Gabrielle smiled at he two young woman held out her arms and said, "Welcome to the Elysian Fields."
Sarah said in awe filled voice, "As in the myth?"
"Yep, its boring but it's home," replied the warrior with a lopsided grin. "Lara put away those weapon this is a non combatant zone."
Lara holstered her guns and looked over at Sarah who looked just as confused as she felt. "Why are we here?"
Xena stood up and stretched answering lazily; "We have two reasons. One is Gabrielle and I feel you will need a nice long break before the next marker. It is a very harsh journey and we feel you need to be well rested. The other one is..." Xena hesitated and looked toward her soul mate. "This is not my Field." She said to the blonde woman with a lifted eyebrow.
Gabrielle shook her head and then turned toward the two confused young women. "I believe we can help you with that clue in the box but we need to have you rest a bit first."
"Grandmother?" Sarah said not believing what she was seeing. She had tears flowing down her cheeks and her voice was but a whisper.
Gabrielle walked down the steps and off the porch. She held out her arms and hugged the young woman lovingly. "Yes my sweet Sarah, I'm your great grandmother. Do you now how proud we all are of you. Janice and Mel did such a wonderful job. They were so proud of the young woman you were becoming. Lara here is very proud of you too. You've done very well, Sweetheart."
Xena had come down and put an affectionate arm around Lara's shoulders and the Lara's arm wound itself around her great grandmother's waist.
"Let's go in and eat. I'm sure you two are starved. Aphrodite, Why don't you go prepare the next part of the puzzle for the girls."
"Hey, don't I get any dinner?"
"Aphrodite, Goddess' don't eat," said Gabrielle with a smirk.
"That doesn't mean I can't!"
"Aphrodite," growled the warrior.
"I'm going, I'm going. Yeash!" And in a flash of pink sparkles she was gone.
"Come on girls your Grandmother Gabrielle is a great cook." Said Xena affectionately as she led the way into the cabin.
*** *** **** ***
Gabrielle and Sarah were cleaning up after dinner in the cabin. Gabrielle looked at her shy young descendent and saw herself at that age.
"Did you tell her yet?" Gabrielle asked the quiet girl.
"Tell her what?"
"Did you tell Lara that your in love with her?"
"No Grandmother, I couldn't. She wouldn't be interested in someone like me."
"Why would you think that?"
"Grandmother, you wouldn't understand. Your a famous bard and an Amazon Queen. Your a great warrior in your right and your soulmate's with a great hero. I'm not anything, you couldn't possibly see why I..." she started to cry against the arm of the chair that she sat down in.
"Shh, calm down," Gabrielle knelt next to her and lifted her head so she would look into her eyes. "Sarah I wasn't always all of those things. I was a poor peasant girl from Poteidaia when Xena found me. I literally talked my way into her life. I learned to be useful along the way. For the first two years I was constantly getting into one scrape after another and Xena had to come to the rescue."
"Then how did you become all those things?"
Gabrielle sat down on the arm of the chair and put her arms around her descendent and smiled at the memories that flooded her mind as she thought about those early years. "I became the bard through a great deal of effort and practice. I was a natural at it but I worked very hard on my stories. Poor Xena had to suffer through many a rehearsal." She smirked at the expression on her face when she started to read a scroll and kept changing words in mid sentence. "I fell into becoming an Amazon Princess through one of those scrapes I told you about. I learned to be a warrior through observation at first. Xena wouldn't teach me but once the Amazons did she wanted to make sure I was proficient. Some of my fondest memories were of our early sparing sessions. She was always pulling fast ones on me so I would learn to think on my feet. She taught me discretion. When I should fight and when I should talk. When to be leader and when to listen." She sighed happily at those early times.
Then Gabrielle turned to Sarah and lifted her chin so she could look right into those similar green eyes; "Xena fell in love with me just as quickly as I fell in love with her. Like you and Lara we were scared we would lose our best friend if I we told each other. There was a bit more for my Xena she was a Warlord and she had her way with many people. The one person she never wanted to take advantage of was me so she waited till I showed I wanted her. She wasn't about to make the first move. I was scared she would be disgusted or just laugh in my face. We finally told each other when we thought we would never see each other again. We wrong thank heavens but I don't want our Granddaughters to suffer that fate. Please tell her Sarah."
*** *** *** ***
Lara was teaching Xena about her guns and the warrior was just fascinated by the powerful weapons. She learned very quickly how to out draw her teacher, which amused Lara greatly.
"Your something else, Grandmother."
"Hell, I was working with weapons centuries ago I should be pretty good at it by now, huh?" asked the warrior with a wink.
Lara laughed and nodded. They headed back to the cabin when Xena asked quietly, "Why haven't you told Sarah that your in love with her?"
Lara stopped dead in her tracks and stared at the tall beautiful woman, "What?"
"Lara, you heard me. Why?"
"She is so innocent and untainted by the real world. I don't want to hurt her and she is so very vulnerable. She's already owns my heart, Grandmother it's like what you said before it hit me as fast as lightning. She doesn't know me, all the things I've done. I'm not bad or evil but I have killed I'm no angel."
"Who is? Are you telling me you think your not good enough for her?"
"No grandmother I'm saying I'm scared that I'm not good for her."
"Why don't you give Sarah the respect she deserves and let her make that decision for herself? Go and tell her."
*** *** *** ****
Sarah and Lara were sharing a room in the cabin. Sarah was trying to figure out the scroll while Lara brushed out her long black hair.
"Any luck Angel?"
"No, not really. It's kind of strange Lara. It's like I'll get a grip on a sentence then I will lose the next. I think there is a key missing and I can't see what it is."
"Hmm, Then there probably is a key missing."
"Did Xena say how long were staying here when you were out with her earlier?"
"Yep, spiritual time it will feel like two weeks but real time she estimates it will be no more then forty-eight hours. Apparently the next marker is real horror."
"Sounds kind of scary, she said we'll have to climb straight up a mountain?" Sarah asked as she put down the scroll and picked up the ring.
Lara sat down on the bed next to her and said, "Yes, but she said there are other things that will be hard as well. She won't be specific but she wants us to get plenty of rest...Um, The ring is very pretty isn't it?"
Sarah nodded staring at it.
"I wonder what Gabrielle's ring says to Xena?"
"That she loves her..." She muttered looking away from Lara.
Lara couldn't understand the words but she could see that she was upset, "What's wrong, Angel?" She took the ring out Sarah's hand and put it on the table then she gently pulled the smaller woman on to her lap and hugged her tight.
"Nothing," She whispered but Lara could feel the teardrops hitting her neck. She pulled back and looked at the teary green eyes. She gently wiped them and asked, "Do you often cry when nothing is bothering you?"
"I have something to tell you Lara...But please don't worry I don't expect any reply at all. I just need to tell you something that's all..." She said pulling out Lara's embrace.
"Something is wrong. Tell me what it is. Maybe I can help you," said Lara with real concern.
Sarah wiped her eyes and shook her head, "No not really wrong it's just something I have to say, after if you want I will sleep in another room. Then in the morning I'll ask Xena to call Aphrodite maybe she could send me directly home..."
"What on earth are you talking about? Why would you want to do all that?" Lara was now in full panic mode Sarah wanted to leave her. She didn't care what she had to do she would get on her knees and beg her to stay if she had to it didn't matter as long as she kept her by her side.
"I...I'm...Lara Croft.....I'm in ....love with you...." The last words seemed to drift away on a whisper they were spoken so softly. Lara heard each and every word loud and clear and she thought she would just burst with joy. She grabbed the small woman kissed her so passionately that Sarah thought she was going to faint. When they pulled back Lara's hands were gently cupping both her cheeks and Lara was gazing deeply into her eyes.
"I'm in love with you too. I think I've been from the very beginning. I knew that I was head over heals in love with you when I kissed you on that log that first day out. I simply can't believe you could feel the same way, my little angel."
Sarah had no chance to answer these sweet words because Lara was kissing her passionately again. She returned it with equal need and they explored each other happily for some time.
When they finally parted in the need of air Sarah said softly, "I was terrified to say something. I thought you'd think I was being sentimental or just ridiculous."
"Why Angel? Have I ever said anything about your feeling that would make you feel that way?"
"Oh no, no it's me. I just felt I wasn't good enough..."
"Oh my Angel your too good. That's why I didn't say anything I thought I would corrupt you."
"I'm not exactly perfect..."
Lara looked deeply into the beautiful green eyes; "I love you so much. You are now apart of me. I was terrified you were going to leave me when you started talking about Aphrodite sending you home. I was planning on making an idiot of myself to beg you to stay. Doesn't that give a bit of an idea of how I feel about you?"
"Yes more then a bit. I love you my Sweetie..."
"Sweetie!?" Lara's expression was horrified at that word.
"Well you call me Angel."
"That's different, you are an angel."
"And you are sweet."
Lara sighed deeply and lowered her head, "Okay but only when it's just the two of us. I'd just die if Brice ever heard you call me Sweetie."
Sarah gently lifted the head and kissed the nose, "Deal"
Lara's smile widened and she pulled the beautiful woman back and kissed her with all the love and passion boiling up inside her.
*** *** *** ***
Xena and Gabrielle had huge knowing smiles on their faces the next morning. Lara exchanged looks with Sarah and then said, "What?"
"Gabrielle," Xena said with a smirk.
"Here Lara, " Said Gabrielle as she handed Lara pretty cloth pouch. Lara opened it and then emptied it onto her hand. Her eyes grew huge as she saw what it was in her palm. It was a matching ring to the one sitting in their room. Lara looked inside and it said, To my darling warrior, with love always, G." She handed it to Sarah so she could read it and then asked Xena, "How did you know?"
"Well why do you think we both gave you those pep talks. We hoped it would push one of you to do the right thing. Um, We would like to give you a commitment ceremony if you want to that is?" Xena asked hopefully looking from one surprised young woman to the other.
Sarah and Lara exchanged shocked expressions. Sarah looked at Lara and she could see she did want it and she knew she did so she nodded at Lara. Lara smiled then she looked at their great grandmothers and said quietly, "Yes, I think we would like that very much."
Suddenly there was sparkling pink lights and the Goddess of Love's voice said, "Its show time!"
Gabrielle and Xena exchanged looks and then Xena rolled her eyes. She looked at the now fully visible Goddess and shook her head, "Really romantic, Goddess of love."
"You two go get the children ready and I'll give you romantic, warrior."
Xena shook her head and took Lara's hand, "Come on Lara lets get you ready."
Gabrielle laughed at her friend who was still floating it the middle of the room; "Come on Sarah let me get you ready while Aphrodite does her thing."
*** *** *** ***
When Lara came out of Xena and Gabrielle's room it was all candlelight and moonlight with soft music playing from somewhere Lara couldn't seem to see. She was dressed in a beautiful one-armed white dress in the classical Greek style. Xena gave her one of her armbands to symbolize her warrior status. She looked regal and elegant and Xena had a huge smile on her face as she escorted the beautiful woman to the altar that Aphrodite had created.
Sarah came in from their room wearing an Amazon wedding dress; it was white soft leather and consisted of a halter and long skirt. The skirt had long slits showing every inch of leg and the Halter showed off Sarah's upper body to perfection. Lara nearly hyperventilated when she saw her she had never seen her love look so elegant and yet so sexy. She wanted to make love to her right then and there she was so entranced. Gabrielle smiled at Xena who winked back at her soul mate.
Aphrodite was at the altar and said, " I am here to officiate the joining of these mortals Lara Croft and Sarah Covington." She motioned and Xena gave Gabrielle's ring to Lara and Gabrielle gave Xena's ring to Sarah. Aphrodite smiled at her friends who smiled back. They both had tears in their eyes as they watched these special woman bond for life. "In the name of eternal love do you promise to love and protect each other and keep only to each other for all of eternity?" The girls looked deeply into each other's eyes and nodded. "Good, The rings ladies."
Sarah took the silver ring and gently put it on Lara's finger then she raised that finger to her lips and kissed it gently. She looked into Lara's eyes again and said the word that Gabrielle had taught her, "I commit to you all that I am and all I ever will be for eternity."
Lara with tears gently falling her down her cheeks put the silver ring on Sarah's finger and kissed it in the same loving manner. She then looked deeply into the green eyes as she caressed the soft cheek and said, "I commit to you all that I am and all I ever will be for eternity." Then Lara reached out pulled Sarah into her arms and kissed her deeply with such passion that Xena almost blushed and Gabrielle did.
"Hey I didn't pronounce you yet!" Said Aphrodite in a pouty voice.
Xena smiled and shook her head, "So pronounce already."
"I pronounce you mates for all eternity. Now you guys are supposed to kiss. Yeash get a grip."
They all laughed and the bridal couple kissed again. Then Lara swept her bride into her arms and carried her into their room.
*** *** *** ***
They had a beautiful blissful honeymoon but they had to get back to their quest. They were all gathered in the meadow exchanging hugs. Xena was explaining to the girls, "When Aphrodite sends you back you'll be exposed immediately so take to the trees as soon as your back. Follow the route I gave you carefully and remember this is a very harsh part of the journey so love and protect each other."
Lara hugged Xena and said, "Don't worry we will." Then she leaned closer and whispered in her ear, "You were right Grandmother."
"Of course I was," Xena whispered back and then pulled back and winked at
the pretty young woman.
Lara laughed and rolled her eyes.
"Safe journey," Gabrielle was hugging Sarah she kissed her cheek and then whispered in her ear, "Believe in yourself, Sarah. You are a very special person and a true lifeline for your soulmate. Please believe that; I know that she already does."
"I'll try Grandmother, Thank you." She whispered back.
Lara took Sarah's hand and they walked to Aphrodite. They hugged and thanked her she smiled brightly at them and said, "I'll be around so don't you kids worry. Ok, Ready to rumble?"
They laughed and nodded suddenly with a waive of the goddess's hand they felt the shift in time again and they were back. Lara immediately felt the trackers she gathered her bride and climbed up a tree like a cat. They quickly went from vine to vine till Lara spotted an old temple. She could feel the trackers in hot pursuit so she made a quick decision.
"Let's hide in this temple, Angel. They're too close we'd need a car to get away from them or at least my motorcycle."
"You have a motorcycle?" Sarah asked as Lara gracefully lowered them to the front of the temple steps.
"Yep, want to try it out?" She asked with a smirk.
"Only if you hold me tight," Said Sarah holding Lara's hand as they walk up the steps to the ancient temple.
"Oh that I can promise." She said with a smile as they studied the markings and symbols on the great doors.
"Can you tell whose temple this is?"
Lara cocked her head to the side, "I'm not sure but I think it's Apollo's."
*** *** *** ***
Lara opened the big heavy ornate wooden doors; She took Sarah's hand and held it tightly as she entered the large temple. She closed the door behind her and suddenly she felt warm and the ancient temple took on a wild air. Her stomach felt funny and she could hear a driving beat inside her own mind.
The grasp between the girl's hands strengthened as they both felt the strange effect of the ancient temple. The beat became a driving rhythm and it was getting more and more wild. They found their bodies swaying to the music of the rhythm.
Suddenly without thought Lara arms encircled Sarah and she began to dance with her to beat inside her head. Their bodies fell into each other as the beat entered their hearts their lips met in a searing kiss. The kiss became wild as they hungrily but loving tasted the delights of each other's wide-open mouths. Their tongues were desperately trying to taste every corner of warm wet sanctuary.
Their bodies were still whirling to the beat as they began to grind against each other's hot wet mounds. It now felt like they were flying through the air completely beyond control. They're mouths were firmly attached in unbridled passion and it felt like they no longer had any clothes on. As they felt each others hot skin grinding against each other they held on tightly as the driving beat pulled them into this crazed ecstasy.
Suddenly though they're arms were firmly attached around each others waists it felt like they simultaneously entered each other hot wet apex their names screamed in each other's mind as they fell over the edge together.
They were panting on a divan in the temple still holding tightly to each other. They were both fully clothed and lying a stack of soft cushions nestled closely against each other. As they came back to themselves the temple looked less wild and more like what it was an old Greek temple. Their things were neatly piled including Lara's guns and knife.
They still held each other as if afraid that if they didn't they would lose each other in the madness of the place. They were both very frightened by what just happened. Lara looked into Sarah's eyes and saw she was ok and smiled at her and rubbed her cheek against Sarah's soft cheek to show she was ok too.
A man's musical voice said, "Very well done you two. Aphrodite was quite right you are truly worthy."
Lara's head snapped up and she used her body as shield to protect Sarah from this strange man.
"Who the hell are you? What do you want with us? What the hell just happened to us?"
The man held up his hand and the girls weren't sure but he seemed to glow with an Inner Light. "My name is Apollo, Aphrodite sent you to me for protection. I just tested your worthiness and you passed.
"What were we tested for, sir?" Asked Sarah moving close to Lara's back. Lara looked over her shoulder and Sarah nodded to say that she was all right.
"Love. To see if your bond was truly love or more carnal. It was definitely love or the Ethers would have destroyed your minds."
"Ether's?" Asked Lara who had moved back onto the divan bringing Sarah safely into her lap. She'd never heard of the word before and she was really unsure if he was really who he claimed he was. They're survival seemed to be evidence in his favor though.
"It is what you human's would call drugged gas. Your love is very remarkable for its purity. You never even thought of resorting to the baser instincts."
"Baser instincts?" Lara repeated her mind still felt a bit jumbled and some words weren't registering.
"Biting, Scratching, punching, strangling. You would be surprised what humans will resort to for a sexual thrill. I am sorry but I will have to cut this short. Your enemy is approaching so please prepare yourselves. You will have to go through the Ethers again. Don't worry you both will be all right."
With those final words he disappeared. Lara grabbed Sarah around the waist and held her tightly against her. She nuzzled her cheek against the soft blonde hair as she steeled herself internally for what was to come.
Again the girls felt the heat as the doors of the temple opened. The beat started to sound with in their minds again their bodies began to move against each other on the divan.
Milton and Peterson were getting the full effect in the doorway of the temple. They stood still as the driving beat invaded their minds slowly against their will their bodies began to sway to the rhythm of the music of that pounding beat.
Lara again couldn't help but kiss her love passionately. She couldn't watch her adversaries any longer because she was taken over by the grip of the ethers as she floated off into the love that just seemed to flower around them.
Milton and Peterson suddenly were thrown together by the driving rhythms of the music in their minds. Their lips met in a searing kiss. Peterson the more viscous of the two bit Milton causing him to scream out mentally. He continued to devour her lips as his hands tore off her shirt. He grabbed her breasts and squeezed as hard as he could causing her to scream and kick him in the groin. They were locked in by the music, as they seemed to fly through the room. Milton suddenly found himself naked and ready. He tried to force his way with her but she grabbed him and pulled his organ till he screamed. He went for her throat as they slammed into the temple wall. Two lifeless lumps.
The beat suddenly stopped and the temperature dropped to normal again. Lara and Sarah were comfortably embraced on the divan once again. Lara was becoming aware of her own mind and surroundings. She quickly checked to make sure her love was all right. Then she started to look for Milton and Peterson around her when she saw them she stiffened and gently brought Sarah's head against her shoulder to keep her from seeing the ugly sight.
"They were unworthy."
"Did the Ethers kill them?"
"No they killed each other through their own viscous minds. It is now safe for you two continue on your quest." And he was gone.
Lara helped Sarah up and carefully keeping her from seeing their adversary's bodies as she grabbed all their stuff in one arm and rushed pulling Sarah out of the temple with the other. Once safely out of the temple she started to give Sarah her stuff and put on her own. They were silent as they walked down the steps. They had both been very shaken up by what happened in there.
They were silent for some time as they walked to the mountain where the second marker was located. Sarah could just imagine what that wild place did to those people and it sickened her. She looked up at Lara and quietly said, "I think that was really horribly unnecessary."
"I do too, Angel." Said Lara rubbing Sarah's arm comfortingly.
"So why would Aphrodite send us there?"
Lara looked at Sarah and shook her head and said quietly, "She did it to protect us."
Sarah sighed and shook her head, "What a horrible way to die."
Lara stopped and brought Sarah into her arms and hugged her tight. "There is no such thing as a good way to die, Angel. They weren't nice people remember they wanted to kill me and kidnap you. Apollo did make sure we didn't see it. Thank God."
Sarah nodded nuzzling the soft strong shoulder.
Over Sarah's shoulder Lara saw a cave opening blocked by a large stone. It seemed to draw her like a magnet. She pulled back and said, "Angel, come on lets take a look at this." She took Sarah's hand and they walked to the cave opening. It was almost sunset and she wasn't going to make this kind of climb this late. She knew these caves were very safe to stay over night. This large stone was marked by the Chakram but not the triangle of the Sais and the quill.
"This must have been one of those special caves of Xena's," Said Sarah suddenly excited.
Lara was so pleased to see that she smiled wickedly saying, "So which little luxury do think they will have in here?"
With happy twinkling eyes Sarah said, "Well there is only one way to find out, huh?"
Lara took Sarah's hand as Gabrielle had taken hers and placed both left hands within the chakram. The stone slowly slid over into the wall of the cave to reveal a startlingly beautiful room. Once they stepped inside it was hard to believe it was a cave it had everything.
Lara smiled at Sarah; "It looks like they expected us to find this, huh? Angel, look this is the one with the hot tub!"
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