Disclaimer: I don't own anything; these characters belong to more fortunate--and richer--people.
Note: This story picks up the lives of Mattie, Annie, and Harry right after the events in the Xena episode "Soul Possessed." That ending left a lot of questions unanswered: How long are Xena and Gabrielle going to be in control of the bodies? If Annie and Mattie surface again, what is Annie going to be like and how will Mattie react to having a wife instead of husband? Do either of them even like girls "in that way"?
Genre: über/alt with appearances by X & G
Who Are You Now?
Is That You?
The living room lay in stillness, curtains drawn against the late afternoon sun. The air was stuffy and a thin layer of dust had settled on the cherry-wood coffee table and on the three matching end tables resting on either side of a couch and beside an overstuffed, well-worn chair. A soft grating of metal and a click broke the quiet and the front door swung open. Two dark-haired women, one short, one tall, entered, bringing with them a rush of spring air.
"Gods, Im tired," said the brunette as she tossed a ring of keys on to a small table beside the door. She took a deep breath then coughed. "Better open some windows. They we were away for three weeks."
She started toward the living room. A pair of arms wrapped around her from behind, pulling her back against a warm body. A low voice murmured into her ear. "No kiss of welcome, my bard? Seems a long time since we have shared one of those."
The smaller woman shivered and blinked against the sudden stinging in her eyes. "I know," she said in a hoarse whisper.
"Gabrielle?" the other woman said, playfulness changing concern.
The bard shook her head, unable to speak. Then she was being turned in her companions arms and enveloped in a hug. Suddenly, Gabrielle was clinging desperately as she cried. Minutes later, as her sobs diminished, she leaned wearily against the other woman. Hands pushed her gently back a little and slender fingers urged her to raise her chin.
Pale blue eyes searched hers. "What pains you, love?"
When was the last time she had looked into eyes that color, living eyes? Centuries nay millennia past, far to the east, just before the battle that would cost her everything. The next time she had seen Xena, her beautiful lover had been a ghost. For a short time, the warrior-bard had been certain that she would win this woman back to her earthly form, hold her again, feel the heat of her skin and the beating of her heart. But atop an unforgiving mountain, Gabrielle watched the sun sink on her hopesand on her life. She shut her eyes against the memory, against the pain of those final days, the aching loneliness that still scarred her soul. "I have missed you," the bard whispered.
"Love." A hand gently raised her chin, and the blonde opened her eyes to see deep concern on her partner's face. "I have been right here for the past two years."
Was that true? Gabrielle wondered. Yes, their souls had been together in the bodies of Mattie and Harry. But after the first hour of their reunion two years ago, the personalities of their present-day reincarnations had quickly reasserted themselves. Gabrielle could remember the feeling of sorrow that had come over her as she felt herself sinking once more below the surface. She had wanted so desperately just to hold a flesh and blood Xena a little longer, even if she were in a mans body. But her hold on this body had been tenuous and fleeting.
But whatever Ares had done today when he had called forth Xenas and Joxers souls as well as hers had changed all that. She felt alive in this body as she had not been before.
"No, not like this," Gabrielle said at last. "We have not been together like this. We are here, truly here, now. Can you not feel it?"
Xena studied her face then slowly nodded. "Yes. I feel it."
"Will it last?"
"I dont know, love."
Gabrielle nodded somberly and laid her head back against her lovers breast, hugging her tightly. "Xena?" she said after a few moments.
"Make love to me."
They lay tangled on the bed, bodies slick and temporarily sated. The bard was sprawled across her lover, who was running fingers through Gabrielle's long, dark hair.
"I miss your blond hair," Xena said, "the way it would catch the light. Like a glint of gold."
Gabrielle pushed herself up slightly and looked down at the other woman in surprise. "Poetry? From the warrior princess?"
A blush spread up her lovers face.
"And youre blushing?" the bard said, incredulous.
Xena scowled, rubbing a hand over one red cheek. "I am not. Its this body. It doesnt work as well as my own."
Gabrielle grinned but said no more on that point. She rolled off Xena and lay against her right side, propping herself up on her left hand. "There may be some differences, but I am more amazed by the similarities between your body and this one." Gabrielle lightly trailed her right hand over Xenas breasts and downward over her belly, coming to rest just above the dark curls.
The movement brought a soft moan from Xena, who grasped Gabrielles hand with her own and moved it lower to cup her sex. She arched slightly against the bards palm
"So some things work the same," Gabrielle said archly.
Sinking deeper into the kiss, they ignored the sudden peal of the doorbell. It rang again. And again. And again. With a growl, the warrior unwrapped herself from her lover and sprang from the bed. Gabrielle groaned and sat up. For a few moments, she admired the view as the long, lean naked body stalked across the room to the door. A pity, really, that she had to say anything.
The other woman glanced back at the bed. "What?" she demanded.
Xena looked down at herself, then shrugged. "Won't be that long."
Gabrielle sighed. Nudity had never mattered to her lover. The gods knew the warrior had even fought stark naked on occasion. But this wasn't some lake in ancient Greece, and they weren't being set upon by thugs. "Please."
The blue eyes rolled, but the warrior slipped into the longer of the two robes hanging on the back of the bedroom door before continuing on her mission.
Gabrielle lay back down to await her partner's return. A smile crossed her face. The encounter with Ares had certainly been ugly, and Gabrielle didn't enjoy fighting, but there was a least one benefit. She anticipated a long and satisfying night of helping her lover expend the battle lust that always overtook her after a fight.
A crash sounded from downstairs, followed by a cry of pain. The bard jumped up from the bed and grabbed the other robe on her way out the door. She should have remembered how dangerous her soul mate could be when all that battle energy hadn't been channeled yet. At the bottom of the stairs she found Xena glowering over Joxer, who was sprawled on the entryway floor.
"What is going on here?" Gabrielle demanded.
"Gabby!" said Joxer, relief evident in his voice. "Good to see you!"
The bard crossed her arms. "What are you doing here, Joxer?"
"Ah ," he cast a wary eye at the figure glowering above him.
"He thinks he lives here," Xena said, teeth bared.
Joxer scooted away from the warrior then scrambled to his feet and rushed over to stand behind Gabrielle. "Harry lives here, and I'm Harry now," he said in a half-defiant whine.
"He has a point, Xena," Gabrielle said after considering the matter for several seconds. "The situation is a bit confusing. But I'm sure we can work things out so everyone is satisfied."
"Really?" Xena drawled. Holding her soul mate's gaze, the warrior continued, "Tell her what else you said, Harry."
He swallowed audibly. "I just well, I only meant that that "
Xena drawling and Joxer stuttering--this was not good. Beginning to feel a bit of trepidation, Gabrielle asked, "Joxer?"
He took several steps away from her, then drew himself up. "I just pointed out that I have more right to be here than Xena because Mattie is married to Harry, not to Annie."
The bard stood perfectly still, staring at him. Was the man suicidal? Her disbelieving gaze swung back to Xena.
"Should I leave you two alone?" the warrior asked, smirking.
Her lover scowled. "Very amusing." She took a breath, schooling herself to patience. "Joxer, you know Xena and I are mated."
"Well, technically ," he began before letting out a sudden squawk.
"Technically," Xena growled in his face, one hand wrapped around his throat, "you will be dead in 30 seconds if you even think of touching her."
It was never, Gabrielle thought once again, a good idea to interrupt Xena in the midst of releasing her battle lust.
"Love," she said, walking over and clasping the tensely muscled arm, "let him go. He's just being Joxer. He doesn't know what to do and is feeling lost and afraid."
The chill left Xena's gaze, and she dropped her victim to the floor.
Joxer lay coughing and rubbing his throat. "I'm not afraid," he choked out. "A warrior is never afraid." The bard shook her head and silently offered him her hand. He started to reach for it, then stopped, apprehensive gaze on the warrior. "Uh, thanks, Gabby, but I'm fine." He scrambled awkwardly to his feet.
"Let's all go sit in the living room and talk," the bard said, taking Xena's arm.
Gabrielle climbed wearily into bed. She lay there, looking out the window at the full moon, waiting for Xena to finish up in the bathroom. After an exhausting evening of negotiations and a hastily prepared dinner, all she wanted to do was curl up against her soul mate and sleep.
They had finally reached an agreement about the immediate future. Joxer would live in 'Annie's' apartment for the time being, while Xena moved in with Gabrielle. As soon as a lawyer could be hired, 'Mattie' would file for divorce from 'Harry.' Rather stupidly, Joxer had protested the divorce at first, saying it wasn't really necessary since Xena couldn't marry Gabrielle anyway. Much to Gabrielle's surprise, Xena had not leaped for his throat this time. She had simply said, "Divorce her or make her a widow. Your choice." Bachelorhood had suddenly looked very good.
As for Harry's and Mattie's respective jobs, Xena and Joxer would both take a leave of absence while they figured out what to do. Part of the problem was that neither one of them had all the memories of the bodies in which they presently or formerly resided. Both had some of Annie's memories as well as some of Harry's. So Xena had suggested that they give it a few days and see how they adjusted.
Once the discussion was over, Gabrielle had sent Joxer and Xena upstairs to pack some clothing and other essentials for him, while she threw together something for dinner. It had been disconcerting, moving about the kitchen, remembering the many meals Mattie had prepared there as if it had been someone else's life.
When Joxer and Xena had returned, they had seemed to be back on friendlier terms, and the three of them had settled down to a peaceful dinner before Joxer had been sent on his way.
The bathroom door opened and the light clicked off as a naked Xena stepped into the bedroom.
"I put out a pair of Harry's boxers and a t-shirt for you," Gabrielle said, pointing toward the dresser.
Xena approached the bed and pulled back the covers. "Waste of time," she said, as she crawled in next to her partner.
"Love, it's late ." The words of protest died as a long body pressed her to her back and moved on top of her. Lips caught hers in a searing kiss that stripped away her weariness. Her nightgown soon followed.
The sun streaming through the window and across their bed woke her. She blinked sleepily. Must have forgotten to set the alarm. As the fog of sleep lifted a little more, she realized that there were no sounds coming from downstairs. Strange, she was not usually the first one to wake. Puzzled and a little concerned, she rolled over.
"Harry ?" she began. The words died in her throat as she met a pair of bewildered blue eyes inches from her own. For several seconds, the two women remained frozen, gazes locked. Then the spell broke, and they scrambled to opposite sides of the bed. They stood facing each other across the expanse of a queen-size mattress that seemed much smaller to Mattie than it had before. Probably because she and Annie were both naked.
Naked! "Oh, shit," she said and turned around, looking frantically for something to wear. Her nightgown hung drunkenly from the bedside lamp. Refusing to consider how the garment could have gotten there, she grabbed it and pulled it on. Thin cotton armor in place, she sucked in a deep breath, preparing to turn back around. A small part of her hoped that the last few minutes had been a hallucination, a frightening flashback, perhaps, from her drug use in college. Can a person suffer flashbacks from smoking dope?
The question proved moot. Annie was still there, wrapped in the blanket from the bed and looking very much like a deer caught in the headlights. Mattie knew exactly how she felt.
To be continued in Part 2: "Whos Been Sleeping in My Bed?"
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