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
"Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without words,
And never stops at all."- Emily Dickinson
"Come to bed, Alex." Dusty beseeched her young lover who was seated across the room at her laptop.
"Jus' a sec," Alex mumbled, tapping furiously, "let me just get this chapter down."
Dusty smiled, rolling onto her side, snuggling deeper into the flannel pillow case. Another hour then. I could get up and bother her... nah, this is important to her. What if I was on a gig, surveillance, or something and Alex came up and started nibbling on my neck... hmmm, I think I wouldn't mind that too much.
Dusty also knew Alex was still agitated and anxious, clearly showing no desire to remain in the livingroom after the 'incident' with the rock, and writing seemed to calm her.
So, Dusty closed her eyes and relaxed. She was pleasantly surprised when, less then five minutes later, a warm body slid under the covers and curled up against her side.
"Finished already?" Dusty asked, wrapping her arms securely around Alex.
"No," she murmured, trying to get closer, trying to find something she just couldn't find, "I just needed you."
Dusty blinked rapidly. She NEEDS me? "Well, ya got me." She replied quietly, wanting, needing to say so much more.
But for Alex, for now, it was enough. She captured Dusty's hand in hers, surprised to find small tremors going through it. Idly she played with it, running her fingers over the smooth skin on the back of Dusty's hand, the slightly callused palm and up and down each finger. She kissed Dusty's palm and laid it against her cheek.
"Goodnight." She whispered and closed her eyes.
Dusty's thumb caressed the smooth plains of Alex's cheek. "Goodnight, Alex." She traced her lover's eyebrows, her cheekbones and jaw, finally running her fingers over soft lips. She placed a gentle kiss there, smiling around it as Alex kissed her back, murmuring something sleepily.
Dusty pulled back slightly. Did I hear that right? Did she just say what I think she said? No, there's no way... she can't love me...
Alex woke, fully rested for a change. The events of last night seemed dim in the early morning sunlight. She could almost, almost believe that is was a bored farmer boy out on a dare.
She stretched, finally noticing there was no warm body beside her, or anywhere in the bed. With a groan she threw back the covers and stepped out into the room's chill air. A shiver traveled up and down her spine and she hurried into warm clothes.
Dusty was in the kitchen, fixing breakfast when she heard footsteps at the door and looked up from the fry pan as Alex wandered across the room. Dusty smiled and held out an arm in silent invitation.
Alex sagged into the one arm embrace and buried her head in Dusty's chest. They stood like that as Dusty continued to cook the bacon. Only when Dusty had to move the fry pan from the stove did the embrace break apart, and Alex drifted over to the cupboards to get the plates and coffee mugs.
"So, what do you want to do today?" Dusty laid bacon, eggs and hash browns on the plates and carried them over to the table.
Alex turned from the coffee pot. "Well, I was thinking that if we heated each room individually with the space heaters and the fireplace we could paint one room at a time." She joined Dusty at the kitchen table, sitting across from her.
Dusty nodded. "And while that rooms dries we can clear out the next and get it ready."
"Sounds like a plan, Stan." Alex smiled. Her grinned widened when Dusty gave her a dazzling smile, and the events of last night were forgotten.
"No, I'll climb the ladder." Alex brushed Dusty's hand off the rickety step. "I'll take top and you take bottom." Then realizing what she said she couldn't help but snicker.
Dusty raised an elegant eyebrow. "Have it your way then."
Alex placed a foot on the ladder, then another, hiding a grimace as it creaked under her slight weight. They'd set up the heaters and fireplace, laid down some tarps, got the brushes and buckets, and had decided on a baby blue color for the small room that faced east.
When the sun rose in the mornings Alex had no doubt it would be bright and cheery. A few bright colored rugs, blankets, curtains... She forgot to grimace and smiled as the paint brush dipped into the paint bucket and made the first stroke on the wall.
They worked for an hour, steadily making their way down the wall. Alex was almost out of paint. "Hey," she looked down at Dusty, who was carefully painting above the trim, "can you hand me up the other bucket?"
"Yeah." Dusty grabbed the other tray and roller. "Hand that one down and I'll refill it."
Alex leaned precariously forward, small bucket in hand. The ladder groaned and started to tilt as well. "Shit." She shifted her weight back and steadied the ladder as Dusty rushed over to grab the ladder as well.
"You all right?"
"Fine." Alex took a couple steps down and handed the bucket to Dusty who shot her a glance then refilled the bucket. Alex made her way back up the ladder without a word. Her shoulders were beginning to ache. Maybe it was time for a break?
She set the paint on the top step and picked up her brush. The bristles caught the edge of the bucket and tumbled it over the edge. "Ahh, shit, heads up Dusty." She made a valiant grab for the paint, but the ladder groaned ominously and caught her off balance. She reared back to counter balance, but she leaned too far.
Dusty looked up in time to get a splatter of paint across her face and chest.
Alex and the ladder titled dangerously backwards, and in one split second of crystal clarity Alex saw herself, Dusty reaching out in slow motion to grab the ladder, as if from a distance, and falling into the freshly painted wall. Then she was back, her shoulder banging into the wall, breaking through the ancient plaster with a stab of pain.
"Alex! Dammit, I knew I should have been the one on the ladder." Dusty berated herself as she knelt next to Alex.
"I'm fine." Alex rubbed her shoulder, coming away with sticky paint on her fingers. She looked up at Dusty and her jaw sagged open. "Blue is definitely your color," she said, wickedly.
Dusty absently swiped away the paint on her face.
Alex laughed. "Now you look like a native, in war paint."
Dusty stuck her tongue out over blue lips. "You got paint in your hair."
"Not nearly as bad as you." Alex stood, grinning, and turned to assess the damage. There was a softball sized hole where her shoulder had hit, and an impact area of about two inches out all the way around it. "Damn, I thought they made all these old houses out of wood, not plaster."
"Mmmm," Dusty ran her finger around the perimeter of the plaster, "they usually do." She studied the hole closer, and pulled at the edges of the plaster.
"Hey, what are you doing?"
"There's something here." Dusty pulled out a good sized chunk and stepped back. Light shone in, glinting off something metallic.
"What the hell?" Alex murmured. She dug her hand inside and pulled out more plaster. Soon both women were pulling off the plaster. Billows of plaster dust hung in the air and settled on the wet paint on the wall and their bodies.
Pausing for a breathe Alex stepped back. "Well, I'll be damned," she whispered, "it's a door."
"But where to?" Dusty eyed the hidden door warily.
"I haven't the foggiest. Let's find out."
"No." Dusty grabbed Alex's wrist before she could try the rusted knob. "Don't touch it."
"What?" Alex blinked at her. "Why not?"
"Because..." Dusty swiped a paint covered hand over the dusty door, revealing a dark red stain. Then she stepped back and pointed mutely to the ancient symbol drawn in blood.
Alex's eyes widened. "My god... " she breathed, eyes glued to the warning. Simply put the design meant; Death.
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