Disclaimer: The characters of Xena and Gabrielle are the property of Universal and Renaissance Pictures. The characters and events of the Seasons Series belong to the author.
My special thanks to Fran, who allowed me to tell you part of her story on the journey to recovery from cancer.
My special thanks to Pat for her expert assistance in rescue and fire fighting procedures.
My thanks to the many readers who have taken the time to let me know that you are enjoying my stories or to share your own with me. You are very special people. My grateful thanks to my beta readers Lisa and Inga for their hard work and to Susan for her guidance and insights.
Note: The stories in this series are interrelated and should be read in the order they are posted.
Warning: This story is alternative fiction, if you are under age or if such material is illegal in your end of the swamp please do not read on.
The phone call had come the day after Janet had talked to Alexandria. Gwen was so excited that she could barely make herself understood. "Janet? It's Gwen! Listen, I got to thinking about what you told me and I thought to myself if Isabelle Selo saw Robbie bury her father, maybe she saw other things too! So I hunted up her address from our files and Brian and I went over there.
"Boy, what a weird place! She's got pictures of Robbie all over and candles and things! Robbie would have a fit! Anyway, she did see something! She saw Alexandria's car go up the road towards the house hours before she was supposed to be there! You were right, Janet! Alexandria was there when the murder took place!"
Janet closed her eyes and sank to the chair. "Janet? Are you there?"
"Yes. Yes, I am. Gwen, I can't thank you enough. We are no longer bluffing now. We've got Alexandria on the run! I can't thank you enough! You and Brian are such good friends!"
"Hey, anything for you and Robbie, you know that," responded Gwen happily. "I'll let you go. Give Robbie our love the next time you see her."
"I'll do that. Thanks, Gwen." Janet hung up and then danced a little gig.
Alexandria looked around the room with disdain . She walked over to the chair that sat by the counter and made sure the guard noticed as she cleaned the seat with a tissue, dropping the soiled item on the floor when she was finished. The guard's face remained frozen in an expression of disinterested boredom.
With a flourish, Alexandria arranged herself on the chair and watched through ice cold eyes as her daughter was led into the room. The mother's lip curled in a cruel smirk as she observed Robbie shuffling over to the seat on the other side of the division and sliding awkwardly into the chair. The chains made a tinkling sound like ice crystals rushing through black, cold water.
Robbie looked like hell, how delightful! Alexandria observed. She was skin and bones and had a hollow, mean look. "Your bitch and her new mate have been to see me," Alexandria remarked, and was rewarded by the flash of pain across Robbie's face. Robbie said nothing.
"They were all over each other, really it was so infantile!" dramatized Alexandria. Still no reaction. "The bitch actually had the nerve to threaten me!" Alexandria laughed. "I don't take that sort of thing well." Dark eyes stared back at her, now cautious and interested.
Alexandria leaned back and smiled. "I've decide to go overseas to live. Your little escapades have made it impossible here what with the press and all! But before I go I have a little secret to share with you." Alexndria leaned forward, "I hate you," she whispered cruelly.
Shook registered on Robbie's face then disappeared behind a well trained facade. "More than anyone else?" Robbie asked sarcastically, going on the defense.
"Yes. You are not a Williams you know." Alexandria was rewarded by an expression of utter shock on Robbie's face.
Alexandria laughed. Oh that one hurt, huh? More than knowing your sweetheart is cheating on you! "That's right, you are not one of the remarkable Williams. Your father was some one else, a loser like you turned out to be," the woman smirked. "I told Philly it was his and the fool believed me! Philly had money, your father didn't."
Alexandria got up and looked down at Robbie. Her daughter looked utterly defeated. "I just thought that, now that you are all grown up," she oozed sarcastically, "you should know. Good riddance, Roberta!"
Robbie watched as Alexandria's sharp heels clipped across the floor. "Wait!" She blurted out, leaping to her feet. "Who was he?"
Alexandria shrugged. "I don't care to reveal that information. He was a loser like you," she finished in satisfaction and walked out on her daughter.
Tracy watched Robbie out of the corner of her eye. She had been becoming increasingly worried about her cell mate. Robbie was one of those that was going to snap some day. Tracy had been in and out of prison enough to know the signs. You could see that she was one of those people that you couldn't lock up and have them survive.
She kind of liked Robbie, as much as she liked anyone. Besides, Robbie had kept her word and got her a law team that was going to help her beat this rap. Being nice to Robbie was important, at least until Tracy got paroled. You had to watch Robbie though. She'd learned that the first day. The glamour queen had a side that was vicious when she lost her temper and she had the muscle and skill to back up her threats. It was best to tread easy around the actor.
Something had happened upstairs that was for sure. Robbie had come back from the visitors' section white and silent. She had been sitting on the very edge of her cot ever since, staring at the wall like a zombie. Tracy watched Robbie over the top of her comic book, feeling the actor's anger radiating off like sound waves crashing against her. She had only glanced down at her comic when it happened, taking her completely by surprise even though she had been expecting it; a scream and then Robbie went berserk.
Tracy just managed to take cover under her bunk when the sink was ripped off the wall and water came shooting out all over. Mattress stuffing went flying about and, absorbing water, sank to the bottom of the melee in soggy lumps. Robbie was hurling herself at the bars now and the other women in the cells around had moved forward to watch. It was a scene that most had seen many times before but it drew them with morbid curiosity. There was satisfaction in seeing it happen to someone else. It was a visual reinforcement that the horror and panic they felt inside was shared by all.
The guards arrived. Tracy covered her face and held her breath. Robbie took the pepper spray to the face but didn't stop. It took three shots of the irritant to finally bring Robbie to her knees. The pain was intense. Her eyes burned like hot coals and tears and mucus ran down her face. The gate clanged open and heavy footsteps surrounded her. She heard Tracy curse as she was dragged out from under the bed and dumped down beside Robbie. The actor blindly lashed out at those who were manhandling them. Once again, the spray burned her face and she sucked it into her lungs, sending them on fire. Their arms were cuffed behind them and searching hands stroked their bodies for weapons.
Robbie was lifted up and half led, half dragged away. At one pointed, she vomited, the burning now spreading from her lungs to her throat. Her breath came in raspy, watery gasps. Blackness closed in around her.
They had taken the ferry over to the Toronto island that day. Reb had wandered into the children's maze and had to be rescued by her big sister who could see over the hedges. They had fed the ducks and geese pieces of bread by the water edge while Reb explained again how Ryan had shown her the way out of the maze. "Ryan, knew the way out, Mommy. She tall so she could see the path. Ryan showed me where to turn and then I got out! It was a trick place, mommy, but Ryan knowed the trick!"
"Knew, sweetheart. Ryan knew the trick and you are right, your sister is very smart. A real hero," responded Janet, poking Ryan with affection as she talked to her younger daughter.
Reb nodded her head in the same serious way that Robbie and Ryan did. "Ryan a hero," she agreed, wrapping herself around her adopted sister. Ryan hugged the child close, letting the warmth of the innocent child warm her cold soul. Even the heat of the warm spring day could not remove that icy spot. Visiting Robbie had upset her far more than she was prepared to admit. To do so would be to concede that she still loved her mom and that would leave Ryan vulnerable to being hurt again. She was not going to allow that. Robbie was never going to leave her again because she was not going to let her back into her heart.
Alberta listened to the gentle teasing and banter of Janet and the children, letting it seep into her soul and locking it up safely there. This adopted family had filled a large hole in Alberta's life but was now about to leave her. She wanted to cherish every second that she had left with those that she had come to love.
She stood as close as she dared to Janet, watching the two girls now playing on the playground equipment, soaking in the sweet, warm scent and gentle warmth that was Janet. A lump formed in her throat and she swallowed it back down. Janet had made her choice and it wasn't her. She took a step away, trying to show a courage and resolve that she didn't feel.
Janet watched her children play. Ryan was standing on the swing seat with Reb sitting between her feet. Ryan swung the swing gently back and forth with the pump of her strong legs. Reb squealed with delight and begged Ryan to go higher. Janet smiled but the light did not reach her eyes. Her thoughts were with Robbie. She knew they had Alexandria on the run, but an unexplained dread had seeped into her heart. Was there something they had missed? Her hand subconsciously reached out for Alberta's for comfort but met nothing; Alberta had already stepped away.
Later, they had eaten at the restaurant in the Skydome and had watched the Blue Jays baseball team play Detroit. It had been a happy day. One that they would all remember with affection.
Late that night, Janet and Alberta had got word from Robbie's law firm that Alexandria had left the country and that they would be calling for a new hearing based on the evidence that Janet and Alberta had provided. Janet had gone to sleep that night relaxed and happy and feeling that at last there was a light at the end of the tunnel.
Some hours later, Janet woke with a start. Something had happened! The dread she had felt earlier that day was back and flooding her soul. She wiped the sweat from her face and started as the phone rang. It was a nurse calling from Toronto General Hospital.
Robbie woke with panic gripping her heart. She was restrained in a bed and her eyes were sore and her vision blurred. She'd been given something too, she suspected, because her thoughts came slowly and even the action of opening her swollen eyes took tremendous effort. A warm hand slipped around her own. "Shhhh, love, I'm here," came Janet's voice. "Lie still."
Robbie tried to say something but all that came out was a dry croak. "Would you like some water?" Robbie nodded. She felt her bed raised up and then a cool arm wrapped around her shoulder as a straw touched her lips. Robbie sucked the water up noisily, feeling the cool liquid ease some of the burning inside. "There. You inhaled a lot of pepper spray and it is in your eyes too. It's going to take some time until you feel better," the voice of her lover explained gently. Robbie nodded, the action caused tears to roll down her cheeks again.
"Where am I?" she managed to croak out.
"The hospital," came the quiet answer. "What happened, Robbie? What did Alexandria say to you?" Janet saw Robbie body physically jerk then still. Please Robbie, no more evasions and secrets, just trust me! Janet waited. Robbie said nothing.
Janet smiled sadly and looked down at their inter-linked fingers. Maybe Robbie wasn't her soulmate after all. Maybe Robbie didn't feel the same way as she did. Something was missing in their relationship. Gently, she started to slip her fingers from the grasp.
Robbie listened intently, trying to figure out what was going on as her own thoughts ran wild within her. She wished that she could see Janet. Watch the emotions cross her face. This was hard. All her life she had learned to maintain a wall between her and others. Compartmentalizing her life so that she was never completely exposed to anyone. Never vulnerable. Her secrets were kept deep inside where no one could use them against her. She'd learned survival at a very early age, now it was part of her. She wore her defenses like a second skin. Should she, could she let them down and trust that Janet had and would remain loyal to her? Especially now when she couldn't even see?
In the end, it wasn't trust that made the words come out but the very real fear of losing what was precious to her when Robbie felt Janet slowly slipping her hand out from her own. "No!" she got out in a rough exclamation, tightening her fingers around Janet's hand. "Don't leave me!"
"I didn't leave you, Robbie. You left me," said a quiet sad voice. "If you ever did belong to me."
Finally, the words came in a desperate torrent of emotion. "She said Al was your new mate, that you were all over her...she said you threatened her. B..be careful, she hates you!" Robbie managed to get out choking on the tears.
The bed moved and suddenly she could feel Janet's body next to her own. She wanted to reach out and pull her lover in close but the restraining straps prevented that. "Robbie, I love Alberta," Janet began gently, feeling the pain lance through her lover. "I kissed her." Robbie was shaking now, the tears running freely in choking sobs. "Then I apologized to her because I knew my heart could never belong to her completely because it belongs to you. Robbie, I used Alberta. I was lonely and scared and missing you so very much and she was kind and strong. It was wrong because there could only ever be you, in my heart, in my soul and in my bed. I love you, Robbie."
The body beneath her own slowly calmed. Janet wiped away tears with her hand. "Did you tell her that," Robbie asked insecurely.
"Yes," answered Janet.
"Hold me," Robbie was surprised to hear herself say. She rubbed her head along the side of Janet's, wanting, needing the warmth that her partner's love gave her. For a long time they lay there.
Finally, from deep inside, Robbie released the pain. "She said she hated me a..and that Philip wasn't my father. She said my father was a loser with no money. She told Philip that he was the father so she could marry him for his money. I...I didn't mean to kill him!" she cried, the sobs once again convulsing her body.
"Robbie! Shhh, lover, it's okay. You didn't kill your ... you didn't kill Philip Williams! All you did was knock him out. Alberta can prove that. The blow that killed your father came later and was most likely done by someone who was left handed. Someone who came home early that night and saw an opportunity to get rid of her husband and put the blame on the daughter she resented."
The body beside Janet went still for a very long time. Then, "Alexandria killed him!"
"We think so," answered Janet honestly.
"She killed him and let me live with the guilt!" repeated Robbie, anger now dissipating the pain of the secret that she had held all these years.
"It looks that way, Robbie," soothed Janet gently. She wasn't sure she was handling this right. They had sent for her in the middle of the night when they were unable to settle Robbie down. Even when they had given her something at the hospital, she had fought against it, screaming in her sleep. It had been Janet's quiet, soothing voice that had finally allowed Robbie to fall into a deep slumber.
According to the guard on the door, Robbie had come back from the interview with her mother and had simply gone berserk. Now Janet understood why. Robbie was always so strong but how much could one human being take on her shoulders? She'd taken on a ready made family, then almost lost her own daughter in an explosion, rebuilt a relationship with Ryan only to have it stolen away the day of her arrest. She'd stood by Janet through all the surgery and cancer treatments and then had thought that Janet had found someone else.
Then there was the guilt and shame that she had carried all those years because she thought she had killed a perverted father in anger. Robbie thought she was going to spend a good part of the rest of her life behind bars and then, if that wasn't enough, her mother revealed her hatred for her and told her that the man she killed wasn't even her father! My God! It was no wonder that Robbie had lost it!
"Alberta and I have written up a report for the lawyers and we hope to get a hearing in the next few days. They haven't got enough to make the charge of murder stand, Robbie. I'm going to be taking you home soon."
"I don't want Elizabeth involved!" Robbie protested.
"Elizabeth went with David to your lawyers and made a complete statement about what happened that night." Robbie's body stiffened. "That was Elizabeth's idea, not mine. She needed to bury a few ghost too, Robbie."
Is she okay?" Robbie fretted.
"Where's Alexandria?" Robbie growled.
"She's disappeared. She left Canada, on her way to Argentina but we think that she got off somewhere on the way. It is likely that there will be a warrant for her arrest issued once your name is cleared but I don't think they will find her. Alexandria is a survivor," finished Janet bitterly.
Janet stroked the tired woman, trying to keep her calm as Robbie dealt with all the information and emotions that had been dumped on her. "You didn't threaten her. You warned her so she would have time to get away, didn't you?!"
Janet gave a soft, weak laugh. "Well, a little bit of both. She is your mother. I didn't think you needed to go through her trial for murder.
"I...I love you, Janet," Robbie whispered, her voice brittle and rough with emotion.
"I love you too, my sweet olive. I always will," responded Janet with feeling, capturing Robbie's lips with her own. They tasted acidic and peppery and her own lips came away burning. "You sleep. I'll be here when you wake again."
Robbie was released from the hospital two days later and taken by a squad car directly to the hearing. Walking in with her guard, she saw her family sitting with Alberta in the front row. The whole proceeding took less than a minute. The Crown, having read the brief submitted by Robbie's lawyers, dropped the charges and requested that a warrant be issued for the arrest of Alexandria Williams.
Robbie held her hands out while the cuffs were removed. Then Janet was in her arms. Reb had her by the leg and Elizabeth stood by with tears running down her face as David patted her affectionately on the back. Ryan stood nearby, her lip trembling but her face expressionless. Alberta stood behind her. The scientist's face a still, quiet mask.
Robbie eventually pulled out of the embraces and walked over to Alberta until they faced each other. Blue eyes locked with blue and a silent message of understanding passed between the two women. Robbie offered her hand and Alberta took it. Then Robbie turned away and smiled softly at Janet. She walked over and gently took Ryan's hand leading her over to where Elizabeth stood. She wrapped her daughter and sister in a big embrace, deliberately keeping her back to Alberta and Janet. She trusted Janet. There were no more secrets. She owed it to both of them to let them say good bye in private.
Janet walked over and looked up at Alberta through watery eyes. Alberta smiled. "I'm happy for you. You're taking a piece of my heart you know," she confessed, through her own tears.
"And you'll always have a piece of mine! I love you, Alberta. Thank you for giving me back my soulmate!" whispered Janet, into Alberta's ear as she wrapped her arms around the woman who had become her anchor through this horrible time. Alberta held her tight and then gave her up. Janet reached up and softly kissed her lips, then turned and walked over to Robbie. Together the Williams walked out of the courthouse to meet the press.
Robbie stood in the roof garden of her condominium, Janet tucked safely under her arm. A full moon had risen and was sending shimmering diamonds of light across Lake Ontario. The night was warm. Summer was on its way. It was time for them to step out of the shadows and take their place again in the sun. It was time to grow again after a stormy spring.
Not too many miles away, Alberta swung a bag into her van and then slid into the driver's seat. It was time to go home. She'd been away too long.
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