Disclaimers:  See Part 1

Claridge Hotel

Mel (wide eyed): Ambrosia!  You mean the food of the Gods.  And it’s hidden there…

Janice (lighting a cigar only to have it snatched up by Xena): Hey…

Xena (winking and taking a drag): Thanks.

Janice (shoving her playfully): Well that just upped the ante.  That’s maybe why Sierras want to find it so bad.

Gabrielle (pulling out the room service menu): No there’s something else.  Yeah sure, that’s all well and good but this Sierras creep from what Xena explained is after gold, pricelss artifacts, shit like that. 
Xena (shrugging and putting the cigar in the ashtray): Unless someone else is working with him.  A backer perhaps or some fraud company.  I can go and…

Gabrielle (grabbing Xena by the belt): No you don’t.  You are staying here and enjoying an evening off.  Tomorrow you can punch first and ask questions later or whatever it is that you do to get information you’re not supposed to know about.

Xena (protesting): Brie…
Gabrielle (poking her in the chest for emphasis): No, you got in enough trouble earlier today.  Now (pushing her finger and making Xena bend over backwards) you go sit in that chair and behave.  Got me…

Xena (pulling Gabrielle’s hand up and kissing the back of it): Behave.  Got it. (Scratching the back of her head) could you run the definition well your definition of that term by me again (and got slapped on her ass for her remark.)
Mel (picking up the menu): I think she means business.

Janice (lighting another cigar): Yep.  I know better.  If Mel (feeling long fingers grab her by the back of the neck) um yeah.  Hey, Xena you know what maybe sitting down and relaxing would be a good idea.

Gabrielle (folding her arms across her chest): At least someone in this room knows better.
Xena (slumping in her chair): Keep it up Battling Bard.  Just keep it up.

Mel (shaking her head): I’m going to order dinner.  Is there anything particular you two want…?
Xena (grumbling and motioning with her finger): A half a cow for the two blondes and ouch hey (flinching as she was punched in her shoulder.)  What?
Janice (leaning back): A half a cow.  That’s not very nice Xena (Gabrielle’s stomach rumbled rather loudly) on second thought a half a cow would be good.  Oh and get a nice bottle of wine and…

Mel (picking up the phone): I’m already on it love.

Abandoned Temple

Terrence woke exhausted and drained.  Those two women had nearly killed him.  Dam near sucking the life out of him.  It had been the best moment of his life, well so far.  Having two women willing to do whatever he asked no matter what.  And the fact that one of them resembled the proverbial thorn in his side had made it all the better.  He loved to hear a women beg no matter what she was begging for.  Sitting up he gathered his things and tried to will the strength back in his body.  Some food would be good about now (stumbling as he got up and leaning against the wall for support.

Female Voice (cackling): That, which makes you mortal, also makes you weak.  I think we can improve on your condition slightly.  (Flames rose from the deep pit; lighting the abandoned temple and the flames reached for Terrence even as her tried to escape.)
Terrence (protesting): No.  Stop (the flames latched onto his ankles burning through the leather on his boots) stop.  I’ve been faithful.

Voice ((laughing): Faithful yes, but slow and incompetent as well.  Perhaps now things can be done rather sooner then I thought (laughing among the painful screams of her victim.  In his new form, he would be much more useful and more powerful.)

Claridge Hotel

Gabrielle watched her partner with an appreciative eye, saunter into the bathroom.  She would follow her but with the way she was feeling they wouldn’t be leaving the hotel anytime soon.  And they needed to get going.  But last night, last night had been wonderful.  They had stayed up and talked with Mel and Janice deciding on the best course of action for what lay ahead.  Then their lovemaking had been so tender almost as if Xena felt like she was going to break.  Even in all the years they had been together it still felt like the first time.  Last night though, she fanned herself and smiled.  Sighing she pulled out her clothes and thought back to the last time they had been in the village.

Road to Amazon Village 2,000 Years Ago

Jappa had been heartbreaking to say the least. It was the most horrible feeling in her life.  But now, now beside her after Aphrodite’s interference her champion, her partner, hre soul mate, her very existence for life in itself, walked quietly lost in thought.
Gabrielle (looking up at the beautiful face of her champion; her lover; her partner and soul mate): Do you think Eve got the message by now?
Xena (stopping to pull Gabrielle into a one armed hug): I think so.  I hope she didn’t hear the other news.  (Watching the crestfallen look on her lover’s face) dammit I’m sorry Brie.  I know it (two fingers pressed to her lips silenced her.)
Gabrielle (softly): I just don’t want to talk about let alone think about it.  You have no idea; well maybe you do, of what I felt.  I felt like my soul was ripped from my chest along with my heart.

Xena (looking around and finding a fallen log): Come on.  Maybe we should stop for the night.  We need to talk.

Gabrielle (laughing): You want to talk…
Xena (pulling her against her): Yes.  Come on.

Gabrielle sat on the log and Xena knelt on one knee in front of her.  She wasn’t ready for what Xena had to say but what Xena did say took away most of the pain.

Xena (softly; caressing her thigh gently): I felt everything you did, your fear, your anxiety, and your loneliness.  I thought if I made you feel that then maybe it was better I stayed dead.  And then when I found out I couldn’t come back, or so we thought, then I just gave up.  I had hurt you one too many times and this was the last straw.  I thought maybe now after everything you could become the Queen I knew you could or the famous Bard you’ve always been or finally settle down (the slap across her face startled her; sending her on her bum.)
Gabrielle (angrily): Don’t you ever, ever insinuate I would be better off without you.  You have been the best dam thing in my fucking life.  Don’t you know that by now?  (Kneeling down and pulling Xena to her.)  I would be dead or worse if it wasn’t for you.  I don’t care what we face or what we’ve overcome.  We’ve overcome it together.  I just have to get around the image of taking your body down; seeing what I did; lighting your pyre and crying for days on end.  I won’t walk alone without you Xena no matter what comes our way.

Xena (rubbing her jaw; Gabrielle packed a Tartarus of a wallop): But, but I um uh…

Gabrielle (cupping her face gently): Xena you are one thickheaded woman.  I love you and being with you through everything has been worth it.  And you want to know why (Xena nodded tentatively) because I’ve lived a life I never dreamed.   I have someone who loves me for me and who supports me no matter how far fetched my ideas are  Now do you understand?
Xena (nodding slowly): Yeah…

Gabrielle (leaning down for a kiss): I don’t think you do.  You’re apart of me the best part of me (kissing her again.)  I’m sorry my emotions are all over.  I’m sorry I hit you…

Xena (hugging her tightly): It’s ok.  I know well I can guess how you’re feeling and dam you pack quite a wallop let me tell you.

Gabrielle (rubbing her hand through dark locks): Do you understand or do I have to kick your bum again Warrior Princess?

Xena (softly): I understand and I love you.

Gabrielle (leaning in for another kiss): And I you (brushing her fingers across the bruise on her lover’s face.)  We’ll set up camp near here and head for the village at first light.

Xena (softly; kissing the inside of her palm): Whatever you want?
Gabrielle (arching her eyebrow): That my love is a very loaded question.  (Seeing the play of emotions in her lover’s eyes; they had not made love since their return from Jappa and she had hoped tonight something would give.)  But one I’m willing to offer all sorts of answers to.

Xena (standing): Then let’s get moving.  Because the sooner we get there then the sooner, I can answer your questions (wrapping her arm around her partner’s shoulders and walking down the road.)

Claridge Hotel Xena and Gabrielle’s Room

Xena (placing her hand on her lover’s shoulder gently): Brie hey…
Gabrielle (startling): What oh, sorry I was lost in thought. 

Xena (chuckling): I know you were leagues away.  Are you all right?
Gabrielle (turning and placing her head on her lover’s chest): Yes just thinking.

Xena (cupping her chin and making her look at her): About?
Gabrielle (shaking her head): About the stuff we’re about to go through.  What you suffered (two fingers silenced her.)
Xena (softly; with conviction): And I would do it again, no questions.  I needed to prove myself.  To them and to make up for what I did or didn’t do….

Gabrielle (seeing the emotions in Xena’s eyes): Not to me you didn’t.  You’ve proved yourself time and again my love.  No questions (smiling through her tears.)  But because of my people, you were whipped and branded…

Xena (arguing gently): A brand I carried, still carry with pride.  And those whip marks healed just fine love (reaching out and caressing her face.)  They wanted me to prove that I was worthy of being your Champion as well as your consort. 

Gabrielle (leaning her head against Xena’s chest): You always have been and always will be. 

Mel and Janice’s Room

Janice (waving the notes in the air): There’s a piece missing.  Wonder where it went or what happened (dying out her cigar.)
Mel (taking the notes and looking at the scroll then back at the notes): Well we’ll either find it or we can ask Xena and Gabrielle. 

Janice (shifting in her seat): We’re leaving as soon as we get our gear together and they come for us.  I can’t wait.  Imagine the headlines…

Mel (shaking her head): No.

Janice (wide eyed): No.  What do you mean no?
Mel (sitting on the edge of the table): Janice think about this for a minute ok love.  We’re going back in time to see something that hasn’t existed in centuries.  True I want to use some of it for research and artifact purposes but not everything.  There’s well there’s something going on and I just can’t put my finger on it.  We’ll use only what we have to and that’s it (seeing Janice about to interrupt) I know but trust me.   I don’t want to exploit more than I have to.  Ok (leaning down for a soft kiss.)
Janice (mumbling): Ok.  I guess your right.  Some things are better left alone (Mel nodded) well then let’s get our gear together and get going.  Even though I can’t use everything as I want to I’m going to enjoy this as much as possible.

Mel (smiling): That’s my girl.

Amazon Afterlife

Ephiny (pleading): Your mother’s are going to kill you and possibly me.
Eve (placing a few daggers in her bag): No, she won’t.  Besides, I want to be there to. 

Ephiny (rolling her eyes): You take after Gabrielle in so many ways.  Defiant, headstrong, did I mention defiant.  If she don’t strangle you, I will if something happens to you.

Eve (condescending): Don’t worry Aunt Ephiny.  Varia will be with me and we’ll be meeting up with our parents.  No worries.

Varia (walking in with Melosa and Cyane behind her): I’ve heard that before.  I thought we were going to wait until your mother sent for us.
Eve (handing her a pack): We were.  I just have a nagging suspicion that something’s wrong.

Melosa (shaking her head): Just like her mother.

Cyane (mischievously): Which one?

Ephiny (under her breath): Both.  Neither one listened to the voice of reason.  Look at…
Eve (losing her patience): Varia and I are leaving.  With or without your blessing.  I would prefer that we would have it but if we don’t it’s all the same to me (shouldering her pack.)
Varia (pleading): Eve…
Eve (shaking her head): No, don’t give me that.  I’m going and you’re coming with unless you would rather stay here.

Varia (shaking her head): No.  I’m coming.
Melosa (taking a deep breath): We’ll be waiting.  Just be careful both of you.

Varia and Eve “We will.”

Ephiny (softly): We’ll be waiting.

Melosa (squeezing her shoulder): I’ll get everyone ready.  I just hope we can stop this in time.

Ephiny (nodding): We will.  And they’ll come through for us just like they always have.

Cyane (solemnly): And always will.

Jungle South America

Janice (shifting in her saddle): You were back in Greece after the whole mess in Jappa.  What happened?  I’ve read some of the scrolls but it seems though a lot of the story was left out.  You mention your joining and Varia and Eve’s but that’s it.

Gabrielle (remembering fondly their joining even with everything that had happened): Well I didn’t write it all down.  Some of it was painful and I didn’t want someone to read the cruelty and judgment surrounding our wedding or our daughter’s (smiling as Xena moved her horse closer and squeezed her hand.)

Xena (comfortingly): And I would do it again if it meant proving my worth not only as your Champion but also as a capable consort.

Mel (smirking): I’m sure you’re a very worthy consort.

Gabrielle (blushing): That she is and she has also more than proven herself as my Champion.

Janice (agreeing): From your tales that she has.  Is it true that you held off an entire army of Persians; or defeated Mephistopheles or…

Mel (assuredly): It is possible love if you consider the time, documentation, and some of the drawings in her scrolls.  Not that we doubt you Gabrielle.

Gabrielle (understanding): I know and I understand that some of it may seem far-fetched but I assure you we were there and have the scars to prove it.
Xena (softly; remembering some of the incidents that had caused her lover pain; making her wonder if she should have left her in Potedeia many times despite Gabrielle’s protests; dismissing it quickly as she remembered Gabrielle’s arguments and threats, empty as though they were): We were there.  They happened.  History was recorded as it should have been.  Hell in your time there is no decent historical account of the Amazons or Valkyries.  Hell some of your supposed historians can’t even get a simple battle recorded properly.
Janice (disbelieving): What?  How do you?  When did you?
Xena (growling softly): Like the Civil War?  Or the American Revolution?  How the tide shifted so many times during one battle the winner wasn’t declared until months later.  How do you explain that Dr. Covington?
Gabrielle (trying to soothe her partner’s raw nerves): Love (pulling her horse to a stop) please you know how an eyewitness account of events are.  Two people can see the exact same thing and both have a different perspective.

Janice (softly): I’m sorry.  I meant no disrespect.

Gabrielle (glancing at her partner; she noticed the stiff shoulders; the tense jaw and then feeling it herself; knew something was up): I know don’t worry about it.  Xena…
Xena (holding up her hand): Get over near that line of trees.  Something’s not right.

Unseen by Xena or her companions, cold, black eyes watched the group, observing and planning.  It was its masters bidding that it wait until they got closer then it could spring.  For now just observe and keep an eye on things.  Slinking back in the shadows it watched its prey biding time.

Gabrielle (shifting nervously; watching, guarding; even the horses were nervous): Stay here and keep low.

Mel (loading the bullets in the gun Janice had given her): But she told you to stay put.

Janice (uncoiling her whip): We’re going with you.

Gabrielle (shaking her head): No stay here.  I have no idea what’s out there.  But I could feel it.  It felt so cold and empty.  You two will be safe here (taking off slowly and keeping down.)
Xena (her sword drawn in front of her; every muscle tense; her senses on hair trigger): I know you’re there.  Don’t make me come find you (growling as she sensed her partner’s presence) I thought I told you to stay put.

Gabrielle (moving beside her; her Sais drawn; her body much like her partner’s): You’ve been telling me the same thing for 2,000 years and I still don’t listen (smiling mischievously.)  Any ideas?
Xena (looking around): No but I can fee it.  It feels cold.  Like it’s watching us, waiting.  Where are the girls?
Gabrielle (seeing something move and slowly moving forward; a strong hand on her shoulder stopped her): What?
Xena (drawing out a dagger): No.  Wait (aiming and focusing she threw the dagger into where she had seen movement.  Hearing a thunk, she smiled deviously.)  Stay here and be prepared to run (strong hands on her arms halted her as did the primal scream let loose.)  What in the hell was that?
Gabrielle (swallowing nervously): I saw something I think you hit it.  Xena I don’t like this it feels all wrong.

Xena (knew Gabrielle well enough to know something rattled her; and that took a whole hell of a lot to do): Ok.  Let’s go get the girls and get out of here. 

Mel (shifted then looked around wide-eyed when she heard the scream): What was that?
Janice (pointing the gun in the direction of the scream): Don’t know but I’m sure we’ll find out.

Mel (grabbing her arm): Are you nuts?  We don’t even know what that is.
Gabrielle (dropping beside them): Xena hit something with her dagger.  Don’t know what but we’re getting out of here.
Xena (trying to calm the horses): We’ll continue on down this way.  Try to put as much distance between us and whatever that was as possible. 

Mel (climbing on her horse): Any ideas.

Gabrielle (kissing her lover softly and she mounted her horse): No…

Janice (shifting in her saddle): But we’ll find out right Xena.

Xena (looking around): I’m sure we will.

Mel (biting her lip): Gabrielle um why don’t you fill us in on what happened when you got to the Amazon village.

Xena (arching her eyebrow): Good idea.  I’m going to take a look on up ahead.  Stay together and if you need me…
Janice (smirking): I’m sure you’ll hear us scream.

Xena looked at her partner then rode off.

Gabrielle (thinking): Ok you know what happened in Jappa and what happened after that ok.  Let’s see we got to the Amazon village about a week after we returned to Greece.

Amazon Village 2000 Years Ago

The dismounted their horses, slowly, eyeing the women that surrounded them. 
Gabrielle (moving closer to her partner): Where’s Varia or Claris…

Rayne (lifting her mask off her face): We heard what happened.  We’re glad to see that the rumors were just that.

Xena (softly): They weren’t rumors.  There’s just some extenuating circumstances that well we can talk about this later.  Right now, we would like to see the Council.

Jinx (agreeing and taking the horses reins): We’re glad you’re here.  There’s been some unrest in the village. It might be a little bit of an issue addressing the council

Gabrielle (wondering): Why?  I thought that after Helicon it was decided the tribes would unite under one banner, in one village. 

Tera (motioning for the few other women to go back to their posts): It was but there’s other problems.  Its best you see for yourself, my err Gabrielle.

Gabrielle (looking at Xena): What the hell is going on?  I retained my status even after Helicon…

Jinx (nervously): Well there’s a slight problem with that.  You see um ouch hey (Rayne had elbowed her in the side.)
Rayne (pleading): Please Gabrielle just come with us.  There’s a lot you need to know and some thing are just better off being seen. 

Xena (pushing Gabrielle behind): I won’t put her in any more danger or cause her any more harm.  Now start at the beginning…

Tera (intervening): Xena please.  It’s hard and it’s complicated.

Lin Chi (walking up from behind a bunch of trees; immediately the other Amazons dropped to their knees): You’ll get your answers and more.  Guards place Xena under arrest for violation of faith and fealty.  Among other things.

Gabrielle (placing her hand on Xena’s arm): You have no authority over her.  She is my Champion yes but she is not an Amazon (turning as she heard the click of the manacles.)  What are you doing?

Lin Chi (anger tinting her voice): Arresting her.  Bring her to her cell with the other traitor.

Gabrielle (pleading): You can’t after all that she’s done for this village…

Marquesa (walking up with several armed Amazons): She is a traitor and we have matters to discuss.  Arrest the Warrior Princess.  Gabrielle please come with us.  You’ll get your answers. 

Xena (softly): It’ll be ok Brie.  Find out what’s going on.

Gabrielle (reaching up and brushing back a strand of dark locks from her lover’s face): Be careful.

Xena nodded then walked away from her led by two armed guards.

Lin Chi (pointing): I’ll walk with Gabrielle back to the village.  The rest of you back to your posts.

Gabrielle (looking at Marquesa): Will one of you fill me in on what the Hell is going on?  You have no right to arrest her or hold her for that matter.

Marquesa (softly): Gabrielle please.  We’ll meet with the council and we’ll address the issues presented. 

Gabrielle followed slowly questioning the Amazons decision.  She hoped she would get an answer and one that she would like.  Judging by the two Queen’s mood she knew it was going to be a long day.

The council hall was quiet and subdued.  No one seemed to be demanding blood or the death of her partner.  That was a good sign.

Claris (standing and unrolling a document): Xena being the Champion of an Amazon Queen has violated the act of fealty and good faith. 

Gabrielle (angrily): How?

Marquesa (pulling out another scroll): Gabrielle please.  We’ve heard what happened and we are glad that the matter has been resolved but there are a few things here in this scroll that point out the obvious (handing her the scroll.)

Lin Chi (clearing her throat): See as an Amazon Queen you are required by law to be protected by your Champion.  Your Champion can and at times become your Consort.  If she does not become your consort, you have the right to choose one.  But if you do not wish to take her as a Consort and she breaks the law of fealty then she will be deemed incapable of being your Champion.

Gabrielle (reading the scroll): This is ridiculous.  I’ve never seen this….

Tasha (smirking): Perhaps if you had been fulfilling your duties to your tribe instead of running around with that traitor…

Gabrielle (jumping up): She is not a traitor.  You don’t know the whole circumstances.  You know nothing of what happened.

Claris (conceding): Then maybe perhaps you can shed some light on the rumors that we have heard.

Gabrielle (closing her eyes): I’ll give you the shortened version.  (The others nodded their head) it was about four months ago Xena and I were lying side-by-side talking when….

(Authors Note insert Friend In Need (I’m not going over that again we all know what happened; we all know it didn’t do justice for the show or the characters and frankly that episode didn’t mean the end of the series for me.  I choose Fates Collide as the series ending.  Bard’s privilege.  Anyway, back to the story.)

The cell Xena was in was small and cramped with a single cot no windows just a door leading to the hallway that led outside.  Leaning her head against the earth wall, she took a deep breath and wondered how things got so out of hand.  Hearing someone cough she turned her head and listened.

Xena (softly): Seems as though I have company.

Varia (hoarsely): Xena.  You’re alive but…

Xena (wondering): Varia what are you doing down here.

Varia (coughing again): Long story.  But dam am I ever glad you’re here.  Wait what the, I mean we heard and…
Xena (chuckling): Another long story.  I’ll fill you in on the details once I figure out or at least Brie figures out what’s going on.

Varia (shifting): it always is with you two.  Xena they’re also holding Eve here.  In the temple in one of the antechambers.  Seems as though being a Holy Messenger warranted her better quarters than the Queen or the Queen’s Champion…

Xena (angrily): What?  How the hell did…What the…

Varia (swallowing nervously): Some people remember that she is the Heir Apparent to the Throne.  And her actions as Livia even though she was pardoned and you can imagine I’m sure.

Xena (standing): Yeah I would.  No thanks to you and yours…
Varia (angrily): I pardoned her and I let her live.

Xena (biting her lip): Yeah you did. 

Varia (closing her eyes): For what it’s worth, I’m sorry.  For Gabrielle, for Eve, for everything…She wouldn’t be here right now if it wasn’t for me (gulping as she realized her slip.)

Xena (demanding): For you.  What do you mean?
Varia (nervously, hoping Xena wouldn’t tear the jail apart getting to her): Um well you…
The cell doors banged open and Rayne and Trin walked in carrying a tray of food for both of them.
Trin (unlocking Xena’s door): You have to stay here but I brought you some food.  The council is still in session. 

Rayne (grumbling and opening Varia’s cell): Which may or may not be a good thing?

Varia (taking the tray offered): Thanks.  So what do you think…?

Trin (sitting down with Xena): I think someone has to much power and should mind their own business.  Especially when it comes to matters of the heart.
Xena (loosing patience): What do you mean by that?
Rayne (figuring Xena wouldn’t kill anyone over this): Eve and Varia are well they’re seeing each other.

The color drained from Varia’s face and she sent a quick prayer to whoever was listening that her death would be quick and painless.

The council members sat stunned, not a dry eye in the room.  Gabrielle was exhausted.  Throughout the telling of what had happened, she had kept up a brave front but now she just wanted to be in her partner’s arms and never let go.  A loud yell and a series of explicit curses in several different languages made everyone jump and then Gabrielle was out the door at a run.  She knew that tone and those words and knew if she didn’t get her hands on her soul mate well it wouldn’t be pretty.  What she saw was almost funny if it wasn’t so serious.  Xena was half dragging half carrying Varia and it looked like Trin across the compound with a contingent of Amazons behind her.  She was making her way towards the temple and everyone was moving out of her way.

Claris (wide eyed): I thought she was behind bars.

Lin Chi (sneering): Was being the operative word.

Gabrielle (pointing her finger): Not a word.  I’ll go see what this is all about.  I’m sure it’s a misunderstanding.

Marquesa (shaking her head): So you say.  We’re going with you to make sure that the statement is fair and impartial.

Tasha (rolling her eyes): What more do you need?  Angry ex-warlord dragging a traitor behind her.  Probably as a sacrifice since they’re headed for the temple. 

Gabrielle (losing her patience): One more word out of either of you about my partner you won’t have to worry about her you’ll deal with me (running off after her partner.)
The temple priestesess scattered as the doors banged opened and in walked Xena dragging two women in with her.

Dianna (trying to appease the angry woman): Xena…

Xena (growling): Where’s Eve?
Dianna (backing up as Xena advanced; noticing how she never let go of Varia or Trin): Xena now why don’t you just sit down and we can talk about this.   (She didn’t want to face Marquesa or Lin Chi’s wrath.)
Xena (dropping Varia and Trin to the floor): I asked nicely once.  Don’t make me ask again.  Now (bellowing) where’s Eve?

Dianna (all but fainted; but summing up her courage pointed to the far end of temple then jumped as Xena stormed past her): Are you all right (despite the circumstance she was a priestess and to ignore either woman would be a breech of her duty.)
Varia (adjusting her clothing): Yeah sure fine (and promptly passed out.)
Trin (taking several deep breaths): Word of warning don’t anger Xena.

The doors banged open again and Dianna was vaguely wondering if being a priestess was a good idea after all.  Xena was pissed that was for sure but Gabrielle looked like she could kill someone in a moment’s notice.  It was always the quiet ones.

Eve heard the door opened but didn’t bother turning her head.  So far, besides the light beating she had taken initially she was being treated rather well. 

Xena (reaching out and caressing her daughter’s face): Hey.  Eve.  It’s me.  We’re going to get you out of here.
Eve (looking up, she had never been so relieved to see her mother in her life (well maybe there were a few other times but anyway): Mother um…
Xena (looking at the manacles on Eve’s wrist and growling reached out to break them or at least get them out of the wall): I’m getting you out of here and then we’re leaving.

Gabrielle (walking in): Thank the Gods you’re both all right  Come on whatever it is you did I’m sure there’s a good explanation and as for you Warrior Princess please stop scaring people.

Xena (smirking and leaning into the gentle touch): I will when they stop trying to aggravate me.

Gabrielle (helping Xena pull on the manacle): What happened this time? 
Xena (growling as she pulled on the chains): Trin told me that Varia and Eve are in love and…
Eve (trying to stand): We are…
The birds took flight at the horrendous roar and several Amazons decided that finding shelter would be a much better idea then facing the Warrior Princess.
All Varia remembered was leaning against the wall trying to get her bearings when she was suddenly hoisted up and thrown on a sacrificial table.

Varia (pleading): Xena it’s…

Xena (grabbing a dagger from the side table): You’re dead.  But you knew that right.  You knew the minute you laid your hands on my daughter, you were dead…

Eve (running up behind her mother): Mother please.   You’re being a little irrational.

Xena (growling): Irrational.  After she tried to kill you and Gabrielle then she tires to bed you.  Or is that it.  Huh.  Couldn’t come near me so you go after the next best thing.  My daughter. 
By now, a few other brave Amazons had entered the temple.  No one knew what to make of the situation or what to do.  But something had to be done and fast.

Gabrielle (pleading): Xena put that knife down right now.  You’re in enough trouble as it is.  And Eve please just get Varia out of the way.  Then we’ll all sit down and discuss this in a calm rational manner right Xena. 

Xena (flipping the dagger in her hand; her calm voice betraying her inner anger): I asked a question Varia.  You decided to go after Eve since you couldn’t have me or Gabrielle.  Now which was it?
Varia (figuring if this was the last moment of her life then she would be honest; at least Eve would know she loved her): No.  I love Eve (cringing as she saw her life flash before her eyes then nothing.)

Gabrielle (dropping the sword she had used to knock her lover unconscious): Varia take Eve go sit in the council chamber and don’t move.  Don’t either of you two go anywhere?  Got me (they both nodded and took off out of the way.   Gabrielle knew when Xena woke up she would be in a world of hot water but oh well.)

Marquesa (arching her eyebrow): That was impressive.  It seems as though we can address both issues at once now.
Gabrielle (rubbing her partner’s head): What issues?
Tasha (reading from a scroll): That Xena and Eve can be pardoned for their crimes by asking for your and Varia’s hands. 

Lin Chi (softly): We as the council decided what tests they have to endure and if they pass the tests then they can be allowed to join with you and Varia.

Gabrielle (softly): What tests?  Isn’t enough when you as the Amazon Nation have needed her help she has always been there.  Isn’t enough she was almost killed several times over protecting your asses…

Marquesa (shaking her head): Not always (and turned for the door) and I suggest you get your supposed Champion and daughter over to the council hut so we can put this matter to rest (walking out with Lin Chi and Tasha following behind her.)
Diteria (High Priestess; running in): Dam I go on a retreat for a few days and all bedlam breaks loose.  Queen Gabrielle good to see you.  And what happened to Xena and oh my…

Eve (kissing Varia softly): It’s a long story.  But it seems as your esteemed council wants our blood. 

Diteria (frowning): For what.  You’ve been pardoned and Xena here has done more for this Nation then any other ally combine.

Gabrielle (caressing Xena’s face): I know it, you know it but the Council wants her blood and Eve’s. 

Varia (tensing): They’ll have to go through me to get to Eve.

Gabrielle (arching her eyebrow): We’ll discuss you two’s relationship later.  Right now, though help me get Xena up so we can over there and try to figure out what to do.

Xena (groaning; waking up): Dam…

Gabrielle (caressing her face): Easy there love…
Xena (shaking her head): I’m still going to kill her…
Gabrielle (grabbing Xena’s leather’s and pulling her to her face): No, you’re not.  You’re going to get up and get over to the council hall with me and we are going to talk about this calmly.

Xena (wryly): Since when has a council meeting ever been calm.  And you two can forget about staying together or I’ll…

Eve (moving in front of her mother): Or you’ll what.  It’s my decision.  My life and I want Varia in it.  I’m not a child…

Xena (struggling to her feet): You’re my child dammit and I’ll…

Gabrielle (pushing them apart): Enough.  The both of you.  We have enough problems as it is without adding your over protectiveness (glancing at Xena) and your stubbornness to it (glancing at Eve.)  Varia walk Eve over to the hut we’ll meet you there.

Varia (taking Eve’s hand gently): Sure (reaching for Eve’s hand only to find hers encased in an iron grip with over six feet of angry Warrior Princess mom leaning over her and Eve tugging on her mother’s arm.) 
Xena (growling): Get your hands off my daughter or I’ll take you out right here and right now (reaching for her sword.)
Eve (grabbing Varia’s sword): Mother you and me…

Xena (smirking): You and me…

Gabrielle (biting her lip): Eve put that down and Xena back off.  (When neither woman made an effort to move, she pushed them apart and kept pushing Xena back.)  Eve, Varia get out of here.

Xena (growling): No…
Eve (taking Varia by the hand and walking her out the door): Once this is settled you won’t have to see us again…

Xena (lunging but Gabrielle held her): Let me go…

Gabrielle (shaking her head): Xena stop it.  Stop please…

Xena (arguing): But that two-faced bitch…

Gabrielle (rolling her eyes): Is in love with Eve and Eve with her.  You can’t stop it and neither can I.  We’ve talked a lot about forgiveness but yet you won’t let it go.

Xena (snarling): She tried to kill Eve and you.  Then she tries to seduce you and if that wasn’t enough, she was trying to bed me too.

Gabrielle (arching her eyebrow): She’s got good taste now doesn’t she? 

Xena (loosing her patience): I can’t believe you…

Gabrielle (slamming her hand on the table): And I can’t believe you (with that, she turned and stormed out of the temple.

Xena grumbled and swore and kicked a chair out of her way then followed her partner out the door.  It was going to be a long afternoon.

Varia (pushing Eve behind her): I’ll take her place.  Since she is heir apparent to the throne then I’ll take the punishment. 

Marquesa (looking at the scroll then at Varia): But that’s not…

Claris (sighing): It’s not in the scroll and it’s not protocol.  But then there is no such thing as protocol in this is there now.

Lin Chi (rolling her eyes): It states the punishment and the course of action needed.

Varia (defensively): You’ll have your blood.  Mine.  I’ll take whatever it is you plan on doing to Eve on myself.  You’ll not lay one hand on this woman…

Tasha (standing): And risk your position as Queen…

Varia (defiantly): If it means protecting her then yes….

Lin Chi (waving her hand): Then so be it.  You’ll receive ten lashes and be branded in place of Eve…
Eve (angrily): No.  Varia it’s not worth it.  We can walk out of here.  We can…

Varia (kissing her softly): No.  I love you and no one or nothing is going to change that.

Tasha (writing something): Then tomorrow at first light in the temple.  Guards (yelling to two other Amazons waiting outside) escort Varia to her hut and Eve back to the temple.  Tomorrow after the sentence is carried out then they can be together….
Eve (yelling): No dammit. 

Tasha (yelling back at her): My decision is final.  Defy me and I’ll make it worse for you both.  Now get them both out of my sight. 

Gabrielle (walking in): What’s going on (placing her hand on Eve’s shoulder?)
Eve (softly): They’re separating us for the night.  Varia’s going to take my sentence.

Gabrielle (wide eyed): Put them both in my hut now.

Marquesa (standing): It’s against protocol.  They are to be separated.

Xena (storming in): Good.  But put Eve in Gabrielle’s hut and Varia in hers. 

Eve (shoving her mother): No.  She goes where I go…

Xena (angrily): Don’t argue with me.

Gabrielle (having had enough): Put them both in my hut and you (pointing at Xena) unless you calm down and start thinking rationally can spend the night by yourself.  Now sit down and shut up Xena….
Everyone held their breath waiting for Xena to react but she just stood there; jaw clenched taking several deep breaths. 

Xena (backing up): Fine.  I don’t have to stay there. 

Marquesa (shaking her head): No but you will remain in the village until your sentence is carried out…

Gabrielle (turning around): What sentence?

Eve (softly): The same one that Varia will receive in the temple at dawn. 

Gabrielle (squeezing the bridge of her nose): What sentence? 

Lin Chi (standing and handing her the scroll): For failure in her breach of fealty; her duties as Champion Xena will present herself at dawn for ten lashes then she will be branded.  Eve will receive the same unless…

Varia (proudly): I will stand in Eve’s place…

Marquesa (moving beside Lin Chi): And risk banishment.

Gabrielle (looking around): This is unbelievable.  After all, she has done (motioning to Xena.)  And after Eve was pardoned (motioning to Eve.) 
Tasha (picking up a small mallet): The council’s decision is unanimous (slamming the mallet down.)  We will commence at dawn.  That is all.

Xena stood beside Gabrielle; her mind a whirlwind of activity.  What was the point to all this?  Why now?  Why her and Eve?  And better yet Varia…

Varia (taking Eve’s arm): Come on.  Let’s go and sit and talk about things.  It won’t be bad.

Eve (looking at her parent’s then back at Varia): I’ll see you two later.

Gabrielle (watching as Eve and Varia walked out the door then looked up to her lover, her soul mate, her best friend): I don’t understand.
Xena (leaning against the table with her arms folded across her chest): I don’t either.  But I accept it.

Gabriele (looking up into blue eyes that ha darkened with emotion): You do huh?  Mind telling me why?
Xena (softly): Because I hurt you.  I failed you and I’ll regret that to my dying day Brie (with that she turned to leave but a soft touch on her arm.)
Gabrielle (pleading): We can leave.  We can be gone now and never have to set foot back here.  We can take Eve with us and Varia…

Xena (growling): No (and turned and left.)
Gabrielle stood there looking around, tears filling her eyes.  For the first time in a long time, she felt all hope was lost.

Jungle South America

Mel (taking a deep breath): So they were going to punish Xena and Eve but Varia was going to take her place.  And this was all because they felt that they had both failed or violated a bunch of rules.  Melosa and Hypolyta would have never allowed this.

Gabrielle (fighting tears; the incident had happened so long ago but I still hurt her knowing that her mate had suffered for her beliefs): Yes.  And they did.  You’re right though.
Janice (looking around): And Xena was dead set against Eve and Varia’s relationship.

Gabrielle (nodding): She was until a good friend of ours reminded us of something.  It’s getting late.  We’re going to stop for the night.  I’m sure Xena found us a good spot to camp.

Mel (moving her horse closer to Gabrielle’s): I’m sorry…
Gabrielle (squeezing her hand): It’s ok.  Even though something’s still hurt, there was some good that came of it all.  I’ll tell you the rest tomorrow.  Right now though I’ve got to find that Warrior of mine so we can make camp.  We’ll need plenty of rest because if I’m right then we’ll be at the sight by early evening tomorrow. 
Xena (riding up): Got us a spot.  (Noticing the tension on her lover’s face) Brie…

Gabrielle (looking into soft blue eyes so full of warmth and love): It’s ok.

Mel (sensing they needed to be alone): Where did you find us a spot?
Xena (pointing): Through that stand of trees.  There’s a small creek got some fish and some clean water.  We’ll meet you over there. 

When Mel and Janice had moved out of earshot and sight, Xena dismounted and moved to her partner.  Reaching up she helped her down and held her.

Gabrielle (softly; nuzzling Xena’s shoulder and neck): I was telling them about those awful couple of days before…
Xena (remembering): One of the best days of my life.  We have to over look the rest and look at what did come of it.  We were joined our bond sealed forever with the promise we would always be together.  In every lifetime every single time.  We would always find each other.

Gabrielle (agreeing): I remember.  And true love never does run smoothly. 

Xena (smirking): Yeah Varia and Eve who would have guessed.  I couldn’t believe it when Eve openly challenged me and she won but…

Gabrielle (laughing): Aphrodite was behind it all.  She helped Eve beat you in a fair fight…

Xena (playful pouting): It wasn’t a fair fight…
Gabrielle (caressing her bottom lip): Was too.  Eve couldn’t beat you and she had to prove herself to you well at least in her eyes.

Xena (leaning in for a kiss): I know that was some challenge though.  I suspected something was up but couldn’t put my finger on it. 

Gabrielle (licking her lips): Sure.  Come on we have camp to set up and dinner to find.

Xena (not moving): It wasn’t a fair fight.

Gabrielle (taking the reins of her horse): Yes it was.  You big tough ferocious Warrior and Eve Messenger of Eli. 
Xena (grabbing her horse’s reins): And I lost…

Gabrielle (shaking her head): No you didn’t.  You just got some sense knocked into you, that’s all.  Which if I remember you deserved?

Xena (wide eyed): I you what…Let me tell you something I would have woken up to the fact my daughter…
Gabrielle (turning around): Your daughter (arching her eyebrow) excuse me…

Janice (looking around): I don’t like it…

Mel (shifting nervously): I hope they get over here.

Xena (walking in; noticing the tension): What’s wrong?  Dinner bothering you?
Janice (shaking her head): No.  And what is it with you and your one-liners. 
Xena (chuckling): Nothing, never mind.  What’s the matter?
Gabrielle (looking around): Xena I don’t know…
Xena (her senses were prickling; but she couldn’t see or pin point what it was): Get a fire started.  Keep the horses close to the campsite.  We’ll take shifts.

Gabrielle (moving next to Xena): What is it?
Xena (looking into the darkness): I don’t know.  But whatever it is, I don’t like it.

And as the four travelers looked on into the darkening forest, a pair of cold eyes watched their every move.  Waiting for the right moment to reveal itself.


Xena’s Girl

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