Beltane's Eve

by J. Connell

Disclaimer: Xena, Gabrielle, and one other character (I won't say which or it'll ruin the story, I'll say more at the end) are property of Universal Pictures and Renaissance Productions and are being used without permission. This is a piece of fanfic intended only for entertainment, not for material profit. There is earthly language used here, and suggestive scenes of consensual sex and committed love between two women. If this is illegal in your state or offensive to you, there's plenty of other books to read. This is a contribution, of sorts, to the "Blood and Roses" universe of Katrina. Check out her archive at for details.

Episode Disclaimer: No antique blades of any nationality were damaged during the writing of this fanfic. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for several uninsured pieces of furniture.

Comments, praise, and questions (flames will be ignored) can be directed to

Thanks for reading. Joseph Connell

Beltane's Eve

The instant Morgan met the man's eyes, she knew coming to the club had been a mistake. The only reason she even entered that night, damn it all, had been because she knew it belonged to her 'mother', though the Ancient had likely forgotten about her over the centuries. As well she should, Morgan forever attempted to convince herself. Hades, she'd willing forget about herself, or, better still, simply do away with herself given half the chance.

"The Fields" was but the smallest holding among the Ancientšs many, many properties amassed over the course of her life. The converted top floor of a warehouse dating back to the 1940s, all ambiance and soft musics as haunting as they were melodic. Sharp flavored drinks and amore in the air.

It had been a mistake to come.

It had been impossible not to come.

She'd known who owned the club, having made it her business to know such things over the centuries, following her 'mother' and all her affairs from the distant shadows. Many a time she'd longed to step forward and name her for what she was . . .all courage abandoning her the instant she caught sight of the crown of shoulder-length hair as burnished and shining as the sunset.

So, here she sat, Morgan Sofitia Fythe, anthropologist and Wiccan priestess, in a soft-lit bar filled with goth-wannabees and not a few serious pagans, trying her damnedest to disappear before the gaze of surely the handsomest man there. The classical rough-hewn sort of handsome that a generation ago would have been "Mr. All-American", with his cropped hair a dark shade of brown and unshaven jaw. His perfect eyes, somehow neither blue nor brown nor hazel and yet all three at once, set within a lean face and possessing all the calm of a cloudless afternoon sky. His lips, neither thin nor full, crooked into a grin at once endearing and mocking. 'Can't resist me can you?' that grin mocked her, both knowing the answer.

He sauntered towards her booth, his pace unhurried. Morgan was a deer, caught in the headlights of his presence. Don't do this, don't do this, Goddess please don't do this. . .was all that she managed to think coherently as he placed two bottles on the table before her.

Guiness. Her favorite brew, and the only one she'd drink.

Bastard! Morgan would have screeched, had she voice.

His own was some microbrew with some absurd name, something she could stare at for hours on end, and never remember.

Fucking shit rat bastard!

"Share a drink with me, luv?" His accent was something between Irish, public-schoolboy British, and midwestern American drawl. At once gentle to the ears, as gentle as the strands of MacKinnet and Clannad which floated across the club's sound system, and as grating to her every nerve as if she grasped a live wire in her bare hand.

Morgan had no voice, so she grabbed the bottle and chugged down two mouthfuls, much to the amusement of her suitor. He watched her with all the intensity of predator watching prey, his eyes not once wavering. Even when he lifted his own bottle to his lips. It was all she could do to keep her own eyes on the narrow neck of dark-colored glass before her.

The bastard was seducing her, her of all people, without so much as meeting her eyes!

The stout was a rich, frothy taste which soothed her throat, while it disquieted her mind with memories of years and lifetimes past. Of emerald green hills of her native land, of the loud public houses where she'd wenched in her youth, and her eternal struggle against the legacy of her own blood.

The bottle was drained within minutes, and Morgan could only damn her immortal heritage which refused her the luxury of even the smallest release of indulgence. . .of alcohol, at least. Her infrequent lovers over the millennia, whether male, female, and otherwise, to a one held her stamina and passion in awe. Lovers were infrequent not for lack of either passion or opportunity, but out of fear of such primal drives. Her mother's heritage left her forever wary of herself, to say nothing of the native power which resided within her. Her own few demonstrations of it were awesome in their own right, and something Morgan would willingly live without.

This one, he called to her with song sweeter and stronger than anything Poseidon's Siren hags might conceive. Their eyes had not met for more than an instant, so practiced was he. She was his, and soon he would utter the words Morgan knew she would be helpless to resist.

Still, this one wasn't cruel in his conduct. He took his time finishing his own beer, even going so far as to ask "Want another?" All Morgan could do was curse the desertion of her voice, not that she'd have been able to do much more than gulp it again. The burn another would have on her throat was little compared to the flame of this one's continued presence. All she could do was endure it.

Too soon, he too was finished. Morgan felt his eyes upon here for some minutes before he said the words she dreadedŠand longed for.

"Take me to your place."

Morgan had long ago taken to living high above the city, a hang-over from her early days of life. Not actually living mind you, which was a luxury she'd come to enjoy only in recent decades, but her first centuries were a constant fear of discovery interlaced with both seeking and avoiding her mother. Who had time for such things as literature and art and home-cooking when being sought by fools determined to burn you at the stake?

Her love of heights had developed from forever sleeping and sheltering in caves and bell-towers. She'd often sought sanctuary in the temples and cathedrals, a bit of irony considering who so often incited the riots and hunts for her, never mind she always felt safe there. Protected.

Ironic, but no more so than the rest of her existence.

She led him into her condo, which sat nestled within a tower full of them. She owned this, and a few other properties with it. Morgan Sofitia Fythe was a wealthy woman, more out of a matter of necessity than desire. Necessary, if she were to keep pace with her mother, and marshal to her defense should it ever be needed. Necessary, if she were to acquire position and weapons (both of steel and of 'expertise') she believed would be of use to her in this modern age.

The condo was large and comfortable, its walls wood and carpets plush with thick fiber. The furniture was minimal, but elegant in its simplicity of design. What available space there was, and there was quite a bit of it, was filled almost to capacity with artwork both painted and sculpted (most her own work under other names she'd lived under, little of it she actually cared for) and display cases containing ancient tomes and bladed weapons of nearly every description, length, and design. The books were simply for reference and occasional laughs (the mis-telling of some of the events were comical in the extreme), while the blades were for practical use.

Who knew when unpleasant company would come calling? It didn't hurt she preferred blades, not unlike her mother's long-time companion, the fearsome warrior whose heart was infinitely purer than that absurd Order of knights, now hopefully extinct (and good bloody riddance!). Blades were quiet, precise, and required knowledge to use.

Morgan felt an irrational fear of rejection, almost desperate that he would approve of it all. Which, judging by the way he sauntered all about and expelling the occasional sniff through both nostrils, he didn't. And this enraged Morgan almost beyond control. Rather than risk comment, she brought up the lights to their usual soft dim. She wasn't photo-sensitive by any means, but neither did she believe in dwelling in the full light of day. Too many flaws were visible then, too damn many and too easy to see. Better to stay to the shadows, where they couldn't be seen. Where she had at least the illusion of invincibility to protect her.

More sniffs, whose intent she couldn't identify, which fanned her emotions from cold fear to slow-burning irritation. Sniffing at her art. . .she could live with that, given she often did so herself. Sniffing at the books. . . okay, so she wasn't big on dusting. Sniffing at her bladesŠthat was like slap in the face. It was something Morgan could live with, even forgive.

Except he was doing it at every weapons case. It sounded like he was judging every weapon in every damn case. That was a lot of weapons.

It took a lot of time.

When her guest finally completed his rounds, Morgan had gone from irritation to anger to bare-contained (and wholly-unconcealed) rage and frenzy. The fact he hadn't graced her with so much as a glance this whole time left her at once relieved and all the more steamed. It set her mind to work, her eyes flickering for the one thing she'd need.

Morgan had subtly shifted her position to small table near one of the cabinets. Her hands fairly itched for the object of her desires, while the object of her anger wandered his merry way towards the bay window which looked out over the city. This took him well away from any of the artwork, which was a relief. Hey, she might not think much of her talent (and just what do gallery owners and agents know?), but that didnšt mean she couldn't be sentimental about it.

Her eyes didn't waver, even when it was within reach, off the bastard's back. Not that she needed to see it to know where it was. She could sense it, and it her. Theirs was a powerful connection, constructed over the ages. It sang to her, sometimes quite literally. On a rare occasion it even managed to carry a tune.

Right then, all Morgan could hear was his damned sniffing and the rustle of his suit coat. She wasn't going to tolerate either anymore.

She found her voice. "What should I call you?" she asked softly, not really caring if he answered or not. "Eh?" It was a muffled sound of confusion, as though spoken around something while being caught up short. "Oh. 'Michael' will do, I suppose."

She could sense he'd taken up position leaning against a bare spot of wall. One which angled inwards. Good, Morgan thought as the reassuring sensation of cold metal met her hand. She swept it up and began her own quick-yet-looking-utterly-unhurried pace to parallel his own.

"Michael?" Now it was Morgan who was caught short. He couldn't be that unoriginal, could he?

"Michael," he confirmed, cigarette dangling unlit from the left corner of his mouth. 'Michael' had been looking out over the city's lights, arms folded and his right shoulder was braced against the wall.

He looked utterly at ease, relaxed and fearing nothing. Morgan stopped when she stood across from him. The lighting was low enough so not to hint at the burnished metal in her hand.

Michael turned to face her and calmly asked "Got a light, luv?"

An ornately carved mass metal, easily a foot-and-a-half long, and crowned with a three-sided blade, buried itself not a full inch from his cheek. Each edge looking sharp enough to cut the air it had just sailed through, never mind the solid wall against which he leaned.

The metal of the weapon was burning hot, as though lit from within, casting a soft glow upon his pale skin.

Michael didn't so much as blink.

"Oh," was his only response. Not a sound of surprise as much as one of acceptance, no more impressed than if she'd offered him a match or flipped a lighter open. "Cheers." Michael pressed the tip of the cigarette to the metal, the air instantly taking the pungent odor of tobacco, and settled back to his original position.

Their eyes locked now, another game beginning.

The same one they'd played for a millennia.

He was quick in seizing the initiative, allowing her no time to think or mount a second attack. Michael turned both eyes unto the dagger his nominal hostess had just thrown at him (Goddess above, will the woman never change?), gazing at it with enough deliberateness that he might actually have been studying its carved surface. Both eyebrows raised as though in surprise, the cigarette suddenly plucked from his lips. Michael turned to Morgan, who'd taken in his every move with careful concentration.

Her eyes were hooded, though not with anger as he'd expected them to. This made Michael slightly unnerved, his initial plan of engagement now gone to pot thanks to the woman's newfound self-control. Hades take her. He needed a distraction, or he'd likely never get out of this room alive. Death held no terrors for him, save for the consequences he alone was aware of. Consequences which had led him to seek this one out, that they might be avoided.

Damned if he'd make it easy.

"I see an east Indian influence here." He positioned himself and the cigarette as he spoke. The first faced her fully, the smoldering tip second hovered unnoticed near his right palm. "Been imitating the Tuggs, have you?" Then the area around his left eye jerked with an involuntary flinch, though the remainder of his faced was utterly neutral, eyes unwavering.

Morgan risked a glance downwards, towards the cigarette in his hand.

The cigarette whose glowing tip was now being stubbed out. . . by being twisted directly into his right palm.

Her eyes went wide with shock, and quickly met his again. They were alight with humor and satisfaction, as was the small grin which graced his lips. There was no pain to be seen there.

What came next happened very, very fast. As it always did.

Michael let go of the cigarette, grasping the still-glowing weapon with his left hand. He pulled it free from the wall and sent it back to its owner, business end first, all in one smooth motion. The metal hadn't even left his hand when he all-but-spinning to the left. On sheer instinct and blind faith, Michael threw his right arm out, and was rewarded with it making very satisfying impact with the glass-and-wood doors of one of the weapons cabinets. The poor barrier didn't stand a chance, shattering noisily beneath his outstretched arm. He spun as he passed it, grasping the first handle his left hand came to, using his momentum to pull it free of the cabinet. He finally came to rest, both feet planted firmly under him (for once), near the wall opposite the bay window he'd been gazing out of only a moment ago. His blind-chosen weapon held low and at-the-ready.
Morgan was hardly idle. The grin had alerted her, and her hands were already traveling upwards to intercept his return of her 'gift' before it had even left Michael's hand. She'd caught it without fail, though the force behind the throw had been far in excess of what she'd expected of him. It rocked her off-balance just enough to make her loose track of her guest's movements. The sound of a cabinet's doors being broken (third along towards the wall, the one with the short swords and a pair of oak quarterstaffs, unless she was mistaken) told her all she needed about his intentions. She herself had been thinking along similar lines, and had already dropped the golden dagger to the floor while diving for her most prized possession. It came to hand easily, easier than the dagger had, and she smoothly rolled back to her feet as though the mirror-image of her guest.

She was certain the surprise would be exquisite, knowing Michael could not have seen her weapon of choice.

Michael's discarded cigarette finished its descent to the carpet.

They stood like that for a span. Lethal dancers, their metallic arms outstretched and waiting.

Morgan had assumed right, Michael being very surprised. . .though not for the reasons she expected.

Oh, her chosen weapon was impressive enough. Easily four-feet of solid steel, polished to that perfect shine. The double-sided blade was a masterpiece of its craft, the edges so fine they might as well have simply disappeared from sight. Michael recognized the workmanship and the blade itself, not the least surprised she'd freed it from its stone sheath and kept it with her. Better her than those idiots who cowered around the round table and behind their superstitious codes.

Morgan held it easily in one hand, choosing her left rather than her right. This surprised Michael, worrying him far more than the blade itself. She'd never chosen her left before, and he'd always managed to only hold his own against her. She wasn't the sort to offer anyone, especially him, an advantage however small.

"Ah should be insulted, luv," he said, allowing the pommel of his 14th-century katana short sword, held in low guard position (blade out, both hands on the handle, its length held at a forty-five degree angle), to sink slightly and linger around his groin. He waved the blade ever so slightly, his knees bent as the position demanded. "Yours is bigger than mine."

It was obscene. It was hilarious.

It distracted her for all of a hundredth of a second.

It gave Michael all the time he would ever need to seize the initiative.

The dance of blades began.

Part 2

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