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
Xena sat awake on the bed and watched the young woman cuddled up under her arm. It had been a long day for the young woman and she was now sleeping peacefully. The warrior, on the other hand, had not slept at all. She glanced at the clock. The digital figures stated 10:23 a.m. It had been almost four in the morning when Holt had left and she and Rickie had had a chance to go to bed.
Xena grabbed the picture from the table and held it before her eyes. Of all the possible items on the Titanic, the expedition had found her breast plate. She had had it in her trunk. The brass plate had saved her life numerous times, before she became aware of her immortality. Even after that she had kept wearing it. It was a part of her. She had always kept it in pristine order. Then, one day, she had just neglected it. It had been a day when she had lost interest in everything. On that day she had decided to isolate herself from the world.
Aww, crap! Might as well hit the shower. She slid carefully off from her lovers touch. The honey haired woman let out a silent whine but kept on sleeping. Xena headed for the shower. She turned the water on. The cold water stung her skin and shook the tiredness off from her. She just stood under the running water for a while, before she started to wash up.
Emil Holt stared the red eyes in the mirror. He was having a hell of migraine and not just because he had slept only six hours. He was already late from work and the cold bacon and eggs on the kitchen room table just did not seem to wake his appetite. Well, at least Marjorie had made him some breakfast, before she left to work. Holt certainly had not given her any reason to do that by coming home at five a.m. I have to make it up to her. Maybe a romantic dinner in the candlelight. Send the kids to their grandparents
Holt thought about the story that the dark haired warrior had told him and Rickie last night. That made the Cameron flick look like a rowing trip in a pond. Xena was a better storyteller than she liked to admit. That was not the issue, though. The fact that this kind of incident had remained in secrecy from them almost a hundred years, was not good at all. How many years had she actually spent in isolation? Were there other trips that the Watchers did not know about? Well have to do some serious digging from that period. Its going to be a hell of a job.
Then there was the warriors breast plate. He recalled the conversation with Xena about seven hours ago.
"You know, youre going to owe me big time for this," the raven haired woman had said.
"Sure, ask me anything," he had answered lightly.
"Okay, I need to know the whereabouts of my breast plate," she had continued.
"B- but.. I.." The request had took him by surprise.
"No buts. It should not be too hard with your resources," she had stated.
"Okay, I can do some digging," Holt had promised.
"Ill let you know."
She obviously wanted the plate back. There was no doubt about it. The question was, how far would Xena go in order to get it back? She was well known for letting the end justify the means. Just don't do anything stupid, now.
Holt took the razor blade and the shaving foam and began the every morning task. Its a good thing that Ive worked hours in, he thought.
The cool wind waved the dark hair of the warrior gently. It was well past midday and the sun had started its descent on the cloudless sky. Xena was standing on the rooftop of her warehouse and her eyes followed idly the afternoon traffic. Her thoughts were far from idle, though. Emil would probably locate her plate. Then what? In any case she could not plead for her ownership over it. Yeah, right. That breast plate you have. It's mine. I had it with me on the Titanic and I want it back. She could only smile at the thought. They would probably lock me into loony bin and throw away the key. If it was in someone's private collection then, buying the plate might come in question. If it was in a public exhibition, then buying the plate was out, leaving only one alternative. She knew over a dozen of professional thieves who owed her another dozen of favours. Those guys knew their profession. The missing plate would never be traced to her.
The real question was, did she want the plate that badly? There was always a possibility that something would go wrong and she would have to pay the consequences. Otherwise she would not be too worried, but now she had Rickie to think about. She did not want to get them in a situation where their relationship would be in danger.
She turned to look at the woman in question. Rickie was sunbathing topless on a folding sun chair and listening to her Walkman. The sight made a warm sensation flow through the warrior's body. My Dreamer, words aren't enough to describe how much I love you.
"I'm just a giirl!" An off note interpretation of Gwen Stefani shook the warrior off her thoughts. Well that's one of the things she and Gabrielle have in common, she thought.
"What are you smiling?" Rickie opened her eyes and looked at the dark haired woman standing by the railing.
"Do you have any idea, how sexy you look when you're lying like that?" Xena asked.
"No, but I'm sure you're going to tell me, oh Warrior mine," Rickie answered.
"Better than that, I'm going to show you." The warrior walked to her and their lips merged in a sensual kiss.
Xena lifted the young woman up in her arms and headed toward the roof.
"See you tomorrow," Holt waved to detective Alyssa Davenport when he passed her desk.
"Not if I see you first," the blond short haired detective answered to him. Both smiled. The fresh detective had been assigned to Holt's partner a month ago. They came along just fine and made a good team. Both were married and they had no problem keeping their relationship at professional level. A couple of beers perhaps after work but nothing besides that.
Holt headed towards his car. Unbelievable! He actually left work in time. He would be home before Marjorie. He opened the car door and threw his briefcase on the front seat. There was one thing to do, though. Emil touched the fax sheet in his breast pocket. Xena ain't going to be too happy about this, but I did my best. He turned the key.
"I know this is not going to help you much, but even our resources have their limits," Emil said to the dark haired woman.
"You did your best. Thanks anyway." Xena did not let her disappointment show. "I can do some digging of my own based on this."
"Well I'm off to spent some quality time with the family. Let me know, how it turns out," the detective said.
"Sure and thanks."
"No problem, give my best to Rickie."
"I will, bye!" Xena closed the door behind him.
She looked at the fax sheet. An investment company had funded the expedition to Titanic. Some of the retrieved items had been sold to silent partners that remained anonymous. That included the brass breast plate. This sure wasn't much. Holt could not have access to the company records without a warrant. She'd have to use her own resources.
She walked to her weapon collection. Between the swords and daggers was her chakram. She looked at the shiny disc. It had took her over thousand years to retrieve it and even then it has been merely good luck.
Xena looked at the darkening horizon. The scarlet shade reminded her about another evening.
Northern Atlantic, April 13th, 1912
The sunset gave the ocean a beautiful crimson tone. Xena inhaled the cool sea air and let her glance rest on the sight. She really did not feel like joining those swaggering snobs in the dining room. She had been invited to join dinner at the captain's table. Refusing would not have been acceptable. The other guests were aristocrats and members of old and respected families who considered Xena as new money and thus took her arrogantly. She had confronted those kind of people every now and then during her long lasting life. The time and scene might be different but the arrogant bastards were all the same. Well, she had ways to deal with them.
The warrior walked to dining room entrance. A doorman let her in.
"Good evening to you, madam," the young man addressed her.
"Merci," she replied.
The dining room lounge itself described the luxury of the Titanic. A wide landing surrounded the high lounge. On one side the stairs descended to the dining room. The ceiling was piece of art with the window panes arranged neatly into the round frame. This sure was something compared to the scruffy merchant ships that she had got used to.
"Ah, Mrs d'Amphipolis! And how are we on this pleasant evening?" A man in his thirties spoke to her.
"Oh, Monsieur Andrews! Good evening!" She smiled to him. She had been introduced to the chief engineer last evening and found him very polite and well mannered.
"Would you give me the honour to escort you to the table?" Andrews asked.
"Why, certainly," the raven haired woman grabbed the offered arm.
She followed him to the captain's table. Some people were already sitting around the large table. Xena recognised most of them. On one side was John Jacob Astor with his young wife. On the other side was Bruce Ismay, the representative of White Star Lines. Next to him was Lady Alice Tremayne, the daughter of the late sir Charles Tremayne. She was well over her forties and a known old maid. Opposite to her was Winston Callagher who had reputation of being a playboy and a womaniser. Something in him made Xena feel disgust. Last but not least was captain Smith who stood up to welcome the newcomers.
"Mrs d'Amphipolis, Mr Andrews, I'm glad you could join us," the robust, white bearded captain said.
"It was very kind of you to invite me," the dark haired warrior answered. She managed easily to keep up with her act. I guess I have more skills than I thought.
The dinner was served and only few comments were changed until it was time for coffee. The conversation began as lady Tremayne made her first attempt against the dark warrior.
"I see that you have acquaintances among the people in the third class," the older woman made the flat remark.
So that's the game you want to play, huh? The blue eyes flashed a bit. "Oh, Monsieur O'Riordan and I go way back." More than you can imagine, you snob!
"What takes you on this journey, then?" J.J. Astor changed the subject.
"I own a chain of restaurants that I inherited from my parents." Close enough. "I'm going to New York to negotiate about opening a restaurant in there."
"Business world is a tough place for a woman," Callagher stated. "You really need a man by your side."
"And would you be that man?" Xena lowered her tone. "I have to warn you, though. In France I'm known as, how do you say it, a black widow."
"What do you mean by that?" the playboy's bravado shook off a bit.
"I have been married three times and all my husbands have died after a short period. Actually, the inheritance that my latest husband left me, enables me to expand to New York." Xena could hear the playboy gulp.
A silence fell on the table and the warrior used that opportunity to excuse herself.
Gabrielle, what will I do? Am I destined travel around the world alone for eternity? Is this the ultimate price for all the terror I've caused to other people? Xena held a silver necklace in her hands. It presented a small blue opal surrounded by silver ring that was engraved in the same way as her chakram. Gabrielle had had it made for her. The gem was perfect match of the warrior's eyes. The words of the bard were still crystal clear in her mind.
"I want you to carry this with you. That way you'll have a part of me with you, even when we are separated," she had said.
"Thank you, I will," the warrior had answered and kissed her.
Xena put the necklace back on her neck and hung her head.
A sudden knock on the door distracted her. "Who is it?" She asked.
"Madam, I have message for you," a young voice said.
"Just slide it under the door, please."
"Very good, madam." A small envelope appeared under the door.
Xena opened the envelope and read the note inside it. You're far too good for those snobs. Why don't you come pay us a little visit, lass. There was no signature but it wasn't too hard to figure out, who the sender was.
She changed to a black shirt and a pair loose slacks and headed towards the lower decks. She was directed by the music and arrived soon to a small landing by the stairway. People of all ages were gathered there and were singing and dancing and playing games. She made out the tall Irishman.
"Hello there, lass! C'mere and have a pint! I figure dark ale is still your favourite." Seamus waved to the warrior.
"Your memory is as good as ever," Xena answered and took a sip of the dark brew.
She watched the people gathered here. They didn't have much but they were happy. The atmosphere reminded her about the nights in her mother's tavern. You would have loved this, Gabrielle. She could picture the honey haired woman sitting on the table and telling stories to the people gathered around her.
"Your invitation really saved my day, you know. I had had it up to my ears of those 'Oh, I'm so rich and powerful and nothing's too good for me'," she said.
"Thought you might want a little change," the Irishman was saying when a small girl came to him and climbed on his lap.
"I see you have made friends here," the dark woman stated.
"Oh this little rascal? This is Meggan. She is here with her grandfather." He lifted the child high over his head and gave her a little spin before lowering her down gently.
"Hi, I'm Meggan and I'm going to America with my grandpa. What's your name?" The girl asked Xena.
The dark warrior was a bit surprised over the girl's straightforwardness. Usually, children were a bit timid towards her. "Nice to meet you, Meggan. My name is Xena," she said with a warm smile.
"Xena, that's a pretty name. Will you tell me a story?" Meggan asked the raven haired woman when an elderly man approached them.
"Meggan, don't bother the nice lady. Good evening, I'm Martin Collins, Meggan's grandfather," the old man greeted.
"Xena, and there's no trouble. I'd be glad to tell her a story," she said the words before she even thought of them. What did I just say? I'm no storyteller. Gabrielle where are you when I need you the most?
She took the girl on her lap. "Okay, I'm going to tell you about a bard who was also a princess " Gabrielle, this is for you.
Seamus O'Riordan watched the warrior and the girl from a distance. The sight reminded him about a warm and gentle woman that he had loved more than life itself before time had separated them. My sweet, sweet Sarah, I miss you so much. The Irishman walked away silently.