SEASONS OF THE GODS 1
KIND OF SPRING BREAK
It All Starts
It was Joni's idea.
Personally, I was just hoping to get some serious housecleaning
done during the break. My place is a wreck by the middle of the
semester and I try to take every opportunity I can to get it back
in order. A long-term student has to have these kinds of strategies,
you know. Spring Break has often been my last chance before finals.
But Joni was persistent and charming and somehow convinced me that
this little piece of paper, this dinky advertisement, held the answer
to my winter blahs.
Now Joni is okay. I knew her from high school, though we didn't
associate much back then. She was a senior and she was "the dyke."
Everybody at school knew it, even me. Her dykeness was apparent
in the clothes, the attitude, and the buzz cut hairdo. I'm sure
school was difficult for her, because it was for me and I was not
gay. Actually, I was almost asexual. I didn't "bloom," into sex
until I was older. I was fairly ignorant about love and relationships
in general. At the time I don't think I even knew what the words
meant. I just recognized the tone of voice commonly connected with
In those days, I was the klutz - the NON-gym person - and I knew
the other kids talked about me. Or at least I thought they did,
because that's how we are at that age. I was fortunate in a way;
I developed this mysterious rash around ninth grade and got a note
from the dermatologist excusing me from my least favorite high school
experience. The results were that I gained weight, the library became
my hangout and my grades improved a little.
So, like I said before, I never hung out much with Joni, except
to grimace hello every now and again in the hallways. When Joni
graduated, I was still in tenth grade so I didn't think about her
much. It wasn't until I graduated and went to college and
then grad school, that I saw her again.
Of course, it was a women's history class, and I was an expert
at notetaking by then. A group of us got together for studying and
weekly bitch sessions, because the professor didn't believe in being
"soft" on the students. And that's where I really met Joni.
This blonde with the quirky sense of humor became my best friend.
She introduced me to ear piercing (she has five, two on the left
and three on the right; I agreed to the standard one pierce for
each ear and somehow wound up with two. How does she talk me into
these things?) and the aerobic workout. I introduced her to classic
sci-fi movies and the gentle art of toll painting. I commented on
the fact that she had let her hair grow out and that she wore dresses
now and then and she told me it had to do with developing her femme
self. I had no clue, but whatever works. I told her about the joys
and heartaches that I was having with Gary. She told me about her
Pauline. When Gary and I broke up, Joni was there. When Pauline
and Joni broke up, I was there. Through laughter and heartache we
were best friends, buddies, comrades.
And that's why, when she held this little shred of paper in my
face with the word "camping" on it, I did not just toss it away
and tell her to peddle her business elsewhere. Camping. Did I tell
you how much I loathe camping? Bugs, hard ground, smoke in your
eyes, Bugs. Not to mention the bear that ate great uncle Jack -
A grisly family story.
I know I told her how much I detested camping.
I'm pretty sure I mentioned it early on in our friendship, because
she had proposed something along that line with a "wouldn't it be
great..." kind of statement somewhen back when we were still in
women's history. That made this whole thing kind of a surprise for
me and I pointed it out to her. I said, "Did you read this?"
She said, "Of course."
I said, "It has that word in it." And I pointed directly
She said, "Yeah, but its not what you think."
This is what led to a great conversation about the difference between
camping out in the woods and CAMPING.
A distinction I'm still not sure that I get.
I'd heard just enough about "women's camps" to be totally misinformed
and therefore completely biased. She had an answer for almost everything,
including the crack I made about odd nicknames like wombwymn. I
still found it hard to distinguish, but Joni guaranteed that this
one was more of a woman's getting to know herself in the presence
of others experience and that it really wasn't a "women's camp"
per se, there were some men, and that there would be showers. I
said something about not -wanting- to be a radical feminist. She
said something about power and self esteem. I said no tents? She
said, "Only if you want one, there should be buildings."
I was still not quite convinced, but like I said, Joni is charming
when she wants to be. So we signed up for the camp and sent in our
cash and the straight girl and the dyke went on an adventure.
The Hard Life
We went by air to KC and then took a smaller plane to Springfield.
Then we were picked up by a woman, who was driving a beat up blue
truck which looked like it had seen one too many Missouri dirt roads.
Joni and I received verification and instructions several weeks
ago and had gotten our gear together during our wait. Joni had also
taken the time to warn me that there might be other lesbians in
the camp. I told her I wasn't dumb. Besides, I wasn't worried. I
had Joni as a friend and I knew I no one would look at me twice
because of my weight. She clapped me on my shoulder and said, "You
should have more confidence in yourself Bernie."
Well, whatever. Once we were in the truck there would be no turning
The driver was a lean, muscular woman with a vivid smile. Her brown
hair was tied back in a simple pony tail and she actually wore a
cowboy hat. She introduced herself as Gwen. I couldn't help myself,
I said, "Howdy!" She didn't seem to take offense and merely smiled
as Joni and I introduced ourselves. Though it was pretty obvious
from the stuff we were carting around that we had to be going to
the camp. Gwen helped us load our stuff into the back of the truck
and tied it down. As we worked the heat of the sun felt good on
our exposed skin, but it was slightly windy and the wind had a bite
to it. It felt good to finally get in and get moving.
We headed south for a good long while. I hadn't realized how green
Missouri was. Gwen said that it just got better as spring wore on
and turned to summer. She said that was why she loved it here, although
there was a standing joke about the weather. I asked her what it
was and she said, "If you're tired of the weather, just wait a minute."
She grinned, "Its really not that bad, though sometimes it does
seem to switch, and she snapped her fingers, "that fast."
I nodded a bit and watched the scenery go by as Joni occupied Gwen's
attention with questions of her own. We passed through several small
towns along the way, eventually finding ourselves at the end of
the road. The paved road that is. Then we started on another thirty
five...get this THIRTY Five minutes of dirt and potholes and stones.
I looked doubtfully at Joni, who just shrugged and grinned and kept
talking with Gwen.
We finally came to this hill that seemed to go down and curve to
the right, otherwise it just seemed like a forest of trees and uncivilized
land. Gwen slowed the truck down to a stop, grinned and switched
gears. She said, "Hold onto your hats." and started to drive. After
about a three fourth of a mile of not even close to straight down
we finally arrived. My knees seemed to be locked into a bracing
position when we stopped, but somehow I was able to open the door
and swing myself out of the cab and put my feet onto the ground.
Heaven is a perspective.
I began to orient myself and got out of Joni's way as she jumped
to the ground. Joni was right, there were buildings. Several of
them, rustic wood and brick, about the hill just above a HUGE meadow.
I could hear a sound of water in the distance and could kind of
make out a creek bend past the meadow through the trees that were
starting to get their season's cover. There was one main house which
was located further up the hill and looked like it used to be an
old barn until someone made it livable. And there was a central
area that looked like it had been used as a gathering place for
years. I thought to myself, "I could deal with this," and turned
to get my stuff, but Gwen already had it unloaded.
She said, as she carried our belongings from the truck, "Why don't
you follow me a bit and we'll get you settled in." So we started
walking in the direction of the cabin-like buildings. It was then
that I started to notice how many people were around. Everyone one
walked easy, unlike in the city, but seemed to be occupied with
something or with each other. I think I even saw, out of the corner
of my eye, a couple of individuals who looked like women kissing
or whatever as we moved along the worn path. It kind of made me
nervous, but so far I wasn't feeling too intimidated. There were
a lot of friendly faces, with people greeting Gwen and smiling at
Joni and I. Joni was right there were a -few- men, but there were
way more women.
Our cabin was number eight. There was a small multicolored smooth
stone path that led to a door that actually had white trimmed, frill-curtained
windows. There were flowers and bushes decoratively spaced around
the building. We just walked right in and I realized that this camp
was going to be different than any I had ever heard of. First of
all, it wasn't a bunk cabin and it wasn't a rustic cabin with a
dirt floor. It was more like a large middle sized house, with several
rooms. It had a front room, a kitchen ("So we don't have to keep
feedin' ya all the time," grinned Gwen), five bedrooms with real
beds . . . larger than single, but not king sized, though Gwen mentioned
that there was one room with a king sized bed in each cabin . .
., and two roomy and dare I say it, lush, bathrooms. Each area of
the house was pleasantly decorated, and felt . . .personal; as if
someone had spent time in the rooms to make them feel comfortable.
Gwen was grinning at me and so was Joni. I was just flabbergasted.
Gwen turned to Joni, "She'll get used to it." Then she dropped
our belongings on the polished wooden entrance of the front room.
She said, "Joni you're in room number three and Bernie you're in
room four. And now I gotta tell you the rules of the cabins. This
is basic stuff, though each house may make up their own rules as
you get comfortable with each other. But first," and she ticked
them off with her fingers, "Thou shalt respect other's privacy.
Thou shalt respect other's property. Thou shalt cooperate within
the household to get the chores done; there are no maids here. Thou
shalt air out differences according to the laws of our camp; and
they're posted at the gathering place. And finally, the word of
the camp boss is law; and you better hop to it when she gives an
order." Gwen smiled pleasantly, "Not that its usually hard to do
what she asks."
Then Gwen left us to our settling in and Joni said, "I told you
Old Fashioned Heroes
I'm not sure what Joni did when she got to her room, but I began
to unpack. I've done this as long as I can remember. I get to a
new place I unpack and put my stuff in the available spaces, drawers,
what have you. I won't go into too much detail, but the furniture
was wood and brass, there was a flower quilt on the bed, and there
was a shelf filled with books not far from where I was gonna sleep
at night. There were also live plants, so I guess there was no complaining
about the amount of oxygen in the room. They were green and healthy
and friendly looking. I almost expected to see a cat curled up somewhere.
There was no fireplace. That was in the front room.
There was a mediumish lamp table by the bed and a rocking chair
with a stuffed seat was close by it. The windows had both shades
and sheer white curtains. It was shade that was just enough for
privacy and for letting the sun in. The temperature was comfortable
too. A nice napping temperature, the kind where you didn't have
to absolutely have the covers on, but it wasn't so hot that you
had to kick the covers off either. There were pictures on the wall
in flattering frames. The flower motif of the quilt was carried
around the room in various perfect ways, including simple knickknacks.
I'm sure, if my feet hadn't been covered with shoes, they would
have appreciated the carpeting on the floor.
When I was finished unpacking, I decided to look at the handouts
that were laid conspicuously on the lamp table. The first was a
colorful folded deal that described the camp as a luxury site and
not as a camp, more as a retreat. I suddenly began to wonder if
I was in the right place and how I was affording this whole deal.
Maybe I ought to talk to Joni, I thought. The second was a simple
descriptive highlight of what to expect. This was the one that had
the -word- in it. And along with the word were "Survival and Self
Defense." Now I was worried. I had a horrible suspicion of what
I had signed up for. And I didn't like it.
It was not crowded in the gathering place. It looked like only
a handful of healthy daring types had signed up. I felt very out
of place and just a tad cranky. But I was here, on time, with Joni.
I'd have left if she hadn't been there. Joni looked comfortable,
but she would look comfortable in a hurricane, so that didn't mean
At the center of the gathering place, which used logs for seating,
was a circle of blackened stones. There was wood stacked carefully
away from the circle, but close enough that a person could toss
a piece on the fire without too much effort. I was sitting on one
of the logs, but most of the folks were milling about and conversing.
I heard one fellow say, "Yeah, this is the best. This will be my
second time. I'm pumped." His boyfriend just smiled and hung his
arm around the guy's shoulder.
Joni said, "Hey, don't look so glum, they'll think you don't want
to be here." She smiled reassuringly.
I just grumbled and slumped a little more. My hands were pressed
against the smooth wood, where I guess dozens of butts had set.
At least I was dressed for this. Visions of woodland life were dancing
in my head, and they weren't too friendly. I was scared and that
was what was making me cranky. But Joni was my friend and she'd
been right before and I was semi-willing to cooperate.
I think, that because I wasn't talking, I heard the hoof beats
first. I thought it was my heart, but the noise was located too
high so I knew it was had to be something else. Besides, I have
great hearing. So I turned my head to look in the direction of the
sound, just in time to get a good look at the riders.
One was dark. Dark hair, tan skin, dark clothes. One was light.
strawberry blonde, lightly tanned skin, lighter clothes. Both were
smiling in different ways. The dark one's was a wild grin and the
light one's was just a happy smile. They looked like they'd had
a good ride.
The dark one was taller by several heads to the light one. She
curved herself around to help her companion off the horse and then
seemed to leap gracefully to the ground, landing with a thump in
the sand. They looked for what was probably a millisecond, but seemed
like forever, into each other's eyes and smiled. Then they turned
to face us.
It was then that I heard Gwen's voice from the center of the circle.
"Folks, I'd like to introduce you to the camp boss and your facilitator
in this experience." The strawberry blonde grabbed the hands of
the dark haired one and led her into the circle. Gwen pointed at
the blonde and said, "This is Gabby. She's the camp boss." Then
she pointed to statuesque woman besides Gabby. "This is Xena. She's
gonna teach you everything you need to know about surviving in this
There were whoops and general cheers from the handful of us gathered,
except from me. I told you I was unenthused about the whole thing.
Instead of whooping, I solemnly continued to observe the people
in front of me. Gabby had on hiking boots, blue jeans, what looked
like a flowered lumberjack shirt, and a pleasant smile. She looked
sleek and strong. Xena had on black boots, that I thought might
be for hiking, but they were covered by black jeans which stacked
over them. She seemed to be wearing black leather chaps over the
jeans and had on a light t-shirt that was covered by the dark leather
and metal jacket. She was stacked in more ways than one. Her expression
was assessing and kind of stern. She had piercing blue eyes, which
met mine for the briefest of seconds.
I had the eeriest feeling that she had read my life in my eyes
and had made some sort of decision regarding me. I decided that
I was really glad that I had been aerobicizing. I knew I could last
at least a half an hour if it came to moving quickly. I knew I didn't
want to get on her bad side. I also knew that I recognized her name
from somewhere. But where?
I was so tired that night, but it was body tired, not mind tired.
Xena had taken us to the local version of a Dojo, where we learned
various moves that might save our lives if someone ever attacked
us. I guess she knew a million ways of really making someone stop
and taught us maybe ten of them, plus a few things I'd never seen
before. I wasn't sore. We'd stopped around three. I was getting
ready to leave when I noticed that Xena was standing right in front
of me, blocking my way.
She leaned down so that she was looking me in the eye, which was
kind of scary. Then in a throaty kind of voice she said, "You
Need to Walk. Be here, 6 am, with your boots on. We'll be back by
I squeaked okay or some such thing and she quit towering over me
long enough for me to flee away.
Dinner was okay. After Gwen's comment about feeding us, I was concerned
because we hadn't brought any extra food and I thought that there
was a cafeteria or something. Which there was. There was also a
General Store. So we could buy food or go to the cafeteria. I chose
the cafeteria because it was closer to the Dojo and I was HUNGRY
and thirsty. There was a good selection of food and I selected what
seemed appealing, plus a big glass of water.
Joni was off exploring a beaten path with some chick from the self
defense class named Gina. So I was prepared to eat by myself, but
Gwen spotted me and waved me over. "Hey Bernie, come sit down."
She patted an open chair. There was a group of about six people
in various stages of chowing down. "Bernie, these are the folks
who keep things running around here. Folks, this is Bernie. I gave
her a ride into our beloved abode this morning."
I grinned and said, "Yeah, it was quite a trip." I got into some
easy conversation after that and dinner went quickly. Somewhere
in the middle Gwen looked at my food selection and smiled.
"I see Xena sure worked up your appetite." I was eating when she
said that and sputtered a few crumbs out before I could swallow.
Gwen leaned in and said, "Don't worry about it, she tends to do
that for everyone." And then she patted my back until I quit coughing.
Other than that, dinner was uneventful. I opted out of the proposed
poker game and decided to see what was at the General. I figured
I would go "home" after and get a shower and an early night.
The General was chock full of stuff at exorbitant prices. I was
pretty much deciding not to buy there when I witnessed the salesperson
and another woman entering into what could only be called a bargaining
rhythm. I'd never seen bargaining before, so I watched and learned.
And I finally understood why the prices were so high. It was so
they could come down, to something a little more reasonable. Assertiveness
training in action, I guess. I picked up a snack bar and decided
to try my luck and managed to get the price down to what I would
normally pay at a Stop and Rob.
I felt pretty good about myself then.
The house was empty when I arrived, so I did what I had planned
and showered till the mirror fogged. After that I dried my hair
and changed into something more comfortable. A nice plain sleepshirt
Then I went to my room, set my alarm clock (Never Leave Home without
it), and tried to go to sleep.
Now, I should have realized this. But no one goes to bed early
at a resort or a camp. No, there are parties of various sizes. It's
more like a sleepover kind of experience. All I know is that by
the time I had settled down, there was a ruckus in the front room
involving music and what I was sure was banging pans. I was up immediately.
I pulled on my jeans because they were handy and sailed out of
my room in full vigor. My ears were right on the money. There was
pan banging going on. It took me awhile to get their attention.
The introductions were quick enough. Apparently, like Joni and
I, the two couples had planned this whole vacation thing together.
There was Jan and Mitchell and Ronette and Red (obvious: red hair,
red). The apologized sort of and we discussed meeting sometime in
the morning to split chores and whatever. I wasn't sure where Joni
was, but there was some indication that they planned on being up
Which meant that I was up for awhile.
Which explains why I started reading this book.
The Passion Scrolls
The book was titled _Scrolls of Passion_ by Gabrielle. I
looked for an author's last name, but there wasn't one. This should
have warned me. I figured that I needed something to do. I didn't
really want to join my roomies in pan banging or whatever they were
doing. I really did want to get some sleep. I hoped that things
would settle down by midnight and I figured that a good book would
keep me up that long.
I just sort of picked one at random. It was bound in leather (which
makes incredible sense now) and trimmed with gold. I decided to
be adventurous and sort of opened the book and started reading.
Their legs intertwined as their hips thrust toward each other.
Gabrielle's mouth rained hot little kisses down Xena's muscled torso.
They could . . .
I'm not quite sure how long I held the book in my hand, as I read
and reread those sentences. It was like I couldn't grasp the obvious.
The idea of who this book was about was too staggering. I felt like
a voyeur. I felt like I had just jumped through time. I felt wet.
I was so turned on - by just two sentences.
But see I had the added bonus of having seen Xena and Gabrielle.
Or, at least, people who share the names. I just could not get the
image of those two women making love out of my head.
I knew I shouldn't keep reading. Yet I couldn't resist.
Just a few more words wouldn't hurt. I kept the page place with
my thumb but thought I would try another, just to make sure I wasn't
misinterpreting what I was reading.
Hercules' hands wrapped themselves around Xena's waist as he placed
his lips over hers. His arousal was apparent. Xena protested, "You're
drunk and lonely. You don't need me. Our time is ov. . ." Pushing
away was proving futile and the wetness she felt wasn't helping.
Hercules? As in Greek mythology Hercules? Wait a minute. I used
my other thumb to mark another page.
Callisto was growing impatient, but there was nothing she could
do about it. The ache in her loins would have to wait. It was more
important to at this moment to keep sucking the tender nectar of
Callisto? Who's Callisto? I thought Gabby and Xena were an item.
I was confused. This time I used an index finger.
The centaur's arms wrapped themselves gently under Ephiny's hips,
supporting her lower back so that his mouth could wind his way down
Centaur? Centaur. Were we talking Half man half horse?
This book IS kinky. I saved the place with another finger.
Who is Ephiny?
Gabrielle forced her leg between Xena's. "You want this?" She asked
as she boldly kissed her lover. She rocked her hips so that her
leg rubbed hard against Xena's mound. "Now?" They were just barely
hidden by the marble post. Any moment someone could come by. Xena
It was about this time that I realized that the music had stopped,
but that there were other kinds of sounds going on. Mainly, oohs,
ahs and a really sultry "ooh baby."
That was Joni's voice! It was barely discernible, but it was definitely
Joni. I thought I was wet before.
The clock said that it was a little after midnight. I knew that
I had a 6 am appointment that I must not fail to keep. I
knew that I had to do something about this urge that I had going.
So set the book down by my bed, and regretfully let go of the places
I'd reserved. I had to have both hands, you know.
I lay back in my bed and settled my head into one of the pillows
and tucked the other under my hips, just to make my vulva easier
to reach. I let my hands flutter their way around, as I listened
to Joni's voice seduce her lover. I pulled my breast when I heard
her suckle. I kneaded my belly when I heard her lover beg Joni to
go lower, lower. And when I knew Joni's mouth was driving Gina crazy,
I let my fingers dip into my own ready wetness and circled and rubbed
until I let out the most silent of orgasms. The relief was intense
and I slept like a baby.
My one worry was that I didn't know how I was going to face Xena
in the morning.
By Dawn's Early Light
5:00 am can seem mighty early when one has been up past midnight
and one is used to sleeping until around eight. It was hard for
me to open my eyes, let alone move my body up to a sitting position,
but somehow I managed it. I was groggy, but I counted my state as
I shuffled my way to the closest bathroom and was appalled to realize
that it was already occupied with two, no three soapy people in
a tub, including Joni. I think I gaped for a few seconds and then
backed out and slowly closed the door. My first thought was: "They
sure looked perky for being up so early in the morning." My second
thought was, " . . . " And I shuffled my way to the farthest bathroom
in hopes that it wasn't occupied too.
My fears about dealing with Xena at 6 in the too damn early of
the morning were only slightly doused when I realized that I was
not the only one invited on this morning constitutional. I managed
to make it to the Dojo around 5:50ish and saw that there were three
others aside from myself. One was a quiet little woman with a height
of about oh; four foot something and no width to speak of. Another
woman was doing a little jogging jumping in place and said, "HI!"
in an overly energetic way. Finally, there was a male in the requisite
shorts, shirt, and shoes and no muscles to speak of.
The nonmorning people grumbled hello to each other with the morning
person blissfully doing some sort of stretches to the side.
We stood around for a bit, waiting on our fearsome leader. I was
questioning whether I had heard Xena right, when she stepped through
the door. She looked ready for war. Okay, actually, she looked like
she was morning person too; only not the happy joy joy kind, more
the I'm wide awake and I can move faster than you kind. "You ready
to Walk?" she said.
Miss Chipper shouted, "Yeah!" The rest of us kind of mumbled an
affirmative. I tried to focus on the present and not on the images
of last night. And not very effectively either. Xena was really
striking to look at. Kind of mesmerizing.
"BERNIE! Ya with us?" I shook myself and became more aware of my
surroundings. I nodded my head. "Lets get started then."
The first thing she did was have us walk around the room a few
times. So we clomped around like we would normally and she was shakin,
shakin her head in rejection of what she was seeing. "Stop!" She
mumbled something about, "worse every year." (told you I have good
hearing). And proceeded to discuss the mechanics of walking and
how to walk efficiently.
Then she demonstrated.
Now, I know, I should have been watching her feet and her legs.
There was no sound as she walked. She could have snuck up on a rabbit.
And I'm sure it was very efficient. But I lost track. I started
to watch the way I was supposed to, but my eyes kept moving until
all I could see was the sway of her hips and the promise of. . .
the promise of. . .
Something patted me on the shoulders. "She's fun to look at isn't
she?" I gulped. I blushed. It was Gabrielle. I mean Gabby. "Its
the whole technique. I can't tell you how often she's sneaked up
on me with it. It's worth learning, you know." Suddenly I was very
focused on what I was supposed to be focused on.
Then Gabrielle grinned and said loudly, "Hey, Xena! I thought we
were going for a WALK, not watching you!"
Xena gave Gabrielle an unreadable look and said, "Now Gabrielle,
you Know you like to watch." I was hardly breathing, but Gabby laughed
and so did everyone else.
So, we went for a walk. A fetching long walk.
You remember that three quarter of a mile hill. We went up that.
Using Xena's technique. And boy was she adamant about it. We went
through some foresty area and down again and crossed the creek at
several places and after awhile, I forgot I was walking differently
than before, but I was kind of feeling it in my calves and thighs.
And we walked some more, but by that time I was listening and smelling
There were sounds I couldn't identify, birds and chitterings and
rustlings. The air was crisp and smelled like a mix of leaves and
dirt and creek and flowers. There were critters in the woods, but
the didn't come out to bother us. I caught glimpses of bunnies and
squirrels and someone saw a bluejay. Flowers were blooming just
about everywhere and the leaves were several kinds of green. I forgot
that I was afraid of bugs and bears. I really enjoyed myself. I'm
not quite sure when I started smiling again.
Gabby talked a bit with everyone while we were on this trek. Encouraging
words, a funny story or two. The pace Xena set was one where I felt
I was doing good to keep breathing and still be monosyllabic, so
I was impressed. Every now and then, she or Xena would come by and
reposition my hips or even my legs and have me rewalk a bit. Xena
said, "Let it happen naturally. Get comfortable. Breathe from your
abdomen. Let your hips get into it." And I really tried to do that.
Sometimes Xena and Gabby would walk together with their arms around
each other. I was surprised that I felt envious. Not of them, but
more that they had someone to love. It was so obvious, as if they
had been with each other forever and it was paradise to them. It
seemed like the kind of paradise I would enjoy.
By the time we had rounded the last curve and the main buildings
were in sight I was tired and convinced that maybe I wasn't as straight
as I thought I was. Maybe I was just confused.
Tried and True
I felt euphoric after the walk. Refreshed - like I'd had a serious
nap and a really good joke told to me. My body felt good. Kind of
bouncy. I knew I was treading differently, but couldn't quite place
how. It seemed like I had been moving this way forever. Even the
soreness had melted away to a pleasant warmth. Good. Comfortable.
I debated with myself; home - cafeteria. I decided that I could
always cook something and I hadn't experienced breakfast at camp
yet, so - cafeteria. And this is what gave me a chance to see Joni,
before she saw me. I spotted her once my tray was full. She was
at a table with the housemates and Gina. Then I had another debate
going on in my head; to judge or not to judge.
Okay, I'm a hypocritical prude, but Joni was my tried and true.
I could be a jerk or I could get over myself. *don't you just love
internal conversations* True, I wanked to the sound of her voice,
so I had a lot to be embarrassed about. True, I had walked in on
her and her friends in the midst of a personal orgy. True, I'm not
Used to that kind of thing. But true, I felt just too good to be
stewing over this when I could be eating this *glancing at my tray*
interesting food and partaking in what looked to be . . . uh, stimulating
conversation. I got over myself and started grinning for all I was
"Hey Hey Joni!" I said, as I sat down next to Mitchell. "How's
Joni looked at me blankly for a couple of seconds. "Bernie?" I
grinned and nodded and prepared to eat. She continued to gaze at
me for a few seconds more, as if she didn't recognize me.
I said, "What?" and took a huge bite out of an apple.
Then, she shook her head quizzically and spoke in a rush, "You
I puzzled for a moment. And then clued. "OH, you mean the smile."
And grinned even wider. "Yeah had a great walk this morning. Gorgeous
day." I Poured syrup over my waffles and took a swig of juice. I
seemed to have developed an appetite that wasn't going to stop for
"Uhm, Yeah, that must be it." And she kept glancing my way. "You
Another chunk of apple. "Never better."
I waved a fork at her. "Though, I have to say, I'm surprised to
see you awake after all that aerobic activity you had going earlier.
What was that? The soap olympics?" I took a chance with that one,
but I didn't want it lingering subtly in the air. I kept the smile
in my eyes and waited for a response. "So, who won?"
The table was quiet and I thought, I have just sunk the best friendship
I have ever had, and then everyone started laughing and talking
at once. I felt total relief and Joni didn't really answer but said,
"Oh You!" and tossed a roll at me.
Apparently I was the only one signed up for animal care. This seems
like it would be something I would never be interested in, but we
had a choice of "survival seminars" and at the time I didn't think
I'd be interested in hiking or picking herbs or whatever (although,
for some reason, now I was really interested in that). So I figured
out my directions from the map and a few guiding words from a passerby
and headed for the area where the animals were housed.
Now, I know very little about animals (bugs and bears, you remember),
but I had cat once and I currently owned a nonfuzzy pygmy hedgehog
with an attitude. In some blitz of hope I had named him Snuggles,
but really his name should have been DLMTH0, or Damnit, Leave me
the the Hell Alone. I thought maybe this animal care thing would
give me some clue about how to make him a little more tractable.
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
It took longer than I thought to reach the place, but I found it.
I knew I was in the right area because of the animal smell. Fresh
Hay, some manure, animal sweat. It was tucked away from common foot
traffic and it is possible, that I would never have known it was
there if not for the fact that I had seen a horse on my first day.
I stood around feeling a little useless and foolish, before I saw
a familiar face come my way. Gwen. She looked pretty much like she
looked yesterday, except for the apron and the huge gloves that
engulfed her hand. She waved me over and said, "Hi, I'm Gwen."
I got into the spirit of the conversation and said, "Hi, I'm Bernie."
I shook her gloved hand vigorously and then pulled back, realizing
that the glove was wet. Eew! Then I was like, "Say have you got
a hose or something around here?."
Gwen looked me up and down, shook her head and pointed to a trough.
"That should be clean enough."
I took myself on over there and looked dubiously at the trough.
Then I fearlessly dunked my hands in and rinsed for what I was worth.
I made a mental note to never shake hands with a person wearing
work gloves again.
When I turned back around, Gwen was looking at me speculatively,
almost appreciatively. I looked curiously back at her. "So." I said.
"I'm signed up for that seminar that's supposed to be here. I think
I may be the only one."
Gwen nodded, "You're right. You are the only one, now at least.
There was another, but she bowed out. And its called Animal Handling.
You are gonna learn to take care of a horse."
It was my turn to look blank. A horse? One of those huge creatures.
I don't know anything about horses. I felt a mild panic. "Oh. Uhm,
maybe I'd better. . ." I was backing away.
"Oh no you don't, and she walked towards me, "I am not going to
have Xena and Gabby thinking I scared away the class. You can do
this. I can do this."
So I learned about horses and about husbandry and handling. Just
concepts, with some activity. I also learned how to quiet my mind
when approaching an animal who's not familiar with me. I found the
horses to be really responsive, friendly like. I thought, Man,
this could really work with Snuggles. I even got to ride a little
bit. Not too much, just enough to get used to the idea that this
was something I could do.
By the time noon hit, I was starving again. But my body continued
to feel great. Everything was just a little brighter. All my senses
seemed more alert and I didn't feel like I had to block what I was
hearing anymore, because things seemed so in balance. I bid farewell
to Gwen and the horses headed back to the human habitations.
Lost and Found
It wasn't until I was walking back that I realized that my friends
might have been completely serious about not knowing who I was.
The reason I came to that conclusion is that my pants fell off.
Completely. On the ground. As I walked. Which led to Me falling
face forward on the ground.
Not hard though. Fortunately I was on a grassy patch and so there
was some cushion. Most of my discomfort lay in the thought that
someone might have seen me. I felt (for some odd reason) that it
would be unseemly for someone to have been passing by, just as my
pants fell off. So I looked hastily around and felt some comfort
at having not been spotted.
Then I tried to get up and got my feet caught up in the material
again. This time I landed on my butt. So I had green stains front
to back. Yay.
At this point I decided to be clever and sneak up on my pants.
I grasped the waistband and pulled up. That's when I realized that
my pants had a reason to fall off. The support wasn't there.
A belly that I had never seen before was there. Hips that I had
never seen before were there. Legs that I had never seen before
were there. For that matter, breasts that I had never never seen
before were there. On My body.
What used to be my waist had disappeared. Gone. No dieting.
Now, a woman who has been overweight for a good portion of her
life prays for this kind of thing, but never never expects that
she will really get out of having to actually work for it. And so,
for I don't know how long, my mind refused to work. People could
have passed by and I wouldn't have noticed. I was in that much of
a state of shock.
Eventually, however, I managed to stand up, wobbly knees and all.
I pulled my pants close to my body and grasped the extra cloth in
both my fists. I probably looked funny, kind of tilted over, but
at least I was moving. I had no clue what I was going to do about
this. Except on the mundane level I thought to myself, I'm gonna
have to buy me a new pair of pants. Maybe I can haggle down to a
I had gone a little farther down the path when I noticed this woman
sitting on a rock. Her hair was gray and short. Her face was thin
and she looked, well, despondent. So I stopped for a moment and
went over to see what the problem was.
I couldn't wave to get her attention, so I just said, "hello?"
She looked up at me for a moment, as if she couldn't believe she
was seeing me (and I could relate to that) and then burst into tears.
This was another of those moments when I had to look hastily around.
And me, without a hanky.
The only thing I could think to do was to quit hovering over her
and sit down. So I did, but I had to let go of my pants first, so
the whole sitting thing wasn't as graceful as I had hoped. I tried
to recover my aplomb by pretending I hadn't lost it. "so, ah, what's
the problem here?"
She cried a bit more, but looked like she was trying to stop. "I'm
just so glad to see you."
"Oh." I had never seen this woman before in my life. "I see." I
patted her shoulders. "Well, I'm glad to see you too. (I guess.)"
She shook her head and looked like she could use a good nose blow.
I looked at my already ruined shirt and thought. Oh heck.
I took it off. Joni says I wear too much clothes and certainly
it seemed a bit much now. I handed it to the lady and sat with my
jeans around my shins and a t-shirt covering the rest of me. I don't
know what someone would have made of that sight.
Hey at least my boots still fit. It took me forever (okay, three
weeks) to get them worn enough not to leave blisters.
She looked at my shirt a bit and then blew her nose in it. I made
one of those *oh well* expressions. And waited for her to tell me
what was up. "I got lost." She said. "I was hiking with the group
and got separated and then I got lost. And we were supposed to bring
a lunch, but I forgot and I dropped my canteen when I had to run
and I thought no one was ever gonna find me." More sobs.
"Oh." I did some more awkward patting. " So, uh, the problem is
that you don't know where you are and you are hungry and thirsty?"
A little girl voice, "Yes." I was good. I did not roll my eyes
and I took what she had to say at face value.
I said, "Well, you are in luck. I can solve two of your problems.
One, I can lead you back to camp and two," I fished around in the
pockets of my jeans, but first I had to pull them up a bit. I pulled
out that snack bar. "You can have this."
She snatched the bar from my hand and ripped open the package.
She ate it like she'd not had anything to eat for ages. I didn't
even have a chance to say, slow down, before it was gone. I blinked
I said, "So, uhm, you ready to go?" and she nodded at me and smiled
trustingly. I suddenly thought to myself, "I hope I'm not
We didn't talk much on the way back. I held onto my pants for dear
life. She held onto my shirt. I did ask her what frightened her
so much that she ran, and she said it was a general scary kind of
noise. Given the state she was in, I probably would have done the
same. So I nodded sympathetically.
Her eyes were the color of the moon and I noticed, that she had
some odd little tattoos going on. Her right arm was covered with
weblike lines that weaved their way from her shoulder past her elbow
and onto her forearm. Her other arm had a tattoo wrapping around
the wrist and it looked even more tribal. I couldn't see myself
getting a tattoo, but I thought they looked pretty cool. So I smiled
at her a lot and she smiled back. It was kind of soothing to have
her walking with me when I was so wigged.
We came across a hand pump and I offered to pump her some water
if she was still thirsty. She agreed to it, so I grasped the handle
of the pump and started to jerk it up and down. There was a funky
creaky noise, as if had been awhile since someone had moved water
through the pipes, but the water started flowing through. She caught
it in her hands and drank and drank and drank. My arms got sore,
because it was like lifting weights, but eventually she finished.
She looked about a hundred percent better and I told her so. She
When we came to the crossroad just before camp, I pointed in the
direction we would be going. I said, "it won't be long now." and
turned to face her. She looked at me in a smiling somber way and
laid her hands on my face. She was just taller than I was, so I
had to look up. She didn't say anything, she just kissed
me. Long and slow and deep, until my knees felt watery and my body
wanted to wrap itself around her. Then she pulled back and disappeared.
I don't recall how I got to the house. I just remember walking
into my room and sitting on my unmade bed. I shucked my shoes and
the oversize pants off, laid back and pulled the blanket over my
head to block the light from the window. I could here the noise
of laughter and birds and the passing of a lawn mower. Somewhere
along there I went to sleep.
And thus, I almost missed Xena's "Survival Camping Basics."
The Wild Life
The banging on the door woke me and I leapt out of bed and landed
with a soft thump on the floor. Joni walked right in and said, "OH
GODS!" (She's pagan. She said that she worshiped the old Gods and
I was kind of afraid to ask how old). Then she turned right back
around and shouted at Gina to get the priestess quick. I could smell
her from the doorway, lilac and soap, and another kind of salty
scent. I found myself grinning (she later called it feral). My hands
were flexing and I could feel how limber my body was.
"Hello Joni," I said as I looked around me. Everything was overly
vivid. The sound of the airconditioner seemed like wind in a cavern
to me. "Such an incredible dream. I must be dreaming." I decided
now was a good time to test that theory. I decided to do something
I would never do, if I wasn't dreaming. I practically pounced on
Joni, grabbing her by the arms and pulling her to me. "Pretty girl,
pretty Joni. Want to kiss you grrrrrl." There was a growl in my
throat. I felt hot. I felt hungry, but not for food. I just wanted
a taste of her sweet mouth.
Then I smelled another scent. Acrid, metallic. Joni's face was
scrunched up. Her arms were balled in front of my chest and she
was trying to push me away, though I knew she couldn't get away.
There were whimpering sounds coming from deep in her throat. She
was afraid. Afraid of me. My best friend.
I thrust her away from me. I wasn't breathing hard, but she was
and she was crying. I felt terrible. I hung my head because I couldn't
look at her and I couldn't comfort her, because I was the one doing
the mean thing to begin with. I gulped and then the tears started
to roll for me too.
They didn't last long, because the front room door slammed and
there was the sound of hurrying feet over carpet.
If Joni hadn't been right in front of the door, I probably would
have plowed on out and done some thumping (even though I had no
clue how to thump anyone, I was pretty sure I could do it.) But
Joni wasn't budging. Nor was she crying anymore. She just looked
very very very determined. "You are not leaving this room yet."
I growled and backed away from her.
"GOOD GODS!" Those were the words from the woman who stepped into
the room with Joni and I. She smelled of sandalwood and cigarettes.
Her hair was dark and long, down to her knees. It swayed with her
movements. Her skirt was a short black leather thing, her blouse
was all kinds of different blue swirls. Her eyes were the color
of the moon. And she had tattoos along her arms. But she looked
nothing like the woman who kissed me and I wanted nothing to do
I started to pace the room, trying to look for a way out, while
she fumbled with a small brown bag. The window was looking appealing,
even though it was locked shut. Then I willed the lock and window
open. The window frame abruptly slammed itself wide for me. I laughed.
"Oh Shit!" the woman said as she grabbed hold of some substance.
I willed the bag away from her and it jumped to the far right wall,
knocking over some knickknacks. She tossed a handful of salt at
me. I just shook it off and looked at her funny. Then I was out
of the window and running free, giddy and sleek with power.
I wasn't watching where I was running. I was wild crazy, but I
headed towards down the meadow and towards the creek and ended up
passing through a small grove of trees and right into Xena's arms.
She looked startled and then narrowed her eyes as I pushed her violently
away. She was up in the air and flew a good twenty feet. Somehow
she landed upright and in a crouching position. But she was also
in my way.
She grinned an evil grin and said, "Going somewhere?" I tried to
move around her. But she kept pace with me. I decided if she wasn't
gonna let me past, then I was going to go through (Nope, I wasn't
thinking rationally at all.) I howled as I tried to run into her,
but she just flipped me up and over onto my back. Then she flipped
me around again and pulled my wrists together. I felt something
wrap around them. I howled again and started bucking, trying to
get her weight off of me. She just pulled my hair and punched my
neck. I had some sudden sense of pain and stopped moving just about
instantly. "Settle Down." I couldn't help myself. I started crying
She unpunched my neck and turned me over so that my head was in
her lap. I was bawling like a baby. Her whole body said that she
was concerned, but I knew she wasn't going to untie me right away.
I was very aware of other concerned people, but they weren't coming
very close. I shut my eyes so that I wouldn't see them, but I could
still hear and smell them. There was that acrid metal stench again.
Fear. Some of it came from me.
She waited until my tears were done, then said, "Tell me what happened."
So I told her about my day so far, how I was cranky when I got up
and how I felt great when we were done with the walk, and she said,
"That was supposed to happen," and I could feel her nodding her
head. I told her about breakfast and the horses and then how my
pants fell off, and she said, "That was -not- supposed to happen,"
in an oops kind of voice. Then I told her about the lost woman and
Xena's body went very still and she seemed to sneeze violently,
so I said bless you.
I decided to open one eyelid and then opened them both when I saw
how good the view was from her lap. Of course the view would've
looked better if she hadn't looked so pissed, but you take what
you can get, you know. So then, I told her about the kiss , the
nap, the rotten thing I did to Joni, the long haired lady and the
salt. And at that Xena looked a little relieved. "You didn't feel
anything?" She asked. I shook my head no. "That's a good sign,"
and she grimaced and sighed and helped me up.
Xena asked if I was gonna behave and I told her, "I don't know,
but I'll try. "So she loosed my arms and my hands went prickly for
a bit. I did feel calmer. Xena looked me up and down.
"Looks like you've had some adjustments to make."
It was my turn to grimace. I said, "Yeah, but I haven't been doing
to well at it. A body would have thought I'd be overjoyed. But I
just feel weird."
"You'll be all right." She patted me on my shoulder. Then she grinned.
"The good news is that you were on time." And she let her hand direct
my gaze around the area. There was a group of people gathered. Their
eyes were kind of glazed over. And me, still in my underwear, attacking
Xena and bawling. It must have been quite the sight. I was thought
about slinking away, but Xena grasped my left upper arm and steered
me to a hunk of log. "You sit there." Then she had everyone gather
around and started talking basics.
I was uncomfortable on the log, but the fact that Xena could throw
me to the ground so easily convinced me that I really didn't want
to be anywhere else right at that moment. So I sat and sat and sat,
with the log biting into the skin of my legs. I didn't even try
to wiggle lest I get a splinter in the tush or wherever.
I did learn a lot though. Xena was quite thorough. She talked about
the best places to camp, how -not- to start a fire and how to keep
from unnecessarily starving, how to tie a variety of kinds of knots
(and we got to practice that one), and signs of water. She also
showed us what plants to avoid (poison ivy is not your friend) and
what plants to be passionately grateful for (dandelions can do more
than you would think).
I found it interesting, though I got less hands-on than other folks.
Everyone was pretty much avoiding me and certainly I was avoiding
looking at them. I just focused on Xena and what she was saying
and I was thinking, you know, she sure knows a lot.
Then I had one of those flashbacks. The kind you always read about.
I was listening to my professor (the hardnosed one) talk about Women
and Mythology. She began talking about some professorial adventurer
types who found scrolls back before World War II. Two women, which
was unique because it was so rare that women were acknowledged as
adventurer types back then, I guess. I wrote J & M in my notes,
but that reference was too obscure when it came time for finals.
I had to look it up. Janis Covington and Mel Pappas.
So, prof was talking about the scrolls and how they mentioned the
names of Xena and Gabrielle. As I recall, Joni let out a little
gasp and I thought she was yawning because she covered her mouth.
Then I paid attention to what the professor was saying about the
mythic heroism of X & G (that's how I wrote it in my notes)
and jotted down story synopsis that demonstrated the difference
between patriarchal assumptions about women in mythology and matriarchal
assumptions about women in mythology. The stories sounded interesting,
but the assumption part got kind of boring.
I came back to the present when I felt a hand on my shoulder. Everyone
was gone, except for Xena, who was standing over me. "Come on."
She helped me up, which was a good thing because my knees began
to sing the joy of blood flow to me. Ouch. So I pinned and needled
for a bit as we walked to the camp.
I would have asked something, if I'd known what I wanted to ask.
There were about a jillion questions going through my mind. Questions
like, were these the same Xena and Gabrielle? Am I always going
to be like this? Where is she taking me? Am I in deep ? If This
is That Xena, then how old is she and why is she still alive? Or
were her parents just ardent admirers of the new mythology? But
isn't it spooky that she hooked up with a Gabrielle then? Is Gabrielle
a redhead all the way down? Now where did that come from? How am
I gonna explain this to my Mom? and more.
When we got to camp, Xena guided me to the building with the big
sign that said "Healers" on it. She said, "I don't think you are
sick, but I want to get a closer look at what is going on with you.
Plus, a second opinion wouldn't hurt."
I said, "As long as it doesn't involve the priestess type, I'm
okay with that." I was surprised at how much animosity I felt toward
that woman. Though I hadn't tried to hurt her then, if I'd had the
same sensation I was feeling now, I might have.
I must have sounded like I meant it, because Xena gave me one long
We ended up in one of those doctor office rooms with the high roller
bed and Xena had me get up on it. I had the shortest wait I'd ever
had in a doctor's office because Dr. Merrill was there almost immediately.
I was surprised because Dr. Merrill was a guy, but he was the most
feminine person I had ever seen. He was soft spoken and he was gentle
about prodding me. He got descriptions from both Xena and I and
they talked for a bit like I wasn't there, but I sure was an interesting
case. First one like it.
Eventually, the doctor asked me if I had even had a chance to look
at myself in the mirror. I said, "No, can't say that I have," in
a cautiously optimistic way.
He said, "Well, I think you ought to." So he stood away from the
bed and motioned me out the door. They walked me down a hallway,
until we were about in the middle.
I am proud to say that I did not faint or choke when I saw myself.
There is a certain place when there is no point in being shocked
and this was one of them. I gazed evenly at myself.
My hair looked the same, unless you count frazzlement. Brown, untidy,
short. My nose looked the same, kind of upturned and freckled. My
face looked very different, because it looked so. . .healthy and
I could see that I did in fact have a jawbone connected to the headbone.
My teeth were straight, but they were also white like a movie star's.
That was different. My body was attractive (not that I had despised
my body before, but this was unique). I had a waist and hips and
my hands looked . . .stronger. I looked like I had been lifting
weights all my life, but not too much. Just enough. Everything and
nothing about me was different. I just looked more. . .myself, than
I ever had before. But there were two things that just stood out
(and not what the dirty minded among us might think *grin*, though
they looked unfamiliar too).
I had markings that looked like strands of webbing that started
on my right shoulder blade and rounded up and over until it covered
my shoulder just above my breast and my eyes were a pale pale blue;
the color of the moon.
A Little confusion
"Well," I said, "that explains a lot, doesn't it?" I was talking
mostly to myself, but Xena answered.
"Hmph, it explains a little." She looked at me, "The changes you
experienced were too extreme and quick. I have some idea of why,
but I need to think about it for a bit." Then, she did something
strange. She leaned forward and whispered in my ear, "Veronica!"
My reaction was instantaneous. I had a sudden image of the priestess
in my mind and it transposed itself over my image in the mirror.
I yelled and and clenched my body as if getting ready to strike.
The mirror broke before I could even deliver a blow. I had her name
Xena said, "Uh oh." and punched me in the neck again. I started
breathing funny. "Calm down, calm down, calm down." Xena unpunched
me and I started breathing right. She held me, my back to her chest,
her arms around my body. "Listen to me." I was listening. "You are
to stay away from the temple. You are to stay away from the priestess,
until I get this worked out. You understand?"
I said, "I don't even know where the temple is and I have no intention
of seeing the priestess." I practically spat the words out. "I don't
even know her. I don't know what's wrong."
Xena sighed and let me go. "Neither do I." Then she looked determined,
"But I'm going to find out." And she turned on her heels and left.
The Doc gave me a sedative, but said I didn't have to use it if
I didn't want to. He also told me to come see him in the morning,
just in case I changed even more. I told him that I would plan on
it. He also handed me a fuzzy pink robe. "I keep this about for
those cold and lonely nights," he grinned. "You look like you could
use it today."
I smiled and thanked him and went on my way. I didn't know how
I was going to approach Joni, but I knew it would involve humble
pie. And I wasn't quite sure how to make it. Joni.
I also thought about Veronica. There was a little growl in my throat.
But I wanted to think about her. She had eyes like mine, except
that they weren't. She had markings like mine, except they were
made of ink. That was the problem, I think. She was a fake and my
whole body reacted to it. Rejected it. Then there was the part of
me that wanted to hunt her down. Rejection and need, what a combo.
I knew I couldn't hunt her, because if I did, Xena would get mad
at me. But I was so tempted.
I wrung my hands into the cloth of the robe and thought about my
next move. It was fairly obvious. I needed new clothes. I needed
some space, which meant no cafeteria food. I needed to build my
confidence that I wouldn't become a raving maniac around people.
I headed to the General and hoped that Veronica wasn't there, while
at the same time wishing she would be.
Neither here nor there
Now, you know and I know that I had every intention of following
Xena's orders exactly. So you can imagine my surprise when I found
*snarl* Veronica in the homeplace.
I was now in jeans and a regular shirt (at a slight profit to the
store) and hanging onto a mesh bag full of clothes and some groceries.
The mesh bag was a concession on my part. I'd paid full price so
the shopkeeper's words of ecological trauma wouldn't haunt me at
night and to make up for the intensive bargaining I put her through.
I was envisioning a bit of cooking, some cleaning (I had to do my
part like Gwen said) and a semiquiet night until everyone got back.
I contemplated picking up the book again, but decided I needed to
work out a strategy for applying for forgiveness from Joni. I planned
on returning the robe tomorrow. Things seemed hunky dory, right
up till I walked in the door.
And there was Veronica. She was standing, full of confidence in
the center of the room. Her hands were making this kind of weaving
motion and she was turning and convoluting her body. She hadn't
seen me yet.
I must have dropped the bag because I wasn't carrying it anymore
when I hit the invisible wall. I was snarling and pawing, trying
to get at Veronica. I threw myself against the barrier maybe five
times, till I got the idea that it wasn't going to work. Veronica
stopped moving at first, her eyes wide with fear and then she smirked
at me, which just ticked me off even more. I placed my hands against
the clear surface and found myself pacing around Veronica.
"You can't touch me." She said. "I'm in the circle and you can't
reach me." She stretched lazily. "Its about time you came back.
I thought I was going to have to wait forever. Now we can get on
with it." She began to weave with her body and hands again, only
differently. Light seemed to spark in her fingers.
My mind was turning over and over. Circles. I remember Joni explaining
that circles were holy spaces, places of power and protection, depending
on how one created them. I didn't know much about magic, but I did
remember a story I'd heard about two people. A child and an adult.
The child had drawn a circle and said that the adult couldn't come
in. So the adult drew a bigger circle which included the child.
At least I think that was what happened. The point was that love
was inclusive, and could contain anything. Not that I loved Veronica
in any way at this point. But the memory got me thinking.
I was out the door and running around the house so fast that the
flowers bent. I hoped I was going in the correct direction, but
since I was acting on impulse I figured correct would take care
of itself. When I finished I walked back in.
There was power crackling in her circle. Her hair was standing
up and her feet weren't touching the ground. She looked like she
was in pain. It occurred to me that she had this tremendous buildup
and no place to go with it. The power she'd conjured couldn't move
out of the circle, which she had built.
I probably would have let her hang there a little longer if Joni
and Gina hadn't walked in at that moment. Mercy was just beginning
to tug at the corner of my heart, but I didn't know how to fix what
Yet another, "Gods!" expletive and Gina and Joni were in action.
Joni went to one side of the circle and Gina went to another and
they clasped hands. They started chanting and it seemed as if their
bodies were melding into the power vortex. I was very afraid for
them, but helpless because I KNEW nothing. Everything I had done
so far had been intuitive and reactive.
At first they floated and their hair stood up too. Then, gradually,
I watched the energy started flowing down instead of up, like electricity
grounding itself. The skin on my neck prickled as their hair fell
down and their feet touched the ground. Gina and Joni held Veronica
in the distant embrace until all of the power was gone. Then they
backed out and Veronica tried to follow, but she couldn't. She was
stuck in that little space she had created.
She looked at me fiercely, "YOU BITCH!"
Then Joni gave me a look, the same kind that Veronica was giving
me, "What in Hades' Name have you done?!"
"Me?!" I pointed at myself. "I didn't DO anything! She was . .
Joni waved me off, "I don't want hear it." She moved aggressively
toward me. "What's wrong with you?!" She looked me up and down.
"I don't even recognize you. You've got Bernie's voice, but," and
she pointed at where Veronica was standing, "Bernie would Never
do this. She wouldn't know how."
"But, I. . ." I gestured helplessly.
"I don't know who you are, but you had better leave."
What else could I do. I picked up the bag, turned back and Joni
pointed to the door. "GO!" So I left.
But I snuck around the house and crawled back into my room through
the still open window. I fetched a few things, including the quilt,
the book and a pillow. Considering I was in the doghouse, it was
probably a good thing I had been at that survival camp thing this
About halfway back out the window, I stopped. *What the heck was
!I! feeling guilty about?* I walked in this house with every intention
of peace. I was not the one trying to Zap anyone. I just acted to
save my own skin.
I contemplated this for a moment.
Then I stepped back in my room and strolled to my door and locked
I stood with the bag, the blanket, the pillow and the book in my
hands. I took a deep breath and let it out slow and then I took
another deep breath and let that out. I dropped the bag by the door
and put the quilt and pillow back on the bed. I laid the book on
the lamp table. Then I sat in the rocking chair and did what comes
I thought and relaxed into the rhythm of back and forth, back and
Up to now, I felt like I had been running on fast forward, with
some incredible highs and some incredible lows. This had to change.
I had to get a grip. Or maybe that was the problem. Maybe I'd had
such an intensive grip, that I didn't know how to adjust when my
hands were forced loose. I looked at my hands as I thought of that.
My palms facing up and open.
There was a sound at the window. I saw Gabrielle lean into the
room and pull herself up and over. She landed softly on the carpet.
Then strolled over to the bed and sat down. "Hi."
I nodded at her. I didn't feel like saying much. I looked at her
She smiled and leaned back, her hands spread to the side and her
arms long. "I wondered if you would be here."
I reached for the book and held it in my hands, tracing the leather.
"Did you write this?" I asked. She looked at me curiously, leaned
forward and gently slid the book from my fingers. She examined it
a bit and then laughed.
"So this is where its been." She shook her head ruefully, glanced
at me and let her fingers ply the pages open. She read to herself
for a minute. Then she grinned. "Have you *read* this?"
I blushed and licked my lips. "Uhm, not really. Just a few sentences
here and there. Its, uh, powerful stuff."
Her mouth quirked. "Oh?" She let her fingers slide down the page.
"I don't know about powerful. But it was fun to write it. Cathartic."
She closed the book and laid it on the bed.
"How long. . ." I started, "How?" I closed my eyes, took another
breath and wondered if I even knew what I was trying to ask. I decided
to try again. "I've had an odd day." I gave her space to respond,
but she just listened. "I'd spill my guts but I guess you already
know some of what is going on." I checked again, but she was just
going to let me say it. "An odd day." I sighed heavily and started
rocking again. Then I began talking.
I wound my way through the course of my life, here and there a
fine detail or comic moment, up to the now I occupied. Somehow I
along that woolly track I laid in the questions I wanted to ask
and found some of my own answers and left her some deep spaces to
fill at her leisure. My hands turned over until they cupped my thighs,
a comfortable weight. My voice was soft and sometimes lingered in
the air when I fell into silence. I was tracing my own outline with
words, revisioning my experiences into something I could cope with.
I was terribly aware of my newfound ignorance.
"I don't know what to do now." I said, as I looked at Gabrielle's
face. Her head was tilted to one side. The evening light was starting
to gray the room. Her eyes were far away, though I knew that she
had heard every word and every movement that I had made. Her belly
moved as she breathed. I could see the pulse of her neck. Her fingers
had sculpted the sheets into small mountains.
Then she was back.
She slapped her hands on her knees decisively and looked directly
at me. "Joni's right. You shouldn't be here anymore. You are not
the Bernie she knows." I felt the wind go right out of me. "Get
your belongings." She picked up her book. "I'll take this." I blinked
at her. She held my gaze. She stood up from the bed, walked to me
and took my hand. "Well, come on. I want to get you settled in."
So I gathered my stuff and got ready to slide out the window again.
Gabrielle shook her head. "Oh No. No sneaking out." She pointed
to the door. "We are going that way." I gulped.
More decisiveness. "Yep." She unlocked the door, opened it and
stepped out. I did the same. I squared my shoulders and walked into
and past the front room towards the door. I could hear Joni in the
kitchen and I saw Veronica, sitting crosslegged, in the same place
she was before. She looked grumpy. Gabrielle stopped and so I did.
Gabrielle approached Veronica and did a pitcher's squat. "Veronica?"
I felt neutral. Veronica looked up. "Veronica, I would like you
to think about what it is that you did that pissed off Hecate, please."
There was that sneeze again, though now I recognized it as a name.
Veronica looked uncooperative. "Think about it and maybe we can
find a way to get you out of here." Gab sighed, "I'll have someone
send you a sleeping bag, and it sounds like food is going to be
on its way." I just grinned. Joni is the world's worst cook. I mentally
wished Veronica good luck.
I'm not sure what I expected. The barn maybe. Actually, it was
a barn. The reclaimed one. The big house. Xena and Gabrielle's home.
Not what I expected at all. I thought maybe she was going to settle
me in a spare tent or something like that, but nope.
I didn't get much of a look see, though I can safely say that the
interior matches nothing on the exterior. Modern, plush, no sense
of camping, but there was weaponry on one of the walls and there
were lots of classical looking antiques. She led me upstairs and
down a hallway and into a room. I could see the whole camp from
the windows. Fortunately the windows had shades and curtains, so
I would have some privacy. Again, plush furnishing, though I missed
"This will do I think." She nodded in a satisfied way. "Just plunk
your stuff down and lets go."
*We were going again?* I did as she said and figured that she knew
what she was doing. I mumbled something about intruding, just to
be on the safe side.
"Nonsense." Then she grabbed my arm and we were on the move again.
She must have seen the question in my face because she said, "We
are going to find Xena."
And we were on our way.
Lots o' Questions
"You are avoiding the question." I said, as I followed Gabrielle
through the woods.
She just grinned at me. "I'm not avoiding the question, I'm just
choosing when to answer." I barely missed be snapped in the face
by some foliage.
"Why me, why your house, where are we going, what are we doing
and how old are you really? These are simple really. Aren't they?"
More grinning. I stepped in something gooey. *ugh* "Okay, if you
are not going to answer that, how about this one. Have you invited
anyone else to stay at your house before?"
"Not lately." Twig snapping. "And they say, I'm talkative."
Gabrielle stopped rather suddenly. Then she started ticking her
fingers and answering my questions in the briefest and most maddening
way possible. "You needed it, I wanted to, the temple, standing
in the middle of the forest, and I'm immortal so age doesn't even
equate into things anymore. Happy?" Then she stalked off.
"Hey, hey, Wait!" *Immortal.* I whispered a very humble, "Gods above."
She wrinkled her face, "s'okay."
More questions whirled in my mind, but I studiously avoided voicing
them. We walked in silence for awhile. "Gabrielle?"
"Would you tell me about it someday?"
She nodded, "Probably, if its important."
I sighed and accepted the answer.
After a few minutes we were at the steps of one of the most beautiful
buildings I had ever seen. Ancient Greek motifs, lots of flora and
fauna, a feeling of space and reverence and the sound of a war going
"Yi yi yi yi yi yi!"
*Whirrrwhooosh* *kchang* *kchang* *kchang*
Gabrielle shouted, "XENA!" and ran into the temple. So, I followed
But do you really want to know the answers?
Xena was in full form. She grinned from ear to ear and seemed to
be really enjoying the mayhem. She held a long pointy thing, which
I guess was a sword, and she was using like it was an extension
of her. Her t-shirt and jeans were a bloody mess. *squick* Another
man was foolishly rushing at her and totally fumbled over the bodies
piled at her feet. Dead meat.
There were more macho types flowing through the portal on the west
wall, almost nonstop. They were dressed in studded leather and some
were wearing metal armor. They had all kinds of different weaponry,
but mostly those swords. I guess Xena had been holding them back
for awhile, but they were starting to get past her. Well, some of
Gabrielle waded into the fray. She had a big stick in her hand,
which wasn't there before. She was moving that stick like lightning.
*crunch* It was like watching a very deadly dance, however the one's
who had the unfortunate opportunity to connect with Gabrielle, were
still breathing. The same couldn't be said about Xena's foes. So
I guess maybe they were fortunate after all. But I wouldn't have
wanted to be them.
Two guys rushed me, but I just willed them up and over and slammed
them into a wall. They were unconscious when they hit the floor.
I decided to be proactive so I mentally grabbed a vase.
"NO!" Gabrielle shouted. "That's Aphrodite's and I promised" She
pointed at another vase. "Use that one!"
I mentally set the vase down and then thought, just in case, to
put a protective barrier around it. There seemed to be an awful
lot of pottery shards on the floor anyway, not to mention shredded
tapestries. Then I grabbed the one Gabby indicated and tossed it
into someone's face. More shards.
Then Xena and I had a conversation and it went kind of like this:
"Yea?!" *smash* *shatter*
"I thought" *whomp* *scroosh* *Yuck!*
"I told you" *clang* *clang* *clang* *ARGGH*
"to" *sounds of bodies hitting walls* *sounds of stick connecting
"stay AWAY" *rip* *shred* *clang clang clang clang* *stab*
"from the temple" *whirl* *stab* *whirl* *stab* *whirl* *stab*
*Shove* "WELL, You did." *smash* *tipple* *clink clink clink* *groan*
I pointed at Gabrielle, "But !she!" *lift and toss* *conk*
"brought me here." *clang* *round killing thing connecting with
"Oh." *smash* *shatter* *glass tinkling to the ground*
I guess the mirror breaking was what did it. It had been a beautiful
thing,nearly filling south wall. At least is wasn't me who did it.
Rather it was some guy who was whirling a spiked ball attached to
a chain. But she said, "THAT'S IT!"
You can trust me when I say that Everyone stopped what they
were doing. Swords just sort of fell to the ground. Not Xena's,
she was still in a crouch ready to do some damage, but most everyone
else's. I let they guy I was holding in the air drop with a thud.
The guys who were stepping through the portal stopped, blinked and
then stepped back through the other way.
There was a very clear space around Gabrielle. She was glowing.
Her hair was loose. She was wearing robes. The staff seemed to be
made of metal. "Who defiles my temple?!"
My nose itched.
There was a new voice, masculine. "Its about time." A man stepped
through the wall. He was muscular. He wore a sword at his hip. He
seemed kind of . . .smarmy. There was growl in my throat, wanting
to form itself.
Xena uncrouched and rolled her eyes upward. "Ares."
Ares bowed from the waist, with his arms extended. "The very same,"
he mocked. Then he sneered, "I wondered when you would actually
get around to using your powers Gabrielle. It seems so pointless,
a Goddess who does nothing." He stepped over a still quivering body.
Gabrielle smiled coldly, "Why have you come to my temple. I do
not remember inviting _You_." She looked so regal I was breathless.
My heart palpitated. Xena was carefully making her way to Gabrielle's
Ares shrugged, "I invited myself." His eyes scanned the damage
and then rested on Xena. He smirked as he indicated her bloody sword,
"I see you are up to par," His eyes were hot, "Mortal." He leaned
toward her a little bit, "Of course, my invitation still stands."
Xena didn't smile. "Of course, my answer is still No."
The god sighed, "Oh well." His hand rested lightly on his chest.
He shook his head sorrowfully. "I tried."
Gabrielle's eyes narrowed. "You have not answered my question and
I am losing patience." She seemed to glow a little brighter.
Ares held up his hands, "Alright, alright. I'll give you an answer,
but first you have to answer mine. How can you call this "your"
temple, when you've dedicated it to almost every other God. What
is it you call the place? The temple of the divine?"
Gabrielle laughed, "Your main flaw Ares, is that you lack imagination."
have plenty of imagination."
Gabrielle sniffed, "Hmmfph, You say that I do nothing. That is
simply unobservant. I like subtlety. Another characteristic you
sometimes lack. But all you do is one thing. War and things warlike."
She let her hand float into Xena's and smiled into her eyes. Then
she looked back at the God. "No wonder you are so boring."
Ares took a menacing step.
I found myself standing in front of Gabrielle and Xena. The hairs
on my neck were standing up. I was growling. My hands were unclenched,
ready to throttle.
Ares looked surprised, "What's this?!" He took a long hard look
at me. "Why Gabrielle, I must have misjudged you. Is this your work?"
More scanning, "No, no. I recognize this. Hecate." He smiled. "But
perhaps she is your new plaything? I had heard that you were being
chummy with some of the old gods."
I'm not sure why I wasn't offended. Perhaps it was because I realized
that being a plaything to Gabrielle wouldn't be at all bad.
Someone grabbed the back of my jeans and gently pulled me back.
I turned to look. It was Xena. I resisted a little by snarling at
the man, but didn't try to pull away from her. She settled me just
a little beside and behind herself. I guess she figured one shouldn't
step in the middle of a conversation where one could get zapped.
"As I was saying, you are unobservant." Gabrielle moved her staff
gracefully, directing the gaze of the war god. As she did so, the
bits and pieces of pottery, glass, tapestry and whathaveyou put
themselves back together. Theblood, bodies and bodyparts disappeared,
except for the live ones. They just stood up and looked dazed. "Go
home now." Gabrielle bade them. They staggered back through the
portal. The temple seemed to sparkle and shine. She looked at Ares,
"Here is the answer to your question. The temple is mine because
*I* sanctified the ground and built it. Can you argue that?"
He looked like he wanted to, but he answered, "No. I can't."
I noticed that even Xena's clothes were clean and that she smelled
as if she had just been bathed in fragrant waters. I lusted for
a moment then got focused again.
Gabrielle looked at Ares expectantly, "so you are here because.
He scrunched his face a little. "I have a few reasons." He started
to pace a little. "First, I am so disappointed that I wasn't invited
into your little god space. Surely, I deserve some acknowledgement
for helping you two get together." Gabrielle hmmphed again. Ares
continued,"Second, I know of someone else who will be mighty disappointed.
Heartbroken, we might say. Actually," He held his hand up and splayed
two fingers apart, "two gods in particular."
Gabrielle's eyes narrowed, "And your point is?"
Are looked shocked, "You call *me* unimaginative?"
Gabrielle rolled her eyes, "And your point is?"
"Velaska and Callisto."
Gabrielle's expression became unreadable. She said, "oh." "Now
that is interesting. Enemies. An interesting concept...How very
Ares pursed his lips. I don't think he liked the way she was sounding.
Gabrielle stepped toward him. "And, do you know where they are
Ares eyebrows squinched. "Well, not actually. But I do know they
are free again." He grimaced at Xena, "We Gods always get free eventually."
"That is my hope." Said Gabrielle.
Ares looked a little startled. Then he looked suspicious. "I don't
Ares looked uncomfortable.
"If it makes you feel any better, I'm not the one who does the
inviting at this temple." Gabrielle stepped back away from Ares.
"I provided this space for those who worship. They are free to call
on who they choose. I only set the limitation that the worshipers
must respect my space, and even that is not carved in stone. As
it were." She smiled briefly. "It is Not my fault that no
one calls on you here. But I'm sure you have Many worshipers out
there." Her staff seemed to indicate outside and beyond the confines
of the camp. She smiled benignly, "I wouldn't stop anyone from calling
you here, if it was done of their own free will and they needed
you. As I recall, war may be your passion, but it is not your only
Ares managed a sneer. "What is the deal here. You have a place
of worship and no one to worship *you*?"
"Ares, it seems that being locked up for centuries has done you
harm. I think maybe Gabrielle is right." A blonde woman in flimsy
robes and almost nothing else appeared. She was gorgeous.
Ares turned about. More sneering, "Aphrodite."
Love has her way
Now this was just incredible, I know, but this Aphrodite person
(and I had read some Greek myths so I knew she was the Goddess of
Love). . .this Aphrodite person pats Ares on the butt as she passes
him (You should have seen the look on his face), strolls up to Gabrielle,
pulls her into her arms and lays on a kiss that would have rocked
my world if it had been me. I cast my eyes at Xena but she looked
like she was in good humor about the whole thing. Then Aphrodite
put her hand on Gabrielle's derriere, gave it a squeeze and then
the whole show wound down, with "Hey sweetie, haven't seen you in
awhile." Then the show started again when she did the same thing
My own derriere connected with the floor pretty quick. Which spooked
me. Which led to me seeing that Ares was getting hot under the collar.
But just before I could do anything, I found my face being pointed
up and I was looking up past two lovely mounds of flesh and into
the eyes of yet another Goddess. "What have we here."
Her grip was strong, but kind. Her eyes were investigative. Her
free hand trailed the outline of my jaw, to my shoulder and pushed
aside the collar of my shirt until she could see the spiderweb.
Her fingers traced the designthoughtfully. I was instantly wet.
She sighed pleasantly.
She looked into my eyes again. "You saved my vase."
I looked at Gabrielle. Swallowed. "She told me to."
Aphrodite waved her finger at me, "No, she simply said not to use
it. You saved my vase." She smiled at me and I felt like
I had done the greatest thing in the world.
She let go of my face with a caress and turned her attention to
He grumped; arms folded, chest puffed out.
"So, like, what's your problem."
Gabrielle smirked, "He hasn't been worshiped at this temple yet,
and felt left out. He is not comfortable with the idea of a God
with no worshipers."
Aphrodite let out a long, "Oh." Nodded her head in understanding.
Then she turned to Xena and Gabrielle, "But here's the deal, like,
I know you have plenty of worshiping going on between the two of
you, yes?" Xena and Gabrielle looked at each other and grinned.
She returned her attention to Ares, "But then again," she looked
intensely at him, "You have been gone, for quite a long long time."
Ares grumped more, "What has that got to do with anything?"
Aphrodite threw up her hands. "GET USED TO IT!" She twirled around
a bit. "Look around you! The old gods are barely remembered. I mean,
there are some worshipers resurfacing, but its been like this for
century upon century. And you know what. We didn't disappear." She
created a seat out of thin air and sat down. "Oh sure, no one knew
we were around, but we didn't have to answer all those bothersome
requests. No more demands. Just lovely silence. Time to spend with
your spouse and family," She looked at Xena and Gabrielle, "And
friends." She fixed her gaze squarely on him. "I liked it." Her
fingers trailed the narrow outline of the chair seductively. "Of
course, now with people rediscovering us, there are more petitions,
but its at a pace I can deal with and I can practice my Godhood
like an art form, instead of a job." She sighed contentedly and
so did I.
She pointed her finger at Ares. "You have been out of the running
a long time, dude. Don't expect people to just wake up and smell
the blood." She stood up again and the chair disappeared. "And no
cheating. No recycling the bad guys of the past." Again her arms
were in the air. "Get to know the place first. You might like it."
"You dare. . ."
"Get off your high horse chump. The past is over." She snapped
her fingers. Then she looked at me. "And I have a bit of creating
Next thing I knew I was standing up and naked. And so was Aphrodite.
*gulp* I backed up but didn't get very far. She gave me a come hither
and crooked her finger, and I stalled. That gave her plenty of time
to gather me in her arms. I could see the others out of the corner
of my eye, and I knew they were watching, but I didn't care. My
body trembled and her body was warm and soft.
Then she began to kiss me and move her hands around me. She actually
kissed the top of my head (she was taller than me and I was barely
taller than Gabrielle.) Then she took my face in her hands and kissed
my forehead and I began to tingle all over. My eyelids were next
and I found that I couldn't open them, I could only feel. She trailed
all over my face, including my ears and mouth. There was one deep
kiss, where I would have sunk to the floor if she hadn't been holding
me up by my chin. I shouldn't have to tell you that I might as well
have been a river. My stomach clenched with desire. And I started
responding to her kiss. She murmured, "How delightful." And then
she moved on, but I found myself clinging to her, my own hands not
quite roving, but seeking support because of what she was doing
She pushed me back a little, just enough so that she could trail
kisses down my neck. My arms found themselves locked in her strong
grip. Everywhere her lips landed I was on fire. When her lips touched
my marked shoulder everything intensified about a hundredfold. I
felt like I was having a million tiny orgasms with each kiss. When
she kissed the center of my chest I felt as if my heart opened to
such warmth that liquid honey was flowing through my veins. When
she kissed my breasts I felt my nipples quiver at attention and
there was an answering zing in my abdomen. My breasts felt full
and warm. Her whispers filled my brain and her touch was so smooth.
When she kissed my belly and circled my navel with her tongue I
felt as if the universe itself had ignited in me and engulfed me.
When she bypassed where I thought she was going to I forgot to be
upset because my legs were suddenly the most erotic and powerful
things I had ever felt. Even my knees became precious. And then
my arms and soon I was arching my back and neck as if her kisses
were the nectar of life and the weight of the world had ceased to
be. And every kiss led to a yearning and a hunger and every stroke
of her hands burned my psyche with her impression. I wanted to return
everything she was giving and I wanted her to do more. I wanted
But she would just gently maneuver my advances until I was right
back where she wanted me. I was whimpering and I know I cried out
several times. And I thought she would never find me, never find
me for all the searching she was doing. I was begging, I know I
was. Please please. Even though each kiss was a treasure and each
touch was a gem, I wanted more. And finally I could open my eyes
again and I was staring into hers and falling through. Then I felt
her hand slip into that sacred space of mine that space I thought
would never be filled. And she rocked me awake with each delicate
circle of her fingertips and each movement of her palm. And she
smiled into me and lifted me up to her mouth and she kissed me again.
Every part of me went into orgasm. The hair of my arms, my fingernails,
my teeth, my bones, my cunt, my eyeballs, my follicles, my ears,
my everything, everything. I wept and wept and laughed and laughed
and screamed and screamed. I melted. I was redesigned.
I woke up languorously. Breathing in and out, with my eyes still
closed. And I realized that I must be missing some important bits
of information, because there was a feminine body spooning me from
behind, with one of her legs between mine and another feminine body
pressing my front, with her leg over the top of mine. The one in
back was cupping my breast and licking my ear in deliberately slow,
tantalizing strokes. The one in front was tracing an outline of
the fingers cupping my breast and kissing my neck. And we reeked
of each other, their scents mixing deliciously with mine. My body
was slick with sweat and so was theirs.
I think I was the one who got stuck with the wet spot.
Not that I was minding that one a bit. No, I was minding the fact
that I couldn't quite remember how I got there.
I recalled Aphrodite. I recalled everything about that (Its not
something one would just forget, you know). But I couldn't place
just how I got into this position, which I obviously had been enjoying
I took a deep breath and risked opening an eyelid.
"Oh," said Gabrielle in a husky voice, "look who's decided to join
My eyes opened wide and my nostrils flared as I took in an impromptu
breath. I found my voice, "Uh. . .Hi." Oh clever, that was clever.
I realized that if Gabrielle was in front of me, then it was probably
Xena behind me. I looked down at the hand clasping me. Long fingers,
bronze skin. Definitely Xena. There was no point in saying where
am I, because it was kind of obvious, sort of. Xena's hand moved
to my belly and she pulled me a little closer. Her vocalization
of "welcome back," rolled through me like a sweet summer rain. Another
deep breath through the nostrils, and my eyes were rolling back.
She kissed the back of my ear. oh boy. My body trembled a bit.
Gabrielle leaned back a little and propped her head up with her
arm. The other one she used to continue tracing little circles around
my nipples. "And how are we?" she smiled.
I blinked and tried not to look too confused. I didn't remember
how I got here, but I didn't want to blow this. I did a quick self
assessment. I felt. . . fine, really fine. A little tired. Confused.
But fine. I looked into hazel eyes and said so. Her fingers traced
their way to my jaw. She didn't look too concerned.
But she did ask me, "confused?" Again, more eye contact, "How?"
Honesty, dishonesty, Honesty, dishonesty, . . . .honesty.
I let my hand drift down towards Xena, to stop what was distracting
me. "Well. . ." But moving my hand to hers was distracting too,
because she just clasped my fingers in hers and kept going. I tried
to think. What was it I was upset about? oh oh yeah, that. How I
"I can't quite remember." Did her thigh just move a little deeper
and closer to me? "I . .uh. .can't quite remember." Yep, it sure
did. Felt good too. Another deep breath, because I had to move,
just a little, reposition. "uh. . how, I," Lovely circles, circles
are wonderful, "oooh," my own voice was throaty. "uhmmmmmmm," tingles
are lovely too, focus, focus. "got here."
I expected Xena to stop. I expected to be tossed off the bed.
That didn't happen, but Xena did laugh into my shoulder and Gabrielle
snickered. Gabrielle said, "oh. You think you don't remember huh?"
Gabrielle laid her hand flat and shifted it back down to my breast.
I nodded my head, hesitantly, but I was getting distracted again,
fast. I found myself opening my legs a bit, which shifted Gabrielle's
legs and I thought I was going to lose contact. This distressed
me. But she didn't let it happen, she just shifted her hips a bit.
Gabrielle leaned in and kissed my chin. "Don't worry. You'll remember."
She said it reassuringly, confidently. How could I doubt. "We'll
help." She kissed the top of my left breast, and I had a flash about
what had happened to that breast fairly recently. Very very very
nice things. My body shuddered. Her hand pressed my belly, and I
had a sudden vision of Xena on top of me, her hips rotating slowly,
her hair brushing my chest, fire in her eyes. Okay, that was fun
too. Gabrielle nipped my neck, and I suddenly remembered there were
scratches on my back from when she dug in when I was. . .well, you
don't need to know that, but it was good, it was very good. Okay,
so I remembered, sort of. In bits and pieces. My first assessment
was correct I had had a wonderful time.
But I was still missing the how I got here in the first place.
I decided to ask for a digest form. So I tried to phrase it as I
was moving to let Xena guide my hand a little deeper. I realized,
in a brief moment of clarity, that we had been having these types
of distracted conversations before. That I had learned things, some
of which were vividly clear in the back of my mind, but there for
later. Things like why Gabrielle was a God and why Xena was not.
Things that I had asked and things that I hadn't. I also realized
that I was deeply deeply in love with them. (Like Duh.)
So I asked, eventually, how in the heck I had arrived at this point.
And there more giggles and laughter and more kisses and distractions.
But they finally got around to answering, but I'll spare you all
the moans and sighs in between.
The Long and Short of It
The short of it, is that I scared Ares away. Though that wasn't
my fault, it was Aphrodite's. And then Aphrodite told Xena and Gabrielle
that they had to uh, take me in hand, as it were, or there would
be dire consequences.
The long of it goes something like this.
When Aphrodite was done with me, and it didn't take as long as
I thought, but time is a tricky subject when it comes to Gods anyway,
I seemed to be quite alert. In fact, I seemed to be in about the
same state of mind as when I had jumped out of bed earlier that
afternoon. I was feral again, except that I was exuding sex. So
much so, that even Aphrodite was having a difficult time concentrating,
and she was the one who started it.
Ares, who had been minding everyone else's business, was suddenly
the object of my attention. He had what I thought I wanted. I mean,
it comes attached right. So, I started stalking toward him, and
he looked like he would be willing enough. That is, right until
Aphrodite told him that in the state of mind I was in, I would be
as likely to bite it off as anything else. (Gabrielle and Xena were
guffawing as they told me this, hardly able to contain themselves.)
Apparently he went three shades of white and forgot he was a god,
because he began running for the portal he had created. This meant
that I went running after him and slammed into a very solid wall.
(They said the disappointment on my face would have been heartbreaking
if the situation hadn't been so desperately funny). Well, not having
Ares to turn to meant that I was going to look for someone else.
Before I could do that though, Aphrodite put me on hold, that is,
I couldn't move from facing the wall, just yet. I was most unhappy
and set to struggling, very ineffectively. It was during this time,
that Aphrodite told them the sitch.
They had a choice. They could let me go back to camp and wreak
high holy orgiastic havoc, or they could drain some of the energy
themselves (it being convenient that Gabrielle was a goddess and
all). They would never get all of it, because, well that was just
the way of it. But they could, uhm help me manage it, to a tolerable
level. The only problem being that they would be pretty much stuck
with me. Not like umbilical stuck, just that I would bond with them,
like a duckling bonds with the first thing it sees moving.
This wasn't to say I wouldn't have other partners in my life. Just
that they would be the main thing. Of course, if they didn't want
the responsibility they could just let me out the door and I'd find
the first person walking on the path to the temple which would eventually
lead to a run amok orgy at camp, because there would be no way in
hades that the person could deal.
Then Gabrielle said, "and what will this do to our plans." I remember
this bit, because I was listening though I was struggling, and I
thought it odd that there was any sort of planning going on, because
I couldn't seem to. Plan that is.
I guess Aphrodite kissed her, because there was no sound for a
bit, but there was a long lingering sigh and it wasn't coming from
me damnit! She said, "Doll face, it will improve! I guarantee."
I felt a lot of thinking going on behind me.
Meanwhile, I was starting to hurt. All of those wonderful feelings
that were lingering were starting to turn on me. A whimper of pain
escaped from my mouth.
"Better hurry up and decide, because I won't have her hurting."
I felt a hand on my back and the pain began to subside. Aphrodite
kissed my cheek. "Such a lovely . . . Perhaps I'll just keep her
for myself." I felt her look behind me. "Of course that would wreck
everything that we've done so far, but it is another option." I
felt her caress my cheek. "Actually quite a lovely option." My breath
quickened, because I knew it was very possible I was gonna get lucky
again. My eyes narrowed and my body throbbed.
Gabrielle's voice was soft, inquiring, not seeking to command.
It wrung my heart (and in the state of mind I was in that was hard
to do). I'd've thrown myself on a post if it would have made it
easier on her. "Xena?"
Silence and more silence, until all I could hear was the sound
of my breath against the wall and the blood pounding in my ears.
I felt someone move close to me. My face was pulled to the side,
and I found myself looking into intensely blue eyes. She was deciding
my fate again.
I gulped and tried to turn away. I liked Xena. I liked Gabrielle.
I didn't know them, but I liked them. But forever is a long long
time, and it looked like that was how it was going to be. We would
be jumping in a pool knowing how deep it was, but not knowing what
was contained in it.
But then it sounded like it would be that way for me, no matter
what they decided. I was in kimshe city. (Kimshe being an alternative
word for deep shit.) I felt a part of me surrender, when I realized
that I had no choice, except to do what ever it was I was going
That made it easier for me to let her look into my eyes and to
not shirk away like I wanted to. "I don't know you." I said. My
breathing was slightly uneven so it came out breathless, seductive.
"But I trust you." I blinked. "I will deal with whatever you decide.
I will respect it. I will try my damnedest not to destroy whoever
it is I come in contact with, if you say no. I will. I will." I
didn't think it was possible for Xena's face to become even more
I closed my eyes and swallowed hard. I was scared spitless that
she would say no. I was scared spitless that she would say yes.
When I opened them again, the hand at my back disappeared or seemed
to. Xena's expression had changed, but I couldn't interpret it.
But Aphrodite seemed to know. She said, "Fine. Good choice." and
I was suddenly free to move and kind of fell down. I hadn't realized
how much support I was actually receiving. I was in a crouch. I
placed the palms of my hands against the wall and was looking down
at my feet. I gave out a couple of short sobs.
Then Xena's strong arms came under mine and lifted me up, till
I was standing again. More sobs on my part. And then a ridiculous
giggle. "Damn," I said, "it seems like every time I see you I start
"Not every time. Not any more." Xena's voice husked in my ears.
I blinked away the tears.
"Xena, I'm sor. . ." I didn't even get a chance to finish apologizing.
I was getting kissed for dear life. And that was how it got started.
Apparently we had sex for two days before I settled down. Gabrielle
and Xena worked some arrangement so they could get some rest. Somehow
they fed me and I know there was a bath or three in there. One or
the other would go out to check on the camp, which was being mildly
affected by me (as opposed to catastrophically). I understand that
there were some really unlikely pairings going on. Gabby thought
maybe Cupid was just taking advantage of the atmosphere.
I was finally relaxed enough to do some thinking with something
other than my body. I wondered what "the plan" was. I wondered why
!I! was involved with the plan. I wondered what I was going to do
now. But I guess that was going to take care of itself.
I was exhausted. Xena was exhausted. Gabrielle probably wasn't
exhausted, but she was nice enough to pretend to be. We slept in
each others arms, and in the morning, it was raining, but it was
Who The Heck Are You
I was toweling my hair when I entered the kitchen. Gabrielle was
sitting at the table, her legs folded under the chair, elbows on
the table, holding what looked like paperwork. She turned when she
Her eyebrows were raised in disbelief, "Bernice Gracious Poughkeepsie?"
I stifled a laugh. "Yeah, well you get used to it you know."
Gabby's head did a little shaking. "Gods." She indicated a bowl
of fruit. I wrapped the towel around my head. Then I grabbed an
orange, leaned against a counter and started peeling. "Who did this
to you?" She tapped the paper.
"Well you see," I popped a slice into my mouth and talked around
it, "my dad had a great aunt who he loved. Apparently he stayed
with her a lot. Her name was Bernice." I waved what was left of
the orange, "Now my mom's name is Grace and great great aunt Bernice's
favorite expression was gracious, I guess, and so it seemed logical
to them at the time to give me Gracious as a middle name. Besides
it follows a long tradition of naming the quality you wanted the
child to have." Gabby nodded. "Anyway, Poughkeepsie is my father's
last name and in this culture that's what you get. So, Bernice Gracious
Poughkeepsie is what I have lived with."
I strolled to the chair on the left side of the table, dragged
it out and sat down. Gabrielle pursed her lips. "Did you ever think
of changing it?"
I snickered and nodded, then sobered up. "Yeah, but I didn't want
to disappoint my parents. I used to have a nickname: "Nie," (my
little sister called me that, but then, Monty Python did that Holy
Grail movie and you can guess the results. So I switched to Bernie."
More nodding. Gabrielle looked thoughtful. I finished up the orange.
I realized I was still hungry, but wasn't quite sure for what. I
began to think about that when Gabrielle interrupted my thoughts.
"Bernie, I think you should think about another name." She laid
the paperwork down. "The person you are now, is totally different
from the person you were. And I know you will be different than
you are now, soon." She was looking at me intensely and I felt a
clenching in my stomach.
I gulped and whispered, "You mean there's more?" I felt a little
panicky, "You're not done?" I looked at her. "Its not enough that
I've been twisted inside out twice?" My fingers trembled. I thought
about the whorls on my fingers and how they had changed. My index
fingers now looked like webworks and my middle fingers had heart
designs that went on for infinity. This didn't even take into account
that my eyes were brown again, except now they seemed a little more
golden. And the web markings had taken on a new design incorporating
a red colored heart.
Gabrielle's eyes were full of compassion. "There's more."
My head found the table and I covered in with my arms. Gabrielle
took one of my arms and pulled it down and took my hand in hers,
palm up. I lifted my head up and looked at her. Her left hand held
mine and she used her right to touch the tip of my index finger.
"This is Hecate's gift. She is the one who chose you." She touched
the the tip of my middle finger. "This is Aphrodite's gift. She
is the one who loved you." The gently touched the rest of my fingers
and thumbs. "These are the what are left, and they will be filled
before the week is out." She laid her hand in my palm. I hadn't
even looked at my palm, though now I thought I probably should have.
"This is your foundation. It has been changed, but not like the
others. This is what you started out with and what you will become
and more. Look."
I looked at my palm. There were patterns there too, but I was no
palm reader. Gabrielle traced some lines and I realized that letters
had formed on my palm in intricate connection. X & G & something
that was trying to form itself, but was not written.
"Why not B?"
"Ask yourself. Are you Bernice anymore?"
I closed my eyes and asked myself. A whole lot of quiet. Bernice
was still there, but she wasn't the whole of me. The "I am" of me
didn't quite have a name anymore.
I opened my eyes and said, "I am and am not Bernice." I extricated
my hand so that I could look closer. "I don't know who I am anymore."
Gabrielle reclaimed me. "Yourself. Always. The core is you. The
rest is flexible, you know?" She kissed my palm. "Think about it.
You don't have to lose Bernie. There is no reason you can't be more."
"More like you?"
Gabrielle shook her head. "More like you."
"Yeah, but if you gods keep changing me, how am I more myself?"
My hands wrung themselves together.
Then she stood up, came closer to me and tilted my face up. She
kissed me, warmly, softly. I felt the tingles that I was getting
so familiar with. "Gods do not give what is not already there" Then
she looked funny for a second, "except on some occasions." She parted
my hands and took them in hers again. "Just know that you are becoming
more of who and what you are, not less. Remember you have me. You
have Xena. We will be here for you. Always." Her fingers clasped
mine and gave a little shake. Then she kissed me on the forehead.
She sighed. "If I didn't have to go now, I'd stay. But I do have
some responsibilities that I've taken on myself." She smiled.
I found myself smiling back. I did love her after all. "yeah, go
ahead. I think I'm gonna go for a walk and see what's up."
Gabrielle tapped her forehead. "Speaking of what's up. I'll solve
a little worry for you." I looked blank. "Veronica, is currently
on her way to see some relatives of mine." Oh. Yeah. That. "You
won't have to worry about encountering her, at least not for a little
"You have relatives?"
She stroked my chin, "Don't look so surprised. I was mortal once,
and god's have been known to have children."
"Oh, oh yeah. Okay." I sniffed. "So Veronica is going to see some
of your relatives. Okay. I can deal."
"I know you can." I got a thorough kissing that left me kind of
swoony. Then she left. Later, after I found something a little more
filling than an orange, I went for a walk. I had a lot to think
Gabrielle Becomes A God
It was sunny by the time I was out walking, though the grass still
held water like small crystal jewels. I thought about stopping by
and talking to Joni, but decided against it. I hardly recognized
myself. I just couldn't do it to her.
As I was walking through camp, I noticed that the people I passed
would stop what they were doing, briefly and watch me. It felt different.
There was one person who bravely approached me, and invited me (without
even knowing who I was) to join her and her partner for a bit of
erotic fun. I thought about it, but tried to decline as gracefully
as I could. She looked disappointed, but I think she lived through
I wondered if this was how it was going to be everywhere I went?
Stares and invitations. Not a bad thing, but unfamiliar. I was going
to have to come up with ways of disengaging from unwanted conversations.
Something I had never had to deal with before, really.
I thought I saw Joni, briefly. She was holding hands with some
other chick, not Gina. I felt a very brief stab of jealousy. I turned
in a different direction.
This eventually led to a really obscure path.
I was in the green now. Occasionally a leaf would brush my cheek,
or I would pass through a spider web (Now -That- is one weird feeling).
The ground and air smelled sweet, crisp, clean. I would stop now
and then and really look around me. The ground was soft under my
feet. The flowers were bright. The wind blew petals from the trees
to the ground. Sometimes water would drop on my head or shoulders.
It was a good walk.
I thought about my name, or lack thereof. I thought about what
might be before me. I came to a fork in the road. Another crossroads.
I thought about Hecate and Aphrodite and Gabrielle. I knew I was
going to have to do some research now. I thought about Xena. I thought
When I was still in the throes of passion I asked about Gabrielle
and Xena. Who they were, why they were here and the like. They told
me a little bit. About traveling together in the past, that Gabrielle
was a bard and Xena was a Warrior Princess (what a concept!), that
they had many adventures and how they settled down every now and
I guess during one of those adventures, Gabby became a god.
She said it actually started when she died and went to the Elysian
fields. This was a place where everything and everyone were blissfully
happy and things were always wonderful. She even had a husband waiting
for her. He was happy to see her and she him. But as time passed
(or seemed to) she grew more and more unhappy. Eventually, she and
Perdicus had a long discussion, where he told her that she was as
miserable as if she was in Tartarus. He told her, that if she was
this unhappy, she had to find a way to go back.
So that is what she did. She made her way into Hades' and Persephone's
bedroom and had a heart to heart. Hades' main problem was that she
had been dead for so long and Xena was not destined for the Elysian
fields. And that was the whole deal. Gabrielle was NOT happy without
Xena and wasn't going to be happy without Xena. She said that she
would rather be stuck in Tartarus with Xena. Except, Hades pointed
out, if he allowed that, then Xena might as well be in the Elysian
fields because where Gabrielle was, that was heaven to Xena. This
was a conundrum and Hades wasn't budging.
It was Persephone who came up with the solution. Become a god.
Then Gabrielle couldn't be stopped from going where she wanted.
And she would have a better bargaining position. The only problem
was that Xena had a thing about immortality and the like.
Hades pointed out that Gabrielle was already immortal, she just
wasn't currently on the earth, so there was no reason to resist.
He talked about a guy who stayed real briefly who talked about inner
divinity and how actually everyone was a god, depending on how you
looked at it. They talked long and hard and persuasively, and probably
if she had been Xena she would have said No, but she was Gabrielle
and the concept of inner divinity appealed to her. So Hades gave
her a body, Persephone made an ambrosia and golden apple salad,
and it was a done deal.
After that, it was only (Hah! only) a matter of convincing Xena
that this was a good thing and that she was the same Gabrielle (even
though I guess, like me, she wasn't exactly the same, she just was
How Xena found out and what happened is another story, but I do
know that Gabrielle was pretty clever about the whole thing, because
Xena didn't find out about it for three more years, that is until
Gabrielle goofed. But I'll let you read the scrolls for that. This
is My story after all.
Of course, it was a trap. I mean the Gods getting Gabrielle to
eat the ambrosia. Its not like they let every unhappy dead person
become an immortal deity. Hades' use of the word destiny is the
big clue, isn't it. He never said that Xena was destined for Tartarus,
now did he. Sneaky.
Just like Hecate.
Just like Gabrielle, actually. I still didn't know the plan, did
I? All I knew was that I had two more sets of fingerprints plus
thumb prints that would be filled with god marks. I didn't know
whether to look forward to this or not. Hecate's changes had been
kind of painful. Aphrodite's changes had been wildly erotic.
And there was something that disturbed me about this whole bonding
idea. She never said that Xena and Gabrielle were bonded to me.
Only that I was bonded to them. I had a sudden sense of Angst. Just
because I loved them, did not mean they loved me. Oh, they did what
they had to, but that was it. I was an unexpected burden, that they
accepted. Sure, the seduction was fun, but you can't live with someone
based on sex alone, at least, not for long.
I stopped walking and stood in the middle of the path. I had no
idea where I was. I looked behind me and noticed that I wasn't even
really on a path. I was just in the middle of the woods. Well. That's
okay. It totally accurately reflected how I was feeling.
I decided to sit down. I let my knees fold under me and my arms
rest on my knees. I knew I had a few decisions to make.
Nothing had been said yet, about my staying. Not really. And I
did have a life outside this place before all this. . .this happened.
I was going after a masters in history. I had the end of this semester
and a couple more classes to go (I hadn't registered yet, because
I didn't know if I was going to go in the summer or fall or both.
Yeah yeah, I know, stalling.) That hadn't changed had it.
It would give me a reason to leave, without embarrassment. I'd
dealt with unrequited love before. No biggee. (Yeah, right. . .)
It was a biggee when it came to this. I would have to act like this
degree was so important to me, that I just had to leave. I would
have to act happy. And then I would have to simply never come back.
I could love without touching or seeing. I could.
It was in the midst of this thinking, that I heard the scream.
I was up and around the bend before I could even decide where I
I had no idea that rabbits made sounds. And this one looked to
be in dire straights. It was twisting to get away from under a stack
of wood. I think a leg was broken.
I silenced my mind, like I had with the horses, and reached out
for the small creature, slowly, slowly. If I didn't know rabbits
made sounds, how would I know if they bit or fought when hurt. I
imagined and felt energy running through my fingers. Soothing energy.
"here baby, its okay little one. its okay." I let one hand grasp
the rabbit and another grasp the chunk of wood and stuff that it
had got caught in. And I tried to separate the two as gently as
I could. "Its okay, its okay, its okay." The leg was horribly twisted
and a bloody mess. More soothing.
I had a choice to make. Let the rabbit suffer, don't let the rabbit
suffer, figure out what to do. Intuition can be a wonderful thing
when it kicks in. I found myself laying my currently free hand on
the leg, repositioning it as if I had always known rabbit anatomy.
Then I felt myself give a surge of energy and I saw in my mind,
a whole little rabbit instead of this poor beat up fellow. And it
The brown gray soft fuzzy thing kicked away from me, so I let it
Okay, there could be a real benefit to these changes. I felt a
I sensed a presence behind me and whipped around. Another Goddess.
She was taller than me, dressed in a leather kilt, with not much
on top but some metal armor on her shoulders, sort of. Her skin
was dark, but her eyes were light. She had a hunters bow, which
she held casually. She was toned. She looked stern. There was a
bear behind her, and I knew there were few, if any bears, in this
part of Missouri.
Then I really realized there was a BEAR behind her, rational thought
left and I was off and running. Which was really stupid, considering.
I could feel her chasing after me and I dared not look back (I've
seen those movies, the ones' where the heroine looks back and gets
clobbered. Not me, uh uh.) One foot in front of the other, thighs
moving, heart pumping. Faster than a rabbit, swifter than a dear,
leaping over tall clumps of bushes in a single bound. I heard a
zing behind me and felt a thwap on the backside. I was on the ground
before I could even figure out what hit me.
Oh yeah, the bow. Funny, the arrow didn't hurt, but I couldn't
Something large, furry and black began snuffling at me. My heart
was going a mile a minute. Shit.
I knew I had to calm down. I knew I had to breathe. I knew I was
I heard a thap, like something furry being swatted at. Her voice
was honey. "Ursala, go. Leave her alone." The bear protested, loudly,
in my ear. Ouch. But it shuffled away. Then I felt a slap on my
butt and a laugh. "Just what were you thinking? hmm." She grasped
my arm and rolled me around so that I was looking up. She was shaking
her head, "Trying to run away from the Goddess of the Hunt."
I found myself replying, "Thinking? I was thinking? No can't say
She place her finger on my mouth, to shut me up, because I was
about to ramble. "You have a real fear of animals don't you." She
hadn't moved her finger, so I just nodded. She was doing a pitcher's
squat, with one knee on the ground. I could see up her skirt. There
was nothing to imagine. I swallowed and tried to focus on the conversation.
I knew she noticed, but she was busy talking to me. "Even rabbits."
I had a sudden remembrance of some early childhood nightmares.
I shouldn't have watched that movie about the giant rabbits. I
shouldn't have watched the tv show about the ever growing spider
either. It had resulted in a really ugly combination at night. That
and seeing the neighbor's dog get hit by a car, resulted in a no
pets policy at my parents house, until I was about fifteen.
I gulped, closed my eyes and heaved a sigh. She placed her hand
on my chest, just in between my breast. She was looking at me compassionately
when I opened them again. "You feared, yet you helped one of mine."
I tried to come up with a meaningful response, but I couldn't find
one. What else could I have done? I mean, something's bleeding,
you try and help, right or get someone who can.
She lifted me up and forward into her arms, "Therefore, I will
help you." I licked my lips because they were suddenly very dry.
I responded passionately to her kisses. I couldn't help myself.
Her mouth tasted like wild berries and her breath was sweet. I found
that I could move and my hands made their way to her waist. I pulled
her down on top of me and she didn't resist. The ground seemed softer
than ground normally does, but I wasn't really noticing. I was appreciating
the fine line of her neck and how her nipples tickled mine. Those
nipples were suddenly appealing and I worked my way down, so that
I could suckle.
And I really found myself suckling. With milk and everything. I
almost coughed, I was so surprised. But she rolled me up, until
I was in that infant position and soon I was nursing as if I were
a baby. It was liquid universe and I was the void.
I came to in her dark arms, my skin pale against hers. Our legs
were entangled, my head was resting on her shoulder. Her free hand
was stroking my back. Another good time had by all and I'd missed
it again! But oh, I felt good.
There was a quiet in me that I'd never had before; and a wildness.
This wildness was centered though, like it had found a resting place
and was comfortable. I knew I could call on it and I would be able
to control or not control as necessary. I was no longer scared of
the wild, in any form.
She traced an outline on the back of my marked shoulder. I "listened"
to her finger intently and recognized the outline of a bear.
I kissed her chin, then her cheek and her mouth. I lifted myself
and looked into her eyes. "Who are you?"
She smiled and said, "Artemis." Then she kissed me again and disappeared.
Now I was alone and naked, in a forest, but I felt safer than I
ever had before.
Truth or Else
There is one major drawback to being naked in the woods.
Bare feet. Citified bare feet. No callous.
If you don't know what I mean, you just pick you a nice forested
area, with leaves, sticks, rocks, bugs and no real patch of grass
to speak of, and you try walking without your shoes and socks for
a bit. It's not the same as walking barefoot on the round stones
by the creek, though that can be an adventure too when you find
the occassional sharp ones. Its not the same as walking on hot concrete
in the summer. It might be close to walking on a gravel driveway,
but then you are totally missing the pointy little sticks experience.
And when you encounter a thorn its a real bitch.
I hopped around for a bit, trying to find a safe place to sit so
that I could extract the damn thing, but there are not too many
of those waiting for naked lady in the woods either. I finally found
a stump from a cut tree (praise the gods!) and hobbled my way over,
walking normally on one foot and on the side of the other. I set
my tender rear on the stump and wasn't comfortable at all. Then
I lifted my impaled foot, with every intention of pulling out the
I haven't told you this, but I am not one for pain. Not at all.
I hesitated at extracting the thorn, because it might hurt more.
But I knew I had to. I formed my fingers into a pincer shape and
took a deep breath. I grabbed the bit of nature's needle that was
sticking out and yanked and screamed. Ow ow ow ow ow ow OW. I took
a couple of hissing breaths and pressed the palm of my hand against
the ache. Tears welled up. I began to wonder how the heck I was
going to get out of this.
I heard a sweet contralto purr behind me. "Very Good." I shifted
my eyes to the side and wound my body around so that I could see
who was addressing me.
She was dressed in standard hiker's regalia. You know, jeans, long
sleaved shirt with the sleeves rolled up, hiking boots, a backpack,
a billed cap and a wicked smile. Her eyes were dark and the lines
around her eyelids crinkled up. Her hair was darker than Xena's.
She stood casually as she contemplated me. One of her hands held
a first aid kit. The other held a bullwhip.
I knew I was in trouble.
I tried a save. "Uh, hi."
Her strides were easy and powerful as she walked to where I was
sitting. Her long arms graceful. Her breasts bounced a little under
her shirt. I inhaled and it was a bit before I remembered to exhale.
My body tracked her back around until I was facing front again and
more importantly, I was facing her.
She knelt in front of me, laid the first aid kit and the whip on
the ground and gently released my foot from my hands. "Let me see
that." When she touched me I felt a thrill go down my back and smack
into my uterus. She examined my foot solemnly and opened the first
aid kit. She picked an ointment and unscrewed the top with one hand.
I admired her dexterity. By now I totally forgot to be in pain.
She squeezed the tube, which caused this golden stuff to push out,
and she let her pinky scrape over the top. Then she recapped the
tube and put it away. She lathered my wound with the ointment and
the wound disappeared.
I pursed my lips and looked up into her eyes. I cleared my throat,
She grinned and raised her eyebrows and laid my foot back down.
Then she placed both the palms of her hands on my knees, parted
my legs and moved between them. I thought to myself, *maybe this
won't be so bad.*
She let her hands drift up to my breasts and cup them for a bit.
Then they moved up to my neck, down my shoulders and arms until
they held my wrists and hands secure. I was totally enjoying myself
and didn't track that my hands were actally trapped in hers. I suddenly
felt compelled to look at her face. The safety of her previous expression
was gone. My heart skipped a beat. She said, "We will dispense with
formalities. I am Nemesis, the judge. You are a woman who does not
know herself. I am here to judge, to teach and possibly to recreate
a bit of you in my image, as the others you have encountered have
done. Perhaps you will even come to know yourself."
She continued. "First we will assess, then we will address." She
let go of one of my hands and tweaked my left nipple.
"At least we don't have to undress, eh." Her smile was cold.
She backed away from me, lifted the whip and stood; all in one
fluid motion. She indicated with her hand that I was to stand up.
So I did. She let the whip uncurl.
I found a voice, "Uhm, I think I should say. . . Uhm, that I've
never been." My knees were shaking, "uhm, into this. . ." My hand
were pretty much stuck in the same position they were in before,
except I happened to be standing.
She said, "I KNOW that." Her face said it too. "But you have no
idea what _This_ is. So you should not say anything." She came forward
a bit and moved my hands around so that the tips of my fingers were
facing down. She spread the fingers a bit. "Relax," she commanded.
The tenseness in my body seemed to disappear and I started to breathe
a little easier. "This is the assessment."
I felt myself lose touch with the ground. I looked jerkily from
the ground to her face and then above me. I prepared to say something.
"Say nothing. Speak only when I require you to. Understand."
I nodded my head pretty quick.
She backed away from me. She flicked the whip a little, causing
it to undulate like a snake. "This is necessary. Know that. Understand
that." The undulating became a little more animated. *Was the whip
There was no chance of ducking when the tip touched my skin.
I was never a cruel child. I was too aware of my own pain to inflict
it on others, even though I had ample opportunity. But I wasn't
I remember this one time, these kids were chasing a boy down my
street. They were pelting him with small stones, just because he
was different from them. I ran to the my front door and called to
him to come in. Hurry up. Hurry up. He almost made it, but he got
tackled and they started hitting and hitting. I ran to the pile
up and someone slugged me hard on the shoulder.
That was enough for me. I extricated myself and ran into the house
and shut the door. Okay, slammed it. That got my mother's attention,
which became divided between me and the assault outside. I ran upstairs
crying. I think she went outside and somehow stopped the fight.
I felt like a terrible coward. Like it was my fault, because I
couldn't stop it.
"What did you learn from this?" whispered in my ear, though she
stood several feet away from me. "What did you do?"
"Nothing. I did nothing." Tears streamed down my cheek.
"Because it hurt. Because I was afraid."
Another flick of her wrist. Another painful touch.
Wallace was a mean drunk. That's why I never went to bars. It was
enough to see him come home, heady with drink. I didn't want to
know what inspired him.
It started out simple enough, a slap here, a slap there. I don't
know why I thought I deserved it, but his tongue was sharp and utterly
convincing. They tell you to leave when it starts. And you know,
you think you will. But it doesn't happen that way, because he's
always so so sorry and we are raised to be tender and I thought
the pain of breaking up would hurt so much worse.
*gasping* "What did you learn? What did you do?"
"I don't know. I don't know. Never let them hit me again. Never."
"Do you like pain?"
I looked up, surprised. "No."
"Are you sure?"
It had been a violent fight. The first time I had ever fought back.
Energy crackled between us. I was bruised. He was bruised. He wanted
more of the fight. So did I.
Who knew that it would be such a turn on?
*a quick sob* It was a terrible secret. Something I had never told
anyone. Ever. It was the real reason I stayed for so long. I both
hated and loved pain.
You see, I didn't like it when it hurt. I liked it when it felt
good. And if you understand that, then you understand more than
I. It confused the hell out of me.
It made me feel terribly guilty and definitely nuts. After all,
who liked pain?
It was a terrible fall. Hurt so much. My knees were scraped, my
hands were scraped. I started laughing and laughing. Somehow I got
up. I kept laughing until I was home, then when I got home and I
saw my dad, I started crying.
He lifted me up in his arms and carried me into the house into
the bathroom. He left the door open and sat me on the seat of the
toilet. He opened the medicine cabinet and pulled out some antiseptic
and some bandaids. When he put on the antiseptic he told me it would
sting a little but I'd feel much better after that. He put bandaids
on each little scrape and kissed them better one by one.
I missed my dad.
Moments of Truth
She held me in her arms for a long time, letting me cry and letting
me sob. When I was done, she cupped my face in her hands. "I have
no great words of wisdom for you." Her fingers tracked my tears.
"But I do know this." She stepped out of my arms. "You are useless
to Us if you can not deal with, control, use and heal pain. You
must learn to endure, to fight and to surrender. You must learn
to direct the wild parts of you now. You must learn to direct your
heart and your love to do your bidding."
Don't know about you, but I was surprised by what she said. "Huh?"
She shook her whip and I cringed. She pointed at me, "See that!
That is what I mean. This we can not have." She marched around me.
"I have a question for you." She looked fierce. "Why didn't you
fight us?! Why did you surrender so easily?"
It was a good question. Why hadn't I? I didn't have a good answer.
I looked down at where the whip had touched me and realized there
were no marks. No bruises. I was a little disappointed. Then I was
shocked at my disappointment.
I answered. "Can you fight the Gods?"
She waved the question off like a fly, "Of course you can. There
are many who have fought. Why didn't you?"
"I didn't think I had the right."
Her face was suddenly in mine, "When you don't have a right you
must make one. They won't just give it to you. You must claim it."
"I didn't really want to fight."
She laughed. "Truth, at last."
"You don't have to fight to be loved. You don't have to hurt to
be loved. Did you learn that?
"Pain isn't always the enemy. Did you learn that?"
"When is it time to fight?"
"when your heart is involved. when its . . "I tried to find a better
word, but couldn't think of it, "right."
She stepped really close. "Are You worth fighting for?"
My heart pounded. I paused. I considered. "yes."
"When is pain good?"
I struggled for an answer to that. When my wounds were covered
with kisses they still hurt, but I felt good. When Wallace and I
made passionate love after our fights, it still hurt, but I felt
good. I realized that while I didn't want to dwell in pain, or be
in pain, or cause it, there were times when the pain could be good.
Like after running a mile race and completing it even though you
have a stitch in the side. The pride made it feel better.
"When it adds to dimension to you. When you feel loved."
She kissed me. The wounds of my past fell away from me. "Today,
I will take you to another dimension. You will never be the same."
Her lips ground into mine. "But you will be able to do all I have
When we were done, my fear of pain was washed out of me. I had
a healthy respect and appreciation for it, but no fear. I could
also acknowledge my kink, without fear of it overtaking me. Just
cause I liked a little extra sensation now and then, didn't mean
I had to have it all the time or that I had to surrender to just
any one. It also didn't mean that I had to accept a limited role.
It's my opinion that every relationship should have a little give
and take. Hmm.
The funny thing; My experience with her, after the assessment bit
I mean, wasn't hurtful at all. And I thought the little whip whorl
on my pinky was kind of cute, actually. It was the most normal mark
on my fingers, aside from my unchanged thumb.
She left me with one final question. "Who are you?"
I answered, "I am that I am, but you may call me Brigid."
She laughed, in good way. "That's a good name, considering what
you will do. I approve." Then she disappeared.
My palms ached unexpectedly as if I had been branded. And indeed
I had been.
The sky had turned dark long ago and was turning light again. The
air was moist and cool against my skin, so I was covered in goosebumps
all over. I was still bare to the world, but I was different, so
it didn't matter.
I remembered Nemesis' discussion of being in harmony with what
was. She talked about the Navaho way and said that what was interesting
about them, was that didn't pray to change the weather or change
a circumstance. They prayed to be in harmony with it. Thus, if I
was in pain I should attune myself to all that was involved and
set my self in the middle. Then it would pass or not, but I would
always know where I was.
I took this lesson into myself now and attuned myself to my surroundings
and my situation. I was in no hurry. I still had a few days of camp
left. Some of which would rush by soon enough.
I realized that I had several choices about how to make my way
back. I could float above the ground and simply avoid the things
that bothered my feet. I could try and find some method of covering
my feet. Or I could just walk with the forest, carefully.
It was slow going. I strove to use my newfound sensitivities as
far as they would go. When I "felt" a thorn in the path I made a
choice about whether to step on it, around it or near it. I let
the floor of the forest speak to me. I asked it where the camp was
and followed its lead. Soon, I was walking quickly, in that rhythm
that Xena and Gabrielle had taught me. Then I was running with an
I don't know what Xena thought when she saw me. I do know that
she halted the butter colored horse and watched me until I reached
her. I was breathing deeply, but without effort. She didn't say
She leaned down and extended her arm. I clasped it and soon found
myself with my arms around her front, my chest pressed against her
leather jacket, my legs straddling her horse and my heart pumping
loudly in my ears. *This was what I was going to be letting go of?*
I ached with my decision, but I centered quickly. Instead of agonizing
about what was to be, I would enjoy where I was. She really did
Gwen didn't recognize me at all when I saw her again.
I just smiled and Xena introduced me as Brigid. We did the whole
handshaking bit. I had told Xena my new name on the way back. It
seemed easier than waiting until later. Besides it gave me a chance
to ask a few questions. Like whether Xena knew what Victoria had
done to anger Hecate. Somehow I managed to contain myself so that
I almost sounded normal when I asked. Xena knew, but she wouldn't
tell. She said it was between Victoria and the Goddess and as long
as I stayed out of the way it should be okay. I was all for that.
My main reason for going to town was research. They had a camp
library that had some really good books, but those books got checked
out a lot. For some reason all the books on Women, Mythology, Goddesses,
Magic, and Lesbian romance were constantly checked out. There was
no way I would be getting a hold of any books that I needed.
So Gwen gave me a ride in the blue truck. We had a really nice
conversation. She smiled at me a lot, with an extra twinkle in her
eye. She even placed her hand on my thigh, but it wasn't there long.
The truck was a stick shift. I realized that I must be exuding some
seductive energy and dampened down a bit. I wanted Gwen paying attention
to the road, not to me.
The library was podunk because the town was podunk. In other words,
small. But they had some books on mythology and that was good enough.
I just wanted to know who it was I had been sleeping with. I had
gone from nothing at all to party girl and I thought it would be
nice to have a bit more of an introduction. So, I looked up the
names and read some associated stories and realized how easy I had
gotten off with Nemesis (No pun intended.)
I found something to like in all of them, even Hecate (the only
Goddess of the bunch that I hadn't slept with. I felt kind of put
out, but it probably was better that way. I wasn't ready.) I was
just getting ready to read as story about "the wise warrior Goddess
named. . ." when I was startled by a thunder of books hitting the
I was up. Soon I was looking down an aisle spaced between two tall
bookshelves. The woman was down on the floor, in the middle of a
pile of books. Her legs folded under her and her glasses were tilted.
I helped her up. She seemed like the epitome of librarian cliches,
including the frazzled hair do. It tickled my funny bone and I was
really stuggling not to laugh. Her skirt was almost too tight, but
just wide enough to make returning to a standing position difficult.
She thanked me and when I offered to help her reshelve she rejected
it. So I went back to my reading. Or tried to. "the wise warrior
Goddess named . . ."
A cart squeaked and rumbled right by me, distracting me from the
rest of the words. It was a horribly annoying sound. I looked at
the librarian disbelievingly as she passed. Then I was looking at
the roundness of her hips and the firmness of her calves and my
thoughts really wandered for a bit.
I tried again. "the wise warrior Goddess named. . ." Of course
it was something else. Some high school kids roiled into the library,
like a wave of noise. I slapped the book shut in frustration. I
huffed back away from the table. My eyebrows hung low for a second.
*grrr* I folded my arms across my bosom. Then I shook my head and
laughed at myself. Gwen would be here soon. I would have othre opportunities
for research at a bigger library anyway. I could wait.
I got up to leave and found myself face to face with a young and
"Well well, what have we here." He stood with his legs apart and
tried to look intimidating. I thought this guy has no clue. none.
"Haven't seen you around before. You must be from -that- place."
I almost expected to see him spit on the ground, but his teeth were
clean so I let go of that idea.
"Young man, I suggest you move your butt to the side or I'm going
through you. This is fair warning." My voice was firm. My attitude
said, do not mess with me. He missed all of the signals. I could
I briefly looked around me and found it totally ridiculous that
this . . .this macho bracing, was happening in a library. For pete's
sake. He was young. He was stupid. I had the power to really really
hurt him. I also had the power to win him over. Which would it be?
The good news was that this was in a fairly hidden part of the library.
I'd already made a threat, but maybe I could make him forget it.
He postured for a bit with a, "What you gonna do about it?"
Oooh I was sooo tempted to make him toast. But I smiled sweetly
instead and leaned forward seductively. He eyed the bits of my chest
that he could see. I said, in the most sultry voice I could manage,
"Come closer and I'll tell you."
He leered and leaned toward me. I grabbed him by the shirt and
laid a kiss on him that sucked his breath away. When his knees bent
and his eyes rolled up I settled him in an empty chair. As I left,
I blew him a kiss and he fainted.
As I passed by the circulation counter, I acted as if nothing unusual
had happened. I smiled in a friendly way at the librarian who had
made so much noise. She sucked in her breath and didn't quite manage
to return the smile, though I think she was trying to. I kept going
until I was outside in the sunshine.
I looked at my watch and realized that it would at least a half
hour before I saw Gwen again.
So what was I gonna do now.
There square (that is the middle of town) was not far from the
library. There were stores on the square. I decided that a half
hour was long enough to do a little window shopping.
Some of the stores were interesting. There was a clothes shop,
a shoe shop, a small video store, an antique store and a JC Penny
outlet. I decided to go into the antique store.
It was darkish. The floor was wood. There were odds and ends all
over. There was some old furniture and ancient electric equipment.
There was a small female figurine that I found intriguing. I held
her up to see her better. She had a golden helmet on her head, was
holding a spear, wore blue and white robes and a very tiny owl was
standing on her shoulder. I noticed that the color of her hair was
the same as the librarian's, but I set the thought aside. The figure
was about six inches high; seven if you count the spear. I really
really wanted it, but the tag price was over the amount that I had
I had a couple of options. Set the figurine down and leave. Unacceptable.
Write a check. I'm from out of town, they won't accept it, but maybe
if I smiled nice, we'll see. Haggle. Good option.
I found the shopkeeper. He was an elderly man who had the good
sense not to retire. He had a friendly disposition and talked my
ear off, but in between the talking, we bargained, until I paid
for the figurine with every penny I had left. The change was still
circling on the counter when I hustled myself out the door.
I didn't want him to alter his decision. I could feel him grinning
behind me. I certainly was grinning myself. I held the figurine
protectively in my both my hands, clutched to my chest.
I walked quickly back to the library and found Gwen waiting for
me in the truck. I hailed her and got in.
I showed her my prize.
She said, "Cool. Athene!"
I blinked at her. "A what?"
"Athene. Athene. The Warrior Goddess of Wisdom."
I held the figurine out in front of me and looked closely at it.
Then I looked at the library. The librarian was peeking out at me
and she wiggled her glasses and grinned. I looked at the figure.
It winked at me. I very nearly dropped the thing in surprise, but
managed to make it look like I was just settling into the truck.
"Uh. Say, Gwen. Do we have to rush off?"
She patted my thigh, turned on the ignition and moved the stick.
I found myself looking back over my shoulder at the woman who stepped
out of the entrance of the town library. Her hair was loose now
and I realized that she was wearing a suit of blue and white.
I thanked Gwen when we arrived back at the place and hopped out
of the car. The figurine felt warm in my hands. I hadn't said much
on the way back and I know Gwen wondered what she had done. I tried
to reassure her that it was nothing. I wanted some time alone, that
I thought about where to go. I could head back to the woods. But
I kept ending up undressed when I did that. I could head back to
Gabrielle and Xena's home. But I wasn't ready to face them, yet.
I could go to the temple.
I went to the temple.
Apparently it was a full moon tonight. There were people walking
up and down the path. I thought, maybe this wasn't such a good idea.
But I really didn't have any other place that I wanted to go.
The temple was brightly and colorfully lit. There was incense in
the air and some other kinds of scents too. I was informed that
I could join other worshipers if I knew which deity I was wanting
or I could use one of the smaller rooms.
I chose a small room. And it was small; a little more than a closet.
You could stand, sit or lie down, but that was about it. There were
pillows on the floor and a small altar. I looked at the figurine
that I still had clutched to my breast. No surprises.
I put the figurine on the altar and sat back on a pillow to wait.
How was I to know you were supposed to light candles at an altar?
The only reason I found out was someone knocked on my door and
handed a bunch of candles to me, with a couple of matches. Then
she said, "SHE told me to tell you to put the candles around the
figurine and light them one at a time. Think four corners and you
should be set." I didn't spend time figuring out who said to do
that. I just trusted.
So I lighted the candles and sat back again. The figurine expanded,
pretty much like I expected. Her face was pleasing to look at. The
owl was still tiny. The spear was intimidating.
I thought, *maybe I should have been standing* because she was
towering over me. I struggled up. The pillows got in the way. I
kicked them gently to the side. "Hi again."
She crooked her finger. I looked up and then strolled forward.
I wasn't going to tempt fate. She let the spear attach itself to
the wall and shooed the owl to where ever it went. She pulled her
helmet off. Her golden hair fell softly about her shoulders. My
loins (can I call it that?) did that twitchy tingly thing. The robes
were next. Her breasts were cream with cherries. Her belly was the
landscape I wanted to explore. She dragged me into her arms and
I was most willing.
Her lips were soft against mine. She whispered my name over and
over, like a mantra. I could only return the favor. The lovemaking
was sweet, slow and thorough. I was more aware of her as a person,
than I had been with the other Goddesses. Her scent was appealing,
kind of wild, a little tart and fruity. I tasted everything I could
of her. I fondled, caressed, stroked and circled with my whole body,
not just my hands. Her cunt was a lovely shade of red and pink and
I told her so. I complimented everything about her I could think
of, including her mind.
We giggled a lot. Coming was glorious. Hopefully for both of us.
She seemed to enjoy herself. I found myself grinning engagingly.
I traced simple patterns on her cheeks and breasts and whatever
else looked they could use tender touches.
Once we were done, though we hadn't quite reached the stage where
our bodies parted, I asked her how this could possibly have anything
to do with wisdom or warrior skills. She laughed and it was honey
to my ears. I had to kiss her and we were almost at it again, but
she stalled my advances.
I really liked her voice. "I wanted to get this over with, my sweet."
Her touches were electric. "Aphrodite was kind enough to warn me
about your. . .how shall I put this. . .loving energy matrix. But
it almost wasn't enough. You gave me a real surprise back there."
I knew she meant the library.
I winced a little. "Well you see. . ." She touched her finger to
"Shush. Its fine. The twerp deserved worse than you gave him. I
was suprised at your decision though."
"We were in a library." I said it almost in a whisper. "I didn't
want to wreck the books."
"Ah. I see." Then she arched her back and looked at me seductively.
"I believe another go around is in order. Do you?"
Who was I to say no?
How do I describe what happened next?
When our bodies were completely, and I do mean completely, sated,
she took me to another place. A place with no walls, no floors,
no ceilings. And she taught me stuff. Weapons; including things
that boomed or banged or powed. Strategy; that would come in handy
in a game of poker if I ever learned how. Strong dollops of wisdom
(though that was more an infusion than a "learning." More a "Here,
you'll need this." *ZAP* *groan* experience.) Healing; a little
more than first aid, eh. She taught me things I had no interest
in (like knitting. "Knitting?! What does that have to do with anything?"
"If you don't know, then you really do need to learn it.") She called
on a friend and I got a crash courses in other cultural warrior/healer
techniques and philosophies. ("Trust me. You are going to need every
thing you get here.")
There was a further integration of everything I had been through.
I was smarter, quicker, faster (there is a difference), more dexterous,
sexier, more dangerous, more skilled and capable than ever before.
Much much much more so.
I woke up feeling peaceful, like I had just had the loveliest of
dreams. The pillows covered the floor almost completely. I sat up,
yawned and stretched like a cat. I felt marvelous. I looked to the
alter. The candles were pretty much gone. I would have to recycle
what was left of them. The figurine was gone too, but I felt no
disappointment. In fact, I was grinning from ear to ear, remembering
how sweet she tasted.
Then I had a moment of "Oh my God." I had no clue how long any
of this had taken. I picked up the clothes which Athene had most
lovingly strewn about the room. There bottom buttons of my shirt
had been ripped out, but it still covered my body. My jeans were
piled in a corner and there was pocket that had been completely
ripped off (Don't ask me how that happened.) I got dressed as quickly
as I could.
When I came out of the room it was daylight. Like well into the
day light. Gabrielle was waiting for me. In Goddess form. She raised
her eyebrows. "Took you long enough." She was teasing.
I knew I looked a little panicked. "How long, long enough?"
She tapped my chin with her finger and grinned. "Just perfect long
enough. You can still get ready for the dance. It's tonight."
Another two days gone. Just like that.
*sigh* Well better two days than years and years, I guess.
Gabrielle took my hands in hers and examined them. She traced the
outline of the letters on my palm and looked into my eyes. "Hello
I slowly smiled. "Hello."
I noticed the owl on my thumbs. "I think I'm done."
"Almost. Almost. There are still a few things I have to show you."
Her eyes rested in mine, "but it can wait until tomorrow." Her clothing
changed back into jeans, shirt and boots. She had tiny earrings
in her lobes. She draped her arm around my waist. "Lets go get ready."
I don't know how many outfits Gabrielle tried out on me. Some were
more satisfactory than others, but I was beginning to feel like
a store mannequin.
Xena walked in the room and I thought I saw my salvation. I had
that "Save me! Please!" desperate look of the fashion challenged.
But Xena looked at me, then at Gabrielle, pursed her lips and walked
right out again. I was tough out of luck.
I sighed and settled in for another round.
The dance was a lively affair. There were rainbow colored streamers
and the band was better than I expected. I saw more women clinging
to each other than I had ever seen in my whole life (except maybe
at Aunt Margarethe's funeral, but that was totally different. She
was an ancient and venerable woman and there had been a larger than
expected turn out. However, I now had a much different viewpoint
of who and what Aunt Marge must have been. *wow*) There were a some
straight couples too, and that actually suprised me, because they
were definitely the minority (but nobody treated them like they
were. . .that I could tell.) There were some obvious triads, and
a few gay male couples and just a slew of different kinds of relating
going on in the dance area. Pretty cool actually.
My focus was split, between Xena and Gabrielle, and Joni and whoever
her new gal was. I watched Joni for a bit. Her hands were doing
slow and marvelous things to the person she was with. You know,
sliding down the back, playing with the hair, that kind of stuff.
I felt a little envious, but less than I expected. I was just observing.
Joni had yet to recognize me. I realized she probably wouldn't,
but I wanted her to. I felt a terrible sense of loss because of
I missed her friendship, her occasionally acid wit, her life observations.
I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked up. It was Gwen. "Hey you."
She nodded to the crowded floor. "You ought to be dancing. Not sitting
her nursing your. . ." She picked up my drink, looked at it and
shook her head, "Water?" I found myself laughing a little and tried
to explain without saying anything.
"Well, you see. . ."
She waved her hand at me. "Nope, nope don't want to know. Shouldn't
have asked." She took my hands in hers. "Now come on and have some
Gwen was a good dancer. Her lean body glided into mine. I let her
take the lead and worked at doing my part in the conversation. When
that set was done, I was asked to dance by someone else; this time
a guy. And it went that way almost all night. I met a lot of new
people. I rarely had a chance to sit down.
But sometimes I caught glimpses of Xena and Gabrielle.
The way they looked at each other made my heart ache. They had
been together for centuries, yet their faces still held longing,
still held tenderness, still held want. They would whisper in each
others ears, and sometimes one or the other would blush. Xena actually
grabbed a flower from one of the table arrangements and stuck it
in gently in Gabrielle's hair. It was *the* most romantic thing
I had ever seen.
And I wished. I wished. I wished that I was more than an unexpected
burden. A responsibility.
When I hit that point of feeling sorry for myself I bowed out of
the next dance and took an exit outside. My heart was pounding and
my eyes were a little teary. I figured I needed a bit of fresh air.
There were several people dancing outside. Lanterns lit the pathways
and I could see individuals strolling with their arms about each
other. I took the pathway to the house. I was thinking of turning
in for the night, even though I really didn't feel tired.
Maybe a shower would be good. A cold one.
I tolerated the cold for about a second, then switched it to warm.
I stood in the water and let it pour over me. It was good to have
a chance to be alone anyway. I let my hands explore my new body.
It was something I hadn't really done, except in haste. I got good
and soapy and rinsed off, several times. I felt tenseness release
from my body. I didn't realize that I had been tense. The water
was incredibly soothing.
When I got out, the mirrors were covered with moisture, so I popped
open the door. I figured that no one was home, and certainly no
one was in my room. The warm and cold air mixing caused me to shiver,
but toweling down took care of most of that.
I was bending down to get the last rivulet that had streamed down
my leg and when I looked back up, I noticed movement out of the
corner of my eye. Xena was leaning on the door frame, her arms crossed.
Her legs seemed really long to me. She was wearing almost the same
outfit that she wore the first time I saw her, except she wasn't
wearing a t-shirt or a jacket. She looked . . .concerned about me.
"You all right?" She stood away from the doorway. "Gabrielle wanted
me to check."
I nodded. I kept drying my leg over and over again. "Yeah, I'm
fine. Definitely." I flashed her a bright smile. "I just wanted
to come home early, get some rest for tomorrow so I can enjoy the
day." I wrapped the towel around my body, covering the bare essentials.
*did she seem disappointed?* *was she suspicious?* I couldn't tell.
"What are your plans?" She stepped out of my way, so I could move
into my room.
"Uhm, none really. Gabrielle wants to talk to me. After that, I
just thought I would enjoy camp on my last day." There I had said
"Your last day?" She sounded a little dangerous.
"My last day." I grabbed my brush from the drawer, flipped my head
down so that she couldn't see my face and started brushing. This
time I regretted cutting my hair before coming. It would have given
me some cover. I said, very carefully, very neutrally, "I have to
go back. To school I mean. I've got to finish. I worked hard you
know." I flipped back up.
She looked like she was believing what I told her. "Oh. oh, yeah.
School." Xena eyed me a little, but seemed to let go of what she
was looking for. I was striving not to hold my breath, but to breathe
evenly. Unconcerned. She said, "Things are different for you now."
I nodded. "I know."
Her face was intent. "You can't stay away forever."
I felt caught out, but didn't let my face show it. "I know." *but
I'll stay away as long as I can*
She finally unfolded her arms. "Do you want to be with us tonight?"
I listened to my heart and whispered, "yes."
More Than You Wanted To Know
I woke up in a better mood. Hard to avoid that, when you've slept
in the arms of your loves. They didn't let me get out of bed for
awhile either, which was wonderful! Don't get me wrong. I intended
to carry out my plan. I also happened to be working at staying in
the moment and enjoying their scrumptious company. I figured I needed
to treasure every moment, because the memory would have to carry
for a long time.
Gabrielle and I went for a walk later that morning, after a fairly
sizable breakfast (that woman has quite an appetite. . .and not
just for food. . .). Her golden red hair shimmered in the sun. Her
lips looked innocent and kissable I was glad to have a little time
We talked about mundane things at first. Okay, not so mundane as
a "getting to know you, getting to know all about you. . ." type
conversation. I told her about my plans to go back to school and
why (leaving out the ripping my heart out because I never plan to
come back if I can help it part) and she told me a bit more about
herself. She was the most "human" god type being (aside from Athene).
She liked human beings. She understood them. She liked life. Everything
was wonderful and mysterious to her. I could understand Ares confusion.
She was. . .was Zen, you know. I was no less and no more than who
I was. It was enough. No wonder Xena loved her. No wonder I did
Finally, well out into the boonies (that's sort of like the hidden
recesses of the forest except skimpier and spookier), and no one
was around, we got to the good part. The why all this happened to
Gabrielle took my hand in hers and led me into a haze. It was kind
of smoky and I started to cough, but it cleared up when we stepped
out. We were standing in the middle of what looked to be a burning
village. There was a little blonde girl. She looked kind of familiar,
but I couldn't quite place how I knew her. She was crying. She was
shouting. She looked so vulnerable I wanted to wrap her in my arms
and never let go. But Gabrielle restrained me. She said, "That girl
is Callisto. Her family has been burned to death by men from a ferocious
army. That army was led by Xena."
I looked at her in surprise. I was shocked.
"Xena didn't know." I felt a little better.
Gabrielle led me through another haze, this time there was no smoke.
But I heard the most terrible screams. We were in another village.
People were running amok and not getting very far because the mercenary
types kept running them through with swords. There was this blonde
woman. I couldn't see her face, but I could hear her voice. I trembled.
When she turned around, her brown eyes flashing with hate and madness,
it broke my heart. "Joni." This was and was not the woman I knew
as my friend. I remembered the look Joni had given me after rescuing
Veronica. It was so similar, but not the same.
"Yes." I looked at Gabrielle. I didn't have the words. She led
me elsewhen again.
This time we were at a volcano's edge. I could see Xena on one
side of the cliff and Gabrielle dangling from a rope bridge. I moved
forward as if to help, but felt Gabrielle's hand on my arm. "Just
watch." Then there was Callisto. She was wild, undisciplined, vicious
and oh so deadly. My body was embarrassingly responsive. She was
also fighting a ravenhaired woman. Veronica. I was on my way and
ready to kill, but I didn't get very far. (It really was handy that
Gabrielle was a goddess. She needed to be, at that moment.) "Focus
Brigid. Pay attention."
I resisted, but I did focus. My friend was in danger. All I could
do was watch them fight, then gasp in amazement when CallistoJoni
changed into a Goddess. Veronica and CallistoJoni fell into the
Lava pit. I let out a cry. And to watch Gabrielle nearly fall after
them, was a little much. Gabrielle the goddess pulled me into her
arms and rocked me until I calmed down.
"Listen to me." I was listening. "Veronica's real name is Velaska.
She made the choice to be a god because she was lustful for power.
She happened to be mad at me at the same time. I was an inconvenience
to her because she wanted the Amazon throne. But that was my destiny,
not hers." I held her close. I found it difficult to imagine Gabrielle
as an inconvenience. "I feel no responsibility for trying to help
I pulled back because I was a little confused. "But she was at
"I wanted her where I could watch her." I was more confused.
"I'm missing a bit."
Gabrielle waved her hand and some large rocks, suitable for sitting
on, appeared. We sat down. She began to really explain. I'll shorten
the talk time, because I asked a lot of questions.
The Gods of Olympus were concerned. They were pleased with Xena
and Gabrielle's choices and actions, but knew that the two mad Goddesses
could not be contained forever. And they weren't.
They wreaked a lot of havoc on the world when they freed themselves.
That was the good news. They were also bitter bitter enemies.
Now, Velaska had made some enemies among the gods, besides Callisto.
Artemis and Hecate. Artemis, because she destroyed a temple. Hecate,
because she she claimed a power that belonged to the Goddess of
Magic (she was also known for her wild side: Chaos). Callisto on
the other hand was simply a bit murderous and crazy. (oh, is that
all. . .) But they wanted her contained anyway, because they never
knew what she was going to do next, and a few, namely Aphrodite
and Athene had lost some favored mortals because of her. Nemesis
got involved because she had rendered a judgment about the whole
thing. Callisto might have the opportunity to be reformed and became
a useful member of God society. Velaska would be made to give up
the claim to the title or Hecate and she would find a way to share
Somehow they got Velaska and Callisto trapped again, separately.
When Gabrielle died, they saw an opportunity and took it. They
gave her some time and when Xena wasn't looking they struck a bargain.
It was the general consensus among the Gods, that while Xena wasn't
at fault, per se, it was still a responsibility (oooh I was beginning
to hate that word) that she needed to take on, sort of. Fortunately
a goddess can be forgiving. Callisto had killed Perdicus. Velaska
had tried to kill Gabrielle. General nastiness all around. But when
you are a god, you have time to think.
And Gabrielle thought and thought and thought (and sometime during
that Xena got killed and got hung up in Tartarus for a bit. . .ended
up helping their many times great grand daughters. . .and then let
Gabrielle bring her back, stipulating that she could stay mortal
if she wanted to. . .) and came up with a plan. She got the Goddesses
involved, but didn't go into details about how she did that. They
put a huge (and I do mean huge) whammy on the two. A complicated
spell of forgetting and renaming. Thus Callisto became a young girl
named Joni, the one I knew in high school. Velaska became the wiccan
priestess Veronica, (because they wanted her to get to know Hecate
a little better. . .they really were thinking long term here. .
.) and then I got involved.
I asked Gabrielle, "If everything was so lovey dovey between Hecate,
why do I feel such a compelling notion to rip her to shreds."
Gabrielle's response was, "Everything is not lovey dovey." (Well,
Veronica/Velaska fought them the whole way. Every now and again,
she would flash into memory about her power. This was dangerous,
because they didn't know when she was going to break loose. Hecate
chose me because I was already an ally to Joni, and because I had
a good heart (who, me?). It seemed logical at the time.
Apparently, when I and Velaska confronted each other she came *this
close* to remembering everything and raising Cain. And then when
Joni went to help her (a terrible irony, if I've ever heard one),
CallistoJoni had a flash of memory, but she set it far far into
the back of her mind (but it did explain the look a little bit,
At this moment, Velaska was with Jan and Mel, because that was
the safest place they could put her and still keep an eye on her.
Callisto was still being Joni, but they didn't know when she would
wake up either, or if she would.
It was odd, but Callisto had barely fought them. In fact, she seemed
to embrace the whole thing. They gave her a new life, but decided
not to make it easy on her. She had a set of "parents," but she
was an unusual girl. They gave her certain preferences, so that
she would struggle a bit, but not be overcome. This new life had
to be as real as possible.
And here I was. The final piece of the plan.
I was their win win situation. If Callisto didn't wake up and remember
who she was, I was her tried and true. If Callisto did wake up,
I was her best chance for keeping the sanity she had built. If she
didn't keep her sanity, I was to be her scourge. My job would be
to push her so far into madness that she would cease to function.
In other words: Kill her. And I wouldn't have a choice.
I felt my heart constrict. "What?"
Gabrielle said, "Are you her friend?" I nodded. "How much do you
care for her?" I searched the depth of my heart. I cared a lot.
"Would you die for her?" More searching. . .yes. But I would die
for Gabrielle. I would die for Xena. Seemed I would die for a lot
of people. "Would you live for her?" That seemed like a silly question
on the surface. But, what if I did have to drive her back into insanity.
Could I live with myself. "Would you live for me?"
I said, "I don't know."
Gabrielle held me close. I dripped tears on her shoulder for a
little while."What of Velaska? What am I to do?" I asked when the
"Nothing. That's not your problem. And its not really mine either."
She sighed. "I'm just helping out."
"This is kind of convoluted isn't it?"
"Brigid, I'm a bard. I thrive on this stuff."
I looked at her face and then I started to giggle a bit helplessly.
She nodded her head and started giggling too.
Gabrielle and I stepped back into the woods. She said, "I have
something to show you."
I said, "what?"
She was holding a mirror. "Look in here." I looked.
I looked at her and shrugged and looked in the mirror.
Suddenly I was. It was a shock. I had kind of gotten used to myself
looking the other way. I shook my head to clear my focus. I was
the same as when I arrived, with a few differences. I was sunburned.
I was a little thinner. I lacked the markings. My eyes were the
same mud brown they used to be. My hair was the same color as my
eyes. My teeth were a wee bit crooked. I felt very odd.
Gabrielle came and stood behind me. The mirror stayed in position.
She stroked my back in a comforting way. "This is you as Bernice.
I told you she wasn't gone." I nodded dumbly. "You are still Brigid.
You have your gifts even in this shape, they are just muted." Her
hand stopped moving. "Now say Brigid."
I hurried my mouth. "Brigid."
I saw the face I was now familiar with and felt extremely comforted.
Gabrielle turned me around to look at her. "Brigid. You and I are
going to kiss, and you will forget. You will forget who you are,
so that when Joni sees you, she will see and feel only Bernie. When
you get home, are alone and see yourself in the mirror, you will
automatically say, 'Brigid.' From then on, you can go back and forth
as you will. Only when you are around Joni, please remember to stay
Bernie, eh." I nodded.
Then she kissed me.
The whole camping thing had been a miserable experience for me.
I and a group of seven others came clanging down the hill (Our backpacks
were making some noise because of the pots that kept banging back
and forth.) I did feel kind of proud of myself. I had survived.
That Xena person was one tough taskmaster though. I didn't even
get to keep the fruit bar I had bought at the store. Instead, we
had to fish or forage.
I was so glad to be back at house eight. I straggled into the front
room and waved at Joni and company. "Hi. I'm back." I said weakly.
Joni leapt off the couch, ran to me and gave me a fierce hug. "Its
about time. I thought you'd died out there."
I said, "Well Joni, I tell you, I nearly did." I struggled the
backpack off. "All those bugs and things." I shuddered. Then I grinned.
"But I made it!"
Joni grinned back, "I'm so proud." I felt a burst of something
in my chest.
It was good to be back.
The trip home was uneventful. Joni and I took some last minute
photos of the camp, the camp people, the town, and a librarian who
insisted on taking a photo with me and her standing in front of
an antique shop. I actually participated in the conversation on
the way back to the airport. I had more stuff in my backpack than
when I started. You know, craft kinds of things and a few postcards
from "Elysian Fields: A Camping Paradise." I could say a few choice
words about that, but I won't.
One odd thing. I remember saying goodbye to the camp boss Gabrielle
and her mate, Xena. Gabrielle gave me -such- a hug. I thought she
would never let go. Xena shook my hand and said that I had done
good. Then she hugged me too. It was the last thing I expected and
I know I looked at them funny. But it felt nice.
Joni drove me home from the airport (we had parked in the "long
term" parking zone and split the cost. It made sense to carpool).
I gave her a hug goodbye and told her I would see her in class.
Then I gathered my stuff, took out my keys and entered my home.
It was so good to be back. I checked the answering machine. There
were a few phone calls from my mom. So I called her back and let
her know I was safe and sound and yes it was a good trip and I would
tell her all about it. Yes we had some photos. I would see her next
weekend. Loveyoutoo. . .I sat on the couch for a bit, turned on
the tv and flipped channels. Anything was better than the nothing
I had seen.
I rested a bit. Then I realized that I really needed to go to the
I picked up something to read and got ready for some down time.
Brrrr. The seat was cold. I read a bit, got done and went to wash
my hand at the sink. When I looked at myself in the mirror I said,
Disclaimers: No real Veronicas were harmed or maligned in this
Seasons of the Gods
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