The Forest

by Ri

Disclaimer; This story is from my imagination. There is minor violence and a loving committed same sex relationship. I mean no copyright infringement it is strictly for funJ

Note; This was originally part of the clone contest I decided to do this story because I was very curious myself about what the clones would do in Los Angles. This is what I came up with. Ri


A lost hiker was desperately trying to find her way back to safety. The Angeles National Forest was a beautiful place to hike but it was very deceiving. The dense forest in the middle of the famous mountain range made it very easy for hikers to get lost in. In the spring and summer the local news broadcasts in Los Angeles always had one story of a search for a lost hiker. It was easy access nestled above the San Fernando Valley and looked a lot easier to navigate through on a map then it was in real life.

She continued to forge her way through the forest her eyes on the cell phone in her hand trying to get a roam signal in the dense over growth. It was now getting dark and she was very scared. She tripped over a vine and almost fell onto her face. She looked around saw that she had no idea how to get back down to the road let alone figure out where she had left her car parked.

She sat down on large boulder still trying to get her link to pick up the roam signal muttering to herself, "Damn why can't these stupid things work like they are suppose to."

Two figures hidden from view in a vine-covered cave watched the struggling figure with sympathy. The taller one looked into the equally concerned eyes of her partner and whispered, "What do you think?"

"That we need to help the poor woman."

"Gabrielle, we found this cave to live in peace to be away from people. We agreed we hated to live in the city because we didn't understand it. I thought you and I both agreed that the only people we would openly communicate with were our friends at the General Store."

"Xena, This is an Emergency."

Xena sighed and nodded. She leaned against the cave wall and asked with a smirk, "What do you think our originals would do?"

Gabrielle rolled her eyes and breathed in a deep breath she hated when Xena said that. "As far as I'm concerned we're the only original there are."


"Well despite the fact we saw all those moving pictures of people who looked, moved and acted like us, why should we believe those people. They were duped by Alti for Goddess sake!"

"Love, how do you explain our presence here then?" Xena sighed they had this argument over and over. She knew she couldn't win it so she decided to return to the subject at hand. "Lets not go through this argument for the millionth time, ok? I think we should help her too. We'll use the names that we use with Joe's family and on our work right?"


"Ok, let's go."

The two women approached the crying figure on the large boulder.

"Hi, Are you lost?" Asked Gabrielle quietly.

The dark head popped up and teary brown eyes widened. "Where did you two come from?"

"Greece," Said Xena with a smirk.

Gabrielle growled at the tall women and then kindly explained, "That cave over there. It's where we live. Um, You can stay with us tonight and then we'll walk you down to the road in the morning. Ok?"

"Oh God yes, That would be wonderful. Thank you. My name is Angela," She said with a grateful smile holding her hand toward the smaller woman to shake her hand."

"Nice to meet you. Come on," said Xena briskly as she gently took the woman's hand and pulled her woman to her feet. Then she led the way back toward their home.

Angela was surprised they didn't tell her their names but was still very happy to be rescued. She observed them on the way back. She was astonished how different and yet how in sync they were. The tall one was classically beautiful. Her long dark hair was caught in pony tail holder. She had on Jeans, a sweatshirt, a leather jacket and black hiking boots. The small one had short blonde hair, she was wearing almost the same thing but she wore a jean jacket and brown hiking boots.

The cave was amazing it was like a warm cozy living room. There was beautifully carved pieces of small wooden furnishings. Essentials like pots and pans and a fire pit were also done expertly and away from the obvious sleeping area. A large clothes cabinet and beautiful large bed was in the back of the cave. There were a lot of colorful blankets and throws. It was obvious the two of them had a very cozy home in this hidden cave.

"How long have you two lived out here?"

"A while," was the evasive answer from Xena as she started the fire in the pit.

"Isn't it scary here with all the wild animals?"

The two women looked at each other eyes meeting in silent communication. Xena shrugged then Gabrielle turned from the bedroll she had been preparing for their guest.

"Nah, we're use to it. We prefer living out in the wild like this we decided were not much for the city life."

"Where do you get your food from?"

"We trade and I hunt for it. I carve and she writes poetry." Said Xena straightening up and walking toward a table by the wardrobe. "There is a General Store about 10 miles from here and we have a nice agreement with the owners for trade and bartering."

"Did you just say 10 miles?"


She looked at the tall woman and then the smaller one and shook her head. "How often do you walk back and forth from there?"

Both women shrugged and then Gabrielle said, "Whenever we need something. Why don't you sit down by the fire? Dinner is almost ready. I bet your cold hungry and thirsty."

"Yes, I am. All three."

Gabrielle nodded and went to the cooking pot that was hanging over the cooking fire across the cave from them. Xena sat down next to their guest with her cutting knife and her latest project and quietly focused on her work.

Gabrielle walked up to Angela a few minutes later and handed her a bowl and said, "I hope you like it."

"I'm sure I will. Um, What are your names?"

The two women looked at each other and in silent agreement nodded. Xena smirked as she said, "My name is Chandler and her name is Monica." They had gotten the names from a silly show that played about a dozen times a day that they both enjoyed called Friends. Its how they were known by the people at the General store. When the Husband, Joe asked why Gabrielle signed all her work with a G and Xena signed all her carvings with an X. Xena had replied they were their middle initials but they wanted those names to remain private. The older man seemed to accept that and never brought it up again.

"Nice to meet you both. You're a bit…um, unusual living up here all alone."

"Yeah well were unusual people." Replied Xena in a very amused voice.

"Yes, I can see that. Don't you two have to work?"

"We do. I carve and she writes poetry." Xena was beginning to regret helping this nosy woman.

"I…uh, meant real work. You know a job. How do you make a living?"

"This is how we live. Angela it is not fair for you to judge us by your standards. We live our lives our way and in peace that's all that counts."

Angela sighed and nodded. "I am sorry. I shouldn't do that. I…sorry."

Gabrielle gave her some more stew and said gently, "Its ok. We like who we are. Chandler just doesn't like people taking issue with our lifestyle when they don't know us."

Angela now felt tiny. "I'm so sorry." She squeaked. She picked up her glass of water and drank it thirstily looking away from the other two women.

The three women were very quiet for a while. Gabrielle looked at the upset woman and then her partner. Xena ate her stew silently observing the other woman critically Gabrielle could see that Xena was not happy with what she saw.

"Angela, What are you doing out here all alone?"

"I was upset with a guy at the station I work at. I use to go out with him and he has making my life hellish since I broke up with him." She replied in a monotone voice staring at the fire. "I drove up here and intended to just go for a short hike. To enjoy nature and get myself back on track. It got dark quicker then I expected and my sense of direction was thrown off and I…"

"Got lost." Xena interrupted sympathetically. She smiled and shrugged, "It happens."

"Not to you I bet."

"No, I have a well developed sense of direction. I was lucky I was created with some really good genes."

Gabrielle snorted, "Ain't that the truth."

The soul mates looked at each other perfectly content with that though. They both knew they were there for all the wrong reasons. But since they were there they looked at it as a second chance at life. They both intended to enjoy this time together to the fullest.

Their memories of who they were seem to flood both of them at night in their dreams. When they woke up the next morning they would compare notes and discover they had the same dreams and it led them to the conclusions that their genetic counter parts wanted them to know who they were and to be happy with who they are. It took them a few months but they had come to peaceful terms with it all.

After the fight with Alti at the junkyard they had drifted around the city for a few months but found it uncomfortable and confusing. Xena had discovered the woods in a casual conversation with someone at one of their temporary jobs stocking shelves at a grocery store.

They explored the area and found a series of hidden caves. They set about creating this life they were now living and they had never been so happy. The people they did run into were mostly hikers and park rangers. The hikers were grateful for the help and directions. The rangers had discovered it best to leave the women alone.

They had become friends with the family who ran the General Store. They sold their work there and traded labor for their needs. Everyone was content and it gave the girls the connection they needed with their present world with out being exposed as a couple of science experiments gone wrong. They were very much at peace and most important to them, together.

Angela watched the eyes lock and the silent communication in wonder. She was stunned by the gentle love that radiated from the tall ones eyes. The cold blue eyes seemed to warm up and radiate with the emotion when they locked with equally warm and loving green.

Angela put down her bowl and stretched.

Gabrielle smiled and said, "I made a bedroll for you over there. Its close enough to cooking fire to keep you warm and cozy."

Angela looked across the cave where there was place set up with a lot of blankets for her to be nice and warm under. She smiled and nodded back. "Thank you. I…thank you…" Gabrielle nodded.

Xena watched the other woman go to the bedroll and cuddle under the covers with very worried blue eyes.

Gabrielle saw the concern and whispered very low, "What's wrong?"

"I'm not sure. I just sense she could cause trouble for us."

Gabrielle looked at the woman who was facing away from them settling down to go to sleep. "Why? She seems nice and she was in real trouble out there."

Xena looked deeply into the eyes she trusted most in the world. She nodded and cupped her cheek. "Yes, I know that. I think she is very nice too. I know she would have been in trouble out there if we hadn't found her. It's just my inner voice…maybe its my genetic mother kicking me in the shin but I know that she is usually right."

"Genetic mother?"

Xena chuckled and shrugged whispering, "Hey, its nicer then saying my test tube, isn't it?"

Gabrielle actually shivered, Xena smiled gently pulling the bard into a warm embrace. "Anyway my instincts are saying that we need to stay alert. Not right now but tomorrow when we take her back to the road."

"Your instincts are usually right on. Aren't you hungry?" Asked Gabrielle looking to the still half-filled bowl.

"Yep, but not for food."

"Xena, she's right there."

"So she will have to widen her horizons."

*** *** **** ***

The three women walked down the mountain after breakfast. Angela was shocked to find both women dressed and the food already prepared.

"How long have you been up?"

Xena smirked as she continued to work on her project, "Since daybreak as always."


Gabrielle chuckled, "Come on eat your breakfast."

They came to the General Store about 11am, it took a little longer then normal because they had to rest a couple of times due to the fact that Angela was not in the same physical shape as the girls.

The old man looked up when they entered his shop and then he whistled in delight. "Well good morning my beauties. How are ya? Anything new for me?"

Xena laughed and shook her head, "Not yet Joe. I have a nice one in the works though. Joe could you help this young lady get back to Civilization? It seems she got herself a bit lost.'

The older man noticed the other woman for the first time since they entered the shop. She was a small attractive woman but next to Xena and Gabrielle she sort of faded into the background. He smiled sweetly and asked, "You got yourself lost huh?"

Angela nodded.

"Well it happens a lot. Its lucky the girls found you it can get cold and dangerous out there at night if you don't know what you're doing. You just relax I'll call the police in case there is most likely a missing persons report out on you…you two wouldn't want to be around for that right?" He asked the girls with a knowing look on his grizzled old face.

Gabrielle smiled at him affectionately and nodded. "Right. You know we like our privacy."

"Yep, I think I heard it explained by the two of you a hundred times by now. Ok, Pretty ones, I can keep your secret. So my blue eyed devil, you don't have any new pieces yet? I have several anxious buyers."

"Like I said I am in the middle of one but no, not yet."

"Oh all right and how about my sweet green eyed girl? Any pretty words?"

Gabrielle laughed and said, "Many. I just haven't put any down on paper yet."

"Well come on girls I have demand so I need a bit of a supply. Go on and leave already so you can get crackin' on your projects. Time waits for no artist."

"Ok, Joe I think we get the hint," replied Xena laughing at her friend's antics.

"Go on so I can call the Coppers."

Xena shook her head and met Gabrielle's sparkling green eyes. "Ok Joe. Thanks for helping out Angela."

Then they both walked over to Angela and Xena said, "Bye Angela. It was nice meeting you. Please remember to keep our secret we don't like visitors."

"Ok, Thank you…Thank you both."

"Your very welcome. Bye. Be safe." Said Gabrielle giving her hug. They both waived and left the store. Angela watched them till they disappeared as Joe called the Police for her.

*** *** **** ***

Joe's daughter Tammy ran through the forest looking for the girls. She stood in front of the cave opening with her hands on her hips. She saw that it was empty and wondered where her two friends were off to.

"Hey Monica! Chandler! Come on you two we've got trouble!"

A tall figure dropped down from an old tall tree a few feet from the cave entrance. Gracefully landing next to Tammy, Xena smiled and said, "You bellowed?"

"How the hell did you do that?"

"Practice, what's up?"

"Huge trouble. That girl you two rescued worked for a local TV station she and her boyfriend, who is the station manager, are looking for the Cave Hermits. That's what he's calling you. They were questioning Mom and Dad. So Dad took me aside and told me to run up here to warn you."

Hands on hips Xena looked up into Gabrielle's eyes. The small blonde shrugged and jumped gracefully beside the tall beauty.

"I told you…"

"You don't know if this is Angela's idea or not…"

"It doesn't matter she told them where to look for us…"

"But she knows where the cave is and that Joe is our friend maybe it was her way of warning us."


"Hey you two, stop debating. They will be up here any minute. I can redirect them in another direction but you two need to get moving!"

Xena nodded and took Gabrielle's hand heading into the cave to get they're things moved to their alternate home. Her head full of ideas for the intruders that were about to disturb their peace.

Invade my territory huh? Well we'll just see about that.

*** *** **** ***

The camera crew came up led by Angela's boss and ex boyfriend John. When they arrived at the cave it was empty. John growled and Angela blinked. She hadn't wanted to bring him up here but to find it empty was shocking.

"How could they have taken everything out of here so quickly?"

"This is really pathetic Angela. Was this just some story to cover your being missing with some other guy? Or is this your feeble attempt to win me back?"

"I don't want you at all John. I didn't want to tell you about this you threatened to fire me if I didn't explain where I disappeared to. I have no idea where they are. They were here and now they are gone."

"You are a pathetic liar."

There was an unheard growl from the trees above them.

"You gave me no choice you hurt me, I was scared you'd break my arm. Those people saved my life I owe them everything. I feel sick for betraying them like this."

"People, Ha! Savages you mean. Anyone who lives out in the wild like this isn't fit to be with normal people like me. As for hurting you, well you weren't going to give me this story. I had no choice…"

"That is such bull shit! I should call the FCC and report to them how you run that station…"

"You do and I will do more then just bang you up a little. You may find a permanent home in these woods if you know what I mean."

"Are you threatening me?"

"You bet your ass I am! If you tell anyone that I threatened to fire you and slapped you around I will take it a step further when were all alone."

"Slap me around, you almost broke my arm! I am going down with the crew!"

"No your not you're going to stay up here and help me find your beasts of the forest." He turned to the two men leaning against a tree. "You two boys go back down Angie and are going to see if we can find these wolf women."

When John had walked over to talk to the crew two strong hands grabbed Angela from behind and pulled her straight up into the trees. She was about to scream her head off when she looked up into compassionate blue eyes. She was pulled up several feet to the highest bough and settled beside Gabrielle. She was about to say something when Gabrielle put her finger gently to her lips and shook her head.

Xena smiled at her wickedly and then watched the men below with very angry blue eyes. When John turned and found Angela gone he started to look around the forest for her.

"Angela, come back I was kidding! Come on Angie you know I wouldn't really hurt you!" He went into the cave and looked around the huge empty cavern for the girl. Then he hurried back out to the clearing frantically looking for her. "Don't play possum with me, Damn it! Come back here!"

Angela was about to call down when Gabrielle put her hand over mouth and shook her head. Then when Gabrielle saw that Xena was right above her target she put her arms around Angela to take her a bit further away in the tree so they could talk with out being over heard by the man below them.

Xena was now on a lower branch observing the man frantically searching for Angela. She silently jumped down right behind him and then thumped him on the shoulder.

"Finally, crawling back to apologize?"

"Nope, but you will be won't you?" Xena purred into his ear in a deceptively sweet voice.

He turned quickly and found himself looking into the icy blue eyes of tall angry Amazon. His mouth fell open in shock.

"So you like to punish women till they perform for you do you?"

"Who are you?"

Xena advanced on him and growled, "I'm the savage."

"Uh, you heard that huh?"

"Yep, I also heard what you did to Angela. I really don't think she will be the one to disappear in these woods. Do you?"

"I was only joking. Really!" He replied as he backed away from Xena who advanced slowly as anger poured from her very essence. It made him really feel fear for the first time in his life.

"Angela didn't look amused." Xena replied with a very feral look on her face, which made the man shiver more then the anger had.

"Well she was my girl friend at one time. She knows me." He said back peddling away from the advancing warrior as fast as he could.

"Yeah, really well. It seems she knows you well enough for you to call her names and apparently almost break her arm…"

"But I didn't…"

"You tried…"

He was now against the cave wall with no where to run he trembled as she came nose to nose with him.

"I really wouldn't have hurt her that bad…"

"That makes it worse in my eyes. You are a little tyrant and I despise all tyrants. I always have. It is part of my make up. You know I was just going to scare you and your crew so you would stop snooping. Once I heard your little talk with Angela I decided to devote myself to your entertainment…"

"But I…"

She now was breathing right into his face with a look so fierce he felt his insides melt to jelly. Then in a very low angry voice she purred right into his ear,

"Welcome to hell."

*** *** **** ***

Angela was safely up in the trees beside Gabrielle straining to see if she could catch a glimpse of Xena. She was worried about her alone with her ex boyfriend.

"Are you sure she will be all right?"


"But he is so strong."

"Not stronger then she is, believe me."

"Why did you two help me?"

"We heard what that man said. We don't like men who threaten and hurt women."

"But I betrayed you."

"You were forced to by that jerk. We heard everything. How is your arm?"

Angela pulled back the sleeve of her sweater and winced where the bruise was forming. "It still stings."

"Oh, that looks like it would do more then sting a little. We have some stuff that should help at our camp."

"How did you move everything so quickly?"

"We do it all the time. It's in our blood."

"Literally," said a low throaty voice from above them.

Gabrielle and Angela looked up into very amused warm blue eyes. "You two ok?"

Gabrielle nodded, "Yeah. Are you?"

"Fine. Angela, are ready to go back down to the ground floor?"

Angela looked down through the leafy trees and then back up at Xena. "How?"

Xena looked at Gabrielle who smirked and jumped down Amazon style.

"How did she do that?"

"A lot of practice. Are you ready?"

"No." was the honest reply.

Xena chuckled, "Relax it's easy. I'll do all the work." She jumped down on to the branch beside her pulled her into her arms and whispered, "Close your eyes." Angela gladly closed her eyes and the next thing she knew she heard a loud Indian style War Cry and felt herself flying through the air. She screamed into Xena's shoulder. She refused to let go or open her eyes even after she felt the motion stop.

She heard Gabrielle's gentle voice saying, "Hey calm down your safe. You're on the ground." Panting she pulled slightly away from Xena's shoulder then she slowly opened her eyes to see concerned blue and green eyes looking back at her.

"How did you do that?" asked Angela she let go of the tall woman.

Xena smirked as she rubbed her arms were there were still fingerprints. "Like I said, a lot of practice. Your idiot is all tied up over there."

She led the other two women to the unconscious man.

"How did he end up knocked out?" Asked Gabrielle very surprised knowing that wasn't part of Xena's plan.

"He tried to run away through a cave wall. The wall won and he knocked his own stupid head against it."

"Did you check him to see if he has a concussion."

"Nope, I don't care."

"But?" Angela was shocked by Xena's attitude.

"I don't care about someone who treats people like pawns. Angela why did you even consider such a man/"

"He was nice to me."

Gabrielle was now shocked. She looked at the young woman concerned, "Just because a man acts nice doesn't mean that he is."

"Yes, I know that now.

*** *** **** ***

Despite what Xena said she did check to see if the man had a concussion. Gabrielle started dinner while Angela sat on a bedroll staring at the fire.

Xena joined them by the fire saying. "No, the idiot doesn't have a concussion. Lucky Bastard, he just knocked himself silly." She sat down next to Gabrielle accepting her plate of food from her with a loving smile. "Thanks."

"My pleasure," said Gabrielle with a wink. "So what are we going to do with the idiot when he wakes up?"

"I am going to have a very meaningful chat with him…"

"Um you won't …" Angela interrupted a bit alarmed by the flash of anger she saw in the blue eyes.

"No, as much as I am tempted to beat the crap out of the clod I am going to calmly explain to him what will happen if I ever hear that he hurt another woman."

Gabrielle's smile widened and she said, "I think I'd like a front row seat to that chat."

"Oh I think that can be arranged," she said with a wink to her soul mate. "Angela I'd like to have a bit of chat with you."

"Me?" The now nervous woman squeaked.

"Yep, why do you want to be with a man like that? Why would you care if he was nice to you or not? You're an attractive woman, you could do ten times better then that nit-wit."

"In this city it is really hard to meet anyone. Then when you finally do it turns out like this. I have gone a whole year with out even some one to go to the movies with…I'm not beautiful or clever enough to attract anyone…"

"Wait." Gabrielle had sat down beside them and said, "You're a very attractive woman. We both think so and despite picking him you seem quite bright so what does this town have to do with your choice of available companions."

"When I go out I feel like I don't exist. I mean no one looks at me or talks to me…"

"What do you mean they don't look at you?" Asked Xena nonplused by what the young woman was telling them.

"Have you been to any of the clubs or bars? They are for the beautiful people only. I don't fit into that mold."

"No, neither of us enjoy taverns or meeting places. I don't understand why you would be ignored. We think you're an attractive girl. There must be a nice place where you can meet nice people."

"I guess…I'm just not sure…" Angela looked embarrassed. "There are places I just thought that I'd look a dweeb signing up for a book reading group or something like that."

"Dweeb?" Xena and Gabrielle looked at each other unsure of what the other woman meant.

Angela was astonished, "You hide yourselves up here but it seems to me you don't know much about Los Angeles. Have you ever lived in the city at all?"

Xena shrugged and said, "Yes we did. We're not big on city dwelling. I'd like to make a gentle suggestion, Join that club. Or any other group that has some nice people to meet and form relationships with. Don't invest in the same thinking that corrupts those taverns that you've been to. Make your own standards. Create your own lifestyle."

"That is so hard to do."

Gabrielle put a gentle hand on her arm and said, "Who said that life is easy?"

Angela nodded and slowly began to eat her dinner staring at the fire again.

Xena heard a low moan coming from across the cave and motioned Gabrielle away from Angela. Once a distance away she whispered. "It seems our other guest is stirring."

"Do you want me…?"

"No, I don't think your form of charm will work with this one. I think my form of…charm is required this time." Interrupted Xena with a wicked grin.

"Yes, I can see what you mean…your charm would …um, motivate him more quickly then mine would."

Xena smiled sweetly now and took her partners hand, "Save your charm for me ok?"

"You bet. I'm looking forward to it."

Sparkling deep blue eyes seared into warm loving green, "Mmm, would you like to go for a little walk?"

"I'd love to…but I'd worry about Angela alone with him."

"Yeah, I see what you mean…but I kind of…"

"I do too. After we know she is safe, ok?"

"That is more then ok," Said Xena kissing Gabrielle tenderly. Then she pulled back gently brushing the blonde hair out of green eyes. "Ok, I have to stop being mushy. I have to be the bitch of warrior we all know that I can be."

"Goody, can I watch please?"

Xena laughed and shook her head, "Why don't you try to cheer Angela up while I have a quiet chat with the loser over there."

"Each go with our best talents, huh?"

"Yep, I kind of like that, don't you?"


*** *** **** ***

Foggy gray eyes came slowly into focus looking into icy cold blue eyes very close and very angry. John blinked and tried to back away but found that he was tied and couldn't move a muscle. He looked at Xena and asked, "Did you slug me?"

"Nope, I wanted to more then anything I can express but you hit your own stupid head on the cave wall over there. You had a panic attack and ran smack into it."

"I did not!"

"Really? Then please tell me why you hit your own head against a solid mass? Just for fun? A new sporting activity?" Asked Xena with an amused crooked grin.

"You must have pushed me then."

Xena growled and moved swiftly so she was now nose to nose with the hated man. "Believe me little man, if I pushed you into that cave wall you would have more then a little bump on your head. You wouldn't have one bone in your body that wasn't broken." Her voice was a low intense growl making the man shiver in pure fear.

"Ok, chill out…"

"I'll chill you out…permantely…"

"You wouldn't?!"

"I don't follow any rules but my own. I do what I feel is right. The greater good. You are on the edge of that; I do not like you. I hate what you did to Angela and how you run that place of business of yours like an empire. I don't like tyrants. I have killed them before and killing you wouldn't give me a single moment of grief."

"But the police…?"

"I do not fear your law enforcement."

He realized that she meant every word and he was now terrified of her. "What do you want?"

"Well for starters, if I ever hear that you have ever hurt a woman again in any way, I will break off a certain piece of your anatomy. Do you understand me?"

The frightened man nodded quickly.

Xena smiled feraly, "Good. Second, You are never to threaten Angela again. I will hear about it and believe me you don't want to get me madder then I am now. You are going to be a gentleman at work and even you if you pass her on the street you are going to be polite and civil. Right?"

He swallowed and nodded again sweat pouring all over his face.

"Excellent. Now I am inclined to leave you just like this all night. But I know my partner and Angela wouldn't like that so you have a choice; either you stay nice and secure like this. Or I untie you and you will make the angels jealous. If you misbehave in the slightest I will beat the crap out of you. Do we understand each other?"

"Yes Ma'am…" He said his voice scared to death.

"Good, which will it be?"

"Please untie me. I will behave."

"That's a good boy." Said Xena calmly as she untied him. He got up and moved across the cave to the other side away from the fire and the other women. He sat in a corner looking very much like scared rabbit.

Xena walked back to the fire sat down by Gabrielle leaning close to the fire to warm her hands. Then she pulled out her knife and the totem she had been working on. She loved to focus on these carving projects it gave her sense of what Gabrielle felt when she worked on one of her poems.

Gabrielle leaned close and whispered very low, "Xena?"


"Shouldn't we give him a blanket?"

Xena shrugged and kissed Gabrielle on the cheek. "It's up to you, Love. I really don't care if he freezes."

Gabrielle shook her head knowing that her partner did care she was just very mad at the jerks behavior just as she was, but her humanity wouldn't let her leave him to his own devises.

She approached the man who reacted like a frightened deer. "I'll just leave it here and you can pick it up when you want to. Wouldn't want you to freeze, now would we?"

Gabrielle then backed away and sat back down beside Xena shaking her head.

"I see that your form of charm worked?"

"Yep," Xena replied completely focused on her carving.

"What are our sleeping arrangements?"

"That's up to you too. I'll do what ever you want me to."

"Do you trust them enough to leave them alone."



"Let's just say that the idiot and I came to an understanding."

"Hmm, I'd like to come to a very different understanding with you."



"Sounds good to me. Let's go check on Angela first." Xena smiled at Gabrielle with an expression that melted the bard's heart. Gabrielle hugged her love and held her close then she stood up and offered her both hands. Xena smirked up and gave her bard her hands and allowed the smaller woman to pull her up. Then the two of them walked over to where Angela was sitting at the mouth of their current cave dwelling.

Xena and Gabrielle sat next her on a fallen log and Gabrielle asked, "Are you ok?"

She glanced at them smiled, then looked up at the stars again. "You two have taught me so much in such a short time. Thank you."

"We did? What exactly did we teach you?" Asked Xena a little surprised by credit for something that she never knew that she had given the women. She hated being a teacher yet she was a natural teacher and when someone acknowledged it she felt like hiding under a rock.

Gabrielle sensing the discomfort leaned against Xena cuddling close. Xena forgot for moment what Angela said; a huge smile came to her lips as she brought her soul mate even closer.

"You taught me to try to find a way to be myself. To say, "I don't give a damn," to what anyone else thinks. You also taught me how wonderful it is to be completely independent. I wish I were strong like you two. It's just not in my make up to create a life like you have."

Gabrielle and Xena exchanged an amused glance. Xena hugged Gabrielle tighter bringing her onto her lap. The she answered quietly; "Well we're lucky. We were made this way on purpose. We are who we are and we accept it. If we helped you at all we're both very pleased by that."

"Thanks. You both did."

Gabrielle winked at the other woman and said with a sweet smile, "It's our pleasure.

*** *** **** ***

The next morning Xena escorted their two guests to their cars. She made sure to keep John ahead of them with Angela beside her so he couldn't try anything on the way down the mountain.

Xena bends down so she was nose to nose with him as he sat in his Mercedes convertible, "Remember, I will be keeping an eye on you, so be nice."

"I said I would, didn't I?"

"I'm just making sure we understand each other."

"We do."


She then straightened up and strode over to Angela's small Mazda and leaned into the window. She smiled at the smaller woman and said, "If he gives you any trouble call Joe at this number. He will contact me, Ok?"

Angela smiled and nodded. "Thanks. Why did Monica stay behind?"

"She wanted to have some writing time. Its okay since I have some bartering to do with my friends at Joe's store. That should give her enough time with the Muses."

Angela blinked, "You know its strange sometimes you two speak like you just dropped here from another world."

"You know what sometimes that's just the way we feel." Said Xena with a wink, "Be good."

"I will, Bye."

"Bye." Xena waited till the girl drove off and then walked the rest of the way to the General Store.

She entered the shop and smiled at Martha quietly filling up the shelves, "Hi Martha, How are you?"

"Well hi Beauty, where is your lovely shadow?"

"Martha, She'd hate for you to call her that. She's writing."

"Good," Said Joe as he came from the back room. "That magazine publisher called he wants more of her stuff. Actually he's gathering material for a book and wants as many of her poems as he can get. She wouldn't get a lot of money but she'll be published in a book."

"She'd love that." Said Xena with a huge proud smile. "How much money?"

"Like I said not much but then you won't accept that green stuff when I offer it to you so I really wonder if she will."

"Hmm, I'm not against money. I just don't really understand it here."

"Well I am going to explain it to you very fully because guess what?"

Xena shrugged.

"Your big Totem we had on display at the Mall just sold. You got $500.00."

"Oh? Is that a lot?"

"Well you could buy some nice things with that."

Xena smiled, she had wanted to trade to buy something but if she could pay for it with money that would save her a lot of work. "Hmm, That would be nice…speaking of my work I almost forgot I have my new one for you.'

She pulled out of her jacket pocket a cloth covered figure. It was the small totem she had been working hard on. It was a beautiful rendition of their friend Aphrodite. Their memories that had come back to them included their affectionate relationship with the Goddess of Love and she thought she'd adore this place.

Joe examined her with Martha looking over his shoulder. In a slightly breathless voice he said, "She is so beautiful. I think I have a buyer for her too. You will making some good money, my friend, if you can keep these coming."

"That's nice, Uh Joe, I have an idea that I'd like to use the money you have for me now."

"Oh? Well sure what do you have in mind?"

Xena nodded, a huge delighted smile plastered across her usually serious face.

*** *** **** ***

Gabrielle had finished her work for the day and was now sitting on a log in front of the cave cleaning some pots and pans. When she felt the warrior's presence she looked up and smiled. She noticed a large bag that was slung over her back and both eyebrows disappeared into her blonde fringe.

"What's all that? We didn't need much from Joe's."

"It seems that I have earned enough with my carvings to get this. I was planning to trade some manual labor for it. You enjoyed watching those moving pictures of those acting people playing us so much I wanted to get you a way to watch it. Tammy told me about this. It's a thing for you to write in and watch the moving pictures." With a huge smile and a look of anticipation she placed the bag on the log beside Gabrielle. Then she kneeled and pulled out a laptop and box of DVD's with a familiar picture displayed on it.

"What exactly is it?" Asked Gabrielle in wonder her fingers gently touching the service.

"I'm not sure how it works but this thing," said Xena pointing at the laptop, "will play those things," she said pointing to the DVD's. "Tammy also said that you can type your poems in here to make them look better. And those things are of the whole first season whatever the hell that means. Just play it when I'm out hunting or something cause I can stand to watch myself."

Gabrielle smiled and caressed Xena's cheek, "Why the woman who plays you does a very good job."

"I know… that's why," said Xena with her eyes closed leaning her face into the gentle caress.

Gabrielle smiled and kissed her love gently on the lips. Xena returned it deepening the kiss. Then when they pulled back she asked, "So do you want to see what I poured my hard earned dinars into?"

Gabrielle nodded. Xena with bottom lip between her teeth set up the laptop like Tammy had shown her in the shop. Then she took one of the DVD's out of the box and struggled with the plastic covering. Causing Gabrielle to giggle. Xena's eyes lifted and she gave her a very significant look, which Gabrielle merrily ignored and winked. Xena rolled her eyes and then went back to her task of taking the small disc out of the wrappings. Then she slid it into the slot and waited, Images of their first meeting filled the screen and she sat on the log behind Gabrielle and hugged the woman she loved close knowing that this was a present she would enjoy over and over again.

The End

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