Disclaimer: This is an Alt/Uber fanfic. The characters are my own, but based on Xena and Gabrielle. No copyright infringement was intended.
Content Warning: None.
Note: I want to thank my Beta reader, Pam. Thanks to the fan fiction sites for posting my story. I greatly appreciate it. J
Comments: You can send them to my email. firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks!
Copyright © June 2004: R. A. Hughes
April 15, 1874
Elena woke up feeling safe and warm. Opening her eyes, she looked around. She was snuggling close to Elizabeth with one arm possessively around her waist. She moved away slowly. How did she get here? Oh, I had nightmares last night. I was crying, and she comforted me. No one has ever comforted me before. She smiled. Quietly, she dressed and left Elizabeth to continue her sleeping.
Matt was sitting at the table eating breakfast when Elena walked into the cabin. He looked up, and smiled at her. "Good morning, Elena." he greeted.
"Good morning, Matt," Elena smiled back. "Where is everyone?"
"Tom and Frank went to the creek to cut down trees. Pedro is still asleep, and Carlos was gone before I woke up," he answered.
Elena furrowed her eyebrows. Where did he leave so early? "Elizabeth is still asleep too." She commented.
"I take it that she is not a morning person," he said with amusement.
"I guess so," she chuckled.
"I have a bad feeling about this, Elena." He said with a frown.
Elena pulled up a chair and sat next to him. "Why?"
"I have a feeling that someone is going to get hurt, but I dont know who. Thats what scares me," he said with worry.
Elena squeezed his arm. "It scares me too. Lets hope that no one gets hurt."
Matt nodded mutely. He was blessed with a gift, as Elena called it, since he was a child. When something bad was going to happen, he would get a gut feeling. Most of the time those "feelings" were accurate. He never admitted it aloud, but he wished he was never gifted in that way. It seemed to progress as he got older. Now it was a burden, or so he thought.
The bright sun shone across Elizabeths face. Grumpily, she burrowed deeper under the covers. I feel empty. Her stomach rumbled. I dont think its just my stomach thats empty. She rolled over, reaching her arm onto Elenas side of the blanket. She realized that Elena wasnt there. I forgot. She always wakes up with the sun. She remembered that she had comforted Elena during the night, and fell asleep in her arms. "I hope she wasnt embarrassed." She said consciously. Still half asleep, Elizabeth got dressed.
The streets of San Antonio
James Clark sat up high on his horse. His narrowed eyes looked at the dozen men; all of them were mounted on their horses, waiting for his command. Some wore pistols around their waist, a few others with rifles in scabbards tied to their saddles. They look like a gang of bounty hunters. He didnt know how true his thoughts were. "All right. I want all of you to split up in groups of four. We will cover more ground that way. We are going to scout as far as we can until we lose sunlight. Okay, lets go." James steered his horse around.
Sheriff Grant led the first group toward the southwest. He knew James since he was the Mayor of San Antonio. He didnt consider him a friend, but he respected him. He knew James had courage to raise his daughter, and look after a town. Just like today, he had seen that same stubbornness many times before. He would stop at nothing to find his daughter. Lord help the person that gets in his way.
Pedro joined Matt and Elena at the table half an hour later. "Buenos días." He said.
"Buenos días," Matt and Elena both said.
Elena left the table to cook Pedro some breakfast. "Would you like some more coffee, Matt?" she asked.
"Yes, please," Matt answered, holding up his coffee cup.
Elena took the kettle off the stove, and poured coffee into the cup. She settled the kettle back onto the stove. Turning around, she watched Elizabeth shuffle inside the doorway. She smiled shyly at her.
Elizabeth saw Elena smiling at her, so she smiled back, rubbing her neck nervously. She walked up to Elena. "Good morning," she said.
"Good morning. Would you like some breakfast?" Elena asked.
"Yes. I am starving," Elizabeth replied.
"Go have a seat. Ill bring you a plate in a minute," Elena added a couple more eggs to the frying pan.
"Good morning, Matt. Buenos días, Pedro," Elizabeth greeted both in turn.
"Good morning, Elizabeth," Matt said.
"¿has dormido bien?" Pedro asked.
Elizabeth looked at Matt questioningly.
"He wants to know if you slept well," Matt interpreted.
"Oh, si," Elizabeth answered, looking directly at Pedro.
Elena looked at Elizabeth quizzically. "I thought you understood Spanish." She said.
"No. I only know a few words. Pedro here is going to teach me Spanish, but only if I teach him English. Right, Pedro?" Elizabeth asked.
"Yes," Pedro answered.
Matt and Elena tried to stifle their laughter.
Elizabeth narrowed her eyes, waggling her finger at Pedro. "You understood every word I said, didnt you?"
"Yes, maam," he said, looking away from Elizabeths menacing glare.
Matt and Elena were now chuckling loudly until Elizabeth gave them the same glare, then they were quiet.
"I should not have to teach you English if you understand the language," Elizabeth crossed her arms over her chest.
"No, my English is not perfect. I like the way you talk. You talk very uh what is the word " Pedro stopped to think.
"Refined?" Matt said.
"Elegant?" said Elena.
"Sophisticated?" Elizabeth said with a sweep of her hand.
Pedro grabbed her hand and kissed it, making her blush. "Yes, sophisticated." he pronounced the word slowly.
"All right. Ill help you to speak English better," Elizabeth agreed. "Now, where is breakfast?"
Pedro started hitting the table with the fork. "Yes, where is breakfast?"
"Settle down, or you get no breakfast at all," Elena placed the plates in front of Elizabeth and Pedro.
"Who will cook for us then?" Elizabeth asked.
"You," answered Elena.
"I dont know how to cook," Elizabeth whined.
"Learn," Elena said.
Elizabeth glared at Elena.
Elena lifted an eyebrow in challenge.
Matt watched the two women with amusement. Hmm, this is interesting. I believe Elena has met her match. I wonder how long it will take her to figure it out.
The silent duel was interrupted by the sound of the wagon passing the cabin. A moment later Tom walked inside and Frank followed behind him.
"We have enough logs to build the fence, Elena," Tom informed.
"Okay, I will be out there in a minute," Elena drained the rest of her coffee.
Matt joined Tom and Frank to help them unload the wagon.
"Would you like for me to wash the dishes?" Elizabeth asked.
"If you think you can," Elena teased.
Elizabeth rolled her eyes. "Yes, of course I can."
Elena chuckled as she poured water into the kettle to warm over the stove. "Make sure the water doesnt get too hot. Id hate for you to burn your elegant little hands," she smirked.
Elizabeth slapped Elena on the arm. "Go outside and help them."
"Yes, maam," Elena ran out the door.
Elizabeth emptied the water from the kettle into the water basin, and then gathered up the dirty dishes from the table.
"Do you like Elena?" Pedro asked.
Elizabeth turned to face Pedro. "Yes, I consider her a friend," Elizabeth answered.
"You can consider all of us your friends, except Carlos. He is to be feared," he warned.
"You mean I should be afraid of him," Elizabeth said.
"Yes. Carlos does not care who he hurts, as long as he gets his way. It would be best to stay away from him," he suggested.
"I will. Thank you, Pedro," Elizabeth smiled at him.
"You are welcome. I better go help the others," he said.
Elizabeth watched Pedro leave, and then went back to washing the dishes.
Between San Antonio and Mexico
Sheriff Grant ran his fingers through his sweat soaked hair, and replaced his hat on his head. The mid-morning sun was beating down on them. He took a long drink of water from his canteen.
James stopped his horse next to the sheriff. "How far have we been riding?"
"Id say about a couple miles. Old Man Johnsons place is farther west," the sheriff answered, pointing to the western direction.
"Well scout a few more miles, and then well set up camp," James said.
"Our canteens are almost empty. We need to go back," said the sheriff.
"No, well find a creek somewhere, and then well fill our canteens," James said stubbornly.
"Be reasonable, James. We wont survive in this heat. We have to go back," the sheriff tried to change the former mayors mind.
"Im going to continue searching. Its your choice if you want to turn back or not," James dabbed his brow with a handkerchief.
The sheriff sighed. "Fine. You can keep searching. The rest of us are turning back. Good luck to you," the sheriff turned his horse, but stopped to look back at James. "I have to warn you, youre not going to find a creek for miles."
James watched the sheriff and the rest of the men gallop away. He adjusted his hat to keep the sun out of his eyes. Digging his heels into the horses sides, he continued.
The thud of an ax echoed across the prairie, making the log split in half. Elena propped the ax on her shoulder as she picked up another log. Swinging her braided hair back, she started chopping again.
Elizabeth sat on the tree stump, transfixed. She never saw a woman do a mans job. She watched Elenas arms flex with each swing, admiring her strength. She took the opportunity to take further notice of Elenas tall form. Her skin was a bronze color, indicating a life spent outdoors. Those blue eyes that held her captive twinkled from the banter between the boys, but there was something else under those eyespain. Elizabeth wondered if the nightmare had anything to do with the pain.
"Elizabeth?" Matt interrupted her thoughts.
"Yes, Matt?" Elizabeth looked up at him.
"Would you like some water?" he asked, holding the ladle of water in front of her.
Elizabeth took the ladle, and drunk the cool water. "Thank you," she said, handing the ladle back to him.
"Youre welcome," Matt passed the bucket of water to Elena.
"Can I be of any help?" Elizabeth asked.
Elena looked at Matt, who shrugged his shoulders. "You can carry the split logs to Tom," Elena suggested.
"Okay," Elizabeth jumped up.
Elena chuckled to herself as she watched Elizabeth tug up her pants. I need to get her clothes that actually fit, she thought.
"Yoo-hoo, Elena," Matt said, waving his hand in front of her face.
"What?" Elena asked.
"If you dont stop staring at Elizabeth, youll chop off your own foot," Matt teased.
"I dont know what youre talking about," Elena scowled. Her tough persona began breaching from under the surface.
Matt shook his head at Elenas denial. "Whatever you say," he said.
Elena went back to chopping, without missing the log.
James tipped the canteen to his lips, but only a few drops poured from it. There may as well be sand in here. A lone vulture screeched a discouraging cry up ahead. This is not good, not good at all. Somewhere out of sight, a shot rang out. James felt a searing pain in his right shoulder. Grasping the bleeding wound, he slumped forward into the saddle. His world went dark as he fell on the ground.
To Be Continued
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