Disclaimers: This is yet another uber tale of my making. Technically the characters of Xena and Gabrielle belong to MCA/Universal, but since it's not REALLY X&G here... well anyway, these uber characters belong to me, me memememe....so, copyright 1999 Tragedy88 and all that.
Violence/language: Um, some violence, some bad language... maybe a pg-13 so far?
Subtext: You betcha! Oh, if it's illegal where you live or love between members of the same sex offends you please read elsewhere.
And last but not least: How, you ask, can so many of my characters exist within the same timeline? Easy, I write what I know. In this case I know farms, horses, and the hardships of being alone. In anycase it's a divergence from my usual cops, gangs, lusty/evil uber Callistos' etc., etc. etc... :)
Feedback is very welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
"...There is little hope for us until we become tough-minded enough to break loose from the shackles of prejudice, half-truths, and downright ignorance."- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Additional Disclaimers: The following chapter and chapters may involve one or more references to discrimination, prejudice, and hatred. None of these are my personal views and in no way do I suggest that they are the views of reader's or even passerby's. Any references to cults, the KKK, etc. are based on fictional depictions. They do not relate to any known living person, place or thing. With that said, and my butt covered, read on.
"Wake up, sleepyhead." Dusty smiled down at her sleepy lover, stroking Alex's cheek with gentle fingertips. When one eye cracked open slightly she took that as a good sign.
"Don't wanna wake up," Alex mumbled and closed her eye, snuggling deeper against Dusty's bare side. They'd made love throughout the night and Alex was damned if she was getting up before the sun had fully risen.
"Not even for a kiss?" Dusty teased, brushing silky strands of golden hair behind Alex's ear.
"Mmm, well..." Alex reluctantly opened her eyes to the bright sunlight and sparkling blue eyes. "Ok." She smiled and shared a good morning kiss. Then another and another, till hands sought out sensitive areas of flesh, the kisses turned deeper, passion filled and traveled southward.
Sleepily Alex watched Dusty's tall, naked body stride out the door. God, she's beautiful. She came back a moment later in boxers and a tank top. Dang.
"Want some breakfast?" Dusty asked, flinging some pants and a shirt in Alex's direction.
Alex raised one pale eyebrow. "Don't you mean lunch? Or even dinner?" The sun had traveled lower in the sky as they'd spent most of the day in bed.
"Ok, lunch then..." Dusty grinned down at her lover before heading out to the kitchen.
Somewhere the phone was ringing. Alex propped one eye open and wondered if Dusty would get it. Geez, it's my own goddamn phone, I can get it. She threw back the covers, threw on her clothes and raced down the hall to the phone before they hung up.
"Hello?" She asked, a little breathlessly.
"Ms. Casings?" Randy asked.
Oh geez, I should have stayed in bed. "G'morning Randy, what's up?"
"The part you ordered came in."
"Thanks," Alex smiled as Dusty came around the corner, laden with a tray of food. "I'll come and pick it up in, say, an hour?"
"K, then. Have a good afternoon, Ms. Casings."
"Thanks, Randy." But he'd already hung up. She looked puzzled at the phone for just a minute then set it back in the cradle.
"Who was that?" Dusty leaned her shoulder against the wall, partially blocking the hall.
Alex leaned slightly forward, sucking up the pleasant smell of bacon, eggs and toast. "Mmm, smells good." She snatched a piece of bacon off the tray. "That was Randy, my tractor part came in. I'm going to have to go pick it up." She snatched another piece as they made their way down the hall to the bedroom. "After breakfast though."
It was longer then an hour, but it was certainly worth it, in Alex's opinion. She left the house with an apple in her pocket, Dusty's keys in her hand, and a goofy grin on her face.
She checked on Jack, made sure he had hay and water, promised him a good brushing when she got back, and left him crunching happily on the apple.
The Jeep purred to life under her tentative hands. God, it felt good to drive something that didn't backfire, stall and groan. She wore a happy smile all the way to the Emporium and even up to the counter.
"Hi Randy." She smiled. "I came to get my part."
"You said you'd be an hour." His eyes were uncharacteristically cold.
It sent a small shiver up her spine, but she wasn't yet ready to give up her smile. "I'm sorry. Jack threw a shoe, didn't want him to go lame," she lied, but what was it going to hurt? Her life was none of his business.
His scowl deepened. "I sold it off to Carl."
"You sold my part, Randy?" Now she did loose her smile. What the hell was wrong with him? Ok, shit, she'd never liked him, but she'd never been mean about it. It was a small town, word got around. If one person hated you, they all did.
"Yep," he drawled and made his way down the counter to the folding partition, "since you never came to pick it up."
"I said I was on my way here."
"I'd suggest you go'wan buy it from Carl." Randy kept his self-satisfied smile to himself.
"Fine. I'll go and do just that." She stormed down the isle and to the front door, barely looking where she was going as a red film of anger coated her sight. She threw open the door and nearly collided with Howard. He hastily grabbed her forearms and kept Alex on her feet.
"Whoa, where ya off to in such a hurry?" He smiled his best smile down at the lovely young woman.
"Goin' to see Carl." She bit off the end of each word and turned towards the Jeep. He hadn't let go of her arms.
"How 'bout I accompany you, and we see a movie later?"
"No, thanks, Howard. Let go." She shrugged his arms off.
He smiled apologetically. "Sorry, how 'bout dinner then?"
"No thanks, Howard." She stepped around him and hurried to the Jeep, feeling his eyes on her, shivering for some unknown reason.
"Yeah," he mumbled, " I thought that's what you'd say."
Alex drove home in a rain of fury. Carl had sold the part to George. The part hadn't quite fit his tractor, so he'd given it to Mark. And Mark had used it in his John Deere, when Alex knew, KNEW for a fact that he had just replaced that exact part no less then three weeks prior.
To say she was pissed off was an understatement. She didn't understand this sudden hostility. Of course the 'boys' had distrusted her, a woman, alone, running the farm by herself. She knew they thought it was too much power for a woman, but today something had changed.
She could feel the undercurrent of evil in their words. In their glares, even in the way they refused to look at her at all.
Suddenly it dawned on her. They knew. Somehow they knew about her and Dusty. And they didn't like it one bit. But how the hell had they known?
After she parked the Jeep and traveled wearily up the stairs she came to the conclusion that this would only lead to trouble. But do I tell Dusty?
One look into those beautiful blue eyes and she knew she couldn't destroy the peace she saw there, or the happiness. Dusty had been just as hostile when she got here, what if she knew? Another thought occurred to Alex. I caused that peace, didn't I? Ok, not a word. I won't be the one to destroy it.
She kissed Dusty to forget, to pretend that nothing was wrong, and for a time it worked.
They sat in front of a cheery fire, snuggled within blankets, warmed by cocoa and lovemaking. Dusty hadn't questioned the lack of the tractor part, and for that Alex was grateful.
Both women were relaxed, arms and legs twined together, eyelids drooping when the sudden shattering of glass caused both their hearts to skip a beat.
Dusty reflexively covered Alex's head with her arms and pulled them both down to the hardwood.
"Shit!" Alex cried.
Something solid thudded onto the floor with a showering of glass. Minutes passed as Dusty listened for voices and footsteps. When she heard nothing else she jumped out of the covers and hurried to the broken window.
"Dusty," Alex hissed, "get down. What if they're still out there?"
"No one's here, Alex. Most chicken shits that throw stuff through windows hit and run."
"Oh." Alex grabbed frantically for her clothes and joined Dusty by the window.
Dusty had a large stone in her hand. She hefted it, and turned it over. Scrawled in large letters was one word; Sinners.
Being careful of the splinters on the floor Alex walked over and took the large rock from Dusty. She studied the letters for a long, silent moment as Dusty returned to her clothes and sat on the couch to put on her boots.
Sinner, sinners, sinners. The whole afternoon came back to Alex. They knew. Oh god...
Dusty's words broke into her panic.
"Are you all right?"
Alex looked up, face pale and shocked in the moonlight trailing in and bouncing off the jagged edges of glass. "No," she whispered.
Dusty wrapped strong arms around Alex's shoulders and led her to the couch. "No one got hurt, Alex. Everything's all right. It was just some bored farmer boy taking a dare."
Alex's dark, disbelieving eyes looked up into Dusty's clear blue. She shook her head miserably. Even now she couldn't say anything to Dusty.
The cold winter wind gusted through the opening, sending swirls of snow into the room, making the fireplace dance dangerously.
Dusty took the rock from Alex's hand and kissed her gently on the forehead. "Why don't you go get a broom and clean up the glass? I'll get some boards from the barn and cover the hole, ok?"
Alex stood slowly. "Ok, check on Jack while you're out there?"
"Sure." As Alex wandered into the kitchen Dusty's eyes followed her while her thoughts tumbled into anger. You better not let me catch you, lil bastard... she stood and made her way out to the porch, flinging the rock angrily out into the darkness. Because if I do... you'll regret ever being born.
Dusty knew. She'd seen it before, and damned if she was going to let bigoted, small town prejudices hurt Alex. She made it a promise, a mantra, as she hunted for boards, nails and a hammer.
You'll be leaving before it ever goes that far, a little voice reminded her. You won't stay, you can't.
Yes, I will stay, she screamed back at the voices.
All but one shut up.
Wherever you go, Dusty, trouble follows. Do you want Alex hurt?
No, I won't let them hurt her. Dusty's fingernails gouged into the wood with sheer conviction as she crossed back over the snow covered drive. She stopped, transfixed, as Alex was silouhetted in the broken window.
I didn't say that... the little voiced berated her, I said YOU would hurt her.
She hung her head in defeat, eyes closed. No, she whispered, I won't hurt her. I've found the other half of my soul. As she looked back to the window and the lithe form sweeping up the glass the little voice just laughed.
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