Warning: Foul language.
Uber. I've had this sitting about for a while, and didn't know if it was worth posting. It's received suggestions from nearly every bard I know, but I think this is all it is. The talent that tried to help far exceeds the merits of this little play. Including Mary Morgan Lawlsfan, Advocate, Archaeobard, IseQween.... oh no! This is becoming embarrassing!
Please send comments so that I will know where I went wrong. With the story, that is.
Email at Kamouraskan@yahoo.com
"I am not being paid nearly enough." Ellis decided. It wasn't the 50 foot drop to the parking lot below that was worrying him. It was knowing that he probably wasn't going to fall. No, he was more afraid that he would make it to the apartment window he was edging along this ledge to get to.
'Damn.' He thought. 'If only..." he sighed. "If only I wasn't as good as I say I am'.
There was a chilly November wind gusting through the desolate hotel parking area, but this was offset by the safety he felt in the shadows and the overcast sky. His sensitive hands were nearly worn raw trying to keep their purchase on the slight protrusion in the brick wall that was all that his hands and feet had to inch their way along the third story of the building. But he wasn't upset about that. He was getting just a bit pissed off that his prized black sneakers were getting the same rough treatment. He'd stolen them of course, but they'd still be hard to replace.
His natural élan was also becoming more and more worn, as he edged ever closer to the window. His feet were already anticipating the concrete sill at the base of it. His mind wanted to go the other way.
'"If I were sane, I'd turn around." he thought as he eased his right foot on the ledge. He rested for a moment, letting the muscle strain from putting all of his weight on just the sides of his feet be relieved from the cramping. He checked his centre of gravity and began to carefully bring his left foot to join the other while slowly lowering himself below the bottom of the window frame.
The curtains were still closed except for a small gap. He checked from his crouched position that there was no streetlight to cast his shadow into the room. As he lifted his head cautiously, he was able to see that the glint of glass he had noticed before was an expensive lens peering through the breach in the drapes. Another quick peek, and there was more corroboration of Jules' theory. The figures sitting and moving around inside the room were surrounded by a collection of electronic equipment.
And they were all cops.
'Definitely not being paid enough.' He groused.
Down below, Jules watched from the car as the slim figure under the window seemed to deflate slightly. 'Yes!' she exulted. Nothing but confirming her story would have gotten to Ellis that fast. Now all he had to do was find some evidence that the police had been there for more than a few days, and she was ready to go to the newspapers.
Jules wasn't the only one watching the young cat burglar. Pale blue eyes were carefully evaluating him, as well as the teenaged blonde waiting in the Mazda parked below. As the unofficial guardian of the motel strip, Alex had a variety of methods for discouraging any one foolish enough to try anything on her turf. Hell, with her skills, she could drop the tall boy with a rock from where she stood, but she decided to give him some more rope, before moving in for the kill.
Leaning as far forward as he could, Ellis reached into his breast pocket and drew out a card thin microphone. Teetering slightly, he began to slip it under the rotting frame of the cheap box window until one end was inside the room. 'Big Brother, I'M listening now,' he smirked to himself. Damn, but he hated to leave such a nice toy. It had been part of Jules' payment for this job. He sighed and tried to convince himself that it needed a field test. With the receiver in his car, a quick drive would prove exactly what the range was. Even with the short look he'd had, it was obvious that they'd be using it. Jules was correct. These guys weren't staked-out for a day or two. They'd made themselves at home, and they'd made themselves comfortable too.
He glanced down towards the roof of the car below. How had he let this kid talk him into this? It certainly hadn't been the money or the new playthings. Normally, with another girl, even an old childhood friend like Jules, he would have already planned a big seduction. But even though he knew she was just two years younger than his 18, the strawberry blonde still looked around 14. Cute, yeah, that was the problem. She was just too damned cute. Like a puppy, or a baby sister cute. .
Repeating each step, but in reverse, he began the retreat. One day, he promised himself, there would be cables attached to the roof, just like in the movies. A quick jump, and a velvet landing. He ran a his finger under his developing mustache by habit, clenched and unclenched his hands, and pressed himself against the wall.
Alex moved to the side of the flashing neon motel sign, knowing that hidden in the structure she was invisible. Her head cocked in puzzlement as she watched the burglar move a way from the window after planting what she was guessing was some kind of listening device. Why would a couple of teenagers want to bug her tame police? Whatever their plans were, they were about to crash into six feet of pissed off soldier.
Jules took a breath she hadn't realized she was holding when Ellis finally touched the tree that was his way down from the wall, and began putting on his gloves. With acrobatic ease, he swung from one branch and dropped to the next, landing silently. She was so entranced by his movements that she never saw the shadow beside the driver's side door. Never had a chance to say a word when the door opened and a hand gripped and yanked her collar forward, setting her up for the sucker punch to the side of her head. There were stars and then nothing..
Ellis landed without a sound. Brushing himself off, he strolled to the car with studied casualness. He opened the car door and slid in prepared to receive his accolades, when he saw the still form slumped over. Then heard the cocking of the gun held close to his head., and froze at the single word.
He couldn't see anything but the gleam of the barrel in the corner of his eyes, so he felt that at least for the moment, cooperating was a good idea. He put his hands up, and as the door slowly re-opened, rose. He had one advantage; that whoever had the gun seemed as cocky as himself, impossible as he knew that to be. They had let themselves get too close, and as he stood up to move away from the car, he was able to reach for the canister of pepper spray from his pocket, and release the contents in the direction where he thought the face of his attacker would be.
There was a curse as the gun was dropped, but before he could break away, he was effortlessly flipped onto the ground and there was a knife sweeping down towards his throat. He had only enough time to regret resisting, when he heard Jules say groggily but in panic . "Xena! NO!"
It was some form of possession, thought a panicked Jules. She was aware of a presence inside her mind, controlling her body, and for a frenzied moment she tried to fight it. But once met, the presence moved back, and it was like there was a mirror of herself, showing her a stronger, more assured version of her own soul. There was no threat from this force, she knew immediately, but there was a powerful urgency being conveyed, and in its gentle comfort she settled back, and waited to see what it would do next..
"By the Gods', the voice thought, 'They're, we're, so young!' And there was an exhilaration, a sense of a hope that had almost been abandoned. '<Jules>, it called to her passenger, <what is her name?>
<Who? The crazy punk? How would I know?> Jules retorted. < Who the Hell are you?>
<Hey!> the gentle echo of her own voice came back. <You know me. Gabrielle! We talk all the time. But her, that's who we've been waiting for. That's the most important person in your life.>
<You're kidding right?'>
Meanwhile, time had seemed to stop for the victim and killer on the asphalt. Alex felt the pain in her eyes driving her to a red peak. The girl's cry had stopped her for a moment, initiating some kind of internal battle, but she knew that it was almost over.
Gabrielle desperately called to her "What's your name?"
Alex didn't look to her, but smiled through the tearing eyes. "As far as you're concerned , it's Death."
Gabrielle made a prayer to long forgotten Gods. This was the chance, this was the moment, she knew. "Please, wait! Look, I'm betting you've never killed anyone until now..."
"You bet wrong, " Alex snarled back, the burning on her face and in her mind increasing with each second.
Gabrielle cursed, but caught the clues in time she hoped. "But never in anything other than self defense, right? Until now?" There was no response. She spoke quietly, urgently. "He's helpless, and you're about to cross a line, one you've never crossed before. Please. Think about this. Because this will change everything. It's a turning point, and you won't get another chance...WE, might never get another chance."
The hesitation continued, and then there was a painfilled growl. "My eyes. Do something about my fucking eyes, and you gain a minute."
"Autol..., <Ellis> Jules supplied. "Ellis, don't move. Stay completely still. This is going to work, but only if you stay completely still."
"Sounds like a plan" Ellis whispered, staring at the hand holding the knife to his throat. Feeling the steel blade bounce against his pulse.
Gabrielle pleaded to Jules. <I need something to create trust... What?>
<The car keys,> Jules thought quickly. <Give her the car keys.>
Her hand reached out and pulled some bright metal pieces from below the wheel, but Gabrielle closed her mind to all the other unknown objects around her. She couldn't afford to be overwhelmed by the strangeness, there was no time.
"Here, whatever your name is. These are our keys." She tossed them and they all heard them jangle as they landed beside the attacker. "Ellis." She was giving instructions now. "Tell me what will counteract whatever you sprayed on her. But DON'T move," she cautioned, "just tell me."
There was another whisper from the thief. "There's a bottle of mineral water under the dash."
<Jules?> Her hands reached out and found a clear container.
Alex was amazed and suspicious at how cool this girl now sounded. Like she'd done this before. Gabrielle bundled the bottle up with some cloths she found. "Okay, I'm going to throw it and these towels."
<Do we give her back the gun?>
"Now Ellis, her...gun, it's beside your right hand."
<He should give it to her butt first.>
<Butt?> Gabrielle thought she might have heard wrong.
<Just say it!>
"Ellis," Gabrielle said, knowing that if this boy was at all like her old friend, he wasn't going to like this. "Reach over slowly, grab the gun, and give it to her butt first."
No, Ellis didn't like that. This was insane. He began to babble in frustration
"Give her the gun, butt first? Jules, wouldn't that mean it was pointing at me? You know, I could make things easier and just bite down on the barrel, if you'd like. And just in case you felt I wasn't being cooperative enough, how's about I try wrapping my head in something so I won't make a mess after?"
"Shut up, Ellis." Three women's voices said simultaneously, one unheard by the others.
Ellis shut up.
"Now," Gabrielle said. "You have the gun. You have the keys. You can back up, and try to wipe your face and still be safe."
"I was always safe, asshole."
Both of the minds in Jule's body recognized that there was security in the assurance in that voice, but Gabrielle almost wept at hearing it.
"Both of you stand up, and get against the car, slowly..."
Jules knew that for some reason it was vital that the strange woman's eyes be washed free of the spray. That the person she thought of as Gabrielle was waiting for it, placing all of their hopes on it. Yet at the same time she could sense a fear that it wouldn't work.
"Make some noise, some quiet sounds, so I know where you are." Alex ordered. As Ellis got up, he began reciting The Walrus and the Carpenter in an ironic tone. Jules started to sing a song in a language that he had never heard before, and not well either, he noted.
"Jules, what is...?"
She raised her hand to quiet him and he noticed that the punk was not pointing the gun directly at them anymore. She was still rinsing her eyes, but she seemed confused or affected by something about the song.
'More craziness' he thought. Thinking to take advantage of whatever it was, the thief began to edge slightly towards her when Jules stopped singing and growled "no!" He froze and she continued singing softly, but there was a desperate tremor vibrating through her vocal.
Alex tossed her head, her black mane whipping from side to side as she blinked desperately. Almost. She could see shapes and the stinging pain was reduced. Another quick rinse and she realized that her gun had been lowered and that one of the two prisoners had made a move. Tightening her grip, pointing it directly at the figure of the girl, she tilted her head back, and poured the rest of the bottle onto her eyes. Quickly shaking her head and blinking rapidly, she began for the first time to see the figure in front of her. That the girl's face was fearfilled, but touched with a concern she couldn't understand.
And then she saw the green eyes. "You...I know you...don't I...?"
Wanting to be honest, but feeling the relief course through her, Gabrielle went for simplicity. "Yes."
"A long time ago. You've almost forgotten..."
"No, before that."
Alex snorted. "There is no before that."
"There are so many before's, that I've lost count. And for once, I think I was in time."
"Now." Alex made herself comfortable in one of the chairs in the furnished unused motel room she called home. She pointed at the teenagers with her gun. Both were relieved to note that her finger was away from the guard.
"Tell me what you're doing here, and don't give me any tea leaf type freaky stuff."
<You're on!> and Jules felt Gabrielle move back, and she was once again able to control her own body.
Both of the other occupants of the room stared as her face seemed to soften. Her voice when she spoke was different, her body posture seemed less assured.
Alex raised the pistol. "You on some kind of medication for that?"
"For what! For being schizoid or whatever is 'with' you."
Jules got angry. "Look! This is as much about you as it is about me. I didn't have anything 'with' me until tonight. Something was about to happen to the three of us, and something, someBODY, that I'm grateful to, stepped in and stopped it. I'm clinging to the fact that however crowded," she pointed to her skull, "it is in here, whatever she wants, is in the best interests of all of us."
Alex pursed her lips. She didn't need this crap. At All. This wasn't like her. She was always focused. Complications were things that had to be cleared away, or disposed of. This little girl might be something new, but so far in her life Alex had found that every new problem could be solved with old solutions. She stared into the unblinking green eyes again and doubted. No, this really was new. She stood up and checked the lock on the door.
"I'm going to go wash the rest of that crap out of my eyes." She pressed the barrel against Ellis's sideburns. "Stay in the chair. Understand?"
Inwardly seething, Ellis only smiled. "Why ever would I want to leave such a charming hostess?"
Alex ignored him and glanced to Jules, who was staring somberly at the empty walls. Brushing the gun barrel against Ellis's throat for emphasis, she left them alone while she went into the kitchen area.
Ellis began to tap his fingers on the cheap armrest, until finally he broke the silence. "I was waiting for you to say something, but you seem... OCCUPIED? Jules? What the FUCK is going on?"
Jules turned to him, and he saw that there were tears in her eyes. "This..." she gestured at the kitchen, "has been going on for, God, you wouldn't believe how long. It's like this never ending curse. And each time, I think they've failed. And it kills a part of their souls. Gabrielle," and she pointed to herself, "Gabrielle doesn't know if Xena is even in there anymore. She may have given up. It's been so hard on her, because she keeps ending up with more anger and guilt, and..."
Ellis interrupted. "Failed at what? Jules? I could give you back the money and we could go find a doctor that can prescribe something for you."
Both fell silent as Alex returned, wiping her face with a grungy looking towel.
"Tell me what he was doing there." she gestured to Ellis with the pistol.
"Hello?" Ellis waved his hand at the soldier. "I can talk?"
Alex gave him her smile, the one that could freeze the blood. "Yeah. You're the dead man who's still walking. Shut up." Turning back to the girl, she smiled seductively, "Talk to me. I don't want to kill you, I just need some answers. Why is he bugging my cops?"
Alex sat back and waited.
Jules cleared her throat. "Well YOUR police are grabbing people after a buy from some of YOUR dealers in here, or YOUR hookers."
Alex shrugged. "So. They have to make it look like they're doing their job."
"Then you know that sometimes they let them go, usually for a fair bit of cash."
This got a reaction. "What?"
"Mainly the ones that drive in or ride cabs in suits. The ones who have something to lose, and look rich."
"How do you know?"
She tried not to look embarrassed. "Because I started checking this out...after they grabbed me."
If Jules expected surprise, she was disappointed. Alex had seen too many 12 year olds on bicycles picking up quarter ounces of cocaine, to be anything other than amused at her discomfiture
Jules grew angry at her smile. "Haven't you thought it weird they've been there for so long? Haven't you wondered if maybe they were for real, that they might be getting ready to close you down?"
Alex affected indifference. "You don't know what you're talking about. This isn't just me here, this is an organization. I'm just the soldier."
Gabrielle spoke to Jules <Betrayal. It's always about betrayal> Mentally Jules thanked her. "You work for someone; they like you?"
"Yeah. I keep things quiet, and he appreciates it."
"He comes here and you report to him?"
Alex laughed. "NO! He doesn't have to. I can deal with things."
"You collect from the dozen or so dealers, the pimps, keep everybody in line...look after the cops? All by yourself and you're what, 19, 20?"
"Here, yeah...and the rest of the strip."
"So, basically, this is all yours."
"No, I told you..."
Jules leaned forward in the chair, and cut her off. "So all the cops would be shutting down is you. And maybe they figure they should make a few bucks out of it before it blows."
The mask of composure was cracking. "Come on, you're just..."
"Because nobody would take out the rich clients of a working operation, would they?" Alex fell silent. "If you were busted, what would happen?
The retort was confident. "Frank would have me out in a minute."
"And you'd be grateful, wouldn't you? You have a record?"
Alex smiled. "Nobody ever ran fast enough."
"But your tame cops could walk right up to you, couldn't they? Start reading you your rights and you'd think it was a joke. And with all the film and cameras, they'd have you pretty well nailed. And what if they are really working for.. Frank ? Frank would have you. No more clean record. No more virgin Queen. Makes a difference in the gangs when you have a clean record right? And you'd be so grateful, you'd owe Frank, do some jobs for him, he'd have no more worries that you might just decide that this really was your turf..."
Alex was fading under the onslaught of words. "What are you babbling about? Frank wouldn't do that to me. Why, would he? We make money, I do the job..."
"I bet you do it too well. You're too smart, and you're clean. Frank wants you to belong to him..."
"What do you know about this? Where do you get off, talking to me like I was a kid? What do you know about how things work?"
Ellis spoke up. "Meet a celebrity. This is Julie Gardner. She does a radio show?" That clicked for Alex. Jules at Night was this little girl? That explained why the voice was familiar, but not the face, and those eyes...
The thief continued. "But that's not fun for her anymore. She wants," and Ellis paused for a second to end with sarcasm. "to be a reporter."
Alex felt nothing but disappointment and her face turned cold. "So. That's what this is. I'm supposed to be your meal ticket. Shit. And I was buying into this..." She stood up and gripped her pistol.
Gabrielle moved so fast that Jules felt like she'd been tossed into a trunk. She felt the <sorry> and sat quietly behind her own eyes, and watched Gabrielle plead.
"Xena. If you're in there listening to me, please, by the Gods, explain this to her. This will work, it's our chance. Believe, please...we have a chance this time, but it will all fall apart, again, if you don't get her to listen."
Alex froze and her eyes stared back into the girl's. Amazed, Ellis watched his young friend, listened to the commanding voice that came from the small body.
"Whatever your name is. Look at me. Listen to what your heart is saying. You know what I'm saying is the truth. We stopped you from crossing the line tonight. We stopped you, just in time. YOUR cops would have come down here, and you would have been lucky to figure out in time that they weren't going to cover for you. You might have been able to run to YOUR Frank, and he would have welcomed you. But he'd have owned you. And..." The voice wound down. "...I'd be dead again, and you would never have the chance to be who you are supposed to be, not in this lifetime, maybe not ever."
For the first time in years, Alex felt fear. Something was happening to her, something stirring beyond her control. She fought it and raised the gun, her finger reaching the trigger. "You're crazy, you're hypnotizing me or something...."
"Xena. Please." Gabrielle was pleading now, the tears flowing. "Come to me. Please. I'm here for you. This time it won't happen, I won't let it, I promise you. PLEASE!" Alex wanted to stop what was happening, but for some reason she was helpless to ignore this girl's pleas. So she closed her eyes and let it happen.
To Ellis' shock the dark girl seemed to almost faint, and when Jules jumped up stop her from falling, Alex's arm reached out and almost crushed his friend with a fierce hug that should have crushed her. But there were no complaints.
A voice that was Alex's, and yet not her's at all, wept. "Oh Gods, Gabrielle, I am so sorry..."
Gabrielle held her warrior for the first time in a dozen lifetimes, and would not let go. "Shhh we're okay, love. We're going to make it this time.." she comforted.
The powerful woman was huddled in her soulmate's embrace. Her voice could barely be heard. "So many times, I, If I had killed you again,...I couldn't have lived, I wouldn't have let us live, if I'd killed you..."
"I know love... But we made it. We're all right. Now, we have to let the two of them handle it...that's how it works, right?"
Then Alex found herself with tears in her eyes, cradled in the lap of the small blond, and in her shock leaped backwards, immediately feeling the separation like it was a tearing of her own skin. She looked about the room in panic. "What the Fuck was that?"
Ellis stood up slowly, forcing a smile. "Well, I can see that you two are busy filming a new episode of the Twilite Zone, so if you don't mind..."
Alex regained control and glared at him. "Sit. You're still dead until I say otherwise."
Jules stared at Alex even as she threatened Ellis. What she was feeling? Was this what Gabrielle had been feeling for the other..... for this woman in front of her. A woman? But could it be real? How could everything change like that? WAS she crazy?
Then she saw her fear echoed in Alex's eyes. It was real, and it was so strong that it was scaring this tough bitch to the depths of her burnt soul.
Jules turned to the thief. "Sorry Ellis, but you're in this just like us. And you stay until it's over. Now," She looked at the soldier. "What do we have to do to prove to you that you're being used? Cause then we're going to stop it...."
Ellis sat impatiently staring at the door. They'd been listening to the bug transmitting from the stake out window for over an hour. So far they'd heard a debate about which hooker had the best ass, a few complaints about the local restaurant, with some farting and belching to prove their points. Throughout this time, Alex had paced about the room, glaring if either of them moved.
Both just sat in their broken chairs, staring at the soldier, who tried to work out her options. Finally she glowered at them.
"Fine." she said. "We have to goose them." She pulled out a cell phone with a quickness that did not surprise Gabrielle, and began to speak into the phone with an upper class accent.
"Hey," she mimed coyly over the tapped line. "Are you boys bothering my friends when they leave? You better cut it out, or I'm going to have to tell my Dad." And then she clicked the phone shut.
They all stared at Ellis's receiver on the table.
There was an explosion of derisive laughter on the speaker.
"What the fuck, was that Superbitch?"
"Oh, Yeah. Gonna tell her Daddy on us..."
"I can't wait."
"You'll wait until the cuffs are on. Tonight's shit will have the tracer, we'll follow it to her stash, but Frank says she gets treated like Arnold Swartzernegger until then."
"I got that. But after..."
"After that, Frank says anything you wanna do to her is just part of her education..."
The voices continued, but Alex was beyond hearing them. She took her fist and rammed it through the plaster board wall.
Jules jumped up. "Stop it! Stop it now!" Alex shoved her aside effortlessly.
Trying to remember what Gabrielle had said, and feeling her encouragement, Jules tried again. "Who are you mad at? Frank hasn't betrayed you. There was nothing for him to betray. You were just a tool he was using that became too sharp for him. He's gotten scared and he figures it would be best if you were...blunted. He wants you like this. He wants you angry, and callous and never able to do any better than this place, or places like it. Your anger is going to let him win."
Alex was close to striking her. "You don't...this is my home! This is everything I have!"
"This is nothing. With your brains and skill, this is NOTHING."
"SHUT UP! You just want to use me too, you want me to rat. Turn me and then turn me over. And don't you FUCKING say trust me or I'll shoot you right NOW!."
Jules moved to stand in front of the gun, wondering at her action, praying her pounding heart wouldn't explode with fear. "Then do it. Because if you haven't been listening, that's what this is all about. This isn't just about what we do tonight." She reached out and carefully took the soldier's hand. Alex tried to pull away but couldn't resist the immediate sense of comfort she felt from the connection. Jules gave her an uncertain smile and tightened her grip. "That's what it's all about." Both girls looked at their hands, and then into the other's face. Alex found herself almost lost in those verdant pools. "I can't..." she began.
Jules held her hand even tighter. "You have to. It's leap of faith time. We all move together now, or we don't move at all."
Jules was almost dwarfed by the dashboard of the stolen Lincoln that Ellis had taken from a nearby dealership. In her hand were the foil wrapped 'rocks' that she had just bought, and now she was waiting for the police to descend on her. She didn't notice that she was speaking out loud.
"This is too much, all at once, Gabrielle. I don't know if I can do this."
<The waiting IS the hardest>
Jules nearly screamed in frustration "That's not it, and you know it. I don't even know her name, dammit! I've been dreaming of this all my life, and... it's for another woman! Everything I thought I knew about myself has been turned upside down, and now I'm sitting here, telling this to my 2,000 year old soul...Fuck! Waiting to be busted again for cocaine is at least something I'm familiar with!"
<I'm sure the crooked police will appreciate that you already know the drill>
Oh, shut up!" But Jules couldn't help the laugh that bubbled up. The question came without her consciously thinking it. "Is it going to be worth it?"
There was a silence, but the answer was calm, and sure. <Yes. Nothing's guaranteed, , but yeah, it will be worth it.>
Once again she wasn't aware of the shadow beside the car, until the voice commanded her: "STEP OUT OF THE CAR, PLEASE."
<Here we go!> 'Please, Ellis, don't run off...'
The cops weren't the same ones who had busted her last time, so they had no reason to recognize her, just as Alex had planned. They pulled her out roughly and she almost slipped up by offering her identification before it was asked for. But she was adamant about being not taken inside and questioned in their room. They half dragged her to the foyer of the motel's entrance, holding her hands behind her, and bent her over slightly by forcing down her head..
"Why won't you help us, Miss Gardner?" asked the beefier of the two cops. "Didn't your mother tell you the police were your friends?".
The younger partner slammed on handcuffs. "You're in a lot of trouble right now, miss. I think you should think about doing whatever it takes to make things easier on yourself."
The two cops took turns spinning her back and forth as they kept up their questioning. Asking about who she'd made the buy from, and the next minute demanding to know whether she was still a virgin. She considered showing her fear, but knew that that her lack of response was keeping them off balance, and she might be giving Ellis more time.
But when they stopped using their hands for pushing her about, she wasn't sure she could keep up the pretense.
She tried to ignore the fingers running along her thighs, but her face blushed with embarrassment as the pseudo search continued. Still they kept up the questions.
"Do you think your family would like to know what you've been doing?" She twisted away as they began to pull her towards the stairs up to their lair. She backed against the stairway wall and began to curse. "Fuckers! You start pulling me anywhere other than a cop car and I'm going to be screaming so loud... I'm not going, Damn you! Get your hands off of me!".
Suddenly the hands were gone and so was the big smiling policeman. His partner was raising his weapon when Jules managed a full force kick into his crotch. He barely had time to squeak in pain when there was another blow from behind, and he fell face forward. Jules stared at the two unconscious cops, and the woman who had knocked them out. Alex grabbed Jules by the shoulder and pulled her outside.
Once there, Jules swiveled around to Alex and in anger yelled, "this wasn't the plan! What do you think you were doing?"
Alex was taken aback. "Are you nuts! They were going to..."
"I had everything under control."
"Do you know how many times I've heard you say that?" Alex demanded.
"And how many times have I....?" Both women froze as the import of their words sunk in.
There was a shock, an integration, and both woman stared at themselves and each other. Alex looked about her wonderingly. Jules said in an awefilled voice.. "These weren't ghosts. Xe...Xe?"
"I know...what's happened?"
"Damn it Xe, they're us, we're them!"
There was an edge of hysteria to Jules voice, but her eyes glowed. "Let me introduce myself! I'm Julie Simpson Gardner. I'm studying communications which is good, because I used to be a Bard in Ancient Thrace and Macedonia!" A laugh burst out and she struggled to continue "I also studied at the Academy of Performing Bards but I dropped out before I got my degree..." Now the laughter was parts relief and elation. "Xena, we did it! We're going to make it! Oh Gods, Xena!"
She stopped for a moment, worried. But something she saw in the woman across from her, satisfied her momentary fear ,and she began spinning in joyfilled in circles before stopping to yell at her newly recovered partner. "Hey! Get these cuffs off me. I need at least two millennium's worth of hugs. Starting now!"
Both women turned to see Ellis trying, but failing, to appear indifferent, while proudly displaying a leather briefcase.
Jules ran over, nearly head butting him. "Oh Auto, Ellis! Did you do it? Did you get it all? Everything?"
"Uh huh." the thief backed away, eyeing them both warily "They'd put all of the evidence against ahh... 'Alex' in one easy to carry suitcase. I simply put the drugs you gave me in its place. With the tracer bug working, and their own photos of them shaking down customers, it'll be clear they took over this lot for their own profit. And despite certain people screwing up..." They could hear the sounds of cars entering the outer ring of the motel. "at least the Mounties are on time.
"So." He stood a trifle nervously. "I take it that the body snatchers won?"
Jules laughed again. "Ellis, NO! That's what's so wonderful. I'm still me, but everything I've always dreamed, finally makes sense! It's like all the windows are finally clear! I can speak Greek, I can run the control booth...and I can dance! Take off these cuffs and dance with me!"
Alex watched her with bemusement as the girl tried to contain herself long enough for the thief to pick the locks on her cuffs.
The official R.C.M.P. cars pulled up around them with a screech. A small burly officer made his way over to the three, while directing the other officers to the motel and to the unconscious cops on the floor inside. He looked at the tall dark soldier and blinked in confused recognition. Covering his surprise, his eyes retreated to his notebook.
"You called us? You are," he consulted his notes, "Alexandra Stragira?"
"Xe, her name is Xe," sang out an irrepressible Jules.
Alex turned to her partner. "Since when do you get to decide?"
"I found you, I get to name you." She ran over to the soldier, nearly colliding with the officer, only looking into his face in the midst of her happily insincere apologies.
She blinked twice and looked at Xe. The officer stared back, wondering what drug she was on.
Jules went for it. "Iolaus?"
"Excuse me?" said the confused officer.
The officer looked over to a somewhat worried Ellis, who misunderstood the question in his eyes.
Ellis put his hands out quickly. "NO! Nice club, don't want to join. And if you could, please stay. Over. There?"
'Iolaus' looked questioningly over to Xe and Jules. "That's Ellis, he likes things the way they are." Jules supplied.
"Who gets to explain things?" he asked the group..
Xe gestured at Jules. "The Bard, of course..." and got a long kiss from Jules for that.
"I can't believe the Mounties let Ellis drive away in that car." Xe reached down to gently brush the unruly blond hair out of Jules' eyes.
Trying to ignore the feelings that the tender touch was engendering, Jules focused on the subject. "I think he was lucky they didn't ask to look in the trunk. And he had the nerve to complain about the quality of the surveillance equipment they were using. Thank the God's we caught him before he started working on the R.C.M.P's cars."
"But I really can't believe I let you do all the planning this time." Xe shook her head, holding back a smile as the small woman began to swing their clasped hands..
"Well, you were still freaked out about Frank..."
The soldier's eyes immediately darkened. "Frank! I'll get that son of a..."
"Xena..." The bard was implacable.
"He can't get away with what he did."
"We'll make it our first project, okay?"
"And what am I going to live on? You've got a job and school, and of course, your parents are going to freak!"
"Same old, same old." Jules started to giggle.
The soldier had to smile at that. 'Gods, your parents. It was bad enough the first time..."
"You remember everything?"
"No, my Bard, I am very happy to say there is a certain, fuzziness, and although Alex didn't have the perfect childhood either, I think I can live a lot better with her memories. So let's stay with Jules and Xe, okay?"
"I'm fine with that, but I still like the way you say Gabrielle, when we're...private." The bard was blushing.
Jules moved to hold her warrior, snuggling into her side. "Yeah, just like that. "
"Like that, Gabrielllllle?"
"Uhhuh....I know there are things to do, bad guys to bash, people to save..."
"I figured you thought that."
"But I think we have to spend some time in private very soon."
There was a trilling from Xe's pocket, and they both looked at the cell phone suspiciously as she opened it up. Jules could hear Ellis' voice clearly.
"Uh, ladies? There appears to be some sort of a simple misunderstanding with the gendarmes. They seem to be wondering where some things have disappeared to, and for some reason they are asking me about it."
Xe sucked on her tongue, but a smile played around her lips. "Don't worry about a thing. I'll give them a call and tell them you were trying to help, and that you're just transporting evidence to their headquarters."
"Yes. You were."
"Then all I get out of this is...?"
Jules spoke into the receiver. "A nice warm feeling and a handshake."
There was silence. "I was afraid that was what you'd say."
Xe took the phone back. "We'll be over to help you explain everything. Be there in 15 minutes." She closed it over the sound of squawking.
Jules just looked up at her partner. "We have to go, too?"
Xe shrugged. "We owe him. After all, he didn't steal my phone."
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