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: Ok new bit here... the violence has escalated to an almost graphic point. There is a scene of attemped rape... so you are warned. If this just sounds too nasty for you, don't read any further.
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
"Smell the burning powder? There's danger in the air... You must beware. The enemy is watching."- snippet 'Minefield' by Petra
"Of course," Alex slapped her head, "Brock 'The Sledgehammer' Thompson!"
"Huh?" Dusty glanced at her lover's profile as they trudged up the porch stairs into the farmhouse.
"Come on," Alex grabbed Dusty's hand, tugging her down the hall, "I'll show you."
They ended up in a rarely used room, and Dusty realized it had once been Alex's aunt's room. As Alex rifled through the closet Dusty stood in the doorway waiting.
Finally Alex gave a triumphant grunt and backed out of the closet with a worn, grimy book in her hand. Dusty sauntered over as Alex slid to the floor and began rifling through the pages. Dusty knelt beside her.
After a moment Alex tapped a page of the old yearbook. "Brock Thompson. Caption of the football team. Nicknamed 'The Sledgehammer.' He signed aunt Lilly's yearbook." She ran a finger gently over the fading words as she read. "Dearest Lilly, Our paths have diverged and though you have declined to come with me to the city I will always carry you in my heart. Love, Brock."
Dusty followed the words then studied the picture closer. The city, he'd written. Is that where he'd trained to become a police officer? Of course, there was no training facility here in Bluerock, or even within two hours drive. He was much younger in the picture, still neat and tidy, though his skin was darker. Tanned or natural?
Alex was thinking the same thing. Had Brock gone willingly or been forced out of town because of the darkness of his skin and the intolerance of the fools that lived here? Why hadn't aunt Lilly gone with him? So many mysteries crammed her head, and one thought slammed them all to a stand still.
Why had he come back?
Alex slammed the yearbook shut and jumped to her feet. "I'm going to take Jack out for a ride." She tossed the yearbook over to Dusty who was struggling to her feet as well.
"Alex?" Dusty hurried after her lover, stopping as Alex stood at the front door briskly throwing on her coat. "Are you all right?" Dusty resisted the urge to put her hand's on Alex, to sweep the hair from her face, to brush those incredibly soft lips with her fingertips.
Alex blinked. "Yeah," she said slowly, "I'm fine. I just need to clear my head."
Dusty nodded, understanding. If she had her old, beat up punching bag she would have liked to clear her own head by beating the shit out of it. "Ok, I'll make some dinner for when you get back. How does that sound?"
"Great," and Alex stood on tiptoes to brush her lips against Dusty's full lips and tangle her fingers in the hair at the nape of Dusty's neck. How much she wanted to say 'I love you,' but she feared Dusty would back away from the sentimentality. She shouldn't have worried.
Dusty wrapped her arms around the slim blond woman, hugging her fiercely against her chest, reveling in the closeness of their bodies, even through the thick winter clothes. "I love you," Dusty murmured into sweet smelling hair.
For a moment Alex's throat caught and she looked blindly up into blue eyes, darkened by love and passion. "I love you too," she replied huskily, "I won't be long."
Dusty nodded silently as the embrace broke apart and cool air rushed around her body where Alex's warmth had been.
In town a frantic phone call was made.
"She's not leaving." His hurried, miserable voice carried over the phone line too loud.
"Shhh," the other hissed, "it's being taken care of as we speak."
"Taken care of?" He questioned.
"Yes, she'll be eliminated, and so will the other if she gets in the way."
"No, the little one's mine," the man smiled, decision made, his fears resting momentarily. "When?" He wanted, no needed, to be there.
"I'll be there." He hung up the phone, an excited smile curling his lips. Oh yes, he'd definitely be there because he was never one to have loose ends hanging around. And if he could kill two birds with one stone all the better.
He could feel the sudden, aching need in his groin as he envisioned what he'd be doing in an hour.
Dusty was at the stove, flipping hamburger patties in the fry pan, when the short hairs on the back of her neck bristled. A cool breeze caressed her neck and lifted her bangs.
She turned abruptly and saw the wooden bat flying towards her face. It all happened in a split second. Too late to do anything.
As she fell to the floor in a haze of pain she caught sight of familiar eyes. A curse left her lips as the darkness rose to meet her, "Bastard." He couldn't even face her like a man.
Her last thought was of Alex, in the barn, alone.
Alex rounded the barn doors and was met by a wild breeze flying down from the open hay loft. Sharp needles of hay wafted down and stung her cheeks. She turned slowly and faced the doors she'd just come through.
Nothing was amiss or out of place, she'd just forgotten to put the trapdoor down earlier after she'd shoved a bale of hay down for Jack.
She resumed walking to Jack's stall, the silence finally dawning on her. There was no snort of recognition or agitation that she'd been gone so long.
Jack wasn't in his stall and the gate teetered on it's hinges. Dammit, was I in that much of a hurry this morning? No, she distinctly remembered the parting carrot she'd given Jack, his soft lips nuzzling her icy fingers as she'd latched the gate.
A board creaked and she froze in her tracks. Dusty?
The wild wind assaulted her again, skittering hay bits all around her. An acidic smell made her nostrils flare. It was familiar. Tentatively she sniffed the air again. Past the smell of hay and horse was... smoke.
She raced from the barn, to stand gaping in the snow covered yard.
An inane little voice told her to shut her mouth and stop gaping.
The old farmhouse was going up like a tinder box. Oh God, Dusty was in there.
She raced to the porch, the old boards protesting under her weight. She'd been gone only a moment! The fire was already licking across the living room floor and up the staircase.
Smoke spiraled in ghostly tendrils along the ceiling. "Dusty!" Alex screamed as she pushed her way through the thick smoke.
"Dusty!" she cried again, and broke into a fit of painful coughs. She dropped down to her knees and groped her way across the floor.
Those goddamn bastards, they'll pay for this! You steal my horse and you burn a cross on my front yard and make our lives a living hell. Now you try to burn down my house... with Dusty in it. And you don't think I'm going to be a little pissed?
And if so much as a hair is singed on Dusty's head... oh god, what if I can't find her? What if... She crawled faster in her desperation and her hand struck Dusty's soft flesh.
Her fingers came back sticky, covered in blood. "Dusty?" Alex knelt down at her lover's side.
"Alex?" Dusty's voice was ragged and hoarse, but she was alive.
"Come on, love, we have to get out of here." Alex doubled over in another fit of coughs.
"You stupid idiot," the man hissed, "she's going to be killed in there!"
From the safety of the nearby woods the two men watched the house burn.
"Like I was going to stop her if she wanted to go back inside for the bitch?" The other man asked incredulously.
"I told you I didn't want her harmed," he snarled in rage, turning angry gray eyes on his older brother.
"Don't worry," he said quietly and pointed back at the house where Alex was struggling out with Dusty leaning heavily on her shoulder.
"Well," he whispered, "I'll be damned, those bitches have nine lives."
"Less now," the other snickered, and immediately shut up when he received a withering glare.
"Are the others ready?" He asked.
"No, not yet. An hour maybe."
"Fine," his anger withered. There was still time.
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