Amazon Encounter by Anne Azel Part 4
Disclaimer: The characters of Xena and Gabrielle are the property of Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning: This story is alternative fiction, please do not read if you are under age or if it is illegal in your end of the swamp.
Note: All the flora and fauna described in this story are real, as are the Indian groups and natural topography. They are a collection of descriptions and experiences taken from my own field notes of the area. Cats Paw is being studied as a possible treatment for cancer.
The day was intensely hot and close. Swarms of mosquitoes buzzed around them making their journey down river hellish. Morgan placed her paddle across her lap and stuck a hand back into the pocket of her knapsack to pull out her repellent. She saw Kris in the stern raise an eyebrow in amusement as she liberally spread the liquid over her arms, legs and neck in a desperate attempt to defeat the insect airforce with chemical warfare. "O.K. I give up! How come you are not being terrorized!" Morgan sighed in frustration.
Kris grinned, "Oh, I'm taking some bites but they prefer you. Some people's skin odor is more appealing to the insect community than others. I've noted they prefer blondes and don't like muscle. I've never been a popular target. Just not tasty I guess!" the hunter chuckled.
Morgan looked over her shoulder and let her eyes slowly work their way up Kris's body.
"I find you incredibly tasty," she whispered her tongue licking her lower lip. Her teasing was rewarded by a slow, deep blush that rose up Kris's neck.
"Paddle," came the embarrassed response as Kris looked back sternly. Morgan laughed and returned to her job. They continued on all day. Snacking on the last of the smoked meat as they went, to stop and let the insects at them would be worse than keeping out in the water. It was a very tired pair that finally pulled into an old clearing late in the day.
"Used to be a village here. Burnt in an attack," explained the warrior in her economical way. Kris gracefully ran along the gunwales and bent to pull the dugout higher on the sand beach. Then she reached to help Morgan out.
"Tribal wars?" asked Morgan looking around the weedy area.
"No, My men, my orders," stated Kris bluntly looking down to see how Morgan was going to react. She needed to know. Was Morgan really ready to deal with who she was or should she cut her losses now and end this relationship.
"I'm sorry, for them and for you," said Morgan after a moment's hesitation. Blue eyes met green then Morgan walked into Kris's embrace. Kris wrapped her tightly to her and buried her head in Morgan's hair. Her heart was beating wildly and she knew Morgan could feel her shaking. I can't give her up! I can't! A voice inside Kris screamed and Kris sighed in relief that maybe Morgan was now willing to deal with her violent soul.
"Kris, what is it?! What's the matter?!" asked Morgan drawing back and searching the complex emotions in her lover's eyes.
"I..I don't want to lose you," came the awkward confession from the insecure older woman who blinked back tears.
Morgan's heart contracted in pain for her warrior. She reached up and kissed the smooth, hard jaw with a soft, tender kiss. " I don't know how we are going to work out what has happened between us, Kris. Our worlds, lives, are so different. But I do know that from the moment I saw you on the airstrip, I was drawn to you. I know I love you. And I know I want us to be together."
Kris pulled away and bent to snap off a strand of grass. She looked intently at it as she nervously played with it between her fingers. "Ahh, I..I..I don't know if you can handle who I am. You know you've got this fear...I understand... I mean..." she swallowed trying not to let her chin quiver.
"Yes, I do. I was victimized and I've got a lot of baggage from that night. And I know that if I stay with you I'm going to have to deal with your past," responded Morgan honestly.
Kris sighed, "It's more than that Morgan," she said turning to face her soulmate. "I am the daughter of the Beast. There is in my soul an ugly darkness. I was a violent person," Kris searched Morgan's soft, caring eyes and then looked away again. She took a deep, ragged breath and just said it, "I still am. That's why they call me the warrior," she confessed. Silence. Kris's heart contracted in pain and she closed her eyes against the terrifying reality that now faced her. Morgan was going to leave her, just like she had done when she had seen her kill, only this time she wasn't going to come back.
She sensed Morgan shift away and the tears that had been held back by closed eyes rolled down her face. "Kris," said a soft voice and the hunter opened her eyes and looked down to see Morgan standing in front of her. "Hold me," the smaller woman begged. Kris reached out with trembling hands and pulled her lover to her. Sobs racked her tall frame as she leaned her face against Morgan's head.
Morgan held her tight. "Shhh, babe, its O.K. I am in love with a warrior. A brave, caring one. That makes me proud. You know what?" asked Morgan leaning back in Kris's arms and forcing the upset woman to look at her.
"What?" asked Kris trying to wipe her face and clearing her throat awkwardly.
"I was so proud of you back in the Indian village. They were bragging about how you had killed the monkeys weren't they?" Kris nodded unsure where Morgan was going with this because she kinda figured that Morgan would not support the killing of animals. "And I suddenly realized I was leaning against you. I was being possessive. Letting the villagers know with my body language that you might have helped them but you were my hero." Morgan looked down and laughed nervously, then looked up to meet the surprised eyes of the woman that she adored. "I can't promise you, Kris that I'm not going to have some difficulty with the violence. I can promise you that you will always have my love if you are using that soul of yours to fight for the greater good."
For a minute the two opposites searched each other's eyes for acceptance, then Kris smiled and picked Morgan up in her arms. Morgan laughed and wrapped her arms around her hunter's neck and drew her lover's lips down to meet her own.
"So you ever done anything illegal, Doctor?" asked the relieved warrior cradling her lover in her arms.
"No!" responded Morgan indignantly.
"About time then," smiled the tall woman lowering her partner with regret. " We need food. We're going to get it by fishing in that stream over there," explained the warrior pointing over her shoulder as she headed for the forest in the opposite direction. Morgan looked at the stream then at the warrior going the other way and trotted to catch up with a worried, puzzled frown on her face. Kris was looking at the various trees until she came to one massive grey trunk with old knife scares running diagonally across it.
Kris picked a wide leaf and then looked over her shoulder at Morgan. "Stay back," she ordered and Morgan nodded. Kris used her machete to cut a deep slice across the tree bark. A milky sap immediately ran out and Kris very carefully collected it in the hollow of the leaf. "This sap is really dangerous so the government has made it illegal to use. But deep in the jungle, many villages still use it. The sap's chemistry is a deadly muscle paralyser. You're going to put it in up stream and choke the fish's gills. I'll wait down stream and pick up the larger fish and cut their heads off before the drug can taint the fish's flesh. O.K.?"
Morgan nodded, "This is safe, huh?"
"No. That's why its illegal," pointed out Kris with laughing eyes as she carefully carried her supply of sap over to the stream. "It's going to kill everything in a small stretch of the river and if I don't cut the heads off quick enough it could kill us. I don't ordinarily use this technique but we need food and our fishing gear is probably in the Atlantic Ocean by now. Wade out," ordered the hunter.
Morgan took off her boots, soaks and brace and limped awkwardly out into the stream. Kris carefully passed her the leaf. "Don't let any of it get on you," she warned as she ran off down steam. A voice floated back. "O.K. Bend forward and just let the stuff drip into the water." Morgan gingerly followed the instructions and watched the thick, milky substance dissolve into the stream. Within a short time the bodies of fish started to float to the surface. They drifted like tug boats around the bend and Morgan could hear Kris splashing about. She made her way to shore and carefully dropped the leaf upside down on the ground. Once she had her brace and boots back on she buried the leaf under some dirt. Then headed down to the beach where she could hear Kris working away. Seven nice sized fillets lay on a rock and Kris was busy building a smoky fire. Morgan flopped down beside her lover and their eyes met. "Fortunately for you hunter, my hunger is far greater than my conscience for the stream community at the moment."
Kris smiled as she looked back at the fire. "I picked that spot because it was close to where the stream runs into the river. The river will quickly dilute the substance so that it is harmless. We really didn't do that much damage to mother nature. I'm making the fire smoky to keep the bugs away. You can take your pick, stay up wind with the bugs or down wind in the smoke. Morgan got up and moved over closer to the smoke and Kris laughed.
That night they again shared a hammock. "Kris? You can explain now," remarked Morgan getting comfy on top of her long suffering warrior whose back was taking quite a beating in the name of love.
"Sp'an what?" mumbled the tired hunter.
"Explain why you needed to have that talk with me today and not wait until we were at your friend's place."
"Oh," responded Kris guiltily. "Am I that transparent?"
Morgan snorted, "Only to me my love. Now the truth, please."
"It was Peter who kinda headed me off on the right track. I'd been wounded pretty badly in the attack and my men left me for dead. Glad to get rid of me," sighed Kris sadly. Morgan kissed her cheek softly and the warrior went on. " I tried to paddle down stream but I must have passed out. Anyway, I drifted down near Pete's. He recognized me but took care of me anyway. He tried to convince me, I could be a different person. He sowed some seeds that took a while to germinate. Since then, well, I've helped him out a few times with villages that were having problems with drug dealers and terrorists. You know."
Morgan hugged Kris tightly, "Yeah, I know. You risking your life to help the underdog. I am so proud of you and so terrified for you, Kris," confessed Morgan.
"I've got a lot to pay off, Morgan" Kris explained.
"I know," mumbled Morgan burying her head into Kris's shoulder and wrapping her arm possessively around her lover as she drifted off to sleep.
By noon the next day they had arrived at Pete's compound. It was an area of about an acre of land cut from the rainforest and consisting of a number of huts on stilts similar to the ones back at Los Amazonos. Morgan smiled. Was it only a week ago? It seemed like years and several life times ago. She remembered how primitive that lodge had seemed and now one nowhere near as big or well equipped looked positively civilized! A week ago she couldn't have imaged having a sexual relationship with someone she barely knew. Now a week later, her heart and soul belong to the tall, dark and incredibly complex woman that steered their dugout to shore.
Kris ran forward on the thick, wood sides of the hollowed log and jumped to shore. She pulled the craft higher on the beach as if its heavy, cumbersome weight was nothing. Morgan moved forward bent over so that she could use her hands for balance on the wet, slippery wood. At the bow she straightened and reached out to Kris who swung her out of the canoe and into her arms. She looked up into Kris's serious face and smiled.
"What are you thinking about?" inquired her lover raising an eyebrow as she looked down at the sparkling green eyes and strawberry blond hair that always delighted her.
"I was thinking about a moody warrior and prickly doctor arguing about whether I was going to be a complication or not," Morgan laughed reaching up to stroke the strong plains of Kris's cheek.
The corner of Kris's mouth rose in her mini-smile that Morgan had come to find very adorable, " Guess I was right, huh?" teased her hunter.
They both broke into wide grins and Morgan slapped Kris's stomach playfully. Morgan looked down and away from the suddenly intense, hungry look that appeared on Kris's face. Oh God! I want her, she thought and then gasped in horror as she pulled Kris up off the beach to the safety of the grass embankment above.
Kris laughed and put her arm around Morgan looking down at the immense cayman that lay sunning on the beach. "It's O.K. Morgan. Meet Katie Cayman. She's one of Pete's "friends".
"Oh boy," Morgan muttered her hand over her heart.
Kris jumped down to the beach and began tossing bags up to Morgan. "Pete found her caught in a trap as a baby. You know it's her because she is missing part of her right, front foot. He swears that she is as passive as the family dog. But my advise is keep a safe distance. I think she is just well fed and so doesn't bother attacking visitors. One of these days some poor sucker is going to show up when Katie feels like a snack and then I'm afraid it's going to be ugly," explained Kris as she carried the last of their bags up the bank.
Morgan gave a weak smile and turned to look around, "Where is your friend?" she asked.
"Over behind the power shed with his gun trained on us," stated Kris's matter-of-factly. "He's as blind as a bat without his glasses on so he doesn't know it's me."
Morgan closed her eyes and shook her head, "You know Kris, my world is kinda dull compared to yours. Most of my friends just look through the security eye or use an intercom system. In fact, a lot of them just open the door and say hi!"
Kris grinned and put her arm around the petite woman, "Yeah!? Wait to you meet, Walrus," commented Kris as they headed towards the power shed.
"Walrus," asked the surprised doctor looking up at the handsome profile.
"Ah huh, he and I go way back. He's been known to greet me with a lit stick of dynamite. Of course, I did cut his ear off in a bar room brawl and he's still a little sensitive about that."
"Kris, I don't want to know," stated Morgan sighing and shaking her head at her lover. Kris looked down and smiled warmly giving her soulmate a reassuring squeeze.
"Stop right there," came a gruff voice from the shadows of the power shed. The barrel of a rife peeped out around the grass hut.
"Pete, It's Kris Thanasis," stated the hunter with a sigh.
"No, it isn't," came the grumpy answer.
Kris looked suddenly worried and pushed Morgan behind her, " Pete, it's me. What's the problem?"
"Thanasis don't touch no one," came the knowing response. There was an awkward silence into which Kris cleared her throat. She blushed deeply and rubbed her ear in embarrassment. "Yeah, well remember when you said that some day I was going to fall hopelessly in love and make a fool of myself acting like a love sick puppy?"
Silence. "Yeah," at last came the response.
"Well, it's happened," stated Kris reaching back to make contact with the smaller woman who was giggling behind her.
Out stepped an old man with a two day growth of bristly white hair dressed in only baggy, dirty shorts. His head was bald and his eyes a milky brown but the most amazing thing about him was that he was blue! From head to foot his entire body was stained a brilliant royal blue!
He came closer until he could see through squinted eyes that it was indeed Kris. Then he gave a big toothless grin and engulfed her in a bear hug, the barrel of the rifle pressed right under Kris's chin. Kris grimaced and pulled the rifle away from her friend, "Give me that before you put a hole in our friendship," she muttered stepping back. "Pete. I want you to meet,... my soulmate, Doctor Morgan Andrews. Morgan, this is my old friend Father Peter Cummings."
Pete hopped over and gave the surprised Morgan a big hug, "Well, the Lord works in mysterious ways! Imagine an ugly savage like you getting hitched up with a pretty little thing like this. Honey, has she been honest with you? Do you know about Adam?"
Kris stepped between the two of them and gave Pete a dirty look. "Don't even go there!" she commanded and Pete shrugged good naturedly. "Is it O.K. if we have the cabin?" asked Kris.
A look of sheer devilment came into Pete's eyes, "That depends, did you make her an honest woman or are you two livin in sin?" he asked with righteous dignity.
Red rose up into Kris's face and her hands curled into fists. Pete just stared back with a comical look of stubbornness on his face.
"In case you hadn't noticed, Peter," the hunter said between clutched teeth, "We are two women and the fucking church establishment frowns on what we are." Morgan moved forward and wrapped her arm around Kris rubbing her back reassuringly.
Peter smiled, "You using that as an excuse not to do the right thing," he asked accusingly.
"No!" snapped Kris.
"Good. Stow your gear. We'll get you hitched directly after we eat." ordered Pete as he walked away.
Two completely shocked women stood and watched him go. As he walked he raised his arm and a green parrot flew out of a near by tree and landed on his hand. He gentle lowered the bird to his shoulder where it perched happily as he climbed the stairs and disappeared into the cook house.
Kris turned and looked down at Morgan a look of shocked wonder on her face. Morgan on the other hand looked up in annoyance. "Who is Adam?!" she inquired poking Kris in the chest.
A bright red blush crept up Kris's face. "Ahh, well...lets go get our gear," mumbled the shaken warrior.
Morgan grabbed her arm and for the first time looked at Kris with real concern and insecurity. "Kris, are you married or something?" she asked in a soft, hurt voice.
Kris looked down at her feet and fidgeted in embarrassment as fear gripped Morgan's heart. "No, nothing like that Morgan. Adam is a...friend of Pete's. He thinks he's...well in love with me," stammered Kris awkwardly.
"Are you in love with him?" asked Morgan in a shaky whisper. Kris went even redder.
"Well?" asked Morgan desperately needing to know.
Kris looked up in shock, "Oh course not! Damn it! Adam is a monkey!"
There was a shocked silence then Morgan broke out into gales of laughter as Kris stood there in embarrassed silence. It finally ended with Morgan draped in Kris's arms for support wiping her eyes on Kris's shirt tail. "It isn't funny," remarked Kris with some dignity, "The damn thing keeps attacking me." The laughter started again and Kris was forced to hold the collapsing Morgan in her arms. "I repeat it is not funny." muttered Kris with a sigh. Morgan nodded her head in agreement the tears of laughter still streaming down her face.
Between bouts of laughter, the two managed to get their cargo transferred to a small hut. To Morgan's delight there was an old rusty double bed with a saggy, musty mattress. Outside, close to the edge of the rainforest, was an outhouse. Back behind Pete's house, there was a bath house where water could be heated in an old boiler so that a hot shower or bath became an added blessing. The place was heaven.
While Morgan got their bags reorganized and pulled out the items that were going to need washing, Kris went and fired up the boiler. Then the two of them stripped down and stood under the hose that gravity fed the warm water down on them. It was, Morgan concluded, the nicest shower she had ever had. Back at their hut they changed and lay together in the hammock on the small porch.
Kris's mind was a mass of conflicting views and emotions. Only two days ago, she had made it clear to Morgan that her life could still be in danger and she could offer her lover only the moment. Shit! They came from worlds miles a part both physically and in experiences. There was no common ground for them to build a life. And yet Pete's mad insistence on marrying them had been like an explosion that blew her pragmatic mind a part. However crazy the concept, Kris wanted this! She wanted Morgan in her bed, and in her life forever. She wanted commitment. She wanted a house, curtains, a damn pet and she wanted it with Morgan.
"Hmmm?" responded the little doctor turning to kiss Kris's throat.
"Will you marry me?" she asked nervously, looking down at the woman in her arms for some sign of hope.
"Marry you?" asked Morgan in surprise sitting up and looking into Kris's eyes.
Kris nodded seriously. " I love you Morgan. I want to make a life somehow with you. Will you marry me?" Kris asked again, her heart in a vise grip of anxiety.
Kris listened to the far away chirping of the tropical birds as the seconds passed. Morgan looked deep into her eyes searching their blue depths. What was going on here? Was this some kind of cruel joke? No, Kris wasn't like that. But she had said...
"Yes," came the simple answer. And two silly grins spread across their faces as Kris pulled Morgan into her arms for a tight hug.
They lay there for a while, Kris's arm wrapped around Morgan who drew figure eights gentle on the v of tanned skin between the collar of Kris's shirt. Morgan gave a soft giggle. "Whats so funny now?" asked Kris dreamily. She was in a state somewhere between shock and bewilderment at the course of events that had brought her to this moment.
"How am I going to explain to my middle class family that I married a gay exdruglord, who I barely know, in the middle of the Amazon Basin and that the priest was blue and the witnesses were a green parrot and a cayman called Katie."
Kris giggled softly. "Well, at the moment, it's one of the few places in the world were it could happen at all! And the parrot's name is Pecker. You worried about telling your parents about us?"
"Only the part were I tell my United Church family that I was married by a Catholic priest," giggled Morgan.
Kris's eyes got big, "Do you mean to tell me I'm marrying a heathen?!" she asked in mock horror. Morgan nodded, her eyes sparkling with merriment. Kris considered. "Well, O.K., but our kids have to be raised Catholic," mussed Kris and Morgan punched her.
"Ahh Kris, I know I'll probably regret asking but just why is our priest blue?"
Kris looked down at the golden top of Morgan's head as she snuggled into Kris's chest.
"He couldn't find a tux on short notice?" she offered and Morgan looked up and gave her a dirty look. Kris smiled, "Actually it's a sap from another tree. When you first take it out it's clear but if you rub it on your skin after about ten minutes it turns blue. The local Indians say that it keeps the mosquitoes away."
Morgan sat up, "Keeps the mosquitoes away! Why didn't you tell me?! Where do I get this stuff?" asked Morgan excitedly.
Kris rolled her eyes and sighed, "It doesn't wash off Morgan. Once it's on it is days before it eventually wears off."
"Don't care!" stated Morgan stubbornly.
Kris raised an eyebrow and looked at Morgan in mock anger, "Well I do! I'm not spending my wedding night with the bride's something blue being her entire body!" growled Kris and Morgan laughed delightedly.
Dinner was a merry affair. Pete turned out to be a basic but competent cook. They could choose from platters of fish, meat, fruit and yams and wash it all done with the local suds called Polar Beer. Pete kept them in stitches with stories about his animals with which he appeared to have a love/hate relationship. He finished by telling a few tales about Adam's courtship of Kris that had the doctor in tears and Kris red with embarrassment.
"Lucky for you Kris, old Adam has finally found a troop to join or I wouldn't know who to marry you off too!" laughed the outrageous priest. Then he turned and looked at Morgan, "Now doctor, you go get yourself pretty while I have a word here with Kris," ordered Peter suddenly serious. Morgan looked combative but Kris reached out and placed a reassuring hand on her knee and she nodded and got up. She gave Kris a quick kiss before heading back to their hut.
The priest sat for a while in silence playing with the moisture on his beer can. Kris waited. "She's a bright young thing, that's for sure," he commented.
"Yes, she is," responded Kris seriously.
"I got a radio message from Los Amazonos Compound a few days ago," revealed Peter looking at Kris. He saw her jaw set in anticipation of bad news. The only sign of emotion in her still features was the movement of neck muscles as she swallowed. So she knows, he concluded. "The Beast roughed up Carlos pretty bad. Fernando said he'll be all right though." Kris's head dropped hiding her features. "Carlos didn't talk but it didn't take much guess work for them to figure out you'd gone down river. He knows you're alive Kris and he'll take you and Morgan out when he comes. You know that don't you?"
Kris looked up, "He's not coming, Pete, ever," she explained.
Pete's eyes grew large in surprise. He reached over and covered Kris's hand. "If you need to talk..."
Kris shook her head. "He attacked Morgan. We fought. I won. Its over, I hope, although we've had a run in with Juan and his two pet goons since," explained Kris.
Peter nodded. "You'd do just about anything for that little one, wouldn't you warrior?"
The woman looked up, her blue eyes brilliant with their unearthly blue glow, "No limits, Pete, I would do anything for her," she replied honestly.
The old priest nodded. "Marriage, isn't about a legal document or the politics of faith, it is about making a commitment to someone else's life. You can't go into a marriage thinking about what it's going to give you. You gotta be thinking how you can change to accommodate that different being in order to give her happiness. Marriage is about giving not taking. You've been a loner all your life Kris, can you be a good partner?"
Kris watched a moth battle to get closer to the flame within a glass hood, "I know that I can't live without her. I know when she hurts I hurt. I..I..I've got to control my... violence. It scares her. She was involved in a gang attack against her boyfriend. He was killed and she was badly hurt." Kris's eyes moved to Pete's, "you saw the brace?" He nodded. Kris swallowed and looked at the table flicking bits of crumbs to the floor. " I don't know if I can be what she needs. I hadn't planned on this, it just happened. I just need her, Pete."
"Need? That's taking Kris. What are you willing to give?"
Kris looked up sharply and answered with fire, "Everything. Whatever it takes. I want this more than life itself, Father. I want to have a life with Morgan."
Peter smiled and nodded patting Kris's long, powerful hand. "Good girl. She's a damn lucky woman to have caught you." He chuckled at Kris's blush. "I'm going to have a talk with the other half now. Why don't you wait for us in the chapel?" He got up and left leaving the emotionally drained warrior sitting at the table.
Morgan brushed her hair absentmindedly worried about what Peter wanted with Kris. Did he understand how fragile a person the warrior was? How emotionally insecure?
"Hey, anyone home?" came a familiar voice.
"Come in Pete," responded Morgan putting down her brush and going to meet the grizzily old priest.
"So you sit down now and we'll have a little talk," said Peter pointing to the bed. Morgan sat on the edge suddenly nervous. Had Kris got cold feet? After all only two days ago she hadn't wanted to commit to anything more than one day at a time in their relationship. Peter pulled up an old wood chair and sat down. "You love her?"
Morgan looked him straight in the eye with clear, honesty written all over her face, " Yes, I love her. I'd do anything for her. She is everything I want," stated the doctor.
Peter's eyes narrowed, "What if she doesn't want you?" he asked shrewdly.
The little body hunched as if she had been hit. For a moment there was silence, then a very shaky voice responded. "Then I'd let her go. But life without her...I..I.." tears welled in the blond woman's eyes.
Peter looked alarmed and moved over to wrap an arm around Morgan, "Sweetheart, it's O.K. that woman loves you near to distraction. I just want to know how you feel about her. "
Morgan sniffled and looked up at the priest with renewed hope, "I love her. I can't explain it. It's not rational. I just know that without Kris, I'm not whole."
Pete looked at the floor for a bit and then sighed. "She's got an awful sinful past, Morgan. If you commit to her, you have to accept some of the responsibility for the consequences of her life. That's not very fair to you."
"Kris, wont ask anymore of me than I'm willing to give. But I can tell you Pete, there is nothing I wouldn't do for that woman. She's gone through hell and she deserves some love and happiness in her life," responded the petite doctor determinedly.
Peter looked deep into those passionate eyes, "What about what she is? You can't change that, Morgan. She is a very dangerous individual. I think sometimes she is not quite human."
"Then you don't know her like I do because she is the most loving and loyal human I have ever met. She is so vulnerable and she needs such tender care. I know she is violent. I know I can't change her nature but I can help her follow the path of good that she has started down. And I can make sure she is emotionally safe while she is out there facing the world alone."
Peter wrapped an arm around the remarkable young woman, "Honey. I gotta tell you if I wasn't afraid of been pummeled by a certain warrior and then hit by lightening from the Almighty, I'd marry you myself! Come on, lets get the two of you hitched."
Kris paced back and forth in front of the table that was the alter in the small bush hut. She noted that fresh orchids were sitting in a bowl. At another time she would have appreciated their beauty but now, now all she could think of was did Morgan love her enough to make a commitment to her? Would Pete make her realize that her violent soul would make it too painful for Morgan to have a life with her? For the third time she headed for the door to go find Morgan. Then she turned back again and stormed back to the alter to wait.
Suddenly, there was the gentle scent of sweet grass and sun baked herbs and she turned to see Morgan entering the small hut with Peter behind her. To her surprise, Peter was wearing a black robe and his collar. Pete lead Morgan across the room and placed her hand in Kris's then he stepped behind the alter and bent his head in prayer.
After a few minutes, he looked up to see the two women still standing transfixed in front of each other. "Kris Thanasis, before me and in this house of God, express your commitment to this woman."
Kris smiled softly looking at the woman she loved. She stepped closer and took both Morgan's hands. A woman of action not words, she bent her head to brush her lips gently over her soulmate's. "I love you. Please marry me, Morgan. I want to spend the rest of my life making you happy," whispered the warrior.
"Morgan Andrews, what is your commitment?" asked the priest.
Morgan's eyes opened dreamily, "I love you Kris Thanasis. Your passion, your gentleness and your warrior nature. I want nothing more than to be your partner.
"Kris, do you take this woman to be you partner and care for her and support her through the joy and the trials of life?
Morgan, do you take this woman to be your partner and care for her and support her through the joy and the trials of life?
"Then I bear witness that before God you have expressed your love and have joined as one. Please share a kiss to seal your ever lasting commitment of love."
Morgan slid her hands slowly up Kris's chest and Kris lowered her head until their lips touched and then the warrior pulled her partner to her as they let their lips express the emotion that each was feeling.
"Well congratulations Morgan," beamed Peter leaning forward to beck the beaming doctor on the cheek. Then he turned and shared a look with the warrior.
They wrapped their arms around each other and Kris whispered into his ear. "Thank you, for giving me my soul back." Pete patted her on the back and pulled away.
"Come on you two. I think this calls for a bit of a celebration!"
Kris had woke early and now lay staring up at the thatched ceiling of the hut her arm wrapped around the small doctor that she had taken as a life-long partner. Her mind was in such a state of shock that she had not been able to gather any coherent thought for a very long time. It was all so wonderful and absolutely bloody terrible at the same time. What had she been thinking of?! What had she done?! Christ! Morgan moved slightly in her sleep snuggling closer and the warrior automatically wrapped her tighter in her embrace. She smiled at the ceiling. I'm in love and the one I love has made a commitment to stay with me through life! The smile broadened into a particularly silly looking grin as she turned to wake Morgan with kisses moving from tender to passionate.
Later, Morgan lay beside her lover. Absently, running her fingers over the layers of muscle in Kris's forearm. Wow! I married this person. How am I going to explain this back home? Can I go home!? It's not a legal marriage or anything and yet for me it binds me to this woman closer than any blood link could. Does she feel the same? I
hope so because I don't think I could live without her. Morgan looked up to meet deep sated blue eyes. "Afternoon, my warrior," Morgan whispered leaning forward to plant a gentle kiss on Kris's lips.
The dark-haired hunter smiled back wrapping an arm around Morgan and pulling her in for a long kiss. "Mmmm, good afternoon, my special one," murmured Kris in a deep, husky voice that sent shivers to the core of Morgan's being.
"I was laying here trying to come to grips with what I've done," Morgan said idly tracing patterns across the contours of Kris's shoulder. The body beneath her touch went still.
"Y..Y..you don't have regrets this morning, do you Morgan? Did I hurt you? I..I'm stronger than most people... I might have...did I scare..." stammered the insecure being that lay within the warrior.
"Shhh, my hunter, shhh," reassured Morgan feathering kisses on Kris's tense lips. "You would never hurt me. You were strong, and passionate, and demanding and ever so caring."
The tall body beneath her relaxed a bit but worried blue eyes still watched her intently.
"You do want to be married to me, don't you Morgan?" came the shaky question.
Morgan buried her head deep into the soft curls that cascaded over Kris's neck. "Very much so my love. I am just...I guess starting to realize what it all means in terms of a life with you. We never discussed it. We just sort of moved on impulse."
Kris sat up and swung her legs over the bed continuing the smooth motion until she was on her feet. She walked over to the small table and poured herself some warm water from the flask there. Drinking it like she was tossing down a strong shot. Then she turned and looked at Morgan who was looking at her with worry. "Impulse! Impulse! What like getting drunk and ending up in some sleazy motel somewhere?!" The glass in Kris's hand shattered and blood and shards dropped like rain.
Morgan leaped from the bed and grabbed a towel to wrap Kris's hand. "Leave it, damn it!" growled Kris pulling her hand away.
"No!" snapped Morgan grabbing the arm and looking Kris in the eye, "That is not what I mean at all! Now give me your hand." Stiffly, Kris moved her hand back and Morgan gently wiped it clean, checking for any glass and then wrapping it in the towel. "Come over here," she coaxed pulling on Kris's arm. Morgan sat on the edge of the bed and patted the spot beside her. After a moment's hesitation Kris joined her.
Morgan turned and looked Kris in the eye, holding her chin with her hand. "Now you listen to me, warrior. I love you. And that is forever. You got that! I am not insecure about my love or my decision to take a vow of loyalty to you. I just need to talk to you about where we go from here. You understand?!" she demanded.
Kris swallowed and looked down. "You scared me. I..I..want this to work. Yeah, I woke up this morning thinking, oh shit, now what?!" Morgan chuckled and Kris gave a nervous smile. "I guess we need to find your Cats Paw samples first. That 'll mean we'll have to go back to the States. There are things here...I might have to come back...."
"We might have to come back," corrected Morgan firmly.
"No. I'm not pulling you into the shit of my past life. You are a new beginning. I don't want you to be part of the... violence again," stated Kris plucking at the bloody threads of the towel moodily.
"Too bad, Thanasis," stated Morgan with determination, "I married a warrior. My choice. And that means I have to find a way to live with what you are, not try to change you."
Kris's jaw tightened in anger, "Yeah, and what I am wont let me expose the one I love to danger."
Morgan smiled and rubbed a knuckle over Kris's tight jaw, " Yeah, well what I am wont let me leave your side if you are in danger! So I guess we'll just have to compromise and let me have my way," responded Morgan with a confident smile.
Blue eyes snapped up and bore into green. Then Kris laughed, "this is going to be one fiery marriage! So am I going to just sit here and bleed to death or are you going to stitch this hand," asked Kris.
Morgan sighed, "Seems like I'm always patching you up hunter!"
For a few weeks, they hiked around the near by rainforest looking for the Cats Paw vine without success. If possible, they returned to Pete's place each night otherwise they would camp out. Kris was delighted at how quickly Morgan had learned to understand and respect the world around her. She would only have to be told something once and she would remember. Now a few months after her arrival in the Amazon Basin, she could identify many plants and animals and was learning the uses of the vegetation that grew in the area.
Kris smiled softly, remembering the day that they had found the Cats Paw vine growing around the trunk of a fallen tree. They had collected samples of roots, leaves and stems and carefully packed them in Morgan's field kit. Kris realized pretty quickly that they had a problem as they turned to head back. But she didn't see any reason in worrying Morgan until they were safely back at Pete's. There she revealed to the disgusted doctor that they had picked up wood ticks from the fallen log.
They stripped down and sure enough the once barely visible boring creatures were now quite evident as tiny black spots, their bodies now engorged on the blood of the victims they were boring into. "Gross!" exclaimed Morgan but Kris just shrugged and smiled knowing there was far worse fates in the Amazon. She got a pair of tweezers and carefully pulled the ticks one by one out of her friend being careful to get the heads that were embedded under the skin so that tropical ulcers did not form. Then she spread on an antibiotic cream. Once finished, Morgan had seen to Kris's treatment and the medical exploration of Kris's body had lead to far more pleasurable pursuits.
"You're staring at me," remarked Morgan giving her soulmate a smile as she looked up from writing in her field journal. Although they had located plenty of Cats Paw now, Kris was continuing to provided Morgan with many different types of plants that were used by the Indian people. Morgan had carefully pressed, identified and recorded every example in her journals for future study.
Kris smiled back, "My prerogative," stated the warrior possessively. " I was thinking that you are really starting to know your way around this part of the Amazon Basin," Kris clarified.
"Are the other areas so different?" asked Morgan leaning forward and paying close attention. She had learned quickly that Kris was a store house of information on the rainforest. And she also knew to take advantage of the rare opportunities when the hunter relaxed and felt talkative. They were few and far between.
Kris considered, "Well, rainforest is rainforest. On the surface it's much the same where ever you go. But there are specialized life forms that create distinct regional differences in the flora and fauna. The Amazon is sort of ridged like an old wash board. Those elevations divide the basin into very different areas. That's why clear cutting is such a tragedy because once an areas gone, it's gone forever.
"Like the mystery plant in Peru," observed Morgan.
"Yeah, like that," agreed Kris putting away the rifle she had been cleaning as she sat on their saggy, old bed. She knew Morgan would not come close until the weapon was away and she had got so that she needed Morgan's touch like her brother needed his drugs. Love. Love was a wonderful form of vice, Kris thought.
Morgan got up and came over to sit beside Kris allowing the warrior to pull her close into her arms. Kris was like that. She never asked. Rarely showed weakness. But she got this look in her eye, like a lost, hurt child and then Morgan knew that she needed her love to keep her memories at bay. They sat quietly now, the smaller woman enjoying the play of candle light across Kris's tanned muscles as she allowed her insecure lover to reestablish the warmth she found only with her.
"Eh!? You two decent?" came Pete's grumpy voice from out in the darkness.
Kris sighed, "Come in Peter," she called holding on tightly to Morgan to let her know that she had no intention of releasing her little lover no matter who walked in. Morgan
leaned back again into Kris's embrace. Letting her know with her body language that
she was comfortable with their love.
Pete hopped in out of the darkness with his funny bouncy step and plunked himself down in the chair that Morgan had not long ago vacated. "Gotta tag the cayman tonight Kris. Could do with some help. I'm gettin a might old for hopin in and outa dugouts."
"Sure Pete. Glad to help out. You can handle the canoe and Morgan can hold the light while I go over board and catch the 'cators," organized Kris swinging both Morgan and herself up onto their feet.
"Hang on here!" interrupted Morgan holding out her arms to stop the two crazy people who she loved very much. "Your better half needs more information. Am I to understand that you want Kris to get into the river in the middle of the night and catch alligators with her bare hands!?"
Pete and Kris looked at each other and shrugged, "Yes," they said together.
"No!" responded Morgan taking Kris's arm. "If you don't mind, I'd rather my marriage last at least until next month!"
Peter snickered, "Henpecked," he muttered behind his hand.
Kris blushed red and stiffened. "Ahh Morgan, it's O.K. I've done this before. We are only after little ones. You'll see, its relatively safe."
Morgan looked up at her partner, "Relatively. Great. I'm a doctor so I know these things. If there are little ones then there is a mom and dad near by." Kris raised an eyebrow and looked at Pete. Pete looked at Morgan. Morgan sighed, "O.K. But I'm not patching you up if some alligator bites you, Thanasis!"
Pete and Kris beamed like little children who had been allowed to go to the amusement park. "It's fun Morgan," she said, "You'll see," she reassured as the three headed towards the beach.
Neither woman was surprised to see that Pete had already packed the necessary cargo into the dugout. " O.K. we are going to catch allicators in the middle of the night, why?" asked Morgan as she settled on the slat of wood that acted as a bench in the dugout.
"The cayman are becoming endangered Morgan, Pete and others are tagging the populations so that they can be studied and a better plan can be developed to protect them," explained the hunter using her powerful shoulders to propel them through the darkness. Morgan looked around unable to see anything but the stars over head. How the two veterans knew their way through the darkness was beyond her. The river and rainforest were one black veil to her, in fact she could barely make out Kris paddling the canoe steadily down river only a few feet in front of her.
After a time, they quietly drifted towards shore and Kris signaled to Morgan to turn on the powerful light. Red, beady eyes stared back at them from the tangle of branches edging the water. Kris balanced on her toes ready as Peter silently headed their craft closer. With barely a ripple, Kris was over the side and reaching through chest deep water for the two foot long body that was trying to slip through the branches. With considerable splashing the young cayman fought it's captor but Kris held on to the jaws and tail of the reptile and passed it up to Pete. Then she hoisted herself up into the dugout and prepared a tag. Using a pair of pliers she clipped the plastic tag on to the 'captor and then Pete lowered the creature back over the side.
Morgan watched with fascination. The spotlight highlighted her lover in sharp relief, as golden muscles flexed, glistening with moisture as she fought the power of the primitive creature in her strong hands. It was like a flashback to some ancient time. The savage beauty of the scene hit some cord deep inside Morgan that she could not comprehend other than to know that some trace memory within her had experienced something like this before.
Kris sensed Morgan's eyes on her and squatted down in front of her partner. Morgan looked up into a strong, angular face outlined with wet, dark hair. A wave of desire washed down her body and settled in her loins. Kris gave a lazy, sexy smile and leaned over and captured Morgan's lips. Oh God! Right here. Right now! Morgan's mind cried.
"Would you two knock it off!" growled Peter and Kris leaned back and winked a promise at her lover. "Hell, have you two damn women forgotten you're in the company of a man of the cloth!"
Morgan and Kris looked at the scruffy, swearing old man and broke out laughing.
Peter scowled good naturedly, "That's what I get for marrying ya. Now the two of you are ganging up on me!" They paddled on and tagged a half dozen cayman before heading back. Morgan helped the two 'cator hunters carry the gear back to Peter's storage hut. Then she walked hand in hand with Kris back to their quarters. She knew her warrior was tired. Even small allicators are very powerful and the water had chilled her lover's body.
"I'm just going to shower the 'cator smell off me," yawned Kris, "Why don't you go ahead and warm the bed for me."
Morgan reached up and gentle kissed her lover's lips. "Don't be long, my hunter. You need some rest." Kris nodded and walked away into the darkness. She did not come back.
Continued - Part 5 (Conclusion)
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