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Disclaimer: The characters of Xena, Gabrielle, Ephiny,Solari, Janice Covington and Melinda Pappas are the property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. This is just a work of fan-fiction and not intended to infringe on the copyright of the "Xena Warrior Princess" TV show. All other characters in this story are mine.

Violence: Yep! There is some. But nothing that wouldn't be seen in the TV show.

Love/Sex Warning: This story depicts a love/sexual relationship between two women.
If this bothers you, don't read it. If you are under 18 years of age or live in a state or country where a story like this is illegal, please don't read it. There are many stories out there for you to read.

Authors note: This is my first attempt at writing fan-fiction. I want to thank my daughter Susan for her help. I probably never would have had the courage to attempt this without her. When I started to write this I never thought it would be such a long story. But it is finally finished. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it. Any, and all constructive criticism is welcome. Just don't be hurtful. I'm sensitive! I can be reached at :

Adventure of a Lifetime
September, 1999

Chapter One

Irene Stevens was ecstatic! What good fortune to have been chosen to go on this dig. Of course, it didn't hurt the fact that her professor was her next door neighbor and closest friend. She was going to Greece! Greece! When she started college two years ago she never in her wildest dreams thought she would actually get anywhere with her studies let alone be picked for this expedition to find some of the Xena Scrolls written by the bard Gabrielle. Some were found by the two outstanding archeologists of the 40's Drs. Janice Covington and Melinda Pappas. No one else has found anything since then.

Irene thought back to the events in her life that lead to this day. "Jeez! I never would've dreamt I'd be even going to school let alone this adventure of a lifetime!"

Irene had been married at a very young age and had started a family right away. She loved her husband, and he was devoted to her and their two children Bill and Nicole. Unfortunately this happiness was not to last. Alex died of a heart attack and left Irene to raise the kids and run the family building business by herself. The business flourished. It seems she was quite the business woman and did very well for herself and the children. As they grew up Bill and Nicole assumed more of the responsibilities of running the business and when Bill and Nicole had finished college Irene turned the business over to them. She told them she wanted to go back to school and do something entirely for herself. She had a lot of things to do. She was 50 years old now and she still looked beautiful. She was of average height. Her red-blond hair didn't have a streak of gray and her green eyes sparkled with the colors of a rainbow.

The kids were very supportive about her going back to school so she was very surprised when they reacted the way they did about her going on the dig.

''Mom, How can you go traipsing off to the other side of the world? You could get hurt or worse!" Nicole said with a shaky voice. Bill stood there and shook his head in agreement. "Mom is this so important to you that you would just leave us?" 'So that's it ! They'll miss me. They've never known me to be anywhere but here for them'. "Look, I'll miss you guys, but you have your own lives to live. Now it's my turn. I want to experience everything life can throw at me. I want to be an archeologist and travel and explore and write about it. That doesn't mean I've stopped loving you or being there for you. I'll have my cell phone and you can reach me anytime you need to speak to me. We'll be contact with each other I promise. But you have to understand I need this." With that Bill and Nicole came over to her and gave her that great big hug of theirs. "Sorry mom. We didn't understand. It's just that we'll miss you sooo much. We were being selfish and thinking of ourselves and not you. Can you forgive us." Bill said. Boy did she love these two. Irene looked at them and said, "Nothing to forgive. I love you both."

Professor Leslie Powers had moved into a nice sized ranch house next door to Irene about four years ago and on that first day Irene went to greet her new neighbor. Little did she know that she would become best of friends with Leslie and that her life would be changed forever. It was very easy for Irene and Leslie to talk to one another. Almost like they knew each other forever.

They had much in common. Both women loved to ride horses, and spent many afternoons riding together. They both like archery and were quite good at it. Leslie also did some fencing, but Irene was rather intimidated by the blade so she was content to watch as Leslie made quick work of her opponents. It's hard to fence with your eyes closed. Both were about the same age, and both looked younger than their years. Leslie was the taller of the two. She had raven colored hair and deep shimmering blue eyes. She opened up a whole new world to Irene. Tales of her adventures on her many digs abroad. About teaching at the college. It was Leslie that had convinced Irene to take some courses at the college. Leslie knew Irene had a brilliant mind and could do anything she set her mind to. All she needed was encouragement and some confidence in herself. The confidence would come when she realized that maybe she too could be an archeologist. Leslie was pleasantly surprised to find how proficient Irene had become with ancient Greek syntax.

This dig was a dream come true for Leslie. She ran her hand through her shoulder length raven hair. When she dreamed her dreams her blue eyes sparkled with excitement.

She had been moving towards this day since she went to a seminar so long ago. When she heard Dr Covington & Melinda Pappas speak with so much passion about the scrolls. She was hooked, line and sinker. She got every book and paper she could lay her hands on concerning the scrolls. The doctors had published a book with all the stories that were on the scrolls. Irene was determined to continue their work and find more scrolls and any artifacts she could. She felt a connection to Xena & Gabrielle somehow. But that was foolishness! Or was it? By this time next week they would be on their way. Soon they would go by plane and arrive in Athens. From there they would head towards Amphipolis by car and meet up with the rest of the crew.

Leslie was anxious to start this new adventure. There was a temple that had been discovered near the ruins believed to be Amphipolis. Only half of the temple had been uncovered before the first group of archeologists ran out of money and had to leave without any information about this very large building. 'Lucky for us . Now it's our turn.' thought Leslie. When Leslie heard about this she immediately set about the task of raising the substantial amount of funds needed to finish the job. It took her two years to raise the money, but with the help of the archeology department at the college and the Covington-Pappas Foundation she was able to get the funding. Leslie told Irene she had a gut feeling that something extraordinary was there waiting to be discovered. She couldn't explain how she knew. She just did. And Irene knew that when Les got those premonitions to just go with it, because she was usually right.

Irene awoke with a start. 'Damn ! Again! That damn dream. What the hell was that? ' Her language was very colorful at times. She's had the same dream every day for the past week! She sees two women sitting by a campfire. One with long dark hair sharpening a sword with some kind of stone and the other one with blond hair writing on what looks like one of those scrolls. Suddenly they turn and see her and that's when the dream ends. She couldn't understand why she felt so uneasy... She would find out soon enough.

Irene had asked Leslie to come over and see if she had packed the appropriate clothing for their journey. When Leslie saw the three suitcases laden with clothes she nearly fell over laughing. Irene was a little miffed by this response.

"What's so funny? We're going to be away for months. We'll need a lot of clothes!"

"Re, we're goin' on a dig not a vacation! You don't need all that stuff. We're going to be living in a tent not a hotel with room service. You just need the basics hon." 'Did I just say hon? Stop that! ' ' she thought. " Here let me help."

After an hour they had whittled down the things Irene needed to take with her. Mostly jeans and cotton pants and tops. good pair of work boots and sneakers, underwear and toiletries. It all fit into a small suitcase and she would need to take a backpack as well. Lesley knew from experience, that the backpack was more important than any of the other stuff. It had come in handy many times. You could carry all kinds of goodies in it. Although Irene had picked some things that Lesley would never think of putting in the backpack it really wasn't a bad idea. She put the basics in first: first aid kit, flashlight, extra batteries, 2 walky talkies with extra batteries (When Lesley asked her why the walky talkies, "You never know when you might need them", Irene said) diary, a small laptop computer, a sewing kit, and a red Swiss army knife. The thing that impressed Lesley the most was the very large Bowie knife in a leather sheath that Irene tossed in. "You think that knife is big enough?" For a minute Irene thought about it and then realized Lesley was kidding. Both women laughed.

"Are ya sure that'll be enough Les?"

"Sure am. Just like camping Re. Just like camping. "

No one else ever called her Re. It felt right when Les said it so she never corrected her. Irene kind of liked it coming from her. Sometimes she felt a closeness to Les that made her uncomfortable and she buried that feeling as quickly as she had felt it. 'She's my best friend for Gods sake! That's all.'

After the pain of packing and then having to leave most of the stuff behind, thanks to Leslie, the two women sat down at the kitchen table and were having a cup of tea and discussing travel plans and their upcoming adventure.

"I must be more excited about our trip than I know, because I've been having the same dream every night this week. Les, it's kind of unsettling though."

"What's the dream about Re?"

After Irene had told her of the dream, Leslie just sat there with a look of shock on her face.

"What? What's wrong? You have this strange look on you face."

After a few seconds Lesley got a hold of herself and answered her friend's question. "I'll tell you what's strange Re. I had the very same dream...Every night this week!"

Almost at the same time both women said...."Oh my."

Well, this was the big day. They were on their way. The plane would be taking off soon and Irene hadn't even thought about her little problem yet. Irene had asked Lesley if it was OK if she sat on an aisle seat and Lesley hadn't really cared if she had a window or aisle seat so she said sure.As the plane started down the runway Irene's little problem reared it's ugly head. Yep! Irene had motion sickness. Lesley was talking on and on and looking out the window and didn't see her friends complexion turning the same color as her eyes. When she heard Irene moan, she turned quickly to face her friend. What she saw was her friend sick as a dog and maybe getting ready to throw up. When Irene saw the look of concern and question on Lesley's face, she knew it was time to let her in on her "little problem".

"Uh! Something I forgot to mention...I get sick when I fly." Smiling weakly.

"Why didn't you tell me this before? We could've gone by boat!"

Wouldn't (burp) have mattered. I get sick on boats too. And that would've lasted to long. This was the lesser of the two evils. (burp). I was so happy that you thought I was good enough and believed in my ability to read ancient texts, and to go with you and be apart of this, that I didn't want to screw up or disappoint you." (Burp)

"Re! How could you ever think I would be disappointed in you or not believe in you? Your ability to grasp ancient syntax far surpasses my own. You're good at what you do. You are a valued part of this adventure of ours. You are my dearest friend and now my partner in this. " When she saw the tear role down Re's cheek, Lesley thought her heart would jump out of her chest. Another complication...She knew at that moment what she already knew but couldn't bring herself to admit, she loved her with all her heart.

Leslie reached into her pack and took out a package of Dramamine pills and gave one to Irene. "Here, take this it'll help. Oh! Yeah! Here's a barf bag. Just in case y....She never got the words out. Irene did indeed need it. After Irene had cleaned up. Lesley said: "Put your head on my shoulder and close your eyes and try and sleep." Irene did so eagerly. The pills were taking effect and she felt really drowsy. Leslie had a sort of half smile on her face. What a revelation today turned out to be. However she was not yet ready to make her feelings known. She wanted to keep Irene in her life and if it had to be as a friend so be it. She had no idea that Irene was dreaming. Dreaming about her in a more than friendly way.

The first words out of Irene's mouth as she disembarked the plane was, "Thank you God!" Then came..."How long till we get there?" Both women looked at each other and laughed. Bob had arranged for a jeep to be left at the airport. Her assistant, Bob Masters had gone on ahead several weeks ago to get the site up and running. He was a great asset to have with her on this dig. Bob was a student of Leslie's and had gone on many digs with her. He had gone on and gotten his degree in archeology. Leslie and Bob had a mutual admiration society. They genuinely liked each other. She knew she could depend on him.

After all the luggage was tossed into the jeep they were off and rolling along. Although both women knew they wouldn't get there until nightfall the excitement of the last leg of the journey was at hand and neither of them could contain there excitement.

"Les I'm about ready to burst with excitement! You can't know what a dream come true this is for me, and I owe it all to you. My life has been so dull until now. If you hadn't encouraged me to reach for my dreams then I'd still be home alone. "

"All you needed was a push in the right direction Re. That's all. You did this yourself. "

"Finally! There it is Re. We're here. " As they pulled into camp they could see the Temple. It looked incredible in the moonlight. Both women were awe struck.

" Hey, you two. I thought you gals were never gonna get here. What took you so long? I was gettin' lonely." Bob said as he was giving Leslie a great big bear hug. "Hi Irene glad to see ya."

Bob filled Leslie and Irene in on what was happening at the site so far. Things had been progressing faster than he had anticipated. They had cleaned away part of the earth and found that the temple was built up against a hill. Bob also thought there might be something behind one of the walls. It seemed sort of irregular and out of place somehow. They would check it out tomorrow. Some pottery and some kind of sealed clay cylinder was found. He didn't open it because he knew Leslie would want to do that. After having some dinner both women were ready for bed. It had been a grueling trip.

"O.K. Bob, everything sounds like it's under control. Thanks to you." But now I think I need to get some sleep. How 'bout you Re?"

" Yeah. I'm beat. Where's my tent?" Irene looked around. She only saw four tents. One she knew was the work tent.

"I figured you two would share a tent. That's why I got a larger one. You gals are always chatting so I figured you'd want to be together. That's O.K. Isn't it?"

"Sure Bob it's fine. O.K. with you Re?" 'Here ya go. Another complication. This is going to be difficult.' Les thought.

Huh...Fine. O.K. No problem. Irene thought, 'No problem! Yeah right. '

After they put their things away it was time to get into their nightclothes. Both women slept in long t-shirts. Lesley saw Irene hesitate to remove her clothes, so she turned around to give her friend some privacy. "Listen Re, I'm sorry about you not having your own tent. If I'd have known I would have corrected the situation. But hey, look on the bright side we can talk about the day and rehash everything we discover or just BS if that's what you want. Or..." she realized she was babbling on.

"Les it's OK. No problem really. I'm fine with this." 'Fine my ass! Look at her...she's gorgeous.' . "" Boy, I sure am tired. I think I'll just turn in now. 'Night. Can't wait to tackle that wall tomorrow. "

"Me too. Sleep well Re. See ya in the morning. " 'This is ridiculous! I have never felt this way about a woman. I'm not attracted to women!!! I will not let myself feel so uncomfortable around my best friend. We're working here. My feelings will just have to go away. I'm not jeopardizing our friendship. And that's it.' She was furious at herself.

Chapter Two

Xena and Gabrielle were traveling on the road that would lead them to Amphipolis. They had had a rough few months and decided that it would be a good idea to return home to rest and see Cyrene and Toris. A nice soft bed seemed like a good idea to both of them. Xena riding Argo and the bard walking as usual. Although the bard was unusually quite this day. "Dinar for your thoughts Gabrielle.

"Oh! It's nothing. I just... haven't been getting much sleep."

Seeing her companion's shoulders droop, Xena felt it was time for her to ride Argo. Besides she loved feeling her next to her. "Come on give me your arm. Time for you to ride my bard. We don't want you getting sick. Not when you will soon be able to eat moms nut bread." Xena smiled. With that Gabrielle offered her arm and was up on Argo safely against her warriors back loving the comfort and pleasure she felt whenever she was close to Xena.

"I love you, my warrior."

" I love you to, my bard."

They rode for another two candlemarks and than Xena decided it would soon be dark and this would be a good place to camp. They were near a stream and the ground was soft and grassy. Soon they fell into their rhythm of setting up camp. Gabrielle went about her tasks of making the fire and starting some water boiling for tea to have with their evening meal. There was some dried meat and some fresh vegetables left to make a stew with. The stew was good as always. Gabrielle was a good cook, thank the Gods. Because Xena made everything taste burnt. Even water. They laughed many times about this. After dinner they set about their nightly routine. Xena, sharpening her sword with her whet stone and Gabrielle writing her stories on her scrolls. This night though, Gabrielle's mind wasn't on the stories. It was on the dream...

"Xena, I keep having this same dream over and over, and it's making me very uneasy. And I don't know why. "

Hearing Gabrielle sound so distressed made Xena come to her side and hold her in her arms. "Tell me what this dream is about?"

"Well...we are at our campsite doing exactly what we are doing now and all of a sudden two women, in the oddest clothes, come out of a cave and just look at us with a look of amazement on there faces. That's when I wake up and I have this feeling I have to help them in some way although I'm not sure how. And the thing that really has me confused is that I feel that in some way they are connected to us."

Xena sat for a moment holding on to her love before she spoke. Finally she told Gabrielle that she had had a similar dream. She too felt some kind of connection with these two. The two lovers sat by the fire with there arms around each other thinking.

"Xena the cave in my dream looked vaguely familiar to me. Like I'd seen it before." She described the cave and even before she had finished, Xena was very excitedly telling her..."Gabrielle! You have seen that cave! It's that large cave outside of Amphipolis!"

"We have to get to that cave. I don't know why, but I know we must", Gabrielle said very softly.

Chapter Three

"Hey, wake up Re. Times a wastin'. Breakfast is almost ready. I'll meet you at the food tent. Rise and shine Re. Rise and shine." And out the tent she went. "ohhhgh...How can anyone be that happy and energetic this early in the morning. Rise and shine! My ass. I'll rise, but I refuse to shine. At least not till I get a cup of coffee! "

"Coffee, I need coffee as she poured herself a cup. Oh! that's good. Good morning Bob, Les. Les I've known you for years, and I had no idea you were so damn happy in the mornings. I figured everyone was a grouch like me. Everyone had a good laugh at Irene's comment. "Sorry Re. Get used to it. I'm like this every morning. "

After breakfast the archeologists got to work on the wall. Leslie was sure there was something behind it. She just didn't know what. She figured it was a room of some sort. The workmen were dismantling the stones very carefully so it was taking a very long time. While Lesley was supervising this effort Irene was looking around the site and suddenly saw something very odd. It looked like a bullet. A very old bullet. "Les come over here. Look at this." Not wanting to pick up this artifact she bent down to inspect it more closely. Yep! It was a bullet!

"What is it Re?"

"Look..." As she pointed down at the object.

"What...What the hell is that? That's a damn bullet. That's impossible... How could it get here. It looked very old. Nah! Some how , some way, someone must have dropped it."

Irene looked at her friend and said... "Yeah, and when do you think that was Les? This place hasn't been uncovered in thousands of years. I'm getting a creepy feeling about this. This is not good."

"Look Irene we are both intelligent women here. There has to be a reasonable explanation for this. Only I... I can't think of one."

Dinner was a quiet affair. Not much conversation because everyone was deep in thought. Bob was thinking that by this time tomorrow they would know what was behind the wall. And Leslie was just too exhausted to even think. Irene's mind was going a mile a minute. She was excited about what they would find tomorrow. She doubted she'd sleep at all tonight.

When Lesley and Irene were getting ready for bed Leslie looked at her friend and told her she had a very strong feeling that they were on to something. Something special was behind that wall and they were going to find it. Irene looked at Leslie and with a smile just said..."As long as we don't find anymore bullets." They looked at each other for a minute and laughed, rather nervously, at that prospect. Then Leslie said very seriously, "Whatever we find, I'm glad we will find it together. Good night Re. See ya in the morning."

"Yeah me too. Night Les." and turned off the lantern. Happily Irene fell right to sleep. As if that were ever in any doubt.

This morning Leslie didn't have to wake Irene up. She had had her morning coffee and was raring to go. Both women took their backpacks with them and off they went to the site of the temple. What they saw amazed them. This was not a doorway to another room, as they had assumed, It was an entrance to a cave. A rather large cave. When the three of them went in, they discovered that the cave was rather large and had many natural rooms. They would have to explore these rooms one by one making sure not to get lost in the maze of rooms that made up the cave. Lucky for them Bob thought of everything. He had bought spray paint that glowed in the dark so they could mark there way in and out of the tunnels and rooms if their light source went out. They could easily get lost in there. The women found signs of a fire pit and some animal bones near the pit in the great room at the front of the cave entrance, but nothing in the farther reaches of the cave. That is, until they found a small room with some kind of altar in it. They were awe struck when they saw what was on the altar. There on the altar was a bejeweled golden talisman with a very large red crystal embedded in the center of it. The most beautiful the three of them had ever seen. There was an inscription on it. And next to the talisman, lay a scroll.

"Bob take some pictures of the talisman" Lesley ordered.

"Oh! Damn! I forgot the camera. I'll be right back. Don't start without me" he joked and was off running to get the camera.

"Irene can you make out what the inscription says on the talisman?" Leslie asked.

"Hmmm. Let me see... It says: Embedded in this talisman is the Stone of Ages. Beware or be wary of its powers." "Les, lets read the scroll. It might give a clue as to it origins."

"Sounds like a plan, Re. Be careful when you unroll it. It's been rolled up for thousands of years." Irene went about taking her time with the scroll and Leslie turned to examine the talisman. She just couldn't believe the beauty of the thing. She felt the need to touch and caress it. As she did so, she could feel a power she could not explain. As she moved her hand over the stone she immediately had a vision of walking towards a town...

Irene looked over to where Leslie was working and noticed her friend had an odd look on her face. "Les...Les... What's the matter? Hey get a grip!" Irene grabbed her hand and it fell away from the stone. She suddenly realized where she was again, but felt weak in the knees. "Are you OK?" asked Irene.

"Oh my God! I think I had a vision or a very real daydream! Whoa!!!. Re... I really don't think it was a daydream."

"Here take a drink of water." and handed her the canteen from the backpack. "Now tell me! What happened to you?"

"All I know is it felt very real. I was walking down a road to a town. Then you grabbed my hand, and here I am. Dumbfounded!!" Lesley said.

Irene had a scowl on her face as she said: "I don't feel good about this. I think we should read the scroll before you go ahead and touch that thing again."

"I think you're right. Go ahead, read it." Leslie said. "Here goes! It's a combination of ancient syntax but I think I can translate it. "Hmmm! Ya know, this is going to be harder than I thought. It seems to be like a poem only seems... I'm not sure. Les, hand me my laptop computer. It's in my backpack. Now's my chance to use that new program I wrote to help me translate these ancient texts."

"Here you go. I hope it work's." Les said.

"Me too. Oh. Hi Bob. Bought time you got back. Whaddya do? Stop for lunch?" Irene said, with a grin on her face.

"Don't I wish! Damn film was not where it was supposed to be. I had to look through three boxes before I found it. What a waste of time man."

Lesley was standing by the altar. "Come over here Bob and start shooting some pictures of this fantastic looking artifact. Have ya ever seen anything so beautiful? It's hard not to want to touch it all the time." Bob did as Leslie requested, and was happily snapping pictures. After Bob had finished his chore he took the camera back to the camp to develop the photo's. But knowing Bob, he was probably hungry and wanted to get something to eat first. Lesley looked after Bob as his figure faded into the darkness. Then she turned her attention back to Irene...

"So. Irene. How's the translation coming?" For the umteenth time! Lesley was getting impatient. She wanted to find out what was on that scroll. Patience was not one of her virtues.

Irene looked up from the laptop with an annoyed look on her face. "The translation would be coming along much faster if I didn't have to stop every few minutes to answer you. I'm doing my best. It would take a lot longer if I didn't have my computer! I'm almost done! Please let me finish."

"OK, OK! I'm sorry. It's just that I'm so excited about this find. That thing is priceless! Maybe that scroll can tell us who and why it was put so deep into this place. My God the theories are endless!!!" said Lesley excitedly. Some time later...

"Finished! Whew! It took Irene almost two hours to translate the text, but with the help of her laptop she finished and showed it to Lesley.

Follow this path only those of the right line
For great Adventure will be thine
Of the Warrior and the Bard descendants you be
One touch of the stone to enable you to see
Together caress its surface and you will feel
That moment in time is very real
Beware, the risk is great
But much rests in our futures fate

"Huh! What the fuck is that supposed to mean?"

"Gee Les, I never heard you use that word before. I thought I was the one with the colorful language." Irene smirked. "Look Les. I think it's a warning, of some kind, to anyone who finds it. I also think it is about time travel. That is, of course, if you believe that baloney in the first place. Which I don't. It's just to scare people from taking it. That's all."

Lesley just stood there and looked incredulously at Irene and said: "What!? What is that? A Captain Kirk Quantum leap kind of thing you just came up with? You got all that information from the scroll?"

"Excuse me! You don't have to get all huffy because you can't understand the scroll. That's my theory of what the scroll means. I think... Do you have any other ideas?"

"No. No I don't. Look, I'm sorry I was so sarcastic. Really. This talisman has me a little shook up and I don't know why."

"It's O.K. Don't do it again." She smiled at Lesley and winked. Lesley's heart skipped a beat.

"Come on Re, let's get back to work. Come here and take another look at the inscription on the talisman again. Isn't this the most beautiful piece you've ever seen? Look at the intricate workmanship. The way the red crystal is placed in the talisman." "It is lovely. I've never seen anything like it."

Both women touched the red crystal at the same time. As they do the hair on their arms suddenly stands up and each of them feel a tingling sensation through their bodies and then the lanterns flicker and go out. "Shit!! What happened to the lights? How are we gonna get out of here?" "Calm down Re. The lanterns must have run out of propane. It's O.K. You're forgetting the iridescent paint Bob sprayed on the walls of the cave. All we have to do is follow the lines out..." In the darkness the two women held hands as they turned around to look for the painted arrows on the cave walls to show them the way out. All they were greeted with was nothing but darkness.

"Les...Les... Where the hell are the damn arrows? We're never gonna find our way out of this cave!"

"Yes we will. I promise you we will. I've never let you down yet have I. And I'm not going to now. Just trust me Re." With that Lesley remembered she had a penlight in her pocket and pulled it out . "This will help us find our packs and flashlights. I Think it's on to the left of the altar. Yeah! There they are. Get the flashlight on and we're half way there." Picking up the packs, Lesley told Irene to put the talisman and scroll in her pack.

"What the hell!! The talisman... the scroll... They're not here! They disappeared!!!" Irene yelled.

"What do you mean they disappeared?! How could they disappear? They're right ... there! Ohh! Damn! Don't panic... they must have fallen on the floor. Yeah that's it. Look around for God's sake. It's gotta be here. "

"Helloooo! Not here... nothing... nada... Zilch... We are never gonna make it out". By now Les could hear the panic rising in Irene's voice.

Leslie said: "Come on, let's get out of here."

"Are you sure we can make it Les? I'm really frightened of being lost in here."

"Don't worry Re. I have many skills. One of them is a good sense of direction, and I'll get us out of here."

"Alright... I trust you. Let's go for it. Lead on my friend. Let's get the hell out of here..."

After maybe two or three hours of many wrong turns and stumbling in the darkness. They emerged from the cave and gave a sigh of relief. "We made it Les!" Both women hugged each other. They were so happy to be out of the cave. By this time the sun was setting and it was starting to get dark. They were elated. Elated that is, until they noticed the site was gone. Everything and everyone was Gone !!! "Holy shit! What the hell is going on here?!?" shouted Leslie. " Oh No! The Stone!! " It really happened. Oh my God! Well Re, I guess your little theory was wrong , huh." Shouted Leslie.

Irene looked from left to right and left again. The look on Irene's face was that of sheer panic. By this time Irene was crying and apologizing at the same time. "Oh Leslie! I'm SO sorry! I never thought any of that stuff on the scroll was for real... How could this happen?!? This is all my fault." Irene sank down to her knees and continued to cry.

Leslie sat down next to Irene and tried to calm her friend. Fat chance of that, because she was having problems calming herself at the moment. 'Think! Think! Have to focus on the problem at hand. '

"Wait a minute!!! That's it! Of course!" Lesley swung her arms out in a wide ark. "Re! Look at the terrain of the area. It doesn't even look the same... We must've come out a different cave opening!!! We probably got so lost in there that we ended up here. Wherever here is?!? That's gotta be it Re. We just came out the wrong side."

"You really think so??" asked Irene as she was still sobbing.

"Yeah! I do. Look, the light is fading and we wont be able to find our way in the dark. So, we'll have to stay here until morning. It's not to cool out so we don't have to worry about that, and we have two canteens of water, so that's OK. We just might get a little hungry is all. And we can either sleep by the cave opening or out here. We'll be fine."

"We won't get hungry, Les." Irene goes into her backpack and pulls out two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! Leslie looked at Irene in amazement. "Why!?"

"You never know when you might need it." . "But I think we should save it for breakfast." Irene said. All Lesley could do was shake her head in agreement.

For some time both women had just been sitting there perusing their surroundings. When all of a sudden they spotted what seemed to be the flickering light of a campfire.

Irene said it first: "Maybe we should take a look and find out if, whoever is out there can help us find our way back to the site. It would be better than waiting here until dawn. They might be gone by then."

"I agree. Let's go. But first let me check something out that's in my backpack." said Leslie. With that she pulls out a revolver and a box of bullets from her pack. She starts to load the revolver...

"What is this?!? I didn't know you had a gun!!"

Leslie looked up, and as she did so a lone bullet fell to the ground unnoticed by the two women. "Well Re, Ya never know when ya might need it."

"Ok, Ok, I get it" said Irene. Both women had a good laugh and then started out towards the flickering light.

Chapter Four

'I don't know what it is, but I just can't seem to tire of watching her practice every morning. She is so graceful and fluid in her movement. It's mesmerizing. I know she is watching me watching her but I can't help it. The way she spins, dips and lunges are truly poetry in motion. thought Xena. It's almost as if the bard in her is always present. The way she twirls her staff; tells a story all it's own.'

Xena continued to watch Gabrielle as she continued her morning exercise. She was amazed at the level of control that Gabrielle displayed with this weapon. An Amazon War Staff could easily kill a person, but it takes true skill and dexterity to wield this weapon and spare a life in a combat situation. 'Yet my bard seems to do that all the time. Truly amazing.'

Xena notices a change in the Bard's routine, and knows that Gabrielle is starting her cool down exercises. Xena still watches mesmerized by her partner.

Gabrielle turns and smiles at her Warrior. As green eyes lock with blue; both can feel the warmth they share. Xena stands as Gabrielle returns to camp.

"Hey, you're up awfully early. Sleep on a rock or something?" asks the Warrior.

"Well my warrior pillow was a little bit lumpy last night. I would have been more comfortable if you had taken off the breastplate last night." said Gabrielle, with a grin.

"Pillow! Now I'm a pillow! I hope your highness will be happy to know that tonight we will be sleeping somewhere other than the ground, and in your case, somewhere other than me." growls Xena. Try as she might she could not keep that sparkle of amusement out of her eyes.

"Oooo" said Gabrielle, Does that mean it's my turn to play pillow?"

Xena reaches for Gabrielle and pulls her close. She whispers, "Maybe." into the bards ear.

Gabrielle locks her knees and thinks, 'Gods, I don't know if it's the workout or that one whispered word, but if she lets go now she'll need to pick me up off the floor.'

Gabrielle smiles and asks, "Where are we spending the night?"

"At Mom's inn. I figure if we push it, we can be there by early evening."

Gabrielle leans in and lightly brushes Xena's lips with her own. "I can't wait."

Xena says, "Then we had better get camp packed up and head out."

Xena tries to move away from Gabrielle but realizes that she has no intentions of letting her go. Xena says, "Um, Gabrielle! We've got to get moving if you really want to get there before dinner is served."

"Hmmm, maybe I did not make myself clear." says Gabrielle in a voice deep with desire: "I... Can't... Wait... " In between kisses.

"Mmmmh" says Xena as she gathers Gabrielle more firmly in her arms. "Now I think I understand... You want a late dinner." The grinning warrior says.

"Something like that." the bard says.

Xena thinks, 'Well, what's another hour or two. This is a great spot and I can think of no one better to share it with than my beloved bard.'

'Well we're finally on the road. But, what a great way to start the day. First watching Gabrielle practice with her staff, then some serious cuddle time and now this. Look at her... I swear, the day and the view is just getting better and better. Definitely and advantage to riding rear guard; yep, and what a rear to guard!'

Xena, did you hear what I just said?" asked Gabrielle.

"Um, no. I was too busy guarding your rear. I mean guarding the rear. stammered Xena.

Xena notices a blush starting to make its presence known on the bards neck.

"Oh, um, well..." the bard falls silent.

"Tongue tied, or did my little bard forget how to speak? That could be an occupational hazard you know."

"Well I was wondering, about how far out from Amphipolis are we." asked the bard.

"Well, I had hoped we would make it there tonight, but it will be too late when we arrive so, I think it would be a good idea if we camped near that cave you dreamed about. You said you wanted to see it; and we're not far from it. Besides I'd like another night alone with you. But we would make better time if you rode Argo with me. Come on, we'll get there faster if we ride." With that Xena held out her arm to Gabrielle and pulls her up on Argo.

Gabrielle grabs hold of Xena's arm and is pulled up into the saddle in front of Xena. "Um, Xena, I thought I was going to ride in the back."

"Not this time Gabrielle. Today you're leading and I'm going to wrap my arms around you for a change." Xena wraps her arms around Gabrielle's abdomen. Her fingers start to gently stroke her skin. Xena could hear Gabrielle take a quick breath and heard her whisper... "How many candlemarks can I take this?"

T he Warrior chuckled and stated: "Quite some time if you don't get Argo moving again." As she continued to tease the bard.

Gabrielle groaned and kicked the old warhorse into motion.

Xena and Gabrielle decided that they would camp near the river instead of by the mouth of the cave. It was more convenient to be closer to the river for bathing and fishing. About two candlemarks before sunset they set about making camp. They fell into their familiar pattern around the camp. When everything was as it should be; Xena went up to Gabrielle, and from behind, wrapped her arms around her bard kissing her tenderly on her neck and whispering in her ear of her deep love for her.

Gabrielle turned in Xena's arms to face her and kissed deeply and passionately. "How do you know what I need from you at exactly the right moment?"

"One of my many skills." grinned Xena.

Gabrielle looked up at Xena with an impish grin on her face. "Why don't you show me your many skills right now, my warrior?"

Xena felt a shiver run through her body. "By the Gods, Gabrielle! You have no idea what passion your words invoke in me."

The two women made love to each other as though it was the first time. When they had finished they just lay in each others arms... Until... Gabrielle's stomach rumbled.

"Oookayyy! You boil some water for tea and I'll go catch some fish for dinner. Do we still have that frying pan??? asked Xena, with a grin on her face.

This time it was Gabrielle that raised an eyebrow!

After the evening meal was finished. They each fell into their familiar routine around the fire. Xena sharpened her sword with her whet stone and Gabrielle writing the days events on her scroll. Suddenly Xena jumped to her feet with her sword at the ready. She had heard footsteps coming their way. She motioned to the bard to get her staff. Whoever was heading toward their camp couldn't have been sneaking up on them, because they were making far to much noise.

Chapter Five

Leslie was leading the way; with Irene holding on to Leslie's backpack. The going was a little more difficult for our two adventurers than they had expected, because of the darkness and not knowing where they were going. And Irene's ability to bump into every tree and trip over every log and bolder they encountered. It was apparent, early on that night, that Irene was an accident waiting to happen to herself and anyone else in close proximity. This was driving Leslie crazy as every time Irene stumbled she pulled Leslie down along with her. "Ughhhh! Re! Would you please be more careful!! Must you find every damn tree in this forest?!? You ran a construction company for God's sake!! Ya couldn't have done construction if you were a klutz!" Lesley heard Irene sigh and shined the flashlight on her face and when she saw the look that was there, she loudly said: " You could!"

Sheepishly Irene told Leslie how she could.... "Les I was always banging into things, hitting myself with hammers and the like. Hell, I was on a first name basis with the emergency room nurse. This went on for some time until I figured out what was going on... Why I got so clumsy... This only happens when I get frightened or nervous about things. And Les, right now I'm really frightened."

"Oh Irene, It'll be Ok. You'll see. Ahh, I'm sorry I lost my temper. We're very close to the campfire now. I don't think there is anything for you to bump into." Leslie took Irene's hand in hers and they walked side by side. 'At least if Re trips I can let go! ' she thought with a smile.

As They came into the campsite Leslie and Irene were greeted by a most imposing sight. There stood Xena and Gabrielle just staring at them. "Holy Shit!!" This is the damn dream!" said Irene. All Lesley could do is stare at the Warrior and Bard with her mouth hanging open. The bard just turned to Xena and said: " By the Gods! These are the people in my dream, Xena."

All of a sudden it dawned on Lesley, "Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore!!" she said.

" Shit, Holy Shit! It is true! We're in the past. That was the right cave entrance... Wrong fucking millennium!!! " And as Irene said those words she tripped on a rock...

Chapter Six

The four women sat around the fire. Xena wasn't quite sure what was making Irene and Leslie so upset. She knew they looked different. She had never seen such different looking clothing before and some of the words they used were odd. Although, she did not have too much trouble understanding them. "So. I think it would be a good idea if you told us how you came to be in Greece." demanded Xena.

Both women looked at each other waiting for the other to start the explaination. Irene nodded to Leslie to start.

"Where to start?! Ok, here we go. We're archeologists and we were excavating a site where... Leslie started to say, when Irene interupted her....

"Well she's the archeologist really. I'm just a student of archeology and ancient Greek synta... language that is to say... we found this talisman and scroll inside a hidden room in the large cave back there and that was the start of all our trouble, and..."

"Re! Please, you are rambling. Let me explain."

"Ah! Sorry... Go ahead." said Irene.

"We found a talisman, in a cave behind a temple wall, with the largest and most beautiful red crysral in it. And a warning etched into it. We also found a scroll written in the form of a poem that was a warning to anyone who found it. Sorry for us! We blew it off as nothing more than something to keep people from taking it out of the cave. Boy, were we ever wrong. Well, we both touched the talisman at the same time and we ended up here. I guess it was a one way trip..." her voice trailed off as she put her head in her hands.

"Do you have this talisman and scroll. I want to see them." said Xena. She was not sure she believed them.

"No. We don't. After we touched the stone everything disappeared. But I did manage to save a copy on my computer. Here take a look... said Irene.

Gabrielle was amazed! "What is that!!! Where is the light coming from?"

"Oh this... It's my computer. I never would have been able to translate the scroll without it."

Now Xena was very interested in this thin gray box. It was too close to Gabrielle. "How does it help you? Explain! Now!" she yelled.

"Look! First of all your scaring the hell out of me! Stop being so damn combative... We are not here because we chose to be, damn it, we're here because... because... I don't know why the hell we're here (she said with dismay). And we mean no harm to you or Gabrielle. So, lighten up and give us a break here. In our time we have many wonderful things that make life much easier for us than here in your time. I can only tell you that the computer is one of them. Unfortunately, it will only work for four or five more hours until the battery wears down." Irene closes the computer and shows Xena the battery. "This is what gives the computer... Machine... it's power. This is what makes it work! It's just a tool. Nothing else."

Before Xena could respond, Leslie chimed in and said: "Xena in my time you are a legend! And Gabrielle you are the one responsible for that. Your scrolls recounting Xena's exploits have been discovered and translated into many languages so that our time can know of the deeds that were done for the greater good. The scrolls were found by Janice... "

"Janice & Melinda." said Xena softly. Gabrielle came over to her warrior and put her hand on her arm. "They are our descendants. Xena met them."

"Oh my!" both women said. "How?? How do you know who they are?" Leslie asked.

"Melinda and Janice helped me defeat Aries. He wanted to bring war and distruction to your time. With their help we defeated him."

"They searched the world for your scrolls Gabrielle. Translated them and wrote many article's and books about them. I wanted to be just like them and find more scrolls, but instead I found that talisman and here we are stuck in a place and time we don't belong. What's that saying: Nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live here...." Leslie's voice trailed off as tears ran down her cheeks. Irene went to her side and put an arm around her and turned to look at Xena... "Please! Do you think you can help us get home?"

Xena's response was slow to come, as she pondered the problem at hand. "That's a toughy! I have to think about this. I don't know if I can help, but I promise you both I'll try. I think we should get some sleep and tomorrow we will head on into Amphipolis."

Leslie and Irene were exhausted. One little problem thought Irene. "Uh, Gabrielle... Um, I need to go to the bathroom and...

"What is bathroom?!" asked Gabrielle.

"Um, I mean I have to relieve my self... ya know!" Irene motioned with her hands. "OH!" It finally dawned on Gabrielle what Irene was talking about.

"Overthere." pointing to the bushes.

"Shit! I was afraid of that... No possibility of toilet tissues then either, huh?"

"What is that?" asked Gabrielle.

"Aw shit! What do you use to wipe yourself with?"
Leaves." Gabrielle laughed.

"Leaves..." Irene just groaned and walked into the bushes. Leslie tried to stifle her laugh as did Xena, but the bard just couldn't stop laughing.

Gabrielle had an extra ground blanket and fur covering that she gave to her new friends. Each couple were on either side of the campfire. Leslie and Irene had to share the blankets, but they were so exhausted that they were just glad to be able to fall peacefully and safely asleep. They said good night to each other and drifted off to a deep sleep.

Xena and Gabrielle were lying on their backs looking up at the stars and thinking. " Xena, I can't explain it, but I think that Leslie and Irene are, in some way connected to us. I think they are our descendants. From what I got from that "machine"; only our kin would be able to use the Stone to reach into the past. It doesn't say anything about how they can return, I'm afraid."

"I too feel a connection to the two of them. I kind of liked how Irene stood up to me... They may never get back to their time, though. We don't even know who put that Stone there in the first place, or why... If it was just chance that they were the ones to discover the Stone, or if they were destined to do so. Like I said, my bard, it's a toughy!" The two just looked at each other and with a sigh just snuggled up and kissed goodnight.

Irene was the first to awaken. Partly because she had had a very restless night, and partly because she had to relieve herself. I can't believe this! How did these people survive! 'NO COFFEE... NO TOILET TISSUE... NO NOTHIN'... SHIT! SHIT! SHIT!!! ' She thought to herself as tears rolled down her cheeks. 'But... How can I be so upset about something so insignificant. I must be really shallow. I should be worried about getting us back to our time... It is , after all, my fault we're stuck here in the first place. My smug arrogance that we didn't have a thing to be afraid of from that damned talisman. If only I had...'

"Morning Re. Hey, you Ok? Don't cry..." she says as she wipes the tears away from her cheeks. "We'll get back home. Re... Re... Look at me... It's Ok! We're here with people we can trust and who will help us to get home. And even if we don't they'll help us adapt. We are survivors; you and me. And..."

"Oh God! How can you be so nice to me?!? This is all my fault. I'm so very sorry! I made fun of your concerns about the scrolls message and told you it was baloney! You should punch my lights out instead of wiping my tears away! We're never gonna get out of here, and back to our time... never, never." Her voice trailed off. Irene had never felt such guilt before.

Les pulled her friend into her arms and hugged her. "Listen to me now! It was not your fault!! How could anyone believe that such a thing could happen. No one would or will believe this. I don't believe it; and I'm living it! We will be alright no matter what turn of events occur. You have to trust me on this. We are here together... It would be horrible if we didn't have each other.

"That's the only positive aspect of this whole fantastic mess. Of course, I trust you. And I promise you I will do everything to get us home."

"Come on Re, lets take a bath in the river. I think we both need one. she laughed. It sure will make me feel better. What do you say? Lets go swimmin'. I haven't skinny dipped since I was a kid."

"Oh my! I have never skinny dipped! Alright! Let's go for it." she laughed. "Last one in is a time traveler." She was off and running towards the river with Les right behind her.

Xena, with her incredible hearing, heard everything the two women had said to one another. She was deeply moved by their friendship and devotion to each other. It was then that she made a promise to herself, and these two kinswomen of hers and Gabrielle's; that she would help them either to return to their time or make a life for themselves here. A plan was formulating in her mind. They would go to Amphipolis for a time and then they would journey to see the Oracle of Delphi. If anyone could tell them who or what was responsible for this the Oracle could.

Irene and Leslie were splashing around in the water like a couple of kids. "This feels so good. You were right Les, this is relaxing me. Not as tense as".... SPLASH ... "HA! HA! GOTCHA!!" shouted Les. "Oh yeah!" as Irene started to splash Leslie back. "Right back at ya." As both women were splashing they came closer and closer together until they were holding each others arms. The laughter subsided and both of them looked at each other with desire and longing... When suddenly, they heard Xena's voice calling to them from the river bank. "Come on you two; play time is over. Time for breakfast. "Ok. We'll be right out." shouted Les. "Yeah, Ok... We'll be right there." Re said as she got out of the water and started putting on her clothes rather hurriedly. She felt somewhat embarrassed about standing there naked as a jaybird. Leslie was not uncomfortable being naked in front of anyone, but this was different, Re was there. She too hurriedly dressed and both of them headed back to camp. Whew! Saved by the bell. That was too close... Irene thought.

After breakfast Irene set about helping Gabrielle. And Xena, decided to do her sword drills and asked if Lesley would like to watch her. It surprised Xena when Leslie asked if they could spare together. "You are familiar with a sword?" asked Xena. "Yes. fencing is a hobby of mine. Although I've never fenced with anything like that. It's very impressive, I might add." pointing to Xena's sword. "What is this fencing!?" "That's what they call fighting with swords in my time." "Hmmm"... said Xena, "here is a sword you can use to practice." The first time Xena struck Leslie's sword, Leslie could feel her whole body revirberating from the force of the blow. On and on they practiced until Xena fiigured Les had had enough. "You have a long way to go, but that was very good for a first time." "Thank's... But I feel like my arms are going to fall off. You certainly are strong." said Leslie. Xena just smiled. "I think we should go back to camp and see if Gabrielle and Irene are ready to get going. I want to reach Amphipolis before nightfall."

Gabrielle and Irene had already packed up camp and were waiting for LesLie and Xena to return. Gabrielle was sitting by the fire and Irene was pacing back and forth, like a caged animal. "Re. Maybe I can help. Please talk to me... tell me what's troubling you?"

"Ya know, I'm almost twice your age. I should be helping you, not the other way 'round. I feel so lost and helpless. And to be honest with you; I'm terrified! My life was so dull. I wanted an adventure, and boy oh boy, I sure got one. I have this awful feeling we will never get back home and I will never see my children again and Les is going to end up hating me for getting her in this mess. You've both taken us to your hearts and we are so very grateful, but we can't expect you to babysit us forever." Irene waved her hands animatedly. Then Irene said almost in a whisper, "And just a small complication... I'm in love with Les, and I can't take the chance telling her, because she would be disgusted with me and never speak to me again. God! I... have... never... been... attracted... to... a... woman... before! What am I gonna do? Any ideas?" Irene just stood there with her hands on her hips looking at Gabrielle; who was looking at her with her mouth hanging open. Before Gabrielle can respond... Irene looks up and sees Leslie looking at her...

Continues here

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