Disclaimers:  see part 1


Swirls in Time

By Janine Hilltop




“I have to get back to work, I’ve got rounds to make,” Allison muttered, rubbing her hands through her hair, letting the necklace slide from nerveless fingers.  She jumped up and left the apartment.  In a daze, the doctor ended back at the hospital.  She was not scheduled to work, but she needed to find some place with some kind of normalcy.  There was a cop car in the parking lot with a window smashed out and the partition behind the driver’s seat askew.  She walked into an ER that was in chaos.  A violent mental patient had been brought in but by the time security had been able to restrain her, beds had been turned over doors pulled off hinges and windows smashed.

Fortunately no one had been hurt.  A heavy dose of sedatives had put the patient out.  Allison checked the triage board for any emergency surgeries and saw only the normal bumps, bruises and heart attacks.  Passing around the examining rooms, she looked in on the mental patient.  Even though restraints had arms and feet secured, and a belt around her middle to tie her down, the woman was muttering, tossing her head side to side.  A muttered name stopped Allison’s heart.  Slowly she approached the bed.  Listening to the patient, she heard names and places that caused her heart to start beating triple time.

“I can hear you,” the patient whispered.  “Come to poke me again with…”  The patient stopped when she opened her eyes and saw who was there.

“Ah, I wondered when one of you would find me.  Hello Gabrielle,” purred the patient. 

Allison backed away from the bed, thoughts swirling in her head.  Was this the third traveler? 

“Is the other one around?  Have you met up with your girlfriend?  The last I remember of her I was slicing her open with my sword and you could do nothing but watch her die … again.”

The blank look in Allison’s eyes got a giggle from the patient. 

“Oh how sweet, you don’t know who I am, do you?  Do you remember how many times I’ve killed you or your girlfriend?  Or how many times you’ve killed me?  Oh it’s time for more fun, time for me to rip out your heart again.  Or maybe I’ll do you and rip out her heart?” the patient taunted the doctor as she turned to leave.  A demented laughter echoed in the doctor’s ears as she darted out of the ER.  Finding a trash can around the corner, the doctor threw up breakfast.


More images appeared, a young man walking with her on a creek bed holding her hand, a demented woman running a sword into the young man’s chest, a woman in white throwing a round weapon at the  warrior’s back causing the warrior’s back to break, a woman chasing her onto a rope bridge trying to obtain something, a demented laughter that kept ringing in her ears as she plunged into a fiery abyss with a twin image of herself.

Allison wiped her mouth and headed back to her car.  She sat there leaning her head against the steering wheel.  If that was the third traveler, where was the stone fragment?  Where was her fragment if she was the companion?  With wooden movements she started the car and headed back to her apartment.  She stumbled into the living room to find Michelle passed out on the couch holding the necklace.  Not knowing what to do or believe, she went to her bedroom and lay down.  Quickly the oblivion of sleep took her.


She was standing in a deserted village, looking for her bard.  She knew her soulmate was around, she could feel her.  She was trapped in the village, every time she approached the edges of town darkness formed up in front of her which forced her to turn back.  Where was her companion?  All the huts were deserted.  There was nowhere else to look.  With frantic movements she searched the huts again.  Where was her bard?  Suddenly the maniacal laughter rang out.  The warrior dashed back to the village center.  What she found robbed her of her breath.  Callisto was there with a dagger to her bard’s throat. 

“Ah ah, you know the drill.  Drop you sword and chakram or I open up this pretty little throat,” Callisto said in her singsong voice.

“No Xena don’t.  She’ll just kill you again,” Gabrielle pleaded with tears in her eyes.  She knew what was going to happen, it had happened before.   

“Callisto, haven’t you figured it out yet?  If one of us dies, we all are thrown into time again,” Xena said through gritted teeth, not daring to look at her bard. 

“I know, that’s why this is so fun.  I do the little brat, you try to get to me, and we all end up sometime else to do this again,” Callisto cackled.  She tightened her hold on Gabrielle’s chin to stretch her neck out.  With deliberate slowness she drew the dagger across Gabrielle’s neck letting her life force out. 

“NOOOOOOOOO…..” Xena screamed as she launched herself at the two as the swirls of time took all three again. 

Xena jerked upright, a scream dying in her throat.  She leaned back against the cushions and tried to slow her heart.  The dreams were the worst, even though they found each other; she had to relive Gabrielle dying.  Looking at the clock she saw it was 6 hours later.  Wondering if Allison/Gabrielle had returned, she wandered through the apartment.  Finally finding the bedroom, she peeked in.  Her doctor/bard was in bed with the covers over her head, at least there was a lump that had a regular up and down motion to it.  Feeling better knowing she was back, Xena headed to the kitchen to find something to eat.

The smell of frying eggs and coffee woke Allison up.  Still groggy from lack of sleep, she stumbled into the kitchen.  Xena looked at her over the top of her coffee cup.  Allison avoided Xena’s eyes, getting coffee and putting bread in the toaster. 

“Do you have dreams?” Allison asked looking out the window.

“Well I guess you could call them dreams, mostly I remember the last time we were together,” Xena replied softly.

“Do your dreams leave marks when you wake up?”

“Only if I get hurt close to the move.”

“You’ve told me my name, what’s yours?” Allison asked as she turned around.  Blue eyes looked into green with understanding and support. 

“Xena, but if you’re more comfortable with Allison and Michelle that’s what we’ll do,”

“What do we usually do?”

“Well it depends.  Sometimes the present is so strong we stay with the current names.  The one we are chasing never changes though.  She always remembers.”

Allison nodded her head and turned back to the window. 

“Say my name again?”

“Gabrielle,” Xena murmured with closed eyes.

Allison sighed and closed her eyes.  She tried to find a reason any of the recent events or the fantastic tale felt wrong.  She couldn’t.  The rightness of the name resonated through to the core of her being.  The voice saying the name resonated through an entirely different part of her being, surprising her again with the emotions awakened.

“Can I use the shower?  I feel really grungy,” Xena asked running a hand through her hair. 

“It’s on the left, towels in the hall closet.  Wait, I want to look at your wound.  Those staples probably can come out since you heal so fast.”

“Ok, let’s go.”

Allison led the way to the bedroom.  From the hall closet she pulled a towel and a black duffle bag.  Xena sat down on the bed and pulled the sweat shirt off.  Allison stared at the beautiful body before her, feeling those powerful emotions again, feeling warmth flush through her body and settle below her stomach. 

“Uh, doc?”

“Huh, ok, ah, I ah just need to uh,” Allison stammered.  Chuckling Xena covered up with the sweat shirt to ease Allison’s view.  Searching in the duffle bag, Allison stalled for time looking for the staple puller.  Trying to assume a clinical attitude, Allison felt the skin around the incision and tested the scar.

“This will pinch, when I pull the staples,” Allison said keeping her eyes on the staples.  Xena chuckled as Allison prodded the incision. 

“Don’t tell me, you’re ticklish.”

“If I told you that, I’d never hear the end of it.  You’re the one that’s ticklish.”

With an indignant exclamation, Allison stood up and towered over Xena.

“I am not!”

“What ever you say,” Xena said with a smile.  Allison couldn’t help but smile back at the woman in front of her. 

“I hate to be patronized and I think you know that,” she said with her hands on her hips, tipped her head to the side and grinned at Xena.

Xena smiled even bigger and ducked her head.  The image of her bard was so strong it hurt.

“Yeah you do hate that, I’m sorry.” 

Allison tipped Xena’s face up to her and was lost in the depths of the soul looking back at her.  Xena took Allison’s hand and softly stroked the fingers not daring to look away.  Slowly she pressed her lips to Allison’s knuckles and closed her eyes savoring the first meaningful contact with her soulmate.  Allison traced the corner of Xena’s mouth with her thumb, feeling a growing desire and need to be with this woman.  

“I love you…I don’t know how or maybe I don’t remember,” Allison whispered.  Xena sighed and looked up.  The look in the green eyes was a very welcome gaze.  “But I know I want to remember.”

“I promised you, even in death I would never leave you,” Xena replied with a very heavy voice, heavy with desire and need.  Xena could feel the trembling in her body as Allison stroked Xena’s cheek with her fingertips.  Sliding a hand behind Xena’s head, Allison leaned over and gently kissed Xena. 

Visions burst into Gabrielle’s mind, of the two of them walking down a dusty trail together, holding hands and just enjoying the day, of placing the ambrosia in Xena’s mouth and begging for her to wake up, of a hot tub and Xena washing her back, a vision of beauty leaning over her waiting for her response to the kiss, of a time in Egypt feeding strawberries to Xena dipped in honey, laying together wrapped in furs next to a campfire talking of plans to settle down…

Gabrielle pulled away with a gasp and stared at Xena.  She pressed her warrior backwards onto the bed.  Kisses became deeper and the intensity of the moment nearly overwhelmed the two.  Drawing apart with ragged breaths, Xena looked at her soulmate finally returned.

“Uh, I still need to take a shower.  Would you mind taking the staples out?  They itch something terrible and I need to wash this brown stuff off.”

“That brown stuff is Betadine and keeps the incision clean not that you would need it the way you heal.  I do good work if I say so myself,” Gabrielle good naturally teased as she traced the incision with gentle finger tips.  She carefully removed the staples and handed them to Xena. 

“Here, a memento from Callisto.  OHHHH!  She was at the hospital today, she was brought in as a combative mental patient,” Gabrielle exclaimed starting to bolt towards the door.  Xena caught Gabrielle’s hand and pulled her back down to the bed beside her. 

“Good, we know where she is.  She’ll be kept for 72 hours right?  Let me get cleaned up and we can maybe end this stupid jumping around.”

Xena got up and headed to the shower; she got to the door and turned.

“Allison, I …”

Gabrielle stood up and pressed fingers to Xena’s lips.

“It’s me, Gabrielle,” she whispered replacing her fingers with her lips.  A growl rumbled from deep in Xena’s chest as she wrapped her arms around her lover.  ‘Finally things are going right for us,’ she thought as Gabrielle return the embrace and deepened the kiss. 


The stone on her finger was glowing again.  That could only mean that Xena or Callisto were near by.  Probably both Gabrielle mused.  Xena and Gabrielle had a lead on where Callisto was holed up in the medieval country side.  She pulled the armored gauntlet back on and urged her horse ahead.

Trotting into the town, she heard the ringing of great swords echoing.  She leaped off her horse and drew her katana.  There they were, dancing around each other with deadly intent.  There was blood flowing from both, Xena was holding a hand to her side.  As Xena swept her blade at Callisto’s legs trying to disable her, Callisto jumped over the strike and Xena slipped to one knee.  With a laugh of triumph Callisto kicked Xena’s sword from her hand.  Gabrielle rushed at her with a scream trying to distract her from the killing blow she was aiming at Xena’s neck.  She managed to deflect the blow enough that Callisto was thrown off balance. She laughed at Gabrielle as they danced around each other, Gabrielle staying between Xena and Callisto. 

Callisto pointed her sword at Gabrielle and giggled, “Ya know this is even better.  You can watch her die slowly, she won’t last the night.  See ya soon my sweet,” and ran off.  Gabrielle dropped to her knees next to the warrior and pulled her into her arms. 

“Let me see, I have to stop the bleeding,” she gasped as she pulled Xena’s hand away. 

“You can’t fix this Gabrielle.  It’s too deep.  I tried to wait for you but…”

“Shush love, I’m here,” Gabrielle said holding her warrior tightly.  “I’ll find you again.”

As she kissed the warrior, Gabrielle could feel Xena stop fighting.  The warrior went limp in her grasp, Gabrielle screamed her out her anguish and the swirls of time took them again.

Gabrielle woke to strong arms holding her.  Without any thought she knew whom was holding her and why.  The vision was slipping from her mind as her heart slowed down. 

“It never gets any easier recalling the end.  Even knowing what will happen doesn’t help,” Gabrielle said with an exasperated tone.  Xena looked at her bard understanding what she was going through.  She tucked Gabrielle’s head under her chin and settled them both down again.

“We’ll catch up to her some time, she has to slip up.  Where’s your ring?”

“In a safe, in the closet.  I had to remove it so often with all the hand washing, I just put it up.  I’ll have to keep it with me now,” 

“Especially since she knows we’re around.  She’ll try to get to one of us to keep this sick game going.  Who was the attending doctor?”

“I didn’t look; I don’t think anyone yet since she had just been brought in.  I’ll have to pull some strings for a visit for the both of us.  With any luck she has her fragment with her.  Now I think I would like to get reacquainted with a very delicious body that I have missed this last eon,” Gabrielle murmured as she drew Xena’s face to her own and claimed the lips she had missed.


Callisto was becoming bored with the attention the psychiatrists were giving her.  They kept asking her the same stupid panel of questions she had heard hundreds of times.  She usually changed her answers just enough each time a new psychiatrist came in to confuse them.  Once she had them diagnosing her four different ways from perfectly normal to a very deep sociopath.  Today she was bored because she knew Xena and Gabrielle were out there.  Soon they would come looking for her and try to end all her fun.  Once she had figured out the consequence of killing Gabrielle, she tried it on Xena.  She had never had such a delicious time killing someone before.  Her original plan of eliminating Xena before her army burned her village down changed quickly.  She realized after the first time swirl what was happening and didn’t have any plans to stop.  She would kill both Xena and Gabrielle as many times as she could.  First she had to get out of the hospital.

Playing possum, Callisto had been released from her restraints.  She was waiting for a psych tech to attend to her alone; so far there has always been at least two.  She could take two out she knew, she just didn’t want to work that hard.  Hopefully the night shift would be more relaxed.  Until then, she was busy thinking of ways to get Xena or Gabrielle alone.  Gabrielle was easier and the reaction from Xena very satisfying.  On the other hand, Callisto kind of felt like she needed a workout and that meant Xena.  Maybe she could get the doctor’s address.  Surely they were together by now and she could kill two birds with one stone literally.  ‘So many options, so little time, and so much fun to be had’ she thought as she giggled and settled down to wait. 


Xena was the first to wake this time, not from a nightmare or vision, but because she was hearing the bard’s stomach announcing the day.  Gently she ran her fingers through Gabrielle’s hair, waking her up. 

“Ummm, I’ll give you 2 days to stop that,” Gabrielle purred.  Xena laughed and shifted the bard off her shoulder.

“Well, I need to use the bathroom and you need to use the kitchen.”

“You can be such a spoil sport,” Gabrielle grumbled.  At this point her stomach made a very loud argument for using the kitchen.

“Ok, I know when I’m beaten.”  Gabrielle slipped on an oversize tee shirt and padded out to the kitchen.  By the time Xena was out of the shower and dressed, breakfast was ready.  They ate in companionable silence, reacquainting themselves. 

“I’ll go into work and see what I can dig up about Callisto.  Do you want to come along and see if we can get in to see her?”

“I think the sooner we get to her the better.  I’m sure Callisto will try to get out of there and try to find you.  She knows you’re here and so I’ve got to be around.  But since she’s seen only you, she’ll be after you first.”

“When she saw me, she was having a hard time deciding who to kill,” Gabrielle said with a grimace.   “I’ll get ready and we can head down to the hospital.”


To be continued   

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