Disclaimer: Okay, you all know that I dont own any of the characters. They all belong to SudiosUSA and so forth, except for Camrynn and Laterian.
Notes: I want to thank a few people. Thanks to Janet for letting me put my story on her site and for encouraging me. Thanks to Jan for being my beta reader and offering some excellent suggestions. And thanks to everyone that has read my story and encouraged me to get it up on a web site. Thanks you Guys!!!
Sex: Not really, just the love of two soulmates.
Violence: How can you ask that? Its Xena for crying out loud.
Time Line: Okay this story takes place very soon after Xena and Gabi have been thawed from their icy tombs, find Eve, and have their somewhat family reunions. So here it goes......
"Oh, come on, Gabrielle!" Xena protested.
"No, Xena. You lost, you have no choice."
Gabrielle was right, though Xena hated to admit it. She had just lost a bet against Gabrielle, which was rather uncommon. Xena hardly ever took a bet unless she was sure she could win. This time, however, she had slipped up. Xena didn't realize how quickly Gabrielle had advanced, her speed and agility notably improved. Oh, she knew Gabrielle was capable of most anything when her mind was set on it, but somehow Xena had missed how quick Gabrielle had become.
The challenge, like so many before it, had been a race. As usual, Xena gave the bard a head start, a typical 5 seconds. The word "GO" barely left Xena's mouth and Gabrielle was off, disappearing from view. Instantly, Xena knew that she wouldn't be able to catch Gabrielle this time. Xena wasn't about to cheat, yet she bounced on her toes, eager to chase after her friend. As soon as it was time, Xena charged ahead with her infamous battle cry, leapt into a forward role, then quickly up to a jump that launched her into the trees. She swung around a branch that gained her an enormous amount of momentum, released, sailed through the air, added a half twist to land on her hands, into back handsprings. All of which was to no avail, for Gabrielle had reached the goal. She looked over her shoulder to find Xena landing next to her a split second later. A look of triumph on Gabrielle's face marked her victory and also began a month of cooking dinner and chores for Xena.
"No buts, you lost and now you have to pay. What do you care? You know Eve is going to help you with dinner anyway." Gabrielle pointed out.
"True, she probably will help. But Gabrielle...." Xena whined playfully, "It's a whole month!"
"Tough." Gabrielle smiled.
Xena's eyes pleaded with her friend, an eager grin breaking her chiseled features. "How about just for the day?"
"Nope..." diffusing Xena's hopeful smile.
"I don't think so."
"Oh come on, Gabrielle.... please not for a whole month!!!"
Gabrielle chuckled. "Sorry Xena, rules are rules...you are just upset because you lost. You hardly ever lose, but you gotta get used to defeat. This may not be the last time I beat you."
"Uggghhhhh, you mean there could be more..." A mock grimace played on the beautiful Greek's face.
They laughed together at their silliness as Gabrielle wrapped her arm around Xena's waist and gave her warrior a little squeeze. A strong arm eased around the bard's shoulders, returning the affection. "Come on, we don't want to keep Eve waiting too long."
They had been traveling for a few days just to meet up with Eve, who they hadn't seen for quite some time. They planned on this rendezvous for a while now; Xena loved her daughter very much and didn't want them to spend too much time apart from each other. After all, she had just found Eve about a year ago. Xena had always understood that Eve's own mission of spreading the word of Eli led away from her. It saddened the warrior to know that she and Gabrielle couldn't share their experiences with Eve other than in stories. That's why she was now so anxious to see Eve, so that they could share their tales.
Across the plain, Eve was building a fire when she spotted her mother and Gabrielle playfully arguing with each other. Eve could tell it was in good humor and chuckled in spite of herself. Probably another bet, Eve thought to herself. This had always been a common occurrence between the two friends. Something was different this time; it seemed as if Xena was the one who was slightly distraught. Could it be that Gabrielle had prevailed against Xena? That possibility didn't exactly surprise Eve. She had noticed, where her mother had not, Gabrielle's incredible advancements in training. Aunt Gabi, as she sometimes referred to her, had become faster, more flexible and was able to perform some acrobatics that she hadn't before. Thanks to the help of Xena, Eve, and Amazon training, Gabrielle had become an amazingly advanced warrior. Plus it had been a great advantage that Gabrielle learned and picked up on things quickly.
Eve's smile broadened slightly, she could only imagine the satisfaction Gabrielle must be feeling right now. She didn't think Gabrielle had ever beaten Xena before. Or if she had, it wasn't a common occurrence. But now Eve could see her mother was jokingly struggling to accept the loss. Eve knew Xena was just pretending to take her loss so hard. Secretly though, Xena was more than likely proud of her bard friend for winning. Eve figured that her mother was just playing into the loss, whining to make Gabrielle feel guilty so maybe Xena could be relieved of the consequences of her loss. As far as Eve could guess, however, Gabrielle would be stubborn enough to resist Xena's pleas. It would be good for her mother to lose a bet and actually pay up for a change, even if her protests were all in fun. But Xena probably didn't mind as much as she let on.
Eve shook her head at her thoughts, put the last of the logs on the pile, and struck two stones together to start the fire. It caught the first time. She had a wonderfully blazing fire ready to provide light and warmth throughout the soon to be chilled night and, best of all, to make dinner. Eve was starving.
"There she is," Xena pointed out the fire that had just flared up. "We had better hurry."
"Yeah, so you can start dinner, I'm really hungry." Gabrielle chuckled as she poked Xena in the side.
"Hey..." Xena jumped a bit and smiled at Gabrielle. "Alright, but don't expect a gourmet meal or nothin'."
Xena and Gabrielle started to jog toward the fire with Argo in tow. Xena had tried not to push Argo too hard in the heat the past few days. But, she decided it would be okay for the moment seeing how they weren't too far from Eve anyway. Argo was probably eager to stretch her muscles a bit after not having any heavy duties lately. Plus, it had been a long time since Xena and Gabrielle had seen Eve and they were growing impatient. Without really noticing, they all picked up the pace ever so slightly as they got closer.
Without a bit of warning, a strange feeling caught hold of Xena's mind. It felt like there was Kind of like a buzzing or tickling in the back of her mind, but then abruptly it disappeared. It felt as if someone or something was touching her mind, perhaps to get her attention. Xena's brow furrowed at the sensation. She couldn't place it, but she believed she had experienced something like it once before, but where she could not say. Xena decided to dismiss it for the time being. The answer would come to her sooner or later, but for right now, the warrior was too excited about seeing Eve, this could wait until later. Shrugging the uncertainty away, Xena directed her eyes back to her daughter and waved as she saw Eve rise to her feet. To Xena's absolute delight, she received a wave in return.
Eve smiled once again as she noticed her mother and Gabrielle begin to jog toward camp. She stood up so she could see them better. She was overly excited to be reunited with the pair. It had been too long; she had grown homesick for her family. Eve wanted this meeting to be very special, so she had fish already cooking in the pan. She knew that a fish dinner was her mother's favorite meal. That is why Eve had made it a point to get here early. She caught several fish and then indulged in the nearby stream while waiting for the reunion.
As she watched her family approach her, Eve suddenly felt something tingle in the back of her mind. The sensation had come out of nowhere and seemed to have vanished as quickly as it had appeared. Eve closed her eyes and bowed her head in an attempt to regain or hold on to the little that remained of the feeling, trying to make some sense out of it. Unfortunately what was left evaporated, leaving nothing to analyze. Something was wrong, but Eve wasn't going to be able to figure it out right now. Perhaps the sensation would return later.
Eve opened her eyes, to find her mother waving. Eve quickly lifted her hand above her head to return the wave enthusiastically. Eagerly, Eve took off into a jog to meet her family half way.
Xena and Gabrielle started running even faster when they saw Eve coming toward them. Neither could hide the smiles that dominated their faces. Xena smiled for the excitement of seeing her daughter and scooping her up in a long awaited hug. Gabrielle smiled for Xena's excitement as well as her happiness in seeing Eve again. Gabrielle loved Eve like she would her own daughter and was always joyous to see Xena so delighted.
They were getting close, closer, and even closer now. Eve's arms were spread wide open, preparing for a long overdue hug. As she reached Eve, Xena wrapped both arms around Eve's waist, lifting her daughter in to the air with a huge hug. Xena squeezed her daughter tightly to her as she swung them around in circles. When Xena finally set Eve down, Gabrielle joined in, and all three hugged each other snuggly. After a few seconds, they all took a step back to examine the other, while holding hands. It had been so long since they last were together; they wanted to take in every detail.
"Oh, it's so good to see you, Evie, how are you?" Xena beamed.
"I'm wonderful mother. Even more so now that you two are here. How was your journey?"
"It was long and hot, but nothing could stop us from getting here as fast as we could."
"Well, I am glad that you are finally here. How are you, Gabrielle?"
"I'm doing great, Eve."
"You seem very happy. Look at that oversized grin on your face." Eve raised a menacing eyebrow, adding to her playful smile, as she inquired into the happiness that lit Gabrielle's face. "What's behind that?"
"Eve, let me tell you, your mother has lost one of the first bets to me." Gabrielle gloated.
Eve laughed slightly. "I thought that might be the case. I was watching you two from camp. It looked like mother was a little upset about something. I wondered what had happened." Eve noticed a mock bitter look on Xena's face.
"Oh come on mother, it can't be that bad, can it?"
"Oh yes it can, Evie." Xena pouted, but quickly let her facade go and adoringly glanced at her bard. "Nothing that I can't handle though. Gabrielle deserved her victory."
"Well, tell me the whole story over dinner. I already have some fish cooking, so come on, let's go."
Xena's grin grew bigger still as they all headed for camp. "Yeah, let's go."
"You're lucky." Gabrielle whispered so only the warrior could hear her. Xena was off the hook for now. But Gabrielle thought to herself, there are quite a few days in the month.
After dinner, the trio sat around the fire enjoying each other's company as well as full bellies. Gabrielle told Eve about her wondrous victory against Xena and what the bet had cost the Warrior Princess. Eve chuckled when she realized why her mother had been grinning earlier. Xena had gotten out of a night of cooking. Gabrielle didn't seem to mind, though. At least she didn't have to do anything, except relax.
"It's okay, Eve. There are plenty of nights for Xena to pay up. Anyway, she couldn't cook this well, even if she tried!"
"Uh, well thanks a lot, Gabrielle."
"Oh Xena, you know you can't cook, you even said it yourself. On the other hand, you have been paying a little bit of attention when I have cooked; perhaps you might have picked up on a few tricks. Like, oh...I don't know, using spice to add flavor perhaps. Not to worry though, with you cooking for a whole month, you might even get good at it." Gabrielle snickered.
Rolling her eyes slightly, "Yeah, yeah. Don't remind me."
The trio laughed together heartily, making a few side comments here and there. After it died down, they grew quiet for a bit. Eve remembered her previous experience and thought this might be a good time to share it with her family. Eve had wished she had more information to offer with it, but she didn't want to wait, there was no time like the present.
"Mother, when I was waiting for you two, my mind was kind of clouded by a strange feeling. It was almost like a tingling or buzzing sensation in the back of my mind. I was going to ask you about it earlier, but we were having such a good time, I didn't want to spoil anything."
Xena flashed Eve a reassuring smile. "That's okay Evie, but you know, I felt that as well." Turning to Gabrielle, "Did you feel it too?"
Gabrielle shook her head and shrugged. "No. I didn't feel anything."
"I don't know what it was, but I think I had felt something similar before. I just can't place it right now. What did you make of it, Evie?"
"I am not quite sure. I tried to hold on to the sensation to maybe understand it a little bit more. But, it was gone so quickly; I wasn't able to make much of it. All I know is that it felt like something was wrong. Maybe even like something didn't belong."
Xena nodded in agreement. "Now that you mention it, yeah, if felt kinda like something was out of place. Hhhmmm."
Eve's comment sparked a memory in Xena. Hercules had once told her about stepping through a vortex to another world where he had been a vicious dictator. She remembered that the time period Hercules had mentioned this occurrence had taken place was around the time she had experienced a feeling that resembled what she experienced today. Perhaps the two were connected somehow.
Gabrielle's voice pulled Xena from her thoughts. "Well, that's strange."
No sooner had Xena heard this; she felt the tingling sensation again. She looked up at Eve to confirm that they both felt it. Eve nodded, acknowledging the shared sensation.
Before any of them could react, a yell echoed from behind them. A figure jumped out of the grass right into the middle of the camp. Anger clouded, emerald eyes scanned over the shocked residents, a snarl wrenching at the girl's lips as she stood rigid and defensive before them. With the speed of lightning, the figure swung a staff fluidly in a circling arc, knocking Gabrielle in the head with one end and Eve with the other sending them both crashing to the ground unconscious. Then the girl turned on Xena.
Xena jumped to her feet instantly and drew her sword. She thought this girl seemed familiar, but she couldn't quite place her face. Xena quickly studied her opponent. This girl looked an awful lot like Gabrielle with her petite height, muscular frame, and brilliant green eyes. The girl's hair was even cut short like Gabrielle's, but was a reddish color. Almost like the color of Gabrielle's hair had been before the sun had bleached it to its current blonde. This girl who was challenging Xena, wore black leather pants with a matching top that exposed her midriff. The boots she wore were meant for travel, made of soft, yet sturdy leather with a slight heel.
The attacker held her staff at the ready, emerald eyes burning into icy orbs with intense, bitter hatred. The girl wasted no time at charging Xena. She swung her staff with expert skill, but the brave warrior was ready. Every blow the young woman delivered was blocked by the equally expert parry of a sword. Xena noted how strong her opponent was and how driven she seemed to be.
Xena grabbed the hilt of her sword with both hands and raised it up high to block a downward blow from her opponent's staff. With all her might, Xena pushed the weapon and opponent back away from her.
The girl used this to her advantage, flipped backwards, landed, and then ran at Xena, stuck her staff in the soil, using it to launch herself off the ground and planted a foot in her enemy's chest. Xena quickly recovered then spun low to sweep the girl's feet out from under her. The assailant hit hard, but flipped herself back to her feet with amazing speed and grace. The girl wasted little time and quickly faked a hit to Xena's knees. As Xena jumped to avoid the blow, the assailant moved in.
With the other end of her staff, the warrior cracked Xena in the side of the head and quickly brought the other end up to hit the opposite temple. The assault didn't end there. The girl alternated sides of her staff continuing down the length of Xena's body, hitting her in the neck, sides, and thighs in the same manner. With the last hit to Xena's leg, the girl continued the rhythm of the attack and spun herself around while sliding her staff under her arm so that only the last foot of her weapon was exposed. The end of the staff contacted with Xena's cheek with incredible force. The Warrior Princess sailed through the air and smashed to the ground, twitching from the pain and shock.
Behind the battle that was waging between the two warriors, Gabrielle and Eve regained consciousness. They witnessed the brutal assault Xena had just been victim to. They needed to help Xena, and fast. Quickly, they devised a way to distract the attacker, so that Xena could recover enough to get the upper hand.
Eve was up first with her best Livia battle yell, she flipped into the air and landed on the girl's shoulders with her legs around the assailant's neck. Eve swung her upper body backwards, pulling on the girl's head hard with her legs as Eve's hands reached toward ground. She whipped the girl around, whose body followed the course set by Eve's legs, flinging her to the grass with a horrid thud. Eve landed back on her feet, turned, and began to charge at the girl who had risen to her knees. Eve tackled her, but the girl used this momentum to her advantage and rolled on top, countering Eve's plan. The girl grabbed Eve by the hair and smacked her head on a nearby rock that surrounded the fire.
With Eve dazed, Gabrielle went next. She pulled her sais from the sides of her boots and threw them both at the attacker. The girl deflected the sais easily with her staff, but Gabrielle followed her weapons in, delivering a spin kick to the girl's face. The girl fell to her knees, but used Xena's trick against Gabrielle to spin with the force of the kick and sweep the legs out from under her. As Gabrielle fell backwards, the girl backhanded her opponent in the temple to daze her as well.
By this time, Xena had recovered enough to see Gabrielle begin to fall. Anger flashed through Xena as the assailant hit her beloved bard in the temple. Xena quickly got to her feet and pulled out her chakram, throwing it at the assailant as Gabrielle fell out of the way. The girl leaned back into an arch supported by one hand as the chakram flew over her body. Xena didn't waste a second to take advantage of this unstable position. Gabrielle, through her haze, looked over at Xena and knew what her friend was about to do. Gabrielle mustered as much focus as she could and quickly rolled herself out of Xena's intended path.
With a battle cry unlike any other, Xena flew into the air, flipped three times, landed next to the girl, and dropped to one knee. Without hesitation, Xena knocked the girl off her feet with a kick from her free leg, made a hit to the chest with one hand, and simultaneously cracked the girl in the head with the hilt of her sword with the other hand. The girl's staff went flying as she fell to the ground in pain. She lay there gasping for air as Xena stood, putting her sword to the attacker's throat.
Hearing the scream of her chakram returning to her, Xena grabbed her weapon out of the air and placed it back on her waist in one swift circular movement. Gabrielle and Eve joined Xena as she stood over their attacker. They all stared hard at the girl, noting the resemblance this warrior had with Gabrielle.
"Who are you and why did you attack us?" Xena growled.
Blinking several times until she could focus, she opened her mouth to speak. "My name is Camrynn," she said through gritted teeth. Any composure Camrynn had maintained recently vanished as she stared at her captors. Losing the control over her voice, "And you YOU " the girl screamed.
"I what!!" Xena insisted.
"You you let Gabrielle die!!!"
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