The Further Adventures of Jan and Mel

"Resistance and Resurrection"

by ArdentTly

 

Disclaimers: The characters of Xena, Gabrielle, Janice Covington and Melinda Pappas all belong to the folks over at MCA, Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No infringement of their rights is intended.

Sexuality Disclaimer: This story is an uber xena story concerning Janice and Melinda. It contains scenes of lesbian sex. It is written with the premise that both these women are deeply in love. They like to express themselves, as all lovers do. Therefore, this story is intended for mature audiences. So, if you aren't over the age of 18, please give this one a miss. There are other stories out there under General Fiction.

Language Disclaimer: Yes, folks. There are naughty words ahead. We're talking Callisto and Jan Covington here. Both of whom are as subtle as a screen door in a submarine.

Historical Disclaimer: This story takes place during the Second World War, specifically the European Theater. Information on the Dutch Resistance is rather scanty, so I have taken liberties with some of my information. I've tried to be as accurate as possible. I've totally erased the German occupation of Greece during this time as I couldn't come up with a realistic explanation of why Jan would join up and go fight in the Netherlands instead of staying home to protect Melinda. In the words of wisdom from Mary Draganis, deal with it.

Extra Disclaimer: Okay, folks, this one is not like my usual stuff. It has a lot of accurate historical facts in it. This was a very harsh and cold period in Europe. As such, I feel bound (loved the movie!) to warn you that there is plot here. Lots of it. I tried to set the stage so you, the reader, could get a feel for what the Dutch were going through. There is violence, hurt/comfort, a lot of angst and some physical cruelty. They were the best of times, they were the worst of times....

This is a continuation of one of my stories called "The Further Adventures of Jan and Mel - The Grecian Affair". While it isn't imperative you read that one first, it certainly would clear up some questions you might have regarding some things in this story.

As always, input regarding my writing and its content are welcomed. You can write to me at

ArdentTly@yahoo.com


BOOK ONE

 

PRELUDE

July 1940, Amsterdam

 

Peter van Oppen peered carefully from the window. It was dark and the warehouse was secluded but he knew things weren't always what they seemed. The nazis had completely annihilated Rotterdam in May, just two months ago. He and all of the Netherlands were feeling the noose tighten.

Just last week he and some of his friends had walked out of the theatre in protest while the nazi news reels had been shown. It was an act of resistance, and an act of courage but also a foolish move on their part.

An order had come down from German High Command that anyone caught leaving during a nazi newsreel would be severely punished. Now, all eyes were focused on disobedience.

It had become apparent to the populace that Anton Mussert, head of the National Socialistische Beweging der Nederland, or the NSB was in reality the Dutch Nazi Party. Mussert had painted himself as being a Dutch patriot who wanted to follow the teachings and beliefs of Mussoliniís fascism. He had been very careful not to incite violence by being openly anti-Semitic. It amazed Peter just how sheep-like most people were: don't get involved, keep your own counsel, ignore the violence and hope it doesn't include you.

Of the total population of 9,000,000, only 1.5% were Jewish. No one knew that by the end of 1944 75% of them would have perished.

Peter turned and went to his knapsack, riffling through the contents until he came to a package wrapped in wax paper. Limburger cheese, his favorite. The apple was bruised but with the cutbacks the damned German soldiers were starting to impose, Peter took what he could get.

His mutter and pater would never understand how he felt. They just closed their minds and their mouths and refused to see the increasing violence in the streets.

 

April 1941

Peter had just gotten back to his room from celebrating his 21st birthday. Anya had given him a special book on Archaeology, his favorite subject. He didn't know where she got the gilders but he was happy just the same.

They had kissed and cuddled, making plans for their future together. Life could be good, even with the increased violence in the Jewish Sector.

Rust van Tonnigen was rising in power, kissing up to Hitler, saying he wanted nothing more than to become part of Dritte Reich - the Greater Germany. Why, it made Peter sick to see such pandering. And yet the city council did nothing, believing Rust and Anton new what they were doing. As if they were really interested in what was good for the people of the Netherlands.

Ha!, thought Peter. That won't last long, not with Adolph pulling the strings. It was common knowledge that Germany wanted to annex Holland and make it part of Greater Germany. An independant Holland wasn't an acceptable alternative. And if Mussert actually believed that Hitler would make him the leader of the Netherlands, well, he was in for a shock.

 

March 1942

 

The violence had increased throughout the Netherlands to such an extent that Peter and some of his university friends had gotten together and formed a defense brigade. Peter had high hopes that Anya could avoid any trouble. She was, after all, a Jewess.

However, it was not to be. She had been accosted and almost raped. Hot angry tears of rage stung his eyes. There had been riots in the streets and a Dutch nazi had been killed. Hans Rauter of the German contingency, had picked up 450 Dutch men and boys. They were sent to Mauthausen, Austria. Peter feared they'd never be seen again.

Now that martial law had been declared, Peter had to be careful. He could no longer sneak in and see Anya whenever he wanted to. More than ever, he needed to feel her arms about him, soothing his soul, helping him deny reality a hold on his soul.

University was becoming a nightmare. History text books were re-written to refect nazi radical theories and any mention of Queen Wilhelmina was banned. The bastards had even renamed any of the streets in her name. It was a national disgrace! And now the University students were being told they would soon have to sign a paper swearing they'd work in German factories after graduation. When would it ever end?

 

June, 1942

Peter stood by the grave, his face wet with tears. He tried to avoid Anya's parents as he knew they held him responsible. No matter that it wasn't true. He and the brigade had made a stand against some Gestapo hooligans and a troop truck while escaping had hit Anya. He had looked on in horror, not being close enough to help her.

He had held her head in his lap, trying to soothe her broken body, trying to assure her that help would come. That they would live to love each other, have children and grow old. Together.

No help came. Windows were boarded shut, draped drawn, doors slammed. He screamed at the injustice, at the futility of life. Only when some of his friends had dragged him away did he leave the scene. He had kept the ring he'd given Anya. He wore it on his pinky finger, a reminder of things that might have been.

Food, clothing and other necessities of life were all rationed now. The humiliaton of the nazi occupation rose even higher when it was posted that any German soldier had the right to enter any home and appropriate any personal items they wished. For the good of the Reich, of course.

A fire was burning in Peter's stomach. He and some of his friends now became involved with underground newspapers. He was determined not to be a victim, not to be taken as a lamb to slaughter. Part of his soul had been buried with Anya. He no longer seemed to feel anything.

Because no war had been fought on Dutch soil for over 125 years, the art of modern warfare was unknown. Instead of arming themselves with rifles and guns, the young men had perfected hand signals, traps and hand to hand combat.

Peter had never taken a life. Didn't know if he could. It kept him up at night, not knowing whether he could trust himself to defend his friends, no matter what force it took.

News of their successful raids had reached the allies in London. They had sent a special force down to train them and much to Peter's pride, he had taken a life. It had been a young nazi soldier, about his age. The man had been in the act of raping a friend's sister and in one moment filled with rage, Peter had plunged his knife deeply into his back, watching his life's blood leak out onto the floor.

He felt nothing. It was as if his very soul had died. He'd felt a bond with Anya. As if they had known each other all of their lives. Now he felt...empty. Only half alive.

He was getting himself a reputation. He was fiercely loyal, dependable and had proved himself in battle. He was made leader of his cadre and told to expect a new member of Special Operations that would be joining them in a few months. What was a few months when he and all of Europe resided in Hell?

 

Chapter One

Airport in Larnaca, Cyprus

March, 1943

 

Jan and Mel stood awkwardly, both trying to make the next few minutes go by as painlessly as possible. Jan had been away at boot camp for the better part of 12 weeks, meeting Mel in Larnaca for a brief 48 hour R and R just prior to shipping out.

They had spent the day touring through the old city of Famagusta. Melinda was suitably impressed with her personal guide as Janice pointed out some facts about the old city. It had been an ordinary coastal town during the Crusades and was a stepping stone between Europe and Asia Minor.

Severe earthquakes and long siege and a terrible war between the Venetians and the Turks in 1571 had left Famagusta in a desolate state. The Citadel of Famagusta, built by Lusignans and later on remodelled by the Venetians, was renamed the Tower of Othello.

Janice recounted with glee the historic siege of Famagusta by the Turks in 1571. It seems the Venetians had placed a special surprise at a narrow entrance inside the walled city. It was a wheel covered with knives that cut to pieces many a Turk who tried to force his way through the entrance.

The reaction of having to revive her lover who had fainted dead away was not really what Janice had intended.

Janice made up for it by taking Mel through the Church of St. Lazarus in Larnaca. She pointed out one of Cyprus' most interesting wood carvings of the 18th century: the iconotasis. It recorded the story of the rise of Lazaras as Jesus cried "Lazarus, come forth".

Melinda was very pleased with the romantic tour. Janice was very openly affectionate and stopped many times to pull her into a secluded corner for some passionate kissing. Covington lost her audience, however, when she began recounting the theft of Lazaras's bones. Only part of them were ever recovered and still remained in his crypt under the altar of the church.

Nights were filled with soft music, soft words of love and romance. Jan found a book of sonnets by William Shakespeare and the two sat over by the ramparts of the castle in Paphos Harbour and watched the sun come up. Mel knew each one by heart and it warmed her to listen as Jan tried to bring each one to life, a gift only for her. Each sonnet seemed to illicit great passion from each woman. Neither one wanted to waste one precious moment of their 48 hours by sleeping. Cat naps were allowed and only in the arms of each other.

Days were spent enjoying each other's company, basking in the love they had for each other as they talked about the new Director of the Greek Museum of Antiquities, a Dr. Hudson Callisto. Covington had wanted the job herself but the Head Office in Delphi had other plans. So far, the woman had been successful in whipping the museum back into shape. So many projects had been put on the back burner, items went missing or just plain not itemized. All because the previous Director had let her personal life cloud her mind as to what was really going on.

The ex-Director's secretary, Judith Carmichael, was currently spending time in a Greek prison, waiting to be extradited back to the States. The phrase 'wishful thinking' always popped into Janice's brain whenever the subject came up. The Greek Government had lost a lot of antiquities to the woman and her brother not to mention the loss of face it had incurred when it had placed blind trust in the hands of foreigners. No, Carmichael was going to be made an example of and that was that.

Regardless of the fact that Carmichael had given her beloved Desoto to Covington for safe keeping, Jan found it hard to feel any sympathy for the woman. She not only had betrayed a trust and her position as an emmisary for the British Government, but may have sold off some of the elusive Xena Scrolls to the black market. Jan had to really tamp that particular rage down and not let it consume her. It was over and done with. All she could hope for was the return of any scrolls that went missing.

Covington had earned praise from the Callisto woman, as only her sites, her research and her finds had been well documented, preserved and followed through. Mel had privately smiled and publically blushed as Jan gave her all the credit. It certainly helped to hear things like that every so often.

In fact, the Director's praise seemed...alittle forced, thought Janice. There seemed to be something just under the surface. She was probably just blowing things out of proportion, she mused.

The two women had an easy and open relationship at work but Melinda had insisted any acts of affection be limited to either Jan's office or her own. And home, of course. Although it was Jan's department, it was no secret as to who kept in running in tip top shape. Jan had no doubts about leaving her artifacts in the care of her lover. And that said alot, to both Melinda and the other team members.

Leaving her lover. Geez, that sure left a bad taste in my mouth, thought Jan. She snapped out of her reverie and swallowed deeply.

Mel was holding Jan's hand in her own and squeezed it every now and again, as if reassuring herself that Jan was still there, that she hadn't gone yet. As Jan looked over, she thought her heart would surely break. A slow stream of hot tears ran down the face of the woman she loved.

To Mel's credit, there was no sniffling, no wailing; just a mournful look upon her chiseled features. Her jaw worked silently and she swallowed repeatedly.

All in all, the woman looked very stoic to anyone who didn't know her. Inside, Jan knew there was a war going on. The southern bell was at odds with the strong and self-assured woman she had become over the last year.

Jan gulped twice and quietly pulled the woman towards the Ladies Room. Mel stood against the wall, just inside the door. Jan leaned over one of the sinks, her eyes locked onto the reflection of her lover. As the last toilet was flushed, last hand was washed and the last patron left the washroom, Jan took three strides and enveloped Mel into her strong embrace. That was it; the flood gates opened and Mel molded herself around her lover and cried. She sobbed and clutched the woman to her, trying vainly to somehow absorb every cell, every molecule she could of Janice Covington - determined to never let her go.

"Jan....I don't think I can do....this. I can't...." She sobbed anew and buried her face into the crook of her lover's neck.

The archaeologist rubbed her friend's back, whispering words of love and comfort, knowing that neither was going to help. She felt so.....well, destroyed was a word that came readily to mind. Her whole world had been turned upside down when she'd opened her heart to Melinda Pappas. Part of her wanted to be a part of the war effort, part of the adventure and part of the solution. Her other side wanted desperately to stay at Mel's side, never leaving the woman for even a second. And she hated herself for letting her adventure side win. After all they'd been through she felt she was letting her friend, her lover and her soul mate down.

Mel lifted her head, wiped her eyes and took Jan's chin carefully in her hand. She stared deeply into her lover's eyes. My, she thought, why I could just fall into these limpid pools of green fire...forever.

She gently kissed her lover as Jan brought her hands up to wipe the tears from her face.

"Now, come on, Mel. Sweetie? I know it's been a really long 12 weeks. I know. And, well....I don't think I'll be gone that long. Really. I'm being sent for training with a special team because of my background. Seems they like the adventurer type. Scored pretty high on those IQ tests." Janice gave her friend a silly grin and deepened her voice. "All that larnin me Pa dun me is a startin to pan out. Yup."

Mel laughed weakly at Jan's attempt at humour. She above all people knew just how intelligent Dr. Janice Covington was. She had talents in linguistics, paleontology and a smattering of paleoanthropology. She was a natural engineer and her skills at solving mathematical problems was astounding. If she was weak in any area, Mel thought, it was in social skills. And that could be remedied easily. It was a job that Melinda took up willingly.

Because of these skills, Jan had been hand picked to undergo a rather gruelling course in special operations, Special Ops, for short. The four months they would be apart would surely kill her, Mel thought.

Mel wiped her eyes and, with an evil grin, pulled her partner towards one of the toilet stalls. Jan was rather surprised with the bold move but certainly felt up to it. The idea of making out in a public place certainly added spice to things, she smirked.

As soon as the door was closed, Mel seemed to fall upon her lover, hands and mouth consuming every inch of Jan's exposed skin.

Covington's army jacket was unceremoniously dumped on the floor, her skirt unbelted and left in a pool around her ankles and her brassiere unhooked. Mel ran her fingers up the inside of her lover's shirt and teased both nipples to hard points. She sucked on Jan's neck, leaving a fairly vibrant coloured hickey in her wake. She cupped her lover's sex, enjoying the heat that seemed to burn her hand. Jan moaned.

Melinda seemed to have gained confidence as well as experience over the past 11 months they'd been together as lovers. The shy, self-conscious South Carolinan had taken a back seat to a more brazen lover who had no trouble fulfilling each of their fantasies, their inner most desires.

Jan found it a little intimidating to be taken like this, but to be honest, found the experience to heighten her senses, allowing her to reach a more powerful orgasm. She stopped worrying about the whys and whatfors and just went with it.

Mel's hand slid down the inside of her lover's boxers and two fingers soon found their way into the wet soft folds of Jan's labia. Both women moaned as a rhythm was begun. Mel placed her other hand at the back of her partner's lower back and pulled the woman hard against her. She made small circles over Jan's clitoris, pressing harder with her thumb. Both women's breath came in shallow gasps as Jan neared her orgasm.

"Oh, gods, Mel.......oh, yes.........." Jan said between clenched teeth. Mel responded by taking one of Jan's nipples into her voracious mouth. Just as Covington was arching her head back, close to release, both women heard the bathroom door open and the click of high heels. The tap was turned on, water filling the sink slowly.

Mel couldn't have stopped what she was doing if she wanted to and Jan, well, Jan was too close to ecstasy, the muscles in her lower abdomin tightening. With one wiggle of Mel's fingers Jan groaned out low as she came.

The unknown woman cleared her throat and then Mel and Jan heard the high heels click, getting softer as the woman left the washroom.

"Oh my gods, Mel. That was....fantastic. Wow! You were so...forceful...so.....erotic."

She dropped to her knees and slowly lifted Mel's skirt, pushing it up around her hips. She kissed the woman's inner thighs, snapping the garter belt as her hands made their way under Mel's panties and cupping her buttocks.

"Oh Lord Jesus. Yes. Put yer mouth on me, Janice. Ohhh." she whimpered as Jan began to probe and lick at the delicate flesh between Mel's legs. Her legs parted wider, her knees bent a little more as she leaned against the door of the stall. Her gasps of passion seemed to egg Janice on as she nibbled her lovers clit. Mel thrust her hips forward, finding the rhythm as Jan massaged her buttocks, pulling them apart, teasing the tender flesh between.

Mel came suddenly and unexpectedly, moaning out Jan's name, clutching at Jan's shoulders. Covington moved her hands over Mel's hips and gently stroked her lover's lower abdomen, feeling the muscles contracting as the last of the woman's orgasm left her. She continued to lap at Mel's sex, bathing it in slow soft strokes, milking every last bit of moisture from the woman's core.

Deep kisses and words of undying love were exchanged as both women hastily began fastening their clothes, smoothing their hair. They exited the stall and Jan helped to arrange her lover's shirt, the buttons having been down up haphazardly. Just as they were going to leave, Jan caught their reflection in the dusty mirror. She was sporting a very large hickey and Mel had lipstick smeared over her lower face and neck.

With a laugh she dragged the woman back and saw the shock and embarrassment in her lover's face as she took in the sight.

"Ma heavens, Jan. Just think of the reaction that would have caused! Why, I do believe I woulda died right there on the spot."

"Well, love. We can't have that now, can we?" She kissed her and then they both began cleaning their hands and faces, elbowing each other like small kids.

As Janice made her way back to where she's left her luggage, Mel noticed a pair of hooded eyes following her every move.

Dr. Hudson Callisto was a tall woman. She had shoulder length blond wavey hair and a set of very startling hazel eyes. She tapped the front of her teeth with a long tapered finger nail, her face looking pensive as she watched Janice bend over and recheck the labels on her bags.

Mel arched her eyebrow and smiled crookedly. Well, she thought, this was interestin. She didn't particularly care for the way the Director was ogling her partner. No, not one bit. She made her way through the half empty airport, graciously moving through the crowd as she made her way over to the woman.

"My word, Dr. Callisto. I didn't know you were here. Ya'll seein somebody off today?" She tried very hard to keep the edge out of her voice but was certain she wasn't completely success in her endeavors.

Hudson swung her gaze away from Janice Covington and gave Melinda a rather amused look.

"Why, if it isn't Miss Pappas. No dear, I just came down to say goodbye to Dr. Covington. She will, after all, be gone for some time. Just making sure she gets off alright." She put extra emphasis on the two last words, chuckling low.

Melinda narrowed her eyes but kept the smile. Lines were drawn and both women silently agreed to the terms of engagement.

"Oh, and Miss Pappas? How ever did you get lipstick down there?" She pointed between Mel's cleavage. She walked away chuckling, leaving Mel pursing her lips and tapping her high heel.

Ookaay, thought Mel. If that's the way she wants to play. I think I can do that.

She strode purposely towards her lover and was rewarded with a nice sweet smile. Dr. Callisto had moved closer to Jan and had placed one hand on her shoulder in a very familiar way.

Mel smiled sweetly and crossed her arms over her breasts. And waited.

Jan saw the warning sparks in her lover's eyes and frowned, trying to think of what she'd done between leaving the bathroom to picking up her gear. Nothing came to mind. Nothing was different. Except...for the arrival of Dr. Callisto, that is.

She moved away from the Director and ran one hand up and down Mel's upper arm. The southerner's glare softened and a true smile of warmth lit her face.

"Ah, Dr. Callisto. Would you excuse us for a moment? Gee, thanks." She pulled her friend aside and held both the woman's hands in her own.

"What's goin on, Mel? She say somethin to ya? What?"

"Well, Janice, seems our esteemed Director wants to play games. She all but said she was gonna take ya away from me. Darnit, I know that predatory look. I used to see it on Dr. Ingersol's face often enough. I tell ya, Janice, she's trying to break us up." Mel swallowed and tried to clear the lump from her throat.

"Well, sweetheart. She ainít got nothin on you, all right? She can twist in the wind for all I care. You are the one I want, the one I love and the one I'm comin home to. Okay?"

Mel smiled bravely, blinking rapidly as she tried to stop the tears from falling. She was determined not to let Dr. Callisto see her vulnerable. If she didn't win this round, at least it was going to be a draw.

Jan put her arm around her lover's waist and they walked towards the viewing window. Larnaca Airport was becoming a beehive of activity. The sights and sounds were very overwhelming. Jan used this to her advantage as she spoke words of love, faith and promise. Mel's shoulders eased as she leaned over to hear her lover.

Her confidence returned, she locked eyes with the Director and smiled. It was a cold smile, one that never reached her eyes. They understood each other. Very well. Mel didn't know what the woman's problem was but she felt secure in her love for Jan and that the love was being unconditionally returned.

Hudson Callisto walked over to Janice and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. Both Jan and Mel were taken off guard by the open gesture of affection. The woman smirked and then turned and walked purposefully towards the exit.

Hearing the clicking of her high heels made Melinda turn towards her lover. She wiped the lipstick off Jan's cheek with a handkerchief and deposited the offensive article into the trash can.

"You do realize it was her we heard in the bathroom, don't ya? The sound of her heels, Jan. It was her."

"Doesn't matter. I know it might be embarrassing for you, but, hell, I don't care who knows we're an item. Shit, I want to yell it from the tower!"

"Oh, Jan. I'm not embarrassed about our love. It's kinda exhilarating, knowing someone was overhearing us in the throws of passion. I just wish it hadn't been her. I mean, just what does she want, Jan? Why is she being such a...such a....."

"Bitch, honey. That's the word you're looking for. And yeah, she sure is one. Look, you keep your eyes peeled on that one, okay? Don't know what she's up to but it ainít no good, I can tell ya."

The announcement regarding the departure of Flight 549 out of Larnaca, destination London, England, interrupted their discussion. With a sigh, Jan slung her kit bag over her shoulder and grabbed her carryon. They both made their way to the gate, trying not to cry.

Man, thought Janice. It was sure going to be a long four months. She was glad they'd had their time together the past 48 hours. It seemed to strengthen the bond they felt for each other. The whole thing with Hudson Callisto was really starting to piss her off.

As the line began to move and passengers started walking towards the plane, Jan turned and took Mel's left hand in her own. She rummaged through her carryon bag and slid a gold band onto Mel's third finger.

"I was kinda hoping you'd wear this for me, Mel. Means a lot to me, knowing you are waiting for me. It's...ah...a token...of how I feel. Um, how much I...I love you. I'm just sorry I won't be here next month to share our anniversary with you." She reached up and quickly kissed Mel's cheek.

Mel stood stock still, her lower lip quivering, her eyes bright with unshed tears. The ring was made of the finest Grecian gold and came in four interwoven pieces. Instead of the usual colour of gold, it had the slightly pale yellow colour, popular throughout the Middle East.

"Oh, Janice! I'm gonna miss ya somethin fierce. And I gotcha a ring, too, darlin. Ah guess the time just kinda got away from us, huh?" She slid a very expensive thick-banded ring with inset emeralds onto her lover's hand.

"This signifies my bond with you, Janice. The thick band means strength, the precious metal means permanence and the emeralds, well, they're the same colour as yer eyes."

Janice pulled her military cap from her hair, letting the golden tresses run down her back. She dropped her bags and without further adieu, took Mel into her arms, dipped her and placed a very deep and passionate kiss on her lips.

None of the local Greeks paid them any heed, of course. And only a handful of foreigners acknowledged what they'd seen. Of those, a few clapped but most gave them a dirty look and chose to find something interesting to look at elsewhere.

Jan didn't care. Neither did Mel.

 

 

Chapter Two

London, England.

 

Jan rubbed a tired hand over her face and declined yet another horrid cup of tea as she waited in the Airport in London. Dreary, heartbreaking London. She sighed as she thought of her nice warm bed, her nice warm Mel and her nice warm life. Back in Greece.

She flexed her hand, feeling the weight of the ring Mel had given her. Made her feel grounded, knowing there was a light in the window, so to speak. She wondered just how she'd managed to survive before Mel came into her life. All those digs, all the backbreaking days and nights. Stumbling home to a rumpled bed in a messy dark room. Thinking back on it, her nose wrinkled in disgust.

And she thought about almost making love with Mel in that....place. What had she been thinking? Making love on the grass beside a lovely lake, achieving multiple orgasms for the first time, then making love again later that night in a big old soft comfortable make shift bed and giving Mel the same gift she'd been given. She sighed again, looking wistfully off into space.

The softness of her thigh, the curve of her hip, the line of her jaw, her eyes, soft full lips, soft smooth skin that hid the undeniable strength of a warrior.......

Jan opened her journal and began to write:

Thus do I fall to rise thus,

Thus do I dye to live thus,

Changed to a change,

I change not.

Thus may I not be from you:

Thus be my senses on you:

Thus what I thinke is of you:

Thus what I seeke is in you:

All what I am, it is you.{1}

The simple lack

Of her is more to me

Than others' presence

Whether life splendid be

Or utter black.

I have not seen,

I have no news of her;

I can tell only

She is not here, but there

She might have been.

Lying asleep between

the strokes of night

I saw my love lean over my

sad bed.

Pale as the duskiest lily's

leaf or head,

Smooth-skinned and dark,

with bare throat made to bite,

Two wan for blushing and

too warm for white,

But perfect-coloured

without white or red.

And her lips opened

amorously and said ~

I wist not what,

saving one word ~ delight.

And all her face was

Honey to my mouth,

And all her body

Pasture to mine eyes;

The long lithe arms

and hotter hands than fire

The quivering flanks,

hair smelling of the south,

The bright light feet,

the splendid supple thighs

And glittering eyelids

of my soul's desire. {2}

She was brought out of her revery as someone cleared their throat in front of her.

"No. I don't want no more damned te.....Oh! Geez."

Jan jumped to attention, snapping off a salute and blinking the nice memories away.

"Not to worry, Private. Major Bennington here. I spose you are Covington, aren't you? Of course you are." he sniffed.

Jan merely nodded and kept her eyes forward.

Major Thompson Bennington was a medium sized man, of medium build with medium blonde short hair and a very small precise mustache. He was 44 years old and thought of himself as a ladies man. He was the adjutant for the Special Operatons Training exercise that Janice had been tasked to.

"I take it you don't much care for our tea, eh? Pity. You yanks just don't have any taste when it comes to anything but coffee." Sniff. "Horrible stuff. Can't choke it down, don't you know." Sniff. Bennington had a twinkle in his eyes as he tried to goad the private into losing her temper.

He'd heard about this one. A firecracker, she was. Best in her class. A real go-getter, he thought. Not bad to look at either, he mused. A little too intense for his tastes, mind you, but surely, with a little time and effort, her Yankness could be brought to heel.

Jan arched her eyebrow and noted the look on the major's face. Hmm, she thought. He's fishin for something. Why do I get the distinct impression that I'm NOT the fish. That look reminds me of a catfish I once caught in Mississippi. Ookaay. So I'm bait. And he's a hungry fish, huh?

Her jaw went askew and she smirked as the man walked around her, giving her the once over.

This guy was in for one helluva surprise, Jan thought. Before meeting Melinda, she might have given him a tumble, just to wipe that superior smug look off his face. Making love? Nope. What he wanted was fucking and she just didn't do that any more.

"Very nice. Very nice indeed, Private Covington. Nicely pressed uniform, proper epaulets. I say, you did just fly here from America, didn't you?"

"Ah, no sir. From Larnaca, Cyprus, sir." Jan made sure she sounded neither condescending or whipped. Until she felt comfortable around the guy, he was gonna get the whole white wash. Full service.

"Hurumph. Well, I suppose that explains it, then. Well, come along Covington. We have to get to Yorkshire before nightfall. Don't want to be sleeping along side the road now, do we?"

Jan didn't bother to answer and just picked up her duffle bag and carried on. She looked around, wondering if she was the only one being picked up at the airport.

"Come along, Covington. No one else to be picked up. Don't dilly dally. Come along!"

His description just went from fish to fish-wife, thought Jan, arching her eyebrow.

*Note: Poetry: {1} Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586); {2} Aleron Charles Swinburne (1837-1909)

 

 

 

Chapter Three

 

Yorkshire, England

July 30

Jan sat in the airport, staring glumly out at the weather. More rain, she thought. English sunshine, bah!

Torrential rainfall here and in Spain, and continued bombing by the nazis near the Cliffs of Dover. If this keeps up, I won't have any cheroots left! Jan cursed.

This had been the second try to get back to Greece. Jan thought that just maybe she could catch a break. Just once. The training had been quite arduous and she'd had to punch out a few of the guys in her squad that felt when a girl said 'no' really she just meant 'maybe'. Uh huh. Well, she set em straight. She'd had none of the incidences reported as non of the macho guys had wanted to admit they'd had their clocks cleaned by a short assed girl.

Jan snorted, remembering the talk she'd had with the adjutant. He really wasn't a bad sort, once you got past the asshole side. She chuckled, reliving the look on the guys face when she'd said she was married. Ha! That had shut him up. And she felt married, too. She and Mel had kept the army post office busy - she with her gifts of local British colour and Mel with care packages of Greek delicacies and updates on goings on at the museum.

That wiped the smirk off Jan's face. That Callisto broad was being quite the bitch, alright. Had Mel working overtime, going through all the files, reitemizing all the reports dating back to when Judith Carmichael had joined on.

Hell, thought Jan, she was the Curatorís assistant, not some steno. Jan unconsciously ground her teeth, mentally going through just how many ribs she was going to break on the Director when she got back.

Just as she was getting ready to go for another complimentary tea and biscuit, Jan spied a British fighter pilot.

"Yo, Dan! Hey, how are ya? Long time no see. You just coming or going?"

Captain Dan Butterworth snapped his head around at the sound of his name. He was a very tall good looking man, just a bit older than Jan. He wore a permanent twinkle in his blue eyes. His boyish good looks had made him a favorite with the ladies and had given him an edge on those who thought he was a soft touch. He'd actually done quite well at poker that way, Jan smiled.

They'd struck it right off from the beginning. An easy friendship had developed and they had caught a few picture shows together as a result. Not once had the man ever made a move on Janice. He'd been a perfect gentleman and Jan really appreciated it.

"Hello Janice! Why, ducks, whatever are you still doing here? Thought you'd be back in Greece by now."

Jan walked over to the man, looking rueful. She pulled the bottom of her jacket down and dropped her cheroot, stomping it out with her boot.

"Well, Dan. It's like this. I've been waitin here at this gods-be-damned airport for two days now, hoping this weather will lift. The bombing over England has to stop soon, ya think?"

Dan's heart melted at the pleading look on his friend's face. Jan had come to mean a lot to him. He hadn't had such a good friend ever. He had feelings for her but she had always seemed so preoccupied. Maybe there was someone back in the States.

"D'you know, Janice, I might just have the ticket. Look here, ducks. I'm on my way to deliver some papers to Washington. Rather hush hush, don't you know. I suppose, given the right incentive, I might be persuaded to take on a passenger. I'll make a quick call to Davenport and okay it. Right?"

"Oh, great. Just fuckin great." Jan muttered, wondering just what she'd have to do to get back to Mel. No cost was too high, but geez.......

She lit up another cheroot. She only had two left. She sighed. She slowly inhaled, tapping her boot, thinking how she could possibly get out of this mess.

Dan returned with a smile on his face. He hooked his arm in Janice's and pulled her towards the RAF hanger.

"Don't worry about your bags, ducks. Thompson! Grab Sergeant Covington's bags, won't you?" Private Thompson rolled his eyes heavenwards and grunted. He watched as both soldiers left the airport. My, he thought, that one's got a nice arse. Too right.

Jan climbed into the de Havilland Mosquito B IV, getting a hand up from Dan. She turned and reached back for her stuff. Jan tipped her cap at Thompson and gave the man a nice smile. The Australian blushed straight to the roots of his white-blonde hair.

Dan settled himself forward as Jan stowed her duffle bag deep into the belly of the plane. The flight crew came on board and took up positions.

Jan quickly got into her regulation parachute and ditched her hat. She grinned at Dan, cheroot between her teeth. At that moment Dan thought that there was no one else in the whole world as beautiful as Sergeant Jan Covington. He sighed and then quickly turned to put his own gear on.

"So, Dan. Who do I hafta fuck to get back to Greece?"

Dan looked momentarily shocked.

"My dear Jan. Really. Talk about actions unbecoming a lady." Hrmph, he said, sticking out his jaw.

"Let me understand you. You think that I would......that I would actually expect......just because I'm giving you a lift....well, I must say......."

Jan quickly put her hand on his mouth and shushed him. His face was purple with rage. Jan mentally kicked herself in the pants. If he was this upset, then surely she'd been wrong.

"Okay, alright. Just a minute. You said....I mean, you wanted something, you said so....in the airport...if that's not what you meant, then what is it?"

Dan, who had been standing near the cargo door, leaned back against the fuselage and wiped his arm across his forehead.

"My dear Janice. You do give a bloke's heart a run for his money, don't you. Good God, woman! I was not attempting to compromise your reputation. Never. I thought we were friends."

Janice stood next to him and put a hand on his shoulder. She smiled weakly, feeling every inch the bitch she had a reputation for being here on base. Reputation? What reputation was there left to tarnish, she thought.

'Look, I'm sorry, all right? I was supposed to be back in Greece two days ago, and well, I'm kinda edgy. I really miss my w......home. It's been a long four months, ya know?" Jan closed her mouth with a snap, thinking how close she'd come to sticking her foot in it.

"Why Janice, dear. You tell Uncle Dan all about it, now. By the blush on your face, I'd say you have someone waiting. Come along, ducks. You can't hide it."

Jan's blush deepened and she smiled, keeping her head down.

"Well, yeah, I do have someone. We've been together for a year. I even missed....our anniversary. First one, too. You know how it is?"

Actually, Dan didn't. There hadn't been anyone significant in his life. His boyish charm seemed to attract the opposite of that which he desired most - one night stands, scantily clad women draping themselves over him as if he were a trophy. No, he wanted true love.

"Well, actually, love, all I wanted was one of your cigars. What with the cutbacks Jerry has forced upon us, well, a nice smoke would really do the trick. I'm sorry you misunderstood me, Jan. I really wouldn't have hurt your feelings for the world."

He looked at her with such earnest compassion that all the bells and whistles in Jan's armoury went off at the same time.

Ah, geez! The guys got the hots for me. Man, how do I get outta this one with hurting the guy? Jan mused, mentally going over a handful of escape routes.

Well, she mused, she did have a parachute.

Just then, the Avro Manchester Mk 1 twin 1760 horse power Vulture engines revved, making any attempt at conversation futile.

Jan smiled and patted Dan on the back. He leaned forward, pulled the bay door closed and yelled in her ear.

"I just wanted a smoke, that's all. I haven't had a nice cigar in a very long time."

Jan took out both cheroots and light them, handing one back. Dan gratefully took it and inhaled deeply as he took up his position as pilot.

The wooden plane shuddered and then slowly began to roll forward. Jan took her seat by the gunner and smiled at the man.

Geez, thought Jan. This kid couldn't be more than 18 if he's a day!

The kid smiled back and patted the 7.7 mm Browning machine gun. He mouthed "My baby."

Jan smiled rather half-heartedly and left it at that. The way things were going, the kid wouldn't make it through his first 10 missions. Those were really poor odds.

As she lay her head back, Jan's mind was filled with the thoughts of Mel. Her smile, the sparkle of her eyes, the warmth of her skin, the delicious smell of....

The gunner looked over and saw that the Sgt. was asleep. He walked to the front cockpit and gave Dan the OK sign. The Captain grinned. Poor Janice had looked quite off her feet. If they were lucky, well, she'd awaken as they approached Athens.

 

Chapter Four

City of Argos, Greece

 

Mel sat at her desk and opened the day's mail. She sipped at her coffee. Little packages from London came in handy. Jan would send her military rations of coffee and sugar. For the most part, trading said items with the Brits to get trinkets for Mel. The coffee tasted a bit old but in comparison to the bitter sweet syrup of Cypriot Greek coffee, it was heaven.

Her hands shook as she came upon a letter from Janice. She checked the date and smiled as she read the back of the envelope: Jan always numbered her letters so that Mel could keep track of the ones that went missing.

She took the letter opener at carefully eased it under the flap. Janice wrote in a very messy hand, little thoughts scribbled in the margins and smudges throughout.

She was just reading it through for the second time when her door was pushed open and Dr. Callisto breezed in.

"Well, Melinda. Nothing to do, dear? Well, I'm sure I can remedy that." She opened her hand bag and withdrew a list of things she wanted done. As the Director, she did have the right. As the Curator's assistant, Mel really could put up a stink at Head Office and get out of it. But that would make for a poor working environment. And besides, Jan had to come back and work here, too. No use riling up the woman.

"Say, is that another letter from Jan, dear?" She quickly reached over and attempted to grab the envelope from Mel's hand. Mel held tightly and gave the woman a stone cold stare.

"My time while I am at work is yours, Dr. Callisto. My personal items are my own." She picked up her purse and carefully slipped the letter inside.

 

Mel brushed an errant hair out of her eyes. She wiped the back of her hand across her forehead, leaving a trail of black smudge. Going over every last entry in the logs and then every last item that had been tagged was really not as horrible a job as apparently the Director thought it was. Mind you, Mel wasn't going to dissuade her from that thought. If she was under the impression that it was a hardship then maybe she'd leave her alone.

Mel came upon an entry dated May of 1938. She dusted the document off and began to read. Suddenly her heart began to beat wildly. She sat back and used the ledger to fan herself. Refusing to get caught up in false hope, she got up and began rifling through the boxes of tagged items.

There at the very bottom was the item she was seeking. She matched the numbers and went back over to the desk. She sat heavily and just stared. She pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose and began to read.

 

Noticing that the time had gotten away from her, Mel arched her back and winced as her tired muscles and vertebrae snapped and popped. She looked outside and noticed it was already getting dark. Carefully placing the artifact into the safe, she locked it, spun the cylinder and reached for her hat and jacket. She removed her heels and flexed her toes. She made her way towards the front of the building, lost in thought.

It was only the rhythmic thump that roused her from her revery. Visions of Trudie and Judith making love in the Curator's office flashed across her mind. Not hearing any voices but one, she edged forward and peeked into the Director's office.

Dr. Callisto was mumbling to herself. She held a very wicked looking stiletto, twisting it and admiring the blade as it sparkled in the light. Mel thought it looked rather familiar but knowing nothing of knives, dismissed the feeling. Then, without warning the Director threw it across the room. It made a satisfying thwack as it's tip was imbedded in the wall. By the look of things, Mel thought, the woman had been engaging in such behavior for a while.

She wondered how Dr. Callisto was going to hide the damage. Then she noticed the large framed picture propped against the wall.

Dr. Callisto seemed lost, positively transfixed as she threw the knife again and again. Mel couldn't make out too much of the woman's words but did notice Janice's name as well as her own. She flinched as she suddenly remembered where she'd seen the knife before. Hadn't it belonged to Judith Carmichael?

 

 

Chapter Five

Bay of Biscay, North Atlantic

 

Janice was jostled awake as the frame of the Manchester shook and rolled. She peered out the gun turret and noted with alarm that they were being shadowed by two Junker Ju 88s. This was bad news. She knew that the Manchester had a gross weight of 50,000 lbs. This made it a rather sluggish bomber but it could fly the distance of 1,200 miles in a snap.

The Mark 1 could reach a maximum speed of 402 km per hour. The Ju, however, could reach speeds of 635 km per hour.

This was bad. Very bad. Not good at all. She ducked her head involuntarily as a shell exploded just outside the plane's fuselage. She lost her grip and fell on her butt, sliding foreward until her back was against the foreward bulkhead.

Well, that one hurt, mused Jan as she rolled over and crawled towards the cockpit. She experienced a wave of nausea the closer she got inside. She tried to ignore the landscape below as it seemed to rush up and meet her. Her breath came in raggedly and she tried to still her fears. She hated heights. Always had. She gulped deeply and turned her head away.

"Dan! What can I do!? Do you need an extra hand?!"

Dan turned and cupped his ear, shaking his head. He hadn't heard a single word. She tried again, adding a bit of hand movement. He nodded vigorously and pointed towards the rear of the plane. Jan crawled over the magazines that littered the deck and pulled at the crewman's leg to get his attention. He motioned that she should make sure the rounds were stacked evenly so they wouldn't get jammed in the barrel. She nodded yes and set to her task.

Suddenly a round seemed to explode right where Jan was sitting, throwing her up against the ceiling of the plane. The crewman Jan had been helping was smashed against his gun and lay bleeding on the deck. Jan was busy trying not to pass out. One of the Ju 88's shells had exploded just under their plane, throwing bits of shrapnel up into the fuselage.

The noise around her was deafening, her heart was hammering and it seemed the interior of the plane was thrown into darkness.

At first Jan thought that maybe she'd hit her head so hard she'd incurred temporary blindness. The small slivers of daylight that randomly peeked through the darkness assured her that wasn't so. She breathed a sigh of relief when she realized it was dark black smoke.

And then it hit her. Where there was smoke there was certainly fire. She rolled over and touched the side of her face. Yup, gonna be a bruise there. There was also a rather good-sized knot on the side of her head, too. Just a bit of blood, Jan said, dismissing the pain.

She made her way back to where the injured crewman lay and tried to take his pulse. The open, unseeing eyes told her what she'd feared. He was dead. His head was cracked open when it had connected with the .303's gun mount. She closed his eyes and took up his position.

She looked down through the clouds and thought she could see the distant shore of France. She didn't know what part of hell they were in but it looked a lot like the Bay of Biscay. The Ju's must have originated in Amiens, France. Too far to come from Germany.

Well, Jan thought. If she was going to go, she might as well go down fighting. Her mind was filled with visions of her lover. She silently sent a prayer to Melinda, hoping she would be able to get past the pain of receiving the dreaded telegram.

Then she grinned. Shrugging off her parachute, she shook her arms and shoulders out, getting the blood circulating and pumping her up. One of the other crewmen clapped her on the back and stuck a homemade cigarette between her lips. She gave him a lopsided grin as he went back to his position.

As the Junkers came ever closer, all guns were aimed at the wings and front cockpit. Many people were under the erroneous impression that it was like shooting ducks in a pond. Jan knew different. She was a marksman shot, thanks to her Dad and had earned her marksman badge while on the ops training. It was usually sheer luck when the guns of a plane moving 612 km per hour was shooting at another plane going maybe 65J0 km per hour.

No doubt about it, Jan thought. They were gaining. She squeezed off a short burst, trying to line up her target. Pleased with her results, she adjusted it a bit and let off a good round. Small puffs of smoke appeared on the Ju's right wing. Jan thought maybe she'd missed. Then the 16.51 meter wingspan seemed to shorten on one side. She looked on in fascination as the German plane tipped a bit, trying to right itself. The pilot had overcompensated, sending the plane into a tailspin.

One down, one to go, grinned Janice.

The other Ju moved a little out of her line of sight and Jan cursed. She'd damage the fusilage and their own tail if she'd been able to fire off a burst. Safety measures didn't allow for that eventuality but still, Jan was not impressed.

She tottered over to the other side of the plane and put her hand on the shoulder of the crewman manning the gun. The kid was sweating a river, his shirt soaked from the armpits down. Jan knew just how he felt and patted his shoulder in sympathy. She brought her mouth close to his ear and gave him pointers on just where to aim.

He nodded his head vigorously, glad for the help. Jan was just glad he hadn't taken offense to her advice and knocked her flat. Wouldn't have blamed him none either.

She squeezed his arm sharply and he let off a short burst. It was slightly off target. She clutched her sleeve in her hand and pulled the scorching barrel a bit to the left. The other crewmen aimed their weapons at where the puffs of smoke had been. Having a form of reference, they all trained their guns on the Ju and sent a barrage of shells in its general vicinity and held their breaths.

One propeller caught fire before their very eyes and the plane's speed was greatly reduced. The crew would have a hard time limping home in that plane, thought Jan.

She turned and was greeted by five crewmen all pounding on her back. She tried not to wince as they pummeled her bruised and tender muscles.

Jan made her way back to her position and lay back, grateful that the whole thing was over. She felt sick. One of the men saw the look on her face and pushed over a bucket with his boot. Jan took it gratefully and vomited piteously into it. When she was finished, she lay back once more and shut her eyes. Adrenaline was pumping through her system, making her both nauseated and invigorated at the same time. Her pulse beat wildly, her jaw clenched tightly as she gradually brought herself back under control.

Dan sent the co-pilot back with his flask of scotch. Jan took it and swallowed a good half of it before handing it back. She enjoyed the feeling as her insides turned to liquid fire. Sure smoothed out those bumps, she thought.

Upon getting her breathing back under control, a wave of fatigue seemed to wash over her, numbing her senses, making her sleepy. She drifted off into a fitful sleep, dreaming of someone handing Mel a telegram, seeing her face as she read of Jan's death, watched as the woman fell to her knees as her world crumbled beneath her.

She jerked back into consciousness, eyes opened, seeing nothing and then drifted back to the half awake state she'd been in.

She didn't awaken when the plane touched down in Athens, regardless of having one of its wheels shot off. Nor did she move when Dan picked her up and carried her down to the waiting stretcher. She managed a brief mumble as they whisked her off to hospital.

 

 

Chapter Six

Athens, Greece.

 

Jan awoke to a buzzing sound. She felt the plane tilt and saw the look of sheer terror on one of the crewman's faces as his clothing was engulfed in flames. Burned bodies littered the deck of the Manchester and Jan struggled to get out from under one of them. She looked down and screamed in horror as she recognized Dan. His eyes were opened and his face was covered in blood and blackened skin.

She tried to crawl away from the horror, tried to shut her eyes as she saw the back of the plane in flames. She didn't want to die! Not like this. The plane lurched and sent some of the bodies sliding towards her. Her whole focus was narrowed to being trapped in a flying casket, spinning out of control on its last mission before impacting into the cold unforgiving earth......She screamed Mel's name and....

.....................sat up, her heart beating wildly, eyes darting back and forth but seeing nothing. She jerked a little as a warm hand touched her shoulder. A soothing voice spoke into her ear and she felt herself being pushed back down in her bed.

She tried to focus her eyes but found her vision impeded by something. A flash back from the dog fight burst into her memory and fear of being blind washed over her. She began clawing at her face, trying to push the darkness away.

"Janice! Janice! Look, luv, you've got to stop that. You're driving the nurses bonkers with these nightmares. Third one tonight, dear. Now come on." He grabbed her wrists and just held on. Jan's head thrashed back and forth and she muttered about being blind.

Dan reached up and tore off part of the bandage that had managed to slip down during her dream. It came away a bit bloody and the Captain blotted some of it away before removing it completely.

Jan relaxed when she could see again. She moaned as her breathing began to slow and her heartbeat went back to normal. She reached up and held Dan's arm. "Thanks. Sorry....sorry about...that. Thought I was...blind...I..."

He shushed her and kissed her forehead.

"You've had a bit of a time, ducks. Seems that noggin of yours is pretty hard. By all rights, the doctor said you should have sustained a fractured skull. Not you. Just a bloody concusion. And a few stitches. Listen, do you want me to notify Mel?"

Jan quickly looked at her friend and blanched. How...how did he know about....

"Look, you mentioned his name quite a few times and I thought maybe you'd like him to come keep you company here. Seems you've gotta stay for a few days of observation. I don't know how much furlow you have but this could bite into it a bit, eh?"

"Look, Dan, um....I gotta get outta here, okay? I mean it. With or without your help, I'm leaving. I've got to see Mel..."

"Now Jan, why don't you just lie back and I'll get a message to him. I'm sure he's worried about you and..."

"No, Dan. You don't understand. Mel is a woman....we're kind of...an item. I can't let her find out this way. It would hurt her so much to have to come down here and see me.....like this......can't you see? I have to go to her. Please understand ."

Dan sat heavily in the chair by the bed. He should have known that Jan had someone she loved more than life itself. That was just Jan - gave her heart and soul in everything she did.

Covington saw the look of hurt cross his face. She reached a hand out to him. She squeezed his arm and smiled weakly.

"I've been in love with her for just over a year. It's kinda hard to explain, ya know? I mean, she's the other side of my soul, Dan. I feel like I've spent my whole life looking for her. I'm sorry if I....hurt you...if I ever lead you to believe that......we...."

Dan looked up and smiled bravely. There wasn't anything about this amazing woman that didn't surprise him. She was so amazing. So confident and giving. He envied this Mel. Very much.

"Then I suppose we'd better get you bundled up, what? Let's go knock up the 'wife' shall we?"

Jan chuckled and sat up. She eased her feet over the side of the bed and suddenly held her head as the room began to spin.

Dan just stood at the end of the bed and waited. He knew just how futile it would be to even attempt talking Janice out of her 'mission'.

Gritting her teeth, Jan stood up and made her way over to the wardrobe. The back of her hospital gown flapped, showing off a bit more of her feminine pulchritude than she'd wish. Dan smiled behind his hand and tried very hard not to snicker.

Jan arched an eyebrow in his direction and pointed an index finger in the direction of the door. He left without a word.

Dan helped the injured woman slip out the window and then followed. They made their way across the parking lot and ducked into a car.

"This is a friend's automobile, Janice. I did promise him you could come up with some cigars for him." Jan nodded absent mindedly.

"We're going to Argos, Dan. Just head for Thessalonika and make a left."

"You do realize its a good hour before we'll be in Argos, don't you? Why don't you stretch out in the back while I drive? The sleep might do you a world of good. Don't want Mel to faint upon seeing you, do you?"

Seeing the logic to his argument, Jan climbed in the back and used a disgarded overcoat for a pillow. Dan started his loaner and looked into the rear view mirror. Jan looked to be asleep already. The Captain smiled ruefully. If he was lucky he would be back in Athens before his leave ran out. He didn't relish the thought of being AWOL. However, he'd cross that bridge when he got to it.

 

.

Chapter Seven

Argos, Greece

Jan awoke to someone pulling her into a sitting position. She groaned and held her head. She felt like she'd been on a bender for a week. Without actually enjoying the trip to feeling this bad, she thought. No perks to feeling like shit. Wow, but she could really use a stiff drink. Or, at the very least, a cup of hot coffee.

Dan forced a nice hot cup into her hands and waited until she had at least one eye open. Jan brushed her hair out of her eyes and tried to grin. It fades as she pulled her hand away from her head. It was bloody, the stitches having been opened on the drive down.

Dan made her hold a hanky to the injury while she sipped her Turkish coffee. She growled with satisfaction as the brew disappeared down her throat. Dan looked at his own cup, looked back over at her, and without saying a word, switched her empty one for his. She smiles gratefully and all but inhaled the contents.

There weren't too many places open in Argos at 3:20 in the morning. However, this one little cafe had been, for which Jan was eternally grateful. The proprietor came out with a few pastries when he recognized the passenger.

They exchanged some pleasantries in Greek as Dan looked on, mouth agape. He shook his head in wonder. Was there no end to the surprises this woman could throw at him?

 

Dan waited patiently as Jan stumbled to the door. She had insisted that no help was required. He felt rather awkward, meeting the woman that held Janice's heart. He pushed himself away from the car and slowly came forward. Jan fumbled with the key, her hands shaking badly. Dan took the key and got the door open just as Mel had her hand on the knob.

Dan's eyes locked with Melinda's and then Melinda broke down and cried as Jan fell into her arms. Suddenly feeling very uncomfortable, Dan tried to beat a hasty retreat.

Melinda grabbed his arm and drew him into the house. He stood with his back against the door and tried to find something interesting about his shoes.

"Hello. My name's Mel. And you are....." Melinda held out her hand as she hugged Janice to her.

Jan made the introductions and they all went into the living room. Mel noticed his unease and tried to start the conversation. She looked down at her lover and a strangled cry rose from her throat.

Dan jumped up and put his hand on her shoulder. Then he told her what had happened. Mel tried very hard not to cry throughout the story. When it was over, she took Jan's hand in her own and began twisting her ring around and around. Dan got up and made his way into the kitchen. Finding what he needed, he started to brew some fresh coffee.

He was somewhat surprised at the American blend of Columbian coffee. So that's what she traded her Greek delicacies in for. He'd often wondered why she didn't partake in any of her care packages.

He found a tray, some cream and sugar and started to go back into the living room. He looked up in time to see the two women embrace and begin to kiss passionately.

Being the proper Englishman, he cleared his throat and counted to ten before entering the room. By the time he'd gotten to the coffee table, the two women were apart, straightening their clothes.

Mel began fussing with Jan's wounds and brought out an ice pack. Jan looked at the Captain in an effort to ellicite his help. He shook his head and chuckled.

"Oh, I see how it is. Two against one, huh?" She laughed a little but seeing that Mel still wore a serious expression, placed the pack on her stitches and grumbled.

It was about five o'clock in the morning by the time Dan had filled in the story of what had happened over the Bay of Bisquay. Mel's hands were in tight fists, thinking of just how close to losing Jan she'd been.

Dan finished off his fourth cup of coffee and made his way to the door.

"No, now thank you, ladies. I can't stay even for a few hours. My furlow will be up at 1800 hours to....yes, it is today, isn't it? I'd love to stay, Jan, but I really have to be off. I've already delivered those papers and well, I haven't any reason to stay on here in Greece. I have to be back in London as soon as possible. Someone has to make those Jerry's sit up and pay attention, eh?" He chuckled and ruffled Jan's hair. She winced and he ducked his head.

"Sorry, love. Nice to meet you Melinda. A very nice pleasure, indeed. Do mind the bard here, won't you?"

Melinda opened her mouth and just looked at him.

He smiled. "You haven't shown her your poetry, have you Janice? My word, I stepped into it there, didn't I. Well, must be off. Cheery bye."

The two women stood at the front door, arms around each others' waists and waved as he took off. Mel turned and gave Janice a very disapproving look.

"Why Janice Covington. You look like hell. I swear, didn't they even bother to wash ya? What kinda hospital they runnin down there? Now you just march down to the bathroom right how, Missy. I think I'd better burn those clothes."

She gave her lover a swat on the buttocks and Jan smiled lovingly in return. My, it was good to be home.

As she stood in front of the rapidly filling bathtub, Mel came in to retrieve the soiled clothing. She barely managed to stifle a cry as she took in the damage done to Jan's body. The woman's back was almost completely covered in deep bruises and abrasions. A nasty long cut from the back of her neck down towards her scapula looked fresh enough to still be seeping.

Jan turned and Mel moaned again. If anything, Jan's front was in worse condition. She had dark bruises around her ribs, a cut just under her right breast and her upper legs looked red and raw.

"Ya but you should see the other guy." Jan tried, taking Mel into her arms again. Mel sagged against her and sobbed. Jan held her tightly and a few hot tears squeezed from between her tightly closed eyes.

As Mel's sobs became a little quieter, Jan leaned over and shut the water off. Mel helped her into the nice hot water and began to gently wash her, avoiding the more brutal wounds. She left the woman's hair and carefully cleaned her face.

Jan looked deeply into her lover's eyes and then kissed her. Mel's tears began anew. Neither noticed when Mel kicked off her slippers and slipped into the bath, nighty and all.

They lay in bed, wrapped in each other's arms, a flimsy sheet covering them. A green lizard peered at them from the window sill. Crickets serenaded them as they took the first tentative movements towards discovering each other once again.

Melinda ran her finger tips over every inch of Jan's upper body. For her part, Jan couldn't get enough of the feel of Mel's breasts, her shoulders, her neck.

"I wanna love you, Jan. But...I don't want to hurt you..."

Jan smiled and took her lover's face in both hands. She brought Mel down for an exquisite kiss, one filled with love and desire. Mel moaned and leaned in for another. Her hand crept up to Jan's breasts, avoiding the stitches and gently began massaging her left breast.

Jan began probing Mel's mouth with her tongue and soon they were lost in each other's touch.

Mel reached over and tenderly kissed each bruise she could find. Jan's breath became ragged and she began running her fingers through her lovers hair. Mel entwined their fingers and rubbed her thumb over Jan's ring.

Mel swallowed each moan with her mouth as she gently opened her lovers thighs with her knee. She propped herself up on her elbows and kissed Jan deeply, thrusting her tongue in and out of her lover's mouth.

Jan reached around and cupped Mel's buttocks, pulling her closer. She threw her head back as she felt the folds of her labia stroked and then two fingers possessed her very soul. It had been so long! She brought up her other hand and ran the tips of her fingers up and down Mel's cheek. The softness, the utter joy that was Mel seemed to wash over Jan, caressing her and making her feel safe.

She felt the barriers she had erected around herself begin to come down as the love they shared filled her with warmth.

Mel was a gentle and considerate lover, very aware of what Jan needed and of the woman's injuries. She was more worried about the cut on Jan's chest than anything else and so she covered the woman's body like a blanket as she felt her muscles clench as Jan's orgasm hit.

"Ohhh.....Mel...in....da...." Jan moaned. She bent her head and sucked hard on Mel's shoulder, feeling a shudder run threw her lover.

Mel smiled and kissed Jan languidly. Jan slowly opened her eyes and she blinked. "Wow! It is gooood to be home!" She took her lover's face in both hands and began to paint Mel's lips with her tongue. When the lips were opened, she slowly probed the hot interior and moved her thigh so that it pressed against Mel's sex.

Melinda began to grind her pubic bone into the hard surface of Jan's muscle, rocking her hips back and forth. She closed her eyes in passion and sucked slowly on Jan's tongue.

Jan gasped as Melinda reached around and massaged Jan's derriere, her elbows pressing the knees hard into her sides. Jan lifted her one thigh until it was wrapped around her lover's back.

"Oh, Jan. Oh, my......it feels....so good......." She gasped as Jan bent forward and took one of her rock hard nipples between her lips. She milked the breast, drawing down and releasing, only to envelop the whole areola once again and repeat the process.

Mel closed her eyes tightly as she saw stars. When Jan brought up her thigh suddenly, Mel's world began to fall away, her chest contracting as a deep moan erupted from her throat. Her hair fell forward and she brought her forehead down onto that of Jan's.

Both women lay tangled within the sheets and each others arms. Mel held Jan's hand as her lover slowly made designs on Jan's taut stomach. Then she reached over and ran her tongue from navel to chin, taking satisfaction from both the salty taste of Jan's body and the shudder than such an action elicited.

"Oh, woman. Are you trying to kill me or something?"

"I suppose it'd have to qualify for the 'or somethin', darlin. You've got four long months to make up for. Just how long do you have before you have ta show up, Jan?"

"Lessee. This is... August 1st, right? Okay, that means I've got ten days. Gotta report to the British Consulate. They are co-ordinating this Special Ops deal between the Brits and the Americans. Don't know where I'm going, but I'm sure it'll be over soon, Mel. This damned war can't go on forever. You'll see. I'll be back before you even notice I'm gone."

Mel's lower lip quivered and she choked back a sob. Jan raised the woman's left hand and kissed her ring finger.

"I don't know who'd do it for us, Mel, but....would you marry me? Be my wife?"

Mel leaned over her lover and smiled as the tears coursed down her cheeks. She merely smiled and kissed Jan in such a way as to leave no doubt as to her answer.

They curled up into each other's arms and fell into a nice slumber. And for the first time in a very long time, neither one experienced any nightmares.

 

 

Chapter Eight

Athens, Greece

August 9, 1943

 

Jan lay by the edge of the water, letting the waves lap at her lower torso. She had propped herself up on her elbows in an effort to watch her wife better. She'd bought Mel a very sexy bikini as part of a wedding present. They were all the rage in Europe. Knowing they'd be seen as scandalous back in the US, Jan intended on enjoying the view for as long as possible.

At first, Mel had found it too hard to leave their hotel room wearing the....she hesitated to use the term....bathing suit. It had so little in the way of material that Mel thought it qualified as a cleaning rag. A very nice black cleaning rag, mind you. Watching Jan's reaction and hearing her words of praise had finally gotten Mel to acquiesce, but only with a robe to cover herself. Jan had agreed and gave her the next present. It was a skimpy aquamarine coloured robe made of the sheerest material.

Mel had to agree the silk had felt quite delicious against her bare skin. Now, after wearing her bikini to the beach the last week, she felt confident enough to walk the sand without it. She turned as she felt her lover's eyes burning into her.

She locked eyes with Jan and slowly made her way back, hips swaying, licking her lower lip. It was all Jan could do not to pull the woman down into a very naughty position and just have at her. She sighed in frustration. She'd gotten a layman Greek preacher to marry them and couldn't even show how she felt in public. Life was just not fair. With all the evil and hatred in the world, what could possibly be wrong with love?

Mel dropped to her knees behind Jan and ran her finger tips across the woman's shoulders. A delicious shudder ran through Jan and she turned her head. Only inches away.....just one small kiss...thought Jan. Mel leaned further in and touched the end of Jan's nose with the tip of her tongue. Jan moaned and inhaled her wife's scent.

"Oh, wife. What you do to me...."

"I'd love to kiss ya, Jan. But not here and not right now. Right now, I am gonna give you a back massage. Roll over, darlin. And then, we are gonna take a nice walk down the beach to where those rocks are. Ya see them, Jan? Well, I know of a nice secluded place over there, and no one will bother us. We can sun bathe in the nude and just make love until it's suppa time." she drawled.

Turning over onto her stomach, Jan was filled with a sense of peace. She had the love of her life beside her, her best friend and her wife, all in one sweet package. Who could possibly ask for more? With the afternoon nicely planned out for them, she closed her eyes and just let the feelings of love wash over her.

Mel inspected each stitch, each wound, making sure they were healing up nicely. Jan reached up and tried to itch the wound in the back of her neck. Mel slapped her hand away and tsked.

"But its itchy, fer crying in yer milk. Come on. Just one good scratch?"

Mel shook her head and swatted Jan on the buttocks.

"Now you know what the doctor said, Janice Covington. You gotta keep em dry and clean and absolutely NO itchin."

"Well, geez. They gotta come out sooner or later. What did that quack say - another week. I'll go crazy by then!"

Mel smirked. "Yer already a crazy Yanky, Jan. Ya mean you can get worse than yer usual unconventional self?"

Jan snorted and kept silent. She was thinking about tomorrow and all that entailed. She had to show up and get her orders tomorrow. She didn't want Mel to go with her and they'd had their first spat. Mel had desolved into tears but Jan knew that it would be very hard on them both if she came.

They'd made love again and Mel had finally agreed on Jan's decision. It had been a hard bitter pill to swallow. It seemed they had spent their whole life together being apart. She knew their love was strong enough but...well, it surely didn't make it easy or right, for that matter.

She rued the day that she ever let Janice sign up for active duty. Not that she could ever have stopped the woman. She knew how Jan felt about what was going on in the world. Why did she feel she had to bare the weight of the world's wrongs on her small but capable shoulders?

 

Jan hopped out of the taxi and made her way up to the hotel. She jangled the room key in her pants pocket, a brooding look on her face. What could she tell Mel? If anything, Jan really had thought her first mission would have been in France. There was a well-established underground there where she could utilize her new talents as a Special Ops agent.

Mel sat fidgeting, trying hard not to look at her watch again. She jumped as she heard the key in the door. She willed her heart beat to slow back to normal. She clutched a soggy hanky in her hands, rending it back and forth.

She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and looked expectantly at her wife. She held her breath as she saw the look in Jan's face.

With a sob, she lurched to her feet and threw herself at Jan.

"No. No! Tell me you aren't goin to Germany. Please, Jan! I know you'll never come back to me...."

She hugged Jan hard and it was all Covington could do not to break down as well.

"Mel. Honey? I'm not going to Germany. Really. I'm....I've been sent to head up a Special Ops group in the Dutch Resistance. I....I have to leave in twelve hours." She tilted her wife's face up and kissed the tears away. She led her over to the bed and gently removed Mel's sandals, shorts and blouse. She then got out of her uniform and they lay side by side.

"I don't want you to leave, Jan. I want you to stay here, with me. Don't go, love. Please! Can't we just run away....leave Athens? Go somewhere....anywhere? We could go and live in Cyprus. Your Daddy still has a villa there. We could.."

Jan leaned over and placed a finger on her lips and smiled. She stuck her chin out and winked.

"You know I gotta do this, right? I can't....I have to do something about what's going on, Mel. I have to. Can you understand?"

Mel nodded slowly and cried. She held Jan closely, bringing her up to lie on her chest. Great sobs racked her body as Jan used soothing words and a gentle touch to calm her wife down.

An hour later, Mel had fallen into a light sleep. Jan moved a little to the side but was clutched back into position. It always amazed her just how strong Mel was. It was amazing that she'd failed the entrance physical. Flat feet! She was as strong as an ox! Sure, she had bad eyesight, but, gee. Didn't seem to keep any of the men from doing their duty to God and Country. Bloody double standards. Women had to be as tough as nails, completely disciplined and down right bitches in order to qualify. Then they were dressed down and ridiculed because they made the grade.

How they could live with themselves was beyond Jan. She was sure the powers that be could have made use of her wife's educational talents. Even as an interpreter. With her skills as a decipherer, there was nothing she couldn't do. Except pass a damned podiatrists' examination!

As the morning sky turned from light pink to deep rose, Jan and Mel made love one more time. It was a patient loving; one filled with joy and appreciation.

 

Jan stood between Mel's naked thighs as she tucked her uniform into her skirt. She adjusted the tie and reached over to get her jacket. Mel leaned back and opened her thighs a bit. She gave her wife a very seductive smile and moved her hips in invitation.

Jan watched as her wife's nipples stood erect. Her breath caught as Mel reached her hand between her own legs and began to stroke the slit of her sex. The scent of passion filled Jan's nostrils and she forgot to breathe.

She watched transfixed as the tip of a finger eased inside the wet folds of Mel's sex. Her wife's hips began to rock back and forth and Jan found herself undoing her tie and taking her jacket back off.

She dropped to her knees as Mel added another finger to her sopping vagina. She moaned as Mel stared at her, lust plain in her eyes.

Jan took her lover's legs and brought them over her shoulder. She licked at Mel's fingers as they slipped in and out. She moved her fingers out to lie on top of her clitoris as Jan slipped her tongue deep inside. Her hand brushed Jan's hair out of her face and pressed her pubis forward.

Jan reached up and took each nipple into her hands. She tweaked them gently and then a little more firmly. Mel moaned.

"Yes, Jan.....I need you.....inside me......I want you to...fuck....me...."

Jan looked up in startlement. She'd never ever heard Mel use such language. She was so surprised that she stopped what she was doing.

"Jan! Oh, please, darlin.............now....."

Jan removed her mouth and slid in three fingers. The heat of her wife's vagina seemed to radiate up her arm into her very soul. She slowly removed her fingers and then thrust back in. She brought her mouth down again and sucked gently on Mel's clit.

"God, your so wet....oh, Mel....you make me so hot..."

"Harder....harder.....yes, like...............that....OH!" She came hard, clutching the back of Jan's head as she rode her orgasm out.

Jan felt as if her very life were being crushed out as Mel clenched her thighs around her shoulders like a vice.

Finally, she slipped her wife's legs back down and quickly came up to lie on top of her. Mel kissed her deeply and licked her own essence off Janís chin.

"Mel. I didn't know you knew words like that. Do me a favour, huh? Only when we're making love, okay? Don't want my wife to sound like a longshoreman." Mel whispered her apology. Jan had tried in vain to lighten the atmosphere. She failed miserably. She kissed her wife's nose and tweaked an ear lobe.

Jan snuck a look at her watch and sighed. She slowly got up and began to straighten her uniform and replace her tie and jacket.

Mel rolled over and slowly got to her feet. Her shoulder's slumped in resignation. She could only delay the inevitable. She went into the bathroom and closed the door. Jan could her her softly crying. She tapped on the door but it did no good. She went back and sat at the edge of the bed.

"Mel? Honey? We're...gonna be...late, hon. I've gotta..."

The bathroom door opened and Mel walked out, completely dressed, wiping her eyes. She had applied a nice shade of red to her lips and the scent of Shalimar filled the room.

 

They made their way to the airport, both lost in their thoughts. Jan had Mel's hands tightly in her own. She kept looking over to her wife, hoping to see a smile. Even a hint of one would have been gratefully received.

Mel kept her gaze forward, small catches in her breathing the only hints of the turmoil raging just beneath the surface.

They walked slowly inside and Jan deposited her duffle bad over by the rest of the military gear. She nodded to Mel and then went over to check in. She was back in five minutes to find that Mel hadn't moved one inch.

She pulled Mel over to a secluded corner and just held her hand. She reached inside her jacket and removed a small box. A lone tear fell from Mel's eyes as she took it.

Inside were two identical gold necklaces. Both had the pink look of Turkish gold and the medallion of St. Christopher hung from each one. Jan removed one and put it around Mel's neck. She gave her a quick kiss. Mel then did the same.

"I love you, Janice Covington. I always will. Please come back to me, Jan. I can't...I won't live without you."

"And I love you, my precious wife. You are my source, my light in a world of darkness. I promise...I'll come back...I will never leave you....even in death..."

"Don't say that. Never! Not in death. I won't have it, Janice Covington. Do ya hear!? In life. We'll grow old together, livin and laughin, way into our nineties. You'll see."

"I believe you, Mel. You'd probably fight all the gods of Olympus to get me back, wouldn't you? And you'd win, you know. You always do."

The Captain came by, roster under his arm. He motioned to Jan and a couple of the other soldiers near by.

"I've got to go, Mel. I'm sorry. I thought we'd have more time...."

Mel boldly kissed her wife, ignoring the murmurs around her. She glared at the Captain, daring him to open his silly Yanky mouth. At that moment, Mel would have surely punched anyone who would have the nerve to say one thing. Just one remark and she'd mop the floor with him.

As Jan slowly made her way towards the troop plane, she glanced back. She fingered her necklace and saw Mel do the same. She smiled and tried to wave. Her arms felt as heavy as lead. Each step she took was like twisting a knife in her gut. She set her jaw and plodded on. As her name was checked off and dog tags tucked back under her shirt, she turned one last time, trying to find Mel in the crowd.

She couldn't see her at first. She moved out of the line, trying to locate the woman. Suddenly, a cry from the crowd was heard and Jan could make out the dark figure of her wife as she stood on top of a nearby bench. Mel waved enthusiastically and Jan smiled. She beamed with pride as her wife hooped and hollered. It was so unlike the staid southern debutante she'd first met a year and a half ago. She waved and blew Mel a kiss.

As she made her way to her seat, Jan felt a few tears fall. She wiped them away and tried not to look anywhere in particular. She removed her hat and placed it primely on her lap. She was handed a parachute and slowly put it on.

The plane's engines roared into life and it slowly began to move forward. The crowd held onto hats and gloves as the propellers began to pick up speed.

Jan leaned her head back against the fuselage and sighed.

"You married?" Queried a soldier beside her, tapping her ring.

"Yup. You?" The young man nodded and gulped deeply. "Just got hitched the other day."

Jan patted his hand. "Me, too. How long you know her?"

The soldier tucked his chin down and looked sheepish. "Two days."

Jan laughed and slapped his leg. "You dog, you."

She leaned back and closed her eyes. What ever the future held for her, she was certain Mel was in it. There was no doubt in her mind. There was not question as to if she would get back, just when. It was that thought that kept her from breaking down right there, right then.

Mel turned and covered her face with her hands. She sat down heavily on the bench and just cried. An older man came over and handed her a hanky. He looked like someone's grandfather and Mel found herself immediately drawn to him.

He had a very thick Greek accent, was of medium height, blue eyes and the fullest shock of white hair she'd ever seen.

She accepted his hanky and wiped her face. He tapped her ring finger.

"You are married, yes? Your man. He is on plane?"

"I am married. My.....husband....is on his way overseas, yes." Mel felt funny telling this nice man a lie, but, well, she just didn't feel up to a dose of ridicule and embarrassment.

He patted her hand gently. "My name is Mikael Christopolis. I am antiques, yes? This is the word? Very old junk nobody wants but is good?"

Mel laughed and wiped her nose. She felt warm and comforted by this man. He somehow reminded her of...her father. She scrunched her brows. Yes, in many ways, he did.

"You deal in antiques? Somebody digs them up and takes them to you for sale? Old things....pots, tablets......scrolls?"

He nodded enthusiastically. "Yes! Just so, my dear. I have...many. .....things....in my shop. You would like to see, yes? Is not far. Come. I make you some nice spanakopito and some....tea. You like tea? Or coffee? I have Hanglish tea bat...you like demitasse?"

He laughed as he saw the look of disgust crossed her pretty face. She was so beautiful. So sad. For some reason, she looked very familiar. He could not place the face. He had seen her...somewhere....

As they left the airport, Hudson Callisto stepped out from the shadows. She quirked an eyebrow and tapped her front teeth with an impossibly long fingernail.

Well, well. Now that the business end of that partnership is out of the way, perhaps I can take up where I left off....

She chuckled evilly, rubbing her hands up and down her arms.

Continued in Part 2

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