Copyright: The characters of Xena: Warrior Princess are owned by MCA/Universal and used here without permission. References to a certain theory of immortality belong to Davis/Panzer Productions. Everything else is mine.
Warnings: This story depicts a love/sexual relationship between two consenting adult women. This story depicts scenes of sexual violence and/or their aftermath. There are several expletives as well, though I've done my best to not let them get too out of hand. There are standard scenes of violence wherever Xena is concerned. This story has references to drugs/alcohol. There are a lot of references to the Christian religion and fanaticism. In no way am I implying that all of this religious following are nutcases. It's simply used as the prevailing religion of the area and history involved. My apologies in advance to any who are offended by my depictions. If you are under the age of consent, leave. If it's illegal where you are currently residing, move. If any of these things upset you, run - don't walk - to the nearest exit.
Part I: Friday
She blearily opened her green eyes, wincing as the bright lights drilled sharp daggers into her head. As consciousness returned, she could feel the recurrence of her aches and pains moving to the forefront.
She was tightly bound by thick ropes, lying on her side on a cold concrete floor. The ropes were wrapped tightly about ankles and wrists, another connecting them behind her and making it impossible for her to stretch out. She was naked and, where the ropes touched, she was chafed raw. Another length of the rope was wrapped around her head, firmly filling her mouth much as a horse's bit and reins. Again, the tender flesh of her lips and face were severely abraded and she was unable to close her mouth or properly swallow, causing a constant drool to crust her chin.
Her injuries also caused pain - there were whip marks on the front of her legs and stomach. She thought she might have a couple of broken ribs and definitely a broken finger from her abortive escape attempt earlier. The pièce de résistance was the brand that her captor had burned into her forehead - the sign of a cross.
Her prison was a small five by five room of concrete. Overhead were the floorboards of another level, so she assumed she was in a basement. Only one door and no windows, making escape almost impossible. It was after her one and only attempt and subsequent beating that she had been trussed up like a turkey for the pot. And now that she was on the dirty floor, she noticed the signs of previous occupants - rust colored stains and the faint smell of copper.
She didn't know how long it had been since she had originally awakened in her prison. Was it yesterday...? The day before...? She shook her head and bit back a groan at the throbbing that resulted. She didn't even know if there were others like her down here.
Her lover had been with her at an up and coming little bar called, in this day of retro-fashion, Whiskey-A-Go-Go. There had been many other people present, straights as well as gays. All in all, it had a party atmosphere and the night had been going well. At one point, she and her lover became the apple of the patrons' eyes as they whirled about a vacated dance floor to a spicy little salsa tune. She remembered the blush that had crept across her fair cheeks when the patrons had all applauded and cheered at the two when they finished.
At some point, feeling pleasantly buzzed from the alcohol, she had wandered off to the bathroom, her lover keeping an eye on their table and drinks. As she had entered, another woman brushed past her in the doorway with a smile. She could feel the presence of another person behind her and then everything had gone black. She had awoken alone in her prison, blood matting her red hair where her attacker had struck, a vicious headache her only companion.
The woman's stomach clenched at the sound of footfalls outside the door. She held her breath with vain hopes dashed as she heard the rattle of keys in the lock. And then the door opened.
"Are you prepared to repent your sins and take God into your heart, harlot?" the voice demanded.
Thinking to appease her captor, she nodded her head in vigorous assent, despite the pounding in her temples.
Her captor's eyes narrowed, not trusting the sudden turnaround. "You're lying," the dark clad figure growled, stepping into the small room, a Bible in one hand and a crucifix around the throat. "You are beyond redemption. You're scandalous public activities need to be punished."
She shook her head in the negative with some force, eyes wide as sweat broke out on her brow despite the coolness of the room.
There was a low chuckle as a knife appeared in her captor's other hand. The figure knelt down beside her and she realized that the edges of the Bible pages were stained with the same rust color as the floor of her prison. "For I am the Punisher, given new life by God to root out evil. Saint Peter will hear your confession, child, and your blood will be cleansed as it flows with the blood of Christ." The knife moved closer.
She felt the scream's beginnings as it welled up from deep inside her chest.
sharp rap to ribs, eyes open. green eyes before her, seeing herself.... no.... seeing her progeny. voice muttering. face melting like candlewax, oozing and dripping. screaming as the creature's mouth opened, laughing. it's mouth approaching hers, screaming into it.
screaming forever and ever, her voice filling her ears, its tongue filling her mouth. ripping, tearing of her nipple, the ring yanked out. warm blood, hot mouth, teeth. her screams silent, still echoing through a silent warehouse. creature doing things to her, bruising her, cutting her, ripping out clumps of hair, ravaging her. evil thoughts of blood and skinning and cannibalism and evisceration.
cradled in strong arms, pale eyes above. Xena. safety. love. sensations of being rocked, leather and denim reflections.
The redhead surged up out of her nightmare with a gasp, sitting forward and breathing heavily. It took a few seconds longer before her surroundings registered with her senses and her frantic heartrate began to subside. She realized that she was clutching a warm hand and could feel another one rubbing her back in a soothing motion. With a final deep breath, she looked to her right and into pale eyes. They see my soul.
"It's okay, I've got ya," Xena Amphipoulis said in a low voice. She moved her left hand from her lover's back and up to brush errant redgold hair away from her sleepy face. "It was just the nightmare again."
Rickie Gardner nodded with a weary sigh and sat back in her chair. She used her free hand to rub at the sleep in her eyes. "Sometimes, being a dreamer ain't all it's cracked up to be." She grinned slightly at her companion when she heard the low chuckle.
"No, it's not."
And then, Xena was speaking softly with the flight attendant. The younger woman looked out the window at the passing clouds, wrapped up in her thoughts.
It had been just over three months since the Great Dartmouth Caper, as she called it. And the nightmares that had begun as a nightly ritual had tapered off a bit to only three or four times a week. More four than three, she snorted to herself. But, at least, she couldn't see it during her waking moments anymore. Not without a little concentration. The first month had been the worst, little things triggering sudden flashbacks of ferocious intensity. Of course, the doctors had told the two women that it had a lot to do with the drug that had been pumped into her system and, as time went on, the flashbacks would lessen. They had been right.
There had been a lot of hoopla with the law after she was released from the hospital. Good thing I didn't have any wants or warrants! I'd still be in the can! And Xena had been with her every step of the way. In fact, their friend, Emil Holt, had confided later that the dark woman hadn't left the hospital the entire time that Rickie had been in it. And, after a lengthy interview with the District Attorney, she had been released with a stern warning to stay away from strangers. Rickie chuckled to herself. Depends on your definition of 'strange,' I guess. Can't get any stranger than an Immortal pegged as a serial killer and a teenager with delusions of a past life in ancient Greece.
Since all the principles were dead, having met their messy end with the untimely intervention of the 'Headhunter' serial killer of Portland, their main witness remembering nothing from her time being drugged to the gills, and the secondary witness - Holt - having seen no one, no charges had been filed. She was not required to go to trial and testify. There was nobody to testify against. Fine by me, too, she rambled. It had given her the opportunity to reacquaint herself with her love and heal from the mental and emotional damage. And it had been so nice to get her jaw unwired last month!
Rickie felt pressure on her hand, bringing her out of her reverie.
"Here's some juice," Xena said, handing the other woman a small plastic cup. "You missed breakfast, but I held back a cinnamon roll for ya."
As if on cue, the redhead's stomach rumbled. She grinned and accepted the cup, enjoying the tang of oranges as she sipped. "Thanks." As she unwrapped the plastic from the roll, she asked, "Are we there, yet?"
Xena chuckled. "No, not yet. Another hour or so. The flight attendant says it's clear skies around Frankfurt, so you'll be able to see it as we land."
"Oh, cool!" Rickie said eagerly, fairly dancing in her first class plane seat. "This is sooo great! Have I thanked you for this, yet?"
"For the roll.... Yes." Said with a smirk.
"No," the younger woman said, rolling her emerald eyes expressively. "For the trip, silly."
"Oh! The trip!" Xena narrowed her eyes in thought, a smile teasing her lips. "Depends on what you mean by 'thanks.' You've thanked me," and her voice dropped an octave, "but you haven't thanked me, yet."
Rickie blinked at the sudden onslaught of arousal that pervaded her system. God, just her voice turns me on! she marveled for the umpteenth time. She swallowed a bit of roll, taking a sip of juice to get it past her dry throat. "Well, when we get to the hotel, remind me to do that," she responded, licking her lips.
"Mmmm. I will. Count on it." There was a grumbling noise, and Xena smiled. "Eat. When we get to the airport, we'll have breakfast before we get the car." She watched her lover blush slightly and get back to work on the cinnamon roll.
The dreams worried the dark woman, their intensity and prevalence a concern. Thank the gods they've lessened somewhat. At least she gets decent sleep a couple of nights a week, she thought.
For Xena's part, the last three months had been a healing experience as well. Her healing was one of millennia, however, of centuries being alone, alienated from all but other Immortals. And she still had a long way to go with that recovery. A lot of that first month had been spent cuddling Rickie as she thrashed at night, gentle support and encouragement, and telling stories to the younger woman. And that was where Xena's recuperation lie - answering her lover's questions about the strange memories she had from her previous time in Greece.
The redhead's memories had been induced by the drugs that had been forcefully administered by her attacker. But, memories they were, not hallucinations. And they were scattered and incomplete. As time went on, Rickie would have further dreams, catch more glimpses of the ancient past, and awaken with questions on her lips. As the dark warrior answered these questions, her own heart became firmer in the knowledge that this was indeed her heart, her love once again. And, even though she knew that Rickie would grow old and die as Gabrielle had done, she was grateful for her presence and the chance to deepen their relationship.
There were so many things I hadn't done or said to Gabrielle.... I won't make that mistake again. She watched her lover finish off the cinnamon roll with a flourish. Gods, I love her!
Once the her jaw had been unwired, she had done what was expected and eaten Xena out of house and home. That first day of masticating freedom had seen the couple traversing the city in search of all the fast food restaurants and diners that they could find.
And, when they returned to the warehouse, Rickie had found a surprise from Emil - her entire wishlist of food had been picked up at the store and put away for her consumption. Surprised she didn't gain seventy pounds, Xena snorted, pale eyes traveling a comfortable path across her lover's limber body.
The dark woman hoped this vacation would do some good to the teenager beside her. Get her out of the Portland area, away from the memories a bit. Their itinerary consisted of four days in Munich at the Oktoberfest followed by at least three days in London. There was a special reason for going to London - the Dartmouth estate auction was going to occur next Tuesday and this was Xena's chance to retrieve the chakram that had been taken from her nearly a thousand years ago. After their London stay, who knew where they would end up. Xena had no plans to return to the states for at least a month.
Rickie wiped her sticky fingers on a paper napkin, successfully smearing and blotting the cinnamon and sugar concoction further onto her hands. With a sigh, she abandoned that activity and worked on licking her fingers clean.
"Need any help with that?" Xena asked, leaning forward and turning in her seat to block the view from the aisle.
"Umm...." she mumbled over her finger. "Sure." She felt a warm hand take hers and guide it towards those beautiful lips. Rickie closed her eyes at the sensations of warmth and wetness on her fingers as the woman proceeded to clean them off. A small moaning sigh escaped her lips as she imagined those lips, that tongue elsewhere. "Oh, you're a cruel woman," she murmured, opening green eyes.
With a final nibble and a kiss on the palm, the dark woman smiled and said, "Yes, I am."
Rickie stuck her tongue out and retrieved her hand. She wadded up the napkin and plastic wrap, setting it inside the empty cup. "I've got to go to the bathroom before the seatbelt sign goes up," she said, squirming a bit.
Her lover made room for her to squeeze by, brushing a hand down a shapely rear and along the back of a thigh. With an evil grin, she said, "Need any help with that?" She received a mock stern look and a slap on the shoulder.
"No, you lech!" Rickie smirked in return, imagining a sign reading, If This Plane's A-Rockin', Don't Bother Knockin'. She leaned over and whispered into Xena's ear, "Besides, not enough time.... Maybe on the way back....?" And she was gone.
The dark woman watched her go, enjoying the sway of her lover's hips as she made her way down the aisle to the bathrooms at the front of the first class cabin. She blew out a breath. Down girl! Glancing to her right, she noticed her neighbor across the aisle watching Rickie, as well. The man's blue-grey eyes flicked to her and held.
With a slight smile, he nodded his dark head at the warrior. "A very beautiful young woman. You're lucky." He spoke with a slightly Gaelic accent.
Xena nodded in return, eyes narrowed a bit in suspicion. "Thank you, I am." She expected some further chit chat, small talk created so that the man could insinuate himself into her surroundings, but nothing happened. He simply nodded again and returned his attentions to his laptop computer. And then, Rickie returned and her interests were diverted pleasantly elsewhere.
She failed to see the man look up from his computer, brow furrowed, studying the smaller woman that was with her.
"Oh, that was radical!" Rickie exclaimed excitedly as the plane slowed and turned towards the Rhein-Main-Flughafen. "Have I told you I've never been in a plane before?"
"Hmmm.... About a dozen times in the last nine hours," Xena responded dryly. "That's the longest flight I've ever been on." She grunted in mock pain from the small hand that slapped her stomach before grinning at the redhead's enthusiasm.
Eventually, the plane stopped and a gate was extended from the large building. As soon as the seatbelt lights went off, the dark woman rose to retrieve their carry on baggage from above. Rickie waited patiently, nose to the window, peering at the airline workers below and the people inside the terminal staring back.
It still feels like a dream, the redhead thought as she was the airline workers begin unloading the luggage from the belly of the plane. I'm actually in Europe! And watching the ground so far away getting closer and closer.... That was cool! She couldn't wait to have some time to write about it in her notebook. Rickie felt a nudge and looked up to see her backpack floating in the air beside her. "Thanks."
"No problem... Whaddya got in there, anyway? Rocks?" Xena continued digging in the overhead compartment, retrieving a somewhat lighter backpack and their jackets.
"Nope. No rocks. Books."
"Books?" The dark woman cocked an eyebrow at the teenager. "Why books? You don't think you're going to have time to read, do you?" Her pale blue eyes became hooded as she gave Rickie a searing look that took the younger woman's breath away.
The redhead grinned lecherously in response. "Well, not that much time anyway," she said in a low voice. "But, I wanted to get some studying in before my GED testing next month."
Xena nodded in response. "Okay. If you want, I'll be glad to help you study."
"Cool, Xena. That'd be great!" She was interrupted by the flight attendant's thank you speech followed by directions on debarking from the plane. Being in first class has its benefits, she thought. First ones on and first ones gone!
Xena rose to leave, looking at the dark haired man across the aisle who was also preparing to go. With a slight smile and a nod, he gestured for her to go first. Not understanding her discomfiture with him, she nevertheless heeded her gut feeling by stepping into the aisle and guiding Rickie out in front of her, keeping herself between the redhead and the stranger. She didn't see the small grin that played across the man's face.
The two made their way out of the plane and down the long hall towards the waiting area. As they emerged, the crowd surrounding the gate started buzzing with the anticipation of seeing loved ones, meeting business partners, and so on. It was a jumble of faces and colors and languages that Rickie tried to take in, committing it to memory and a later chance to enter it in her journal.
Once past the crowd, Xena took the younger woman by the arm. "Let's get you fed before we pick up the baggage." She steered Rickie down the concourse, past little shops and stalls.
Pointing at a transit system, Rickie asked, "What's that?"
"The Skyline. It connects this terminal with the other one."
"The other one? There's more than one terminal here?" She rolled expressive green eyes. "Wow. It's about the same size as O'Hare then?" I thought that airport was huge!
Xena shook a dark head. "No. O'Hare's bigger. This one's about a third of that." Seeing what she was looking for, she made her way towards a sign that said, Käfer's Bistro. "Here we go!"
The man trailed the women to the small restaurant, computer case in hand. He wore a double breasted grey suit, the black shirt buttoned to the neck and no tie. Moving a little further past as the two were seated inside, he made his way to the Telefon. He set the computer down just inside the stall and picked up the handset.
And he watched them as he talked to no one.
It was another two hours before the pair were able to pull out onto the Autobahn from the airport. Rickie had eaten her fill as well as Xena's at the bistro. They had then gone to the baggage claim and picked up their bags.
About the only trouble they had had was at customs. The young officer there had insisted on Xena opening up a long slender case. His eyes had bugged at the sight of the sword nestled in grey foam.
"What is this? A sword?" he had asked sternly. "I cannot allow it into the country."
Xena had produced a business card and license proclaiming her ownership of a business dealing in antiquities and specialising in ancient weapons. "I'm stopping over here before heading for a London auction."
"I still cannot allow it into the country," he had insisted in a stubborn tone. He had reached to shut the case, only to have it removed from his hands.
Before the officer could open his mouth to protest, the dark woman had begun speaking in rapid German. Rickie hadn't a clue what was being said, but the look on the man's face had been priceless. The young man had gone from outraged to angry to shocked and finally stopped at trepidation.
Xena had been allowed to take her sword into the country.
"What did you say to that guard, anyway?" the redhead asked from the passenger seat as they cruised along.
The dark woman shrugged with a smirk. "I explained the letter of the law to him. Then demanded to speak with his supervisor." Xena glanced over at her lover. "I had the right of it and he didn't want an internal investigation."
Rickie reached over and took the warrior's calloused hand, holding it in her own. "So, you know German, do you? Are there any other languages you know?"
"Some. German, French, Old Norse, an obscure dialect of a long dead people from the Amazons, Greek, Russian, Mandarin, Spanish.... I can understand some Gaelic and a few African dialects, but not enough to carry on a conversation."
"Jeez," the redhead mumbled. "I have a tough enough time with English."
Xena laughed. "Well, when I was your age, youngster, I had a tough enough time with Greek!"
The younger woman chuckled. "Nineteen." She pursed her lips in thought, trying to catch the memory. "When you were nineteen you were leading an army, weren't you?"
The driver nodded slowly, smile fading. "Yes. And not a pleasant one, at that. That was the beginning of the dark ages for me." A face floated before her in her mind's eye. M'lila.
"Um..." Rickie rubbed her thumb across the back of her lover's hand. "What was Gabrielle doing at nineteen?"
Another face came to her mind. Red gold hair, kind emerald eyes, beautiful smile. "She was saving my life, showing me the error of my ways, teaching me the joys of living without vengeance and anger and hatred." She trapped the smaller hand in her own and lifted it to her lips. "And I thank her for it every day."
Despite herself, Rickie blushed and smiled. "I love you, warrior-mine."
Xena soundly kissed the hand she held before letting it go. "And I love you, Dreamer."
Approximately three hours later, they pulled up in front of a small hotel named Hotel an der Nockherstrasse in Munich. Rickie stood outside the hotel, staring at the sign with her hands on her hips.
"Well, that's a mouthful," she grumped. "Hope I don't get lost."
Xena climbed out of the rental and shut the door, joining her. "Just don't break your jaw again pronouncing it."
"Oh, har de har har, miss smartass," the redhead sneered. "Just wait.... Payback's a bitch, ya know."
The dark woman grinned and wrapped an arm around Rickie's waist. "I know it. I've met her before." She gave her lover a warm hug. "Let's go get our room, lady."
Rickie soaked up the scent of the dark woman, secure in the strong arms that held her firmly. "Yeah. Let's go get our room. I have to thank you for this trip," she murmured, snuggling close. Her lips quirked in a small smile at the shiver she felt running through the lanky form she held.
"I'm gonna have to take you on trips more often," Xena said, reluctantly pulling away. "C'mon, lady." The dark woman led Rickie into the hotel.
Several minutes passed. And then a dark haired gentleman in a grey double breasted suit idled down the sidewalk, computer case in hand. As he neared the women's rental car, he pulled out a handkerchief and wiped his nose, dropping it beside the rear wheel well. He knelt to pick it up, using his body to block his actions from the hotel windows. A hand reached out and a small electronic device was placed firmly against the metal inside the wheel well.
And then he stood and moved away, carefully tucking his handkerchief back into his pocket.
It was apparent to Rickie that the owner of the hotel, Helmut Bueroße, was a good friend of her lover's. When the craggy little man caught sight of the dark woman he let out a holler, startling a young couple from their conversation at a table in the lobby, and rushed from behind the counter. The response was a warm hug and lots of gibberish that the redhead couldn't even begin to follow.
Xena introduced him and he gave her a wide smile and a huge bear hug. "Willkommen, junge Dame! I am happy to have you here."
"Um.... danke...?" Rickie said, a faint question on the pronunciation. She grinned at the dark woman's nod of encouragement. "I'm pretty happy to be here."
In a matter of minutes, they were checked in and Helmut was helping them bring their luggage up to their room. He unlocked their door and ushered them in, pausing only long enough to throw open the curtains before he brought their bags in from the hall and placed them on the luggage racks. "Bitte, may I have your auto keys, Xena?"
The dark woman smiled and escorted him out of the room, handing the rental keys over for the car to be parked. "Vielen dank, Helmut. It's good to see you again."
The old man chuckled. "Is gut to see you, too, Xena." And he closed the door softly behind him, eyes twinkling.
"He seems like a nice man."
Xena turned from the door with a smile. "He is. His family's run this hotel for a couple of generations." She moved further into the room, looking around idly. "He's a lot like his grandfather."
Rickie shook her head in amusement. She stepped over to the bed and studied it curiously. "What are these? Mattresses?"
Joining her, the dark woman looked down. "Down padding. You can use it as a mattress if you want. It's also really warm and makes a good cover." She bent and plucked at the thick coverlet. She felt arms wrap around her waist as she straightened up, suddenly finding a very amorous woman in her arms.
"I think you make a good cover," Rickie murmured, kissing and nibbling her lover's throat and neck. "You always keep me really warm."
Xena ran slow hands over the smaller woman's shoulders and back, enjoying the feeling of their bodies melting together. "Mmmm. You're not so bad yourself, Rick," she breathed. Wrapping a hand in red hair, she leaned in for a kiss, their lips barely brushing together. A soft moan escaped her as Rickie deepened it, nipping at her lower lip and demanding entry.
The two women sank down to the bed, oblivious to the open curtains.
Crackle of long distance phone lines.
"I was late to the airport. I didn't catch them." Slightly sheepish.
A snort of laughter. "She's good, my friend, but not that good."
"There was a major accident on the Autobahn! I didn't get there in time."
"So, that's why you're calling me? To give you some hints?"
Another sound of laughter. "She's going to be staying at the Hotel an der Nockherstrasse. It's a small one in Munich. She knows the family there." Pause. "Some Watcher you are."
"Hey! Cut me some slack, Emil!"
"Go find her, my friend. Do your duty to God and whatever country you care to name. I'm going to eat dinner, watch a little tv, and go to bed."
"G'night, Emil... Thanks!"
"Night, Paul." Click.
The Watcher hung up the Rhein-Main-Flughafen Telefon and headed for the car rentals. They only had a four hour head start on him. He should make it by the middle of the afternoon. He stopped for a quick bite at McDonald's.