Copyright Disclaimer: Any and all characters referenced from the Xenaverse belong to Renaissance Pictures and their respective parties. I don’t own the characters otherwise we’d already have a movie and the series would have never ended the way it did.
Sex, Violence, Language Warning: They will all be present and they will probably be graphic. In specific reference to the sex portion of the warning I will say that any descriptive sexual text will be centered on that of the lesbian variety. If you like it, great. If you don’t, I don’t want to hear about it.
Spoiler Warning: Post Friend in Need.
Pairing: Xena/Gabrielle, Sarah/???
Feedback: Please, please, please send it to me. This is my first fic ever and I’d really appreciate any comments or criticism that you have.
A Little Explanation: This fic does exist within the Xenaverse and characters from the show will play a large part, but in essence it is a spin off centering on a main character called Sarah. Hope you like it.
Living in the Past:
Book 1-Ripples in the Water
Men Plan, God Laughs
Sarah drank liberally from her second glass of whiskey as she tried to take in all of the information of the past twenty-four hours. It was nearly midnight and Janice had turned in for the night after a long discussion about how exactly Sarah was to pull off this journey.
To achieve the desired result, Sarah would have to travel to not one, but two precise areas in the past. The first being the moments before Xena got totally wasted in Higuchi and burned down the town, and the second being the moments before Gabrielle is supposed to pour Xena’s ashes into the spring on Mount Fuji. Janice explained that Xena’s past actions were to blame for her inability to resurrect. In order to save everyone Sarah would have to convince Xena to put Akemi’s ashes to rest before she drowned her sorrows inside the town. With a little luck Xena would simply have to endure the taunts of the townspeople and then sleep off her night of excess.
The second jump was simply a precautionary measure to make sure all had gone according to plan; this was more Sarah’s idea. Because the young girl was prone to extreme disbelief in any religious superstition, Sarah figured that Xena was either being conned by Akemi or playing fool to some mythological presuppositions. She wanted to make sure that nothing got in the way of Xena’s ashes being poured into that magical spring. Janice agreed with her logic as well. Why not double check your work when you’ve put so much effort into it?
So after hours of hashing out the details, they’d devised a plan to save the bard and warrior. Saving Eve was a little more of a challenge. Because so little is known about the events in China at the exact time of Eve’s arrival, they couldn’t establish any concrete plan. Janice had done some preliminary research on the ruling dynasty of the time: the Xin dynasty ruled by Wang Mang. They were later overthrown by a peasant rebellion lead by Liu Xiu; a liaison from the previous Han Dynasty. Trying to save Eve right in the middle of a civil war would be extremely difficult. Sarah’s best bet would be to help Xena and Gabrielle get her out of there as quickly as possible in hopes of escaping open warfare between Mang and Liu.
Sarah had the feeling it would all be much easier said than done. Janice had even suggested that she simply give Xena and Gabrielle as much information as she could and let them sort out the whole mess with Eve, but Sarah wouldn’t have it.
“If I’m going there to save all of them I’m going to make sure the job gets done.” She had said earlier in the evening. And that was that. Tomorrow afternoon Sarah was going to activate the chronostone and travel through time. But first she had some personal business to take care of.
Sarah moved slowly through the house knowing that she was far from settling into her soft, warm bed. She roamed the halls of her home paying particular attention to the pictures that decorated the walls. Most of them were sweet captured moments of her Mel and Janice. Some of them were her school photos, and some were snapshots of recent digs. But the one that always made Sarah stop in her tracks was neither.
The image held within the frame displayed one of the happiest moments she never remembered: a young woman holding a newborn baby. The mother was beautiful, but pale and tired. She didn’t even try to pay attention to the camera; all of her energy was placed upon the small, red faced child in her arms. She didn’t know that mere moments after the flash went off, the baby would be taken safely into the nursery, not having any understanding of the loss she was to face. A small infection, unnoticed by doctors, would quickly begin to spiral out of control. Who knew whether Suzanne Papas felt any pain before she was taken from the world? Perhaps she was in such a deep sleep she felt nothing. At this point the details weren’t important; at least not to Sarah.
She didn’t plan to change her own past, but she did intend to see it. If that little green stone was actually a device that could allow her to see her mother, she was going to use it. Still not taking her eyes away from the picture, she reached into her pocket for the stone and began to recite the incantations. As the ancient Greek words slipped over her tongue she closed her eyes. It felt as if the room was getting smaller. She continued to repeat the chant even though she felt an enormous pressure bearing down on her. She was starting to quiver with fear, but she continued to recite the words. It was with the fifth refrain that everything crashed over her like a rogue wave. It felt as if her body was imploding from the center of her gut. She couldn’t breathe, let alone speak as the feeling washed over her. Every muscle in her body tightened and she involuntarily moved into a fetal position in mid air.
Opening her eyes was a bad idea. She was floating in the deepest dark possible; so dark it was almost fluid in appearance. Sarah didn’t know how that was possible and she didn’t want to know. Closing her eyes, she continued to ride out the intensity of the experience. As soon as she wondered how long she had been floating, the feeling started to recede. The pressure slowly alleviated and she felt like she could breathe again. As the first deep breath entered her body she felt herself slipping from the grip of the darkness. Before she could even think of opening her eyes she was falling onto a cold, hard surface reeking of disinfectant.
It was almost ironic that there was a toilet sitting right in front of her because the only thing she could do at the time was empty the contents of her stomach. Tears leaked from her eyes as the strain of the dry heaving fell upon her, but it was soon over. Grabbing some tissue, she wiped her mouth and turned around to sit propped against the cold porcelain. Within seconds the silence was broken and Sarah realized where she was.
“Is someone there?”
“Are you sick?”
Sarah couldn’t breathe, let alone squeak out an answer. On the other side of that door was the one person she’d longed to meet for her entire life. It’s not supposed to be like this. She thought. I’m not supposed to wake her up. I was just going to come here, watch her sleep for a couple of minutes and then go home, but nooo, I had to get all exorcist in the bathroom.
“I can call the nurse for you.” The voice called again.
This brought Sarah out of her stupor.
“No!” She said, far too worriedly. In an effort to provide a less threatening answer she spoke again. “I mean, no, I don’t need the nurse. I’m here visiting a friend and hospitals make me nervous. I got so sick that I just went in the first room I saw to use the bathroom. I’ll be out in a minute and I’ll leave you alone. Just let me clean up.”
As she moved to the sink the voice called again.
“Take your time sweetie. It’s going to be alright.”
Sarah clutched at the sink as if somehow it could stop her throat from tightening and the tears from forming in her eyes. For the first time in her life her mother was comforting her, and using a term of endearment.
“Don’t you dare break down now!” She said softly, but sharply into the mirror. “You’re the one who decided to come here and you’re the one who woke her up. Now you’re going to walk through that door, apologize for waking her and not look like an absolute freak while doing it.”
After splashing water on her face and drying it, Sarah turned to grasp the cold, smooth handle on the door. As she turned it everything seemed to move in slow motion. Every detail imprinted itself upon her memory. The click of the door as it opened, the sound her shoes made on the floor, and the cheap lighting that softly illuminated the room. Once she was finally clear of the bathroom she kept her eyes down, afraid now to even do what she had planned earlier in the evening. Just get the words out and leave.
“I’m really sorry I woke you.” She said, still averting her eyes as if simply looking upon her mother would turn her to stone. “I’m just gonna go, now.”
She stepped quickly to the door, but was stopped just before she reached out for the handle.
“Wait.” The woman said.
Just leave, just leave, just leave! The voice of reason in Sarah’s head was wailing at her, but her feet wouldn’t budge.
“You didn’t really bother me.” The woman’s voice was taking on a welcoming note. “You see, I’m not really comfortable in hospitals either. I certainly don’t like to be alone in them.” She paused, but continued in a voice that was almost timid. “You could sit with me till you feel better.”
As Sarah slowly turned to face the hospital bed she shut off any voice of reason that might have tried to halt her actions. She would be strong and comfort her mother, no matter what the consequence would be. Taking a deep breath she let her eyes slowly move up to reach the eyes staring hopefully back at her. They were brown; not the blue of her own, but warm and comforting all the same. Stepping closer she took in the rest of her features. Long dark hair framed a face that Sarah imagined was more pale than normal. A small welcoming smile started to turn up the corners of her mother’s mouth. Sarah returned it in kind and moved to sit in the visitors chair next to the bed.
“My name is Suzanne, what’s yours?” She asked.
Oh shit, what do I say? I can’t tell her my real name. Just spit something out or she’s gonna think you’re insane.
“Mavis.” She blurted.
Mavis? Oh that’s real cool, dumbass. She thought.
“Mavis, huh?” Suzanne said as a small smirk started appearing on her face.
“Yeah, I know it’s really old school, but that’s what I’m stuck with.” She said, half to herself.
“No, no. It’s cute.” Suzanne said, trying to make her feel better. “It’s a classic name. I’ve been thinking about names for the last few months. I just had a baby girl; that’s why I’m in here, and for the life of me I could not settle on a name no matter how many baby books I read. When they asked me what I wanted to call her I finally took the two I liked best and flipped a coin.” She laughed a little bit. “That’s just silly, huh?”
“I don’t think so.” Sarah said softly. “I think it’s one of those stories your daughter would like to hear when she’s older.”
“Sarah.” The older woman said.
Oh God, did I just give myself away. Does she know?
“Excuse me?” Sarah stuttered.
“Sarah; that’s her name. Do you like it?” Suzanne asked.
“Oh.” Sarah paused. “Oh, yeah I do. I think it’s a great name.”
“Yeah, me too. She’s so beautiful. They just took her out of here about an hour ago and I can’t wait till I get to see her again. You know it’s funny, but I feel like she’s my best friend. We’ve done everything together for the past nine months. I think it’s the longest stretch of time where no matter what happened I didn’t feel alone.”
Sarah was too touched to realize her defenses had let a small tear slip from her eye, but it didn’t go unnoticed by Suzanne.
“Oh, sweetie are you ok?” She asked.
“Um, yeah, sorry. It’s nothing.” She said wiping away the offending tear. “I just think that’s one of the sweetest things I’ve ever heard a mother say about her child.”
“Aw, I’m sure your mother feels the same way about you.” Suzanne said.
“Yeah.” Sarah said with a small pause. “I’ll bet she does.”
“Are you close with your mother?” Suzanne asked.
“I um…” She thought for a minute and then finally answered. “I love her very much.”
“I’m going to do everything I can to be close to my daughter. I want to know every little thing about her as she grows up. You’re probably going to think this is stupid, but I went to a psychic just a few weeks ago to get a reading for her. I’m not sure if it was the Gin talking or the extra ten bucks I handed her, but the lady said that my child would be special. She said that she was destined to do great things, but…” She paused and took a breath.
“But what?” Sarah asked with rapt attention.
“She said that it would all come with a price; that my daughter would lose a great many things that she treasured in order to do what she has to do.”
Sarah was dumbfounded, but her wit pushed its way through her mouth.
“Well let’s just hope it’s the Gin. That seems like a lot for a kid to live up to.”
Suzanne laughed. “I don’t really know that I believe it. She started getting really crazy after that; talking about gem stones and sword fighting. I probably should have kept the extra ten bucks, huh?”
Sarah swallowed hard. Just keep talking, don’t be a spaz.
“Yeah, sounds pretty loony to me.” She quipped.
Suzanne laughed, and then her eyes started to droop.
“Listen, Mavis,” she said placing a hand on Sarah’s “I know we just met and everything, but would you mind staying just till I fall asleep. I hate being alone in this room.”
Sarah’s heart was breaking. Her time with her mother was about to draw to a close and there wasn’t a damn thing she could do about it. She wanted to run out that door right then, pull the closest doctor inside and tell him to save her mother. But she knew she couldn’t. She knew that by saving her mother she would ultimately destroy all the precious memories she had of growing up with Mel and Janice. As much as she wanted a life with her mother, she wanted her memories more. At least now she had a beautiful addition to add to the mix.
“Sure, I’ll stay with you until you fall asleep.” Sarah said, turning her hand over to hold her mothers.
“You’re a good girl.” Suzanne said with a smile, then closed her eyes and drifted off.
Gently moving her hand away, Sarah stood and placed the lightest of kisses on her mother’s forehead. The whispered ‘I love you’ was almost inaudible, as she drew away and entered the bathroom. Just as before she started to recite the Greek words and before she knew it she was dry heaving in her own bathroom. As she cleaned off her face and looked in the mirror she allowed herself the breakdown that she so rightfully deserved. She would never share the night’s events with Janice, and though Janice may have expected Sarah to use the stone to see her mother she would never bring it up either. After suiting up in her pajamas she crawled into bed and cried herself to sleep.
When she woke Janice was already hard at work in preparation for Sarah’s “trip”. The older woman was up at six a.m. managing to laminate quite a few maps that would be useful in Chin, Japa, and Greece just in case she got lost. When Sarah rolled out of bed in her Nick and Nora’s, she was instantly given a cup of coffee and a PowerPoint presentation on their plan. Once that was over Janice led the less groggy girl into the bedroom where she packed her rucksack with the maps, a huge water bottle, some tofurkey jerky, dried fruit and a couple new packs of boy-cut underwear.
“Aunt Jan, I’m not gonna be gone forever. Do I really need that much underwear?” She asked.
“You never know.” She said packing the item of discussion away. “You may want to help them escort Eve to Greece. And don’t even try to give me any lip about how many toothbrushes I got you. If for some reason you get stuck there you’re not gonna want to go without a toothbrush for the rest of your life.”
“Just leave a little room in there for my clothes, ok?” She said with a sigh.
“Speaking of which what are you going to wear?” Janice asked.
“Same thing I usually wear on digs. Cargo pants, a couple of shirts with expletives on them, and my timberlands.” Sarah said as she nonchalantly packed the described items away.
“Don’t you think you’re gonna stick out a little?” The older woman asked disapprovingly.
“Well I’m sorry, but I’m not gonna raid the Coyote Ugly clearance bin in order to fit in with the rest of the kids. You know leather gets all gungy when you sweat. Besides, Xena and Gabrielle will know where I’m from and the way I figure it the rest of the onlookers won’t matter.”
“I guess we’ll see.”
“Hey, you talked me into this under protest; you don’t get to criticize my fashion sense.” Sarah said with a smirk.
“So you’re still not feeling good about the decision to go.” Janice said soberly.
Sarah sighed and answered, “I’m not trying to out do Luke Skywalker on the whining here, but I gotta say I’ve never felt like I’ve ever been this far out of my league.” She sat down on the bed and ran a hand through her hair. “I mean, we’re talking about changing the history of the world. You really think that it should be entrusted in me? Aunt Jan, I’m the same girl that always stayed out past curfew, was arrested before I was old enough to drink, screwed up so many times on balancing my check book that I made the decision to only deal in cash, and am obviously emotionally unstable. I just can’t help thinking that if this is the right thing to do; I’m just not the right person to do it.”
At that point Janice sat down and put an arm around her niece and began to speak.
“You forgot to mention your terrible memory.” She said as she kissed Sarah’s forehead.
“Oh, yeah?” The younger woman asked.
“Yeah.” Janet answered. “See, you forgot that you stayed out past curfew many times to let your friends cry on your shoulder, and that the one time you were arrested it was for knocking out that frat boy for calling me and Mel bull dykes, and who needs a bank account in ancient Japan? The truth, whether you let yourself admit it or not, is that you have one of the most loving, caring, and loyal souls that I have ever seen. And if I had the entire world to choose from to do this, I still wouldn’t have a second thought with this decision. Even if you go there and turn right back around I’ll know it was the right result.” She gave Sarah one last squeeze and moved off the bed to finish off the packing. “And, seriously, if I have to give you one more cheesy pep talk I’ll schedule you another appointment with that grossly over excited life coach for when you come back home.”
This made Sarah laugh.
“Oh whatever. She’d never agree to see me again. They upped her meds after the last session.” She said, moving to help her aunt finish with the rucksack.
Janice paced around the study as she mentally went over every last detail of their plan. As Sarah entered the room the older woman couldn’t help the grin that sprang to her face. The girl looked like a younger version of herself with the added t-shirt proclaiming “Archaeologists do it in the dirt.”
“You look so proud.” Sarah said with mock sincerity.
“I am proud. I’m also amazed at how unrelentingly crass you are sometimes.” She noticed something new sticking out from the bottom of the rucksack. “Is that your softball bat I see hovering above your ass?”
“Why, yes it is.” Sarah said with a smirk.
“You do know that just because Xena and Gabrielle were lesbians doesn’t mean they played softball, right?”
Sarah rolled her eyes at that one.
“First of all; the bat is for self defense seeing as I am going into a hostile environment. Second of all; it’s never been proven that they were lesbians. Gabrielle’s scrolls exemplified subtext, not main text.” She said, trying to rile her aunt.
“Subtext my ass.” Janice huffed. “They bathed together, slept together, kissed each other on more than one occasion, called each other soul mates, only slept with ONE man each after meeting each other, and then there was that whole “Eve has two mommies” thing. They were lovers and you know it. You just like to razz me about it.”
“I think the point was that I wasn’t bringing the bat along for softball practice.”
“You know Sarah, and I say this with all the love in my heart, there is no one better for this job simply because if you aren’t persuasive enough to get the desired results, you can always drive them to the brink of insanity and simply lead them down your desired path.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment. Now, where’s the stone. We need to do this before I come to my senses.” She had replaced it earlier that morning in between breakfast and Janice’s morning shower, but still decided to ask where it was for good measure.
Janice moved to the desk, grabbed the chronos stone and placed it in Sarah’s hand. She watched as the young girl’s gaze sharpened on the stone and couldn’t tell if her expression was one of sadness or anger. After a few seconds Sarah started to speak.
“Listen, we both know that a million things could go wrong here.” She saw Janice beginning to interrupt her and halted the older woman’s words. “No, stop Aunt Jan, just listen. If something goes wrong and I don’t come back, or in the worst case scenario I end up screwing up the future, I want you to know that I take full responsibility for all of it. We all choose our path in life and we’re both about to see where mine takes me. But no matter what I love you and I’ll fight hard to come home.”
Janice paused for a second and looked into Sarah’s eyes.
“Sarah, I don’t know why, but I get the feeling that this was always meant to be. That every single step you’ve taken has led you to this point. I don’t know what lies in store for you baby, but whatever it is seems like it has to happen. Do you feel that at all?”
Sarah smirked, trying to forget something very similar she’d heard the night before. “I think you understand me well enough to know that indecision is my constant companion, and this is no different. I don’t know if this is the right thing to do. What I do know is what I’ve decided to do, and that’s my jumping off point.” She looked at the stone in her hands and turned it so she could see every angle. “Now how’s this gonna feel?” She asked with a glance to the older woman, still playing the novice.
Janice’s face was enough to tell Sarah that she was not going to like this experience. Her mouth formed some kind of half smirk yet her brow furrowed in trepidation.
“That bad, huh?” The young woman smiled and shook her head. “Guess I should be glad I was too anxious to eat much breakfast.”
“Do you have everything?” Janice asked.
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure I do.” She replied habitually patting down the long coat that she would need for the Japanese winter.
“Ok, remember, when you’re talking to Xena be firm so as to earn her attention, but submissive so she doesn’t see you as a threat. She’ll be a dangerous warlord when you first meet her and we don’t want to chance you dying and her obtaining the stone. If you think you could possibly screw up the world, imagine what would happen if she figured out how to use it.”
“I got it, I got it.” Sarah said. “Pander to her, but take advantage of her grief stricken state. You really don’t have to worry. With my charm and wit I’ll have her buying me drinks by the end of the night.” The last part was stated with mock assurance.
“Yeah, well there won’t be any drinks until after she gets those damn ashes to their proper resting place. Seriously Sarah that is the breaking point. Do not let the villagers destroy that urn.”
“Relax Aunt Jan; I have it all under control. And so what if I don’t. Failure at this point honestly won’t matter much as far as our lives are concerned and you are just going to have to take it as what was meant to be.” She moved in to hug the older woman. “I love you, but I really do need to go before I lose my nerve.”
Janice hugged her back with an intensity that Sarah didn’t know her old muscles had.
“Please be careful.” She said as a worry lines knitted her already wrinkled brow. “If I lose you all I’ll have left is Jake. You wouldn’t want me to have to deal with him alone, would you?”
The remark earned a mirthful grunt from Sarah, but she did not respond to the question.
“Step back Aunt Jan. I’ll be home before you know it.” She said as the older woman moved away.
Sarah breathed deeply and looked deep into the stone for what felt like the thousandth time. I just had to see what was in that other room. Stupid green hunk of rock. She thought to herself. Here we go.
And with that she softly started speaking the incantations. Just as with last night knowing what was going to happen did nothing to help the sickness forming in her stomach. She was also beginning to believe that because she was traveling further back in time the experience was much more intense. To put it bluntly; traveling with the stone was a bitch. But it worked, for soon she was face down in a snow bank.
If the urge to vomit hadn’t been so strong she would have simply laid there for a few seconds in worship of the ground; but that was not in the cards. She pushed herself up on her hands and knees as her stomach heaved and forced its contents onto the cold snow. Sarah’s body was so shaken that it continued to retch well after there was nothing left to come out. The dry heaving made her eyes water and her breath ragged, but it too finally came to an end. She ran a hand over her mouth and took in as much cool air as she could. The whole experience was so violent that she never even heard the footsteps in the snow moving closer to her back.
What she did hear was the sword unsheathing itself and swiftly moving to rest on her neck.
“I’ll take whatever’s left of what you’ve been drinking.” The female voice said calmly, but with a chilling strength.
Sarah started breathing hard and the racing of her heart could probably be heard by the stranger. Oh shit, what do I do? That stupid fucking stone sends me right to a road brigand. She searched the snowy landscape as if somehow it would have an answer that would keep her alive. Screw it; I’ve got a small bottle of Jack in my pouch. I’ll just give it to her and maybe she’ll take it and go.
“I have a bottle in my bag. Take the sword off of me and I’ll get it for you.” She said, the Greek words flowing from her tongue as if she’d been speaking them since birth. Her accent was all over the place and she knew it, but it really didn’t seem to matter at this particular moment.
Before she knew it the woman was roughly turning her around and pushing her to sit in the snow. Her sharp sword now pointed at Sarah’s breast as she began to speak again.
“Who says I’m not gonna take your bag too?” She said chillingly.
Sarah’s eyes ran over the length of the sword, up to the bracered hands, the long furs and, at last, the chiseled face. It was the blue eyes that finally caused her own to stop. She swallowed hard as she forced her voice to work.
“Xena?” She said with as much timidity as wonder.
The tall attacker simply studied her prey for a moment then responded.
“That’s right.” She said as her lips moved to form a feral grin.
To be continued…
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