Of Karma, Kismet, and Finding the Way
March 16, 1996 Norfolk, Virginia.
I'm not sure why I'm doing this. It just seems the only course of action to settle a very restless mind. I can no longer concentrate on the things around me that I need to do. I have deadlines to meet, and people that depend on those deadlines. This dream keeps haunting me. It won't let me rest. I guess I'm writing this in hopes that the dreams will let me have some peace in my waking hours. The dream makes me think I should try to find you even now. I have no idea where to search, but the ocean calls to me. Beckoning me closer, perhaps I have found a connection, perhaps I have not. I'm writing this dream down. Maybe my subconscious will be satisfied by this attempt. I dream of a love so profound that I physically hurt when I awaken. This was the first of many and I still feel this void inside me. A part of me is missing; maybe it's you, maybe not. All I know for sure is that these dreams seem as real as life for me. I can honestly say that I know the pain of losing you, of fearing for your life, and the joy of loving you. All of these things combined urge me forward in my quest. And so this dream began .
I was lying on a pallet you had made for me. Surrounded in all the furs you could find. I was still so very cold. My hands trembled and refused to follow commands as I tried in vain to make them obey. I coughed; the air forced from my lungs in a deadly sounding wheeze. Although I was normally light in complexion, my skin was eerily pale; a gray hue had taken residence upon my flesh. I looked down to see the tattered bandage at my bosom. It was blood-soaked and in dire need of changing, but I knew it was not important at the time. I tried to stifle the next round of coughing, but through the wheezes and forced inhalation, I heard the sound of your boots on the worn wooden planks. You knelt before me, adjusted the bandage, and then tried to force water from your skin into my parched mouth. I felt your callused hands caressing my face as you talked to me.
I could not make the words out you spoke. I was still angry over a pair of boots that you had torn up earlier in the day. Stupid flips, I should have used the staff to make it work. When the arrow hit me, I seemed to have forgotten about how bad my ankle hurt. I could no longer feel the pain of my lower extremity. I could then only feel the burning in my chest from where the arrow was removed. You forced the arrow through the front of my chest. We had found out immediately after the fact, that it was poisoned. The Persians were out for blood. Their army was here to overtake Athens. We once again self-appointed ourselves as the guardians of Greece. Why? I've no idea. I only knew that I would follow you to the death if it meant promoting the greater good.
With the poison coursing through my veins, I was of no use to you in combat. I could only listen to the sounds of you moving around the lower part of the armory. You were making preparations and battle plans. I feel foggy now; the poison entered my mind and seemed to playing tricks on me. My mind took me back to a time when I was younger and I met you for the first time.
Our village had been taken over by a gang of slave traders. They took all the women of my village and were going to sell us as slaves. I fought back and offered to go in their place. Anything to spare my sister and mother the hardship of slavery. It would be worth dying for. As I struggled with my captors I heard a chillingly dangerous voice from behind us. As I turned to the source I was awestruck. It was a woman. A warrior woman, no less! She was tall, as tall as the man that held the knife to my throat was, with the bluest eyes I'd ever seen. Her hair was coal black and long. Her face was carved and chiseled in elegant beauty. I could tell she was Greek by her posture. She had a proud chin and was graceful even in battle. The battle that ensued was short and her victory was calculated well. I knew I was meant to meet this incredible warrior. As she left our village I followed her telling her. Xena, take me with you. Teach me everything you know. You can't leave me here in Potadiea. I want to go with you. I've studied the stars, spoken with philosophers, and I have the gift of prophecy. I could be very valuable to you. Take me with you. I want so much to be like you.
My mind was brought back to a hazy form of consciousness by your simple response. I wanna be like YOU. I smile weakly at her. I know that the end is near. I watch as you make a litter to transport me on. I refuse to be moved. The hardest thing about dying is getting the ones you love to accept it. I began telling you how I felt, hoping against hope that you'd understand. A long time ago, I accepted the consequences of our life together. That it might one day come to this. I'm here now. It has I'm not afraid.
I watch as tears well up in your eyes. You choke back a sob as you whisper softly to me. You always said I was the brave one. Look at you now. You're my source Gabrielle. When I reach down inside myself and do things I know I can't do, it's because of you. You took my hand and squeezed it as you pulled me close for a hug. Even in death Gabrielle, I will never leave you.
I woke from a horrible dream. A warrior killed you with a double-edged sword that attacked from the roof. As dawn approached I heard you moving about. I watched as you made the final preparations to the armory. I was moved to the loft to keep me safe from harm, as if the poison coursing through my body isn't going to harm me. Before you left me to attack the Persians, I warned you of the warrior with the double- edged sword. You held me close and told me you loved me. The smell of leather and adrenaline invaded my senses and I promised to hold on. I wanted to wake to that smell every morning. To hear you laugh, even that ferocious growl you are so famous for. As we held one another in what may have been our last goodbye, a loud and distant rumble pulled us apart. It sounds like thunder, although no clouds formed in the horizon. The walls of the armory trembled in their fixtures. I watched you jump from the loft to fight off the first wave of the Persian army, alone. The battle ensued it was hard fought and short in duration. Single-handedly, you fought off almost a hundred men. As one of the men fired an arrow, you caught it. After smelling the tip, you informed the soldier that it was poisoned before you stuck it into his shoulder. As he panicked and found his antidote to the poison, you stole it from him. He was killed by your hand, as revenge for my life having been put in jeopardy. As the battle drew to a close you warned the remaining soldiers to go back to Persia. There are a thousand more, just like me. Then you brought the antidote to me; I was so weak I could barely talk. You slowly forced the serum down my throat. It burned; I coughed and sputtered. It occurred to me that the battle was now over. I recalled you having been worried about this particular army. I thought you said these guys from Persia were tough. You smirked; giving me a slow sexy smile, as you tiredly lay down next to me. Taking me into your arms as we fell into Morpheus' realm, you mumbled, Must have caught them on a off day. You pulled me closer and we fell asleep in one another's arms. It was the safest and most comfortable place on earth I could ever imagine.
My only hope is to find you in this lifetime. Perhaps it was meant to be. A sign of things to come. Karma if you will, or kismet. I don't know. The only thing I know for sure is that I must find a way to you in this life. If you are out there I pray to any God that would hear me that you are trying to find me too. Until we meet .my love is with you.
Chase Hunter sat staring at the aged parchment. The green glass bottle long forgotten since she'd started reading the prose. The paper was heavy and of good quality, she looked at the slightly wrinkled edges. Two pages written in black ink on a beige heavy weight parchment. The writing was bold, written with a strong hand. It was also neat and legible. She sat quietly on a piece of driftwood idly twirling the cork around long nimble fingers. Sighing, she looked out at the ocean in front of her. How significant can you possibly feel when sitting next to something so vast? Looking up into the horizon, she noticed the sun was making its ascent into the morning sky. Brilliant shades of mauve, gray, and red combined with the solid line of azure blue. She took a deep breath enjoying the smell of clean ocean and wet sand. The air was crisp and still cool with the wind making its way to the shore, as did the sunlight. She looked down at the bottle she'd found in the sand while on her morning run. Who would write something so profound just to throw it into the ocean in hopes that someone they are searching for would find it? Picking up the bottle and the letter, she turned towards home. Walking at a slower pace, her morning run forgotten, she pondered whether or not karma or kismet really had anything to do with finding the way.
Chase returned to her beach house to shower and get ready to go to work. As a homicide detective, she normally worked odd hours. She had returned home at three this morning after a tip had led to a dead end. She thought about the case she as she showered.
A serial killer seemed to have taken an interest in young women at Norfolk. The coastal area was normally busy during tourist season, but the killings had started about three months ago. The first was a college student that was visiting her family while on holiday. The second was a secretary at the college library. Next came a store clerk. So far three killings had occurred that they knew of. So the killer fed his need about once a month. Kinda like me and chocolate at that time of the month. She laughed harshly at herself. This was a homicide case, not a bad PMS trip. She lifted her towel to wipe the accumulating humidity from the mirror. As she stood looking at herself she sighed. There were bags under her blue eyes and her face looked more drawn, she had not been eating well the last couple of months. Looking at her sable hair she sighed. Even wet and slicked back from her face she could tell she needed a trim. Maybe Carla will be able to squeeze me in today. She tucked her towel tightly around her chest and walked into the kitchen to get a cup of coffee. She opened the morning paper and began perusing its contents when she heard her front screen door open. Chase? You here?
She smiled as she recognized the voice. Vince Travino walked into the small beach house and into her kitchen. Morning dear, she said. Coffee? Travino looked thankfully at Chase as he helped himself to a cup. God, five hours of fucking sleep isn't much is it? Chase smirked at him; I was up at six. Travino looked at her dumbstruck. What the hell were you doin' up at six? Chase smiled weakly, I had to go for my morning run. Besides, I couldn't sleep.
Travino leaned his six-foot frame against the counter as he studied his partner. He'd been working with Chase Hunter for about five years. She had been paired with him as a rookie homicide cop. He'd been in homicide for about six years and had just lost his mentor and partner to a massive heart attack. He was not happy about being paired with a rookie, let alone a woman, but he soon found out that Chase had a sixth sense for things, and she didn't take any shit from anybody. She had a very good analytical mind and was able to think about things in way that most others didn't. There had been more than a few times he'd been thankful she was with him.
Studying her profile appreciatively, he asked, What's on your mind? Chase looked to the older man, he was her height, with hazel eyes that missed nothing and often contained a glint of mischief. He worked hard to maintain his physique, he was rock hard and well cut for being forty-one years old. He had a strong jaw line with well-defined cheekbones, his receding hairline accentuating the strong features of his face. Chase had to admit if she were into guys, she'd date him, hell, probably even marry him. Her blue eyes met hazel ones that knew when she was lying. Groaning inwardly, she blew out a breath. This damned case has me so confused. Vince smiled at her in understanding he'd lost a great deal of sleep on this case as well. It was nice to see that the invincible Chase Hunter was having some trouble with it as well. Looking back to Chase's current attire he cleared his throat. Perhaps you should put some clothes on. Before I forget I'm a married man. Then we'll talk about what's up with you. Chase snorted at him, Like you could handle me old man. With that she turned to her bedroom and closed the door, leaving a laughing Vincent behind her.
Vince was finishing his cup of coffee when Chase returned. Now dressed in faded Levi's and a white sleeveless mock turtleneck, she looked even sexier dressed. Damn how does she do that? He wondered. She looked at him questioningly with a raised eyebrow and asked smoothly, Better? He smiled again and replied, Well, better than the towel you had on earlier. She looked around the room as if searching for something then poured herself and her partner another cup of coffee. How's Melissa, by the way? She asked. He took the offered cup and added cream and sugar to it as he stirred he smiled warmly. She's great. She misses seeing you though. And, he added smiling smugly; she's a morning person. Chase groaned again, this time out loud. For Christ's sake Travino, I do not need to know that your wife likes having sex with you and that you got it this morning. Travino laughed out right at her, then shrugged his shoulders, Hey, at least I'm getting it. Which is more than I can say for you. Chase groaned again, Do not go there this morning partner. I'd hate to have to kill you. Travino smiled again, All I'm saying is All work and no play makes Chase. She finished the thought for him. I know a 'horny girl'. Thank you for the summation of my life Travino. He patted her on the shoulder as he walked around the table to take a seat. Still laughing he realized that Chase had been serious about something bothering her earlier. He watched as she took a seat across from him at the table. So what's on your mind? Chase pursed her lips in thought for a moment. She wanted to tell Travino about the letter she had found on the beach this morning, but she honestly wasn't sure what she thought about it yet. She frowned, deciding to try a different take on it. Maybe there was something to this karma, or kismet, or whatever the hell it was. She looked down into her coffee cup as she asked him softly. How did you know Melissa was the one?
Travino looked surprised at first. This was not what he'd expected from the detective. Then he realized that he was probably the closest thing to a best friend that the reticent detective probably had. He shifted in his seat, suddenly uncomfortable with the thought of being a confidante. Well, I I just knew.
Chase looked at him, blue depths pinning him to his seat. How? Was it love at first site? How did you know it was her?
Chase, did you meet someone? Travino asked.
Chase blinked then looked absolutely puzzled. No, she hadn't met someone, she had just felt a connection with a piece of paper she found floating in the goddamned ocean. Well, that sounded intelligent. No, I'm just curious. I mean, if I met someone, how would I know? She covered her confusion and embarrassment well.
Sighing, Travino took hold of Chase's hand. He lowered his head to make eye contact with her. Look, I'm not sure what you have on your mind, and that's okay. I will tell you that it wasn't a first site thing with Melissa. He smiled, I looked twice, and I was had. I just felt it. I knew she was the one person in this lifetime that I was meant to love. He paused to see eyes so light blue they looked almost gray now. I can also tell you that when you meet that girl, god help her. You're gonna know it. He squeezed her hand slightly before letting it go.
Chase smiled. Thanks Travino. He nodded as she turned her attention to the file folder on the table. So what do you make of our killer?
The two spent the rest of the morning going over scenarios, murder locations and possible motives. The toyed with the idea of asking a profiler in, but the chances of having a good profile on three victims was not all that great. On the other hand, maybe a fresh pair of eyes would help. Resigning themselves to being stumped the pair chose to call in some reinforcements. Asking for help wasn't a sign of weakness was it?
September 20, 1996. Norfolk, Virginia
Chase stepped out onto the deck of her house, looking around at the darkened beach, she sighed. Another day and that nut case was still on the prowl. She adjusted the strings on her Adidas running shoes roughly as she prepared for her morning run. She was frustrated, plain and simple. Almost a year and they had not narrowed down the list of suspects in this case. One woman a month had been killed. A total of nine so far, each raped and brutally beaten, before being left for dead on the beach. Abby Basset had been profiling for several years and had done a good profile on the perp. The perp would be male, mid to late thirties, quiet and discreet. He would drive a simple vehicle, was probably simple looking if not ugly. He also felt a compelling need to kill once a month. Perhaps that was a timing form that was left as a clue. He would not have a wife, or if he did, she would be totally oblivious to his actions. Perhaps a housewife, or an abused wife that had been beaten into submission by him. He would have a normal job, probably not paying well. And a self-esteem problem, namely he wasn't good enough for anybody and was trying to prove otherwise. He had an intense hatred for women, judging by the beatings the women he killed had taken. Perhaps he had been abused as a child. The only thing niggling her mind was that all the victims looked alike. All had blonde hair, green eyes, were athletic in build, and were outgoing and friendly. It was very possible they were looking for a modern day Ted Bundy, but Abby didn't feel that. She felt the man saw himself as undesirable. Perhaps he was looking for a specific woman.
Perhaps she didn't meet his standards and was then killed. Most of the bodies had been found several days after they had been reported missing. Chase and Travino had been watching missing person reports for anyone matching the description of the victims. So far they had caught two before they had been found dead. They knew what to look for in a victim, but had no idea what the motivation was. Chase began to relax as she felt the sand beneath her feet yield to her. She increased her speed and lengthened her stride to make the sound beneath her louder. As she fell into a comfortable stride, she ran through case after case in her head. The more she thought about them, the angrier she became. She wanted to catch this guy. Hell she wanted to kill him. She took a deep breath and exhaled forcefully. As she went to take another deep breath it was knocked out of her by the force of her own body as she hit the packed sand. Offphhhhmm. What the hell was that? Getting up slowly she turned to look behind her. There in the still packed sand, a cork topped bottle stuck out from its hiding place. Aha, what's this? Another message from beyond? Chase smirked as she dug the dirty, wet bottle from its tomb in the sand. Walking to the water she carefully rinsed it clean. Then she looked at it more closely; it was the same green glass bottle that she had found a letter in six months ago. She swallowed as she felt a familiar pang of need from somewhere deep inside of her. She turned back towards her home, taking the bottle with her.
As Chase returned home she grabbed a bottle of juice from her refrigerator and walked out onto the deck. She studied the bottle carefully as she sipped her juice. The bottle was green tinted glass; you could find it anywhere. The cork was the same, good to seal the bottle and keep it afloat. She looked for a seal or identifying mark, after finding none, she opened the bottle. Carefully she pulled the rolled parchment from its confines. It was the same beige heavy weight paper, and the writing was the same bold black script. Chase carefully unrolled the rest of the parchment to read the letter.
My mind is still haunted by dreams of you. I look to the ocean time and again for an answer to this. I have even gone as far as to move to a seaside locale so that I may quench this urge to find you. I have no idea why, but I feel the sea is a connection to you. I feel closer to this vision of you here more than anywhere else. I had another dream. Like the first, you still a warrior and I your faithful companion and partner in life. A consort I believe it was called. To think of myself as a queen of the Amazon Nation is quite humbling to say the least. The night of the challenge becomes a reality; I swear I could still feel the heat of your touch and smell the remainder of our lovemaking on my sheets the following morning. The dream began ..
I had been named next in line to be queen of the Amazons through Right of Caste after the next in line to the throne had been killed. I had learned the ways of the Amazons and accepted my role to fulfill a duty. When the reigning queen was killed, we were summoned to the Amazon Nation to defend that right of caste. The warrior in question was a relative of the fallen queen and wanted to take over as queen. My friend Ephiny had agreed to be regent in times of my absence. I refused to leave my life with you, even if it was to rule a nation.
We arrived at the amazon camp to find that she was already naming herself as acting queen. My regent had been holding her off until I could be there to defend myself. I was not as adept at weaponry and fighting techniques although I had been studying. The new queen felt my leadership should be given up to her. I would allow no one to take the Amazon Nation over without proving herself loyal to them first. We met in the Queen's hut to discuss the terms of who would ultimately rule the Amazons. As always, you never let me out of your sight, you stood quietly in the back of the room. Tall and proud, you didn't interfere, but held yourself in check in calm support. I knew you wouldn't let anything happen to me. What I was not prepared for was how far you were willing to go to keep me safe.
The challenge was a fight to the death. One queen against a family member with right of caste as well. The would-be queen issued the challenge and I was honestly not prepared to defend myself to the death. I looked to you and to Ephiny. You were standing in a defensive posture, waiting for her to make a move. Ephiny leveled her gray eyes to me and spoke quietly and deliberately. You may choose to fight, or choose your champion, my Queen. I looked back at Ephiny as if I hadn't heard her. Choose your champion my queen. I squared my shoulders and held my chin high as I looked back again. As my green eyes met blue as dark as the ocean's, I knew I had made my choice. You were to be my champion. I looked back at my challenger and announced, If she would grant me the honor, I will have Xena as my champion. If I had only known what that statement was going to get me, I can assure you, I would have made that announcement sooner.
The Challenger was outraged. Royalty may not chose a champion unless it is their consort. Xena is not Gabrielle's consort. You have until sundown tomorrow to make a decision Gabrielle. With that the woman stormed out of the hut. You approached me quietly as Ephiny looked on sympathetically. You spoke softly as you told me the rules of this game. Gabrielle, you may choose Ephiny as your champion in this instance since she is your regent in your absence. I am not to be your champion unless it is as your consort.
Ephiny all but smirked in my face at that. She knew I harbored feelings for you, so strong were they that I would lay down my life for you without a second thought. I also knew you would lay yours down for me. You had many a time before. What I didn't know was how you felt about being my consort. It was a legitimate bond between two people that would be broken only by the death of one. I felt the weight of your eyes on me as I searched my inner self for a solution. While I wanted nothing more than to be your consort, I most definitely did not want to force you into something you didn't want.
I would you know. You spoke so quietly I almost didn't hear you. I turned again as I felt your hand on my shoulder. I watched as long tapered fingers caressed my shoulder in show of support. I looked at Ephiny, who still continued to near smirk at me. She quietly stood, bowing to me she replied, My Queen, it would be my honor to be your champion. Should you decide me worthy, I will fight to the death for the Amazon Nation. With that she turned and left.
I watched as Ephiny left the hut and then turned back to the gentle hand resting on my shoulder. I felt the heat from your skin, the slight roughness of your hands from years of wielding a sword. Inside I knew what I wanted, I just had to know if it was the same thing you wanted. I shivered slightly as I turned to look into your face. That regal face, hair as black as the night sky. And eyes that could be the deepest of blue or the color of ash, white hot in intensity. Looking at you I remembered what you had just said. Looking into your eyes, I leaned in to ask, What would you do?
Blinking for a moment, you remembered the words you had spoken moments before. I would consider it an honor to be your champion. And your consort.
Then it was my turn to blink. I couldn't believe you had just accepted the possibility of being my consort. You mean you would do that? To protect the Amazon Nation?
I watched as you smiled. No, I would do it for you, because I love you Gabrielle.
It was my turn to smile. I took your hand from my shoulder and slowly brought it to my lips. Kissing your palm I heard the sharp intake of breath. I smiled more broadly, as I placed your hand over my chest. You would take me as your consort not to defend my nation, but because you love me? I questioned you gently.
I will. You replied in a whisper. As you lowered your head to mine, I felt the heat from your breath I could smell the port on your tongue. Our lips met and a melding of hearts occurred with the meeting of mouths. Suddenly I understood what would make a drowning man want water. I was drowning and I wanted more. Two souls were reunited with one kiss. It was a bond that was meant to be an age-old prophecy that had once again come true. Words no longer had meaning and I couldn't form a coherent thought. I showed you what I couldn't tell you with my hands and body. The caresses became more insistent as did the touches. Soon we realized that contact and consummation had to be complete. Clothes were removed and exploration began. Your body was lean and well-sculpted, olive hue skin covered perfection in every manner. As the last of my clothing fell to the floor of the hut you lay down next to me on the soft bedding. My light skin contrasts with your darker form. My straw colored locks and smaller build complimented in exact opposition to yours. As light and darkness met to form the new day, so our love began. The lovemaking was slow and deliberate. I felt so much I cried in exaltation as time and again you took me higher. My mind spiraled out and away from myself, and you brought me back slowly as you lowered your body to mine. I felt the weight of you on top of me, the heaviness of your breasts against mine. The scent of leather, jasmine, sweat and of arousal, consuming me once again. As you lowered your head to capture my lips once again, you spoke softly. I love you Gabrielle. I smiled and more tears fell, I love you Xena.
And so our bond was completed. You were recognized as my consort and allowed to be my champion. I watched in nervous excitement as you defended the Amazon Nation in my place, as my champion. You matched the warrior blow for blow with powerful strokes of your sword. The agreement was a battle to the death, but when you take the advantage in the fight, you decided to spare her life. Refusing to kill an Amazon. A brave decision, considering I have no doubt she would not have spared yours. The battle finished, you lowered your sword and return to my side. I deemed as Queen that the amazon must be exiled from the nation.
We left the Amazon Nation that day to the road once again for people in need. Then as partners in life.
Gods, where are you? Why do I feel you as if you are really with me? My hopes continue to seek out the water. My quest to find you continues. In your most troubled hours, believe me, I am there with you in soul. Until we meet again, my love is with you always.
Chase sat on the chair on her deck reading the script over and over. She felt a connection with this woman. Whoever she was. This Karma or kismet thing was starting to get to her. She felt the goose bumps on her arms and realized she was shivering. Standing slowly, she rolled the paper up carefully and put it back in the bottle. As she walked back into her home she stopped at the doorway and turned to look at the vast ocean before her. I hope you find whatever you're looking for Gabrielle. With a last look at the horizon, Chase entered her home.
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