Disclaimers

Violence: Of course there is violence in this, its Xena Warrior Princess.

Copyright: Xena, Gabrielle, Melinda Pappas, Janice Covington, Argo, Velasca, and the Amazons all are owned by Universal/MCA and Renaissance Pictures.

Subtext: There is love between two women which if offends you, then don’t read this story.

 

Feedback: redhope@redhope.net

Webpage: http://www.redhope.net

 

Started: February 20, 2000 Sunday

 

Series 1: The Binding of the Soulmates of Time           Series Number: 6                                Story Number: 6

 

 

Time's Changes

by Red Hope

 

 

Section 1

~*Part 1*~

Janice Covington stepped out of the car door, she stretched her legs from feeling a little stiff. She slammed the driver's door and then she heard another door slam. The archeologist looked to the other side of the car, her hands touching the Airflow's roof.

Sapphire eyes met Janice's. "Are we gonna get dis radio inside or stand here all day?"

Janice grinned at her soulmate. "Come on."

The pair had just returned from being at a local maintainess store, or so it is called. There they had ordered a radio over a week ago. Today they just picked it up. It was a large radio meant to by place on the floor. Wood and one big speaker in the front with knobs and a dialer above the speaker.

Janice went to the back of the car to the trunk, Melinda Pappas joining her. The archeologist popped open the trunk and peered in, there lay the new radio.

Mel looked to her soulmate with an arched eyebrow. "So how are we gonna get dis thing out of here?"

Janice stared at the radio deep in the trunk then looked up to Mel. "Good question." The small woman looked back to the radio. "Let’s just haul it out."

"Dis ain’t gonna be good."

The archeologist looked up to her soulmate. "Are you saying we're going to break it?"

Melinda grinned and crossed her arms against her chest. "I ain’t gonna say uh thing."

"Mel." Janice huffed and looked back up to her soulmate from the trunk. "Okay so do you have a plan then?"

Melinda grinned a little. "Yup." She uncrossed her arms. "You lift duh top part out and then I'll get duh bottom, jus' carry it on in."

"That's what I was planning."

"So lets try it out."

Janice nodded her head, she reached in grasping the top. Mel on the other hand reached for the bottom half. Carefully both women lifted the radio out of the trunk and began to carry it up the steps to the mansion's front door.

"Jesus this thing is heavy."

"I reckon it could be heavier."

Janice looked behind herself and just remembered the door. She looked back to Mel with a grin. "Mel?"

"Yes?"

"You have a plan for the door?"

"Lord, do I have tuh figure everything out around here?"

Janice chuckled a little despite herself. "Okay, you just put your end down, then I can open the door."

"Sounds good."

The soulmates climbed two more steps. Mel then carefully placed the base down then Janice turned around to the door. She pulled out her keys from her leather jacket. She opened the door and swung it open. She looked back to her partner. "Den?"

The belle nodded her head. "That's what I reckoned, there's uh plug there next tuh duh fireplace.”

Janice nodded and they lifted the heavy radio again, they began to carry it into the den. Janice came near the fireplace. "Just drop your end Mel. Then I'll just push it up against the side of the fireplace."

The translator nodded her head and carefully placed the base of the radio down onto the rugged floor. The archeologist bent down and grabbed the black cord, she turned to her right and on the wall was a plug, and she plugged it in. Next Janice came around to the front of the radio. She lifted it at the top on either side and pushed it against the brick fireplace. "There."

Both soulmates backed away from the radio and took a good gander at it from a distance.

Melinda smiled. "Looks good Janice."

"Yeah, bit odd but it works."

The southerner chuckled and stepped up beside Janice. "Try it out?"

Janice looked up to her soulmate with a grin. "Yeah." The archeologist then bent down to one knee and flipped the right knob, the radio came to life.  Immediately the den filled with the sound of static from the radio. So Janice turned the volume down with the left knob.

"Janice, try station one hundred point seven or something. I heard it iz uh good station out of Spartanburg."

"Not sure we'll be able to get it in Mel." Janice turned the tuning knob to the right and watched as the meter went to the hundreds. She slowly turned the knob then a station came on, an announcer talking loudly.

"This is WSPA out of Spartanburg, been sending out radio waves since nineteen thirty. Now tuh come up is a little music from Frank Sinatra." The announcer's voice died out then a song came to life over the radio.

Janice grinned and stood up and looked to her soulmate. "There you go Mel, your favorite singer too."

The southerner grinned and looked to Janice. "Perfect." A large grin came on Mel's lips. "If I were uh teenager."

Janice laughed. "Oh come on Mel, its good to feel young." The archeologist then tossed off her hat throwing it to the sofa behind Melinda. Turning back around the small woman turned up the volume to fill the den. She turned back around to Mel then reached for the aristocrat's larger hands. Janice began to dance while grinning up to Melinda.

The southerner rolled her eyes then smiled. She looked down to her small partner and grinned. She quickly noticed Janice was lip singing to the music. Melinda blushed a little and Janice grinned. The translator chuckled and kicked off her high heals. The soulmates then started to glide across the room dancing to Frank Sinatra. Janice's voice then began to actually sing the lyrics along with Sinatra.

 

"Time and again I've longed for adventure

Something to make my heart beat much faster

What did I long for, I never really knew.

Finding your love, I found my adventure,

Touching your hand my heart beat much faster

All that I want in all of this world is you."

 

That's when the music just played and Mel was a little red. The lyrics came back and Melinda sung with her soulmate this time.

 

"You are the promised kiss of springtime

That makes the lonely winter seem long

You are the breathless hush of evening

That trembles on the brink of a lovely song.

You are the angel glow that lights the star,

The dearest things I know are what you are.

Someday my happy arms will hold you,

And someday I'll know that moment divine

When all the things you are, are mine."

Once the song was over the soulmates started laughing at themselves. Janice released her dancing partner and padded back over to the radio, she turned it off. Turning back to see her lover standing with her heals in her right hand.

"Thanks for duh dance Janice."

"Oh anytime Mel."

The taller woman chuckled and shook her head. "I knew dat radio would be nothing but trouble."

Janice grinned. "Oh I can think of more things to do with it."

Melinda's eyes narrowed but she grinned. "You'll have tuh show me later."

"Count on it."

The southern belle shook her head then exited out of the den, Janice went to get her hat.

The translator reached to the first step and turned back to look down at Janice as she came out of the den as well. "I'm gonna go get changed."

Janice nodded her head. "Alright, I think I'm going to go put the car away."

Melinda nodded back and went up the stairs, emerald eyes sparkled up at Melinda till she disappeared around a corner at the top of the steps. Janice sighed and went out the still open door. She closed it behind herself and went into the car.

~*~*~*~

Melinda Pappas straightened back up, reached behind to her hair that is in a bun. Her large fingers pulled out a small metal pin and her hair fell freely. Her bangs then fell down on her forehead. She placed the small metal pin down on the dresser in front of her. She then turned away from the bureau and bent down to one knee, she proceeded to tie her shoes.

The southern now is dressed in a pair of loose khaki pants and a white blouse that she didn't tuck in and had the top two buttons undone. She was picking up to many habits from her soulmate. Melinda grinned to herself and stood back up from tying her low cut brown shoes.

After doing so she opened the bedroom door and went down stairs into the main lobby. Peeking into the den she didn't see her soulmate. She then padded into the kitchen and didn't find her soulmate.  "Janice?"

A reply came back to her from a distance. "Hey Mel, I'm outside on the steps."

Mel smiled and went to her right through the kitchen where there was an old door that led outside to the back of the mansion. She opened the wood door and spotted her soulmate down on a step. The southern closed the door and went down a few steps then sat down beside her partner.

Janice pulled her cigar from out of her mouth. "Comfortable?"

Melinda grinned and looked to Janice. "Yeah, thanks for teaching dat one tuh me."

"No problem, don't need to always wear them skirts."

"Complaining?"

The archeologist grinned, placed the cigar into her mouth and smoked from it. She replied in between the cigar. "Nope, not a bit Mel."

"Good."

Janice looked to her soulmate and chuckled. The archeologist looked back to the backyard of the property. Pretty much the backyard was a… backyard. Just a bunch of grass and a few trees here and there, no garden or anything. Plain and simple. This had actually surprised the archeologist the first time she saw it considering the amount of money Melinda has.

Silence soon fell between the soulmates. Janice smoking her cigar staring off while Mel had her eyes fixed to the ground below.

"Janice?"

The archeologist looked to Melinda, the southern still had her eyes fixed to the ground. "Yeah Mel?"

The belle looked up to Janice. "You miss New York?"

Janice smiled a little and looked back to the… backyard. "Haven't been to New York in… I don't even remember Mel. Since I was a child though." The archeologist then took a drag from her cigar. The smoke left from her lips. "I guess I miss it a little."

The translator nodded her head. "I wuz considering on getten uh apartment up there."

Janice looked to Melinda with slightly widen eyes. "Really? Since when?"

The belle looked to the archeologist with a grin. "For uh while. I wanted tuh ask you first before I did it."

"God, I'd love to have a place up there Mel. New York City is great."

The southerner grinned. "Dat's what I reckon. So yo fancy duh idea?"

"Definitely."

Melinda grinned and Janice reached over with her left hand. Her hand went to the aristocrat's right leg. Mel smiled to herself and dropped her hand on top of Janice's.

"So you reckon dat Doctor Johnson iz still in uh hissy fit over the lecture?"

The archeologist laughed a little. "Oh well if he is Mel. I am not about to do that lecture when it’s almost Christmas."

"Well I reckon we can't anyway considering since we haven't even translated any duh scrolls since we got back from Greece."

"True." Janice took a last drag on her cigar then smothered it out on the step and left it there. "We are going to have a lot of work to do after Christmas."

"My lord I reckon we'll need uh vacation after duh lecture." Melinda then grinned. "New York City then?"

The smaller woman looked to Melinda with a grin. "Sounds good to me Mel."

"Grand."

Janice chuckled at her partner's words. "Let's go back inside."

The translator nodded in agreement. The two females got up and went inside, Janice taking the butt end of her cigar with her. Once inside of the kitchen Janice went to the trashcan under the sink, dropping the cigar inside of the trashcan. She straightened back up and as she did both soulmates heard the doorbell sound.

The archeologist looked to Mel with furrowed brows.

Melinda shrugged her shoulders. "Emily maybe?"

"Don't know, let's go find out."

The pair went to the door in the lobby and opened it. Janice's mouth dropped then she smiled, along with Mel having the exact same reaction.

Janice stepped forward and enveloped the person before her. "Starling, damn good to see you."

The Amazon chuckled and hugged the other woman back just as hard. "Its good to see you too Doctor Covington."

Janice released the Amazon then Starling looked to the tall belle with a smile. A warm smile quickly took over Melinda's lips. "How are yo Starling?"

The Amazon went in for a hug while replying. "Real well Miss Pappas."

After releasing each other, Starling looked to both of the soulmates.

Janice looked beyond Starling and saw a familiar car, Doctor Emily Leukos. "Emily brought you eh?"

The Amazon grinned. "She did." Starling turned back around to see the good doctor stepping out of the driver's door. She smiled up to the three women and waved. Janice smiled to Emily Leukos. The doctor went to the back of her car opening the trunk.

The archeologist looked to Starling. "Why don't you go inside with Mel. I'll go help Emily with your stuff."

The Amazon smiled. "Thanks Janice."

"No problem." The archeologist then looked up to her soulmate and smiled, Mel nodded.

The translator went inside of the lobby with Starling following behind. The translator led the Amazon Queen into the den. "Sit down. Can I get yo anything tuh drink?"

Starling shook her head. "No I'm fine, thanks though Mel." The Amazon shifted to sit on the sofa in the middle and Mel went to sit in a large old leather chair to the right of Starling.

"So when did yo arrive?"

"Just now actually. I flew in at Charleston, Emily came and picked me up."

Melinda nodded her head. She spotted her soulmate and Emily going up stairs to the rooms with luggage in arms. She looked back to the other woman. "Charleston? Why didn't yo fly intuh Colombia?"

Starling grinned and rested back more into the seat. She is dressed in a dark forest green skirt reaching to her ankles. She had on black heals and a white blouse buttoned up with a green flower design along the sides to match the skirt. "Well Cliona and Ashley flew me in and they need some extra time to head up to Chicago, didn't have enough time."

"Chicago? Why were they headed tuh Chicago?"

"Well they’re having a small Christmas vacation up there. Cliona is originally from Chicago."

Mel nodded her head and both women looked up to see Janice and Emily come in. The archeologist smiled to her soulmate and sat down on the sofa but closes to Mel. Emily on the other hand sat on Starling's left side.

"Now how did you get here to South Carolina Starling?"

The Amazon Queen grinned and looked to Janice to answer the question again. "Cliona and Ashley flew me here."

The archeologist grinned. "So Hellenes and Sylvia decided to let you go huh?"

Starling grinned back. "Yup, I was surprised."

Janice laughed. She reached up and removed her hat from her head, settling it into her lap. "How long are you here for?"

Starling smiled. "Well I only have time to stay here for a couple of days. Then I have to be off for some business."

Melinda's eyebrows furrowed together. "What business iz dat about Starling?"

The Amazon Queen sighed and looked to Melinda. "I need to head down to Miami Florida, supposedly there are rumors flying that Amazons do exist. Emily and I are heading down there to suppress them."

Janice and Melinda both nodded their heads. The archeologist looked to her soulmate with a certain look, Mel read the look and nodded.

Janice looked back to Starling. "Well if you need any help, Mel and I will be happy to go with you two."

The Amazon Queen smiled. "No that's alright, I think we can handle it. You two both need a vacation."

Melinda grinned, as did Janice. "Well if anything comes up, let us know Starling."

Starling nodded her head to Janice and replied back. "We will for sure."

The translator looked over to Doctor Leukos. "Emily, I apologize, iz there anything I can get for yo?"

"No thanks Mel, I'm fine."

Mel nodded and crossed her right leg over top of her left. "I reckon duh University gave yo some time off Emily?"

The doctor nodded her head. "They did, two weeks that’s why I'm able to head down to Florida with Starling."

"So exactly what's going on with these rumors?" Janice looked up from her hat after asking her question, she looked to Starling.

The Amazon Queen took a deep breath and replied back. "We're not quite sure. We have a few Amazons down in Florida in the Miami area. Once we get there we'll find more out. There's just some leak in the system that we need to correct."

Janice nodded her head and Melinda looked to her soulmate. "Janice?" The archeologist looked to the southerner. "I reckon I'm gonna go start supper." Janice nodded her head and the translator looked to Emily Leukos. "Do yo care tuh join us Emily?"

The doctor smiled. "Love tuh, I'll help you Mel." Emily Leukos then stood up at the same time as Melinda. The southerner looked to her soulmate and grinned, then looked back to Emily. The pair walked out of the den and went straight to the kitchen leaving Starling and Janice alone in the den.

~*Part 2*~

The small woman took a deep breath, she sat up from the furs. The fire not to far in front of her crackled, as if to greet her when she sat up. Gabrielle's eyes became fixed on the fire for a moment she then looked to her right at her…friend.

The warrior lay on her back, soundlessly sleeping. But the bard could tell Xena was sleeping lightly, her defenses still up. And why shouldn't they be? After what happened today.

That thought made Gabrielle prop up her legs against her chest, she wrapped her arms around her legs. She lowered her chin down onto her arms and stared into the fire. Her memories from early this morning came flying back.

"You're not real. You're in my mind." The bard closed her eyes.

The goddess grinned and purred into the bard's ear. "What difference does it make? You came here for the truth, and the truth is that Xena made us both. She shaped our lives, changed our fates, killed our families."

Gabrielle opened her eyes again, her voice coming out hardier now. "No, I killed hers. Solan died because of my daughter."

"Because of Xena you had a daughter. Her hatred for Caesar took you to Britannia..."

"Yes, but ..."

"Straight to Dahak where she deserted you. Isn't that right? Isn't that right?"

It began to make sense to Gabrielle, she replied back low but surer. "Yes."

Callisto began to grin. "And you hate her for it, don't you ... for betraying you ... for failing you ... don't you... don't you ... don't you?!"

The bard grits her teeth as she lays on the purification table, the answer a cross between a scream and a yell. "Yes!"

Gabrielle shuts off the memory, her eyes closing tightly. She trembled a little in the furs. Her eyes opened again and she looked to Xena beside her. She studied the warrior's perfect body. Gods, how she missed Xena, being her everything. But now, now she had failed Xena, failed herself as well.

No nothing around them could ever destroy their world. Nothing. But they could destroy their own world. Had they destroyed it? Or had they only cracked it?

The Amazon Queen's eyes close again, she tries to block out her musing. A few tears roll down her cheeks. Her memories begin to shift in her mind again. They take her back to Illusia, to an illusion.

Xena stared down at the body of her soulmate, the warrior's sword embedded in Gabrielle's chest. "I killed Gabrielle." The warrior's voice had cracked, she then looked up as a door creaked open.

Gabrielle took a step through the doorway and stared down at her own lifeless body, she looked to Xena. "You killed me. By the gods, Xena, you killed me. I knew you were trying before, Xena, but I ..."

The sword and the bard's body disappeared as Xena stood up. The warrior looked to Gabrielle, her mind quickly tried to find an explanation. "No ... no ... I didn't ... none of this is real ... Ares and Callisto... Joxer... I didn't kill you, I killed an illusion."

The bard quickly replied with an angry half-upset voice. "Is that supposed to make me feel better?"

Had it made her feel better? Not even for a second had it. In fact it made Gabrielle feel worse. The small woman's mind flashed back to the scene of Xena over her lifeless body, sword still in her chest.

More tears came down Gabrielle's cheeks, she looked to the fire again. As the tears rolled down her cheek they twinkled in the yellow firelight. They fell from her cheek and sparkled then crashed into the darkness of the furs. Her hands moved from her knees up to cover her mouth. She tried to stop the sobs that escaped her lips. That same image flashed over and over again, along with Xena's voice saying, "I killed Gabrielle."

"I killed Gabrielle."

Yes, Gabrielle was killed in every sense of the word. Gabrielle and Xena had been killed in Illusia. It is only a warrior and bard. No lovers, no partners, just friends. Two friends that's only connection between each other is a very fine piece of thread. It only need be broken once and they would separated forever.

The Amazon Queen freed her hands from over her mouth, because she needed to breathe through her mouth. So she buried her head down between her arms and legs, her body rocking her.

The bard's eyes filled with tears, she stared at the funeral pyre for her daughter. She then looked to Xena. "If I had just done what you said, when you told me to do it, then they would still be alive, Kaleipus and Solan."

The warrior shook her head. She didn't turned to Gabrielle, her eyes still pinned on her son's funeral pyre. "No." Xena looked to Gabrielle. "Don't you even speak his name."

Gabrielle replied low. "Xena ..."

Xena cut her off, her voice hard but starting to crack. "No. You lied to me. I trusted you and you lied to me. And now, Solan is dead." Xena looked back to the funeral pyre, tears escaping as her weak voice whispered. "My son is dead ...because of you."

Tears stream from Gabrielle's eyes, she wanted to kill herself. Anything to satisfy this darkness in her, pain. Anything to rid Xena from seeing her. But the bard gave one last desperate attempt, her voice a plea. "I love you Xena." The bard stared at Xena, the warrior never responding. Gabrielle dropped her head and walked away. There's always an end to everything.

The bard kept rocking, her eyes closed tightly. Her memories kept shifting even though she tried to stop them. But she couldn't, they were to much like a hurricane.

Gabrielle stepped into the hut she shared with Xena after leaving the funeral pyres. She looked to her left hand at the wedding rings. Her eyes were red as blood. The bard carefully removed her rings and walked over to a table, there she placed both down carefully. Next to follow was her necklace. She stared at it in the palm of her hand. Tears still came rushing out. Lowering her lips she placed a soft kiss to the center of the charm and placed the necklace down with the two rings. She left the hut.

By the time she returned, Xena had gone. The warrior's things gone. Gabrielle's wedding rings gone with the necklace. In their place were Xena's own wedding band and her necklace. The bard bursted into tears as she stared at the table. Her back against the hut door. She slid down the door as she stared across the hut to Xena's ring and necklace.

Gabrielle took a deep breath. Her head lifted up again and she locked her eyes on the fire. The fire, the fire that engulfed her. It overwhelmed her and tried to burn her. But she pushed it down inside of herself. Gabrielle would make it through this, she had to. For now though, she had to deal with her memories that kept flooding into her mind over and over through the night. Then the emotions, the ebony of them all.

~*~*~*~

Xena stared ahead as her body swayed a little back and forth as Argo walked along the road. Her back was ridged for no real reason. There was no danger around her. Or was there?

Her blue eyes shifted down to the form walking beside her. Walls quickly came to life in the warrior's eyes, in her soul.

Last night had been an extremely long night. Xena had lay in the furs listening to Gabrielle cry the night away. Here and there she'd open her eyes to see the bard rocking back and forth, her head embedded down between her body. Her small arms tightly wrapped around her body in protection. All the warrior could do was watch. All she wanted to do was take Gabrielle away from it all. But she couldn't because she knew she'd caused that pain for Gabrielle. Besides that, part of Xena was still angry at Gabrielle. Angry at herself.

The warrior sighed, her eyes shifting back ahead. Illusia had helped, but it didn't cure. No how could it? How could one little place of illusions bring back love? That had to be done between the two people. 

"Everything's changed…everything."

Xena shook her head as Gabrielle's words and voice seeped into her mind. The warrior tried to ignore the voice, ignore the words. But the entire scene came to her.

"Xena?"

The warrior tried to look to her soulmate while they lay in the rubble of the temple, she rubbed the bard's back some. "I'm here, Gabrielle." Tightening her arms around the bard, Xena reassured her.

"It hurts inside." The bard then bent her head forward some, she started to cry.

Xena was motionless for a second. The fine scent of fire in the air. "What?"

"Everything's changed ... everything." Such a low whisper it was, but it held such great meaning.

The warrior's heart clenched at that. No! Xena then quickly went to rubbing the bard's body. Trying to wipe away the pain. "It's going to be okay, I promise."

Blue eyes shut at that. She'd promised that, but had she delivered? No. Xena broke her promise. Since Dahak's temple, nothing has been okay or even worth hanging in for.

"Everything's changed…everything."

The warrior opened her eyes again to the world around. The pair had been silent all morning. Once the warrior had risen from the furs she noticed the bard finally asleep. Her cheeks wet though as she breathed from her mouth. The bard's nose slightly red. Xena had left the camp for awhile to be alone. To torture herself.

As the pair traveled on, Xena began to remember Illusia, especially the end. The end where she finally tells Solan that she's his mother. The warrior sighed at that, she shifted the reins in her hands. Her gaze looked down to Gabrielle for moments then back up. Images in her mind began to swim and come to life.

The warrior rushed into the hut, her heart pounding. Once she entered she stopped dead in her tracks. Her eyes stared at the motionless body of her son on the ground. Gods no!

Xena quickly rushed to Solan and lifted his head up, his eyes closed. His head rested in the warrior's lap. Xena shook her head. "Solan? ... Solan? ... hey, Solan ..." No response.

Gabrielle took a few more steps into the hut. She couldn't believe this, it couldn't have happened. Her eyes stared at the lifeless Solan. Then slowly her emerald eyes lifted up to Xena. "Xena? ... No ..."

The warrior quickly cut her off in an angry voice. "Get out."

The bard whispered back. "Xena ..."

Xena looked up to her soulmate and cut her off again, hatred seeping into her single word. "Go!"

The Amazon Queen left and Xena looked back down to her son. She began to cradle and rock Solan, droplets slowly rolled down her cheeks. "Solan ... Solan, please. I'm here now. Your momma's here now, just like you always wanted." Such desperation and pleading. But Xena knew the truth. Her son is dead. Her head fell back and a scream flies from the warrior's lips, it could be heard from lands around. Then her head fell forward again into her son's body, she rocked. Her mind raced as fast as the pain took control.

Xena closed her eyes against the tears that tried so hard to break through. She took a deep breath, her heart rate calming back down. Sad eyes shifted open again and Xena went stoic once more. As if nothing ever happened.

Now, now they move on. Let the days roll on to see what happens. Xena had no idea if things would become better or worse. All she knew was that things were bad now. Gods forbid they get worse. She didn't know if she could take much more of this huge rift between her and Gabrielle. Let alone the rift getting bigger.

~*~*~*~

This couldn't be? No! It hadn't happen.

Xena closed her eyes. Her hands tightly gripped the edge. Cold sapphire eyes reopened and stared down into the yellow burning pit. She was on her knees.

Her mind had to be playing tricks on her. This had to be a bad dream. She'd wake up any second. Wake up and look to her left to see Gabrielle sleeping beside her. No, Gabrielle hadn't fallen into this pit. Gabrielle didn't throw herself and daughter into this pit. It's just a bad dream. A bad dream. Not real. She’s alive.

Her ice eyes looked back behind herself to see Callisto dead on the floor, the dagger near the lifeless body. Joxer standing beside the dead goddess staring at Xena.

Xena dare not look at Joxer, for if looks could kill. So her eyes shifted back to the pit. The warrior's anger took over. Her breathing picked up, her knuckles tightly clenched the pit's edge. She threw her head back and a scream erupted.

That's when Joxer knew to exit stage left. He quickly left the temple and soon as he did another scream echoed. He closed his eyes and leaned against the temple. He only felt a minor amount of the pain Xena does.

By now hot tears were racing down Xena's cheeks. Her eyes still stared down into the pit. Desperate hope fiercely raked away at her heart. Hoping to find Gabrielle down there in the pit still alive. Hope. Xena's teeth clenched at that Tartarus of a word. Hope.

Another scream escaped Xena's throat. It echoed in the temple and sounded back into her ears. Her soul slowly withered into nothingness. She'd failed. She'd fail Gabrielle, failed herself. Nor did Xena try to fix her relationship with Gabrielle. She'd held back. There was so much she wanted to say to Gabrielle before they'd entered into the temple. But she hadn't, she'd recoil within. And Gabrielle had saw it in her blue eyes.

Xena closed her eyes yet again. She rocked back and forth as the heat of the pit washed up into her face. But it wasn't hot enough to dry her endless tears.

The warrior knew Gabrielle did what she wanted for once. Xena told her not to sacrifice herself, but Gabrielle had. The memories resurface to a time when Xena told her to do something. Gabrielle had done that something and the bard paid for it.

"I don't know what's happening to me, Xena. I did something that I never thought I would do. I played judge, jury and executioner."

The warrior shifted a little against the boat's railing. "You did what I told you to do."

Gabrielle sighed then replied. "You said that Crassus living or dying wasn't the point. I had a choice, I made it."

Xena took a deep breath. "Gabrielle, I put you in a situation I had no right to. I expected you to understand my logic and ignore your heart."

"But, I know you were right." The bard's hands then came out to cover over Xena's.

"But, it wasn't right for you. That's not who you are. If I had to do this all over again..." She is cut off.

"I'd still do it."

The warrior nodded her thumb lightly caressing the bard's hand. "If I couldn't find another way, I would, but I wouldn't include you."

"Yeah, but I'd be hurt if you didn't."

Xena sighed, there's no way to win. "How many more times are you going to follow me into battle? How many more times am I going to hurt you? You are the most dear thing to me in all the world. Yet, instead of protecting you ..."

"I'm here because I want to be. I love you, Xena."

The warrior smiled just slightly, but it was a sad smile. She hadn't heard that in a long time. "I love you too, Gabrielle." The gold ring fell from Gabrielle's hand and into the murky dark water. It disappeared without a trace. It was gone, forever.

The warrior shook her head. How she'd wrong Gabrielle left and right. "I'm here because I want to be." It rung through Xena's mind again. But look where it got you my bard? Xena's heart tightened, a large lump in her throat. The final truth erupted like a thousands nails hitting into Xena's body as the truth was whispered between Xena's lips. Her eyes flying open from the amazing pain, the pain of the truth.

"But look at where I got you my bard?" Blue eyes closed. "Everything's changed…everything." As Xena's eyes opened again thousands of tears swept from her eyes. Darkness smiled at the warrior and took her over. Pain laughed at her as it chains her soul and heart. Death crossed its arms and grins with satisfactory. "I killed Gabrielle…again." It repeated without end in Xena's soul.

So in turn the warrior curled up within and outside. Her hands leaving the edge of the pit. She hugged her body with her arms, as she bent forward close to her knees. Tears rolled and rolled down. She rocked. Agony set in as her eyes closed to block everything out.

~*Part 3*~

Xena stared across the barn at the monster. It lay still on the ground, blood flowing from it death wound. She could see Hope's body mashed underneath.

The warrior took a deep breath. She felt the bard in her arms shudder. So she looked down at Gabrielle.

The bard pulled a little back in the embrace and turned around to face the warrior. She looked into her friend's eyes. "Glad that's over with." Low whispered words.

Xena sadly smiled, her arms still wrapped around Gabrielle. "Me too."

The Amazon Queen then turned back around in the warrior's embrace. She leaned against Xena. She desperately needed this. She was just considered "dead" then "reborn" and now she'd just killed her daughter and Hope's son. The bard needed to feel safe from all this chaos that happened. Her mind is confused, her body reacting to it. But in Xena's arms her body could at least calm while her mind slowly settled down.

Xena though, she needed to feel Gabrielle in her arms again. It'd been to long. They may not be lovers like they were so long ago. But they both still felt love towards each other. Some where in there in that chaos. Besides that, the warrior thought she'd just lost Gabrielle forever. She needed that physical touch to know she had the bard here in her arms again.

By the time night came, the two partners were in bed. Cyrene had quickly sent them to bed after finding out what happened. But what she couldn't quite understand was why the two women kept so far away from each other physical. And she'd taken quick notice to the fact neither wore their wedding rings nor necklaces. It put a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach.

Into that night Gabrielle had nightmares about the past days. About that pit. She was so confused. When she'd killed her daughter part of her was extremely happy, the other was angry at herself. She was so angry at herself for not trying. She felt as if she never tried hard enough. She never tried to find a good side to Hope and tap into it. But no, Hope had wronging Gabrielle to the extreme. That happy side was glad to take revenge on her daughter. Revenge for Hope killing Solon, part of Xena, and her relationship with the warrior. That was satisfaction. Gabrielle hates this side of herself.

~*Part 4*~

Janice nodded her head. “Yeah.” She looked down to her hat in her lap then back to Starling. “Things are a little better… you know.”

The Amazon also nodded her head, she looked to the floor then back to her friend. “That’s better then nothing Janice. I know Mel went through a lot in Greece.”

The archeologist huffed at that. “That’s an understatement. Every goddamn time we go to Greece it seems Mel ends up getting physically and mentally hurt.”

Silence.

“Janice, you do realize Mel can handle herself?”

Janice’s eyes were still fixed on her fedora, she didn’t know what to say. So she decided to say what first came to mind. “She shouldn’t have too.” The archeologist then looked up to the Amazon.

Starling crossed her arms against her chest. “I can understand why you say that. You think she’s your responsibility huh?” A pause as the archeologist’s eyes went back to her lap. “Let me tell you Janice, that’ll get you into a lot of trouble. For the both of you.”

Janice quickly looked up. “And if I don’t take her as my responsibility Starling, who is?”

“Mel will.”

The two women’s eyes locked tightly. How did they even get into this discussion in the first place? Was Janice actually starting to trust this woman? Trust enough to tell Starling her deepest fears? She couldn’t quite understand where this trust came from. But it is quickly developing from somewhere.

“Maybe.” Janice then looked away to stare at the fireplace. Why is she getting so…so defensive? She couldn’t understand why.

Starling uncrossed her arms again. “Well Janice, let me phrase it this way. The tiger doesn’t need to be protected when it has its own claws and fangs. I think the tiger would prefer another walking beside it in support rather then hiding it from the world around.” Janice looked back to Starling, so the Amazon decided to add on. “I think Mel can handle herself Janice. We’ve all seen it, she’s dangerous in her own way.”

Again the smaller woman looked back to the fireplace as she took deep breaths. Her right hand was on the arm of the sofa. Her hand is gripping the arm rather tightly as if in means to kill it. Janice’s left hand shifted in her lap to grasp her hat. She lifted and put it on and looked to Starling. “Excuse me.”

The Amazon Queen nodded as she watched the archeologist get up. Starling watched the other woman leave the room then go out the main door of the house.

Janice looked up to the sky, it was getting late, almost sunset. There would definitely be some nice stars considering there were no clouds. The archeologist took a deep breath. She then walked down the steps of the mansion and walked over to the garage. There she leaned against it, staring across the lane of the mansion. The sun in her eyes beginning to fall below the buildings of Colombia.

“I think Mel can handle herself Janice.”

Janice sighed. She reached into her inside pocket and pulled out a cigar and matches. Lightening it then she began to smoke the cigar after biting off the end. Sighing again she shifted against the front of the garage.

“Every goddamn time we go to Greece it seems Mel ends up getting physically and mentally hurt.”

Her eyes closed tightly as her own voice rung through her head. Slowly emerald eyes opened again, she took a drag from her cigar. No, it’s not every time we go to Greece. It’s every time I ignore my instincts. Being stupid. She took a rough draw from the cigar, the smoke slowly escaping from her lips. What do I think I am? An insurance liability to Mel?

Janice dropped her head back against the garage, her hat protesting by shifting off her head. She closed her eyes as the hand with her cigar fell by her side. The ashes slowly falling off and onto the ground, the cigar becomes shorter and shorter with every passing moment.

Her ivy eyes slowly opened again, they stared up to the overhang of the garage. There she spotted a small nest of bees. She’d heard from her father how a bee’s hive works. There was the queen then all the workers and drones. In the end all the workers and drones protected the queen, plain and simple. Black and white.

“I think Mel can handle herself Janice.”

Lifting her head back up, Janice’s eyes looked to the slowly disappearing half sun. She brought up her left hand to adjust her hat. She then brought her slowly shortening cigar back up to smoke from. A little time passed, then the cigar was gone, smothered dead on the pavement.

The archeologist then is able to bring both arms up to cross against her chest. Her eyes staying fixed on the setting sun, it will be gone for a time. Now the sun sunk behind the buildings of Colombia.

The mansion door opened quietly and closed quietly. Janice felt her body tingle every where possible. A tall form came to stand beside her. Janice looked up and smiled sadly. “Hey.”

The southerner smiled back. “Hey yourself.” Melinda then shifted to lean against the garage as well. She stared in the same direction as Janice. “Supper will be ready soon.”

The archeologist just faintly nodded. “Good.”

Blue eyes looked to Janice, fixed on her for a moment. Then they looked back to the scenery. The belle took a deep breath. She knew something was going on. Ever since Janice got upset, she’d felt it too. She’d began to rush dinner then, Emily noticing. Then Starling came in taking her job. That left Mel to find out what was going on.

“Ain’t much of uh sunset huh?”

Janice nodded her head. “Nope.”

“Kinda need duh clouds.”

The archeologist looked up to her soulmate for a moment. That’s when the translator saw that turmoil in her soulmate’s eyes.

Janice then looked away back to the declining sunset. “I guess.”

The aristocrat nodded. Her left hand then reached over near Janice’s right. She grasped Janice’s right hand then squeezed.

That’s when Janice held back everything from turning into Mel’s arms on the spot. Her jaw clamping down in self-resistance.

Mel took a deep breath. “Yo know, I jus’ had dis real bad upset feelen jus uh few minutes ago. Still actually have it tuh tell duh truth.”

The smaller woman looked up to her partner. Melinda looking down to her. Their eyes quickly locked, something passed between the soulmates.

Janice was the one to break the contact, feeling to vulnerable right now. She then mumbled something low. “Sorry.”

The belle looked away too. She squeezed Janice’s hand in reassurance. “Well I reckon we better head in for supper.”

Janice nodded and felt Melinda release her hand. The pair walked back inside of the mansion, single file.

~*~*~*~

The archeologist stared down at the fried chicken. She wasn’t feeling like fried chicken tonight. She wasn’t feeling much into eating to begin with. So she just ignored the food and began to drink her quantity of scotch. Great stuff too, does a lot to a person.

The small glass found the table again. Janice releasing the glass and looking up to everybody at the table. They all sat in the main dinning hall. The entire time the archeologist could feel a worried set of eyes on her. But she just ignored them right along with the food. She looked down to Starling.

“Starling, how many Amazons are in the nation exactly?”

The Amazon looked up from her plate of food. She smiled to Janice then replied. “Right now the count is at five hundred, plus or minus that.”

Janice nodded her head. “That’s pretty damn amazing.” She took a deep breath. “So does everybody in the nation get together? Some huge ass meeting?”

Emily Leukos looked up from her plate of food as well. She arched an eyebrow at Janice.

“Sometimes Janice, depends on situations.” The Amazon Queen then reached out to lift a glass of water in front of her. She drank from it then placed it back on the table.

“So when was the last time there was a meeting?”

Starling sighed. “It was about…a good thirty-seven maybe forty years ago.”

Janice nodded her head. She rested back in her seat.

Melinda took a fork full of corn, eating it. After swallowing she looked to Janice. She noticed how her soulmate slouched in the seat. Not to mention the scotch glass almost empty. Scotch and an empty stomach. The belle sighed then looked to Starling.

“Starling, how does duh system work? I reckon you do have uh system on who becomes an Amazon right?”

The Amazon smiled. “Well normally the mother hands the right of caste as an Amazon down to her daughter. It’s passed on from generation to generation.”

The translator nodded her head. “What happens if yo family has two or more daughters in them?”

Starling grinned and she looked to the doctor.

Emily caught the look from her Queen, so she looked to Mel. “I had that myself Mel. I have two younger sisters. But I’m first born and I take the right of caste. If it is felt I can never handle the right of caste…being an Amazon then I pass it down to my next sister. Also if I am ever killed then my next sister would take the caste.”

Janice crossed her arms against her chest. She looked to Starling. “And when the hell do you know when you’re chosen as an Amazon?”

Melinda’s hand tightened on the fork she held, she kept eating.

Starling sat back in her seat, her stomach filled. “It depends Janice. Some will receive their caste at a young age others when they’re quite older.”

Janice nodded then she reached out for her glass of scotch. The liquor burns its way down her throat and into her stomach. She sat back in the seat. Everybody at the dinner table fell silent. Things were too awkward for them all, out of order so to say.

The night continued on in relative silence. By the time Mel noticed everybody done, she stood up. She began to clear the table then Starling and Emily helped her clear. Janice though, she left the dining room and walked into the den with her empty glass of scotch. The belle’s eyes narrowed at this. They kept spare liquor in the den.

Once all the dishes were cleared away, the three women were conjugated in the kitchen. Melinda turned from the sink to the two Amazons.

“Thanks Starling and Emily, y’all were uh grand help.”

Starling nodded her head, as did the doctor. Emily then took a step closer to her host for the evening. “Thanks for dinner Mel. I need to get going.” A pause as Emily locked eyes with Melinda. “Is Janice alright?”

The translator dropped her eyes to the floor for a moment then looked back to the doctor. “She’ll be okay.”

Emily Leukos nodded her head. She then pulled Mel into a hug. “Thanks again. Sleep well tonight Mel.”

The belle nodded as she watches Emily begin to leave the kitchen. “You too Emily, drive safely.” And with that, Emily disappeared out of the kitchen. Mel hearing the front door open and close. The belle then looked to Starling whom leaned against a chair at the wood table.

The Amazon had her eyes fixed to her feet. “Sorry Mel.” She then looked up to her tall friend.

“For what Starling?”

Starling took a deep breath. “I got Janice riled up.” Her hands left the top’s of the chair heads. She crossed her arms against her chest. “We had a bit of a talk.”

The southerner crossed her arms at hearing this new information. “‘Bout what?”

“You.”

The belle nodded. “I reckon I can take it from there on what happened.” Melinda then bobbed her head up and down as her eyes stared to the floor. She then looked back to Starling. “Thank for tellen me Starling. Go get some sleep huh?”

The Amazon Queen nodded. “Yeah, long flight here. Take care Mel.”

The translator smiled. “Thanks Starling. Third door after you take left. Goodnight.”

Starling lifted herself from the chair, heading out of the kitchen. “Night Mel.” The Amazon now gone.

The southerner dropped her head down to stare at the floor in the dimly lit kitchen. She listened to the sound of Starling’s heals clicking up the stairs. Looking back up, Mel’s eyes stared at the old clock hanging off the wall. It read fifteen minutes till eight. Not to late at all.

Melinda took a deep breath. She walked out of the kitchen, into the dining room, through the lobby. She came to the doorway of the den, she stopped and leaned against the doorway. Her eyes fixed on her soulmate. She listened to the radio as she watched Janice take a sip from her refilled scotch glass. Refill number? Mel hand no idea how many. Her mind began to focus more on the music, it is Billie Holiday.

 

Oh clouds above me

Where are the birds that used to sing?

Everything's wrong

Oh where is their song of love?

 

Where is the one

Who said he loved me

Far, like those clouds he used to bring

Can it be true there's somebody new to love?

Listen my heart

Don't feel so bad

Think of the kisses we knew

You know my heart

The moments we had

Maybe he's missing them too

Where is the sun?

 

Oh clouds above me

Don't lake the dreams to which I cling

Where is the sun?

Oh where is the one I love?

 

The song ended, so did Mel’s mind being in a daze. She finally shifted and walked into the den, Janice noticing her for the first time. The southerner walked over to the radio, the archeologist watching the entire time. The translator turned the radio off then walked over to her soulmate. She bent down to own knee in front of Janice.

“Hey.”

The archeologist looked up from the glass in her right hand. “Hi.”

The aristocrat brought up her right hand to the archeologist’s lap. “Come outside wid me.” Janice didn’t move nor did Mel. The belle’s large hand squeezing Janice’s knee for a moment then relaxing. “Please?”

The small woman’s eyes slowly lifted to Mel’s. Then dropped again. She took a deep breath. “Yeah.” She began to stand up, Mel also standing back up.

The pair walked through the mansion to the kitchen, Janice still had her glass of scotch. Once Mel came to the sink, she stopped abruptly and turned back to Janice. She held out her large hand to Janice.

The archeologist looked up into her soulmate’s eyes. They were all too serious. And she knew what Mel wanted. So Janice handed the glass to the southerner, her hand a little shaky.

Melinda took the glass and turned to the sink, pouring the remains of the scotch in the sink. She then placed the empty glass by the other dirty dishes next to the sink. She then looked to Janice and nodded. Turning back around she went out the door, Janice following behind.

The pair soon found themselves in the middle of the backyard, it was fairly warm out. Especially since they are in South Carolina.

Mel sat down on the ground and then lay out on the lawn. Janice still stood and stared down at her partner, she then took her hat off. The archeologist then sighed and sat down on the grass, her hat finding a spot on the grass relatively close. She then shifted to lie down beside her soulmate.

Silence came between them.

Mel took a deep breath. Janice thought this was where some sort of lecture was about to begin. She felt liked some kid right now. This has never happened between the soulmates. New ground to tread.

“Beautiful stars.” A pause. “Duh stars seem tuh make up for duh shitty sunset huh?”

The archeologist blinked. Did Mel just cuss? No lecture started either? Janice looked to her left at Melinda. She watched as the belle brought up her arms, her large hands going under her head.

The archeologist then looked back to the stars. “Did you just cuss Mel or was it me?”

The translator grinned to herself. “Yeah, ain’t you.”

Janice hands came up to rest over her stomach. “I thought for a moment that scotch was really getting to me.”

Melinda’s grin went a little more, then it formed into a smile. “Naw.” She then took a deep breath. “My daddy use tuh tell me when I wuz little. Dat duh stars are duh touchstones tuh dreams. Then dat duh dreams are touchstones tuh reality.”

The archeologist didn’t reply to that. She just kept staring at the stars. Her mind repeating what Mel just said. Is it true or not?

Silence again took control.

Janice sighed. She closed her eyes for a second, she felt warm from the scotch. But then why did she feel cold on the inside? That made her shiver for a second. She looked to Mel. She saw that the belle had her eyes fixed on the stars. Janice then looked back above, her eyes closing. “Mel?”

The taller woman’s head turned to Janice. “Yeah?”

The archeologist’s eyes opened again. “Sorry.” That was so very low from the small woman’s lips.

But Melinda had heard it for sure. She smiled at the sincerity of that one word.

And Janice turned her head to Mel to see that smile. She watched as Mel’s lips shaped into a loving smile. The small woman smiling back a little in return.

That’s when Janice didn’t give a damn. She just let go of her reserves. Shifting quickly, Janice soon found herself snuggling up against her soulmate’s side.

But Mel wouldn’t have it. Not at least like that. She grasped the smaller female’s side and lifted her over. Janice now lay on top of the southerner.

Janice took a deep breath and dug her head down underneath Mel’s chin. Her small arms wrapping around Melinda as the belle’s went around Janice’s midsection.

They both closed their eyes. The archeologist listened to the rhythm of her soulmate’s heartbeat. It’s the same as hers, exact. Time passed on without them. The soulmates didn’t want to shift or speak. Just take in each other’s feel. To reassure the other. To be apart of the other.

Janice then opened her eyes again to the darkness around. “Mel?”

“Mmm?”

The archeologist took a shaky breath. “You remember how you said you liked that tough side of me?”

“Yes.”

“At certain points too right?”

“Yes.”

“Does… does that go the same for my protective side?”

Melinda took a deep breath as all the pieces fell together to create a picture. “Depends Janice, jus’ like duh tough side.”

The archeologist’s eyes closed again. “Alright.”

The belle opened her eyes now. “Janice, none of it happened ‘cause yo screwed up. It jus’ happened.”

Janice opened her eyes once she heard that. She shifted against Mel’s body in reaction. So Melinda tightened her arms more in support. “I could have changed it though Mel.”

The translator sighed. “Maybe yo could have, maybe yo couldn’t have. Duh way I see it Janice. Iz you could have been there and gotten hurt too. Things would have probably been worse.”

The archeologist then lifted her head quickly to peer down at Mel. Her hands leaving Mel’s side and falling to the ground. “So you’re telling me. That Hope… Hope… taking you… raping like she did was for the better? That’s bullshit Mel.”

“It could have happened tuh you Janice.”

“I know Mel. I’d rather have it happen to me over you anytime.”

“And I’d rather if it happen tuh me Janice then you.”

The soulmate’s eyes stayed locked for moments on end. Janice’s closed then she got up from Mel’s body. She walked a ways from Mel, her back to the belle. The archeologist crossed her arms against her chest. The aristocrat got up and walked up behind Janice.

Janice turned around to look up to her soulmate. “It’s always going to be stalemate between us huh?”

Melinda nodded her head. “Yes, Janice.”

The archeologist dropped her eyes to the ground.

“Janice, whatever happens, happens. We’ll both try our best tuh stop anything bad from happening tuh duh other. But we’re both only human and have tuh deal wid what’s thrown at us.”

The small woman looked up to her partner. “I’m beginning to realize that one.”

The southerner’s hands went up to each of Janice’s shoulders. “Janice I’d rather deal wid what’s thrown at us together.” They searched each other’s eyes.

The archeologist let a small smile slip into place. She then saw her soulmate let tears trickle. At first Janice couldn’t quite figure out why. Then it hit her like a ton of bricks. She wanted to beat herself up. Goddamn it I’m so stupid and selfish.

“Hey come here Mel.” The archeologist pulled her taller soulmate in.

That’s when everything seemed to flow out of Melinda, like the release from the depths of deep water. She’d finally had her chance to burst to the top of the surface and take in air.

Melinda began to cry hard, her body rocked. Janice felt her soulmate begin to weaken as did her own body. The archeologist’s body was swamp with pain and hurt.

They both went down on the ground, sinking down to the grass. Janice sat on her knees and legs, she pulled Mel up into her lap. The belle’s head under hers.

Janice felt her own tears come. She rocked her body with Mel’s. Janice had been so warped in her own world she’d forgotten Mel. She’d forgotten what the aristocrat went through. Went through with Hope.

The small woman’s vision flashed back to Hope. Back to the scene in the temple. Hope staring back into her eyes. Hope falling to the ground dead and all the blood seeping out. Then the red dagger falls to the ground in front of Hope’s open eyes. Janice shook her head as the vision disappeared.

“Either way Hope, I’ll kill you over what you did to Mel.”

It rung through Janice’s head, the exact words. She shook her head again and gritted her teeth. She’d delivered on that one.

The archeologist then dropped her head on top of Mel’s head. Words escaped her lips in a quiet whisper but sincere. “I’m here Mel. I’m here.” She took a shaky breath. “Forever Mel.”

Melinda kept her head under Janice’s as she kept crying. Her arms tightly wrapped around Janice’s body. Hoping to never have to let go. This was her security, her safe spot. This one other woman, her soulmate.

She cried on, Janice crying with her. Melinda didn’t know which she cried about. Hope’s rape or Janice realizing she need her. Maybe both.

As they cried, those stars above them kept sparkling and twinkling ever so brightly.

 

To be continued.

 

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