The Homecoming

Part 3

BY

Janet Lynne




Disclaimer: Xena, Gabrielle and Eve are owned by Pacific Renaissance/MCA Universal/USA Studios. I have only borrowed some of their identifying characteristics for this work of original fiction.
Content Warning: This is a story of two women who are very much in love. There are many love scenes. While most are rated PG13, a few are more graphic. If you are under the age of consent where you live or have homophobic tendencies, please give this story a miss. Thanks!
Language: Imagine Xena in the 1990's ¯ yep, she swears. And she's a cop, so there's some violence too.
"New Age" Content warning: I'm a "new age" kind of girl, so my characters are too. All new age/metaphysical type occurrences presented here are actual phenomena that I have personally experienced.
Author's note: This is my first story. Since I really have no idea just how good or bad this may be, I would welcome comments and constructive criticism. Flames and homophobic mail will be joyously burned in a ceremonial cleansing ritual :-)

The story is currently approximately 75% complete at 15 parts and roughly 325k.  All parts can be found at: http://www.xenarealm.com/th.html

Thanks for reading! ¯ JL, 2001 headgeek@xenarealm.com


-3-



Ryan awoke several hours later with Janna still resting in her arms, feeling a peace and a contentment that she had never ever experienced before. She had been awakened by a soft groan and as she opened her eyes she could see Janna grimacing in her sleep. Ryan bent her head and lightly kissed the top of her friend's head. Janna shifted slightly, moaning again. "Janna, hon, are you ok?" whispered Ryan.

"Hurts" came the mumbled reply. "Pain pill must have worn off."

Checking her watch, Ryan saw that it was 4:00 and realized that Janna's painkiller would definitely have worn off. "Sit up hon and I'll go get one for you."

"Don't wanna move" came the grumbled reply.

"Well, honey, I'm sorry but you really need to take one so you can get the rest you need. You should eat something with it too or it could upset your stomach."

"Stomach's already upset. I can't eat anything."

"Just a couple of bites then, please? I'm hungry myself. Can I make a sandwich for us?

"Ok, let me show youŠ" came the tired reply.

"Oh, no. You stay right here", Ryan interrupted vigorously. "I think I can find my way around your kitchen all right. You care what I make?"

"Nope. Anything's fine. Thanks" came the tired reply.

"No problem" replied Ryan as she extricated herself from her sofa mate, grinning. Then, shaking her head, "I can't believe I slept. I never do that."

"Well, I guess this whole thing has taken something out of you too" replied Janna quietly, rubbing her face.

"Guess so" smiled Ryan in agreement as she started toward the kitchen. She returned a moment later with a pill and a glass of water, which she handed to her friend before returning to the kitchen.

She returned several minutes later, a plate with two sandwiches balanced on it in one hand and two bottled waters clasped in the other. She set the meal on the table next to the couch and turned to see Janna cradling her injured arm, with her head resting on the back of the sofa, grimacing again in pain. Ryan sat down next to her and tenderly kissed Janna's forehead and caressed her cheek. Two cloudy green eyes returned her concerned gaze and at Ryan's touch, some of the tension seemed to leave Janna's face.

"Thanks for taking care of me Ryan. You really shouldn't feel that you have too" said Janna, an anxious expression on her face.

"I know I don't have to. I want to. Very much." Then she added tenderly, "Janna, please let me. There's no place on Earth I would rather be right now."

"God, what did I ever do right to find you?" expressed Janna, looking lovingly into Ryan's striking eyes and receiving a loving look, full of longing, in return.

Ryan replied quietly, "I feel like the lucky one here." Then, changing the subject while handing Janna a ham and cheese sandwich said, "Here, eat a little something for me now".

At that Janna's mouth twisted into a leer and she said seductively, "Anytime baby. I thought you'd never ask!" The tips of Ryan's ears and her high cheekbones rapidly became red and hot, and she quickly picked up a sandwich, cramming a large bite into her mouth. Janna grinned at Ryan's reaction and patted her friend's jeans-clad thigh comfortingly.

They ate in silence, Ryan wondering, not for the first time, just what she had gotten herself into here, and Janna marveling at her good fortune, injuries notwithstanding of course.

When they had finished their snack and Ryan had cleared the dishes, she returned to her end of the sofa, motioning for Janna to cuddle up to her again. This time she spread her legs and Janna sat back against her, between them, head resting on Ryan's chest. Ryan wrapped her arms around the small blonde's waist protectively. Both women noted that a wonderful tingling ran through their bodies, and was especially strong wherever skin touched skin. Two pounding hearts began to beat as one.

"Mmm, this is nice," murmured Janna contentedly.

"Sure is," agreed Ryan. Then, "If it's ok, I'd like to hang around until about 6:30. I have a game at 7:15." Then quickly added, "But if you don't want to be alone, I can miss it, no problem".

"Oh please, stay around until then, I'd like that, but don't miss your game on account of me. Maybe after some more rest I'll feel like going with you. Would that be ok?" asked Janna, turning slightly to see Ryan's face.

Smiling widely, Ryan said, "Sure, I'd like that. But only if you're up to it", she added pointedly. "The bleachers aren't that comfortable and the game will last about an hour and a half."

"That sounds okay. I hope I feel like going. Then she added playfully, grinning, "I'm dying to see you play." At that Ryan looked a bit apprehensive but smiled and pulled Janna back against her, thinking, What the hell am I afraid of? I love this woman. She won't make me nervous on the mound will she? Not likely! No one ever has before. At which the little voice of reason in her head reminded her that she had never known anyone like Janna before. Or loved anyone so much. Oh shit. The team may be in trouble.

A few minutes later, Ryan wriggled uncomfortably and Janna asked, "Are you comfortable?"

"Oh, fine, yeah. I'm just a little warm in these jeans. You don't happen to have a pair of shorts that would fit me do you?"

"Oh, sweetheart no, I doubt it. I'm sorry. Why don't you take them off? I won't mind, in factŠ"

"No!" Ryan responded pointedly, eyes wide. Janna tensed a little in her arms, so Ryan added softly, "Um, the truth is that you have aroused me numerous times today. If I take off my pants the scent of that arousal will make me insane with desire for you and I won't be responsible for my actions". She grinned wickedly, nuzzling Janna's hair.

"Oh, I see", replied the blonde, enormously pleased at the admission. She intertwined the fingers of her left hand with Ryan's, which rested on her abdomen. "If it makes you feel any better, I'm soaking wet too."

Ryan swallowed convulsively as another surge of warmth and wetness emanated from her groin area and the throbbing there increased. "Yeah, lots better, thanks", she replied sarcastically. Janna smiled, picking up on Ryan's body's reaction, and snuggled more deeply into her arms, feeling profoundly happy. Her joy spread quickly to Ryan through their connection and both women sighed contentedly. The warmth that permeated and surrounded them soon lulled both of them back to sleep.

~~~~~~~~~~

Sometime later, a soft nibbling on her neck awakened Ryan. As her pulse quickened, she opened one eye and saw that Janna had turned in her embrace. She smiled and tightened her arms around her love and Janna responded by planting tender kisses on Ryan's neck, moving up her jaw line and ending at her mouth. Ryan placed a hand behind Janna's head, deepening the kiss. They spent long minutes exploring each other's mouths, tongues caressing and cavorting lovingly. Ryan's other hand caressed Janna's back sensuously, then dipped down to move under her shirt. At the touch of Ryan's warm hand on her bare flesh, Janna gasped and turned so that she straddled Ryan's lap. Now face-to-face, their necking intensified, only slightly encumbered by Janna's slinged arm between them. Ryan put her other hand under Janna's shirt, caressing the soft skin of her back with both hands and pulling her more tightly against herself. Ryan was experiencing a physical reaction that shocked her in its intensity. Her pulse pounded and she felt as if every nerve ending in her body were on fire.

Janna, feeling much the same thing as Ryan was feeling, ran the fingers of her left hand through Ryan's raven hair as she kissed her deeply, until, lips still on Ryan's she gasped, "Oh, God Ryan. I want you so!" Then pulling back slightly, she said dejectedly, "I want to love you so badly, but this is making my head throb".

Ryan, eyes wide in alarm, pulled back and said, "Jesus! I'm sorry! Are you ok?" and with concern caressed Janna's injured brow.

Janna caught Ryan's hand and kissing it said, "No my love, I'm sorry. I want you so much but my body is just too sore yet."

Sighing, Ryan relied, "I know Janna. It's ok. Shit. I just can't keep my hands off of you." Then sheepishly added, "Sorry about that."

Placing her fingers on Ryan's lips, Janna whispered, "Shh." Then smiling tenderly added, "I'm not at all sorry. Just hold that thought for another day or so, okay?" Ryan returned the tender smile and leaned forward for one more gentle kiss.

The kiss ended and Ryan rested her forehead against Janna's. With a look of quiet exasperation she stated, "Lord, woman, what you do to me!"

They sat holding each other for a few minutes before Ryan checked her watch and declared that she should leave to prepare for her softball game. "Are you feeling up to accompanying me this evening?" she asked with a twinkle in her eye.

"Why yes, I do believe I am, ma'am", Janna replied in a mock Southern accent. "Thank you kindly."

"Why anytime ma'am", Ryan delivered with a rakish grin. They came together for one more hug and a short, sweet kiss and then Ryan helped Janna from the couch.

-7-

As they drove to Ryan's house, she and Janna talked about the neighboring homes, Ryan pointing out and explaining various renovations that she was familiar with. As Ryan slowed the truck in front of a beautiful home, Janna gasped, "Ryan, is this yours?" It was a somewhat smaller Victorian than Janna's, a two-story with gingerbread siding and a cupola. The color scheme was a very attractive brown with trim done in green and red.

Ryan smiled with pride and said, "Yep. I've been here for over two years and I'm still not quite finished with it." Pointing to the house, she added, "Those are the original colors, as nearly as I could match them."

"It's absolutely beautiful Ryan. I'm very impressed." Janna offered Ryan an unabashed adoring gaze and Ryan had to look down to hide her embarrassment. Looking back at Janna, she quietly said, "Thanks Janna."

Ryan pulled her hunter green Explorer into the driveway and helped Janna out. They made their way up the front walk hand-in-hand, Janna admiring the tidy yard and home. The front door sported a beautiful stained glass window depicting a sun and moon design, using colors that matched those of the house itself. "Oh Ryan", she exclaimed. "That window is gorgeous! Maybe I should do something like that with my door."

"Sure", Ryan beamed. "The artisan is a friend of mine. I'll give you her name if you'd like."

"I would, thanks."

Ryan opened the front door and ushered her friend inside ahead of her, placing her keys in a dish on a small table just inside. The front door opened into a hallway and Ryan led Janna through a doorway to the right, saying, "I'll just be a few minutes. You can wait here in the sitting room if you'd like. I'm afraid I don't have time to show you around right now." Then displaying the charming smile that Janna just could not get enough of, she said, "For some reason I'm in need of cold shower." As Janna blushed, Ryan's grin grew wider and she disappeared out the doorway and down the hall.

Janna thought, Ok, but I'd rather go with you and watch you shower. As she made herself comfortable on a cotton-covered sofa of country blue, she glanced around the bright, cheery room. It appeared to be used mainly for reading as there were several bookshelves utterly overflowing with books and several comfortable chairs, in addition to the sofa. Janna noticed that Ryan's taste in reading very nearly paralleled hers, with the addition of many books on criminal justice and police science, as well as a number of sports titles. Janna noticed the current issue of "The Advocate" sitting on the coffee table and glanced through it as she waited for Ryan to reappear.

Ryan made her reappearance only about ten minutes later, running a towel through her still wet, dark locks. Janna stood and admired the vision before her. Ryan was dressed in a dark green uniform of shorts and shirt, which read, "Bob's Shell" on the front. She wore matching wristbands and white leg guards, which were at the moment resting casually around her ankles. She looked up from under the towel, and seeing Janna's unabashed stare, grinned widely, tossed the towel onto the back of the couch and opened her arms. Janna fell into the embrace and Ryan hugged her tightly. "You sure you feel up to this?" she said after kissing Janna's head.

Janna smiled just as widely and answered, "Absolutely. Wouldn't miss it for the world!"

To which Ryan replied, "It's not that big a deal Janna, just a regular game."

Janna placed her good hand on her left hip mock-indignantly and demanded, "Oh yeah? Tell me Coach, what division is your team in?"

Embarrassed, Ryan replied modestly, "A".

"Just as I thought. A highly competitive regular game! And probably as good as women's softball gets, short of college and pro teams. Am I right?"

The self-conscious reply was, "I guess so, yeah." Then, recovering quickly, she grinned crookedly and said, "You know you look really, really scary, what with your arm in that sling and all. Don't hurt me, please!"

Janna scowled playfully and replied, "Oh you! You'd better watch it woman or I will hurt you! I'll hurt you but good!"

Ryan suddenly scooped Janna into her arms and asked, "Make that a promise, will ya'?"

Meeting Ryan's sparkling eyes, Janna's face broke into a radiant grin and she said sincerely, "I promise."

Ryan pulled her close and whispered in her ear, "I love you so much Janna."

Janna's breath suddenly caught and her heart began to pound as tears sprang to her eyes. She whispered hotly into Ryan's ear, "I love you too Ryan. More than I can possibly express with words."

They pulled apart slightly, still holding each other, and green eyes met blue for another timeless moment before they came together for a passionate kiss. Ryan ended the kiss and as they gazed at each other again proclaimed, "At this rate I'll never make it to the game! Come on love." She led a grinning, slightly discombobulated Janna by the hand toward the door, picking up an athletic bag and her car keys on the way.

As they made their way to the truck hand in hand, they both shared the same thought: She loves me!

~~~~~~~~~~

The two almost-lovers made it to the ballpark just in time for Ryan to warm up. On the short ride to the softball complex they both had admired the beautiful sky in the west. The sun, intensely orange behind thin lines of bluish clouds, was beginning its final descent and had painted the sky in a brilliant palette of oranges and reds. Janna remarked, "It's ironic, isn't it, that the dirtier the air is, the more beautiful the sunset?"

"Mmm, I've thought the same thing, yes" agreed Ryan, and quietly admired the wash of color on Janna's peaceful face as she watched the sky before her in awe. Ryan pulled into the lot at the park and they walked in side-by-side, arms touching, both filled with a bubbly joy just from being in each other's presence.

Janna sat next to Ryan on the bleachers as she put on her cleats. Noticing her pitcher's arrival, a stout older woman approached and said, "Jesus Ry, cuttin' it a little close tonight weren't you? We were startin' to worry."

Glancing up with a small grin, the cop replied, "Relax Sharon, how many times have I let you down?"

Sharon replied over her shoulder as she returned to the dugout, "Well, never, but there's a first time for everything you know."

With that, Ryan ducked her head and glanced sideways at Janna and they smirked in unison. "Ok", said Ryan, standing and resting her hand on Janna's shoulder. "I'll see you later."

Janna reached up and squeezed Ryan's hand on her shoulder and quietly said, "Later, love. Have a good game!"

"How could I not?" came the jaunty reply. "I've got you here." With that she turned and made her way down to the warm up area, feeling Janna's smiling, loving gaze following her the whole way. I have never been so much in love in my life. I hope I never let her down.

As Ryan passed her dugout, Janna could hear laughing voices: apparently her teammates were kidding Ryan good-naturedly. A that point Ryan turned slightly and looked back at Janna, then turned back toward her teammates and grinned rakishly at the women on the bench, who erupted once again, some displaying the thumbs up sign to their teammate. Oh boy, thought Janna...I guess we're officially an item.

After fully warming up, Ryan returned to the dugout, but not before sparing a quick glance at her friend in the bleachers, who was, of course, also looking at her. They shared a quick, loving smile and both women's hearts warmed in unison, their bond strengthening another fraction.

It was still several minutes before game time when Ryan sat on the team's bench. As she watched Ryan sit down with her teammates, Janna felt someone arrive and sit down next to her. She turned to see who it was as she heard, "Hi there! It looks like you're feeling better!" and looked up into the face of Ryan's partner, John.

Janna replied, "Hi. Yes, I am. Good to see you again Officer Stewart."

"Good to see you too Miss Norden. But, call me John, please" smiled the friendly man.

"Ok, John, and please call me Janna."

"Will do Janna. So, are you a softball fan?" he inquired.

"Yes, and a player too. I had hoped to get on a team soon but I've had a damper put on those plans, I'm afraid" she replied good-naturedly. She casually added, "I mentioned to Ryan that I'm on the lookout for a team that needs subs, so she invited me out." Janna decided to offer the information, not being at all sure whether or not Ryan wanted her partner to know about their relationship.

"Well, you're in for a treat. Ryan's an awesome pitcher. Some teams can barely hit her at all", he added with pride. He glanced past Janna to his left where a commotion in the dugout had caught his attention. They both heard raucous voices and phrases like, "Ooh, baby!", "Nice babe!", "Good going Ry!", "You dog!" as her teammates looked toward Janna. Ryan was sitting on the bench, head tilted back against the chain link fence, trying unsuccessfully to cover her beet-red face with her arms, as her teammates taunted her mercilessly about her new girlfriend. John looked at Janna with a confused grin, which slowly became a huge smile as she blushed.

"You and Ryan?" he asked incredulously. Janna nodded weakly, feeling about two inches tall. Then John said, "That is so great! She deserves someone nice, she really does. After that last bitch, pardon my French, I was really worried about her for awhile. What a friggin' user." He shook his head in disgust.

Janna's brow furrowed in concern and she nodded. John went on, "Well, why don't you go over there and throw it right back in their faces?" His grin continued as Janna looked at him in shock.

"What?"

"I mean it. Look at how they're embarrassing her. Go plant a big one on her. Show them that she really is the stud they're making her out to be. She never brings girls out here, that's why they're doing it. I'll betcha they shut up real quick."

Janna looked doubtful but John encouraged, "Look, she's the best looking woman out here and no one has ever gotten anywhere with her ¯ and believe me, many have tried. They're all jealous of you. Go on. I know my partner ¯ she'll enjoy it."

Still not entirely convinced, but somehow excited by the prospect, Janna got up, adopted some of her old punk attitude and sauntered over to the dugout, eyes riveted on her quarry. As she approached, the clamor of voices died to a murmur and Ryan glanced up at her.

Janna leaned down seductively in front of her, her tank top revealing her lovely assets to Ryan, and said, "Baby, have a great game. I'll be waiting for you." Then she bestowed an intense kiss on her partner, as her teammates looked on, mouths gaping open. Ryan returned the kiss hungrily, proving John right. Janna then stood up, turned on her heal, looked back over her shoulder and said, "Bye now!"

As she sauntered back to her seat, Ryan's teammates looked from her to Ryan and back again, some shaking their heads, most smiling. Ryan sported the biggest smile of all and looked exceptionally pleased with herself.

As Janna sat down, John said, "See, I told you!"

Janna grinned, shaking her head in disbelief as she patted him on the back and watched her partner saunter out to the field. The partner whose pitching, by the way, blew the other team away that night.

~~~~~~~~~~

The game went very well for the Bob's Shell ladies. Ryan pitched a 3-hit shutout and helped her team to score five runs by singling twice and tripling, rounding the bases twice. The players were now lounging in the bleachers, congratulating each other and visiting, Ryan with her arm draped casually around Janna's waist.

Janna listened to the friendly banter with half an ear as she recalled the vision of her beautiful partner out on the field. She had pitched with a single-minded focus that was truly inspiring to behold and her poise and grace were unmatched by anyone else on the field (in Janna's estimation at least). And then there was her base running. My God, she was poetry in motion. Janna smiled warmly as she recalled Ryan's natural, long, loping stride and how her leg muscles rippled and flexed as she ran.

She was pulled from her reverie by the sound of Ryan's voice warmly asking, "What are you smiling at?"

Janna returned the warm smile and replied, "Just remembering something beautiful." As Ryan cocked an eyebrow and tilted her head in question, she said, "I'll tell you later." She received a warm squeeze in reply.

As they sat together, enjoying each other's company, one of Ryan's teammates finally spoke up and said, "So Ry, are you going to introduce us to your friend or what?"

Grinning, Ryan answered, "Yes, Carrie. Ladies, though I use that term loosely for some of you, this is my friend, Janna Norden. Janna, meet Carrie, Liz, Sarah, Jackie, Elaine and our slave driver, Sharon."

As greetings were exchanged one of the girls asked Janna if she had known Ryan long. She replied that she and Ryan had gone to school together but had only just recently become closer. Ryan smiled approvingly and thought, Good girl!

When asked about her injuries, Ryan became serious and quietly said, "I'm afraid she was the victim of a gay bashing the other night after leaving the Rainbow."

"Fuckin' Christ!" gasped Carrie, amid other exclamations of disbelief from the rest of the group.

"I'm afraid it's true. Luckily for my friends and me, Ryan and John were on duty. They caught and arrested two of the guys."

"I hope you guys beat the shit out of them", this from Liz, looking pointedly at John and Ryan.

Ryan smirked, replying, "No, but I took my time turning in the report. They're cooling their asses in County lockup all weekend ¯ couldn't get a bail hearing set until Monday, maybe Tuesday."

"Thank God for that. Assholes." Responded Sharon disgustedly.

Another player, Jackie, asked, "Hey, aren't you the guitar player that got up and played with the band there Thursday night?"

Janna nodded, "Yeah, you were there too?"

"Oh, yeah, my partner and I were there. You were awesome girl!"

Janna grinned, "Thanks. It was fun." Glancing at Ryan, she noted raised eyebrows, looking impressed.

Jackie, continued, "And you were attacked that night? Shit, there were a lot of people there too. I never heard anything about it. Was it in the paper guys?" she asked, looking around at her friends.

"Well it happened over by the brewpub where we were parked. I didn't even think about it being in the paper ¯ would it have been Ryan?"

Ryan shook her head, "I don't know. The department likes to be careful with these cases, I think not wanting to publicize them too much in the fear that it will give other creeps the same idea. They may not have released the information yet. If it goes to trial though, it will definitely become public."

Liz spoke up, "Well maybe we should make it public. Let people know, if only to warn the GLBT community."

Sarah added, "Yeah, can we at least get in touch with our advocacy and support groups and tell our friends?"

Janna nodded and responded, "Oh, whatever you want to do is fine with me. I'm a long-time activist, and I'm used to getting down and dirty and fighting about these things. I'll be glad to cooperate with anyone who wants to do something about this."

Ryan tempered the discussion by saying, "It's great to want to make something good happen from this guys, but lets remember where we are, huh? Our community doesn't have a whole lot of support from the community at large and it could backlash on us." Looking at Janna apologetically and giving her a squeeze, she gently added, "Remember, babe, this isn't the City anymore."

Janna nodded, "You're right. We do need to keep that in mind. But I want to do something. At the very least we need to get the word out to our friends. Remember, two of the jerks got away." Then looking thoughtful, she added, "You know, my Mom goes to a pretty liberal Methodist church that recently voted to welcome gays to the congregation, maybe we could start with them."

The idea was greeted with a chorus of, "Yeahs" and nodded heads and Janna received a look of approval and a nod from Ryan.

Carrie then added, "Yeah and my partner and I are members of the Unitarian Church up the street... I think half the congregation is gay...I'll let them know too."

As the friends sat discussing the incident further, a men's team arrived at the diamond to prepare for their game.

Carrie, spying them approaching, said, "Heads up guys, here comes Jake's Bait."

The women all became wary and started to pick up their stuff and to leave when one of the guys was heard to say with a sneer as he walked by, "Oh, Jesus, we get to have the lezzy bench again. Someone grab a towel and wipe it down before we sit will ya?"

Carrie replied mockingly, "Just use your tongue Roy, you know you want to." He flipped her off as her teammates laughed and she gave him a parting, "Fuck you". Carrie looked pointedly at her teammates and asked, "How'd we get so lucky to be on the same schedule as those dickheads. Most homophobic team in the league."

Most of the guys moved off to the dugout, but one, upon seeing Janna, wandered over and stood a little too closely and leered at her, saying, "Hey baby, what's a cute little thing like you doing hanging around with these mean old dykes?"

Before Janna could respond, her partner was on her feet in a flash, standing in front of the guy and tensed like a coiled spring. With waves of anger emanating palpably from her body, she said in a calm, but menacing voice, "Back off buddy before I arrest your sorry ass for harassment."

The guy immediately held his hands up and backed away, though more from the implied threat of violence than from the danger of arrest.

Ryan watched the men leave and then sat back down next to Janna. Her face was an unreadable mask, but her fists clenching at her sides revealed the anger coursing through her. Janna, sensing her partner's disquiet, lightly touched her arm and said, "Thank you, Ryan. It's over now and I'm fine, so let's go home."

"Yeah, let's", came the forced reply.

Among the group of guys watching the confrontation were two who, upon seeing Ryan, quickly turned and ducked away, one of them saying to the other, "Whoa, shit, it's that cop from the other night."

They quickly went around behind the bleachers where Ryan and Janna were sitting and watched as the women got up to leave. When it was safe to do so, they reemerged, the other man saying, "Yep, that's the same dyke who arrested Joe and Brian the other night. I think Joe will be interested to know that we saw them here. When he gets out of the can, that is. Looks like she's hooked up with the cute blonde too."

As they walked out of the complex with their friends, Ryan declined their invitation to go out for pizza and beer, citing Janna's need for rest. As they arrived at the truck and sat down, Ryan said apologetically, "Janna, I'm sorry if you wanted to go out, but I'm not really in the mood for it right now."

Realizing that her friend was struggling with her emotions, Janna replied, "It's okay, honey. I really am too tired and my head is starting to throb again. I'd just like to go home and go to bed."

During the drive to Janna's, Ryan was very quiet. Janna glanced at her, concern written on her face. She gently touched Ryan's thigh and said, "Would you like to talk about it?"

"Yes, I would, but not right now, okay?" She glanced hopefully at Jana and smiled weakly.

"Sure, whenever you're ready, Ryan." She rubbed her friend's thigh again tenderly.

Ryan glanced down and covered Janna's hand with hers saying, "I appreciate that. Thank you Janna."

-8-

Ryan stood just inside Janna's front door, not wanting to leave, but realizing that her friend needed to get some rest. She pulled Janna into an embrace and said, "I'll call you tomorrow, okay?" Then suggested hopefully, "Maybe we can lounge around all day again."

Janna grinned and answered, "Yes, I'd like that." She stood on her toes and captured Ryan's lips for a long kiss before they parted reluctantly.

"Okay, bye" said Ryan regretfully.

"Bye love. See you tomorrow."

Ryan sat in her Explorer and watched Janna's house until she saw the lights in the front room go out, and then she drove home to her quiet house.

Ryan shifted uncomfortably in her bed, staring at the off-white ceiling of her bedroom. Moonlight filtered in, giving the room outside the range of her small reading lamp an eerie, yet comforting, glow. A book sat next to her, forgotten. It was after midnight but she was unable to sleep.

The evening's events had left her feeling very unsettled. She had never reacted to a situation with such anger before. Even though she had seen many, many terrible acts of violence and stupidity, none had affected her so much as seeing Janna in possible danger again. Not even the senseless acts of violence against children that she had witnessed had angered her more. She had learned to steel herself against such acts in order to do her job. She had always focused her anger on doing everything within her power to catch the perpetrator.

But she couldn't steel herself against seeing Janna hurt or threatened. She had no protection from that. She had nearly throttled the stupid, arrogant prick tonight. The barely controlled rage and the violence that lay just under the surface terrified her now. She knew without a doubt that she could have killed that man tonight with her bare hands.

In addition to that restlessness, she felt a disturbing emptiness at Janna's absence and couldn't get the little blonde out of her mind. She ached, both physically and emotionally, to be with her. Physically, there was that dull ache in her chest that she associated with missing Janna and had never experienced with anyone else before. I'm filled with her. I need her.

Suddenly, the phone ringing startled her out of her thoughts. Checking the Caller ID, she noted Janna's number. She sat up and frowned as she answered in a worried voice, "Janna, what's wrong?"

"Hi. How did you know it was me?" came the confused voice.

"Caller ID", was the matter of fact response.

"Oh, I don't have that yet. That's pretty cool" Janna stalled.

"And? Are you okay? Do you need something?" Ryan asked, her voice still full of concern.

"Oh, no. I mean yes. I'm okay." Then meekly added, "I um, I just needed to hear your voice. I hope I didn't wake you."

Relieved that Janna was all right, Ryan relaxed and sighed. "God, I needed to hear your voice too. I'm not sleeping either." With confusion, she blurted, "Janna, I have the most uncomfortable feeling in my chest when we're apart. It's an actual ache. Does that sound crazy? Am I just imagining it because I miss you?"

"No hon. It's real. I feel it too. It's because of our link, I think. I've never experienced this before but I've read about it." After a moment she added, "What we have, some call a 'heart link'. There is an actual cord of energy linking us at our heart centers. Soulmates can often feel what their partner is feeling, physically and emotionally, and physical separation can be painful."

"Well, I've never really believed in those things Janna, but what you just said makes sense to me." She shifted back onto her back. "Is there anything that can be done about it?"

Janna smiled into the phone and said, "Short of never being apart you mean?"

"Yeah, but that sounds like a doable plan, actually."

Janna grinned and blushed, despite the fact that she was alone in her bedroom, and the pain in her heart lessened a little. "Yes, I think it's a good plan too. But since we're not together right now, I think there is something I can do to help you."

Ryan grinned her patented rakish grin and said, "You mean phone sex?"

Janna giggled, "No silly!" She sat up, crossing her legs and continued, "Where are you?"

"In bedŠin my bedroomŠin my house" she carefully reported.

"Great, smart-ass. Do you want some relief or not?" came the teasing reply.

Ryan grinned and said with her deepest, most alluring voice, "Oh, yes, babyŠplease...give me some relief."

"You know, Jay Jay may have been on the right track when he asked me what I will do with you. You can be a complete pain in the ass, did you know that?" Then she softened her voice and added, "You're just lucky I have no choice in the matter and love you so damn much."

Ryan suddenly became serious, realizing that she was, in fact, very lucky. "I'm sorry Janna. Yes, I am very lucky. What did you want me to do?"

Mollified, Janna began, "Okay. I've had some success as a healer ¯ now don't laugh!"

Ryan interjected, "Honey, I have no intention of laughing at you. I know that you're sincere in your beliefs. Please, go on."

"Okay. I use an ancient Tibetan healing technique called Reiki. Some good friends of mine who are master healers trained me. I've actually had some real success with healing different ailments. I can send healing energy to you that will help to balance you and soothe the ache."

"You mean you can send it through our link?"

"No, though our link should definitely intensify it. I do a little ritual with the healing symbols and then send the energy to you. It is part of the Universal Consciousness and will know where to go and what to do, although I do guide it somewhat."

"Sounds cool love. I'm game", Ryan said sincerely.

Janna was heartened beyond belief. I do believe that I want to spend every minute of the rest of my life with this woman. She sighed and began, "Okay, is the room dark?"

Ryan reached to the bedside table and switched off the small lamp. "It is now."

In a soothing voice, Janna said, "Okay, lie comfortably on your back and let yourself become completely relaxed."

Ryan did so after placing the phone on the pillow next to her ear. The room, now bathed in a comforting moonlight, helped her to relax.

Janna gave her a few moments, and then she continued, "I'm going to visualize the symbols now and start sending the energy. Just relax." With that she set the phone down and took a moment to center herself. She then drew each of the four healing symbols in the air before her. Then, holding her hands in front of her, palms out, she directed the energy out through her palms and into Ryan's heart chakra. She visualized Ryan lying in her bed asked the Reiki to heal and balance her.

Ryan lay on her bed, surprised at her own open-mindedness: she actually believed that Janna could do this. She lay calmly, not knowing what to expect, but trusting in her new partner. After a few moments she thought that she felt a comfortable warmth in her chest. Soon, the warmth became more distinct and was accompanied by a pleasant tingling sensation. The warm tingling slowly, gently, filled her heart center and then expanded, suffusing her entire being with an intense feeling of love. After several minutes she began to feel giddy and a laugh bubbled happily up from her belly.

From the nearby phone, Janna heard Ryan's laugh and smiled. Picking up the phone she said, "Tell me what you feel."

Ryan chuckled happily, "Janna this is incredible! I started feeling really warm and tingly and then I was filled with a feeling of love that was so incredible that it made me laugh. Sweetheart, this is better than a drug! You ought to be selling it."

Janna smiled warmly, her heart soaring. She said, "Honey, what you're feeling is my love for you and I have no desire to sell that. Our bond is intensifying the Reiki. Normally people just feel warm and/or tingling, or sometimes cold, though it can cause an emotional release too. I'm so glad you like it. Is the pain gone?"

"Oh, yeah, completely!"

"Super! Just lie there and enjoy it for a bit. I'll wait." Janna stretched out on her bed and relaxed, also enjoying the moonlight suffusing her room. She silently thanked Luna, the moon spirit, and then closed her eyes and visualized something else.

A few minutes later she heard an uncertain voice say, "Um Janna, are you directing the energy to another place now?"

Janna grinned slyly and replied, "Possibly. Where are you feeling it?"

"My breasts and Š oh, uh, JannaŠ"

"Mmm, hmm?"

"This feels waaaay too good honey" she drawled.

"Okay...we'll save this for some time when we're together then. Now what do you feel, love?"

A great, jolly laugh answered for Ryan and Janna's face became radiant. Ryan recovered somewhat and said, "Oh, sweetheart, message received. I love you too! Here, I'll try to send my love back to you."

As Ryan furrowed her brow in concentration, Janna waited a moment and then felt a soft, sweet feeling of love wrap around her heart. She exclaimed, "Wonderful love, I feel it!"

"Oh baby, thank you. This is so great!" Ryan beamed but then her eyes closed involuntarily and she yawned.

Janna heard it and said, "Okay, love, we should both be able to sleep now. I love you Ryan."

"I love you Janna, sweet dreams."

"Sweet dreams, love, night."

"Good night." With that, and despite their physical separation, two extremely contented partners spent the rest of the short night sleeping soundly and having sweet dreams.

Part 4

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