Disclaimers: Go to Part I for disclaimers on this story.
Constructive criticism is always welcome and can be sent to Protek.
Portland, Oregon, present day
Rickie had lived with Xena for some time now and the warrior still kept surprising her. This time it was the range of contacts that Xena had. Rickie was aware that if you were a P.I. then contacts were essential. Sometimes she just felt that almost every person living in Portland owed a favour or two to the dark haired woman.
They were in a small basement room that was located in an old downtown building. The room was filled with computers, monitors, printers, and scanners of which most were on. The walls were posted with pornographic images, some rather kinky. A single air conditioner did its best to cool the inferno that the equipment was causing. A scruffy sofa was on one side of the room. A dirty pillow, a blanket and several empty pizza cases were on it. The smell was nauseating.
The honey haired woman looked at the single inhabitant of the room. He was in his thirties, probably. It was hard to tell because the top of his head was totally bald and what was left of his hair came down on his shoulders. His eyes were deep in his face and surrounded by dark rings. Twisted glasses were resting on his forehead. He was wearing a T-shirt that maybe once had been white and a pair of worn jeans.
"Rickie, I want you meet Jason Cohen. He's my 'lone gunman'," Xena introduced him referring to X-Files.
"Pleased to meet you." Jason offered his hand. His manners were a total opposite to his appearance. "If I'd known that I would be having so charming guests, I would have cleaned up the place."
Rickie took the offered hand. "Likewise," she said. I wonder if you can clean this place up with anything else than TNT.
"Okay, let's get to business. Have you found out anything?" Xena interrupted the compliments.
"Sure, I broke into the company database. They use a double converted modular multiple encrypted--"
"Save me from the techno crap! Just tell me what you found out," the warrior remarked.
"Okay." Cohen was offended. "The company has records of the silent partners. I cross-checked that with the Titanic expedition. It seems that only one of them was involved with that particular project."
"Just one?" Xena asked.
"That's what I said. His name is James Collins. He has been with the company since it was founded in the sixties. It's all in here." He handed her a printout.
"Thanks, you've been a real help." The dark woman turned towards the door.
"Don't mention it. Be in touch. It was nice to meet you, Rickie," he answered.
"You too, Jason. Bye!" Rickie followed the warrior to the door.
"You really know some weird people, oh Warrior mine," she said when they were in Xena's Mustang.
"Jason? He's really quite all right, despite his appearance. We have a little deal: he helps me out in things like this and I keep the local fauna off his back. This isn't the friendliest neighbourhood, you know," the older woman said as she turned the ignition. "Can you see where this James Collins lives?" She handed the printout to her companion.
"Sure, wait a moment Okay, he lives in San Francisco."
"'Frisco..." Xena thought for a moment. "You up to a weekend trip to sunny California, Dreamer?"
"Do you really need to ask?" Rickie said. "I'd travel to North Pole with you."
"Okay, but I really think it's much warmer in 'Frisco," Xena said with an impish grin.
Rickie gave her a punch in the arm.
Xena was going to tickle the young woman but the car phone interrupted her intentions. She pushed a button on the phone. "Hello."
"Emil here," voice in the speakers answered.
"Yeah, what is it?" she asked with a reserved tone.
"Well, I was going to take Marjorie to dinner tonight. There's this new place that serves Indian food. Thought, we'd give it a try. There's one problem though. We were going to send the kids to Marjorie's parents but they have other arrangements. So I was thinking if it would be possible...."
"I have to ask Rickie." Xena turned to her lover who gave her a nod and a smile. "She says it's okay. When do you want us to pick them up?"
"About seven. I can pick them up the next morning."
"I guess you have something special in mind." She smiled.
"Something like that. See you then." The line went silent.
Northern Atlantic, April 14th, 1912
Xena was walking on the deck when she spotted Meggan's grandfather. The old man was leaning on the railing.
"Why, hello there, Xena! Quite a nice evening, don't you think," he said to the warrior.
"It sure is. A bit cool, though," Xena answered.
"I wanted to thank you for spending time with Meggan last night."
"Oh, the pleasure was all mine. Meggan is a sweet child. She reminded me of a very special person." She gazed into distance.
"Poor girl lost her parents in an accident. I'm all she has, now," the old man said.
"Oh, I'm so sorry." Xena could now see the grief in his eyes.
"I have some savings, so we're going to start all over in the States." He gave her a smile.
"I wish you the best of luck," she said. "Say, I was looking for Seamus. Have you seen him?"
"I saw him standing in the rear a moment ago."
"Thank you." She left the old man.
"Hi there, big fella! You retired quite early last night," the warrior said to the Irishman when she found him.
"Yeah, I was a bit tired." He did not turn to face her.
Xena sensed that something was troubling the tall man. "You want to talk about it?" She asked.
Seamus O'Riordan kept watching the sunset. It felt that the silence had lasted almost an eternity before the silent words broke it. "Her name was Sarah. She was only seventeen, when we first met. It was love from the very first moment. She was so kind and intelligent, and my God, I loved every inch in her. We got married and we rented a flat in London. Then, One day she came home and caught a burglar. He he had raped and killed her. The coppers weren't much of help so I did some investigating of my own and found him from the docks. I dealt with him. After that, I couldn't stay in Britain and that's why I'm on this ship." A tear ran down on his cheek.
Xena took his hand in her own.
"Killing her murderer did not help. I still can't understand that she's gone." He hung his head. "I have no reason to live. I'm off to find someone who can defeat me."
"Look, there's something I need to tell you," Xena said to him. "I have spent the last year travelling around the world trying to find my match. I had... someone, who I loved more than life itself. She got older, I didn't. It has been about two thousand years since she died and not a day has gone by that I haven't cursed my blasted immortality."
A silence fell on the deck and they both looked each other in the eye. No words were exchanged. A mutual understanding grew between them.
"Where and when?" The warrior asked.
"Here, when it's dark," the Irishman answered.
Portland, Oregon, present day
"Are they sleeping?" Xena asked when she saw Rickie come down the stairs.
"Like two babies. That Star Wars movie sure wore them out," the younger woman said.
They had picked Isaiah and Jeremy at seven and then stopped at a video rental. The boys had wanted to see Return Of The Jedi. Now, after two hours of motion picture, they were sleeping in the master bedroom.
"You know, you would have made a perfect Jedi, oh Warrior mine," Rickie said with a teasing tone.
"Nah, don't think so. I would have probably ended up as another Darth Vader. I would rather be a scoundrel, like Han Solo," the warrior grinned mysteriously.
"Because then I could have you, my princess." Xena accompanied her words with a kiss on the younger woman's lips.
It was late Friday morning when Emil came to pick up the boys. The expression on his face revealed that the night had been a success.
"I suppose that you two had a pleasant night out," Xena said as she handed the overnight bag to him.
"I could say we had. How did the boys behave?" Holt asked.
"Oh, just fine," the warrior answered.
"I really appreciate this." Holt noticed the two suitcases near the door. "You two going on a trip?"
"Yep, Rickie and I are going to spend the weekend in 'Frisco."
"Business or pleasure?"
"A bit of both, I suppose."
"Well, you two have a nice weekend."
"We will, bye." Xena escorted Holt to the elevator and sent him on his way.
"Are we ready to go?" She asked Rickie, who was carrying one suitcase.
"I think so. I turned everything off so we should be all set up," she answered.
Xena scooped up her own suitcase and called the elevator back upstairs. As they headed down, she said, "Okay, let's put the cases in the trunk and hit the road." She got to the car and opened the trunk.
"I checked the weather report. We should have sunshine all the way down to 'Frisco," Rickie hinted.
"Okay, I'll lower the top but don't be complaining if you catch a cold," Xena said with a maternal tone.
"Yess!" the young woman chuckled.
Northern Atlantic, April 14th, 1912
Xena could feel the cool breeze through her clothing as she was standing on the rear deck of the ocean liner. She was wearing a dark blue loose shirt and black trousers. The black leather of the low heel boots was darker than night. She had her sword in its scabbard leaning against a lonely bench. She looked at the ocean. The surface was dead calm. There was no moon so the only source of light was the few lights on the deck.
The warrior thought about the forthcoming fight. It would be one of the hardest fights she had fought and maybe her last. The odds were pretty much even. Both were ready to accept the end result, whatever it might be. One would get peace of mind and the other would carry on with his or her life, depending on who would win.
She turned to face her opponent. Seamus O'Riordan had arrived on the deck. He unsheathed his sword, so did the warrior.
"We don't have to do this if you want to back out." Seamus made a couple of practise swings.
"Not if you don't," Xena answered, holding her sword firmly.
"Nope, I guess not. Let the better fighter win," the Irishman said.
"There can be only one," the warrior said as a sign of beginning.
Both fighters circled around each other waiting the other make the first move. Both were reluctant to do that because neither was too anxious to win.
"You know, we can't keep doing this all night long," Xena remarked.
"Ladies first," the tall man answered.
The warrior let the taunt pass by, before she made the first attempt. Sparks flew as the two blades hit each other. Almost simultaneously the Irishman moved to a counterattack which Xena easily blocked.
"You have kept in shape, so I notice," Seamus said when they moved in new positions.
"Thanks, so have you," Xena replied.
They were talking quite casually in that context that they were trying to kill each other. Xena somersaulted behind O'Riordan and swung her sword towards his back. However, he managed to turn with the woman and she managed only to cut his arm. He retreated at a safe distance.
"Hey, that was pretty good," Seamus complimented.
"Glad, you liked it."
"Let's see if I'm able to impress you." The tall man made a series of hits and forced Xena to yield.
The heat of battle began to have effect on both of them. Their bloodlust surfaced and they both eagerly accepted it. They were both driven by their most primal instincts and every move was a result of experience and skill combined with those instincts.
Now it was Seamus' turn to draw blood. He managed to get the warrior off balance with two sequential hits and make a deep cut in her thigh with the third. Xena's face twitched in pain but she made no sound. Instead, she made a combination of upper and lower swing and her sword cut through the Irishman's rib.
The battle went on. Both had managed to cause minor wounds to each other but neither was showing any signs of fatigue. They were both concentrated on the battle that they did not notice the slight tremble as the propellers of the ship started to stop its momentum. Only the bump and the hard vibration that followed caught their attention. They both lowered their swords when they saw the enormous iceberg floating them by.