Two Scrolls in One



Disclaimers: All characters appearing in "Xena: Warrior Princess" and "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" are the property of MCA/Universal/Renaissance Pictures, are used without permission and with no intention of copyright infringement or intent to profit thereby. All other characters, plot, setting and other story elements are my own and belong to me.

These stories caricature alcoholic intoxication and gluttony, contain allusions to violence, and allusions to a romantic/erotic relationship between persons of the same sex. if you are offended by these depictions, or if you are under 18, please read another work.

Summary: Two very short stories that look at events "between the scrolls" in our heroine's early life together. In the first, set after the events of "Destiny/The Quest/A Necessary Evil", our heroes/heroines meet for a celebratory dinner and some revealing interaction with an old friend of Hercules. In the second, after the incidents in "Crusader", our heroines explore their relationship while they discuss the nature of the universe. The obligatory "first-time" story, but there's no explicit sex in it. Honest. Read the story and see.


Party of Six

"Iolaus, you son of a snake! How in Hades' name are you?"

The blond man turned in surprise, then his eyes widened in recognition. He moved to embrace the man who had spoken and pounded him on the back.

"Rizicci, you scum! Good to see you. What are you doing here?"

"On my way to Sparta. I arrived in Piraeus a fortnight ago. And you?"

"Hercules and I are passing through. Stopped to meet some old friends. By the gods, this is great! How long, Riz? Five years?"

"Six. I've been around. How is the Big Man?"

"Still big. Not much different from when you were with us last. Lots of travels since then."

"For me, also. Some very long roads."

"Well, you'll have to tell me about it. If you're in no rush, join us. We're having dinner in the tavern right down the street. Come along...I guarantee you'll meet some interesting people."

"Ah, a challenge. How can I say no? At your service, old friend."

Iolaus led the way to a stone building with a flagstone courtyard, tables scattered about. At a large round table under a great oak tree on the edge of the stone floor sat Hercules, legs extended into the courtyard, arms thrown over two empty chairs. He seemed to take up twice the space of a normal man. Iolaus brought Rizicci to the table. Hercules grinned and extended his hand to him.

"Riz, ol' buddy! Back to trouble us some more. Gods, it's good to..."

"Already said that, Herc. Let's cut to the chase. Drink, Riz? Their wine is good. Or something stronger?"

"Wine will be excellent." Rizicci unbuckled his decorative scabbard, leaned his sword against the table, and took a seat.

"Three wines, my good man." Iolaus turned from the host, spoke to Hercules. "Now isn't this a coincidence. We're here to meet Xena and Gabrielle, and look who pops up. Old home week."

Rizicci's eyebrows went up. "Xena? The Destroyer of Nations? That Xena? Unless there is another by that name."

Iolaus shook his head. "Nope. She's the one."

Rizicci's lips pursed. "Odd company you're keeping these days, my friends."

Hercules played with his wine cup. "Yeah, well, that's a kind of long story. But it seems..."

"You know her, Riz?"

"By reputation. Not a very savory one. And you know"

We had a...disagreement. A misunderstanding, really."

"Yeah.. she misunderstood what it was to tell the truth." Iolaus sneered into his wine.

"Now, come on, Iolaus, I thought that was over. She said she was sorry."

"I know. But it if it wasn't for Gabrielle...oh, I don't know. It's all right."

Hercules turned back to his guest. "Anyway, she figured out that it was better to be on the right side than not. She decided that she'd rather help people than...well, she gave up the warlord business. She's in the same racket I am, sort of, now. Protecting villagers, stopping wars, that kind of thing. She's actually a very...well, she has a lot of good qualities..."

"'Hhemm." Iolaus cleared his throat significantly. Hercules looked at him with annoyance.

"...and she's just letting them come out."

"Ah." Rizicci stroked his elegantly trimmed mustache. "A transformation. I can assure you, I understand that situation quite well. As a former -- ah, reformed -- thief, it tickles my imagination to hear of the Warrior Princess sacrificing at the altar of the greater good."

"You're sure it's 'former', now, Rizzy?"

"Quite. The job I did for you was the first truly honest bit of legerdemain I had performed -- for a higher cause, you might say. And it did my heart good to see that set of scrolls restored to their rightful owners."

"The Appoline Priests were very grateful. Too bad you didn't stick around for any of the credit."

"My welcome in this country had worn a bit thin. I felt it better to seek other, more hospitable climes."

"So how have you been making a living? No more second-story jobs?"

"No. Nor the long con, short con, or any variation thereof. I've applied my skills to a more legitimate -- and lucrative -- line of work."

"And what might that be?"

"Advisor to kings, princes, and potentates."

"Seriously." Both the other men stared in frank disbelief.

"Yes, quite seriously." Rizicci stroked his long brown hair. "You'd be surprised how many royal houses are ruled by men whose mental faculties are...shall we say, diluted. They find a man of my type very supportive of their ambitions. And I always deliver the goods."

"What goods, Rizzi? What do you do?"

"A little of this, a little of that. Advice. Negotiations. Treaties. Embassies. Whatever it takes to lubricate the delicate machinery of statecraft. While it is true that the gods side frequently with the biggest armies, it can often be said that a soft, well-placed word is worth many a warrior."

"What happens when you're wrong?"

"Ah, my large friend, I'm very rarely wrong. I have a talent for observation and analysis of people, in a business where such observation is the essence of success. I daresay I can come close to reading the mind of the man across the table, once I've had an opportunity to hear him speak his mind, or what he presents as such. The secret to this business is to let him do most of the talking."

But when you guess wrong..."

"There are few principalities not equipped with the headman's block. But I have an ear for trends. When the going appears to get tough, I am quite ready to get going."

"So where have you been working this scam lately?"

"Tyre. It seems the princess there was to be married to..."

"Hello, boys."

A sultry voice rolled on Rizicci's ears. He turned. behind him stood a tall, beautiful woman, buxom and wonderfully formed, with long raven hair. She was clad in some outlandish armor, wristlets and high boots. From his vantage point seated under her attributes he could see little more at that moment. But what he saw was impressive.

Hercules rose and embraced the newcomer. "Xena. So good of you to be here." Iolaus rose and embraced the warrior's companion, a smaller, impishly lovely woman with strawberry hair, dressed simply in green and brown, holding a long walking stick. Rizicci didn't quite catch her name.

Hercules stood aside, indicated Rizicci. Rizicci unfolded his long thin frame from the chair and regarded the lady before him. Magnificent. The tales were true, at least in part -- seductive and dangerous.

"Xena, I'd like you to meet a friend of mine. Rizicci of Syracuse."

The warrior smiled at him. "Pleased to meet a friend of Hercules." She extended her hand.

Rizicci bowed, took the offered hand and planted a light kiss thereon. "Your servant, madam."

Iolaus laughed. "Oho, 'madam'. Let's not be so formal, Riz."

"I see no reason not to be gracious to a beautiful lady."

"And I see no reason to be flattered by a line of bull, from such a gallant...person," Xena replied most calmly.

Rizicci straightened, smiled. "I see you are as intelligent as you are beautiful." Turning, he asked "And this is...?"

"Gabrielle. From Poitidea." She offered her hand and it was kissed in the same fashion, but Gabrielle seemed less put off than did her companion.

Hercules said, "Sit down, let's celebrate!"

Gabrielle said, "Yes, let's!"

Rizicci asked, "What are we celebrating? Mind you I need no real reason..."

Hercules smiled at the tall woman. "Xena's return from the dead."

Rizicci turned his eyes on Xena. "From the dead, you say?"

She looked back at him with piercing, fascinatingly blue eyes. "It's a long story."

Rizicci shook his head in slight confusion. "I seem to have come in at the end of a number of long stories. But I would be pleased to share your celebration with you, if you don't mind."

"Not at all. Hercules, we'll go over and get some drinks. We'll be right back."

Iolaus grinned at Rizicci. "Laying it on a bit thick, aren't we?"

"Oh, the Tyrians are quite affected. But the gallantry does seem to impress the ladies. It's a habit I found easy to adopt."

"Well, I'd be a little cautious with Xena. She's not easy to impress."

"I'd imagine. She appears quite independent-minded."

"You caught that -- well, you are an observer. Say, Herc, this might be a chance to settle The Argument." He pronounced the capital letters.

"What arg...oh no, not that. Not again. Besides, it's none of our business. Why get in a knot over it?"

Rizicci was intrigued. "What is this argument?"

Hercules ran his hand through his hair. "Oh, Iolaus seems to think that Xena and Gabrielle have...well, that they're a little more than friends."

"A lot more." Iolaus was emphatic.

"Do I understand that you are curious about their...domestic arrangements?"

"Well, not so much curious, really as..."

Hercules grinned, slapped Iolaus on the back. "He has it bad for Gabrielle. He wants to know if she's available."

"Why don't you just ask her?"

Hercules answered. "Would you want to compete with Xena?"

"I see. I do believe I see."

Iolaus protested, "That's not it at all. It's purely a matter of...historical accuracy."

Rizicci fingered the rim of his cup. "Whatever the motive, it should prove interesting. Would there be...some incentive to resolve this question?"


"Come, now, Hercules. Friendship is one thing, but this is my profession. Surely..."

"How about free drinks and I buy you dinner? Hercules sat up straighter in his chair. Rizicci seemed to grow thinner.

"Ah...that will be acceptable. And you wish me to probe the nature of their relationship?"

Iolaus said, "Whatever you can."

"Very well. This should be interesting."

Rizicci seated himself next to Hercules, so he could face the chairs in which the women sat when they returned. They did so soon enough, Xena carrying a large clay flask and a cup, Gabrielle with a cup only and a rather large plate of food. Iolaus remarked, "that reminds me..." and he repaired to the serving counter, returning himself with comestibles. He said "I asked for a feast. Since we're here to celebrate the life of the living Xena, our host's going to set out a spread."

Gabrielle, around a rib of pork, said, "Good, a party needs food."

With drinks all around, Hercules raised his cup. "To Xena! May she live long and prosper. And confusion to Ares!"

"To Xena!"

"Here, here!"

The clink of cups echoed around the table. Xena quickly slugged down some clear liquor from the flask and poured another.

"I'll drink to that! From one mighty warrior to another!"

They all looked up. Joxer the Mighty stood behind Rizicci's chair, a tall mug raised in one hand. "The stablemaster said you'd be here, Xena, Gabrielle. I knew you'd be upset if I didn't come by." He raised his mug again, drank....raised it again in Gabrielle's direction. "To Gabrielle!" He drank again, swayed. "Maybe I should sit down..."

Hercules pulled out an empty chair and helped Joxer's bottom find the seat without too much wandering. It was obvious that Joxer was pleasantly illuminated.

Joxer, sitting next to Gabrielle, leaned across her to address Xena. Gabrielle pulled back from him. "So, you were dead, eh, Xena. Gotta be careful with that. All too often you can stay dead. Been dead myself a couple of times. Just happens to a fighting man, you know..."

"Joxer, it wasn't really pleasant and I don't want to talk about it." Xena grabbed his ear, the one away from the table. Rizicci couldn't see what she was doing but it was clear Joxer, whoever he was, wasn't comfortable with her touch. He grimaced and sat back in his seat, his hand to his ear.

"Well, yeah, sure, everybody's got their own being dead stories, I guess." he smiled wanly at Gabrielle. She rolled her eyes.

Rizicci decided to do a little probing. As the food arrived, heaped on huge platters, he said to Xena, "You may not know it, but you and I have indeed spoken at one time, although not directly."

"Really? Where?" The warrior princess turned a cold gaze on him.

"Miletus. During the siege."

"Ah, I remember. Not the most profitable venture I ever undertook."

"I fear I may have had something to do with that."


"Ah, yes, but, given your reputation, I'm not sure I want you to know how I did you out of your expected returns."

Gabrielle spoke up, put her hand gently on her friend's shoulder. There was a smile in her voice, a little lilt. "You needn't worry, Rizzici. Xena's a changed woman." Gabrielle gave her friend's shoulder a little rub, a little pat; her hand lingered a little longer and Xena didn't seem to mind.

"Gabrielle overstates things. But it's true, I'm not into revenge at this point in my life. Was it you that got that message through my lines? The army from Troy was an inconvenience."

"No, and I'm sorry that had to happen. Too many good men died because one of the Duke's other counselors got overzealous, thought we could get away with paying you nothing. Although what he promised the Trojans for their assistance...far more expensive than negotiating with you."

"It's usually not very healthy to try to negotiate with me. It wasn't my style, not then. But the offer was hard to resist. A fleet? six ships? Was that your idea?"

"Humbly, yes. Although I wanted to offer you four. The Duke was quite frightened of you."

"Ah, well." The warrior woman swayed a little, put her chin on her hand. "Better to be feared than loved. That was my philosophy then."

Gabrielle put her hand gently on her partner's arm. "But not now."

Xena looked affectionately into Gabrielle's eyes. "No. Not now."

She turned back to Rizicci. "Very clever of you. Did you write the message?"


And I suppose the Milesians replaced them shortly."

"Within two months. Expropriated for unpaid harbor fees. Ah, harbor fees went up rather sharply after the siege ended."

Xena cocked her head to one side. "And not a dinar changed hands. I must have been half asleep. Not what I had hoped for, in gold, but they paid quite a profit inside of a year. Six years ago. Too bad."

Hercules just shook his head. Gabrielle looked mystified. "What was too bad?"

Xena waved a hand, hiccuped slightly. "Not important now, Gabrielle. Old news."

Iolaus said "Well Gabrielle, it seems..."

"I said, not important now...Iolaus..."

"Let him tell it, Xena. We all have our little failings." Hercules tried to hide a smile.

Iolaus went on. "It seems that Xena turned command of her fleet over to a captain who was more greedy that he was cautious. He heard about a Persian treasure fleet headed for Pergamum and sailed full tilt to catch it. It was a trap; he was boxed in by almost the entire Athenian navy."

"What happened?"

"Well, the ships are now in the Athenian service. The captain jumped overboard and swam to shore."

Rizicci set a barb. "Why ever would she pick such a man for such an important post?"

Iolaus was about to say something when Xena's fist thumped the table. "Ah, I'll tell you later, Riz." Behind his hand he made silent kisses in Rizicci's direction, then licked his lips. Rizicci nodded imperceptibly. Gabrielle shook her head. "Did I miss something?"

"Don't worry about it, Gabrielle." Xena drained her cup, poured the last of the liquor from her second flask, and raised it to signal the host for another.

Gabrielle looked disapproving. "Xena. Come on, Xena, you know you shouldn't drink so much. It can't be good for you. And on an empty stomach. Eat something. You'll get sick. Especially on this stuff." She picked up the empty flask, sniffed, recoiled. "Sweet gods, this is pure alcohol! What is it, anyway?"

"Something they make from grain and turnips, somewhere up north. It's very warming. I used to almost live on it when Bor...". Her eyes, which had begun to glaze over after the first flask, began to tear up. She shook her head, cleared the fog. "Anyway. It's good stuff. Try some."

Gabrielle's eyes clouded momentarily, and her face became coldly impassive. "You know I can't hold my liquor like you can. But you should stop now. Haven't you had enough?"

Xena draped her arm over the bard's shoulder, nuzzled close to her cheek. "I'll know when I've had enough, thank you, my dear...friend. And haven't you had enough?"

"Enough what?"

"That's the third chicken I've seen being hacked to bits on that plate of yours. Or is it the fourth? Can that much to eat be good for you? You'll get so big Argo won't carry you."

"Xena, that's different. Food's not poisonous, like that stuff has to be. I know when I'm full. And besides, this is a party. I can..."

"...and so can I. I'm Xena, I'm alive, I'm having a great time, and I want everybody to know it!" She took a swig of her drink, grabbed the lit candle on the table. Gabrielle tried to stop her, snatch the candle out of her hand, but she was too slow. Xena tilted her head back, lifted the candle...

"Xena, don't!"

...sprayed the liquor from her mouth. A plume of fire blossomed in the air high over the table, igniting as it passed through the candle flame. It lit up the dusky evening and dissipated rapidly, but not before a murmur of alarm rolled through the other patrons.

Gabrielle put both hands to her face, swiped them down, looked sadly at Xena. She muttered, "I can't take you anywhere, can I?"

Xena laughed.

The host came over to Hercules, bent down between him and Rizicci. "Sir, kind sir, please, I don't want to spoil things here, but, if you other customers..."

"I understand, goodman. It won't happen again." He caught Xena's rather unfocused glance. "Xena...please try and not do that."

"Well, Hercules, it is a Greek tavern." Gabrielle looked frustrated and threw up her hands.

Hercules smiled. "Sure. But the host doesn't find firebreathing good for his business."

Xena was contrite. "Okay, Hercules. No more fireworks."

Gabrielle put her palms flat on the table. "How come you'll listen to him but you won't listen to me?"

"'s not...oh, Gabrielle, lighten up."

"Lighten up!? What do you..." Xena put her hand on Gabrielle's, squeezed it gently, looked again into her eyes. Gabrielle stopped speaking and put her other hand on Xena's, looked away into the distance. Xena gave her a lopsided smile which Gabrielle didn't see.

Joxer had spent most of the evening with his chin on the table, looking like a disembodied head someone had put there as a decorative piece. He had been soaking up ale like dry sand, and now he looked at Xena, and slurred, "Y'know, y'look like Maggy...meggie...Meg...look a lot like her..that smile'a'hers, yeah, what a b..."

Gabrielle said "Joxer! What's wrong? Are you mad at Meg?" Rizicci could hear her mutter under her breath, "Please, no, please, no..."

But Joxer wasn't picking up details. "Yeah, I am, the little...too many beefy boys in that kitchen...and a warrior jus'has't'move aroun', y'know, can't stay there too long, keep an eye'n'er...b'sides..." -- he looked up at Gabrielle with eyes as big as Xena's chakram -- "..guy's got other interes', y'know..."

Gabrielle grabbed him by the hair, got right up in his face. "Now look here, you're Joxer the Mighty!" Everyone at the table grinned at this display, except Xena, who was in her own little Elysium. Gabrielle's voice got shrill. "You march right back to the palace and you tell Meg you're her man and you won't put up with any funny business! Nobody takes Joxer's woman!! Right?"

Joxer grinned, put his hands on the table "R..rrr..ight!" He tried to push himself up and didn't quite make it all the way. "Maybe not rrr..rright now..." He slid to the floor like a limp rag.

Hercules and Iolaus helped him up, put him back in his chair. Hercules smiled at Gabrielle. "Great pep talk. Don't worry, we'll get him a place for the night and see him on his way in the morning. If he can still see, that is."

Gabrielle stood up, said "I think we'd better be going, too. It's time for a sleepy warrior to go to beddy-bye." She put her hand under Xena's armpits, tried to lift her out of the chair; she might as well have tried to lift Argo. Hercules gently pulled Xena to her unsteady feet and draped one of her arms over his shoulders. Gabrielle wrapped the other of her friend's arms over her shoulders and said "I think I can do this myself." She gave Xena a gentle slap on the cheek. "Xena? Xena? Come on, we're going home now."

"Home? Amphipolis?"

"No, just our room. The inn. You remember?"

"Inn..all right." She turned her rheumy eyes on the bard. "I'll tuck you in."

"We'll see. Goodbye, Hercules, Iolaus. I'd hug you but I'm kind of tied up at the moment. Maybe I'll see you tomorrow before you leave."

"Probably not. We're leaving early and she'll have to sleep it off."

" safe. Fortune watch you both. She gave each a peck on the cheek. "Oh, and..Rizicci. I'm sorry we didn't get to know each other better. It was nice to meet you."

Rizicci bowed elaborately. "I can assure you, my dear, the pleasure was entirely mine. Give my regards to Xena when she is more...ah, receptive."

Gabrielle staggered off with the Warrior Princess, only somewhat sure of her direction, shakily navigating their way home.

As the women faded out of sight down the dark street, Iolaus turned to Rizicci. "Well? I know there wasn't much to see, with Xena getting drunk like that. Do you have any conclusions?"

"Gentlemen, it was a most informative evening. The lady's intoxication merely made my job that much easier. She was quite uninhibited near the end."

"And? Are they?" Iolaus asked.

"Or aren't they?" Asked Hercules with a sour look at his friend.

Rizicci stroked his mustache. "I am quite convinced. I can describe exactly what those two lovely ladies are to each other. "

"So tell, already."

Rizicci said "They're not lovers. No, not any more."

Hercules glared at Iolaus. "Are you satisfied?"

"Wait a minute. You said 'not any more.' Were they lovers?"

"Oh, yes. Indeed yes. But that doesn't describe them now."

"And what does?"

"Oh, they are quite past the 'lovers' stage." Rizicci lifted his wine cup, paused. "They're married."

The End


Theory and Practice

Nitpicking: I know astronomers will have a cow at this but that's why it's called "fiction".


"The stars are beautiful tonight."

"It's so clear. That short rain yesterday cleared the dust out of the air."

"I can see those pictures I told you about."

She scares me still. I was never this scared in Poitidea. Then again I was never this excited either. I find I like living on the edge of danger, I like it when my heart races. Do being excited and frightened go together?

"Do you see what I mean by a bear?"

"That's a stretch of the imagination. Maybe it's a snake, unwinding, ready to strike."

"That's one possibility."

I almost abandoned her to a murderer. Fine friend you are. But you're a murderer, aren't you, many times over. You almost killed her once. Is that over? For her? I know she didn't kill my son. I know she was protecting her child as much as I wanted to protect mine. But I almost killed her. I have nightmares about that.

"The fire's burning down."

"Let it. It's too warm. We don't need it."

"It is warm. I'm sweating."

I didn't want her to leave me. But I thought I was going somewhere safe. She thought she was bad for me, but what I was leaving her for was worse. Violence and danger are everywhere, and being without her won't make me any safer. I feel safe when I'm with her, even though I know she's dangerous. That doesn't make sense, does it? That I should feel safe and threatened at the same time.

"Here. Drink some water."

I'm attracted to her, I know that. I'm afraid if she stays with me I'll just use her, like I've used every man or woman I've been close to. She deserves better than to be used by me.

"I like to think that one's Achilles."

"Why Achilles?"

"Someone heroic, anyway."

She's always been a man's woman. Marcus, Borias. Hercules. How could I think she'd ever be interested in me? I know I'm interested in her. Very interested. I'm attracted to her, she's very -- seductive, yes. I love her hair, her body...those incredible eyes. Stop having fantasies. She's your friend and that's all she'll ever be.

"Heroic? What is it about seven stars that reminds you of a hero?"

Something has to happen here. I can't keep sneaking away and satisfying myself while she's busy writing. I can't keep sending her off to the Academy or the Amazons every few months while I buy some whore's favors just to keep me from going crazy.

"It's actually ten. You see those faint ones on the left? They're the scabbard of a sword, hanging from his belt."

Do you know what I'm doing when you think I'm sleeping? I shared a room with Lilla all my life and I learned to be very, very quiet about my adventures with my body. I think you'd be shocked at my fantasies. I can't keep feeling this way and not do something about it.

"So how is it like a person?"

I've had other women. Loving you, making love to you, wouldn't be hard for me. I know how to please a woman. But're still innocent in that. I don't know how much experience you've had, other than Perdicus, but I'll bet everything I own except Argo that you've never even kissed another woman. Even me. It wasn't my body, you know. know. And maybe I felt what you really wanted in that kiss. How can I be sure?

"Well, the two above the belt are like his arms, holding up a sword and a shield. And the two below are his legs."

I love you. I've tried to show you. A peck on the cheek at night is only a fraction of what I'd like to do.

"And why he? why isn' a she?"

Well, it could be you. We could name it after you."

"I don't think so."

You tell me you love me so often. What do you mean? Friendship? Loyalty? I have a hard time with loyalty. Fear and betrayal are more my style. Sex? Why would I think you would want sex with me? Because I imagine making love with you, because I dream about it? Stop this wishful thinking. She's not interested in you that way. She needs affection and care, not sex.

"Maybe he's hunting."

Maybe I should say 'I'm in love with you.' Would that mean more to you? I have this whole physical thing going on, and so much more than that. I want to be with you for the rest of my life, I want to hold you in the night, wash your hair and read to you and nurse you if you get sick. When did I admit that to myself? The feeling's very old.

"What would he be hunting?"

I need to take care of you. You're so vulnerable. That's why I haven't tried to seduce you. I'd be taking advantage of you. I want to be past that. If we became lovers...if we did, I'd want to know that you wanted it as much as I.

"The bear. See?"

I'm not fragile, you know. Oh, I'm no tough warrior, but I can take a few knocks. You've already done the worst you could to me. You tried to kill me and you tried to leave me. And you know what? You couldn't go through with either one. And I survived. I'm tougher than you think. You can tell me the truth. I can take it.

"Maybe we should name it after Hercules."

I never felt so lonely and lost as when I saw her walking with that woman, the way she's walked a thousand times with me. I've thrown away a lot of things and people in my life, but I never thought it would hurt so much to lose someone like that. I was jealous, and I never knew I felt that way about her enough to be jealous.

"You're being modest."

If she'd just say a word, touch me, give me a sign, I'd fall into her lap. She could have anything from me. But I have to remember that she's good at using people. Manipulative, dangerous. How could I be in love with such a person? Because she's kind and caring. Beautiful. I trusted her from the moment I saw her. What kind of woman am I?

"I just don't want my name plastered all over the sky."

If I knew, if I was sure you wouldn't be angry or frightened, I'd give myself to you in a second. I'd go that far. Both because I want to and because I never want to risk losing you again. How could I fall in love with someone like you? You're so different from me. You're afraid of me but you stand up to me. Gods, I never want you to fear me. But I know you do.

"Do you ever wonder how far away they are? What they're made of?"

Do you really want her? What about men? Don't you want a husband? Someday?

"They're just holes. The sky is a dome, and the stars are holes in it."

I look at you and think that I could love only you forever. What is so special about you? I've never felt that way about anyone else. No one has ever held my heart, my loyalty, like you do. This is insane. People like me don't fall in love.

"Where'd you get that idea?"

I do like men. But I love her. I want her more than anyone I've ever known. I've always found certain women attractive, I guess. It's not such a big jump to fall in love with her.

"I don't know. Doesn't everybody know that?"

I've never been this foolish about someone since I was a girl. I always take what I want. Why can't I take her? Why I can't I just ignore her, ignore the way she makes me feel and get on with my life? What have you done to me? I feel helpless with you. I can't send you away and I can't move forward.

"I think they're very far away. That's why we can't touch them."

I really am ready, you know. Just lying here, not even touching, you excite me. Maybe it's your scent. Or the memory of your eyes. Or something. It's your soul. I'm hypnotized by your soul, your spirit. I could do this. We're all alone, the night is warm, all I'd have to do is touch your hand. But, oh gods, what if she said no?

"What holds them up? Why don't they fall to the ground?"

I should just roll over and put my arms around her. Maybe that's all it would take. But, oh, the consequences if I'm wrong about her. She says she loves me but that could mean anything.

"I don't know. Maybe..."

What have I got to lose? Everything, actually. If she said no then there'd be no future for us. How could we be friends if I tried to seduce her and failed? There'd always be that awkward memory between us.

"Maybe what?"

Find an excuse to touch her. Do it! It can't be any worse than what its like now. If she says no, then you go on, and see what happens later. You could do that. 'Oh, it was just a misunderstanding'. Or something like that. Don't be an idiot. You could lose her completely.

"Maybe they're so far away that whatever makes things fall down doesn't work out there."

If she doesn't touch me I think I'm going to scream. That would be romantic, wouldn't it?

"Whatever makes things fall down? I know, I never really did think about that."

I'm going to have to look at her. I shouldn't. Watching her lie here gets me so aroused. I don't want to have to go off in the woods again, but she has that effect on me.

"Maybe the ground attracts things. Maybe the closer thing are to the ground the more strongly they're attracted. That's why the stars don't fall. They're too far away to be attracted to the earth."

Can't you see I'm talking about attraction? Don't you get the message, woman? Help me out, here.

"That's the weirdest idea I've ever heard. Why should the earth attract things?"

You are delicious to look at. So small and delicate, but strong, too. Gods, I want you. Why don't you just touch her?

"I'm not sure about that part. Maybe everything, every body in the universe, is attracted to every other one."

Listen to what I'm thinking, not what I'm saying!

"But... I don't get it. They have to be close to each other?"

Are you trying to seduce me with all this attraction talk? Because if you are it's working. Or are you just chattering?

"The closer they are the stronger the attraction. Bodies that are very close fall toward each other, like an apple falling to the earth from a tree."

Move close to me, you! Please...maybe if I move a little bit...

"The earth doesn't fall toward the apple. That blows that theory."

Your eyes are so beautiful. I want to kiss you. What would you do? Is it worth the risk to find out?

"But maybe the earth is so big that the apple's attraction doesn't move it enough to notice. Sometimes it takes a lot of attraction to move something."

I'm going to touch you. Just enough to notice. Please don't be afraid.

"If you're right, there's an attraction between our bodies right now."


"I'd say it was a fairly strong attraction."


"I know I want to get closer to you."

Stop thinking and do this!

"Then come here. hold me."

She kisses so warmly, so strongly. It's intoxicating.


What a sweet kiss. Soft and gentle. Surprise!

"Don't stop there. I've wanted this for a long time."

Her vision haunts her. She's afraid to become closer because she thinks I'll die in her company. I don't believe it but if it happens, it happens. Even if we can see the future we can't control it. I need you to do this. I love you so much, it aches. Please -- relieve that ache. Tell me you love me. Show me you love me.

"Me, too."

Damn you, Alti! The vision haunts me. Of all the ways for me to learn she was alive -- to show me her death! I can't get it out of my mind. I want to protect her. How can I do that when she's in the same danger as I, day after day? I want to change her destiny. I can't help this. I love you. How can I change the future? How can I govern my own heart?

"I want to be good to you. How do I do this?"

We live or die together. So be it.

"Don't worry. I'll show you. Just don't think too hard."


"I love you."

"I love you, too."

The End

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