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
"Dear Shame: You're oh so eager to toy with me. You're always stealing the joy in me. You love to whisper my name, Dear Shame, Dear Shame... "- Chorus 'Dear Shame' by Newsboys
No fire engines roared down the road as the house was consumed in smoke and fire. There was nothing to do, and it no longer seemed to matter.
Alex had torn a strip of cloth from her shirt and was applying it to Dusty's bleeding forehead. She was on her knees, holding Dusty in her arms, against her chest.
The frozen ground beneath them traveled up through their thin jeans and left them shivering. She couldn't let Dusty get too cold and go into shock.
God, everything was a mess. Alex shivered uncontrollably, tears threatening on her lashes but unable to fall.
Dusty went in and out of consciousness, the red hot coal in her belly intensifying and blinding her with rage.
The sun was setting on a long, hard day, with none of it's usual brilliance.
Alex struggled out of her jacket and laid it across Dusty's shivering shoulders. The sound of tires on frozen gravel snapped Alex's head up and towards the road.
Help was finally coming.
A caravan of trucks and a couple cars pulled up the drive. She recognized almost everyone of them. Doors clicked open and white robed people stepped out.
"Shit, shit, Dusty wake up!" Alex shook Dusty's shoulder. "Wake up," she cried as they walked closer and closer.
No, no, no! Alex struggled to make Dusty sit up, but she had turned into a dead weight.
They surrounded her, looking down with contemptuous eyes. Two of them stepped out of the crowd. Two sets of gray eyes looked down on Alex and Dusty.
Alex gulped around the sudden nausea and fear.
"Get her up." The taller of the two motioned into the crowd and three robed men surged forward to grab Dusty from Alex's arms.
"No," Alex grabbed hold of Dusty's waist and was dragged up with her, "let us go."
The shorter of the two gray eyed men stepped around behind her and Alex swiveled her head fearfully as her arms were captured in strong hands and torn from Dusty's body.
"No!" She screamed and struggled against him.
"Shhh," he crooned, "relax. It's her we want, not you. Her evil has influenced you. Take away the evil and we- I- will set you on the right path once more." His hot breath came through the white cotton onto her neck.
Her stomach convulsed. Oh God. "Dusty!" She tried to reach out her arms to her love but the man held her tightly. Hot tears tracked down her cheeks and a sob hitched in her throat.
He pressed her small body against his, soaking up the fragrant smell of her hair and the fear emanating off her body. He was glad no one could see the wicked smile on his face.
The men were a means to an end. He had what he wanted. "String her up!" He yelled harshly.
A rope materialized from the group and Alex struggled uselessly in the man's grasp. Bile rose in her throat. The group loosened the rope and then tightened it around Dusty's neck.
"No," Alex screamed again and again, her throat becoming raw with the useless effort.
The rope swung up and over a sturdy branch.
Darkness hung around the shadows, diminished by the blazing fire in the house.
Let her go, Alex begged silently. Please, let her go. She kicked and twisted. The man simply held tighter. Her chest hurt, she couldn't tear her eyes from Dusty.
She stopped struggling and the man laughed. He didn't walk to join the others, instead stepping slowly backwards and into the woods at the side of the driveway.
His hot, sweaty palm clamped over her mouth.
The woods were solid darkness where the moonlight couldn't shine through. It was oddly quiet as he dragged her through the woods to a predetermined spot.
"One." The men counted and braced their feet.
"Two." They tightened the muscles in their arms.
"Three." A collective groan went up as they pulled the rope over the branch.
The wind whipped across the fields, gathering in intensity, sending the fire spiraling and wafting dangerously. Someone in the back of the crowd cried out.
Some of the tension slipped from the rope.
"Help!" The cry became louder. "Fire!"
The rope slipped from the men's hands as they rushed to help one of their own fallen as he thrashed around, fire curling along his robe.
Dusty's body crashed to the ground and her breath escaped her lips in a huge rush of air. Her fingers struggled against the rope on her neck. Red hot anger coursed through her veins. Where was Alex?
A gentle breeze touched her arm as she staggered to her feet, clear of the noose. She struggled to see around the blood dripping into her eyes, wiping at it absently as she followed the ghostly breeze as it tugged on her arm.
When the fire was out and the men turned back to the tree the woman was gone.
Enough, Alex cried. She worked her lips around the hand that dug into her mouth and sank her teeth into soft flesh.
He cried out and shoved Alex roughly to the ground. She staggered back up and he knocked her down with a vicious backhand.
"Stupid bitch." His face contorted in anger and rage. "Fucking dyke!" He'd show her, teach her what is was like to be with a man.
He fell on top of Alex, pinning down her arms. She struggled terrified beneath him.
"Don't do this," she gasped.
"Shut up bitch," he held her arms down with one hand and slapped her again with the other, "I've wanted you for a long time, but you always said no."
"H-Howard?" Alex stammered.
"You won't get way with no this time." He seemed oblivious to her question as his meaty hand tore the front of her shirt. He tugged off his mask and smiled savagely down at her.
"No, Howard. Please don't do this." Alex whimpered as his pelvis pressed against her hips and his crotch ground into her.
"Shut the fuck up." Rivulets of sweat ran down his forehead, landing on her exposed chest. His breathing became labored as he pawed her breasts with his callused hand.
Sobs tore from Alex's throat. Dusty. Dusty, she begged. But Dusty was... no! She'll find me, she'll survive.
Howard ripped at her jeans, snapping the buttons off.
She whimpered in the cold night air as he pulled frantically on the elastic band of her underwear. "No, please stop."
Howard hissed, spittle flying from the corners of his mouth. "I said shut the fuck up!" He screamed at her again and sent an angry fist slamming into her stomach.
She sucked in a lungful of cold air, pain shooting up her chest.
A cold hand passed across the back of Howard's neck and he swiveled around just in time to see a shadow moving swiftly among the trees.
He opened his mouth to call out to whoever was there when a strange cry broke the electric air.
The dark shadow sailed pass and knocked Howard off Alex's body.
Dusty rolled and staggered to her feet. Before Howard could blink she was straddling his chest, fists pummeling him senseless.
With a savage snarl she continued to beat the shit out of him even as his head lolled to the side.
"No!" Alex cried, jumping up painfully. Her shirt flapped open in the breeze, torn tatters like ghostly fingers. "Dusty, stop!"
Howard was an incoherent bloody mess under Dusty and still she didn't stop.
"Dusty!" Alex screamed, hurling herself across the small distance, knocking her lover off Howard. "Stop it!" She grabbed Dusty's flailing arms and sat across her thighs.
"Let me go. This is FAR from over, Alex." Dusty's voice was a feral snarl. Blood seeped out of the wound on her head, staining her white cotton T- shirt a dark shade of black.
Alex blinked back tears and held on tighter. "No, it's over, my love."
Dusty focused then on the soft words and looked into deep, moonlit filled eyes. Always my anchor in the storm, aren't you? Her body sagged against the rough bark of a young tree.
"Can we just go now?" Alex whispered, keeping her eyes carefully averted from Howard's bloody body.
Dusty's strong fingers traced Alex's collarbone and her eyes traveled down Alex's tattered shirt. Dusty stifled a moan as she tied the tatters together over Alex's breasts. Dusty's hands shook and Alex took them gently in hers, kissing each palm.
"I love you." Dusty drew her partner into her arms, saying the words, emotions spilling over into tears .
Alex's sob hitched in her throat and she was speechless. She buried her head in Dusty's chest, absorbing the solid strength and smell of leather and spices. "I love you too," she managed to whisper, at last.
"Come on, let's go-" Dusty's words froze in her mouth as a familiar ghostly hand tugged on her arm. She hurried to her feet, dragging Alex with her.
"What is it?"
Dusty dragged them rapidly through the woods towards the red glow of the house.
Around them feet trampled the bushes in hot pursuit.
Oh God. Once again Alex's heart leapt into her throat. They broke through the woods and into the clearing beside the house.
Dusty stopped abruptly as the sheriff waved a shotgun in their direction. "Fucking shit." Dusty swore, ready to wrestle the gun from the sheriff with her bare hands.
"Down," he ordered and switched off the safety.
Alex and Dusty sprawled hastily onto the ground as the woods snapped and crackled behind them.
The sheriff raised the shotgun slightly above the robed men's heads and fired a deafening shot. Everyone froze in their tracks.
The echos diminished. "You are all under arrest."
One robed man stepped forward, his gray eyes glinting angrily in the fire's light. "Don't be stupid, Brock," he scoffed, "you don't want to interfere."
"I don't?" Brock locked steady eyes on the masked man. "And tell me, Randy, just what are you going to do?"
Dusty and Alex crawled silently to the side and stood by the sheriff.
Randy tugged off his mask with a muffled curse and threw it to the ground. "I'll-"
"What?" Sheriff Brock lowered the shotgun till it was level with Randy's belly. "You'll what? Tell everybody my little secret?"
Randy sneered. "I just might do that."
"Go ahead." Brock smiled.
Randy suddenly paled. The only ammo he had against the sheriff and it didn't seem it was going to fly anymore.
"Go ahead, Randy, tell them my father was a drifter. A black man that happened into town and had an affair with my mother."
Dusty and Alex both looked wide eyed at the sheriff as he chuckled wryly.
"It's not a secret you can use against me anymore. We grew up together Randy and everyday you never let me forget who my father was." The sheriff fingered the trigger on the shotgun, caressing it.
Brock's finger tightened.
Alex slipped from Dusty's hand and stood directly in front of the sheriff, her back to the robed men. Dusty rushed froward but stopped suddenly when Alex gave her a slight smile and held up her hand.
"Brock, don't do this."
Slowly his eyes focused on the young woman in front of the shotgun. Her shirt was tattered, her pale skin peeking out from beneath. He averted his eyes. "Get out of my way."
"Please, Brock. I know you left Bluerock to get away, to make a name for yourself somewhere where people didn't know you or your past." Alex took a small step closer. "You came back because you wanted to make things right in this town, but you couldn't. Randy blackmailed you and got away with it because no one would respect a man with a black father in this town." She took another step forward as he focused haunted eyes on her once again.
"Would they?" She demanded gently.
"No, they wouldn't. I came back, for Lilly, and for this town. I- I thought I could..."
"Do some good?" She smiled around her own pain, focusing intently on this man she suddenly knew so well.
"Yes," he murmured and his arms lost the strength they'd had only moments earlier. The shotgun slipped from his fingers and Dusty grabbed it before it hit the ground. She shucked the shells, flipped on the safety, and hung it open over her arm.
"You did good tonight," Alex continued softly, laying a sympathetic hand on his arm. "You did real good."
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