Christmas Sligh

Soul Watchers

by Berlinpup

Disclaimer: Xena and Gabrielle don't belong to me, they're here on vacation. Marla and Sandy do belong to me, and they need a vacation. So do I. No copyright infringement intended and I'm sure I won't make a cent with this.

Language: English ... and lots of four-letter words, like … like, love etc. Otherwise I more or less behaved (I think).

Special Disclaimer: The point of view alternates between the two protagonists, but one chapter is always only one POV.

Chapter 1: It was the nightie before Christmas …

It all began on Christmas Eve. Well, actually it might have begun even earlier, the day my new neighbor moved into the apartment across from me. That was the day I started to practically live attached to my peephole on the off chance that I might see her walking by. Yes, she was that beautiful. And I was that shy.

Christmas Eve was different. I finally had to try and get some work done since the deadline for my new novel was approaching fast and my agent was calling me every other day to ask about my progress. I had tried to drag my computer to the front door, I even had a laptop delivered to make things easier for me, but my writing was effectively hindered by thoughts of her. I was not trying to write erotica. You see, I write mysteries and my protagonist is an elderly lady who solves crimes with the help of her trusty parrot Tobias. No erotica, no way, no no.

So on that particular Christmas Eve I was sitting at my desk, trying to get some work done, when I heard the knock on my door. I went to the door and looked through the peephole to see who was there. What I saw made my heart beat faster, my breathing shallow, and my brain cells ooze out of my ears. There she was. My neighbor. My beautiful neighbor. Dressed. Or not dressed. In a pink nightie. In front of my door. Oh god, oh god, oh god. What now? Open the door, idiot.

I don't really know how long I was just standing there doing nothing when she knocked again. I slowly opened the door. God, she was cute.

"You're adorable."

"Thanks, I think," she said.

I didn't really say that out loud, did I? Please, shoot me now.

"Could I please come in? It's getting kinda cold out here …" She continued, looking more at her bare feet than me.

"Um, yes, yes, of course," I said opening the door as wide as possible. Come in, come into my arms, do you wanna marry me? Stop it. Get your act together! I shook my head to return some semblance of functionality to my brain and pointed vaguely in the direction of my living room. When she walked past me I thought I'd die. I let her walk to the living room and closed the door, trying to get my heartbeat and my body under control again. After what seemed like hours I calmed down and walked after her.

She was standing by the fireplace, warming herself, hands stretched out towards the fire. When she heard me she faced me and smiled at me. What a beautiful smile.

"I know we haven't been properly introduced before, but I think now's as good a time as any." She grinned and looked down at her nightie. "I'm Sandy Myers, your neighbor. And you're … pretty adorable too when you're flustered."

I blushed. "I'm sorry, I don't know what came over me, but you looked so … cute, adorable … standing there in your nightie. It must have just slipped out." I replied. Together with my brain cells. She must think I'm a total dunce.

"Would you like to get out of that nightie?" I heard myself ask. Oh no. "I mean, can I get you something warmer to wear, or a robe or something?" Please let me crawl under the floorboards right now.

She just grinned at me. "Are you always that flustered when somebody knocks on your door?"

No, only when it's you. "I'm not flustered!"

"Sure you are. But don't worry, you're cute when you blush!"

At her words my face turned an ever deeper shade of pink. Not knowing what to say to her I decided to introduce myself. "By the way, I'm Marla Rhodes. And can we please start this conversation again?"

She nodded and I finally calmed down.

"So, what can I do for you? I assume this is not your usual dress for social calls, is it?"

"No, no it isn't." It was her turn to look embarassed. "I managed to lock myself out and was hoping I could call some help from your phone."

Don't ask. Don't ask. Don't … "What were you doing outside in this?" I had to ask, pointing at her nightie.

"Well, I was letting Roger out and somehow the door slammed shut."

Roger? Shit. I would have sworn … "Roger?" I managed out loud.

"My cat."

"Oh, yeah, cat. Good." Oh goodie, Marla the teenage hormone machine is on the loose again. "Ahm, can I get you a robe or something now? You could sit here by the fire while I'm going to try to open your door ..."

"A robe or some sweats would be great, thanks." Sandy said. "And what do you mean, you're going to try and open my door? Can you do that?"

"I have many skills!" I answered over my shoulder on my way to the bedroom to get her some sweats. Yeah, unfortunately none of them could be called social.

Thirty seconds later I handed Sandy some clothes and headed off to my office to get my lock pick. When I started out as a mystery writer I thought it would be a good idea to get some 'tools of the trade', and I spent hours testing them all out.

When I returned to the living room, Sandy was sitting on the sofa, legs curled under her, staring into the fire. I cleared my throat to let her know I was there and then told her I'd go check out her apartment door. She smiled at me and started to get up.

"You can stay here. No need for you to stand by my side while I'm picking your lock. I'd feel stupid somehow." I grinned. "And we couldn't risk both being locked out of our apartments, could we?"

"No, I imagine we couldn't", Sandy said while an unreadable expression crossed her face. It almost looked as if she was sorry about something. I wonder what would happen if I somehow couldn't manage to open her door. She'd probably call a locksmith, you idiot. Stop fantasizing. Alright, alright … but wouldn't it be great. Sandy and me, the bedroom, no clothes … OK, time to pick a lock now!

Unfortunately, her lock wasn't really a problem and I had it open in no time. I was just thinking about going into her apartment to have a look around when my apartment door opened and Sandy appeared behind me.

"Oh, you've already opened it."

Does she really sound disappointed or am I imagining things? "Yeah, it wasn't really a problem."

"Thank you so much, Marla. You're a godsend", Sandy said, standing in her open apartment door. Then she looked at me as if she was thinking about something. "Would you like to come in for a cup of coffee?" she asked after a short while.

"Unh." Caught off guard, again. I had been occupying myself with watching her, trying to commit her green eyes, her cute nose, her beautiful mouth and her blond hair to memory. This is the suff fantasies are made of. At least mine. "Ah, coffee, yeah. I mean, no, sorry, but I have to …" Work? You're thinking about work when the woman of your dreams asks you to stay? Are you out of your mind? No, she's just grateful and I need to work. And dream. And take a cold shower. "Sorry, I have to get back to my work. Can I have a raincheck?"

Now Sandy definitely looked disappointed. "Oh, sorry. What are you doing for a living that you have to work today?"

"I'm a writer." I said rather shortly.

"Ooh, interesting. Anything I might know?"

"No, I don't think so." Unless you read stupid mysteries with old ladies and talking parrots. "Look, I have to get back to it now." How's that for a graceful exit?

Sandy looked a little taken aback at my gruffness. "Okay, I didn't mean to take up so much of your time. I'll wash these clothes and get them back to you by tomorrow. Thanks again for helping me." Her words came out in one big rush and then she turned and walked fully into her apartment. She looked at me … wistfully? … one last time before she closed the door.

Great! You did it again. Stupid, stupid, stupid. She's nice, OK gorgeous, and you behave like the last breathing Neanderthal in front of her. I slowly dragged myself back into my apartment and closed the door. Zero points to stupid Marla Rhodes. I sank to the floor and hid my face in my hands.

Chapter 2: Lust at first sight

So, that was the elusive M. Rhodes. You finally manage to meet her and she can't get rid of you fast enough. Great! But, wow, is that woman gorgeous. She's worth every single wet dream I've had about her the last couple of weeks. I've never seen eyes so blue. And she has the cutest blush.

I finally managed to drag myself into my bedroom and fell down onto the bed. I buried my face in the shirt Marla had given me and took a deep breath. Among the smell of freshly washed clothes was a faint backdrop of a smell that seemed to be Marla herself, spicy, with a hint of a pine forest close to the ocean.

I had moved into this apartment in the first week of December. It was exactly what I had been looking for. Sun streaming in through the large windows, large rooms and a hot tub in the master bathroom that was large enough for ten people. But I never knew the best thing about this apartment until three days after I moved in. That was the day I first saw my neighbor. The name on the apartment across from me had read M. Rhodes which could have been anyone or anything. I wasn't prepared for the vision stepping out of the door that cold December morning. At least 6'1", shoulder-length raven black-hair and glacier-blue eyes. I know, I know, clichι, but the woman I saw through the peephole of my apartment door was real, and she was the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. I fell in lust at first sight.

And now that I've finally managed to actually meet the object of my desire face to face, it felt as if I had met her before. I felt another l-word galloping its way into my heart, mind and soul. It's her. The one. The one and only. Now, what do I do?

I knew from the beginning that I had to find a way to get to know her, to get her to notice me. And somehow I knew that knocking at her door and saying 'Hi, I'm Sandy, would you please fall in love with me right now and marry me?' would not be such a great idea. On the other hand, after seeing her so flustered today, it might not have been such a bad idea. I could have shocked her into love, or something ...

I sat up on the bed and thought about the situation. One, you've fallen in love with a beautiful stranger who blushes easily. Two, she seems to be the shy type. Three, you don't even know if she's gay, although your gaydar practically went off the scale. Four, you haven't got a clue how to get her to fall in love with you. Five, you need to come up with a plan. Six, … there is no number six. Seven, you need to take a cold shower. Eight, right now!

After a cold shower I had the beginnings of a plan worked out. I could lure the lady into my lair and then ravish … Uh-oh, wrong plan. On to Plan B. Just ask her over for dinner tonight. The worst thing she can say is no.

Chapter 3: Scrolls, apples, and horseshoes do two futures make

After beating myself up over how I had brushed Sandy off, I decided to take a nap to center myself before trying to work again. I crawled into the bedroom, too down to get up and walk. As soon as my head hit the pillow, I fell asleep. That alone should have told me that something strange was about to happen. I never fall asleep that fast. Or that deep. When I opened my eyes I knew I had to be dreaming.

I was lying in a furry kind of sleeping-bag five feet from a blazing campfire. I looked around and noticed I was in some kind of clearing in what seemed to be a forest. It was quiet, except for the fire and a scratching sound. I sat up and looked across the campfire. 'Ah, Sandy', I thought sleepily and lay back in my furs. A split second later I was sitting back up. Sandy in a red bikini, writing with a quill on a scroll? I tried to get a better look at the woman across from me. She definitely looked a lot like Sandy, but somehow I knew it wasn't her. Then she looked straight at me. "I see you're finally with us", she said with a gentle voice.

Wow, even her voice sounded like Sandy.

I cleared my throat. "Hello, ahm, … where am I? What is this? Am I in a dream?"

She got up and started to walk in my direction. About half way around the fire she stopped and looked at something or someone behind me, and her face showed the most beautiful smile I've ever seen. I turned and saw a figure coming from the woods. As soon as the figure stepped into the ring that was illuminated by the fire, I saw it was … me. In a strange costume. 'I' was wearing a dark brown leather dress, with a whip and a metallic round thing at my hip. 'I should wear leather more often', I thought. 'Maybe Sandy would look at me that way then.'

"Yes, you should, and yes, she most probably would", the newcomer said.

"Did you just read my mind?" I asked of the stranger, but it was the blond woman who answered.

"No, we don't read your mind. We are your mind, your memories, your thoughts. What you see here is an echo of who you've been, of what you want …"

"Wait a second. You lost me after the 'no' part …" I interrupted her.

"We are here to make you see some things. You seem to have turned blind and stupid over the centuries", the dark-haired woman said.

"Xena, be nice!" the blond scolded. "It took you a lot longer to figure it out."

"Figure what out?" I asked, a little miffed that I didn't understand one bit about this dream of mine.

"That you belong with her", the woman called Xena replied.

Before I could ask who she was talking about, she went on. "Sandy. We're here to prevent you from making a mistake. A big mistake. Gabrielle will explain it to you. She's better at this chat thing than I am."

'Not a chatter, hmm', I thought.

"You know it", Gabrielle murmured from across the fire. Then she went to what looked like a couple of saddlebags and began to dig in one of them. When she returned from the depths of the saddlebag she was carrying several things: a scroll, a small bag of something, a cup, a horseshoe, and a … golden apple? What the hell …?

She sat down by my side and began to explain. "Listen, Marla, we're here to help you find your way. We've been watching you and Sandy for quite some time now. And before you ask", she said, holding up a hand to stop my interruption, "we're soul watchers. Our job is to lead soulmates to each other when they're too blind, or too stupid, or too proud to do it themselves."

She asked Xena to join us and the tall woman sat down close to Gabrielle. "Xena and I are going to show you two versions of your immediate future to help you decide on a course of action since indecision and a minority complex the size of Rome seem to be your problems."

While Gabrielle talked, Xena began to take some herbs from the small bag and to crush them with the horseshoe. Noticing my look, she shrugged one shoulder and said "Best thing to do this with!" and grinned at Gabrielle as if sharing a private joke.

She then mixed the crushed herbs with a tiny slice of the golden apple and put everything into the cup. She reached over to the fire to a pot that seemed to contain water and poured it over the mix. She handed me the cup. "Drink this."

I raised an eyebrow at her and noticed that the look doesn't work when you look at yourself. I took the cup and hesitatingly took a sip. The concoction tasted like … orange juice and coke, my favorite drink. Cool.

Gabrielle then handed me the scroll and told me to start reading. The words turned into vivid images before my eyes. And what I saw took my breath away. I saw fireworks in our street. I saw Sandy. I saw Sandy in the arms of another woman, in a passionate embrace, sharing a kiss that made my insides burn with jealousy. The vision threatened to send the cup of something back up with a vengeance. I felt both Xena and Gabrielle reach out for me to steady me and my churning gut. "Read on", Xena urged quietly, "you have to see this." And I saw. Saw Sandy going into her apartment with the other woman, saw them dine by the light of a single flickering candle, saw them in her bedroom, saw Sandy naked for the very first time. With another woman. The vision got blurry as if fast-forwarded, and when it cleared the real horror started. Sandy was lying in her bed sleeping soundly while the other woman was rummaging through her kitchen, looking for something. She grabbed a large knife and returned to the bedroom. She stood next to Sandy and raised the knife …

"Noooooo!" I screamed into the night.

"Yes", Gabrielle said in a whisper.

"Does this have to happen? You said something about two versions. What am I supposed to do?" I cried, worried sick about Sandy.

Gabrielle handed me another scoll. "Read this. This is the second version of your future."

I took the scroll and warily waited for the images to appear. I choked when I saw that everything started out the same as before. I saw fireworks in our street and I saw Sandy. But then I relaxed. The other woman was nowhere to be seen. Sandy turned towards me when she felt me near her and ran into my arms. "Hello, my love", Sandy said to my breastbone and I kissed her head. When I bent to kiss her neck I could see the hickeys she had there and I knew I had made them. "I love you!" Sandy whispered and then she kissed me. 'She loves me', I thought. 'God, if only it were real.'

"You can make it real, Marla", Xena said. "All it takes is the courage to show your feelings." And then she smiled at Gabrielle with an amount of love I've never seen before.

Chapter 4: Mother

Having decided to invite Marla over for dinner was easy compared to what was waiting for me now. Mother. I had originally planned on joining mother and a couple of her friends for dinner. There were only a few problems with this little arrangement. I didn't like my mother's friends. I didn't like my mother's cooking. I mean, honestly, who'd want to eat grilled squid for Christmas Eve dinner? Not me, no no. I hate fish, and mother knows that. But my mother is … eccentric. She owns an inn in the country, about 50 miles from the next town. And I'm being gracious with the term 'town' here. She closes the inn down over Christmas and invites all her crazy friends - and me - to spend it with her there. They have a cooking contest each year with results that are usually barely edible, and almost never tasty.

These thoughts were running through my head while I was calling my mother to tell her I had other plans. After about 10 minutes she stopped talking to take a breath, and that was my chance.

"Mom", I said calmly, "I won't make it to your place for dinner this year. I have other plans."

"Oh, Sandy. Have you finally found someone else to spend Christmas with? Good for you. I was getting worried. What are you going to do? Have wild sex under the tree?"

"Mom!" I practically screamed. Although it's not a bad idea … "You're high as a kite. How much did you smoke today?"

"Oh. Nothing much, darling. We just had a couple of joints this morning …" My mother answered in a cheerful voice. "So, your new love, is she beautiful? And when will I get to meet her?"

"Yes, she's beautiful." And never. "Look, Mom, I have to start making dinner now, before she arrives, so good-bye and have a nice dinner with your friends." I hung up the phone and took a deep breath. Now, how do I get her over here for dinner. And how do I tell her she's the main course … and desert.

And then I had a brilliant idea.

Chapter 5: Roadblocks and mistletoe

Gabrielle and Xena were right. I woke up determined to make Sandy mine. All I had to do now was gather my courage, tell her that I love her and make her love me in return. But if what Gabrielle and Xena told me in my dream was true, she might have no other choice. Soul watchers, they had called themselves. Probably a tough job with the likes of me. So, make a plan to go and get the girl, Marla!

After some thinking I decided to cash in on the raincheck and just invite myself over for a cup of coffee, hoping she had nothing else planned. I went into the bathroom to make myself as presentable as possible, then I considered dressing up for the occasion. In front of my closet I reconsidered since I hadn't got any laundry done while I was waiting at the peephole for appearances of her. OK, she's already seen me like this and she didn't run away. This'll have to do. 'This' was a pair of dark blue jeans, a white turtleneck sweater and a navy blue shirt.

In front of my apartment door I ran into a roadblock. My insecurity. I slammed right into it. What if she has other plans? I made a fool of myself this morning. What if my dream was only that - a dream? Or the result of indigestion?

Just when the hole I was digging for myself was getting deeper and deeper, I heard Xena's soothing voice in my head. "It's alright. We're all scared in situations like this. Think about what you know. Think about your feelings for her. You love her. You need her. You want her. Go, get the girl!" Alright, already.

Taking a deep breath, I opened the door … and stood face to shoulder with the woman of my dreams. Time to say something intelligent, Marla …


Urk? How profound.

Sandy looked as surprised as I felt, but she seemed to recover pretty fast and started to grin. Then I noticed that her left arm held something above our heads. I looked up and saw the mistletoe that she had obviously planned on putting on my doorframe. Ookaay! I can work with that. My confidence grew at this sight. The only reason for putting up mistletoe is if you want to kiss someone. And since she put it above my door …

I grinned at Sandy and raised an eyebrow in question. "Are you trying to tell me something?"

Before she could answer, I bent my head and gently took her lips in a kiss that lasted until I could feel both her arms around my body and the mistletoe falling softly to the floor. Then we looked into each other's eyes and I saw the only future we could ever have. Together. Forever.

The End (?)

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