The Eddy

by Anita Louise

copyright 5/98

Chapter Seven

It didn't take the woman long to gather up the clothes and catch up with
Gabrielle. Hearing Xena approaching she stopped and turned, and it was at
this time the woman ran into her. Sending both of them tumbling to the
ground, along with the basket of clothes.

Gabrielle stared up at the light blue eyes that radiated down upon her face
as she listened to Xena trying to make apologizes for knocking her down.
Xena noticed a wide grin crossing the woman's face as she sputtered, "I
don't find this very funny!"

Gabrielle's blue green eyes sparkled at the woman, as they lowered taking in
the closeness of the two. Finally she answered, "You haven't noticed? You've
been so adamant about it being an accident."

Xena raised her head as she said, "Noticed? All I have noticed is that I
knocked you down."

Reaching up and placing her left-hand on the woman's right cheek she said,
"In case you haven't realized it, you are straddling me. Of course, this is
a situation we both have been in before."

Realizing she was setting on her, Xena rolled off as she quickly got to her
feet and said, "Sorry." She held out her right-hand and said, "Take my hand,
least I can do is help you up. And I have never been... I never meant to
knock you down."

Gabrielle smiled as the woman easily pulled her up and said, "Thanks, at
least I know you still have strength, I just need to find the time to show
you how to use it."

Xena had picked up the basket and was gathering up some of the clothes. It
didn't take Gabrielle long to help the woman and when they had picked up all
the clothes, Xena looked dismayed as she said, "I will have to go back and
wash these."

Reaching out and taking the basket of clothes from the woman, Gabrielle
said, "Let me, since it was my body that caused this."

For the first time since she had met the woman, Xena reached out and placed
her right hand on Gabrielle's and said, "I will help, after all, it was my
clumsiness that caused this. I have to say, you have added life to what
started out to be a very dull day." Laughing, they turned and walked back to
the lake.


Gabrielle stared at the plate of food that had been placed in front of her.
Her eyes followed the woman as she bustled around the hearth. Leaning back
in her chair she seemed delighted to listen to the lovely humming the woman
was doing. Xena had now placed a mug of tea in front of her as she said,
"What's the matter, haven't you ever been served a meal before?"

She watched as the woman pulled out a chair and sat. Then she answered,
"I've had many meals but not many that were ever prepared by you."

Xena had taken a sip from her mug as she gazed toward the woman and said,
"Surely, this Xena you say you know, can cook. If she didn't and you say the
two of you were uh--close, who did the cooking?"

Staring at the plate of baked rabbit and vegetables she said, "I did."

Gesturing toward her plate of food the woman said, "Better eat it while it
is warm. If I had to make a guess after looking at you, the way you are
dressed and the way you fought back there, I would say it would not have
been you. You certainly have surprised me, The only women I know of that can
do both are Amazons, are you one?"

Gabrielle shook her head and said, "No, and where I come from, it is not
uncommon for a woman to know how to do both." She began to tackle the plate
of food and when the two were finished she stared at Xena and said, "It was
delicious and before you say anything, yes, I am delightfully surprised."

Standing the woman stared toward her and asked, "Is there anything else I
can get you? More Tea?"

Shaking her head Gabrielle said, "Actually, I could use a nice bath, do you
have a hot springs around here?"

Smiling the woman answered, "I can heat up some water on the hearth and fill
a tub, you are welcome to take a bath in here."

Gabrielle had picked up her plate and utensils as she walked toward the
hearth. She called back, "I am tired, my body aches and a warm soak would be
heavenly. Tell me what can I do to help?"

Xena watched her set the plate down and when the woman turned to start back
to the table she said, "You can help me bring out the tub, the rest I can

"Well, at least let me do the dishes for you."

Xena nodded as she said, "All right, while you are doing them, I will go get
some water to heat."

After the woman had left the building, Gabrielle chided herself muttering,
"Stupid, where did you think the water was going to come from? As if there
was a handle in here that would miraculeously get running water." She was
feeling badly, Xena had to carry water up for her to take a bath.

By the time Xena returned, Gabrielle had found the tub and pulled it out
onto the floor. She was setting staring at the doorway when Xena entered.
The woman was carrying a large bucket of water and it didn't take her long
to set it down. She glanced at the tub and said, "I see you found it. I
built a fire outside and there is water heating over it. I think between the
two, there will be enough."

Gabrielle got up and walked around the room as she said, "This is a nice
place, how long have you lived here?"

Xena walked up to her and said, "I come here from time to time, actually, I
live at the tavern. I just like to be alone once in awhile and need to get

Turning to gaze at the woman, Gabrielle said, "Well that is one thing the
two of you have in common, Xena likes to be alone at times. Me, I seem to
enjoy being with someone or at least knowing there is someone near. Makes no
sense to her but to me it gives me peace."

She had helped empty the water into the tub and had been watching as Xena
laid out a clean shift. The woman looked up and noticed Gabrielle staring at
her as she said, "You are making me feel uncomfortable. I'm not used to
having people look at me like that."

Gabrielle quickly turned her gaze away as she said, "It is hard, knowing you
and not, Gods what kind of a mess have I gotten myself into?"

Xena stepped up to her as she said, "This is not easy for me either, looking
like someone from your past, it is unsettling. I find you gazing at me with
such tenderness and it makes me feel bad."

Gabrielle turned her attention to the woman as she said, "I apologize if I
have caused you any discomfort. I will try to watch myself."

The look Xena gave her was warm as she said, "I feel bad because you are not
with her right now, instead you have found yourself here with me. It's all
right, Mathias gives me the same look and I know it is just because he

Gabrielle pursed her lips as she said, "Yeah, right and pigs can fly."

The woman smiled at her as she said, "I never knew that. Your bath is ready,
if you leave your clothes on the chair I will see they are cleaned."

Gabrielle stepped up to the tub and stared down at the steaming water as she
said, "It looks pretty hot."

Xena had approached her and said, "Not really, it is the cold water and the
hot that is sending up the steam. There is a bar of soap on the table by the
tub and call me when you are ready to get out."

Turning her head and gazing at the woman with a surprised look on her face
she asked, "Call you, why?"

Smiling , the woman softly answered, "So I can get you something to dry off
with." She started to walk away and called back, "Have a good soak, I'll be

Gabrielle turned to see the woman leave the room and shrugged her shoulders.
It didn't take long to remove her clothes and step into the water. Raising
one foot and then the other trying to get her body accustomed to the heat.
Staring around the room, she smiled when she heard Xena's melodic voice
humming and she slowly let her body melt into the warmth of the water.
Laying back in the water she relished the feeling it was having on her body.

It was much later when Xena stepped into the room, her eyes immediately
searched for the tub. Her mouth fell open when she didn't see the woman.
Running to the tub she cried out, Gabrielle! Gabrielle!"

It was at this time she heard the sounds of someone spitting up water as the
woman's words echoed the room, "What in Hades!"

Xena stopped as Gabrielle pushed her hair back from her face and stared at
the woman as she said, "Why don't you scare a person!"

Xena managed a smile as she said, "I thought something had happened to you."

"Well it almost did, I was laying back in the water with my eyes closed, it
was such a nice sensation, then you came in here yelling and I had no idea
what was happening."

Xena looked down for a second then her eyes met Gabrielle's as she said,
"I'm sorry, guess your other friend wouldn't have been upset at not seeing
you. Are you ready to get out yet?"

Pondering the woman's words she answered, "I'm the one who should apologize,
thank you for caring and to answer your question about Xena, she would have
done the same thing."

Slowly Gabrielle got to her feet. Xena was holding up a large towel and her
eyes seemed to be fascinated at the water that was running off the woman's
body. It didn't take long to step out and as her feet touched the floor,
Xena walked up and wrapped the towel around the woman. Gabrielle stared at
the small puddle she was causing on the floor and said, "I'll mop that up.
Thanks for the towel."

Xena looked down at the floor as she said, "It will dry, come on over closer
to the hearth, the fire will warm you."

Gabrielle stepped slowly as she followed Xena and with each step she tried
to dry herself. Reaching the warmth of the hearth, Xena turned and said,
"Turn around, I'll dry you."

Gabrielle started to object but the woman already had taken control of the
towel and was gently drying her off. She didn't know if it was the warmth of
the hearth or the fact that this woman's hands were so gentle but she was
feeling a pleasant excitement. Xena had dropped to her knees and was patting
the woman's legs with the towel. Gabrielle was enjoying the sensations she
was experiencing as she said, "I had almost forgot how nice it was to have
someone else dry me. Thank you."

Xena's hands had started up the inner portion of her left leg as she
stopped. Gabrielle stared down at the woman's head and said, "What is the

Xena raised her head and gazed up at the woman, her face was a nice shade of
red and Gabrielle reached down and grasped the towel as she said, "I can do
the rest, thank you."

She found herself walking to the other side of the hearth and finishing
toweling off. When she was through she walked toward the shift that was
waiting for her. Once she slid it on over her head she turned to gaze at
Xena. She had placed two mugs of tea on the table and was now looking at her
as she said, "Come sit down, have some tea. I have to say out of your
clothes, you are very much a woman."

Sitting, she shook her head as her long blond hair began to fly about her
shoulders. Leaning back in the chair she said, "You are quite a woman also.
I just prefer to wear the breeches rather than a skirt. It's really hard
leaping into the air and putting a spin... Well, they are cumbersome."

Xena asked, "Don't you ever think about marriage and children?"

"Once, I did but not anymore. My life is with..."

Raising her left eyebrow Xena asked, "Your life is with what?"

After taking a drink of the tea she said, "I don't know, I thought it was
with you...Xena. Where I just came from I am a wanted fugitive, this because
I defended myself. I guess I am pretty confused."

Xena reached across the table and placed her right hand on Gabrielle's as
she said, "It will be all right, all you need to do is to get back and
straighten it out. Mother has always told me that things look darker than
they really are."

Feeling the warmth of the woman's hand on hers she said, "Thanks, if it is
all the same to you, I am tired."

Xena stood as she said, "You can sleep in the loft." She was pointing to a
makeshift ladder as she continued, "There is a mattress on the floor up

Gabrielle followed suit and had stood as she said, "That will be fine, but
what about the water?"

Xena noticed the woman was staring at the tub and said, "It will be there in
the morning, have a good rest."

Nodding her head she proceeded to the ladder and began to climb to the loft.
It wasn't long before she laid down on the bed and closed her eyes. Xena's
humming was a pleasant reprieve from the thoughts that kept trying to enter
her mind.

The crowing of a rooster caused the woman to slowly open her eyes.
Stretching, she sat up and groaned, suddenly realizing where she was, it
didn't take long to make it back down the ladder. As her bare feet touched
the floor she looked around for the woman. The room was empty and the tub
was even gone but her clothes draped a wooden chair and as she neared she
saw the note. Picking it up she began to read it out loud, "Good morning, I
trust you slept well. I have gone into Amphipolis to get a few supplies,
there is porridge on the hearth and water for tea. Enjoy the day, see you
soon." It was signed with a large X. Grinning she laid it down on the table
and walked over to the hearth. She was hungry and porridge sounded good.
Xena's cooking was really a new twist and her being so domestic was also
giving her cause to ponder.

She spent most of the day checking out the area, doing a lot of walking and
soul searching at the same time. There was no sign of the thing that drew
her into this world and no sign anyone else was in the region. By the time
late afternoon had set into the area she found herself back at the dwelling
and there still was no sign of Xena. She was beginning to get worried and
decided to fix something to eat. Checking around for ingredients she found
the makings for nutbread and it didn't take long to prepare it.

She had gone up to the loft to straighten the bedding on the mattress and
was getting ready to start back down the ladder when she heard the words,
"Smells heavenly in here, I'm back."

An excitement traveled the woman's body as Gabrielle quickly made it to the
floor and turned to see two lovely blue eyes sparkling down at her. She
smiled but for some reason she couldn't speak as Xena softly whispered, "Cat
got your tongue?"

Realizing she was transfixed on the woman she stuttered, "N...No." Walking
toward the hearth, Xena called back, "Well, that's a start, seems you have
been busy."

Quickly following the woman Gabrielle said, "I thought the least I could do
for your hospitality is to cook something. I hope you like nutbread."

Turning to smile at the her, Xena answered, "I love it, come sit down, I'll
cut us a piece and bring over some hot tea."

Walking to the table she pulled out a chair and sat, all the time her eyes
watching the tall woman moving about the hearth.

After Xena placed the bread and drinks on the table she sat and said, "What
have you been doing all day?"

Taking a sip of tea, she answered, "I decided to check around the area,
looking for anything that resembled that thing that brought me here. I was
also looking for the people from the village that Lil had told me about."

Leaning forward the woman asked, "Did you find anything?"

Shaking her head, Gabrielle sighed and said, "No, nothing. If I hadn't seen
it myself I probably wouldn't believe it. I had a nice walk though, your
land is lovely but no sign of anyone except me."

Xena had taken several bites of the nutbread and said, "It is delicious, if
your other cooking capabilities are anything like this, I can understand why
your friend likes you to do the cooking."

Gabrielle smiled and said, "Thanks, but they don't hold a candle to yours.
Now, tell me about your trip and by the way, where is the tub?"

"I took the water out this morning and left the tub outside. Why do you

Shrugging her shoulders she answered, "I was going to do that, after all, if
it had not been for me, it wouldn't have been there."

Xena was thoroughly enjoying the nutbread as she looked up and said, "I
would have used it, besides, it is good exercise."

Rolling her eyes toward the ceiling Gabrielle muttered, "Yeah, from your
looks, you don't need exercise." She was now gazing into Xena's blue eyes as
she continued, " I just feel bad that you did it when I should have that's

Leaning back into her chair, Xena placed her hands on the table and said,
"There is something I need to tell you."

This had peaked Gabrielle's interest as she asked, "What?"

"If all you have told me about an alternate world is true..." Gabrielle
nodded her head and the woman continued, "When I was at the tavern I heard
several things."

Leaning forward, eyes wide the woman said, "Have you heard of the

Shaking her head, Xena pursed her lips then said, "It seems you may also
have a double here."

Gabrielle got to her feet and began pacing the floor as she said, "A double,
oh I hope not. Tell me, I must know what you are talking about."

Xena had stood and walked up to her as she said, "Seems there is a reward
out for a woman that is known as Star."

Throwing her hands into the air, Gabrielle said, "There, that certainly is
not me."

"Star is just a name given to her, the woman's real name is Gabrielle. I saw
a drawing and she looks like you."

Turning to face the woman, she said, "If you saw a drawing, what kind and
why? Surely what happened to me back there has not followed me here."

Xena took several steps away from the woman as she said, "Seems this Star is
a pirate and is wanted for treachery on the sea."

Guffawing, Gabrielle walked back to the table and plopped down in a chair as
she said, "You really had me going there, a pirate named Star."

Xena walked back over to the table as she pulled out a chair and sat. She
stared at Gabrielle and said, "It's no joke and they think that she might be
in the area. People will be looking for you...her."

Gabrielle seemed distressed as she uttered, "Doubles, this is a nightmare."

Xena's face seemed to fall and Gabrielle said, "Not you, you could never be
that but someone that looks like me, well, it's chilling."

Xena stared at her with a very serious look on her face as she said, "You
know, you didn't have to lie to me."

Becoming very irritated, Gabrielle replied, "I have not lied to you. I told
you the truth and I swear as soon as I find the villagers, I will take them
with me and leave."

"That might be difficult since there is not a moving mass anywhere. How
would you do it?"

Pushing herself from the table and getting to her feet she said, "I don't
know, but where there is a will, I certainly hope I can find a way. I must
leave here, if they are looking for this Star in the area."

Xena was walking toward the hearth as she said, "And just where would you
go, it seems that everyone may have a double of your world here. It is
possible they will capture you for this woman Star."

After taking several steps she touched her forehead with a finger and said,
"A disguise, I need a disguise."

Xena had poured another mug of tea and was standing staring at her as she
said, "Disguise, sounds intriguing. What did you have in mind?"

Gabrielle quickly answered, "Well, I posed as a young man once."

Xena had started to take a sip of the liquid as she sputtered, "A young man?
I doubt that would work, you look too much like a woman."

Gabrielle walked up to her and said, "I saw several pine today and that is a
great place to start."

Cocking her head to the left, Xena replied, "Just what do you propose to do
with Pine?"

"I will show you, that is, after you give me some of your hair."

"What? My hair? Are you out of your mind?"

Gabrielle approached her and said, "Many have probably thought that, I know
I did the first time Epinon suggested this." She had reached up and taken a
strand of the woman's black hair and held it above her lip.

Xena laughed as she said, "I have to say you look ridiculous but I am
intrigued. All right, I will let you cut of a small bit. I actually can't
wait to see what in Gods you are planning to do."

Xena sat as the woman carefuly snipped a piece of her hair. When she was
finished Gabrielle thanked the woman and said, "I'll be right back, need to
go get some pine."

Xena reached up and grasped the woman's right-hand as she said, "I'll go,
someone may see you, how much do you want?"

After telling her, Xena left and she went about pulling her hair back and
pinning it up. By the time Xena returned she had already wrapped a cloth
around her breasts, binding them and had applied what looked like a shadow
of a beard. She had just tried on a hat she found in the corner with some
supplies and looked up when Xena bounded into the room. The woman stopped in
her tracks and her mouth fell open as she stood mesmerized at this stranger.

Gabrielle stepped up to her and took the pine from the woman's hand as she
said, "I take it, you might think this will work."

As she watched the woman walk over to the table and fasten the hair above
her lip she said, "I would never have believed it, I have to say, you do
look like a young man. But, where did your breasts go?"

Without thinking Gabrielle stood and raised her leather shirt. Xena stared
at the wrapping as she said, "Doesn't that hurt?"

"Well, it's not comfortable but if I really need to pass, I have to do this.
You came in here in a hurry, any reason?"

Quickly Xena answered, "I spotted a party not far from here, I believe that
they might be searching for..."

Smiling she said, "Well, they won't find her nor me but now tell me how are
you going to explain me?"

Pondering the woman's words she said, "I, I don't know, they know me and
they know my family." It was at this time the sounds of horses along with
men shouting orders drifted in from outside and she said, "They're here!"

A man knocked on the door frame and called out, "Xena! We need to search
your place!"

Approaching the doorway the woman stared at him and said, "Why, would you
want to search here, surely you don't think I am hiding anyone?"

He smiled as he said, "Just regulations, you're not hiding anyone are you?"

At this time Gabrielle stepped up behind Xena and wrapped her left arm
around the woman's waist as she said, "We just wanted a little privacy
that's all."

Though surprised the woman smiled and said, "That's right."

The man looked at the two and said, "Tell me Xena, does Mathias know about

Xena stepped back as she said, "Why should he? We are not married."

As the men brushed past them one turned to stare at Gabrielle then said,
"This is all new to us, I'll bet even your brother doesn't know about this

Gabrielle swaggered toward the man as she said in a lower voice, "Name's
Gabe. We've been busy, you know getting acquainted." She winked at the man
as he smiled and said, "I know how that is, hate to get interrupted." He
turned and followed the others as they riffled through the room.

Xena gazed at her and whispered, "Now look what you have done, Mathias as
well as Torris will hear of this. They actually think that you and I
have..." Gabrielle noticed several were eyeing the two as she reached up and
placed her right hand behind the woman's neck and brought her head down then
placed a long and very satisfying kiss on her lips.

Astonished, Xena started to pull back but Gabrielle whispered, "Got to make
it look good." And she found herself falling into the kiss. The softness of
the woman's lips were rhythmic and it was all she could do to stand as her
legs weakened. It was at this time the men walked past them as one called
back, "Don't mind us, we'll be on our way." The sounds of horses galloping
away caused Xena to pull away as she stared down at Gabrielle.

Gabrielle was grinning as Xena stuttered, "Wh... Why are you laughing? And
how dare you do that?"

Gabrielle was pointing at the woman's upper lip as she said, "Seems my
mustache has found a new home."

Xena reached up and removed the hair and handed it to Gabrielle as she said,
"Here, maybe you need more pine."

Taking the hair from the woman's hand she said, "I think it would have come
off regardless. They were giving us the once over and I felt we needed to do
a little convincing." Slowly walking toward the hearth, Xena faltered
several times as she said, "Well, something has certainly taken the breath
out of me and when Torris and Mathias finds out they will come looking for

Gabrielle walked around the hearth as she said, "Well, they will have to
stand in line seems a lot of people in both worlds are looking for me."


Chapter Eight

Xena sat, her eyes never leaving the form of this very unusual woman. The
two had been together in the dwelling for a moon and had come to know one
another well. She was amazed at the way the woman could transpose herself
into a man. In the beginning she wasn't sure Gabrielle was telling the truth
but too many things had happened since and she was now convinced there was
an alternate world.

Gabrielle had been standing with her back to the woman removing the cloth
that was binding her breasts. She heaved a sigh of relief as the last wrap
was removed and reached down to pick up the shirt and slip it on. Turning in
the direction of the table she spied Xena and said, "I tried not to offend
you, if you would rather I can go up in the loft next time."

Xena rose and walked over to a leather pack and said, "You are fine, I
imagine it is uncomfortable enough and climbing up and down a ladder would
probably be more so. Anyway, I'm not as proper as you might think. When I
was in Amphipolis last, I got a bottle of port, would you like some?"

Approaching the woman, she said, "Maybe a little, last time I had too much
and that was when I was caught."

The two women walked toward the table as Xena said, "Maybe you can let it be
for awhile, the cloth, let your body rest."

After they had sat, Xena poured them two mugs of the port and said, "I
haven't said this but I want you to know, it has been enjoyable having you
here with me. I never realized how nice it would be to have a woman friend."

Reaching out and taking a mug of the beverage Gabrielle smiled and said, "It
has been pleasant for me also. Though you are not like the Xena I know, you
are. I know this may sound strange but I feel with each day a chemistry that
I know only she and I can possess."

Xena stared down at her blouse as she said, "I know you say I look like her
but my dress is not that of a warrior."

"You are right, but looks are not all, you exhibit many of her qualities and
frankly I keep finding myself in a dilemma of sorts."

Nodding her head the woman said, "I can understand, it must be heartbreaking
to see the one you love but not have her see you the same way."

After taking a long drink of the port, Gabrielle said, "That sums it up. I
guess you were wrong about your brother and the man you call Mathias."

Xena had emptied her mug as she said, "Well they haven't shown up yet but
there's still tomorrow. I know my brother and I don't even want to think
about Mathias."

Gabrielle sat back as she gazed at the woman. Finally she said, "I guess I
should be prepared to face this man then, is he someone who is special to

Xena thought for a second then she answered, "He is a good and dear friend.
I have known Mathias since we were children, I think that mother always
wants to see us be more but we are just good friends."

Xena went to pour herself another mug of the port and reached over to fill
Gabrielle's as the woman said, "Sounds to me like one could consider the two
of you going together and possibly heading toward a union."

Shaking her head Xena replied, "No, I want to experience more from life. I
have always carried a little of the wanderlust in my soul."

"Well, if you have any desires of going on the road, one thing you will need
to do."

Xena looked apprehensive as she asked, "What?"

"Well, you need to learn how to defend yourself because those men back at
the lake, are only a few of many that you will probably encounter at

Tapping her fingers on the table the woman said, "I can't do that and I'm
sure that was apparent back there. So don't be thinking you can teach me any
of that whirling stuff."

As her eyes met the woman's, she smiled and said, "I can try and it might
prove interesting."

Their eyes seemed to be transfixed on one another's and the room became so
quiet that one might have heard a feather if one was to drop. It was during
this time the voice of Torris boomed from outside, "Xena! I know the two of
you are in there, let me in!"

Gabrielle scrambled for the mustache as Xena rushed up to her and said,
"Raise your arms."

As she did this, the woman pulled up her leather shirt and said, "Hold

She held the shirt as she felt Xena's hands wrap the cloth around her
breasts and when the woman was finished she said, "Better get the hat on."

Gabrielle let the shirt fall as she hurried to the hat and placed it on her
head. She looked at Xena and asked, "How do I look?"

The woman grinned as she reached up and straightened the mustache and said,
"Like maybe the two of us have just been caught in the act." She turned and
rushed to unbolt the door."

Gabrielle watched the woman as she thought, must have been the port. As soon
as Xena opened the door, two tall men brushed past her as her brother Torris
loudly shouted, "Have you lost your mind! What will mother think?" The man
that stepped into the open area was well built, the golden hair on his head
kept falling down over his left eye as he kept brushing it back. The look he
was giving her was one of hatred. Xena ran in front of them as she said,
"Stop it! You are in my place and I won't have any trouble!"

Mathias brushed her out of the way as he stepped up to Gabrielle and gave
her the once over. Then he said, "I can't believe you are out here whoring
around with this little twirp!" By this time Torris had joined him and
before she knew what was happening the man had laid a resounding slap along
side of her face as he said, "I challenge you, and if you have any kind of a
backbone you will meet me outside!"

Xena had approached them and stepped between the two men and Gabrielle as
she said, "Stop it, unless you want to face me in a duel!"

Mathias laughed as he said, "I would love to face you my love but not in a
duel. Tell me, what does this insignificant weasel have that I don't and
just when did you two meet?"

Xena placed her hands on her hips as she glowered at them and said, "It is
none of your business and I will thank you to turn around and go about your

Torris looked at Gabrielle and said, "What kind of a man are you? You let a
woman do your talking? Maybe Xena has finally found someone she can lead
around by the nose."

They looked at one another and began to laugh and it was at that time
Gabrielle stepped past Xena and ran her right fist into Mathias's stomach as
the man crumbled to his knees, she said, "I may be little, but I do carry a

Torris reached down and helped the man to his feet as he scowled at
Gabrielle and said, "You got a lucky punch in but it won't be that way with

Gabrielle felt Xena's right hand on her shoulder as the woman whispered,
"What are you doing, this is only making matters worse."

She reached up and patted the woman's hand as she said, "Now, now dear, the
boys and I just need to reach a certain agreement."

Torris looked at her and said, "Yeah, like what kind of agreement?"

Reaching up and stroking her mustache she said, "Let your sister decide, if
she wants me to go, I will but if she wants me to stay then you two must

At this time, Xena reached out and grabbed the woman and pulled her to her
chest as she planted a long seductive kiss that left Gabrielle at loss for
words when she released her hold on the woman. Xena had placed her right
hand over Gabrielle's mouth as she pressed the mustache and said, "I hope
the two of you are satisfied and will go and leave us alone now."

Torris quickly replied, "There is a little question of the duel? I made a

His sister stepped close as her nose touched his she said, "No, that was
your doing, not Gabe's."

Both men echoed, "Gabe! So it's got a name!"

By this time Gabrielle had, had all she could stand and said, "Listen if my
beating you to a duel will get you out of here..."

Xena began to jump up and down like a child having a tantrum as she
screamed, "Doesn't anyone in here listen to me, no duel, just get out!"

Mathias stared at Gabrielle as he shook his head and walked from the room.
Before Torris left he said, "All right, mark my words, if you two have been
living out here in... in... I can't even say the words." He stepped up to
Gabrielle and said, "I expect you to do the right thing, you will pledge to
my sister or by all the Gods on Mount Olympus I will see you pay!" He turned
and left the room and after they could hear the fading sounds of their
horses, Xena turned to stare at Gabrielle.

Walking toward the table, she collapsed into a chair. Gabrielle gazed up at
the woman and said, "You certainly have a temper, if you could handle
yourself in a fight, Gods look out!"

Bursting into a soft laughter, Xena walked over to her and said, "Sorry
about that." She reached down and placed her right hand on the side of her
face. Gabrielle closed her eyes for a second as she said, "It was just a
slap, I've felt much worse."

Xena walked over to a chair and pulled it away from the table as she sat.
She eyed Gabrielle for a long time, then poured another mug of port and
downed it all in one drink. Gabrielle's eyes were sparkling as she said,
"Better go slow on that, believe me the after feeling is not nice. Thanks
for back there..."

Xena answered, "If you mean the kiss?" Gabrielle nodded and the woman
continued, "I felt it was the right thing to do at that moment."

Leaning back in her chair Gabrielle said, "I have to say it was a pleasant
surprise. I know, before you say anything, you were just playing a part but
I must say, you do play it well."

The woman had poured herself another mug of port and chose to ignore
Gabrielle's comment as she said, "Do you want anymore?"

Shaking her head, Gabrielle answered, "No, I am just happy to be setting
here and in one piece. Your brother and his friend really were out to defend
your honor you know."

Xena muttered, "Like I really need to have them do it for me. Anyway, don't
pay any attention to Torris, he is just being a brother. As for Mathias,
maybe you are right, seems he thinks there is more to our relationship than
I do. I am not happy at either of them and will tell them so."

Gabrielle had leaned forward and was removing the wrapping once more as she
said, "Thanks for doing this."

Xena nodded and said, "I didn't even think, just went with the moment, hope
they weren't wrapped too tight."

Gabrielle noticed a slight redness to the woman's face as she said, "No, it
was fine."

Gabrielle got up and said, "I'm going to go out to the well and bring in
some water, need to freshen up a bit. No bath, just need to get some of this
off my face."

Xena nodded and went back to the port as Gabrielle left the room. Noticing
the moon was trying to shine through the growing clouds and a strong wind
had come up, it didn't take her long to pump the water into a bucket and
make it back to the house. She gazed toward Xena when she entered and could
see the woman seemed to be in a deep conversation with herself. Smiling, she
poured some water into a basin and washed her face. When she was finished
she dried off and walked back toward the table.

Xena smiled up at her and said, "I can see that Gabrielle has re surfaced
again." It was at this time they heard a loud clap of thunder and the woman
jumped to her feet. It was apparent by her actions she did not like the
noise. Gabrielle walked toward her and said, "I noticed when I was outside,
the clouds seemed to have this look of sadness about them like they might
cry at any second, guess they decided to do just that. Don't tell me you are
afraid of the thundering noise?"

Nodding her head the woman answered, "Yes, it is frightening but it is
Zeus's lightening bolts that really terrify me. I lost a good friend to one
a long time ago and since then, this is what happens to me." She was
trembling as Gabrielle walked up to her and wrapped her left arm around the
woman's waist. "Come over to the bed, set with me, it will be all right."

Xena walked with her and the two sat down on the bed. They set like that for
hours and finally Gabrielle said, "It seems the storm will go on throughout
the night, why don't you lie down and try to get some sleep."

Xena shivered as she said, "Only if you will lay with me." The loud noise
coming from the raging storm outside and the vulnerable look the woman was
giving her gave her no choice as she said, "Shh, I will lay with you at
least until you go to sleep."

Xena shook her head as she said, "Can't sleep, not in this."

"All right, just lie down and try to relax."

Xena slowly fell back on the bed, never releasing her hold on Gabrielle's
left hand as she gently eased herself down beside her. It had begun to rain
and the sound of it tumbling onto the roof sent chills throughout Xena as
the woman snuggled closer to Gabrielle. At first she felt awkward being so
close but the pleasant feeling of the woman soon drove all her inhibitions

They lay like that for what seemed like a long time as Gabrielle cradled the
woman against her left side. She actually found herself drifting off to
sleep. She wasn't sure just when it happened because it took place so fast.
She had sensed a movement near her left breast and slowly opened her eyes.
She gazed down to see that Xena was moving her head and could feel the
woman's mouth as she placed several kisses there. Reaching down she placed
her right hand under the woman's chin and raised her head. Xena seemed to be
asleep as she whispered, "Xena, can you hear me?"

The woman had a dreamy look on her face but she didn't answer as Gabrielle
smiled and thought, it was probably the port. She let the woman's head rest
on her shoulder and closed her eyes hoping to get some sleep. Toward
morning, the hard rain had turned into a gentle one and the sound of it on
the roof was sending chills throughout her body. She and Xena had spend many
days and nights seeking shelter from storms and they always seemed to end up
in a lovely excursion into ecstasy. She knew she had to watch her step with
this woman, although she looked like her friend and in most senses she was
but not in the one she was thinking of at that moment.

She went to move and felt Xena follow and before she knew what was happening
the woman had placed her right-hand over Gabrielle's right breast and at the
same time her lips began to nibble on her neck. Muttering to herself,
Gabrielle said, "Gods, I...I."

It was as if she had some sort of homing device because it didn't take long
for Xena's lips to find the woman's. Gabrielle's eyes widened as she tried
to push her away but this woman knew what she wanted as her lips touched and
teased with a softness she had never experienced before. Xena's eyes were
closed and she didn't know if she was awake or asleep and she finally quit
trying to push her away and relaxed. It had been sometime and she was afraid
to wake the woman if she was asleep. She had been told by many that if you
wake someone who is sleepwalking it could be dangerous to them. Of course,
Xena wasn't walking, with her feet that is, but, the woman's tongue was
making a path all it's own.

Gabrielle's body was crying out to her and the different feelings she was
experiencing seemed to melt her reserve like it was a piece of ice. Xena had
found her way on top of her now, the woman's body was moving in an
effortless fashion on hers and she felt herself cry in rapture as she met
the woman's kiss with one of longing and love.


Gabrielle gazed over at the peaceful face of Xena. The woman held a Cheshire
cat smile and was sleeping like a baby. Reaching up she touched her lips,
they were sore and when she gazed at Xena's she could see they were a shade
of red as was the skin surrounding them. Although their love making had only
gone as far as very heavy kissing with some touching, she wouldn't let it go
any farther. Xena looked peaceful at that moment but what would the woman do
when she realized what happened. Without knowing she was saying it she heard
the words, "Probably send me on my way."

She carefully made her way off the bed and softly walked toward the hearth.
Building a fire she poured some water into a pot and placed it close so it
would heat. It didn't take her long to leave the room and make her way out
to the water pump. Glancing around and seeing no one she bent over and began
to pump the handle. Delighted when the water began to pour forth, she
lowered her head and let the coolness of the liquid pour over it. Finally
standing up, she wrung her hair then reached up and brushed back the strands
that had fallen onto her face back.

The water had felt good and it certainly would have woken her had she been
sleepy. At the moment she was anything but that. Her eyes took in a wide
scan of the place and she decided to take a long walk. The forest was
beautiful that time of the morning and she always loved this period of the
day. Things were just waking and looking forward to a new beginning.. She
had taken a different path than before and found herself standing on a hill
gazing down at a beautiful valley. It was a single curl of smoke coming from
a crop of trees that gave her cause to worry. She turned and headed back to
the dwelling as her mind kept playing over Xena's words about a pirate
possibly being in the area.

As she neared the house she swallowed several times before she walked in.
Her eyes found Xena immediately. She was standing by the bed staring down at
it. The woman heard her when she entered and turned her attention to her as
she said, "I woke, and you were gone. I was afraid you had left."

Gabrielle walked over to the hearth and poured a mug of hot tea as she said,
"Had some thinking to do and went for a long walk. Are you all right?"

Xena slowly walked toward her as she answered, "I have a raging headache and
sore lips but other than that I feel great."

Gabrielle stared up at the woman as she stopped directly in front of her and
said, "Sorry. Have you had something to drink?"

Xena reached out and traced the woman's lips with her forefinger as she
said, "Yes, although it wasn't easy. Tell me, what happened?"

Gabrielle never let her gaze fall as she said, "You really want to know?"

Xena had turned and walked over to the table as she pointed to a chair she
said, "Yes, I need to know."

Slowly stepping to the table she pulled out the chair and sat. She watched
Xena as she sat then turned her gaze directly toward her. The woman's blue
translucent eyes were sending her signals. She could feel her body squirming
in the chair as she said, "Xena, you need to believe me when I tell you, I
didn't start..."

The woman looked perplexed as she said, "Surly you're not trying to tell me
I did. This has gone far enough, my lips are sore and red and yours are a
match. It doesn't take a sorcerer to know what happened. I just need you to
fill in the blanks." The woman dropped her gaze and was now looking at her

Gabrielle took a sip of tea then said, "There was a storm."

Xena nodded as she said, "That much I remember."

"Well, you were frightened and asked me to lie down on the bed with you."

Xena got to her feet and began to pace as she said, "I take it you did?"

"That's right, you had a death grip on my left hand and besides I couldn't
see any harm, you were so fearful."

"Storms do scare me but tell me, how did we get from my being fearful to a
matched set?"

A light smile crossed her face as Gabrielle said, "That's hard for me to
understand too. I was sleeping when you decided to get amorous."

Xena's mouth fell open as she said, "Me! Never! I have never kissed..."

Gabrielle cut in as she said, "Someone like me? If it will ease your
conscience, it's the same. It happened, I'm sorry you have taken it so

Xena stopped pacing and walked back over to her chair and sat. She placed
her hands on the table in front of her and said, "I want to hear the rest."

Gabrielle replied, "If you are wondering if I, if we made love, the answer
is no. I firmly believe you were asleep. Before you say anything, I tried to
push you back but I was afraid of waking you. I have been told if you wake a
sleepwalker it could cause harm . If you want me to leave, I will

Xena unconsciously reached up and touched her lower lip as she said, "No,
from what you say, it was my doing. Of course, it appears to me that you

Gabrielle felt she would die as the woman's eyes seemed to reach out and
take hers into them. She took another drink and as she sat the mug on the
table she cleared her throat and said, "Not at first, I honestly tried but
when your body lay on mine and your lips were caressing mine, I couldn't
control myself. There was nothing involved but kissing, honestly."

Xena leaned back in her chair and said, "I would say from the appearance of
our lips, that was definitely enough. I drank too much last night and I know
that's no excuse but when I look at you I have to wonder just what it felt

Feeling very uncomfortable, Gabrielle got to her feet and said, "I'm sorry
but I can't talk about this anymore. I swear by all that's holy, I won't
touch you again."

Xena began to cry as she muttered, "You must hate me."

Gabrielle quickly walked over to Xena and placed her left hand on the
woman's right shoulder and said, "Don't cry, I hate it when people cry. I
don't hate you, I love you."

Xena gazed up at her and sniffled as she said, "You did it."

Gabrielle seemed very perplexed as she asked, "I did what?"

Xena smiled as she said, "You just touched me."

Gabrielle looked down at the hand that was resting comfortably on the
woman's shoulder as she smiled and said, "Got me. All right how about this,
I promise not to become affectionate toward you again, unless you make the
first step."

Getting to her feet Xena replied, "Deal." Quickly changing the subject she
said, "How is it out there?"

Gabrielle looked toward the door and said, "It's wet but there is nothing
like the smell after a rain. It's like the Gods have given everything a



Chapter Nine

Xena had been searching the horizon with anxious eyes. Gabrielle had been
gone for many days and she had not received any word from the woman. They
had heard a rumor of some strangers living near the village of Osara, and it
seemed it would take several days to a week to make the trek. Gabrielle
decided to make the trip but before she left she asked Xena to go with her.
The woman said, She couldn't but wished her a safe journey.

There were several times after the woman left that she cursed herself for
not going. The place was lonely and every time she heard a sound her heart
would leap into her throat. She tried to tell herself it was because she was
worried about Gabrielle but deep inside she knew it was because she was
beginning to have deep feelings for her.

She had tried every argument she knew to convince herself it was something
else but had finally given in to the possibility that Gabrielle had managed
her way through the fence she had placed over her heart. A fence that would
be there to keep anyone from getting close to her ever again. Like a certain
Amazon did so long ago.

Finally giving up she decided the woman would not be coming back that day
and went back into the house. Once inside she climbed the ladder to the loft
and gazed around the area. She spotted a knife in the corner and crawled
onto the floor as she made her way to it. Sitting down she reached out and
picked it up in her right hand and looked at the shining piece of steel. She
smiled as she remembered the first days Gabrielle attempted to teach her how
to defend herself. It really was hilarious but the woman had an unending
supply of patience, she never gave up on her. Before Gabrielle had left,
Xena had learned how to defend herself and this made Gabrielle feel better
at leaving her there alone.

Hearing footsteps downstairs her eyes lit up as she laid the knife down and
called out, "Gabrielle! You've come back!" It didn't take her long to make
it to the bottom and as her feet touched the floor she turned frantically
looking for her friend.

The woman was standing near the hearth and she hurried over to her saying,
"And before you ask, yes, I missed you."

The woman turned and stared at her but there was not a hint of recollection
in her eyes as she asked, "You've been missing me?"

Xena smiled as she answered, "Probably since the minute you left. Tell me,
where have you been? I thought you would have been back way before now and
did you find the missing people?" She felt the tip of the knife before she
saw it as Gabrielle said, "Lady, I don't have any idea what you are rattling

Xena stared down at the dagger that Gabrielle was holding against her
stomach and said, "Wh... What is this?"

Throwing back her head the woman laughed as she replied, "Just what it looks
like a knife. Don't do anything rash and neither will I. Now, walk over to
that chair and set down!"

Xena turned and did as the woman said, all the time trying to get her to
explain her actions. Gabrielle took a coil of rope from her belt and tied
Xena to the chair. When she was finished she went back into the cooking area
and began to look around for something to eat and drink. Finding some
cheese, bread and a bottle of port she walked back over to the table and
sat. Xena stared at her as the woman delved into the food as if she hadn't
had a decent meal in days. It was when Gabrielle began to drink the port
that she tried to free herself but to no avail. Finally she said, "I was
just beginning to like you but this, this makes me mad!"

Gabrielle stopped what she was doing and stared at the woman. Her eyes had
come to rest on the full bosoms that were moving with each breath the woman
made. She seemed to enjoy watching her struggle against her ties and finally
said, "Look, if it will make you feel any better, I don't know you, and if
you have a friend that looks like me then I pity them. Oh not because they
know you but looking like me can get them into a lot of trouble, maybe even

Xena's eyes widened as she stuttered, "Yo...You're that pirate."

Nodding her head Gabrielle said, "At your service, then I take it you have
heard of me."

Still struggling against her ties, she said, "Oh, I've heard of you! Look, I
have nothing against you, just let me go and leave!"

Gabrielle leaned back in her chair and took a long drink of the port then
said, "Can't do that, do you have any idea how long I have been trying to
survive out in those woods? It's nice to feel warmth and eat and drink
something other than berries and rain water."

The sound of someone whistling nearby caused the woman to jump to her feet
and before Xena could scream she had leaped over the table and held her
right hand over the woman's mouth. Gabrielle came bounding into the room,
her blue green eyes were sparkling and her smile would have warmed the
house. "Xena!" She froze when she saw her friend bound to a chair and the
person who had one hand over her mouth looked just like her. She reached for
her sword and at the same time the woman said, "Better take another look,
this is a dagger I am holding at your friends throat. I suggest you drop the
sword and very slowly walk over here."

As she neared she stared down at Xena and asked, Are you all right? She
hasn't hurt you has she?"

Xena nodded then shook her head as the woman removed her hand and said, "You
communicate pretty good." Tapping Xena on the right shoulder she asked,
"This your significant other?"

It was at this time Gabrielle remembered she had on the disguise and said,
"Leave her alone, we are pledged."

The woman motioned to another chair and told her, "Some call me Star, have a

She pulled out the chair and sat as she watched the woman move toward her.
Star quickly tossed a strand of rope toward her as she said, "Tie this
around one wrist. Then place your hands behind the chair. Try anything and
I'll make sure this dagger finds its mark in your sweet thing."

Gabrielle's eyes darted to Xena then back to the woman as she caught the
rope. It didn't take her long to secure it around her right wrist and place
her hands behind the chair. Star moved cautiously toward her and stepped
behind quickly as she secured the other wrist then tied them to the back of
the chair.

She gazed at the two then walked back into the cooking area to look for more
food. Gabrielle looked at Xena and said, "I got back as soon as I could. I'm
sorry about this."

Xena managed a smile as she said, "I missed you too."

Star was approaching as she called out, "You two stop the talking, right
now, all I want is peace and quiet." She sat, her eyes gazing toward Xena
and coming to rest on the woman's breasts. Gabrielle jerked at her ties and
said, "Don't even think it!"

She turned her attention toward her and said, "And if I did, just what are
you going to do about it?"

Gabrielle lowered her gaze as the woman chuckled and said, "Just as I
thought, no backbone."

Gabrielle had been trying to pull her wrists loose from the rope that was
holding them and could feel some give on her left wrist. Xena was now making
hissing noises toward her as she looked over to see what the woman wanted.
Xena was motioning with her head as she whispered, "Stop it, she will see
you and I don't even want to think what she might do."

Gabrielle smiled and winked at her as she whispered back, "Have to do
something, never was a person to just set."

Star had gone outside and they could now hear the woman's footsteps
approaching the front doorway and Xena said, "She's coming back. Don't take
any unnecessary chances."

Star stepped into the room and walked directly toward Gabrielle. She stopped
as she approached the woman and said, "Saw the horse in the corral. Nice of
you to bring my transportation."

Gabrielle raised her head and looked up at the woman as she said, "If that
is what you think, then why don't you take her and leave."

Star smiled as she reached out and touched the woman's right cheek with her
left hand then said, "Why are you in such a hurry to be rid of me?" She
turned her head and glanced at Xena then said, "Maybe I already know the
answer, been awhile has it?"

Gabrielle jerked her head away from the woman's hand and said, "Untie me at
least let me defend myself. I have heard even pirates have a code of honor."

Her full attention was on Gabrielle now as she sat on the table and gazed at
the woman. "Your clothes could be mistaken for a pirates but your manner, I
don't think so. Still, you give me wonder, how is it someone like you living
out here knows anything about pirates?"

Glowering at the woman, Gabrielle answered, "Because I have been there and I
know a few."

The woman was very interested now as she asked, "Really, who? Maybe we know
the same people."

Pursing her lips, Gabrielle finally replied, "I know Mary Ready. And I know
Ann Bounty."

Star had jumped to her feet and without warning she thrust out the back of
her right hand and struck the right side of Gabrielle's face. "You dare to
mention Ann Bounty. Tell me, did you have something to do with her capture?

Shaking her head she turned and looked at the woman. Star was seething and
she knew she had stepped into territory she knew nothing about in this

"I'm sorry if I have said anything that would make you think that. I would
never do anything to harm Sea."

Star reached out and grabbed the chair that Gabrielle was setting in. She
turned it easily as she stared down upon this strangers face and said, "You
have some nerve! I really would like to know how you come up with the name
of Sea?"

Xena had a terrifying look on her face as she called out, "Leave Gabe alone.
Why don't you just go!"

Star ignored the woman's pleas and focused her full attention on Gabrielle
as she said, "Bet it stings, I walloped you pretty good. Now, before you
really make me mad, tell me how you come to know Ann Bounty?

Taking a swallow, she ran her tongue along the inside of her jaw then said,
"You won't believe me."

Star sat down on the table once more and said, "I have all the time in the
world. So pray tell me how you know Sea?

Muttering to herself Gabrielle said, "This just keeps getting worse and

Star leaned back and grabbed the bottle of port as she set back up and said,
"I'll drink and you talk."

By the time Gabrielle had told her everything the woman had downed the rest
of the port and was now setting staring at her with glazed eyes. It took her
several minutes before she finally said, "Yeah, and pigs fly."

Xena had been listening to the conversation as she said, "Why is it everyone
seems to know this but me."

Gabrielle stared at the woman and said, "Xena, they don't. It just means she
doesn't believe me."

Xena glanced at Star and then back at her as she said, "You were making fun
of me?"

Star jumped to her feet and bellowed, "Cut the crap! Now, I'm tired, which
one of you shall keep me company." The woman began to do a chant, "I'll take
you, no I'll take you." She was going through a second round of singing this
when she stopped at Xena. Smiling back at Gabrielle she said, "You lose."

Gabrielle began to violently struggle against her ties as she said, "No!

Star looked at her and said, "You'll do what?"

Gabrielle's eyes darted to Xena as she said, "I told you the truth, just ask

Star was unsteady on her feet as she said, "That right? Can you back up
Gabe's cock and Bull story?"

Xena nodded and said, "It's the truth."

Star focused her eyes on this man as she stepped up to him. Her eyes
traveled the man's body and soon came to rest between his legs. "There's one
sure way to get to the truth of the matter!" In an instant her right hand
shot out and as she grasped his crouch she gasped. The look in her eyes was
of shock as Gabrielle glowered at her and said, "Satisfied?"

She took several steps backwards and said, "You are not a man but you look
like one."

Gabrielle shook her head and said, "Take my hat off."

Star approached cautiously as she reached out and removed it, Gabrielle's
long blond hair tumbled down upon her back and shoulders. Star muttered,
"You have hair like mine, if what you say is true, you are an image of
myself. One of us must die!"

Xena screamed and Gabrielle said, "You kill me, you will be killing

The woman shook her head and said, "This is too much, I need to lie down."
The two women watched as she slowly crumbled to the floor.

Xena had been giving her displeasing looks as she ignored her and continued
to try and free her wrist. It seemed longer than it took but she was able to
work free and it didn't take long to undo the rest. She hurried over to Xena
and released the woman. Standing, Xena stared down at her and said, "What do
we do with her?"

Rubbing her wrists, she answered, "Help me take her over to your bed. She'll
be fine after she sleeps off the port."

After Gabrielle searched the woman and removed all of her weapons she got up
and walked toward the hearth. Xena had been standing there watching her, her
arms folded across her chest and her blue eyes seemed to be shooting sparks
as she said, "I'm upset at you, how could you fun me like that? You must
think I am a blithering idiot. After all a pig flying is no harder to
believe than you traveling from another world."

Gabrielle walked past her and answered, "You are right and I apologize. I
didn't know you all that well and I really thought that your friend Mathias
had other thoughts besides caring for you."

Letting her arms drop to her sides she said, "Seems he does, after Torris
and he were here I realized that. Now, tell me, about yourself?"

Gabrielle had walked over to the table and sat on one of the chairs as she
said, "Tell you what? You know just about all there is to know."

Xena followed and after she had sat she said, "About this Ann Bounty?"

"Oh, you caught that did you?"

Nodding her head the woman said, "I suppose you know her like you do this
other Xena person?"

As Gabrielle leaned against the back of the chair she said, "I know Ann, she

Xena got to her feet and said, "You don't have to go any further, I can see
it in your eyes."

This time Gabrielle was irritable and she got up and walked up to the woman.
She reached out and grabbed Xena's left hand and held it as she said, "There
is love and then there is love. I carry a deep love for her but I have never
had relations with her. Believe me when I tell you, it would have been easy.
She loves me and she respects my wishes. Sometimes I ask myself just why I
keep beating my head against a rock wall."

Xena cocked her head to the right as she said, "Why would you do that?
Doesn't it hurt?"

Grinning, Gabrielle said, "You are so cute when you get like this. I didn't
mean it literally. I mean she possesses everything a person would, could
ever want and I keep pulling back."

It was Xena's turn to smile as she patted Gabrielle's hand and said, "You
can go to bed with anyone but when you decide to make a commitment then it
should only be that one."

Gabrielle walked back over to her chair and sat once more as she said, "What
if you make a pledge to both?"

A devilish smile crossed the woman's face as she said, "Both? By the Gods,
you must have a lot of stamina."

Shaking her head, Gabrielle said, "I said pledge, it doesn't mean I am
having relations with them both." She leaned forward and placed her elbows
on the table. Her eyes were glued on Xena's as she said, "If I can't
understand it how can I expect you to?"

Xena stared over at Star and said, "What are we going to do about her?"

"Let her sleep it off, she's not evil you know. If she had been, you nor I
would be here now. Besides, she is a picture of me and you know I'm not."

"But what if she tries to fight?"

Getting to her feet she said, "I know every move she would make. There is
nothing to fear and I am tired, it has been a long trip and for nothing. I
am ready to turn in, want to join me?"

Xena gazed at her and said, "She has my bed there is only the one in the

She was standing by Xena as she said, "We have laid down together before,
come on, I promise not to bite."

Slowly she followed the woman and as Gabrielle stood by the ladder she said,
"You go up first and I will follow."

Once the two of them were in the loft she lit a candle and said, "You can
have either side, I'm not particular."

Xena softly answered, "Then I'll take the right."

Gabrielle nodded as she began to remove her clothes. When she had finished
she found the shift and pulled it on over her head. It didn't take her long
to lie down. Xena had walked over to the far corner and was humming.
Smiling, she called out to the woman, "What are you doing? The sooner we get
to bed the sooner we can get some rest."

"Be right there" The woman sang out and it was at this time Gabrielle heard
her approach and looked up. Xena was standing in front of her and she didn't
have a stitch of clothes on as she casually stepped over the woman and lay
down next to her. Gabrielle turned onto her right side as Xena said. "My
shift is down there and I wasn't going to sleep in my clothes. Am I that
bad? The sight of me makes you turn away."

Gabrielle sat up as she turned her head and stared down at the woman. The
candle light was sending a flickering glow across the woman's breasts and
she found herself fascinated.

"Gabrielle, what is the matter?"

She heard the woman's words as if coming through a fog as she opened and
closed her eyes several times then said, "Sorry, I seemed to get lost in my
own thoughts. I just want you to know that I am not made of wood, I do have
feelings and after the last time we were this close and now..."

Xena reached down and pulled the blanket up over her body and as she held it
she said, "I guess you know by now how I feel about you." Smiling down at
the woman she answered, "I think you like me."

"I do, you are so unlike any of the people I know now. If it will make you
feel any better I could go down and get the shift."

Gabrielle reached down and placed her right hand on Xena's as she said, "No,
I'd rather you be up here with me than down there like that. After all Star
might get the idea she had before."

"Oh, wouldn't want that, she might look like you but believe me, she is
nothing like you, you are so caring. I know you would not try to force
yourself on me and she would."

Lying back down, Gabrielle said, "Why don't you try to get some sleep."

Xena whispered, "Good night."

Heaving a sigh, Gabrielle laid back down and turned onto her side once again
she said, "Night."

The next morning she was standing beside Star when the woman opened her eyes
and glanced around the area. "Wh...What happened?"

Gabrielle smiled as she said, "Had a little too much of the port. You'll be
fine after you get up and move around."

Star slowly sat as she held her head with her right hand she said, "Doubt
that. Next question, how did you two get loose and where is she?"

Gabrielle pointed to the loft and said, "Sleeping in a little. After all,
your little escapade yesterday took a lot out of her. She is not used to
that kind of thing you know."

As Star got to her feet she groaned and said, "Yeah, and I suppose you are?"

Reaching out to help steady her, Gabrielle answered, "I've had my times.
Don't worry we are not going to turn you in if that is the next thing you
are thinking."

"Help me to the table, my head is throbbing something awful."

She put her right arm around the woman's waist and said, "Lean on me, I'll
get you there."

After Star was seated she looked up at Gabrielle and said, "It blew me away
when I saw the hair but now that I see your face without the make-up, it is

Sitting down she said, "Not as frightening as the thought of someone
mistaking me for you and getting hung or worse."

"If you know about pirates, then you know they are all wanted for something.
I suppose you are wanted even in your world. One cannot just leave their
world and think that what they have done in the past is gone. It will follow
you no matter where you go."

Contemplating the woman's words She said, "Hadn't thought of that. Oh well
that is the least of my problems at the moment."

The woman seemed to be intrigued as she asked, "What then?"

Looking very serious she said, "I fear I may never be able to make it back
to my world. There seems to be no one who can tell me of a whirling mass
like the one I entered to come here. I fear I may never get back."

Star was leaning back in her chair as she rubbed her neck with her left hand
she said, "Is that so bad? Seems from what you have told me most things are
the same, even the people. At least it's not a bunch of strangers."

"It is, they may look like people I know but they are not the same."

Star was becoming more relaxed as she said, "Like Ann for instance?"

Gabrielle said, "When you slapped me, you mentioned I might have something
to do with her capture. Has Ann been captured? From the way you acted I feel
you and her have a special bond, am I right?"

Nodding her head the woman answered, "Yes, we are as close as any two people
can be. There are stories out there about the love we share."

Gabrielle had lowered her eyes as she said, "Love, that's wonderful."

"Yes, since the day we met, there has never been anyone else for me. She is
the warmest, kindness person I have ever met. I cherish every second we have
on this land. And, yes, she was captured near Thrace."

"What was she doing there?"

Star slowly answered, "She had gone to see an old friend. The woman was near
death or so they said and Sea wanted to see her once more. It was all a trap
and now it seems she has to pay for having feelings for an old friend."

Gabrielle bit her lip as she said, "Is there something I can do to help?"

Thinking for a moment the woman stared directly at her and said, "Yes, you
can let yourself get captured!"



Chapter Ten

Gabrielle thought over the woman's words before she spoke, "I don't think
so. I have no desire to end up on a chopping block in your place."

Star laughed as she said, "If things work out right, there will be none of
that. It seems the right thing to do, after all, you look like me and then
there is really me. If you are captured then they will stop looking for me
and I can plan the escape."

"Sounds to haphazard to me. I need to know some hard facts."

At this time they heard Xena sigh as the woman climbed down the ladder to
the floor. Both looked up to see her walking toward them. Gabrielle stood
and said, "Good morning, I hope you had a pleasant sleep."

Xena smiled at her and whispered, "It was celestial."

Star had been watching the two and was enthralled at the eye contact that
was taking place. She stood and said, "You look lovely this morning. I'll go
get you a mug of tea."

Sitting down she gazed up at Gabrielle and said, "What happened to her? She
seems do different."

Gabrielle sat in a chair beside the woman and said, "She knows there is
nothing to fear from us. Star will be fine." Her eyes met Xena's as she
said, "You do look refreshed. I take it, I didn't hog the whole bed?"

She grinned devilishly and said, "No but I probably did. How are you this
morning? You look like you didn't get much sleep. Did I keep you awake?"

Shaking her head she turned her attention toward the hearth and Star who was
on her way back. The woman was carrying several mugs of steaming liquid in
her hands.

She sat one in front of Xena and handed one to Gabrielle then pulled out a
chair and sat. "I really need to know if you would be willing?

Xena stared at them both and asked, "Willing for what?"

Gabrielle leaned forward in her chair and placed the mug on the table as she
said, "Star seems to want me to be captured in her place."

The woman's eyes showed immediate signs of fear as she exclaimed, "No! That
would be stupidity!"

Star raised her right hand and said, "I don't plan on her dieing in my

Xena scowled as she said, "Yeah and can you guarantee it won't happen?"

Shaking her head the woman answered, "No one can guarantee anything in life
but I will do everything in my power to see it doesn't."

Xena was slowly moving her mug backwards and forth between the psalms of her
hands as she said, "Gabrielle, what do you think of this? You have been
pretty quiet."

"I am willing to hear Star's plan but I will reserve the use of my body
until I know more."

They listened intently as the woman poured out her plan and when she was
finished she sat back in her chair and said, "Well, what do you think?"

Pondering this for several seconds, Gabrielle answered, "It's so crazy, it
just might work."

Xena reached out and placed her right hand on Gabrielle's as she said, "It
is just that, crazy. Don't be foolish there has to be some other way."

Star got to her feet and headed toward the hearth as she said, "I'm going
outside, you two talk this over and when you have made a decision, one of
you can let me know."

They watched the woman until she had left the building then Gabrielle turned
her attention to Xena as she said, "If we don't do this, there may not be
another chance. Once they get Ann to Athens, there will be too many
surrounding her."

Xena took a long drink of the tea then said, "I can see it clearly in your
eyes and in your voice. You are afraid if something happens to Ann here,
something will also happen to her in your world."

Nodding her head she said, "Yes, if Ann is executed, I fear that she will
not survive there. I can't let that happen."

Xena reached up and placed her left hand along side her face as she said,
"Then we must do all we can."

Gabrielle reached up and grasped the woman's hand and said, "We? There is no
we, I will not see you put yourself in danger."

Xena squeezed Gabrielle's hand as she said, "I'm afraid you have no say in
the matter, besides, I know a lot of people in Amphipolis and this could
make it much easier."

Smiling at the woman, Gabrielle said, "Just when I start to think you and
Xena are so different, you say something like this. All right then it is
settled. I will go tell Star."

Following the woman as she got to her feet, Xena said, "I'll put something
on the table for the morning meal.


They had been at Terajin's cabin for several moons and it had been
wonderful. She never knew how much enjoyment could come from helping a
person do repairs.

She was standing by the creek that ran through the meadow, as her eyes
followed the statuesque woman. Ann had been reining an Ox, as she slowly
guided a plow through the dirt. What once looked like a field of flat land
now had been neatly furrowed. She heard the woman yell, "Whoa!" As she
jumped several rocks and ran toward her. Sea heard her approaching and
turned to wave.

Lila hurried up to her as she said, "It's time to take a breather. I've
brought some fresh biscuits and honey along with fresh water."

Sea stepped out from behind the plow as she said, "Sounds good, I am hungry
but mainly I am thirsty, thanks."

Lila pointed to a large shade tree and said, "Lets go over there and sit."

Nodding her head the woman took the water skin and self indulged in a long
drink. Lila grinned as she watched the woman. When Ann reached out to hand
the water skin back to her she said, "Hit the spot, it gets dusty and the
sun doesn't help matters." She was pointing toward the Sun as Lila watched
its rays bouncing off the woman's flaming hair. Ann's green eyes sparkled at
her as she said, "Do I have dirt on my face?"

Shaking her head the woman began to skip toward the tree as she called back,
"It's not that, but in the sun's rays, your hair is so..."

Sea ran to catch up to her as she said, "I know, red. Let's eat, I'm
hungrier than I thought."

Lila laughed as she dropped to her knees and sat the leather pack on the
ground. It didn't take Sea long to join her and soon, their laughter was all
that could be heard.

There was a slight wind and every once in awhile it would grab Ann's hair
and send it flying about the woman's head. Lila had prepared several
biscuits and as she handed one to Ann she said, "After all that work, the
breeze probably feels good."

Ann Smiled as she took the bread and said, "It does, have to admit it, this
a good way to work up a sweat."

The two were leaning against the tree as they stared out at the furrowed
land. Lila finally said, "I'll help you plant, always enjoy this part. To
think that a small seed could reap so much is unbelievable. Anyway, I like
to see things grow and bloom."

Sighing as she stretched out her lengthy legs Sea said, "It is a wonder to
behold, but then each day I look at you and think the same thing."

Lila stared at the forest that was on the other side of the creek as she
said, "Just exactly what do you mean Ann bounty? I am a wonder to behold,
you know a volcano and an earthquake could be described the same way."

Sea had tossed several pebbles as she turned and gazed down at the woman.
Her eyes never missing anything as she said, "You are like a beautiful
flower when it stretches out its petals and greets a new day. It's beauty is

Nervously fiddling with her fingers, Lila said, "Guess that shuts me up."

Ann Smiled as she said, "At least you don't faint when you hear my
sentiments anymore, I think that is a step forward."

Lila stood and stared down at the mischievous face that was beaming up at
her as she said, "I know you mean them but, I know that I have seen you in
quiet times and I have also seen that faraway look in your eyes."

Ann nodded as she said, "There have been a few times when I feel myself
getting discouraged. That is only because I can't remember my past. It is as
if I was just born and I have a hard time handling it. How would you react
if the same thing happened to you? No memory of your sister, mother or
anyone who is your life now?"

"I would hate it. And I am sorry to see you in so much turmoil. It has been
sometime and I know that you have regained all your strength. Have you had
any glimmer of your past return?"

Shaking her head she said, "No, I'm afraid all I know is what you have seen.
I am beginning to wonder if I ever will."

Lila looked away as she said, "I have to get back to the place. Why don't
you call it a day and come on in."

Ann smiled as she said, "I'll stop at the hot springs before I come in, need
to get rid of some of this dirt."

"I'll leave the pack and the water, you can bring it back with you."

Ann was on her feet as she said, "See you later then?"

Lila's eyes were glistening as she said, "I'll be there." She turned and
hurried away. Ann Smiled as she headed for the Ox and plow. She felt she
could finish the last furrow before she quit.

By the time Ann made it back to the cabin, the setting Sun had washed the
darkening sky with great splashes of orange, red and gold. She skipped a
step as she hurried toward the lone light that was glowing from inside. Lila
heard the woman as she opened the door and entered the room. She was
standing beside the small wooden table and had just placed a dish of food on
it as she looked up and smiled, "After a long days work, you look absolutely

Walking toward the woman Ann answered, "Thanks, it was probably the soak in
the hot springs. Felt wonderful. Tell me, when are you ever going to join me

Lila gazed at the table as she said, "Better set down, I hope you like what
I have prepared."

Grinning, she pulled out a chair and sat. Her eyes taking in every step Lila
was making as she finally said, "Will you set down, I feel the need to

Lila pulled out a chair and sat as she said, "Why don't you eat first. We
can talk later."

Ann reached across the table and touched Lila's left hand as she said, "No,
every time I try to talk to you, you either change the subject or something
happens. The food looks good but..."

Heaving a sigh, Lila stared at her and said, "All right, go ahead and say
it. I know you are almost through and probably are chomping at the bit to be
on your way."

Sea had noticed the candle flickering as she got up and walked over to it.
Picking it up she carried it to the table and set it down. Lila seemed to be
amused as she said, "Why did you do that?"

Setting back down, the woman answered, "The better to see you with. Now, I
am not chomping at the bit, that would be the Ox or your friends horse and I
am not in a big hurry to get out of here. I swear woman, sometimes I think
you would never see the light even if it hit you in the face."

Lila stared at her as she said, "I don't know what you are talking about."

Ann never took her gaze off the woman as she said, "Except for your friend
Terajin you are the only other person I know. So before you tell me this let
me just say, I don't care. I have feelings for you and even when you act as
if they are not there, they still are. I may never be the person you wanted
to come into your life but at least give me the chance to prove my worth to

Lila's face held little emotion as she said, "I'm not my sister."

Ann jumped to her feet as she began to pace the room, then turned and said,
"Don't you think I know that? You are Lila, friend, confident and my

Shaking her head the woman replied, "I am Lila and your friend, but I am not
your savior. I'm afraid that is entirely up to you. Look Ann, I know that
things have happened between us. I'm not without feelings you know." At this
time Ann walked back over and sat down and stared at the woman and said, "I
never thought you were, but why are you constantly acting like they don't

Lila had gotten to her feet and walked toward the hearth and said, "Because
it will hurt less when you leave."

By this time Ann had followed her and was now stepping up to her back as she
said, "Haven't you any faith or confidence in yourself? And why do you keep
trying to send me away?"

At this time the woman turned to face Ann as tears poured down her face she
said, "Because, I know it will happen and I can't stand the pain it will
bring to me."

Ann reached out and wrapped her arms around Lila as she pulled her close.
She softly whispered, "One never knows how much life they will have, take a
long look at what happened to me. Seize the moment for it may be your last."

Lila gazed up at her as she said, "All right, I think I am falling in love
with you. Now, what are you going to do about it?"

Ann bent down and pressed a soft kiss on the woman's moist lips then
whispered, "I plan on showing you just how much I care." She reached down
and picked the woman up as she cradled her in her arms, Lila laid her head
against the woman's left shoulder and uttered, "I, I..."

Sea whispered, "Shh."

It was at this time a loud knock was heard as both women stared toward the
door. Lila whispered, "Put me down."

Ann gently obliged as Lila walked toward the door and asked, "Who is it?"

A man's gravely voice echoed back, "Just three strangers, looking for a
little warmth and food."

Ann looked at Lila and shook her head but the woman opened the door and
gazed at the three travelers and said, "It's not much, but you are welcome
to come in and rest. There is food on the table."

The men thanked her as they hurried into the room. Once inside they stopped
as Ann approached them and said, "Just where are you from? And what brings
you this far out?"

A large man stepped close as he smiled apologetically, "Sorry to have
intruded." He turned to stare at Lila and said, "My friends and I will be on
our way, we don't stay anywhere we are not welcome."

Lila blocked their way as she gave Ann a scathing scowl and said, "No, you
are not intruding, please, set yourself at the table and rest."

He gave her a smile and said, "Thank you for your kindness." They walked
toward the table and after they had set, they began to devour the meal. Lila
looked at Ann and shrugged her shoulders as she mouthed the words, "Sorry."

Ann was leaning near the hearth, her eyes never leaving the men, They were
not dressed as farmers or villagers if she was to make a guess she would say
they were mercenaries of some sort. Although she had no idea where the word
came from she found it was now in her word-stock.

When the men had finished eating and had their fill of the port Lila had
brought them, they stood as their leader a man named Josen said, "Thank you
for your hospitality, we will be on our way now."

Ann murmured under her breath, "Don't let the door hit you on the way out."

The men didn't hear her but Lila who was standing beside her did. She walked
toward the man and said, "Have a good trip." It was at this time he reached
out and grabbed the woman and pulled her to him. Quickly twisting her left
arm and holding it behind her he held a knife to her throat as he glared at
Ann who was already on the defensive and had started toward him. "Take
another step and I'll slit her throat."

Lila's face held a look of panic as Ann said, "Don't harm her, what do you

The man laughed as he stared at his two colleagues and said, "She wants to
know what we want, shall we show her."

The men grinned as they drew their swords and started toward her.

Lila saw her chance as she reached down and bit the man's hand, he screamed
as his knife fell to the floor and it was all Ann needed as she somersaulted
over the two that were approaching her. They yelled, "Hey." As they watched
the woman pass and felt her backward kicks as both feet struck out sending
them to the floor. Before they were on their feet she had made it to the man
that was still holding Lila. She looked at the woman and said, "Duck!" And
as Lila did, her right fist shot out making contact with his jaw, as he
stumbled backwards. Turning, she touched Lila with her left hand and said,
"Are you all right?"

The woman nodded as she stammered, "I, I didn't know..."

Ann tried to smile as she said, "It's all right."

The first two men she had knocked down were on their feet again and were now
charging toward them. She pushed Lila out of their path and said, "Come on
boys, there is plenty more right here, just come and get it!"

She heard Lila scream, "Look out!" As she felt the blow to the back of her
head and succumbed to the whirling blackness that was engulfing it.

Lila had been contained by the other two as Josen now stood over the limp
form of the woman who dared defy him. He looked down at her then turned his
gaze toward Lila and said, "Your friend is quite a fighter. I will enjoy
taking her down."

Lila was struggling against the men's hands that held her arms tightly as
she screamed, "Don't, don't hurt her, please!"

The man laughed as he dropped to his knees and reached out rolling Ann onto
her back. The woman didn't stir and he said, "Pity, she will never know what
a good thing she has missed." He looked at the men and said, "When I am
finished with red here, you can have what's left, that is, is there is

Suddenly Lila drove her left foot into the arch of one of the men and as he
released his hold on her, she jabbed the other in his eyes with her fingers.
Quickly running toward the man who was haunched over Ann, she landed on his
back, throwing them both onto the floor. The woman was no match for his
brute force and he soon had her pinned down as he sent his right fist across
the left side of Lila's face. His friends had now joined him as one reached
out to help the man to his feet he said, "Seems these women fight better
than most of the men we have come across."

He smiled wickedly and replied, "They will be sorry for that. Take her over
to a chair and tie her, while I deal with this one."

As they picked Lila up the man walked back toward Ann and said, "Where were
we when we were so rudely interrupted, oh yeah, I was just about to go on a
treasure hunt."

A dog's barking near the cabin made him rethink what he was going to do. As
one of the men ran toward him and said, "I think someone is coming."

He scowled at the two women and said, "Then let's get out of here. They are
not worth getting caught."

The men grabbed their belongings and hurried from the building.

Terajin wondered what her dog was going on about as she watched the animal
disappear into the woods. She shook her head and knocked on the door as she
called out, "Hey you two, it's just me Terajin." There was no answer and
after several knocks, she opened the door. As she stepped into the room, her
mouth fell open. There on the floor lay Ann and doubled over and tied to a
chair set Lila. She ran to where Ann lay and checked the woman for signs of
life. When she felt a heart beat, she went to Lila. Cutting the ropes she
patted the woman's face. The first words out of her mouth when she saw her
friend was, "Ann, is she...?"

Terajin answered, "She is alive, let me get you to the bed."

Lila shook her head and said, "No, must get Ann."


When Ann opened her eyes the first thing she saw was Lila's worried face.
The woman was setting on the bed staring down at her. Slowly moving she
grimaced and said, "Are they...?"

Nodding her head the woman answered, "They are gone, thank the Gods Terajin
decided to come by this night. Ann reached up and placed a hand on the
woman's cheek as she said, "They hurt you."

Lila grasped the hand and held it as she said, "I'm all right, how are you

Starting to move, then thinking better of it she said, "Like I have had a
night of carousing."

Lila's eyes grew wide as she gasped, "That hit on the head, your memory, Ann
do you have it back?"

Ann seemed perplexed as she said, "I know I am Ann Bounty and you are Lila.
How long have I been here? Is Gabrielle all right?"

Lila dropped the woman's hand and said, "You have been here for sometime and
Gabrielle is with Xena, at their home. She will be happy to see you again."

Sea smiled as she closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.

Terajin had been watching as she approached Lila and said, "Come over to the
table and have some tea, won't do you any good to get all shook up over
this. After all, this is what you have wanted to happen isn't it?"

Lila walked over and sat, she stared at the woman and answered, "I thought
it was what I wanted. I had her, Terajin, now I have lost her."

Her friend managed a smile as she reached out and patted her left hand with
her's and said, "Maybe not, Ann Bounty does have a mind of her own, don't
give up on the woman just yet."



Chapter Eleven

Slowly stretching out her arms the woman stirred. It didn't take her long to
set up on the bed, as she endeavored to get her eyes to focus. Terajin had
been setting, watching the woman as she said, "Good morning, I hope you are
feeling better."

Placing her right hand behind her head she eased toward the edge of the bed
and said, "Terajin, then it wasn't a dream."

Shaking her head the woman replied, "No, sad to say, it all happened."

Ann was slowly making her way toward the table as she said, "The men, what
happened to them?"

After she had sat down, Terajin went to the hearth and brought back a mug of
tea and said, "They ran away like the cowards they are. Drink the tea, it
will help you. I put a little something in it to ease your pain."

Ann had taken several sips before she set the mug on the table and asked,
"Where is Lila?"

Terajin's eyes darted around the room then came to rest on her once more as
the woman said, "She is gone."

Leaning back in her chair Ann asked, "Will she be back soon? Gods, is she
all right?"

Terajin answered, "No, she will not be back soon and physically she is fine
except for a bruise on her cheek."

Ann leaned forward and reached across the table and grasped the woman's
hands in hers as she said, "I have to know, tell me where is she?"

Terajin got to her feet as she said, "When Lila found out your memory had
returned she decided the best thing for the both of you would be if she

Ann jumped to her feet as she yelled, "Damn! This was followed by, "Owwh."
As she grasped her head and fell back into the chair."

Terajin walked back over and sat as she said, "I tried to tell her, but she
is hard headed."

Ann's eyes were misting up as she said, "Tell her what?"

"I tried to tell her just because your memory had returned didn't mean you
would forget her."

"Never! I must find her, tell me where she has gone?"

The woman sighed as she answered, "I wish I could. I have no idea." She
changed the subject as she said, "I have checked my land, it looks good and
the repairs on the place are wonderful."

Sea stared at her as she said, "Thanks, but Lila helped. If need be, I will
go to her family."

It was Terajin's turn to reach out and grab the woman's hands this time as
she said, "Let it go, she is gone and you will not find her. I have lost a
good friend."

Ann was on her feet once more as she said, "By the Gods, I will find her,
why would she ever think I would just go off and forget she existed."

Terajin said, "She takes things to seriously sometimes and she knows how you
feel about her sister."

Ann managed a smile as she said, "That has nothing to do with the way I feel
about her."

"You don't need to convince me, but it seems the one who needs to hear you
say it, is no longer around."

Ann replied, "I have to go."

Terajin seemed puzzled as she asked, "Go where?"

" I, I don't know, I have to look for her."

Terajin walked up to her and said, "Then take this, it is payment for all
the work you have done here."

Shaking her head Ann said, "No, I owed you, besides I didn't do it expecting

"Call it a loan, if you wish to pay me back later, that would be fine. You
have no money and you will need to eat, it is a long way to the ocean and
your ship."

Ann was standing at the door as she said, "Not going there at least not
now." Holding up the leather pouch she continued, "I will pay you back for
this and thank you for your kindness." With those words she left the
building. Terajin stared at the open door and said, "I wish you luck."


She stared down at the lonely cabin as a feeling of loss fell over her body.
She had purchased a paint mare thinking the traveling would be easier.
Changing directions, she headed back towards the small village of Potidaea.
It had been well over a week and she could find no trace of Lila. No one
seemed to know where she was and the tall woman finally decided it was time
to move on.

She felt badly, Lila had left like she did but after all this time she was
beginning to think the woman really knew what she was doing. Ann had, had
many conversions with herself since then and each time she realized, she
really had nothing to offer the woman except a life on the sea and a chance
of getting captured along with her and her crew. The woman didn't even give
her or Ann the opportunity to see if their friendship would have even
survived. She urged the horse on as she thought, maybe in another life or
time but for now, she was resigned to get back to the world she knew.

One thing she had promised herself was to go by Xena and Gabrielle's. She
really needed to see them once more.


Star had been pacing the floor, and Gabrielle was getting agitated as she
yelled, "Stop that! Your pacing is not going to bring Xena back from
Amphipolis any faster."

The woman turned to scowl at her as she said, "I suppose your constantly
running to the door and looking out is a sign of being calm?"

She couldn't control herself as a wide grin crossed her face, she said,
"Guess I have been a little antsy."

Star was walking toward her as she said, "Yeah, if that is what you call it,
I would rather think you were waiting in anticipation of a loved one. One
you haven't seen in a while."

As she walked past Gabrielle and pulled out a chair and sat down she gave
her a devilish grin and said, "I mean *seen* if you get my drift."

Cocking her head to one side, Gabrielle stared at her and said, "Oh, I
caught it the first time, and it is not like that with us."

The woman knew she had hit upon a touchy subject and was not going to let it
drop as easily as Gabrielle wanted her to. Her eyes darted to the loft as
she said, "I have heard a few sounds filtering down from there and they were
not sounds of fighting."

By this time, Gabrielle realized the woman was just trying to yank her chain
as she said, "Probably Xena having bad dreams or maybe even sleepdreaming."

Fully interested the woman leaned over and said, "I've heard of sleepwalking
but sleepdreaming?"

She grinned as she continued, "Is that what they call it these days?"

Getting to her feet Gabrielle walked toward the open door and stared
outside. She stood there for several minutes then she headed back to the
table and as she approached she said, "You know, you could be a jester.
Remember, we are doubles, and I do know when I am getting teased."

The woman was gazing up at her as she said, "One question, does
sleepdreaming involve the movement of the body, like sleepwalking?"
Gabrielle wrinkled up her nose at the woman and answered, "Wouldn't you like
to know?"

"That's why I asked."

Gabrielle sighed as she said, "That is one thing I am not going to expound

Star stared deep into Gabrielle's eyes only this time her face held a very
serious look as she said, ""All right, I guess I deserve that answer but
take my word for it, if the two of you haven't yet, it is only a matter of
time. I see the light in your eyes when you look at one another and each
time Xena talks to you, her voice speaks volumes."

Sitting back down, Gabrielle placed her hands on the table and said,
"Thanks, I will take your observation into consideration. First things
first, we need to get Ann free."

"Tell me, Gabrielle, just how close are you and Ann in your world?"

"Oh no, you are not going to get me into a discussion about her. Listen, I
hear a horse approaching and for both of us, it had better be Xena and not
some search party out looking for you."

Both women rushed to the door and glanced out. They could see Xena reining
the horse into the corral and as the woman quickly dismounted, they hurried
out to where she stood. Xena looked up and smiled when she saw the two and
said, "Does it get any better than this? Two very charming Gabrielle's
rushing to my aide?"

Gabrielle reached up and took the horses reins as she said, "Well, one at
least. Star wants to know what you found out."

Looking a little sheepish the woman stepped up to Xena and said, "Well, I
was worried about your coming back, maybe not for the same reason as

Raising an eyebrow as she uncinched the saddle and took it from the horses
back she said, "Oh, you really missed me? Her blue eyes were gleaming down
on her as Gabrielle looked up from the bridle she was now holding in her
right hand. She gave Star a scathing glance as she said, "I was worried,
let's just leave it at that."

The three laughed as they closed the corral gate and walked toward the
house. Once inside and closing the door, Xena said, "Your friend Ann is in
the jail there."

Both women pounced on her with questions as she threw up her hands and said,
"Enough! Let me get something to drink, then we can sit at the table and
I'll tell you all I have found out."

Gabrielle was staring at a large leather pack the woman was carrying as she
asked, "What's in that?"

Xena smiled as she went about the hearth, pouring herself a cup of tea. Now,
turning to stare at the pack then back at her friend she replied, "Just
something I picked up at the store. I'll show you later."

As they all walked toward the table, Star asked, "Do I get to see also or is
this just something that is kept for sleepdreaming?"

Xena reached out and grabbed Gabrielle's right shoulder as she sputtered,
"You, you told her?"

Turning to stare at the woman, Gabrielle answered, "No, she is just fishing
and before you jump on the word..."

Walking past her, Xena cut in as she said, "I do know what that means, I
hate it when people try to trick me." The woman had sat as she stared up at
the other two who looked at one another and hurried to the chairs as they
sat. "All right, we are here, now tell us, what you have found out?"

Xena took a sip of the soothing drink then she answered, "If we are going to
do anything, it had better be soon."

They listened as she told them how long Ann had been there and just what
they had planned for the following day. After listening to the woman, Star
jumped to her feet, the woman was seething as she said, "Those bastards, I
will not let that happen!"

Gabrielle was on feet and had joined the woman, she reached out and touched
Star's right hand with hers as she said, "We won't, come sit back down. We
need to talk strategy, it will not do Ann any good if we go off half

Nodding, the woman walked back over to the table and sat as Gabrielle
stepped up to Xena and placed her right hand on the woman's right shoulder.
She felt the woman's muscles tense under her touch as she said, "Star is not
angry at us, it is plain to see she loves Ann so much that the thought of
her being harmed has brought about her reaction."

Xena nodded as she said, "I'm sorry to bring you this kind of news, but it
is what I gleaned from conversations I overheard at the tavern."

Finding her way back to her chair, Gabrielle sat and said, How is your

Focusing all her attention on the woman, Xena answered, "He hasn't changed
his mind if that is what you were hoping, he gave me a message for you."

She and Star leaned forward as Gabrielle asked, "I don't think I want to
hear this, but what did he say?"

"He said for me to tell Gabe that he would be bringing the priest with him
in a week and there would be a union or there would be a death."

Leaning back in her chair as a satisfied grin played across her lips,
Gabrielle said, "Seems the fitting thing to do."

Star winked at her and said, "I knew it all the time."

Xena seemed to be taken aback at the woman's willingness as she said, "Am I
dreaming? You are too willing, did I miss something?"

Star got to her feet as she said, "I'm going out to feed the horse, give you
two a chance to have a little privacy."

Xena called out, "You don't need to do that." The woman had left the
building and as the door closed behind her, she stared down at her mug of
tea and said, "Why did you give Star the idea we were going to be wed? You
know that is not possible."

Gabrielle had been relishing in the enjoyment of seeing Xena squirm as she
said, "A union is not so unlike what we have been doing. We still get to
sleep together but instead of sleepdreaming, we can enjoy the rapture of
being awake, this way, both of us can, not just one."

Xena got up and walked over to the hearth as she fiddled with several pots.
Gabrielle never turned her way, she just kept staring at the empty chair.
After a few more loud bangs, the woman walked up to her and said, "Here,
have a mug of tea, you need to wake up and smell the reality of your words."

Gabrielle watched the woman sit before she said, "I may be gone in a week,
if we get Ann freed tomorrow, then she and Star will leave. If I find the
villagers or a mass like the one that brought me here I will go back. There
will be nothing for your brother to be angry over."

Leaning back in her chair, Xena said, "Then you don't know my brother, even
if you are not here, I will be labeled. It is all right, I have wanted to
take a trip to the Amazon Village for a long time, so if you find this thing
and are able to go back, I will go there."

Gabrielle was now realizing the consequences of what started out to be a
disguise and she thought a well played game. She seemed very serious as she
said, "I'm sorry, I have gotten you into a mess, all because I just couldn't
pull myself away. Your world looks like mine but people are strangers and
you are the only calming force. I feel I have taken advantage of you and for
that I am sorry."

Xena took a long drink of the tea as she said, "It has been an experience I
would not have traded for anything. Gabrielle?"

She leaned close as she asked, "What?"

"There is something I need to tell you, I fear I have grown fond of you. It
will hurt me to see you leave, but I understand."

Gabrielle leaned over and whispered in the woman's right ear, "And I you, if
I can't get back to my world, would it be so bad to be with me?

Xena reached out as her right hand caressed Gabrielle's face and said, "I
would feel badly if you cannot go back, but I have to say, it would make me
happy to be with you."

Sitting back up, Gabrielle replied, "Even if your brother makes us wed?"

Laughing, Xena said, "Even then, we could just tell him the truth."

The two women looked at one another as they grinned and in unison said,
"Nah. He'd never believe it."

The door opened as Star walked into the room, she stepped toward the table
as she said, "From the sounds of laughter, I take it you two have settled
your problems?

Gabrielle smiled at the woman as she said, "Never were any problems but yes,
we have come to an understanding. Now, let's discuss tomorrow."

Pulling out a chair and collapsing onto it the woman said, "I'm all for
that, we will only get one attempt."


Ann Bounty sat on a cold hard wooden bench as her eyes took in the cramped
cell. She cursed herself for letting her feelings get her into trouble. Her
mother had told her many times, it was her caring for others that would one
day get her into trouble and the woman had been right.

Her thoughts would drift to her lovely friend, and as the woman's image
played in her mind she caught herself smiling. Star was the best thing that
had ever happened to her. She was the only reason that was keeping her from
going insane. The soldiers that had captured her had not been the nicest and
she wore many tell tale signs of their wrath on her face. It had taken
several days to make the trip to Amphipolis and she was not looking forward
to traveling any great distance with them. Leaning back against the moist
stone wall her only thought at that moment was the safety of Star. She hoped
the woman was far away from this mess and on the ocean.

She looked up as she heard heavy footsteps approaching. It was the man she
had come to know as Kevar, he seemed to get great pleasure out of causing
her pain. As the man stopped in front of the bars to the cell he smiled
wickedly and said, "Thought you might like to know..."

She jumped to her feet and made a quick dash for the man. Her right arm shot
through the opening between the bars as she said, "There is nothing you
could tell me I might like to know!"

He had stepped back and all her hand grasped was air as he laughed and said,
"We are preparing a little enjoyment for the villagers tomorrow at midday. I
have convinced the others it would be fitting to have the pirate Ann Bounty
flogged in their square. It will serve two ways, they will think twice about
doing anything against the laws of the land and it will make me very happy
to whip you."

Even in the dimly lit cell, Ann exuded a certain, ravishing presence that
transcended even her beauty as she kept her emotions under control and said,
"Many have tried." The look she was giving him made him step back as he
pointed a finger at her and shouted, "We'll see, we'll see if that high and
mighty pretense of yours will still be there when I finish with you!" He
turned and hurried away as she walked up and grasped the bars in her hands
and began to shake them and called after him, "You coward, face me like a
real man, and give me a chance to defend myself!"

The sound of a clanging door was all she could hear as she turned and walked
back over to the bench and sat. Leaning against the wall she laid her head
against it as she stared at the ceiling and cursed the man, and her own
stupidity for letting herself get caught.



Chapter Twelve

Gabrielle had just come in from saddling the horse and had left Star at the
corral as she finished getting the animal ready for their trek into
Amphipolis. Stepping into the room, she looked around for Xena. She saw the
woman standing near the bed, she was wearing a long gray cloak. Approaching
her she said, "Looks like you are ready to go, Star is finishing outside,
all we have to do is join her."

Xena turned and smiled at her as she said, "I'm ready."

Gabrielle took the cloak the woman was holding out and said, "Then let's go,
there is no time like the present."

Xena reached out and touched her right hand as she asked, "Are you all
right, after all, this Sea is the same one you know. At least she must
resemble the woman."

Gazing at her, Gabrielle answered, "If you are asking me if I hold any
feelings for what is about to take place with her, the answer is yes.
Whether it is here or in my world, I care for her and could never stand to
see her hurt. Enough said, come on let's go."

Xena walked beside her as she picked up a water skin and said, "I'm as ready
as I ever will be, just hope some of your teaching has rubbed off on me."

As they stepped out into the sunlight, Gabrielle said, "I don't plan on your
having to use any of it. Let Star and me do the fighting."

Smiling at the woman, Xena softly said, "Whatever you say."

Star was leading the horse out of the corral and started toward them. She
stopped as they approached and said, "Why, don't you and Xena ride, I'll run

Shaking her head, Gabrielle said, "Nope, you and I can take turns. After all
we don't need to travel very fast as we are leaving early enough to get
there in plenty of time.

Xena looked at one and then the other as she said, "I can walk, don't I get
any say in the matter?"

The two women smiled as Gabrielle said, "Sure, if you want to join us in
taking turns, that is fine with us. Thought maybe you might like to ride

Xena mounted the horse and sat tall in the saddle. Gabrielle climbed up
behind the woman and said, "Looks like you get the first walk, Star."

Star reached up and patted the horse on its neck as she said, "Fine by me,
let's go."

It had been a pleasant morning and the trip didn't take as long as she had
thought. Star reined the horse in as she said, "We are almost there, time to

Xena slid off the back of the animal as she quickly dismounted. The three
stood staring down at the lonely road that was winding its path toward the

Gabrielle had put on the cloak as she handed one to Star and said, "Best we
wear these, we will attract less attention than if we go in looking like

Taking the cloak the woman smiled as she said, "Yeah, wanted ones at that."

Gabrielle walked up to Xena and reached out her left hand. Xena smiled as
she met it and as she put a firm grasp on it, she said, "I know, be careful.
You and Star be careful. Don't either of you do anything that would be

Giving her hand a squeeze Gabrielle said, "Never, I'm ready, if you two

They both nodded as she began walking toward the village. When she was out
of hearing distance, Star gazed at Xena and said, "You are worried about her
aren't you?"

Her eyes were still watching the form of the woman as she walked further
away. She muttered, "Yes, can't help it. I am worried about you also."

Star pointed to the town and said, "Let's mount up and be on our way."


Ann heard the sounds of footsteps as she stood waiting for her captors to
appear. It didn't take long for Kevar to make his appearance at the cell
door. He smiled wickedly and his large, yellowish teeth looked as if they
were ready to devour a meal. Unlocking the door he ordered, "Step out here
and place your hands behind your back!"

Two men had already entered the cell and had grabbed her arms as they shoved
her from the cell. She glowered at the man but didn't say a word as he bound
her wrists behind her and said, "I've been waiting all night of this." He
reached down and removed a black coiled whip from his belt, then reached out
and ran it along side her face. She was feeling revulsion as he stepped
close and said, "Wanted you to feel it, this is the only time it won't hurt.
Get her out to the square!"

The men pushed her forward as she stumbled and caught her balance. When they
walked from the building into the sunlight, she stared around at the
buildings and the throng of people that were milling around.

Gabrielle had just made it into the center of the village and was taking
refuge on a rooftop. She was staring down at the people as her eyes caught
sight of the large wooden post that was setting in the center. It didn't
take a sorcerer to figure out what it was going to be used for as she
quickly slipped from the cloak.

The soldiers that were standing close to it had turned their gaze toward the
jail as her eyes followed. The statuesque woman that was shoved into the
open caused her to gasp. It had been sometime since she had seen Ann and
there was no mistaking it, this was the woman. The men walked beside her as
they stopped in front of the post. The sun was meeting her flowing red hair
and sending a radient glow about the woman's head. Ann showed little emotion
as she stood with legs braced wide apart and her hands tied behind her back.

A soldier stepped up to the woman as he said, "Untie her." he then turned to
stare out at the onlookers and said, "This is the pirate known as Ann
Bounty, she is on her way to trial in Athens. She will be flogged today as a
reminder to those of you who may decide the life of thieving might be
interesting. It is not! Is there any among you that would step forward and
defend this whore?"

The people made rumbling noises but none spoke as the man turned to see that
Ann's wrists had been secured to the high metal ring on the post. He stepped
up to her and reached out pulling her blouse from the waist of her leather
pants. A man had begun to beat a drum slowly and he pressed against the
woman's back and whispered, "Better pray to whoever you thieving pirates
pray to for forgiveness."

Ann stared at the post as she replied, "I have no need of praying for
forgiveness but you might try it."

He laughed as he stepped away from the woman. The man snapped the whip
several times but the woman who was standing regally showed no signs of
fear. He cursed at her as he said, "I'll see you beg for mercy if it is the
last thing you do!" At this time he sent the whip flying through the air as
it found its mark cutting into her back. The blow forced her body to fall
against the post as she lay her right cheek against the wood and swallowed

Gabrielle had watched in horror as she looked around for signs of Star and
Xena but they were nowhere in sight and she wasn't going to wait any longer.

She saw the man's broad grin as he snapped the leather like it was a toy to
play with. This time his aim was lower as the leather found its way around
the woman's waist. He smiled as her body jerked and she tried to stifle a
cry. He had just drawn the leather up into a coil and was getting ready to
send it on its way once more. It was at this time, Gabrielle somersaulted
from the roof and landed on a canopy. As her feet touched she somersaulted
once more and landed in front of the man. Before he knew what was happening
she sent her sword cutting through the whip, as it fell at the man's feet.

He stared at the handle he was holding, then at the woman that dared defy
him as he yelled, "Don't just stand there you fools, get her!"

Lashing out with her right foot, she ran it into the man's stomach knocking
the air out of him as he fell backwards. She turned her attention toward the
many soldiers that were bearing down upon her, with their weapons drawn.
Smiling she leaped into the air and somersaulted over the top of them.
Easily landing beside the post and Sea. Sea's eyes met hers as the woman
managed a smile and said, "What took you so long?"

She smiled at her as she cut the ropes that held the woman's wrists. Ann
stepped back and said, I owe you one."

By this time, two men were charging toward them and as they neared Gabrielle
dove to the left as Ann dove to the right and they ran their blades into the
wooden post. Before they could get their bearings, Gabrielle had grasped the
pole and did a flying leap onto their faces. As they hit the ground she was
already on her feet and had tossed one of the swords to Ann as she said,
"Here, thought you might need this."

Catching the handle in her right hand she said, "Thanks." And she turned her
attention on the four men that were closing in on her.

The two women were holding their own, the men were no match for their
expertise in swordsman ship. They were standing back to back as they struck
out at the men. It wasn't long before the men were laying on the ground and
the two women were the only ones left standing.

Ann turned to gaze down at Gabrielle as she said, "From the day we met, you
have been the star that has guided me."

Taken aback by the woman's words, Gabrielle started to tell her something
but found herself being pulled toward the woman. Ann put her arms around
Gabrielle and lifted her so that she was pressed against the length of her
body. Her grip was strong, her hands, one low and one high, behind her neck
drew Gabrielle to her until she felt as if her body was melting into her's.
Ann's soft voice rang in her right ear, "I've missed you something awful."

Before Gabrielle could speak, Ann had tilted her face up as she placed a
finger under Gabrielle's chin. The woman's lips sought her mouth in a
passionate touch that deepened as the woman's tongue sought her's. When
Ann's lips touched her's they sent a burning flood of pleasure through her
body and she cursed herself for being so weak as she let her body fall into
the kiss.

Xena was sitting on the horse as she stared at the two women. Both seemed
oblivious to the men who had gotten to their feet and had regrouped and were
charging them once more. She had to admit the two women were a dashing
couple and was amazed as two men brought their swords down toward them. Both
raised a sword into the air and stopped their descent. At the same time,
they never let their lips part. She grinned as both women kicked back a leg
sending their foot into the men's groins. The men fell to the ground.

Immeadiately Xena urged her horse forward as she vociferated, "Look out!"

Sea and Gabrielle heard the yell and looked up to see the horse galloping
into the square as the woman reined it to a sliding stop. Gabrielle's mouth
flew open as she said, "Xena!"

The woman had flipped from the saddle and was now landing beside her as she
smiled and said, "Couldn't let you two have all the fun, now could I?"

Finally shutting her mouth she turned to face the men that were approaching
her with caution. Her surprise was the woman, the Xena she saw now fighting
beside her and Sea was the Xena she left in her world. She was wearing a
leather outfit and from the high kicks and spins she was doing, every bit as
athletic as her friend.

Ann had flipped over several men and landed in front of Kevar as she smiled
at him and said, "See, no ties to hold me this time, I look forward to

He yelled as he charged toward her, his sword thrust forward and as he
neared, she sidestepped. He turned and charged once more as he yelled,
"Stand still, you coward!"

This time she stood her ground and met his sword with a feign to the right
as she brought her right knee up into the man's groin. He staggered back,
wild eyed as he cursed and dropped to his knees. She stepped up to him and
struck out with her left hand as it flailed across his face, once then
twice. She ended with a high spin into the air as her right leg came around
striking him across the temple, sending the man in a heap on the ground.

It was at this time, several villagers yelled at her as they grabbed the
woman and said, "Come with us, it will be safe!"

Sea stared back at Gabrielle who was fending off several large men as she
said, "Just one minute." She jumped into the air as she turned her body so
that her feet would land on one man's back. Gabrielle smiled at her as she
raised her sword stopping the other man's thrust. He was strong and it was
all she could do to keep the blade from reaching her and it was at this time
Ann stepped up and ran her sword through him as she said, "Come on, I know
you love to dance but this is ridiculous." Gabrielle stammered, "Bu.." As
Sea grabbed her right hand and pulled her through the madness that was
occurring. The woman's feet were deadly as they struck out at the men,
landing heavy hits to many parts of their bodies.

They were nearing the villagers when a man ran up behind Gabrielle striking
her on the back of the head. As she fell forward, Sea grabbed her, easily
picking her up and holding the woman in her arms. The man started to move as
Sea brought her head down striking his forehead with hers. The impact was
enough for him to stagger and at that time she sent her left foot flying
into his stomach. As he fell to the ground, she ran from the square carrying
the unconscious body of her friend in her arms.


Star had ran into several soldiers before she even made it to the village.
They recognized her from the wanted poster that had been circulating. So by
the time she reached the square, reining a palomino and leading a sorrel
mare, the fighting was over

She grinned when she saw Xena. The woman was standing in the midst of fallen
bodies. A sword hung from her right hand and the black leather outfit she
was wearing was very becoming to the woman.

Xena looked up to see her approach as she said, "Little late, where have you

Star dismounted and walked up to her as she said, "Where are the other two?"

Xena shrugged her shoulders as she answered, "Don't know, I had my hands
full staying alive and they seemed to have vanished."

Placing her hands on her hips, Star sighed as she said, "We had better do
the same thing, vanish. Take the horse and I'll follow."

Xena smiled as she said, "You lead, I'll be right behind you."

Star sat in the saddle as she stared at the wooden post. She looked at Xena
and said, "Let's do it!"

The two women grabbed the ropes that were on the side of the saddles and
quickly made lariats. It didn't take long to rope the post and with the
horse's stamina, they pulled the post down. Then turned their horses and
galloped from the village.


The villagers took Sea to a shack near the end of town, they had made their
way to the building by carefully traveling the alleys. The woman calling
herself Linden pointed toward a bed as they walked into the room. Sea
carried Gabrielle over to it and carefully laid her down.

Linden was watching as the woman grimaced when she bent over and walked
toward her saying, "She is resting, will you let me have a look at your

Realizing it had been the whip and its hunger for flesh that was now causing
her the pain she had been receiving, she nodded as she asked, "Who are you
people and why are you helping us?"

Linden pointed to a chair and said, "You can sit there, we are with the
resistance movement that is taking place. Not everyone is in awe of Athens
or her soldiers. They have ravaged the lands and our people long enough. We
all know of the pirate Ann Bounty and her deeds. Many of our friends have
been helped because of you."

As Ann walked toward the chair the woman was pointing to, she gazed at the
two men and said, "If it is all the same to you, I think I will keep my
shirt on."

Linden looked at the men and said, you two go outside, keep an eye out for
anyone that looks suspicious."

The nodded and left the room. Then she gazed at Ann and said, "There is just
us now. I hope you will let me tend to your wounds."

Ann reached down as she brought her shirt up over her head. The woman
watched as the shirt came off. Her eyes taking in the beautiful back that
had been scared by several welts. One that was diagonal across her back and
one close to her waist. After Ann sat, she said, "I thank you and your

Linden had began to apply ointment to the affected area as she said, "No
thanks to us, if we weren't afraid of getting caught ourselves, you would
not have had to endure even these."

Sea was straddling the chair, her arms were on the ridge of the chair as she
laid her forehead on them. Linden felt herself grimace each time she touched
the welts and she could see Ann's skin move as if trying to run from the


Sea had been pacing the floor and kept stopping to stare at Gabrielle, the
man had hit her harder than she had thought and she was beginning to get
worried. She seemed to be enchanted by the sunlight, as if steered by the
hands of the Gods. It filtered through the window and spread over Gabrielle
like a translucent blanket. It was at this time she heard a low moan as the
woman began to stir.

She thought for a second then she walked toward the bed. A soft smile on her
face as she sat next to the woman. Gabrielle moved her head as she opened
one eye and then the other. Seeing the woman smiling down at her she asked,
"What happened?"

Sea pressed her left hand on the woman's as she said, "Sorry about that, you
got hit by one of them. How are you? I am so glad to see you awake."

Gabrielle managed a smile as she said, "Just a headache, it will go away.
Ho...How are you?"

Ann patted the woman's hand as she said, "Almost as good as new, thanks to
you. Get some rest, I'll be here when you wake."

Gabrielle muttered, "Ha... Have to tell you something."

Leaning down and pressing a gentle kiss on the woman's forehead, Ann said,
"It can wait, I love you."

As her eye lids closed she mumbled, "Love you..."

The woman sat as her eyes took in the beauty of the woman she loved more
than life itself.

It had now been several days and Gabrielle seemed to be much better. The two
had talked little because the woman had been sleeping so much. It was when
she told Sea that she was hungry, the woman knew she was back to normal.

It was late in the evening and she had been outside drawing a bucket of
water. The moon was full, seeming enormous as it sent its glow down on the
lands. Smiling to herself she remembered a story her mother used to tell
her. It was about two lovers that had been lost and a moon like the one
shining down upon her helped them find their way back to one another. She
sighed as her thoughts drifted to Gabrielle. The two of them had been lost
from one another, and now they were together once more. She took it as an
omen, as she quickly stepped toward the building.

Once inside she set the bucket of water down and walked quietly toward the
bed. It didn't take her long to remove her boots as she slowly crawled onto
the bed. Ann could feel the bed moving beneath her weight as she found
herself straddling the woman. Bringing her head down slowly, she placed a
soft kiss on Gabrielle's lips.

Gabrielle smiled as she opened her eyes. She felt as if she had gone to the
Elysian fields as she stared up at the beautiful woman that was beaming down
at her. "Hello sleepyhead.

Gabrielle could feel herself rising toward the glowing love that shone in
Ann's green eyes. She attempted to speak as Ann held her finger to her lips
and said, "No need to speak, I can see it in your eyes, you have missed me
as much as I have you. Will you finally let me make love to you?"

Gabrielle mumbled, "Make love? You mean we haven't?

Sea brought her head down and she raised her head to meet the woman's lips.
Gabrielle glorified in the feeling of her body pulsating as Ann's hands
pressed the thin fabric of the blouse where it covered her breasts.

At the woman's touch, her nipples seemed to come alive, she lay still and
now very much awake. Ann's right hand caressed her gently, as it touched her
upper chest. Her hand then moved slowly down over her breasts. She pushed
the blanket aside, that had been laying on Gabrielle, as she moved her hand
over the woman's abdomen, then further down. Trembling, she felt Ann's other
hand running through the long blond strands of hair on her head. A warm
smile crossed the woman's lips as she brought her head down and her lips
sought Gabrielle's once more. Feeling Ann's body on hers, she suddenly was
overcome with the painful ache of desire as her lips sought the woman's in a
deep caress that engulfed them both. Ann felt her body tremble with need as
her hands began working on the buttons of Gabrielle's blouse. They refused
to give in to the woman's fingers which had become awkward by her intense

Gabrielle felt her cheeks burning as she reached up and gently pushed Ann
back, "Can... We can't do this."

Ann's face was glowing as she asked, "Why, because I am suddenly a klutz and
can't remove the buttons on your blouse? Don't put me off any longer. We
have both waited far too long."

Reaching up and caressing the woman's face with her left hand Gabrielle
said, "It's not that, Gods, Sea, I am so pent up at this moment, I feel I
couldn't even stand. We have to talk."

Sea smiled at her as she said, "All right, I'll lay beside you for a few
minutes, give you time to breathe but when you are through."

Raising an eyebrow, Gabrielle asked, "Ye... Yes?"

"I am hoping to finally be able to touch you and love you. There has never
been anyone in my life like you and even if you deny me the rest of our
lives, I will be satisfied just to be able to be with you."

Suddenly Gabrielle said, "Your back, you shouldn't be doing this, what about
your injuries? Don't they hurt?"

Ann was laying beside her as she said, "The only hurt I have is the one in
my heart, I can handle that, I cannot handle knowing you do not want me."

Gabrielle gazed at the woman and said, "I will always want to have you in my
heart. Don't you know it by now, I love you."

Sea brought her head up as she said, "Kiss me, as if it were the last time
we will ever be together."

Sighing in ecstasy she felt Ann's lips once again brushing hers, searching,
exploring and then pressing.


To be continued in Part Two...

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