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NEW DIMENSIONS
by Blue
Copyright June 1997
Vryblueyz@aol.com

DISCLAIMER: Xena, Gabrielle, Argo, et al are © MCA / Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in writing this fiction. Superman and Lois Lane are property of DC Comics. (Címon weíve done this before). DS9 is property of Paramount Pictures. (Makes you wonder, doesnít it?). Any copy made for private use must contain this disclaimer. All other descriptions, characters, dialogue, scenery, whips and assorted props are the property of...ME. So watch it! If you want to use any of it, ask, ok?

CONTENT WARNING: The following fiction contains just about something for everyone. It has thrills, spills, spins, whips, Amazons, A Queen and the queen., lions and tigers and bears...oh my. It has violence...a pretty bad beating and gushing blood...ewww. It has some rough language, other than damn and hell. It does fall short of the ĎFí word, however. In retrospect, itís not as bad as NYPD Blue. (Ooops, do I need a disclaimer to say that?). This story also has SEX depicted between two or more adult, consenting women. (And, no, Iím not telling you what chapter that shows up in). So, if any or all of the above makes you nervous, queasy, sweaty (except in a good way) , stop right here and go elsewhere. Hmmm..still here? Ok, next topic.

SPECIAL NOTE: This story is a continuation of Dimension of The Heart. Although it isnít absolutely necessary to read Part One, you might want to consider doing so. There are a lot of references and clever nuances you will miss. Sorry, but that is the bane of a series. Treat yourself.

ACKNOWLEGMENTS: This effort would not have been successful without the support of a few bards I know...BL Miller and WordWarior in particular. They have given me the courage to persevere at moments when I thought my Muse had Ďleft the buildingí. They have also allowed me the use of characters and references from their own wonderful stories. I consider them my friends. Thank you.

THATíS IT: Letís see, I think I covered everything. So fasten your seatbelts and return your traybacks to their upright and locked positions. This baby is about to take off. Hope you enjoy the flight and let me hear from you.

 

CHAPTER ONE

Gabrielle had no idea where she was. It was dark as pitch on a moonless night. She felt she was in some sort of room, but couldnít be sure--there were no walls to be touched. It was just a hunch she had. A real terror was building inside her. Trying to calm the rising wave, she did what she does best. She began talking.

"Just stay calm, thereís a reasonable answer to all this. Ok, Iím alone...I am alone, right?" She tested her theory, "Hey!! Anyone in here with me? Iím warning you, Iím armed and in a very bad mood." The sound of her voice echoed off the surrounding surfaces and finally died. She was left with a fierce pounding in her ears of her own heart. Its pace had begun to quicken and a fear induced sweat broke out on the bardís forehead.

"This isnít good, Gabrielle, not good at all." Using her staff, she made a slow sweep of the immediate area around her. Nothing but air. She was becoming a wee bit panicky. Gabrielle could deal with about any adversity, but this darkness and silence had a real evil associated with it. If there was an entity, evil or otherwise, at least she could bargain with it. But this...this was beginning to crawl up her spine like a Draconian lizard, silent and deadly.

"Oh, Gods, I wish Xena was here...wherever here is." She tried to introduce logic to her predicament. "Ok, now if I walk a straight line and use my staff as a guide, maybe Iíll find a surface to work with. Thatís it, a surface, all I need is one wall and then I can get out of here. This is a good plan, Gabrielle. "

She tentatively started forward. It wouldnít do to accidentally step off into an abyss. This would be slow, but it could work. The silence was becoming deafening, if that sort of thing were possible. It actually hurt her ears. She began reciting anything that came into her head. "I rise to a springís morn, filled with life and promise." The floor began to slightly descend. "Air, clean and crisp, my heart filled with joy." The air in the room became decidedly cooler and had taken on a distinct fetid odor. Her mouth was dry and breathing labored. "I see the eyes of my beloved caressing my very soul." Something brushed past her back and neck...a finger of malevolence. The fine blonde hairs on her arms were at attention and gooseflesh addressed the rest of her quaking body. In a voice that trembled, she completed the verse, "Protecting me from all that would steal my rapture."

The floor now had a very sharp pitch to it. So much that she lost her balance and her staff went plummeting into the darkness. She decided to back up a bit and regroup. A few steps backward found her back against a wall. It had not been there moments ago. Gabrielle reached out to her left and right. Solid surfaces met her touch. She had nowhere to go but forward. She was a rat trapped in a maze being forced to one conclusion. The foulness of the air was getting stronger indicating something very nasty nearby. Abject fear rose in her throat like bile. So much for logic; Gabrielle lost it. "XENA!! HELP ME, PLEASE!!"

She was starting to slide down the slope toward the foulness and sure death. Gabrielle desperately clawed at the floor to maintain her position. It was a losing proposition and slowly gravity took hold. "Oh, Gods, I donít want to die!" She peered up from her prone position and saw the feet of her warrior. Craning her neck further, she saw Xena looking down at her. Her heart said a silent prayer of thanks. Gabrielle stretched her hand toward her lover. "Xena, help me, please. Donít let me fall." She gazed into Xenaís blue eyes seeking rescue.

Xena stared passively at her and said quite matter of factly, "I canít help you, Gabrielle. This is your doing."

None of this made any sense to the bard. She was quickly losing her purchase on the floor. She looked again for a savior and this time it was the face of Liz that she saw. She had outstretched arms, but made no attempt to grab Gabrielle. In her hand was the crystal Gabrielle had given her.

The bard was near hysteria and pleaded, "Liz, please, take my hand. Donít let me die like this!" There was no help forthcoming. Gabrielleís bloodied fingers were torn from the floor as she fell toward the dark...screaming. "OH, GODS, NOOOO...."

"GABRIELLE!!! WAKE UP!!" Xena was forcefully shaking her beloved into the waking realm. In a tone that housed great concern and love, Xena pleaded, "Oh, honey, címon. Please Gabrielle, wake up. Itís just a bad dream." Xena had the bard in her arms when her eyes opened. Gabrielle was totally drenched in sweat and was shaking like a tare in a storm. She was honestly disoriented and began sobbing uncontrollably at the sight of the warriorís face. Xena held her tight against her breast...gently rocking.


Liz sat bolt upright in bed, heart racing, sweat drenching her tee-shirt. It took her a moment to get her bearings. Slowly, her surroundings came into focus and the terror subsided. She looked at the clock. "Christ, itís three in the morning! Great! Now Iím awake." She threw off the covers and made her way to the bath. She flipped the light on and groaned, " This is way too early to be starting my day." She turned the faucet on and splashed her face with cold water. Standing before the mirror, she dried her face and peered at the image looking back at her. "Iíve got to remember to take my Premarin. Hot flashes are one thing, but these nightmares have got to go. " A quick assessment of her person indicated a change of shirt was in order. She proceeded to the armoire to fetch a clean, dry tee.

Her two housemates, of the feline variety, barely raised their heads from sleep. They had seen this ritual almost every night for the last two months. They were bored with the game, and ignored their troubled companion. The younger of the two, Brie, rolled on her back, did one of those combo stretch/yawn kitty things, and fell into slumber again. Liz knew sleep was lost for the moment and made her way into the kitchen area.

"Letís see whatís in the fridge, shall we?" She stood before the open door staring into the lighted cavern. She began ferreting through the containers. "Ewwww... gray Jello...I donít think so." It hit the garbage with a resounding Ďtwaaapí. " What else? Oooh..cheesecake, yum." She stopped short of retrieving the morsel. She reprimanded herself, "Are you out of your mind? Eat this and itís an extra 45 minutes on the stairmaster today. You feel up to that in your current state?" Liz answered her own question. "Ok, donít get all bent. " She poured a glass of cold milk, snagged a couple of Oreos and headed for her favorite chair.

Lizís condo was actually renovated warehouse space. Or as the brochure said, "Elegant in-town living in an open, spacious environment." In other words, one huge room with a bath. She had gotten a deal on the place and worked for nearly a year finishing off the inside. It had a spectacular view of the Atlanta downtown skyline. The loft itself was cleverly subdivided with movable screens. This bit of decorating was Rogerís idea. The boy had flair. The flooring, dark pine tongue and groove, accented the old brick supporting walls. But by far, the best feature was the floor to ceiling windows. These ran the entire outer wall and gave the space that advertised "open" feel. Her unit occupied a north orientation. From her vantagepoint, it was possible to see sunrise and sunset. Such a deal.

Liz stared out at the sleeping city in envy. She dipped the cookie in the milk and consumed it in one bite. Not pretty, but accepted Oreo technique. Her thoughts were on the events of late. She had been "back" for three months now. The first month was relatively uneventful...or as uneventful as a returning time traveler can have. She had related the entire story to Roger and he had almost become her sole sounding board on this issue. She wasnít sure if he really believed her, but he did listen, and that was a comfort. She had maintained contact with Sam, but long distance is, well, long distance. The last two months had seen a marked decrease in communication from Lizís end. Her attention was scattered, thinking about Gabrielle more and more. She wasnít pleased with herself but knew she couldnít perpetrate a lie. Sam seemed to actually understand this and had told her if and when she wanted to talk to call her. The nightmares had started about the same time.

Lizís contemplation was interrupted by the plaintive sound of Brie. "Yeowww..."

"In here, Brie, címon baby." She made little kissy noises to get the kittenís attention. The baby leapt over her bedmate, RiotGrrl (RG for short), and raced into the living area. Effortlessly, she jumped into Lizís lap, where some serious purring and nuzzling commenced. She was quite a little beauty, about 4 months old. She had been abandoned in the parking garage of the building. Liz had come home late one evening and was unloading the car. This little dust bunny with legs and a set of lungs not to be believed practically jumped into her grocery bags. Liz guessed she had seen the big flashing neon sign that said, "Good Home For Life---Right Here ---->" So, she took her in. Brie was barely weaned when some asshole dumped her. God, sometimes people irked the hell out of her. The kitten was a strawberry blonde with delicate features and a feisty temperament. The really amazing things were her eyes. After that blue stage that they all go though, her eyes turned a brilliant green. The idea of naming her anything but Gabrielle was out of the question. She just shortened it to Brie. RG wasnít too happy about losing her status of Ďonlyí kitty, but they seemed to have come to a truce of sorts. The felines were alot Xena and Gabrielle. RG really loved her companion but had a hard time showing it.

Together they sat Liz pondering what the hell was happening, and Brie contentedly making biscuits on Lizís leg. The sun would be rising soon and she had a busy day ahead. But right now, life was quiet and ordered. Too bad it wasnít going to stay that way. Liz absently stroked Brie with one hand and fingered the crystal with the other. She closed her eyes and murmured. "Oh, Gabrielle, whatís happening to me...to us?"

 

CHAPTER TWO

Xena held Gabrielle for a long time. The bardís shaking was beginning to abate and Xena tested the waters. Still holding her securely, she spoke. "This is the same dream, isnít it? The one youíve had over and over for the last two months?" Gabrielle remained silent, not wishing to validate Xenaís probing. How could she tell Xena about the brutality of this dream? It was almost too much for her to deal with. Absently, she held the coral piece that Liz had given her, hoping for the right words.

Gabrielle tightened her grip on the warrior. "Xena, just hold me right now, please. I donít want to talk about this."

Xena was filled with conflicting emotions. She was concerned about Gabrielleís emotional condition. Over the last two months, with the onset of these nightmares, she had become less than communicative. For the bard to cease expressing verbally signaled a serious situation. It just wasnít like her and that alone scared Xena. She was just barely able to suppress that fear. It wouldnít do for Gabrielle to see the source of her comfort all freaked out. Her other building emotion was one of frustration and anger. She had tried to get Gabrielle to talk about all this, but nothing had worked. Her patience was wearing thin and resolve even thinner. She couldnít take one more night of her demon tossed slumber. She used to look forward to the setting sun and sleeping next to her beloved. Now, she dreaded the dipping orb. Enough was enough. She gathered her thoughts.

In the most tender, loving tone she could muster, Xena began. "Gabrielle, listen to me, ok? " The bard sensing the inevitable pulled away from Xenaís warm breast. She gazed into her loverís eyes and awaited what she had long dreaded. In an attempt to thwart the probing, Gabrielle tried to speak. "Xena, please, just let me...uh.." She didnít get the rest out. Xenaís anger was about to surface.

"Let you what, Gabrielle? Continue to shut me out night after night? Do you have any idea what this is doing to me...to us? I want to help you, but I canít if you wonít talk to me. For the love of Zeus, itís what you do best! " Xenaís voice was rising." Youíve got to talk about this. Now! " It was not a request.

Gabrielleís eyes flashed in anger at the warrior. She completely separated herself from Xena and took a defensive position. "Not everything revolves around you, Xena. We process things differently. At least I do talk about my feelings once in a while." This was a direct reference to Xenaís hesitancy in that area. Xena wasnít going to be sidetracked by this bit of reasoning.

"Well, weíre not talking about my feelings right now, are we? Weíre talking about yours." Xena could see this was going nowhere. She tried a different tack . "This has to do with that Aphrodite mess, doesnít it?" In a irritated voice she added, " And that woman, Liz." She spit out the last part like a bitter herb.

Gabrielle held the coral tightly and tried to control her fury. "This isnít Lizís fault, Xena and I resent the implication. I told you everything about all that. I didnít hide anything from you. And it was you who put me in that position in the first place." Tears were forming in her eyes and a lump in her throat.

It was true that Gabrielle had told her everything. In fact, it was more than Xena really wanted to hear. Even given the circumstances, the very thought of another woman touching Gabrielle made her crazy. And where did that Ďunderstandingí thing come from? Xena was alot of things, but Ďunderstandingí wasnít one of them... not where Gabrielle was concerned. She was certain that Aphrodite had a hand in that aspect of the interaction. Gods, she despised being manipulated. All of this had been sitting for months like a festering wound. The onset of Gabrielleís dreams had only made it worse. The bard had become withdrawn. The only physical contact she wanted was to be held after the throes of the nightmare. Xena knew their relationship was at a crossroad. She had to get Gabrielle to open up to her. She decided to do something she rarely did...apologize.

Gabrielle had gotten up and moved near the smoldering fire. She sat with her back to Xena, poking the embers with a stick, encouraging the fire to life again.

Xena came up behind her and placed a hand on her shoulder. She felt Gabrielle stiffen, but didnít withdraw her touch. She began to knead the bardís tight shoulders and neck. When she felt a slight release of tension, she spoke. "Gabrielle, Iím sorry I yelled. I know youíre upset, but, honey so am I. I love you so much and feel so helpless. You know that I would go to Tartarus and back for you. There isnít anything I wouldnít do for you. You should know that. "

Gabrielle was softly sobbing again but nodded in agreement. Xena sat down behind her and wrapped her strong arms around her beloved. Gabrielle reached up and placed her hands on Xenaís. She knew this was hard for her lover and a feeling of guilt was collecting in her gut. She decided she had to talk to Xena...she just wasnít sure how to begin.

"Xena, the dreams are..." She couldnít find the words. Xena gave her a reassuring squeeze. "Thatís ok, take your time. Iím not going anywhere." She buried her face in Gabrielleís hair, taking in the aroma of her, and lightly kissed her neck.

Gabrielle pressed on. "Itís really dark in my dream and Iím alone. I think Iím in a room but there is no light. I canít find a way out. There is something evil there with me, but it wonít show itself. I call out for you, but there is no answer." Gabrielle is beginning to shake at the mere telling of this scenario.

Xena holds her even tighter. "Itís ok, Iím here."

Though her stomach is knotting, Gabrielle continues. "The floor starts to fall away...itís hard for me to stand. I lose my staff and now Iím totally helpless. Iím afraid Iím going to die." A light sweat has broken out on her body and she is feeling nauseous. "I am just barely able to hang on to the floor. It is becoming harder. I look up and see you standing there. I plead with you to save me but you tell me that you canít. That this is my doing. I donít understand."

Xenaís stomach is now in a knot. The thought that she wouldnít save Gabrielle is hard to hear...dream or not.

Gabrielleís tremors are more pronounced as she nears the conclusion. "I know that I am going to fall into the blackness and Iím going to die. I look up one last time and this time Liz is there. She is holding her arms out but doesnít try to help me either. Thatís when I canít hold on any longer and fall...screaming."

Xenaís eyes are filling. She feels such a longing to take this pain from Gabrielle. If she could, she most certainly would. Gabrielle shouldnít have to go through this kind of agony. She doesnít deserve pain and certainly not a horrible death. Silently Xena curses Morpheus for repeatedly bringing this horror on her lover.

Gabrielle seems almost relieved to have this abomination out in the open. "Xena, I know that you would never let me die...not if there was any way. I mean I know this, yet this dream is becoming stronger and more real every night. I sense more everytime I have it. Itís becoming my reality and this..." She makes a gesture to the surrounding air, "...is becoming the dream. Iím afraid that eventually I wonít wake up."

If Xena could have gotten any closer to Gabrielle, she would be inside her skin. "I wonít let that happen. I promise." She didnít know how to keep that promise. "We will find a way out of this. You and me...together." She had to ask about the presence of Liz in her dream. "Why do you think Liz is there?"

Gabrielle gave the question careful thought. She knew Xena wasnít going to like the answer. "Iím not sure, but I still feel a connection with her. I just donít know how it fits."

Xena tried to hold her reaction in check. "Itís ok, weíll work this out. I think we should go see Hippocrates. He might have an insight weíve missed. We should have gone two months ago."

The sun was trying to sneak over the horizon. The long night was over once again. Gabrielleís demons only seemed to visit in the darkness. "Gabrielle, why donít you try to get some rest while I take care of Argo. Weíll start out later this morning." Gabrielle barely heard the last words before she fell into a exhausted sleep. Xena placed a blanket over her and gently kissed her lips. She turned her attention to Argo and her growing dislike of Liz. Though she hadnít had the displeasure of meeting her, the idea of putting the Ďneck thingí on Liz had taken on an appeal. This fantasy woman was becoming a Ďrealí thorn in her side. As she fed Argo, a fleeting thought zipped through her brain. "Be careful what you wish for."

 

CHAPTER THREE

Liz was rousted unceremoniously from her fitful sleep by the phone. Her eyes snapped open and her body jerked as the annoying ring persisted. Brieís hair stood on end. She leapt off Lizís lap, made a beeline for the bedroom and her protector, RG. On the third ring, Liz answered. " Yeah...what is it?"

On the other end a womanís voice crooned. " And a good morning to you, sweetheart. Did I interrupt something?"

"Oh, hi, Randi. No...I was...in the shower. Whatís up?" Lying wasnít Lizís strong suit. Especially not to a longtime friend and confidant.

Randi didnít believe Lizís explanation, but didnít wish to pursue it. She had something of more importance to discuss. "What are you doing later today? There is something we need to go over." She hesitated for a moment. "Itís important. Concerning that Ďthingí you asked me to do for you."

Liz couldnít imagine why Randi was talking almost in code. "Oh, yeah, is this about the crys..." She didnít even get the word out before Randi cut her off.

"Yes, it is and we need to talk in person about it...not on the phone. Ok?"

Liz was in no mood to play 007 today. "Randi, no theatrics this morning, ok. Iím not up to it. Look, Iíve got some errands to run and Roger is coming over for lunch. How about tomorrow?"

"No, tomorrow isnít good for me, I have a board meeting. How Ďbout the next day?" Scheduling was always a problem with Randi. The woman was just too busy. Liz decided to accommodate her friendís cramped calendar. "Sure, thatís fine. Where? When?" She could hear Randi flipping through her day timer. "How about 5 at the University...my office?"

She was cradling the phone while attempting to start some coffee. "Ok, thatís fine, 5 pm...your office. See you then. Bye" Liz put the cordless on the counter and shook her head. "Whatís up with her? Doesnít want to talk on the phone, but has me meet her in the lionís den." She mused, "Woman needs to get out among the living a little more." Satisfied that her java was brewing, Liz turned toward the bedroom and bath. She spied her Ďkidsí grooming one another on the bed. ĎWhat a nice life,í she thought. "You guys have it made. Iím mightily jealous." She gave each a scratch behind the ear and proceeded to the bath.

She had stripped and was running the shower. As she started to step in, the phone rang...again. She toyed with ignoring it, but didnít. Wrapping a towel around herself, she retrieved the phone from the kitchen. In a less than cheerful voice, she answered. "Morning, freakiní Grand Central. How may I assist you?"

Simply unfazed by the shrew on the other end, Roger started, "Whatís the matter, princess, someone put a pea under your mattress last night?"

Liz felt somewhat embarrassed. Lack of sleep always had an effect on her demeanor. "Oh, Roger, Iím sorry. I didnít get much sleep last night. Guess Iím a bit testy this morning." Roger never cut her very much slack. And this morning wasnít going to be an exception. " A bit testy? Thatís like saying the Queenís hat selection is a bit of a fashion disaster." He decided to back off...for now. "Still having those dreams, hon?"

"Yes, and they arenít getting any better. In fact, the one last night scared the hell out of me. They are becoming more real...in every sense." A chill crept up Lizís spine and the short hairs on her neck bristled. She rationalized this was due to her half-naked state.

"So, you seeing the shrink this morning?"

"Therapist, Roger, not a shrink. "

"Honey, a therapist is just a low paid shrink who canít dispense good drugs. If youíre going to do this sort of thing, at least see someone with pharmaceutical connections."

A chuckle escaped her lips, "Well, perhaps youíre right. But you know how I feel about real drugs."

Trying to sound hurt, Roger announced, "My dear, did I say anything about you taking the drugs?"

"No, I guess not, How insensitive of me. What was I thinking? So, you still coming over later?"

"Well, of course. I just called to see if you wanted me to bring anything...like lunch perhaps."

Although she was a decent cook, Rogerís idea of a proper lunch was different from hers. Liz was an iceberg lettuce kind of girl and he leaned towards endive. Menu decision was really low on her list today. "Sure, whatever you want. But nothing raw and still moving, ok?"

There was a short pause on the other end. " Well, that does narrow the choices somewhat, but Iíll survive. Iíll see you around two-ish then? "

"Fine, two-ish. I gotta run. Iím late already. Later then." She poured herself a cup of coffee and bypassed the cream. She was running late and hadnít had her shower yet..."Oh, shit, my shower!"

She had left the water running while talking to Roger. Liz put her hand around the curtain into cold water. "Damn! What a miserable start to my day." Dropping the towel, she stepped into the cold water. God...how did people exist without hot water? She took the worldís fastest shower and turned the water off. Stepping out of the tub, her thoughts went back to Gabrielle and the inn. A wave of warmness washed over her that was comforting and disturbing at the same time.

She threw on her jeans, a decent shirt and loafers. Hunger was an issue, but she was also late for this appointment. Liz stopped long enough to feed her furry charges, pour coffee in a to-go cup and grab a bagel on the way out.


It was going to be another hot, sultry Atlanta day. She put the top down on the car and wheeled into the blazing sun. It actually felt good, considering the temperature in the shower. The drive to Dr. Randellís office would take about 20 minutes and it gave her time to think.

She had told herself that sheíd never seek therapy again. The woman had financed Bimmers and Mercedes for just about every therapist in Atlanta. It wasnít until the dreams that she had reconsidered. That was the easy part. Finding one in this city that didnít know you, as a client hadnít slept with you or your ex or your friends was the hard part. She really needed someone who knew nothing of her or her social circle. The last thing she needed was to become the topic of conversation at the local happy hours. It was quite a search. Liz ended up contacting the American Association of Clinical Psychotherapists for a recommendation. She told them she was looking for someone relatively new in the area. What she got was someone not only new to the area but new in the practice. She traded experience for anonymity. The later seemed more important to her. The only person who knew all the details, besides Dr. Randell, was Roger. At least, she thought Roger had kept it to himself.

She rounded the corner and found the nearest available space. At least it wasnít two blocks away. The day wasnít totally screwed...yet. She entered the building and made her way to the office. It was decorated in early I-just-went-into-practice-and-I-have-no-money decor. Liz peered at the various diplomas and awards on the wall. Blah blah blah awarded to Maddison D. Randell, PhD. What the hell kind of name was ĎMaddisoní anyway? Guess with a moniker like that, youíd almost have to go into a therapy field. She chuckled to herself, "Mad Maddison, Ph.D."

A voice behind her caught the self-amusement. "Well, itís good to hear you laugh. Címon in, Liz"

Liz was ushered into the dimly lit inner sanctum. She was so tired, she thought about curling up on the couch for an hour. That, however, would be a very expensive nap. She sat instead and started right in. "I had another dream last night. Really disturbing. I havenít slept more than three or four hours. " She quizzed the Ďmadí doctor. "So, you think Iím still having Ďseparation anxiety?í " Maddison ignored her snippy remark and began. " Liz, I know that you are having a very real reaction to some... uh...event. And that is what we need to focus on. Whatever it was has taken on a real presence in your life."

Liz didnít think she liked what Maddison was alluding to. She asked for clarification. "I want to ask you something. And I donít want some therapeutically correct response. I want the truth. Even if it is off-the-record. Ok?"

She thought for a moment, and nodded in agreement.

"This is important, so no kibitzing. I need a straight answer. Do you believe the story Iíve told you?"

She could see her mind looking for reference material to base an answer on. "I think the important thing, is that you believe it happened. Iím not here to judge the validity of your convictions."

God, she hated therapists! "No...thatís not what I asked. Watch my lips. Do-you-believe-my-story?"

She shifted slightly in her chair. In a well-rehearsed tone she answered. " Liz, I donít see what I feel to be of consequence here."

That put her over the top. Her voice raised an octave. "Listen, cut the crap and answer the damn question!!"

An experienced therapist wouldnít have been rankled, but she wasnít one...yet. There was a flash of anger in her eyes. It was the first hint Liz had that the doctor was human. And she was about to lose some serious therapist / client relationship points.

"Ok, you really want my opinion? Here it is. Iíll address each aspect of your claim. One... do I believe you time traveled to a fantasy reality? No. Two... do I believe that you met and was seduced by ĎGabrielle?í No. Three... do I believe that the Greek goddess, Aphrodite caused all of it and you met her? Hell...no! And finally...four... do I believe that you are Ďlinkedí to this other reality and you are sharing dreams with ĎGabrielleí. Not if Sigmund was sitting here!"

She let this sink in before continuing. "What I do believe, however, is that you are in serious danger of dissociating reality." That was the last glimpse of her humanness she would see. She had found her Ďtherapistí facade again and coldly said. " I want you to consider seeing an MD and begin a course of anti-depression medication." She handed her a card with the name of a psychiatry group on it. "I really donít think I can help you further."

Dr. Randell stood to indicate the session was over. Liz rose and thought of echoing Autolycus, "Hey, I paid for an hour." She was sure the reference would be lost on her and she hated wasting perfectly good sarcasm. Instead, she gathered her self-esteem and walked out of the office. In the waiting area were two women, obviously together. Egad, couples therapy. She wanted to tell them to run away. But, the good doctor probably needed her first Mercedes. She sure as hell wasnít going to get it from Liz. She exited the building, got in the car and drove home.

She was angry with herself. Not from pushing the therapist into a corner, but for not trusting her own feelings. She knew what had happened. And was just as worried about what was happening now. She knew it was happening to Gabrielle also and that concerned her the most. How could she possibly help her now? Could Xena even help her? She needed answers and had no way to get them. It was beginning to tear at the very fabric of her existence.

 

CHAPTER FOUR

The sun was nearly overhead when Xena decided to wake Gabrielle. She hated to do it, but the day was quickly getting away from them. The journey to Hippocrates would take a day or so at this pace. The idea of Gabrielle going through anymore nights like last night was unacceptable. Xena stretched out beside her love and let her eyes caress her features.

"Gods, youíre so beautiful." Xena gently placed her hand along Gabrielleís face. The bard stirred slightly and shifted from her side to her back. Xena took in every detail of her person. Her breathing was deep and regular, her face calm and serene. Xena traced the outline of Gabrielleís lips with her finger. She felt a stirring at her core. She wanted to feel their bodies next to each other again. She thought back to that night in the inn at Daedalius. There had been such a passion and fire to their lovemaking. Xena had allowed...no thatís not right...had begged for Gabrielle to take her. She had completely given control to her for the first time. There were no battles of will...only a desire to give. It was truly amazing and freeing. To look at her now brought those feelings to life again. As much as she wanted to, Xena knew she could not. Instead, she made love to her in her mind and with her eyes. She gazed upon that delicate neck and could see the rhythmic pulsing of her heart. It was a most sensuous vision. A tear formed in the warriorís eye and her heart ached. She bent over Gabrielle and kissed her forehead.

"Gabrielle, wake up, sleepy." Xena spoke softly to her, gently waking Gabrielle.

The bard opened her eyes and squinted in the bright sunlight. She was looking into those electric blue eyes. For an instant, a primal memory tugged at her center, and was gone. "Xena, why did you let me sleep the morning away? We should have been moving long ago."

Xena just smiled and said, "I thought the rest would do you more good right now. But youíre right, we should get moving. Do you feel up to it?"

"Xena, Iím having nightmares, not the inability to move." There was sharpness in her voice. "Of course I Ďfeel up to it.í " Gabrielle sat up and gathered the blankets. She went about the business of breaking camp. Xena could almost feel the wall go up between them. As irrational as it sounded, she wished she could get her hands on Liz. She was certain that would fix everything that was wrong between Gabrielle and herself. She thought to herself, ĎHades help you should we ever meet, bitch.í

Her thought process was interrupted by Gabrielleís voice. "Címon, Xena, letís go."

Xena responded, "Yeah, letís go. You want to ride with me today? We have some serious ground to cover before dark. As it is, I donít think we can make it to Hipprocratesí before the sun sets." She was hoping this logic would allow Gabrielle to mount Argo. She just would feel better holding her safely today.

Gabrielle considered the options. There werenít that many. She wasnít fond of riding, but Xena made a convincing argument. Her fear of what was happening outweighed her displeasure of riding. "Ok, that makes sense."

Xena held out her hand and helped Gabrielle mount Argo. When the light of her life was securely settled in front of her, Xena clucked the war-horse into movement. The three of them became one fluid organic machine gliding over the ground. They rode in silence for hours, almost in a meditative state. The rhythmic gait of Argo was transferred to her partners. Xena and Gabrielle became totally in sync with her stride. It was a seductive exchange. As Argoís front legs hit the ground, the riders were cast slightly forward. Xena could feel herself being pulled into Gabrielleís back, her breasts rubbing against the inside of her leathers. Her desire was mounting with every hoofbeat. She didnít ignore the absolute sensuality of the experience, but let it wash over her.

Gabrielleís thoughts were also focused on the mounting energy in her core. She was so conflicted right now. The interaction with Liz had been overwhelming. The sheer sexual power that passed between them had the bard confused. A layer of guilt had formed. Gabrielle was hard pressed to sort out her feelings. When Liz had disappeared, literally in front of her, she felt as if part of her was torn away. That evening, at the inn, Xena had begged Gabrielle to make love to her. No...it was more than Ďmaking loveí. Xena had surrendered a previously guarded part of herself. Their relationship had crossed into new territory. Gabrielle had felt rawness in her not realized before. It was intoxicating and she wanted more. She couldnít be sure if it was the memory of Liz or her desire for Xena at work. So, until she could find the answer, she had withdrawn physically from her warrior. The conflict was worsened by the dream. The harder she tried to resolve the feelings, the more elusive the answer. She felt her sanity was in jeopardy and a fear of losing Xena had taken hold. She had also begun to entertain thoughts new to her and somewhat disturbing. Gabrielle closed her eyes, felt the throbbing between her legs and held on to Xenaís arms.

The pace of Argo had quickened. She sensed the urgency mounting in her charges and responded appropriately. She was the only one whose eyes were open. Xena and Gabrielle had slipped into another place. Xena gripped the reins tightly in her left hand. It was resting just behind the saddle horn up against the top of Gabrielleís mound. The bard did not protest. With every stride, she rubbed against Xenaís fist. The warrior held her firmly with her right arm. Her palm resting just below Gabrielleís left breast. She wanted so badly to claim the bardís hard nipple, but did not. Her imagination and memory would have to serve. Xenaís own nipples were rock hard from the constant brushing of Gabrielleís back.

She felt the presence of Xenaís hand near her aching center. The bardís thoughts were focused on Xena, Liz and her Ďnewí desires. In her mind, she was in Daedalius...with Liz and Xena. Their bodies were entwined in a torturous embrace. It was hard to distinguish who belonged to what. Gabrielle imagined Xenaís mouth on her nipple...teasing...biting. Her Ďnewí passion began to take over. While Xena claimed her sensitive breasts with her mouth, another set of hands were slowly working their way up her legs. A soft tongue ran on her inner thigh approaching the soft mass of damp hair. She was in sensory overload. Lizís lips teased the sensitive area around her center. Xenaís mouth claimed Gabrielleís in a deep, urgent kiss. Her nipples were caught in a pinching embrace by Xenaís fingers. Gabrielleís right hand was caressing Lizís head and her left reaching up for Xena. She felt the warriorís muscular thigh and moved up to her incredible wetness.

Argo jumped a fallen tree limb, sending her riders hard into the saddle. Xena felt a jolt of electricity run through her...she held Gabrielle tighter. Her breathing coming in short breaths...heart racing.

Liz parted Gabrielle legs and then her swollen lips. Slowly, she placed her mouth on her, taking delight in the moisture, drinking as a woman dying of thirst. Gabrielle pulled Xena over her, pleading with her eyes. Her soul begged for that quenching quaff. Xena lowered her wet desire to Gabrielleís waiting mouth. The touch of her loverís exploring tongue was so sweet. It was an extenuation of what Liz was doing to Gabrielle. They were three women having the same experience. Every stroke perpetrated a response and every response another request. It was a dance of passion and desire.

The pounding of Argoís hooves mirrored Xenaís agony. She could almost feel Gabrielleís hands and tongue on her. She was silently connected to her lover, nearing explosion.

Gabrielle pulled Xena closer, her face and neck covered with her loverís urgency. She found the hard focus of Xenaís desire and suckled it as a babe. It was straining and crying for release. Gabrielle was also in torture. Liz slipped two fingers inside her and continued tonguing the center of her fire. She was ready for completion of the dance. She waited for Xenaís wave...and Liz awaited Gabrielleís signal.

Xena was barely aware of the passing scenery. She felt the building pulse...starting from the very core of her being and rushing outward. Her head was on Gabrielleís shoulder. She felt reality start to slip away. Her only connection was the form directly in front of her. A spiraling light surrounded her as she crested that wave. She wanted to cry out, but buried her head in the softness of Gabrielleís hair instead.

Gabrielle felt the tightness in Xenaís body and the flood gushing between her own legs. Her warrior was coming, and she wanted Liz to push her over that edge too. She grabbed Lizís hair and pulled her forcibly into her demanding release. Liz worked her fingers in and out of the bard and her tongue flicked across the sensitive, red bud. She hit the crest with Xena and together they fell. She wanted to cry out, but clenched Xenaís arm instead leaving impressions on her skin.

When they finally opened their eyes, Argo had slowed to a walk. Her coat glistened with sweat, as did her riders. There was an uncomfortable silence between them. Gabrielleís was due to her perceived twisted thoughts. Xenaís from the pain of being so close and yet so far from her lover. The sun was on the verge of setting. They would not make it to Hippocrates home until tomorrow. For tonight, they would have to make camp. Trying to attain some control, Gabrielle spoke first. "Xena, do you think we could make camp soon?"

Xena had no problem with that request. "I think we could use the rest. How about near those trees?" She pointed to a group nearby. Gabrielle nodded and Xena directed Argo toward the site.

Setting up camp was a painless affair. They had done it so many times before. Gabrielle set out the blankets and started a fire. Xena settled Argo, brushing her and feeding her some sweet oats. It was too late to attempt catching a rabbit for dinner. Bread and some cheese would have to do for tonight. They sat silently eating the meager rations. Gabrielle looked at her warrior. "Xena?"

Softly, Xena replied, "Yes, Gabrielle, what is it?"

Their gaze met in an electric exchange. " Would you please hold me tonight? I need to feel you close to me."

Xena moved to her companion. "Of course, I will. Nothing will harm you."

They settled near the fire, Xena curled behind Gabrielle, holding her as if her life depended on it. In some way, it did. As Gabrielle drifted into sleep, she murmured, "Always remember that I love you."

She was asleep before Xenaís reply reached her ears. "And I love you, my soul, my life. "

They fell into a dreamless sleep, breathing in concert. Two hearts, one soul.

 

CHAPTER FIVE

Liz wheeled into the parking garage, tires squealing on the floor. She was upset and mad, slamming the car door with a resounding thud. "Damn...damn...damn !!" She was mumbling to herself as she entered the garage elevator. Fortunately, it was empty. She was in the full throes of a fit when she threw open her door.

Liz stormed in, threw the keys on the counter and headed for the fridge. She was getting a headache from no sleep...no breakfast...and now...no therapist. She momentarily thought about having a beer with her cereal, but stopped short of popping the top. The kids always knew when she was upset, and today was no exception. Her raven beauty, RG, jumped on the counter and demanded attention, knowing Liz wouldnít refuse. It was her calming ploy and slowly Lizís rage started to abate. Filling a bowl with corn flakes, she headed for the bed. She stopped by the stereo to put on some music. Liz always used music to soothe her demons and to think. Maybe Roger would have a suggestion about a course of action.

She sat up in the bed and quietly munched the cereal. Brie was trying to put her nose in the bowl as she ate. She thought everything was just for her. RG soon joined in the attack. They came at her from different sides. "Very clever, but Iíve seen it before. Youíll have to do better than that." Brie knew very little about subtlety. She was a straight ahead kind of kitty. She marched right over RG and put her paw in her bowl. Liz had met her match. There was no fear in this little bundle. She had learned that the worst in her life had already happened. She reminded Liz of Gabrielle...so open and innocent in many ways. Like Gabrielle, her character had been formed early in life through adversity. Yet, she still had the ability to trust and love. That was something Liz had learned from Gabrielle, and was thankful. She knew that she could be alone but didnít have to be lonely. She was content with just being with herself right now. It was just as well that Sam and she had ended their...whatever it was. Or at least she believed it was over.

Roger said that she had the Lois Lane Syndrome. She was almost afraid to ask what he meant. He said. "Imagine being Lois Lane, honey. You finally get to go to bed with...oooh...the Man of Steel. Now, do you really think, for one moment, anyone else will have a chance?"

He was right. Liz was suffering the LLS. Only it was Gabrielle she was trying to get over. You know, she didnít even know what her last name is. I suppose it was Gabrielle of Potidaea. Hmmm...it hardly mattered. She would never see her again and that just felt so unfinished. The dreams were a double-edge sword. Liz dreaded the Ďfeelí of the experience. It was dark, cold and sinister. But in her need to be with Gabrielle, she also looked forward to it. It was just so twisted. That was the reason she had sought help. Thinking about all this, Liz verbalized her process. "Maybe I am delusional. I am looking for rationality where there probably is none. All I know for sure is the dream is getting stronger, more detailed and real. Everytime I have it, I feel I may not wake up." Brie and RG were sitting patiently waiting for the next revelation. "You know, girls, what concerns me the most is I may not want to wake up."

A loud rap at the door interrupted her self-therapy. "God, is it two already?" Liz scooted off the bed and headed for the door. It was Roger.

"Youíre early." She said as he glided by. Spying the cereal bowl, he raised a disapproving eyebrow and said, "And I see youíve been snacking. Tsk, tsk. Whatís the matter afraid I wouldnít bring anything youíd eat?" He was busy placing covered trays in the fridge. "Sweetheart, when is the last time you went to the market? Thereís absolutely nothing edible in here."

He was right. The inside of the fridge looked like a bachelorís. Milk, beer and some lab experiments. "I know, I just havenít felt like it lately. No lectures today, ok?"

He continued to clean out the items of dubious origin. "So, I assume the therapy session went badly today?"

"Yes, very bad. How did you know?" She was expecting some insightful deduction.

"Because you are playing that damn Brahms Requiem. You always play Brahms when life kicks you in the gut. Canít you find another composer to commiserate with?"

"Hey, it gives me comfort, ok? And whatís wrong with Brahms anyway? At least itís not your favorite...the all-time-just-go-ahead-and-slit-my-wrists happy boy, Mahler. Need I remind you that when youíre miserable you put on the 6th. Or as I affectionately refer to it ...The Symphony Oí Death and Despair."

"Ok, letís not trash each otherís musical tastes." Roger waved a paper napkin as a symbol of truce. Liz accepted. He reached into the cabinet for some glasses. "Iíll pour us some champagne and you can tell me everything." As Roger retrieved the Mumm, the third movement, her favorite, of the Requiem poured forth into the room. It was passionate and always moved her to tears. Today was no exception. She thought of the pain and terror that Gabrielle was going through. A tear rolled down her cheek, stopping briefly on her chin, before committing suicide by diving to the floor. She had to find an answer.

Roger came up behind her and put the glass in her hand. "Now, letís talk. What happened?"

They sat facing each other and she related the visit to Dr. Randellís. Liz produced the card that Dr. Randell had given her. "Did she actually say she thought you were crazy? I mean isnít that unprofessional or something?"

"No, she didnít say it, but it was implied. Guess I shouldnít have backed her in a corner...I blew it. I need answers, Roger. This thing is serious. I donít know what else to do. "

She could see him weighing a decision in his head. He took a card from his wallet and held it guardedly in his hand. "Before I give this to you, I want you to promise to think before you speak. Deal?"

She had very few options. "Deal."

Like a child parting with his favorite toy, he passed the card to Liz. It read, Ruth M. Varner, Psychic Healer. She held it in her hand and just stared. She knew Roger was interested in alternative therapies, but this never occurred to her. Liz opened her mouth to speak. "Roger..um..I donít..." He expected resistance and made his pitch.

"Ok, just hear me out, will Ďya? Now drink your bubbly and let me tell you why you should consider this." He waited for some sort of protest, but I had none. This was as logical as anything that had happened. Liz was about to take the wind out of his sails. "Ok, give me the phone, Iíll call her right now."

Roger stared in disbelief. "Thatís it? No wailing and gnashing of teeth, no rolling of eyes, no snide remarks? Liz, this isnít like you. Do you feel well? "

She retrieved the phone and began dialing. "Well, actually I donít feel all right and Iíve run out of options. Seeing a psychic is probably as good as anything." The phone on the other end began ringing. A womanís voice answered on the third ring. "Hello, this is Ruth." Her voice was calm and strong. "Yes...uh...hello. My name is Liz. Iím a friend of Roger..." She completed the sentence, " Oh, yes, Roger Bennington. Dear, sweet man. Heís mentioned you to me, I believe. Nothing confidential of course, just that you are good friends. How can I help you, Liz?"

Any anxiety she might have had, melted away listening to her voice. "I need to make an appointment with you for a reading. Itís kinda urgent, so as soon as possible."

She didnít hesitate. "Is this evening too soon? I could see you around seven."

"That would be great. Iíll get directions from Roger...oh...do I need to bring anything with me? Iíve never done this sort of thing before."

She could almost see her smile. "No, dear, just bring yourself. Iíll see you this evening. Good-bye, Liz."

"Gíbye, Ruth." She put the cordless on the table and looked at Roger. "Well, guess Iím seeing a psychic. Go figure." Eyeing her friend, she inquired, "Why didnít you tell me about seeing Ruth?"

Roger gave me his best imitation of Scarlett OíHara. "Why, whatever, do you mean, Rhett? A lady needs to have her secrets. Yaíll simply canít know everything. There would be no mystery."

"Yeah, right. Ok, Iím starved, letís eat. " They stood and regrouped in the kitchen. Roger began emptying the fridge and Liz poured more champagne. She had a feeling her evening was going to be very interesting.

 

CHAPTER SIX

Roger insisted on driving her to Ruthís. He said it wasnít uncommon for first timers to have some unusual experiences. He didnít want her driving afterward. They pulled up in front of a very elegant two story. The neighborhood was one of those old but very expensive areas. She thought, Ď The psychic business must be very, very good.í

"Ok, sweetheart, this is it. Now remember, when youíre finished, just call me."

There was concern in his eyes. Liz was a little surprised. I mean what could happen?

She placed a hand on his arm. "Roger, Iíll be ok. Itís not like this is brain surgery or anything."

He smiled knowingly. "Very interesting choice of words, Liz." He gave her a quick peck.

She stepped out of the car and made her way to the front door. She didnít even get a hand on the ringer when the door opened. She jumped slightly. A slight woman in her sixties reached out and took her hand. Her grip was steady and strong. She had worn her years well. Her salt and pepper hair was stylishly coifed and her eyes were an iridescent blue with brown flecks... very unusual.

"Hi, you must be Liz. I saw Rogerís car pull up. Hope I didnít startle you. Come on in and make yourself comfortable." She led the way to a small library. "Iíll be just a minute." With that, she left the room. Liz took this opportunity to walk around the library. You could tell a lot about someone by the books they read. As she scanned the titles, she was totally confused. There was hardly any psychic related material and nary a book on Tarot or palm reading. In fact, most of it was scientific in nature. She had a problem just reading some of the titles. She began giving herself the tour.

"And over here we have ĎPhysics of Immortalityí...catchy title. Soon to be a movie of the week. Next..." She turned my head sideways to read the spine. "Umm... Relativity, Thermodynamics, and Cosmology. Oooh...great bathroom reading." She continued along the shelf. "A Brief History of Time. Hey, Iíve actually read this one. Ah, hereís one thatís somewhat normal...H.G.Wells...Time Machine Hmm...somehow that doesnít look that out of place. And this last one here is...ah...Particle Physics and Inflationary Cosmology."

She just shook her head and turned her attention to the framed documents on the wall. They were diplomas... diplomaaass...plural. The woman had three Ph.Ds...one in Natural Philosophy, Quantum Mechanics and Theoretical Physics. She stood back from the sheepskins and made an audible deduction. "Oh, my, God. Iím seeing Dr.Ruth!"

There was a hearty laugh behind me. "Believe me, youíre not the first to use that joke. It is kinda funny though, donít you think? So, find anything interesting on the shelves?"

Liz smiled. "Well, to be quite honest, my wagon left the track with Particle Physics and Inflammatory Cosmetologists." She waited to see if Ruthís sense of humor was as bent as her own. She wasnít disappointed.

"Well, Iíve seen more than one flaming hairdresser in my life." She was grinning broadly. "And I bet you thought I would be some weird, Carmen Miranda head-dress wearing gypsy."

"To be honest, Iím a bit confused about your credentials." She made eye contact with one of the framed diplomas. "You seem to be a rather academic type. How did you..."

She completed her thought. "Get into the psychic business? Letís just say itís a Ďfamilyí thing. We have many mantles to wear in our lives. This is just one of them."

She was feeling much better about her prospects for help. Ruth took her hand and directed Liz to a comfortable chair. She poured some water from a pitcher, handed her a glass and the conversation began in earnest.

She sat opposite Liz with a legal pad on her lap and a recorder on the table. "I want you to just tell me what happened. Take your time and try to remember as many details as possible. And donít worry about any of it sounding weird...believe me Iíve heard more than you could imagine. Ok?"

Liz felt completely at ease and began to pour out her story. She was surprised how easy the words flowed. It was akin to reciting a beloved fairy tale, only this was real and she had lived it. She talked nonstop for two hours. It was a cleansing of sorts. The whole time, Ruth sat quietly and occasionally scribbled on her pad. She was completely focused on her...not in a judgmental way...but rather one of kinship. She Ďfeltí very familiar. Something was sitting just out of Lizís reach. Finally, Liz ended relating the events. Ruth sat for a few moments, collecting her thoughts and formulating her questions.

She began to condense the two hours. "The one thing we need to find is the core energy of this event. I assume that you and Gabrielle had a very intense interaction? It was something that was more than just sex? "

She felt a redness wash over her face. "Oh, it was definitely something other than just sex. I actually became her for an instant. I felt what she felt...I knew what she knew. It was life altering. And I...uh... God, this is really hard to express. She reached for the glass and drained it. "I still feel connected to her in a very real concrete way. This is going to sound silly...but Iím having a hard time getting over her. " I looked Ruth in the eye. "Am I crazy?"

She reached over and took her hand. "No, youíre not crazy. You are, however, caught in a very interesting bend of time." She rose, went to the bookshelf, and searched the volumes. Without turning around, she continued. "Tell me about the dream."

Liz swallowed hard. This would be unpleasant. "They started about two months ago. At first, I couldnít remember much of them...just shadows in the morning. I didnít even have them every night. At least, not at first. They gradually became more frequent and I was able to retain the memory well after waking. I didnít think too much of it until I started being an active participant."

She had returned to her chair with several thick books. "What do you mean by Ďactiveí?"

"Well, at first, I was just able to see. You know like looking in a window. It was surreal and I felt very detached. I could see Gabrielle but I couldnít hear her or touch her. Over the last month, I am in that place with her. I feel the coldness, smell the foulness of the air, hear her cries for help. I want to go to her but canít move. I am helpless and have an anxiety sitting in my gut. I have a feeling of impending doom. I have a sense that if I could just get to her, everything would be all right."

Ruth begins scanning some of the material in her lap. "Has anything different started happening...or is it basically the same night after night?"

"Yes, something is different. Last night I saw Xena there. Gabrielle was pleading for her to save her. She said that she couldnít. And then I took her place before Gabrielle. I tried to reach down for her but couldnít. I watched her fall away from me into the blackness...screaming. I woke up shaking and drenched in sweat. I had this incredible sense of loss and despair. " She was shaking just recalling this series of events. Liz looked to Ruth for an answer. "Do you know whatís happening to me and Gabrielle?"

"I may have an idea. You said that the two of you exchanged necklaces before you came back. Do you have it with you?"

She reached for the crystal and held it guardedly in her hand. It hadnít been off her person, save once, since sheíd been home. "Yes, I have it with me."

"Do you mind if I hold it? Itís important. Please." She was asking permission to touch something very personal to her. Liz lifted the crystal over her head and handed it to the seer. Ruth reverently held the piece and closed her eyes. Liz would swear a faint glow surrounded her. She sat quietly for perhaps twenty minutes. Liz was curious, but remained quiet. Slowly she opened her eyes, drew a deep breath and returned the stone to her protective grasp.

Ruth looked her in the eyes. "Liz, I want you to listen to me. This has very serious consequences for Gabrielle and you. The reason you still feel connected is because you are...through time. The energy exchange the two of you had is definitely concentrated in these necklaces. But there are other things at work here. First, it was absolutely irresponsible for Aphrodite to drag you back and forth through time. That act alone has serious cosmic implications."

Liz was surprised. "You sound like you know Aphrodite."

"Suffice it to say my family has dealt with her on occasion." She continued with the bad news. "Second, you and Gabrielle unknowingly committed a huge cosmic no-no. Each of you possesses something that doesnít belong in each otherís existence." She paused to allow her to put the puzzle together.

Liz held the crystal before her eyes. " Oh, God, this doesnít belong in this dimension. I never thought about it before."

"What has happened is a small tear in the fabric of time. Think of it like this. You remember as kids playing telephone with a string and two paper cups? Well, the stones are the cups and the tear is the string. The two of you are literally tied together. And communicating in your dreams. It is the path of least resistance."

"If we are tied by our passion, why are the dreams so sinister and dark. I donít understand." She was genuinely confused.

"When I held your crystal, I had a brief connection with Gabrielle. Her growing inability to resolve this conflict is fueling the dream. She is suffering tremendous guilt. She will not be able to proceed with her life until this is resolved. And it cannot be resolved as long as the connection is there. It presents quite a little conundrum. Liz, she is in deep trouble. I can feel the emotional and physical drain she is under. It is beginning to literally tear her apart. This will eventually destroy her and those around her. Pardon the pun, but you are running out of time. The longer the tear stays open, more unstable it becomes. It has to be closed properly for both your sakes, but mostly for Gabrielle. She is very close to losing everything. You have to do this."

"What do you mean by Ďproperlyí? Is there a right and wrong way to do this?" She was assuming of course that this was a real solution.

Ruth was very serious in her tone. "Oh, yes, definitely. You see the universe is always seeking balance. It is a very basic law of physics. This rend in time is inconsistent with that balance. I can assure you it will close one way or another."

"Well, if this is true, why canít I just wait for it to happen naturally?" Somehow using the word Ďnaturalí in this situation seemed ludicrous. She had a look of amusement on her face.

"That would be simple, wouldnít it? Iím afraid it doesnít work that way. To allow the tear to close improperly wonít help Gabrielle. In fact, it will spell certain disaster for her. No, it has to be done the right way. You have to go back and release her."

Surely this woman had lost a grip on reality. Liz didnít want to hurt her feelings, but had little recourse. "Ok, letís assume that I could go back. I donít know if youíve noticed but there are no Ďtime travelí agencies listed in the yellow pages. Believe me, Iíve looked. Iíve even tried to conjure up Aphrodite again. It ainít working! " Her voice was beginning to elevate.

Ruth smiled and her eyes danced at her confusion. "Well, fortunately we wonít have to depend on any god or goddess. We can do this the old fashioned way.."

Liz interrupted her solution. " Oh, you mean you actually have a time machine then?"

Ruth could hardly suppress a chuckle. " No, we have something more reliable than that. The theory of relativity."

She wished she had paid more attention to her college physics class. The hours of studying the back of her eyelids were about to come full circle to bite her. "Youíre talking about Einsteinís theory, right?" The minute she said it, she thought, ĎYeah, like there are so many theories of relativity floating out thereí.

"Exactly...well...almost exactly. More specifically, a paper he wrote with Nathan Rosen." She was thumbing through one of the books in her lap. "Ah, here it is." She continued the class. "They showed that general relativity allowed for Ďbridgesí...or what we call wormholes."

Liz raised an eyebrow suspiciously. "Uh-huh, sure, wormholes. Like DS9 wormholes perhaps?" Liz suspected Ruth wouldnít catch this analogy.

"No, I believe that particular wormhole is stable. The ones Einstein theorized arenít." She had called her bluff. "The problem with the Ďeventí in this reality is they are very unstable. Existing for fractions of seconds before splitting into two singularities. But while they are connected, it is possible to transcend time and distance." As an afterthought, she said, "Theoretically, speaking."

"So, where does one find a wormhole...theoretically speaking? I donít think I have the resources to travel the galaxy in search of one...if you get my drift. This is impossible."

Ruth had probably heard the word Ďimpossibleí from every client she had. One more hardly mattered. "You forget that you have one half of the key around your neck. The other, itís mate, is with Gabrielle. Itís just a matter of getting them close enough."

Liz was pathetically inept in following this. "How is this possible? We arenít even in the same part of the world...never mind a serious discrepancy in time."

"Liz, you have to stop thinking one dimensionally. There is no difference in the past, present and future. They all exist in the same space. Believe me, this is possible. You just have to decide if you want to do it."

She had put the ball in her court. Liz had one last question. "What happens to me and Gabrielle if I donít do this?"

"Well, youíll probably will be ok. You see we live in a time where neurosis is a fact of life. We donít know any better. We can fill our waking lives with so much clutter that the truth lies buried. What surfaces in our dreams, we dismiss. Sadly, we are disconnected from all we could be. Gabrielle will not be so lucky. She will eventually fall into that blackness that you have been seeing. There will be no escape for her."

She sat quietly thinking. No snappy repartee flowing from her lips. Liz remembered the beauty of her soul and the healing that had occurred in her life. Looking Ruth in the eyes, her answer was short and direct. "I have to go. Tell me how to do this."

"Good, I knew you were an honorable woman, Liz." The phrase had a vaguely familiar ring. She proceeded to explain the mechanics involved. "This wonít be as hard as you imagine. All you have to do is go to a place where you and Gabrielle shared your most intense experience. You will be on one side of the wormhole and she will be on the other. Once your energies are close enough, the Ďeventí will open."

"Let me get this straight. I have to travel to a place, in this time that correlates to a place in Gabrielleís time. It canít be just any ole place, but the site of our greatest connection. Oh, and somehow I have to make sure she knows Iím coming so she will be on the otherside. All of this has to occur in the span of a nanosecond. Whew!! For a minute I thought this was going to be hard! HELLOOO...anybody home? Even if I can find a location, how will I tell her to be there?"

Ruth was a very patient woman. "Liz, youíve been seeing her for the last two months. Use the dream to talk to her. "

Liz nodded her head. "Right, I can use the dream."

It was Ruthís time to quiz her. "Iím assuming you will seek out Daedalius?"

For the first time, Liz actually had an idea of what to do. "Yes, that is the place. And I know who can help me find it." An excitement was building in the pit of her stomach.

The elation was short-lived as Ruth gave her a somber warning. "Liz, you must know that there is a possibility that you will be trapped in her dimension. I wish I could promise otherwise, but I canít."

"Well, itís not like I thought it would be foolproof. But if Iím unable to come back wonít that cause an even larger paradox?"

"Hmmm...it has the chance of doing that. Life is interesting, isnít it? There is a possibility that once you resolve the rend you will simply be returned. I donít really know. A word of caution though. Be very careful in what you do...try not to leave anything behind that doesnít belong there. Oh, and no shopping this time." Her smile was a welcome relief from the seriousness of this conversation.

She was totally drained and was glad Roger insisted on driving her. Liz gave him a call and waited in silence for him to honk outside. As she made her way to the door, Ruth gave her a huge hug. Quietly, she whispered in her ear. "I will see you later, traveler." If she hadnít been so tired, she might have caught her meaning.


Liz settled into the seat next to Roger. He couldnít stand the suspense. "Well...what happened?"

She was lost in her thoughts, turning Ruthís card, over and over in her hand. Fingers being snapped in front of her face interrupted her musings.

"Earth to Liz, come in Liz, over." Roger was attempting to draw her into the conversation.

"Oh, hon, Iím sorry. It was pretty amazing. I have a lot to do over the next few days." Mentally, she began making a list.

"Do? Do for what? Címon, tell me whatís going on." He hated being uninformed.

"Well, the condensed version is this. I have to go back to Gabrielle and seal a tear in time. Gee...I wonder what I should wear?" She let the words float in the cockpit of the car.

Roger was amazingly calm. " GET OUT!!! Really? Oh, this is FAB-BU-LOUS!! And honey, Iíd take something drip/dry. When do we leave?"

"We? Roger, there is no WE...itís me. But there is something you have to do for me. Itís important." The tone of her voice took on a serious note.

"Anything you need, you know that. " He reached over and squeezed her hand.

They were near her building. She had much to attend to and couldnít wait to get started. Roger pulled into the garage and let her out. Liz was curious about something and posed the question. Looking at the card, she spoke. "Roger, what does the M in Ruthís name stand for?"

"Oh, itís an old family name. I asked her about that once. Apparently passed down for generations. I believe itís...Moria...you know the Greek personification of FATE." For further clarification, he added, "Not one of the fates...but F-A-T-E itself, a mysterious tremendous power. Stronger even than the gods...or so she told me." He was in the process of pulling out of the garage. "Liz, get some rest and call me tomorrow. Weíll talk. I love yaí, hon."

With that, he eased the car out and into the street. She stood trying to absorb the information and let out an imitation of the Twilight Zone theme. "Doo-do-do-doo... No wonder she Ďfeltí familiar." As she entered the elevator, Liz was crooning. "You say Amoria...I say just Moria...you say tomato...I say tomah-toe... letís call the whole thing off." You could hear the echoing of her terrible rendition as the elevator ascended.


Chapters 7 - 9