Disclaimers: None of the characters herein belong to me - seriously.  However I can honestly say that story is all mine so.... If you’re still reading my stuff at this point, you pretty well know what you’re getting into.  If you don’t have an open mind, why exactly are you still reading?  If you do read it and you find something you think needs disclaiming, you are still more than welcome to let me know.  It won’t change anything, but it may make you feel better.   Ugliness will earn you a smack to the back of your head.

Thanks: To Phil and Mac - who continue to faithfully read for me and pick up the trail of dropped letter and extra commas that make their way across the page.  My stories are a much better read due to their diligence, and I appreciate their efforts on my behalf more than they will ever know.

Author’s Notes: Yet another part of the next multi... assuming I don’t die of old age before I actually get to write it.  Thanks to Steph for inviting me to play again – it’s always an honor, Boss! :-)


Skin Walkers
By D



She glanced at her phone again even as she looked around the neighborhood.  She was in Lower Manhattan - in the Financial District - but that wasn’t as disconcerting as the building in front of which she now stood.  Another glance at her phone assured her she was where she was supposed to be according to the address she had entered, but that did nothing to quell her confusion.  She wasn’t sure what she had expected; all she was certain of was that it hadn’t been this.

She picked her way up the steps of the mid-level high rise, still half-convinced her GPS had led her astray… because this place looked more like an old hotel than any kind of business.  Still, she trusted that the information Xena had shared with her at the convention only days before had been the truth, and she swung open the heavy wooden door with only the tiniest hint of trepidation.

The lobby area made her stop in her tracks and she paused a long moment to take in the old-fashioned, genteel ambiance.  If she hadn’t known better, she’d have sworn she’d crossed a time portal and stepped back into the late, nineteenth century.  As it was, the sharp ring of the phone and ping of the elevator doors opening brought her sharply back into the twenty-first century.  She took a deep breath and approached the receptionist, who offered her a polite smile and an inquiring eyebrow.

“How can I help you, Detective?”

She blinked… until she realized she hadn’t removed her shield.  She cleared her throat.  “I don’t have an appointment, but I was wondering if I could speak to Gabrielle.  I spoke to her and Xena at the convention last week, and they told me to come by when I was available,” realizing she was rambling by the twinkle in the receptionist’s eyes, though her expression remained stoic otherwise.

“And your name, Detective?”

“Benson… Lieutenant Olivia Benson.”

“Give me a moment, Detective, and I’ll ring their PA.  She’ll know whether Gabrielle can see you today.”

Olivia nodded and stepped away from the desk.  She hoped Gabrielle was in, because she really wanted some answers.


The Story

“Yes?” came the sharp voice when the phone rang.

“Ms. Novak?  This is Peggy at the front desk.  I have a….” glancing down at her notes.  “… a Lieutenant Olivia Benson down here asking to speak to Gabrielle.  What would you like me to tell her?”

A number of thoughts went through Casey’s head, but she only voiced one.  “You’re certain she asked for Gabrielle and not Xena?”

“Yes, ma’am.  She mentioned Xena and the convention last week, but she specifically asked to speak with Gabrielle.”

Casey pinched the bridge of her nose, and released a slow breath.  “Give me a minute,” she instructed, and put the call on hold.  She rose from her seat and crossed to the door on her right, tapping lightly before sticking her head in the door.  “Gabrielle?”

“Casey,” she replied with a grin, looking up from her parchment as she reached her quill towards the ink pot on her desk.  “What can I do for you?”

“Olivia’s here, and she’d like to speak to you.”

Blonde eyebrows lifted in question.  “Which Olivia?  Spencer or Benson?”


“And she wants to speak to me?  Not Xena?”

“According to Peggy, she’s asking to speak to you.”

“All right, then.  Have her come on up.  And ask Xena to come to my office, will you, please?”

“You got it,” Casey replied, shutting the door behind her.  She reseated herself at her desk, then pushed the button for the intercom to Xena’s office.  “Xena, Gabrielle has requested you to join her in her office, please.”

Xena frowned, but nodded, even though no one but her could see it.  “Trouble?”

“I don’t think so.  She just asked me to call you.”

“Got it.  Thanks, Case,” she added before cutting the speaker and moving to make her way through the adjoining door into Gabrielle’s office.  Maybe she could get a few answers.

Meanwhile, Casey lifted the phone and connected herself back to the front reception desk.  “Peggy?  Go ahead and send Detective Benson straight up to the office.  I’ll handle it from here.”

“You got it, Ms. Novak.  She’ll be there directly.”  She hung up the phone and turned back to the detective who was standing in front of the massive fireplace.  “Lieutenant Benson?” waiting for the woman’s eyes to meet hers.  She smiled.  “If you’ll come with me, I’ve been instructed to send you directly to the top floor.”

“Oh, that’s okay.  I can….”

Peggy laughed lightly and held up a key card.  “No ma’am.  You really can’t.  If you’ll follow me, please?” motioning her to the main elevator off to one side and somewhat behind her desk.  She tapped a code into the panel beside the fancy looking door, and waited for the door to slide open.  When it did, she slid the cage back, and gestured for Olivia to enter.  She did so, glancing around again - almost convinced she had landed in some sort of steampunk otherworld.  Peggy pushed the card into the slot and pushed the button for the top floor.  “Just pull the iron gate closed, and the glass doors will follow of their own accord.  This will take you right to the bosses’ reception area.  Someone will meet you there.”

Olivia caught Peggy’s hand and squeezed it briefly.  “Thank you for your help,” she offered, before releasing her hold and stepping back to close the wrought iron door.  The glass doors followed suit, and in only another moment, she was stopping at the top floor.

“Curiouser and curiouser,” she mumbled to herself, waiting for the glass to slide away before she touched the cage handle.  Then she snatched the key card, and crossed into another unexpected surprise.


“Gabrielle?” Xena queried as she stepped through the connecting door.  “Everything all right?”

Gabrielle deliberately wiped the remainder of wet ink from the nib of her quill, and placed the lid on her ink pot.  Then she moved the tools to one side of her desk to rest beside the sanded parchment, and folded her hands on top before raising her eyes to meet Xena’s.  “I’m not sure,” she replied honestly.  “Detective Benson is here… to see me.”

Dark brows flew into an equally dark hairline.  “Really?  Did she say why?”

“I’m going to say no, since Casey didn’t give me a reason.  We know she was agitated about something last week.  That was why she asked to speak to us in the first place at the end of the conference, wasn’t it?”

“Apparently,” Xena agreed, “though that wasn’t the impression I got then.”  She waved a hand.  “Doesn’t matter.  Let’s see what she wants.  You did want me to stay in here with you, right?”

Gabrielle rose and stepped into Xena’s body, sinking into her embrace when strong arms automatically wound around her body and pulled them closer together.  She sighed in contentment.  “Yes.  Pretty sure whatever this is about, it’s going to involve both of us before all is said and done.”

Xena grinned and brushed a kiss over the strawberry blonde locks tucked under her chin.  “Doesn’t it always?” She asked wryly.  Then she released her hold, and allowed Gabrielle to move back to her desk chair before she walked to stand behind her, though she faced the window and looked out at the vista of the city view she could observe from the floor-to-ceiling windows in Gabrielle’s office.  Then they waited for Casey to announce their unexpected visitor.


“Hello, Olivia,” came a very familiar voice from the receptionist’s desk.  Olivia stopped short, just off the elevator, and stared for a long moment with her mouth open.  Then she snapped it shut and moved towards the desk.

“Casey?”  She reached out a hand towards the other woman, who accepted it with only the slightest shaking of her own.  “What are you doing here?  Where’s Abbie?”  Casey extracted her hand and offered a pained smile and Olivia immediately felt concern well up.  “Casey?”

“It’s a long story, and we really don’t have time for all of it right now.  Let me let Gabrielle know you’re here.”

“Wait… you work here?  For how long?” clutching at her arm to prevent Casey from walking away.  “Does Alex know?” wondering if her girlfriend would really keep something like this from her if Casey had asked for confidentiality.

“I do… for the past year or so.”  She sighed.  “And no… she doesn’t.  As I said, it’s a long story.”

“I’d like to hear if you can share.”

“Maybe one day,” Casey offered quietly as she lifted Olivia’s hand from her arm, squeezing it lightly before dropping it.  “Let me announce you,” she said as she walked to Gabrielle’s door.  She knocked sharply, then opened the door and stuck her head in.  “Gabrielle?  Lieutenant Benson is here to see you.”

“Show her in and then maybe go out and get a little air, hmm?  You look a little pale.”

“I think that sounds like a great idea,” with a wan smile.  “Can I get either of you anything while I’m out?”

“We’re good.  Take your time.”

“Thank you, Gabrielle.  You can’t know….”

She offered Casey a smile.   “I can… and I do.  Now go.  We’ll be all right here for a little while.”

Casey nodded and exited the room briefly, only to open the door again a moment later to allow Olivia to cross in front of her into the office.  Then she closed the door and grabbed her things from the desk before making her way downstairs.  She just needed a little time and space to get it together. 


Gabrielle stood and extended a hand, and Xena turned from the window, though she made no other effort to welcome the detective beyond offering a bare nod of her head.  This was between her and Gabrielle; she was just here for backup in case Gabrielle required some help.  “Olivia, how lovely to see you again,” Gabrielle welcomed.  She motioned to the chair in front of her desk as she resumed her seat.  “Please.  Can we offer you some refreshment?”

Olivia took a seat while shaking her head.  “No… no, thank you.  I’m hoping this doesn’t take too long.”

“How can we help you, Detective?”

Olivia shook her head.  “It’s not like that… not exactly.  Do you remember…?  I mean….”  She shook her head again.  “Sorry, I’m just a little….”  She blew out a frustrated breath and sucked in more air before trying again.  “Last week, when we were in New Orleans at the convention, you told a Halloween story.  You told several, I know, but there was one in particular….”

She trailed off, her vision trained on something beyond the window.  Xena and Gabrielle exchanged glances, then Gabrielle stood and made her way around her desk.  She took the other visitor’s chair and placed a hand on Olivia’s arm.  After a minute, Olivia’s attention returned and she looked over to find Gabrielle watching her carefully.   She tilted her head in thoughtful confusion and arched an eyebrow at Gabrielle.  Gabrielle chuckled.  “Keep practicing, Detective.  Maybe one day you can go pro,” thumbing toward Xena still standing behind the desk, giving her the same look.  Olivia turned her head and had to laugh.  It was a release as much as anything else, and Gabrielle waited until the sound tapered off.  “Feel better?” She asked when Olivia met her eyes again.

“Strangely, yes.”  She rubbed her hands over her face.  “Sorry.  I’m not sure what’s wrong with me today.”

“Why don’t you tell me what brought you here?  What story affected you so greatly?”

“Will you tell me the Navajo story again? The one with the Skin Walkers?”

Gabrielle’s brow furrowed as her gaze turned inward.  Then she nodded.  “Sure,” patting Olivia’s arm before standing and crossing the room.  She paced for a few moments, then turned back to Olivia and took a deep breath.


The Navajo have a legend - one designed to scare trespassers and keep children in at night, though many of the Diné  both fear and respect the lore, no matter their age.  It is said there exists a creature known as a Skin Walker - a shapeshifter whose sole purpose is to inflict pain and suffering on others.  They are a medicine man or witch who has attained evil supernatural power through murder, and once this is accomplished, they can transform into any animal form they desire… including other humans.  It is believed that they live and work among the Navajo, sneaking out at night to perform a twisted mockery of the sacred chants in order to work their evil magic.

The more chaos and terror they create, the stronger they become… until they can steal the faces of different people, or absorb themselves into someone else’s body and control both their thoughts and actions.  Once they achieve this plateau of power, stopping them is nearly impossible; raping and killing becomes their sole purpose for being.  Many of the Diné believe that most of mankind’s serial killers are a form of Skin Walker, though they will never discuss such things with outsiders for fear of retribution.


“How do you know this?  How did you hear this story?  Because you did hear it, didn’t you?  Despite your gift for storytelling, it’s not something you’re just making up from whole cloth, is it?”

Gabrielle tilted her head at the vehemence in Olivia’s tone, and gave Xena the slightest hand signal to keep her from moving.  “It’s not,” she agreed.  “It’s something I learned about from the Diné a long time ago.”

“How is that even possible?”  Olivia rubbed a hand over her eyes. “By your own admission, they don’t talk about this with outsiders.  And no offense, Gabrielle, but you are obviously not Navajo.  So how do you know this??”

Gabrielle cocked her head and looked into Olivia’s dark eyes intently.  “I need you to take a deep breath, and dial it back a notch or six, Detective.”  She held up a hand before Olivia could protest.  “I understand you’ve been thoroughly rattled by what I said, and for some reason it seems to have shaken you to your very core.  However, you need to get a handle on yourself.  I promise to explain it to you, all right?  But I need you to be calm and rational if we’re going to continue this line of conversation.”

Olivia drew in a deep breath and nodded her head in agreement.  She’d seen Xena stiffen in response to her raised voice, and she was pretty sure she didn’t want to provoke her more than that.  Unlike Gabrielle, whose steel seemed to rest beneath the surface of gentility and kindness, Xena radiated danger and uncertainty.  And Olivia had no desire to provoke (or poke) that particular bear.

She closed her eyes and released the breath she’d been holding, rubbing her hands over her eyes and taking another breath.  Only when she felt a tap at her shoulder did she open her eyes, not surprised to find Xena standing there holding out a glass of water.  “You all right now?” She asked, with only the faintest hint of warning in her tone.

“Yes, thank you,” Olivia replied as she accepted the glass and the warning with equal aplomb.  “You have to understand,” she continued, looking back towards Gabrielle after taking a large swallow.  “I heard a story like this from the time I was a small child.  Only….”

“Only what?” Gabrielle prompted as the silence dragged out.

Olivia pinched her lip thoughtfully.  “You probably know my background.  My mother was an English professor at Hudson University whose primary interests lay in literature.  She was also associated with the Iroquois Confederacy, even though I’m still not completely sure on the whys and wherefores of her dealings with them.”  She waved it away with her hand.  “Doesn’t matter… not for the telling of this anyway.  What matters is that she was involved enough to be collecting their stories, and some of them I heard from the time I could crawl.  One of them was the story of the Rake.  Similar to the Skin Walkers, it was said if you could see them - if you looked at them directly - they would kill you just for the sport of killing.”

Gabrielle nodded her head.  “I’ve heard much the same.  The Western nations had Skin Walkers; the Northeast had Rakes; the South had Crawlers.  But the legend remains very similar no matter their origin.”

“One of the things my mom always cautioned about - something you yourself just repeated - was the fact that it was a secret you had to keep… not a story to share.  There would always be retribution for those who couldn’t hold their tongue.”  She snorted softly.  “I was never quite sure I believed her, but I never tried to find out either.  The whole idea just… creeped me out.”

“As it should,” Gabrielle said softly.  “Your mother didn’t lie to you, Olivia; those weren’t just stories.  Skin Walkers and Rakes and Crawlers truly do exist, and they are some of the most vile, evil creatures to roam the earth.”

“Then why talk about them?  Why make them even more real for people who cannot see or understand?  And that still doesn’t tell me how and why you are able to share this when so many native people can’t and don’t.”

“Skin Walkers have no power against me.  They tried - more than once - to go up against me, and have learned to steer clear,” smiling slightly when she saw Olivia’s eyes bug out of her head as her jaw dropped.  “Telling people about them at this time of year?  It lessens their impact; no one believes that they are real if they’re just part of a scary story.  And the story I told you was just a story - the legend that the Navajo have passed down for generations.  It wasn’t necessarily the truth.”

“Wait - you’ve gone up against Skin Walkers and survived??  How?  Mom said it wasn’t possible.  Once they had you, you were theirs.”

“Not if Xena is your champion,” Gabrielle answered with a fond look at Xena.

“Wait… what?  How did…?  What…?  Could you start from the beginning and tell me the whole story?  Please?”

Gabrielle looked at Xena, who nodded her head minutely.  Olivia’s brow furrowed in confusion, but she let it pass in hopes that Gabrielle would explain.  In only a moment, her patience was rewarded.  Gabrielle sat back in her chair and steepled her fingers together, meeting Olivia’s eyes squarely.  “Do you remember our first convention… when we were at Disney and Xena surprised me with a storytelling session I went into with almost no prep?” waiting for Olivia to acknowledge the memory.  “The story I told then was one based in a legend that was popular when ancient Greece was still in its infancy.  But I didn’t tell all of the legend.  It was also told that when good met evil and chaos was let loose into the world, a number of other worldly creatures were also brought into our plane of existence - some good… some bad.  Among those, was the beast know as the Skin Walker.”  She sighed and folded her hands together, dropping them to her lap and letting her eyes follow for a long moment.  Then she looked up once more.

“Xena and I have had a long, interesting life together, exploring much of the world and its mysteries.  Some things we’ve confirmed as completely bogus, but others….  At one point, we were separated for a while, and Xena made friends with a number of Native peoples from many different cultures.  She noticed how many of their myths tended to run in the same direction, and when we were finally reunited, we decided to check things out for ourselves.”


The Cheyenne were the first we visited, because they, more than any other Nation, had become family to Xena.  Nothing happened while we were there, but Xena had a reputation there as a strong, fierce warrior, and as her mate, I was accepted by proxy.  It would have taken more than a single Skin Walker to destroy her, and they knew this.  They also knew her brothers would stand with her, so they let us be, and we moved on to the Diné.  With the Navajo, the respect was there because she came to them as a warrior, but otherwise they knew little about her and nothing about me beyond the fact that I was a storyteller.  That made me accepted simply because the Diné love a good story, and I do all right on that front,” snickering when both Olivia and Xena rolled their eyes at her pronouncement.

Anyway, the first night we were there, we told stories back and forth, sharing legends and myths and generally getting acquainted with one another.  It was fun, and there was a lot of laughter around the campfire that evening, but when the coyotes started to howl, the gathering broke up almost immediately, and everyone went to their own homes.  Xena and I had been given guest quarters, and we did the same, locking the door carefully as we had been instructed.”


“You didn’t think it was odd that they were so precise about locking your door?”

“Not really.  When you’ve traveled the world like we have, you learn to listen and follow the local customs as much as possible.  It generally saves a lot of grief.”

“So what happened?”


When we entered our dwelling, we shut and locked the door, then set about getting ready for bed.  Before we could crawl in or turn out the bedside light, a horrible scream emanated from just the other side of the door, and it shook as though a great weight had been thrown against it.  It made us both jump, quite frankly.

It only happened once that first night, and we didn’t think a lot about it once morning came.  It was entirely possible that someone was playing a trick - after all, it was that time of year, and that is part of a lot of initiations… trying to scare folks, I mean.

We went about our business for the day, not overly concerned… especially since no one else seemed to be bothered by whatever it had been.  That night, we did the same again - telling stories around the fire until the coyotes started to howl.  Once again, everyone proceeded to their homes and locked up carefully behind them.  This time, Xena put her sword by the bedside table… just in case.


“Um… sword?” Olivia asked.

“Only because you wouldn’t let me put it under the pillow,” Xena groused.

“Xeee-naaa,” Gabrielle drawled in a chiding manner.  “Your sword has never belonged under the pillow.  There’s too much likelihood of injury.”

“Waitaminute… sword?” Olivia tried to clarify again.

“Well, it’s not like I can lay it beside me like I used to.”

“True, but it’s not like either of us is going to give up the comfort and luxury of a good mattress either.”

“HEY!” Olivia finally broke in, causing both Xena and Gabrielle to look at her in surprise.  “What sword??”

“Xena’s sword,” Gabrielle replied practically and without hesitation, watching the confusion and disbelief grow in Olivia’s brown eyes.  “Just go with it, Detective,” she instructed.  “It’s the truth.”

Olivia nodded slowly, though her confusion was still apparent.  “All right,” she conceded.  “I’d love to know more about it though.”

“Maybe one day,” Xena replied nonchalantly. 

“Suffice it to say Xena is well-versed in a number of weapons… including those no longer in use.  She finds great pleasure and comfort in being able to wield just about anything with an unmatched level of expertise.  And people tend to overlook a lot if they themselves are unfamiliar with things.  No one looks twice if she carries a sword - they assume it is a prop weapon for some kind of role play,” not mentioning when any of this took place or how long the sword had been part of their lives.

Olivia turned back to Xena at Gabrielle’s words.  “Now I’d really like to know more.  However, we’re kind of off track.  What happened next?”


The second night, we actually made it into bed when we heard the screech and felt the rattling on the door.  Xena was on her feet - sword in hand - before the tremors stopped.  When a second scream reverberated through the air and the door shook again, Xena let out her own war cry as she hit the hilt of the sword against the door.  We actually heard the being skitter away before anything else happened.

We waited for a repeat, but it never came, and eventually, we settled down to sleep.

The following morning, Xena and I sat down with the Chieftain.  That was when we first heard the legend of the Skin Walkers.  The story didn’t come without a little coaxing, but given our experiences of the two previous nights, it also wasn’t especially difficult to persuade him to share, though it was done in whispers as we walked out in the open fields.  The Chief was clearly more than a little disturbed by what had happened to us, and quite curious to know how we had managed to survive, as their legend - like the one your mother told you about the Rake - tells that once a Skin Walker has targeted you, it will take you.


“What did you tell them?”

“The truth.  We had no idea why it targeted us, nor why it had yet to do more than try to frighten us away.”  What Gabrielle didn’t share with Olivia, nor had she shared with the Chieftain at the time, was their belief that their Bacchae nature was what had attracted the Skin Walker - because he recognized them as a threat.

“So what happened?”

Gabrielle’s eyes narrowed.  “You know… you’re starting to sound a lot like Emma did, once upon a time.”

Olivia had the grace to smile sheepishly and shrug.  Gabrielle just smiled and shook her head, then continued on with her story.


The third night, we were prepared, knowing he was coming.  Skin Walkers are very deliberate when they choose a victim - it’s never random - and they always pick a target and pursue such until they have successfully carried out whatever ending they have chosen.  So we knew he’d be back - it was simply a matter of when.

That night, I stood at the door and waited, expecting - *knowing* - the Skin Walker would return once more.  Xena stood behind me, sword at the ready.  We listened for his approach, and just as he started to shriek, I jerked the door open, stepping out of the way to allow Xena to strike down….


Gabrielle trailed off, her mind locked into the horror that had been that night so many years ago.  She always tended to block the terror and panic that followed that memory.  Olivia looked at her pale features in concern, but before she could move to offer comfort, Xena was kneeling at Gabrielle’s feet.  She clasped the cold hands that were clutching the arms of the chair in which she sat, loosening her hold and pulling them into her own.  She chafed them gently, waiting for green eyes to track to hers.  When they finally met, Gabrielle moved one hand to cup Xena’s cheek while rubbing her thumb across the strong cheekbone.  Xena leaned into the touch, closing her eyes briefly before meeting Gabrielle’s again, smiling sadly at the inherent sadness reflected back at her.

“I’m all right, Xe,” she promised.  “I just… I try not to remember that, so it always knocks me for a loop every time I have to confront that particular truth - either of them really,” knowing Xena understood exactly what she meant.

“I’m sorry,” Xena whispered.

Gabrielle leaned forward and brushed a kiss over the proud forehead.  “I know.  And I’ve forgiven you.  It doesn’t change what happened nor my reaction to it, and it never will.  But I promise you, I’m all right… and so are we.”

“I love you, you know.”

“I know - I love you too. But I probably should finish the story.  I’m sure Olivia here is wondering what on earth is going on at this point.”

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t curious,” Olivia admitted softly. “But it’s not so important any more either.  I’m sorry for bursting in here like I did, demanding answers.  I didn’t realize it would be so traumatic or bring up such unhappy memories for you.”

Gabrielle met her eyes and shook her head.  “You, probably more than most, were entitled to ask.  After all, you knew the legend and the caveats surrounding it.  So allow me to tell you how this particular story ends.”

Xena rose and took her place behind Gabrielle, strong hands on her shoulders as a reminder of her presence and Gabrielle took hold of one and smiled as Xena wrapped their fingers together.  Then she resumed her story.


When I jerked open the door, I froze, because standing in the doorway was Xena… only not.  The Skin Walker had assumed her face and shape, which was when we knew it was coming for me.  Fortunately, Xena didn’t hesitate, and before the Skin Walker could move, she’d stepped forward into the doorway and swung her sword, removing the head from the body in one smooth stroke.  Though the body collapsed where it stood, blood sprayed everywhere and the head bounced twice before it came to rest at my feet. Only when it stopped moving did we realize that it was the Shaman.

We left our dwelling and went back to the fire pit.  When we stirred the embers into a blaze, the Diné returned, curious to know what had happened.  The Chieftain was the one to approach us, frowning when he noted the blood spattered over both Xena and me.  “You succeeded?” he asked, head tilted in question.  “We did,” I assured him.  “Your Shaman is dead.”

There was an outcry from the Shaman’s first wife, but none of the rest showed much surprise beyond the fact that we had defeated him.  Still, we knew enough to take our leave.  As grateful as they were for the destruction of the Skin Walker, the fact that we were able to defeat such evil simply made us even scarier.  So we left, and it was many years before we returned to the Navajo.  We went among many of the other Nations, and sometimes we were attacked, and others we were simply hunted.  Eventually, however, our reputation for being able to defeat the Skin Walkers preceded us, and we were left alone.


“They do still exist, both in lore and in reality.  But they have learned to steer clear of us and keep things on the down low.  Because no one really wants us to get involved again… including us.  People die, and it brings back a lot of memories we’d rather not remember.”

“I’m sorry,” Olivia offered softly.

“Don’t be,” Gabrielle instructed.  “I never would have shared the legend if I had known anyone else was so familiar with it.  I thought was obscure enough that no one would be aware of the details… even if the details aren’t the strictest truth.  Lesson learned.”

“Well, I appreciate you sharing it with me… all of it.  I won’t… I won’t share this with anyone.  You’re both entitled to keep your secrets, even though I’ll admit to a lot of questions and curiosity now.”  She rose from her chair and extended a hand toward Gabrielle, waiting until she accepted it before tugging her gently to her feet.  Then she shifted her grip until she was clasping Gabrielle’s hand between both of hers.  “Thank you, Gabrielle.  I can’t imagine that was pleasant, and is sounds a little ridiculous, but it… well, it puts my mind at rest.  I’m sorry I brought such terrible memories back for you.”

Gabrielle covered the hands holding hers.  “Thank you, Olivia.  I’m glad it gave you some peace.  If you have any more questions….”

“If I have any more questions, I might just run them past Xena first.  I’m fairly confident she wouldn’t be particularly forgiving if I barge in here like this again, and you deserve better.  You both do.”

“You know how to reach me, Olivia,” Xena assured, coming up to wrap her arms around Gabrielle’s middle. “And I assure you I’ll find time to talk to you.”

Olivia eased her hands from Gabrielle’s grasp, and offered one to Xena, grateful when she shook it without hesitation.  “Thank you, Xena,” nodding her head.  “Gabrielle.  Please tell Casey I was happy to see her and hope to be in touch with her again soon.”  Without another word, she turned and left the office.

Gabrielle patted the hands at her belly.  “Do you need to…?”

“Pretty sure she paid attention coming up, but I guess we’ll see.  Meanwhile, I’ve got a couple calls to make.  Are you going to be all right?”

“I’m fine,” waving away Xena’s concern, though they both knew her words were less than the truth.  “Go do your thing.  I’ve got some writing to finish.  Maybe we can go home early today.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Xena agreed.  She brushed a kiss over Gabrielle’s lips, then headed for the door to her office.  “See you shortly.”  Gabrielle nodded and walked back around her desk, slowly retrieving her parchment and quill.  She had some thinking to do.



Law & Order (all): NBC-Universal/Wolf Productions, NBC, created by Dick Wolf
XWP:  Pacific Renaissance Pictures Ltd/Universal, syndication, created by John Schulian, Rob Tapert and RJ Stewart