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
"Is this the air you breath? Are these the lies you've believed all your life? ... Could this be why you feel so incomplete?"- (snippet)'Air You Breath' by Karthi
The drive into town was quiet, the blackened cross on the front lawn a testament to anger and hatred, souring their already sour moods.
Dusty parked the Jeep in front of the Sheriff's office and opened the door for Alex. They entered into the main room. On the left was a half wall, half fence and two openings to shove paperwork through to whoever was on shift. No one happened to be on shift at the moment.
A secretary's desk sat a little off to the right, and the sheriff's door was just behind it. A hallway led off to what Dusty could only assume were holding cells, and maybe an office for the deputy.
"'Morning, Betty." Alex stepped up to the secretary's desk, smiling down at the woman dressed all in gray. Gray hair, gray eyes, gray sweater and gray tweed skirt. "Is the sheriff in?"
"Yes, but I'm afraid he's busy with a meeting right now." Betty replied coolly.
"Busy, my ass." Dusty murmured and stepped around the desk.
The old secretary was surprisingly agile and she jumped up to stop Dusty before her hand fell on the knob. "I'm sorry. You can't go in there."
She doesn't sound the least bit apologetic, Alex noted as Dusty effectively moved the woman out of her way and entered the office anyway, Alex hot on her trail.
Just as Dusty opened the door Randy's face appeared. His eyes went wide with shock and he took a step back into the room, right into the sheriff.
"Good morning, Randy," Alex said dryly.
"M-morning," he stammered back, "just tellin' the sheriff 'bout the vandals we had at the Emporium last night."
"Oh really? Vandals?" Dusty arched an eyebrow in disbelief.
"Yeah. Ladies." He tipped his green John Deere hat in their direction and beat a hasty retreat around them all to the door.
"Sheriff," Dusty began, coldly, stepping into the sheriff's office.
Alex stepped in behind her and took a seat, waiting as her lover anxiously paced in front of the desk.
"Please, have a seat." The sheriff sat behind his large oak desk and waved a hand at the last vacant chair.
Dusty gave him and the chair a brief scowl then decided that maybe a little civility would help and sat as well.
"How can I help you, ladies?" The sheriff, Brock Thompson, carefully shuffled papers and replaced pens before he neatly folded his hands on the desk and smiled kindly at the two women.
Dusty silently studied him for a moment. His gray mustache was neatly trimmed and so was his hair. In fact everything about him was neat and tidy, from his perfectly knotted tie to his clean fingernails.
"There were trespassers on my land last night, sir." Alex glanced into his kindly eyes. They'd never had reason to meet before and she was sorry to be here now, meeting this way.
"Trespassers? You're Lilly James' niece, aren't you?"
"Yes," Alex replied, a little surprised, "Lilly was my aunt. Did you know her?" She leaned slightly forward in her seat, almost tasting the story that lurked behind this man.
The sheriff chuckled lightly. "In my younger days your aunt and I courted each other."
"Really? She never-"
Dusty cut her off, impatiently. "I believe, sheriff, that we were discussing trespassers?"
"Of course." The sheriff visibly straightened. "Please, go ahead." He was all business now.
"The other night someone threw a rock through the farmhouse window-"
"Miss?" The sheriff interrupted.
"Sheller. Dusty Sheller."
He knew who she was. There wasn't anybody in this town that he didn't at least know their first name, especially if they caused trouble on the first night they arrived in town. "Miss Sheller you said there was a trespasser last night?"
"Yes," she responded with a weary sigh, "I was getting to that part."
He nodded, and she continued.
"Like I was saying, the first incident was someone throwing a rock through Alex's window." She cast bright eyes on him, carefully gauging his reactions. "The latest incident was last night, when a group of white robed... people... set up a burning cross on the front lawn."
"Did you see who any of them were?" His voice was quiet, professional and oddly curious.
"No." Dusty lied. "They all wore masks."
"Well," he paused, deep in thought, "then there's not much I can do. Unless you can identify at least one of them I have nothing to go on."
Dusty's eyes grew icy cold as she studied the sheriff. "You mean to tell me that people burning crosses on front lawns is all right with you?"
"No," Brock answered carefully, "but till you can give me names there is nothing I can do. Except to give you some advice."
"And that would be?" Dusty asked coldly.
"To stay out of trouble." His voice was measured, even, no true indicator of what he was saying.
Alex could usually read people so well. This man fascinated her. He was all sharp angles and subdued words. A contrast. Did he say one thing when he meant another? Or did he say just what he meant?
Alex saw her lover stand abruptly, sending the chair backwards. She caught Dusty's arm as she raced to de-fuel what could quickly became a confrontation.
Dusty turned slightly and caught Alex's green-gray eyes, and her anger dissipated to a small red coal in her belly.
"It's not a threat, Miss Sheller, just a few words of advice." The sheriff stood, indicating that this discussion was now over.
Dusty gritted her teeth, fists clenched angrily, but let Alex lead her out of the office.
"It was nice to finally meet you, Alex." The sheriff's parting words carried them out the door, and into the icy air of the little town of Bluerock.
"Fuck him," Dusty mumbled as she unlocked the Jeep door for Alex and rounded to the other side. She slammed the door as she sat down and turned the key harshly in the ignition.
"Dusty," Alex settled her hand on Dusty's thigh, "he's right you know."
"About what?" Dusty's words came out a low growl and she felt Alex's hand shiver.
"He can't do anything. We don't know who did it-"
"He's one of them then." Dusty floored the Jeep and peeled out onto the main road, headed back to the farmhouse.
Alex blinked wide, startled eyes. "You don't really think... he wouldn't... he's the sheriff..." Had he been one of them? Had he been the one holding the torch?
"Just because he's the sheriff doesn't mean he's one of the good guys Alex." Dusty lowered her anger and lowered her speed as they traveled the snowy road back to the farm.
Alex sighed. "To bad this isn't the movies or a book. Good and bad is always so black and white."
Dusty's lip turned up in a wry grin. "Nothing is black and white, love."
Alex's hand went still at the sudden term of endearment.
Dusty bit her lip.
"Except my aunt's old TV." Alex decided to ignore the affection as she noticed Dusty's white knuckled death grip on the steering wheel. "The good guys always wore white hats and rode white horses."
"And the bad guys rode in on black horses, with shiny silver guns and black Stetsons." Dusty relaxed a little.
"Yeah! Did you ever notice..."
And Alex rambled on as Dusty concentrated on the road ahead, letting her lover's sweet voice soothe her tense body and the coal of anger in her belly. She knew it wouldn't take much for that coal to begin to burn. One wisp of air, one spark and she'd explode... all over whoever got in her way. She just prayed that it wouldn't be Alex bearing the brunt of it.
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