.”

“What?” Xena looked down as her free hand stroked through the bard’s hair.

“Your hands. They’re so soft. They use to have calluses on them, from holding your sword.”

“So are soft hands a bad thing?”

“No. Sometimes I just miss them.”

“I could toughen them up a bit.”

“I said sometimes. I definitely think I prefer them this way.”

“Oh okay then.” Xena chuckled as she leaned over placing a kiss on her partner’s forehead. “No toughing them up. Should I start using cream on them too?”

“Oh let’s not get silly here.”

“You started it.”

“Geeze try to have a simple conversation with someone….” The warrior laughed as the baby started fussing, obviously looking for food. Gabrielle shifted so she was sitting up. “Hey, hey there little one we’ve had this conversation. I’m not built for that ride any more. Xena get me a bottle please.”

She reached to the bag retrieving a bottle from the end pocket, then handed it to her partner. “Man I forgot at this age they eat, sleep and poop.”

Gabrielle laughed as the baby took the bottle. “Yeah that’s about the extent of her world at the moment.”

“That and you.” Xena said softly as her fingertips caressed the face of her soul mate. “Well it’s time for ‘death on a bun’.” She grinned as she got to her feet and headed for a vendor.

“Oh that is just so gross.” She cooed at the baby. “Her eating habits have gone straight to hell.” A little hand flailed up to be caught between soft lips. “Yes, just not good stuff, you listen to Aunt Bri….”

The patrol car pulled to the curb. Gabrielle didn’t pay any attention as the officer got out, then headed her way. “Gab?”

The bard turned to find Kate Evens. “Hey you! What are you doing here?”

“This is my new beat. I transferred after…well I transferred.” She squatted down next to her friend and removed her sunglasses. “Hey who’s this?” She offered a finger to the baby, which was accepted.

“This Kate, is my delicate problem.”

“Meaning what Gab?” The cop gave her friend a ‘this is big trouble, isn’t it’ look.

“She was left on our doorstep yesterday.”

“Oh God Gab and you didn’t call the police? Geeze….”

“Come on Kate. You know what’ll happen to her. She’ll be bounced around….”

“Unless there’s somebody out there looking for her.”

“Well, I thought maybe you could make some inquiries for us. Xena and I are willing to hire a private detective to find her parents, but I’d rather have your help.”

“And you want me to keep it off the logs right?”

“Right.”

The cop sighed as she scratched her neck. “I don’t know Gab….”

“We’d really appreciate it.” Xena said as she returned with sandwiches and a couple of sodas.

The cop looked up. “Oh hi Xena.”

“Hey Kate. Dog?” She offered one of her sandwiches.

“What’s on it?”

“Well let’s just say if you run out of ammo you could use your breath to take down the bad guys.” The bard offered with a chuckle.

“Oooo sounds like my kind of sandwich.” She stood and took the hot dog from the tall woman. “Thanks.”

“My pleasure. Here take this too.” She handed her one of the sodas. “You’re gonna need it.” Xena dropped back down next to the tree.

“Oh honey,” the bard looked to the baby. “We are surrounded by heathens. We gotta stick together here.”

“So Kate,” Xena sipped her soda. “What do you think? Can you give us a hand?”

The cop chewed her sandwich slowly. “Yeah I guess I could make a quick check and see if she’s been reported missing. How old is she?”

“Three, four days. Not much older than that.” Xena said as she swallowed.

“Okay I’ll check after my shift.” She winked at the bard. “You still taking me out or does this count?” She hefted the hot dog.

“Kate if you survive that we’ll take you anywhere you want.”

“Oh you’re gonna regret that.” She laughed. “So do you guys have any idea where she came from?”

“Nothing,” Gabrielle offered as she placed the baby to her shoulder. “She showed up on our doorstep in a car seat wearing a sleeper. She had a blanket, one bottle and one diaper.”

Kate grinned as she took in the sight before her. “Well I can see Santa came early then.”

“Yeah well we knew we’d need a few things.” Gabrielle smiled. “So we took care of it.”

“Yeah, somehow I don’t doubt that for a minute.” The cop finished her dog crumpling the wrapper in one hand. “Okay I’ll call you later.” She shot for a near by trash can, the wrapper went straight in. “Ah nothing but net.” She grinned as she took her soda. “See you guys later.”

“See you Kate.” The bard grinned as the cop walked back to her cruiser. She then looked to the warrior who was still happily munching on the other hot dog. “Happy?”

The warrior nodded as she sipped her soda.

“Good now give me a drink of that.” She took the soda from her partner only to find it mostly empty. “You’re a pig.” She laughed handing the can back.

“I will,” The warrior laughed as she got up, “resist the urge to make a rude noise. Back in a minute. Do you want a soda or a bottle of water?”

“Both please.”

“Your wish is my command.” The warrior said as she walked away.

“I wish you’d stop eating those gross little sandwiches.” She called after her partner.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah….”

****

The limo pulled up outside the Café Rodeo on Rodeo drive. Xena didn’t wait for the driver she opened the door climbing out then taking the baby from Gabrielle who came out right behind her. The driver fetched a smaller carriage from the trunk then the warrior tenderly placed the baby in it. ” There you go Princess. You’re gonna like it here. It’s my favorite restaurant.”

“Imagine that.” Gabrielle teased as she pulled her purse over her shoulder. “I’ve never seen a hot dog on the menu.”

“Ha, ha. Shall we darling? Kate awaits.”

“Of course.”

As they entered the restaurant the maitre’d smiled as he recognized the warrior and the bard right away. “Good even Ms. Amphipolis. Your table is ready and your guest has already arrived.” He led them through the restaurant to the brick enclosed open-air patio in the back. “Have a good evening ladies.”

Xena smiled and nodded at him. “Thank you Enrico.” They joined Kate at the table getting the baby settled before actually saying anything to her. She just smiled as she watched them.

The warrior smile as she sipped her water. “So do we know anything about our little guest?”

“Well,” She paused as she took Gabrielle’s hand. “Yeah we do.”

The bard bit her lip as she looked to Xena, then back to Kate. “What?”

“A baby girl was abducted from a hospital in Las Vegas day before yesterday.”

Gabrielle nodded slowly. “Now what?”

“Well the best thing to do is notify the Vegas police. I can do that if you want.”

“Umm…no….” The bard was fighting tears. “We’ll do it. Is it okay if we do it tomorrow?”

“Well in my professional opinion the child is in no danger, so I don’t see why not.”

“Thanks Kate.” Xena said softly as she reached over taking the bard’s hand in her own.

“Excuse me for just a minute please.” The bard excused herself as she got up from the table.

“Is she okay?”

“We’ve got some things going on right now. The baby was a nice diversion for her. She’s got a heart and soul built to love children and the little one got to her as soon as she laid eyes on her.”

“Nothing serious I hope.”

“Not serious, just tedious.” Xena smiled.

“Listen,” Kate took a few papers from her purse. “I shouldn’t do this but…. It’s a copy of the reports. It lists a nineteen-year-old mother and no father. Maybe if you contact her privately you can make ‘other arrangements’….”

“Kate are you suggesting we buy this child?”

“No. I’m suggesting you check into it and if you think you can do more for this baby then maybe you could come to a compromise.”

Xena nodded as she slipped the papers into her jacket pocket. “Thanks Kate.”

“My pleasure. Gab’s a good friend. She’s been through a lot. I’d hate to see her hurt anymore.”

“I’m gonna do my best to keep that from happening.”

“Just like Brock. Gab made a good choice.”

“Thanks.”

****

The bard stood on the deck staring out at the ocean. She heard the door open then slide shut. She accepted the blanket over her shoulders without turning around. Then she fell into the arms that wrapped around her. “Hey….” She said softly.

“Hey….”

“I’m gonna miss her.”

“Yeah I know. Me too.”

“So are you going to call them tomorrow?”

“Well actually I thought we might take her back ourselves. Would you like that?”

Gabrielle turned in her partner’s arms. “Really?”

“Really. Kate…umm…well Kate slipped me a copy of the reports. We can avoid involving the police at all.”

“Oh Xena I’d love that. I mean taking her back ourselves.”

“I figured. I already ordered the jet to be ready in the morning.”

“Not too early I hope.”

“No love not too early.” She kissed her partner on the top of the head then just held her close as she felt the tears soak through her shirt.

****

Xena put the car in park as she gave the house and the surrounding houses a good look. “Bri stay in the car with the baby until I make sure this is where we need to be.”

Gabrielle took a look around and nodded. “No problem there sweetheart. Not the best neighborhood is it?”

“I’ve seen worse.”

“Not in this lifetime.”

“True.” Xena chuckled as she slipped her sunglasses on and opened the door. “Lock up behind me love.”

Gabrielle nodded, hitting the power locks as soon as the door closed. Xena made her way slowly up to the house breaking her attention between her destination and keeping an eye on the car. She gave a knock to the front door of the house. After a few moments a young woman opened the door. “Yes?”

“My name is Xena Amphipolis. I’m looking for Patricia Larken.”

“I’m Trish Larken. What can I do for you?”

“Umm Miss Larkin I think my companion and I may have something that belongs to you.” Xena motioned for Gabrielle to join her. The bard got out of the car then removed the car seat.

The young woman’s eyes grew wide when she realized what was unfolding before her. She pushed past Xena running to Gabrielle. “Katy!” The woman rushed to the bard brushing back the blanket. “Oh God Katy!” The young woman unfastened the strap that held the baby on the seat and scooped her up, holding her close as the tears streamed down her cheeks. “Katy! Oh sweetheart!”

Xena watched, as this woman reclaimed the child that she obviously loved so very much. Then she noticed her partner falter just a bit. That took her from the porch to her soul mate’s side in three long strides. She wrapped a supportive arm around the bard’s waist as she took the car seat, sitting it on top of the car. “Bri are you all right?”

“Yeah, yeah. I’m fine.”

“You sure sweetheart?”

She nodded as she felt a thumb wipe away a tear from her cheek.

“Do you want to go now?”

“Yes please….” The tone in her voice told the warrior the bard was about to loose what little composure she was maintaining.

“No, wait please.” The woman laid a hand on Xena’s arm. “Who are you? Where did you find her? How did you find me?”

Xena held up her hand as she fished a card out of her jacket pocket handing it to the woman. “Listen I really need to take her back to our hotel room. Why don’t you get squared away with your daughter then give us a call. We’re at….” Trish watched as a grimace flashed across the dark woman’s face. “Caesar’s Palace. I’ll be more than happy to explain everything later, but right now I need to take her back.” Xena opened the car door for Gabrielle, helping her partner in. She knelt down and whispered as she fastened the seat belt across her lap. “I love you Bard. Everything will be all right.”

The bard just nodded as the tears began to creep down her cheeks. Xena stood and closed the door she handed the car seat to the young woman. “There are some things I’d like to know too. Please give us a couple of hours then maybe come over for a early dinner?”

“Should I bring Katy?”

“Please,” Xena paused, fighting the lump in her throat. “We’d like the chance to say good-bye to her.”

“Of course. Thank you for bringing her home.”

“A child should be with her mother.” Xena paused again. “If the mother wants….”

“She does Ms. Amphipolis. I promise you that.”

Xena nodded then made her way around the car. Trish watched as she got in behind the wheel turning to the blonde woman, tenderly lifting a hand to her lips. She could see words said, but cold not hear them. The blonde woman nodded. Xena started the car and pulled away from the curb.

****

The phone rang. Xena was quick to answer it so it wouldn’t wake Gabrielle. It had taken her over an hour to get the bard calmed down enough to rest, then finally to sleep. “Hello?” She whispered as she moved away from the bed. “Yes Miss Larkin. Hold on a minute let me change phones.”

Xena moved to the outer room of the suite, picked up the phone there then returned to the bedroom to hang that one up. When she returned to the sitting room she took a deep breath as she dropped into a chair and picked up the receiver. “Sorry about that. Yes why don’t you come on up. We’ll be able to talk up here.” She replaced the receiver then let her head drop back to the chair. “You blew it Warrior. You got attached too. So now what are you gonna do?”

She got to her feet and closed the door to the bedroom just as the bell rang. She turned drawing a breath to steel herself. When she pulled the door open she found Trish and a bell man from the hotel. As she invited Trish in, the bell man handed her an envelope. She smiled at him, handed him a tip then closed the door. She smiled at Trish as she ripped the envelope in half and tossed it in the trash with three others just like it.

“Do you always destroy messages before you read them?” The young woman smiled at Xena as she put the car seat down then began taking Katy out.

“Eh it’s just the hotel manager offering me a line of credit in the casino.”

“Ah you don’t gamble….”

“No, no, I gamble, a lot. I always have, but old Caesar got enough of my money thanks.”

“Yeah I noticed you didn’t seem happy about staying here.” She said as she took a seat on the couch cradling her daughter. “Lose a lot of money here once?”

“Not here.” She grinned. “Let’s just say Caesar has very long arms.” She settled down in a chair across from the young woman. “So if I’m not prying, would you care to tell me what happened to Katy that she ended up on my doorstep.”

“Well I’m sure the Vegas police will be in touch with you because I called them to let them know that Katy had been returned.” Xena nodded, Trish continued. “My boyfriend, Alan, Katy’s father. He didn’t want me to have her in the first place. When she was born he had someone kidnap her from the hospital. His plan was to sell her to a couple who wanted a baby.”

“Oh I see a real pillar of the community huh?”

“Well, let’s just say I haven’t seen him since I was three months pregnant. Then when he showed up at the hospital, I just knew something was up. The police think that he was there to distract me while his accomplice took Katy.”

“Doesn’t explain how she ended up in Los Angeles.”

“We’re still not sure, but we think he had a buyer there.” She paused then looked to Xena. “You didn’t…I mean…if you did I swear I’ll pay you back every dime….”

“No. No Bri and I didn’t buy Katy. Honestly we found her on our doorstep. With this.” Xena removed the newspaper clipping from her pocket handing it over to the young woman.

Trish unfolded the clipping. “Wow!” She smiled at Xena. “Well, whoever left her certainly made a good choice.”

“Thanks.”

“You could have kept her you know. I’m sure you have the resources to….”

“Like I said before. A child belongs with its mother.”

“I really appreciate that. I’m gonna give her the best life I can. I’m trying really hard. I’ve got two jobs. I’m trying to find a better place to live….”

“I can see that Miss Larkin. I can tell you love your daughter.”

“Please call me Trish.”

Xena smiled. The door to the bedroom opened. Gabrielle stepped out quietly. Trish turned to look at the woman. She stood and crossed the room without a word she laid Katy in the bard’s arms. “I think she misses her Aunt…Bri, was it?”

As she cradled the baby, she smiled at the woman. “Gabrielle.”

“Well, Katy missed her Aunt Gabrielle.”

“Thank you.”

“No thank you.”

Xena stood up, taking a good stretch. “Well ladies what do you say we order up some dinner. I have an idea I would like to discuss with the both of you. It could take awhile.”

****

Xena tucked the boxes under her arm as she entered the office. She dropped them down on the desk next to the computer, then dropped into the chair with a groan.

“Hiya stretch. Busy day?” The bard grinned from the door as she wrapped one towel around her waist and another around her shoulders effectively hiding her two piece bikini.

“Yeah I have and now you’re covering up the first nice thing I’ve seen all day. Come here you.”

Gabrielle crossed the room placing herself in the warrior’s lap. “Did you get them?”

“Yup.” Xena reached over and flipped the lid off the smaller box. She pulled out one of the gray linen business cards, handing it to the bard.

“X & G Investigations. Specializing in lost or missing children. Call (213) 555-KIDS. Oh Xena I love it.”

“Good, I’m glad cause starting a new business just might kill me.”

“Nope don’t think so.” She wrapped her arms around the warrior’s neck placing a soft kiss on her lips. “We’re going to enjoy this.”

“I’m sure we will.”

“Excuse me guys….” Trish smiled from the door.

“Come on in.” Xena waved the young woman into the office. “What’s up?”

“I just wanted to thank you again for this opportunity. I know you’re taking a big chance here.”

“Eh we’re use to it.” Gabrielle grinned as she got up from her place in Xena’s lap. “Besides we’re gonna need an assistant to run the office while we’re out on assignments.”

“Yes, but to give me a job and then to bring Katy and I here to live. It’s just so much for you to do for us.”

“Eh it’s nothing.” Xena got up glancing down at her wet clothes. “Thanks a lot Bri.”

“Hey you’re the one who told me to come over here.” She said as she poked the warrior in the chest.

“Right. Somehow these things are always my fault.” She laughed as she headed for their room to change.

“So when do we start?” Trish asked as she looked around the office.

“Well it’s gonna take some time for us to get started. So in the mean time, get to know the office here. Make sure that you and Katy have everything you need….”

“How could we not? We have practically the entire lower level of the house to ourselves and Katy has the nursery on this level. We’re all set.”

“Great. If you need anything let us know.”

Trish nodded, then both women were distracted by something down the hall. They moved from the office toward the nursery. Gabrielle signaled for Trish to be quiet as they approached. From the doorway they watched the warrior leaning over the bassinet.

“Hello Princess. I sure am glad you and your mommy decided to come back with us. Aunt Bri and I sure would have missed you.” She picked the baby up then turned to the door to find two of the biggest, silliest grins she had ever seen. “Oh oh kiddo we’re busted.” She walked to the door, placing little kisses on the foreheads of the women as she walked away with the baby. “But you know what? I don’t care.”

Fini

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