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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

Continued from here

Chapter Seven

Leslie was leaning back against a tree watching Irene's every move as she paces back and forth, speaking to Gabrielle. Leslie thinks: 'Gods! Look at her! I've never seen her this fired up before. She looks so sad. It's almost ... Uh oh! She's looking at me ... her eyes are so expressive; I can just imagine what they would be like while we were making love... STOP! What am I thinking?1? She's my best friend... I can't have these thoughts about her.' Leslie tries to control her emotions; she can feel the heat rising in her face as she continues to watch her friend's movement around camp. So intent is she, that she doesn't notice Xena come up next to her.

Xena touches Leslie's shoulder and whispers, "Les, did you hear me? Are you alright? You looked a little flushed."

Les turns to Xena and sees a crooked grin on the warriors face, " I... I'm fine, why do you ask?"

Xena's grin grows as she looks at Leslie. "Because, I've been trying to get your attention for a while now and you have been staring at our two friends over there. Now I know you weren't looking at Gabrielle... so that leaves Irene. And from the look on your face, I can guess at your thoughts." Then, with the grin still firmly implanted on her lips, Xena turned and walked into the forest.

"WHAT!!" "What are you saying?!? Leslie says anxiously, as she catches up with Xena.

"I think you are in love with Irene. Does she know?" asks Xena.

"I don't... I mean... It's not that obvious, is it? I... She... I mean...we are best friends. She was married, has two great kids, she's just not interested in me that way."

How do you know, until you ask?"

"Oh Yeah... Risk loosing her friendship, because I have the hots for her... Just great! How would you handle it if you were in my place?"

"Easy" said Xena. "I had the same problem as you. For a very long time I knew I loved Gabrielle, but was unwilling to share my thoughts and heart with her for fear of loosing her. The same questions were going around in my head too. An then one day I just kissed Gabrielle. It was not a long drawn out kiss... It was lightly on the lips as I said thank you."

"What did she do then?"

"She stopped breathing for a minute, and all I could think was that I was in trouble. But then I saw her cheeks turn red, and as I looked into her eyes I could see them darken. Then she turned from me and made an excuse to leave camp to clean the dishes. I was devistated! I thought I blew it big time. I followed her to the stream, and there she sat by the waters edge, deep in thought. I went back to camp hoping that I had not scared her away. So when she came back to camp, I gave her her space and just went about my chores. Well, it wasn't long before my bards curiosity finally got the best of her and she asked me "Why?" I told her I was happy and it felt like the best way to express myself... did I get teased about that comment. Then she sauntered up to me and said, in a silky voice, I had never heard eminating from my bard before, 'So, if i'm happy, I should demonstrate those feelings.' And then she put her hands on either side of my face and pulled my head down towards hers... That kiss was almost like being lightly brushed by a feather, and getting hit by a ton of bricks at the same time. My soul has been hers from that moment on."

Chapter Eight

Gabrielle just sat there and continued to looke at Irene for a few minutes as she gathered her thoughts. When she asked Irene what was wrong, she hadn't expected her to throw in that last tidbit of information. "Whew!" she thought, 'Irene feels much the same as I did.'

"Re... Your concerns are very real. We will do everything we can to try and get you back, but you have to be prepared that that might not happen. As far as your feelings for Les goes... Well, I think you should tell Les your feelings for her. You never know! She may have those very same feelings for you... "

" No! What if she doesn't... I couldn't risk loosing her... You just don't understand... I..." her voice trails off.

"Oh, but I do understand.", she said. Then Gabrielle proceded to tell her the very same story that Xena was telling Leslie. "... And that's the story. I loved Xena from the minute she rescued me from the slavers. Only, it took me awhile to figure it out."

"Come on, enough serious talk for one morning we have a long journey today. Xena will probably want to get to Amphipolis before nightfall." Looking over to where Xena and Leslie were standing, Gabrielle waved for the two new friends to come and help close camp.

It was midday and Xena was pleased with the distance they had traveled since starting out this morning. She had to laugh to herself... Gabrielle usually did all the talking, but this day there were three women talking a mile a minute and everyone was enjoying the conversation, even Xena. Well, it was time for a rest. She knew the bard could have walked farther, but Irene & Leslie looked like they could use a rest . She found a nice area and the group stopped to rest and have their midday meal, which consisted of some dry cheese and dried meat. As the women were about to partake of the meal, Xena suddenly stood up and drew her sword... Seeing this Gabrielle instantly got her staff at the ready.

"Oh Shit..." Irene said.

"Xena! Behind you... " Yelled Leslie.

Then all hell broke loose as five bandits attacked the women. Xena turned quickly and kicked one of the bandits in the stomach, as this happened Gabrielle was taking care of two very ugly, smelly bandits. She swung her staff with great strength and precision and felled one of them. However, the bard lost her balance and the other bandit took advantage of this misstep and kicked Gabrielle in the stomach. She doubled over in pain. Seeing this, Irene let out a scream and proceeded to attack the bandit, just as he was going to stab Gabrielle with his sword. She threw herself at him and he fell to the ground. She was grapling with him and found a rock and hit him in the head over and over again, until he stopped moving. Xena was trying to get to Gabrielle, but had to deal with three more bandits. One of the men broke away from the fight and headed towards the two women. By this time Irene had gone to help Gabrielle. Her back was to the fight , so she didn't see the man approaching. Xena seeing this, yelled at Irene to look out. She knew she couldn't get to them in time. She made short work of the two men she was fighting, and as she turned to run to aid her friends, a shot rang out, from behind her, and the man fell to the ground, dead. Xena turned... what she saw... was Leslie falling to her knees with a smoking gun in her hand. Irene looked at her friend and ran to her side. Leslie dropped the pistol, and just collapsed into her arms crying and shaking. Irene just held her and rocked back-and-forth, talking to her telling her it would be alright. By this time Gabrielle was by Xena's side holding her warrior's arm; looking at Lesley.

Looking at the pistol, Gabrielle asked: "What is that?!"

Xena just shrugged. "It's a weapon of some sort."

"Was Lesley hurt, Xena?" Gabrielle said with concern in her voice.

"No, my bard, she is fine. But something has changed for our two friends. They lost their blood innocence today... They are forever changed..." Xena just held Gabrielle as tears started to run down the bards cheeks.

After a time Leslie regained her composure and Irene knew she needed some space, so she went to help put their things in order so that they could get going again.

"Lesley. May I see your weapon?" requested Xena.

"Sure. But be careful. Let me show you how it works... She showed Xena the shells and how to load the pistol. Then taught her how to shoot it. It amazed her that that little bullet could do so much dammage. "Xena. If anything happens to me... I want you to know how to use the gun. Unfortunately, when the bullets are gone the gun will be useless."

Xena spoke softly to Leslie, "Les, you did what was necessary! Don't feel guilt for killing that man. He would have killed Gabrielle and Irene if you hadn't. I could never have reached them in time. You saved their lives. Now everyone, Let's get going. I really want to get to the inn before dark." Xena said, as the four friends set off once again on their journey to Amphipolis and mom's inn.

Just as the sun was setting they reached Amphipolis. "Oh My!" Lesley and Irene said as they came upon the Lion statue that was standing in front of them. Look Re! It's Amphipolis! By the Gods! We're here in Amphipolis and it isn't a ruin! We can really see what everything really looked like... What the people were like... And... "

"Whoa! Slow down. Do you think you can wait until tomorrow to go running around town? Les, we have to fit in. If we act strangely, people will shy away from us. Let's just go to the inn and just rest for tonight. Tomorrow is another day!" Irene said.

"I'm sorry. I just got carried away. It's just so exciting to see this town alive and not in ruins. You're right, of course, Re. We do have to be careful."

Chapter Nine

Cyrene thought, 'It's really busy tonight! I'm glad I have enough help tonight.' As she was cleaning up one of the tables, she looked up and noticed her daughters just coming in the door. Putting the dishes back on the table with a clatter, she ran to her girls and gave them a great big bear hug. "I've missed you both so much!"

"We've missed you too mother." Xena said, as she tried to breath while still in her mothers bear hug. "Your visits are few and far between... Let me look at you as she first turned her attention to Xena. You look thinner! What have you been doing?" Thinking better of that question, she said, "Never mind... I don't want to know."

"Come here you", as she grabbed Gabrielle and hugged her tight. Then holding her at arms length, "Oh! You look positively georgeous. My daughter is lucky. I'm so happy to have my daughters home." "Hi! Mom. I sure missed you." As she reached up and kissed Cyrene on the cheek. Cyrene laughed and said: "You missed me? Are you sure it wasn't my nutbread?"
"Well, mom, maybe the nutbread did have something to do with it." the bard said, starting to blush.

Just them Cyrene noticed two oddly dressed women standing near 'her girls" (as she liked to call them.) 'Hmmm!' she thought, 'They don't look like Amazons. I wonder where they came from? As a matter of fact they look a little out of place.' "Xena are you going to introduce me to you traveling companions?"

"Oh! Uhh! Sorry mom... Just got carried away in the excitement. This is Irene & Leslie... And mom, They need a place to stay. If it's alright with you. "Irene... Leslie... This is Cyrene my mother." "Hey! My mom too!" laughed Gabrielle.

"We're pleased to meet you Cyrene." said Leslie. "We've heard a lot about you from Gabrielle's writings."

"I'm embarrased to say we don't have any money... "Dinars..." interjected Gabrielle. "You don't have any dinars." "Ahh Yeah! We don't have any dinars, but we offer our services to work around the inn... I'm really good with my hands; I mean I can help fix things around the inn... Irene's voice trailed off. "And I can cook! Sort of..." Leslie said.

Cyrene looked at Xena with a confused look on her face. "Writings... money... What..."

"It's a really long story as to how we met up, so if you don't mind I'll tell you about it tomorrow. Ok? We've had a really rough day, mother."

"If my daughter welcomes you as a friend, then so do I. Welcome to my home. You must be starving! I'll get you all some food and drink. Xena, Gabrielle your room is always ready for you, and as for you two; is it alright if you share a room tonight? The inn is rather full. "

"Oh sure... Anything... We can share, right Les?"

"Yeah. That'll be fine. Hell. We shared the tent. Didn't we. Yeah, that'll be fine", she groaned.

Cyrene brought out some stew and ale for the women. Irene and Leslie were enjoying the food and the ale. "Listen you two, go easy on the ale. My mom makes it herself and it is quite potent."

"Oh! I'vvve haaddd ale be (hiccup) fore. Isss Sok." Irene said slurring her words.

"Oh Shit!! To late." Leslie said. "OK! Time for bed Re. Come on! Here we go"... As she helps her friend to their room. "Goodnight everyone and thank you for everything."

Xena, Gaabrielle and Cyrene just looked at each other and busted out laughing. "I know. Wait till tomorrow." Cyrene said as she walked into the kitchen. Xena took Gagrielle's hand and they are soon on their way to their room.

"Here we are Re. This is our room." Leslie got a big surprise when she opened the door to the room... Only one bed! Big enough for two, but still only one bed. "Why are you doing this to me?" as she looks up to Heaven. Not that she saw anything but the ceiling.

"Doin' wha (hiccup) at Leshh?" Irene slurred.

"Oh Re, hon, not you. We have to get you to bed. Come on, get your clothes..." before she could finish her sentence; Irene threw herself onto the bed and was out cold. Leslie just took her boots off and let her sleep in her clothes. She gently covered her dear friend with the blanket. Then she got undressed and slipped under the covers. She had no idea how exhausted she really was, until she laid down. She was almost asleep when there was a knock at the door. She got up and wrapped the blanket around her almost naked body... "yes?! Who..."

"It's me, Cyrene." Leslie opens the door... "Oh Les! I'm sorry to disturb you, but I noticed that you and Irene didn't seem to have any other clothes. So... I got something for you to change into while I have your clothes washed. Here. I think this will fit you... And this will fit Irene."

Tears spring into Leslie's eyes... "Oh Cyrene. Thank you. You are so very kind. I... I'm overwhelmed!"

"There now, no reason to cry." As she patted Leslie on the arm. Cyrene felt a little embarrassed by this display of emotion. "Now give me the dirty clothes."

"Well, here are mine, but Re is still wearing hers."

"We'll just have to take them off now; won't we?" Finally the two women got Irenes clothes off.

"Thank you again Cyrene. Goodnight." Leslie shut the door and went to sleep feeling happy that she had such wonderful ancestors.

The next morning Xena was up and bathed and headed towards the kitchen at the crack of dawn, leaving her bard sleeping peacefully. When she reached the kitchen, she saw her mom humming and working around the kitchen. This was the time of day Xena liked best when she was home, because she got to spend some quality time with her mother. "Morning mother."

"Good morning Xena. Did you rest well?" Cyrene asked her daughter as she kissed her on the cheek.

"Yes mother. I always do when I'm home." She kissed her mom on the cheek. "How have things been around here? Where's Toris mother?"

"Things are about the same here except we need to rebuild two of the cabins out back. Toris has gone to get supplies to lay in for this coming winter. There are things I just can't get here, so he went to a few other towns to gather what is needed." Cyrene hesitated, "Xena dear, it's time you told me about your new friends. You know, it's funny, but they kind of a resemble you an Gabrielle."

"Yes. We have noticed that mom. I guess I can't put off the explanation any longer. So, here goes.." Xena proceeded to tell her mom the whole story since meeting Irene and Leslie. Leaving out the part about being attack on the way home. It wasn't necessary to upset her mother. "There you have it mother... They resemble us, because they are our descendants."

"I find it hard to believe... It's such an incredible story. Are you sure?" Cyrene asked.

>From the doorway came Gabrielle's voice, "Yes mom. We are sure... they belong to us alright! That's why we have to try to help them as best we can." She moved to where her warrior was sitting and sat down next to her, placing her arm around Xena's shoulder and kissing her good morning.

"All right then. What's your plan, Xena? How can we help our grandchildren?" She giggled as she said this, because they looked to be around her age.

"Why do I always have to come up with a plan?"

"Well dear, that's because you always do! " said Cyrene.

It took all of Gabrielle's disipline not tho burst out laughing.

Xena groaned. "Ok! Yes. I do have a plan to at least try to find out why they are here. If I can find that out... Maybe, just maybe, I can figure out a way to get them back to their time. If not... Then I'm afraid they are here to stay. I thought we could ask the Oracle of Delphi."

"Oh, and mom... let them help around the inn. It will give them something to do and make them feel like they are paying for there keep. They are two very proud women."

"Hmmm! Must have inherited that from two other very proud women I know." Cyrene said looking directly at Xena and Gabrielle. She had this big smile on her face.

A few hours later Irene and Leslie came down stairs and into the kitchen. "Morning everyone. Isn't it a lovely day? Leslie said.

"I just can't understand how you can be so up, this early. I can barely see straight." said Irene.

Teasing, Leslie said, "Perhaps, if you hadn't gotten smashed last night you would feel better!"

"Don't even go there." Irene said. "Please, Cyrene do you have coffee? I need coffee."

Cyrene had a puzzled look on her face. Looked at Xena, who just shrugged. "Uhh, Irene, what is coffee?"

"Never mind... " Irene said. What she thought was an entirely differant matter! Damn, Damn, Damn!!

Everyone was seated at the table for breakfast, and the conversation got around to the two cabins that needed rebulding. This got Irene's attention. "What has to be done to the cabins? I might be able to help! I used to run a construction company. I can build anything! Please Cyrene let me help. With the four of us we could get it finished in no time, and I bet it will be better than it was the first time." She said this in one breath.

Cyrene didn't know what to say. It was a large undertaking and she wasn't sure this woman could build the two cabins. She looked to Xena for help and Xena nodded her approval. "You have the job then Irene. You can get what ever supplies you need in town. Xena, you know where to go, so you can take Irene to purchase what is needed. We can also get some of the men from the village to chop down some logs for us. They owe me some favors."

"You won't be sorry. I promise you. And Cyrene... thank you for the clothes and your hospitality." Irene said.

"It's the least I can do. You're family!"

Chapter Ten

It had been two weeks since the rebuilding of the cabins had been going on, and although some of the technics that Irene was familiar with had to be modified, things were going well. She worked with what was at hand and adapted her skills to fit the job. Everyone had helped out, and done what she asked of them. And, of course, Leslie was so very proud of her. She couldn't believe this was the same women who two weeks ago was stumbling all over the place, and bumping into things. 'She's got her confidence back.' Leslie thought as she looked up at the sky and said: 'Thank you.'

Irene had been training to use the war staff. She had seen Gabrielle use it when they were attacked by those thugs, and was very impressed. Gabrielle would practice every evening after they worked on the cabins and Irene tended to tag along with her. One session Irene could stand it no more, and asked, no begged rather, if Gabrielle would please teach her. At first Gabrielle wasn't very receptive to the idea, but saying no to Irene was very difficult. If not impossible. Irene came up with more reasons why she should learn than a caterpillar has legs. So, Gabrielle relented. She was an apt pupil. Irene felt more secure about being able to help in a fight now. Now, her friends could depend on her.

Xena had been sparing with Lesley every night. Teaching her how to use a sword. She had been impressed with her ability. She seemed to be stronger now. Xena guessed it was the hard work of building the cabins that were bulding Leslie's body up. Both women seemed to be much more confident now than when they had first met...

Cyrene went out back to call everyone in for the noon meal. She couldn't believe how fast the cabins were being finished. It probably would only take about a few more days. 'I never would have believed it if I didn't see it for myself. Irene certainly knew what she was doing.'

That night as everyone was finishing the evening meal, Xena told the two travelers what her plan was to try and help them get home. "When do we leave!" asked Leslie very excitedly.

"Well, Irene says the cabins will be done in a few days, so I figured we would go the day after... I'm sure the Oracle can shed some light on your predicament. I'll ask for an audience with her, and we'll take things from there. You do realize that this might all be for nothing."

"No Xena. None of this is for nothing..." She clasps Xena's arm in friendship. We have found out who we came from. How wonderful all of you are... I found out that the traits we see in ourselves, we have inherited from you and Gabrielle. You have done so much for us already... I can't begin to even thank you..." Tears started to roll down her cheeks.

Irene walked up to Xena and kissed her on the cheek and said: "That's ditto for me too!" Then she went and hugged Cyrene and Gabrielle. Xena was a little unnerved by all this show of emotion. She looked to the bard for help. When she saw she would get none, she just shrugged and smiled that half smile of hers and went with the flow.

It was late and the last of the inns patrons had left. Nothing to do now but straighten up and get things ready for the next day. When everything was finished our little family group sat around the table for a bite of food and some conversation.

"So. The cabins are finished right on time Irene. They look wonderful! Thank you. I never thought that you would be able to do the job, but you sure proved me wrong." Cyrene said as she gently touched Irene's cheek.

"Thanks... But I didn't do it by myself ya know! We all did it. Thanks to all of you for making me look so good." With that statement Irene went around and hugged everyone of her new family. Even Xena accepted the hug good naturedly. 'Gods! More hugging! '

All of a sudden the door to the inn bursts open and three very tired looking Amazons walked in. They saw Gabrielle as she was rising from her seat to greet them, they quickly came towards her.

"Solari! It is good to see you! Hello Diandra, Cassia. What brings you here?" asked Gabrielle.

Solari bows to her queen, "Thank Artemis we have found you safe and sound, my Queen. We have been looking for you for three weeks now. Ephiny has sent scouts out to find you, and bring you back to the village. She is terribly worried about you."

"Solari... First of all, don't call me My Queen. Gabrielle will do nicely. Now, tell me why Ephiny is so worried that she would send out search parties to find me?"

"The high preistess of Artemis told Ephiny that it was imperitive that we find you and warn you that you were in grave danger. And to bring you back to the village immediately. Eph said something about some kind of vision , but didn't elaborate on it. This is all I know my Queen, er Gabrielle."

Gabrielle turns to look at Xena. Xena could see worry in Gabrielle's eyes. "Don't worry, Gabrielle, we'll head out at first light. We'll be there in two or three days. Then we can get to the bottom of this. No one will hurt you as long as I'm here."

"Correction!" said Leslie. "As long as we are here. We're going with you. Isn't that right Irene?"

"You bet it is. I wouldn't miss this! Irene thought a minute and a devilish grin appeared. Pointing to Solari and the other two Amazons: "Do you think I could wear clothes like that when we get there?" Speaking to now one in particular. Of course, this got a laugh out of everyone thus relaxing the tense emotions of the moment.

"Leslie, Irene I'm so sorry that we can't go to Delphi now, but... I am the Queen. It's my responsibility to go an.... "

"Please, you don't have to appoligize to us. We understand completely. We can go there after we find out what's going on at the village. Right Les?"

"You bet! I know you have to do the Queen thing. But, I'll tell you this... We refuse to let you go without us. We wouldn't miss out on this for anything."

Xena spoke before Gabrielle had a chance to: "Listen, Les, this could be very dangerous and... "

" No! We're going and that's that. We're family and families stick together! Ya got that?!"

"OK! You can go!" Xena had a very surprised look on her face. She thought to herself: 'Whao! She certainly isn't intimidated by me! Is she?"

All Gabrielle could do, after seeing the look on Xena's face, was to try to stifle a giggle. She knew by the look on Xe's face that she was surprised by Les' standing up to her that way. The look was priceless. Sort of like shock that anyone would dare stand up to the Warrior Princess.

The very next day they were on their way. The only difference was, that this time everyone was on horseback. Much to the dismay of the bard; who complained that she didn't like to ride and would much rather walk. But, Xena insisted, saying that they didn't know where they would have to go after they reached Amazonia, and riding horses would be more practical. They could get to wherever they were going much faster. Gabrielle had to agree with that bit of logic. But that didn't stop her from grumbling when she mounted her horse.

Our group had been traveling for four or five candlemarks now, and everyone was in need of a rest. Xena found a clearing and decided that this would be a fine place to rest. Leslie and Irene could not wait to get off their horses. They loved to ride... but not for this long a time! Leslie removed her back pack and took her canteen out and drank her fill. Her hand automatically went to her belt where she kept her pistol at the ready. Since the incident on the trail she felt more secure having her pistol close by. She also knew once the bullets were all used up the gun would be worthless. But by then, she would be well versed in using the sword and able to protect herself and Re.

Irene now wore the Bowey knife on her belt at all times. It made her feel safe. And thanks to Gabrielle, she had her staff. 'Yes. Yes indeed. Much safer. ' she thought as she drank from her canteen.

Xena and Gabrielle just sat next to each other speaking quietly and smiling. The Amazon's always seemed to be on guard. Ever watchful of their beloved Queen. They rested about a candlemark and then it was time to move on. Thank the Gods, the trip was uneventful. It took three days to reach the village.

As they came to the outskirts of the village they were met by more Amazons and escorted into the village. There Ephiny was waiting for her friends. Waiting not so patiently... She was very glad to see her Queen was well and safe. "My Queen, Thank the Gods you are alright. Xena, my friend, how are you?" Then Ephiny notices Leslie and Irene standing next to Xena. "Who are these women, Xena?"

"Eph, it's a long story... I'll fill you in later. As to how I am, depends on your answer... Right now I would like an explanation as to why it was so urgent for Gabrielle to return to the village. "

"Ephiny. Let's go to the Queens hut and we will discuss this. Also please have a hut prepared for our... uh! family." said Gabrielle.

"What! Family! I'm confused... where did... They resemble you but... " stammered Ephiny

"Eph, long story... Later... remember?" Gabrielle just shakes her head.

When our group was seated inside the Queens hut, Ephiny began to tell the story of why she was so anxious to find and bring her Queen to the village... "Celin, the high preistess of Artemis, told me that Artemis herself had come to her and told her to come and tell me to have you brought here immediately, because your life was in great danger. In fact Artemis saw your death. This was told to me one moon ago. The preistess said that there was a plan to help, but Artemis did not devulge this to her She also said that you and whoever you came here with was to go to the Temple the morning after your arrival and wait there. All will be revealed at that time."

Gabrielle just sat there stunned by this revelation. "By the Gods!"

Xena looked over to where Irene and Leslie were sitting. She was developing a plan... Xena gave Gabrielle that look that says 'we have to talk...'

"Eph would you show Irene and Leslie to their hut, please. Xe and I have to talk about this alone. Turning to the two archeologists she said, "we will meet you at the food hut for our evening meal and discuss this further."

"OK. See you later. If you need us just yell. I am kind of tired. I could use a nap." Irene said. The two women followed Eph out of the Queens hut to their own hut, which was next to Gabrielle and Xena.

Chapter Eleven

When Xena and Gabrielle were finally alone: "Ok, Warrior... What's on that mind of yours?"

"Gabrielle, I have a suspicion that Les and Re are not here by chance and I think Artemis has something to do with it. Brie... The scary part of this is that they were the ones who saved your life when we were attacked on the road to Amphipolis. I think that's why they were brought here. I could never have reached you in time... Forgive me... " Xena's voice trails off.

Seeing the pain in Xena's face, Gabrielle goes to her love and holds her in an embrace. "Oh Xena! My love, there is nothing to forgive. I'm fine and here with you. I love you. There was nothing you could have done. If what you surmise is true, then we should thank Artemis for bringing them back to help us."

" I love you, my Bard."

Gabrielle goes over to her warrior and gives her a very passionate kiss. Just then, Gabrielle's stomach starts to rumble. "I guess I'm a wee bit hungry." she laughs.

"Right. Lets go to the food hut. Everyone should be there by now anyway. Don't want you wasting away; do we? Chuckled Xena.

"Thank you Ephiny. I don't think we were properly introduced. My name is Irene and this gal is Leslie. We are kind of family... sort of... you might say."

"Yeah! Oookayyy! I guess I have to wait till Xena tells me what's going on, huh? If you need anything, my hut is on the other side of the Queens hut. Till the evening meal then..." Ephiny turns and leaves.

"I'm exhausted and downright confused. Did you see the look on Xena's face. She's on to something... I can feel it." Irene said looking over to her friend. "What's the matter Les? We made it to the village without any problems, and Gabrielle is safe. Come to think of it, So are we. That's a plus, Babe!"

"This brought a smile to Leslie's face. Yes it's a plus alright... When I'm down you become the optemist. I love y... that... about you. Look Re! A bathtub! Ughhh! I need to wash the dirt off. How 'bougt you."

"Yeah! Sounds like a plan to me."

"Ahh, you... you go first and I'll give you privacy and wait outside... OK?"

"Les, come on! Don't be silly. It'll get cold by the time one of us finishes. We're big girls here... Let's take the bath together. That way we both get hot water! And... we still have time for a nap."

Irene did not hear Leslie groan. "Right! We are two adult women... Sure why not...
'You can do this Leslie! ' she thought .

Both women undressed and got into the tub with out looking at one another. Oh boy! This feels great! Doesn't it Les? I had no idea I had so many muscles in my back that could cause sooo much pain. I am so stiff!"

"Here... Let me clean your back and then you can do mine. Maybe it will relax the muscles. How does that feel Re?"

Ahh! Yeah, yeah! That feels fine... 'A little too fine ' Irene thinks. OK... Thanks! That's enough... Your turn now." Irene turnes and faces Leslie... She looks into the deep blue pools that are Leslie's eyes. ' Oh yeah! I really do love her. I'm in trouble now. ' she thinks. "Les we need to talk... But not in the tub... I can't really concentrate in the tub... After we have dinner." Irene gets out of the tub and wraps a bath sheet around herself.

'Just great! Damn, Damn, Damn! My god! Was I that transparent?!' " Re! Are you angry with me? Did I do something wrong?! What's the matter?"

"Oh Les, no, I'm not angry at you. Quite the contrary. Les, do you think you can get out of the tub... It's kind of distracting... Leslie got out of the tub and was standing there naked, wiping herself with her bath sheet. "Les... Les... I... I... God! This is hard."

"Re. What?! You can tell me anything... you know that." Still standing there naked as a jay bird.

" I... I love you! Not like a friend. Like a lover. If you don't feel the same way about me, it's Ok Les, but, please don't be disgusted by my feelings for you. We can still... "

"Oh... My... God! You love me!!! I've been in love with you for so long. I was afraid to tell you for fear of losing you. I'd rather have you around as a friend if I couldn't have you as a lover. So, I kept quite."

All Irene could do was cry. Leslie came to her and held her in her arms and she too cried tears of joy. They sat like this for over a candle mark. Until Irene realized... "Les, hon... You're naked!"

"Very observant Re. What gave you the first clue?" Both friends just started laughing. This was the beginning of a new chapter in their lives. Together.

Ephiny was already at the food hut when Xena and Gabrielle came in. The three friend sat at the Queens table and started making small talk, when Ephiny could contain herself no longer... "Will you please fill me in on your traveling companions. They're strangely dressed... Which means they're not from around here and they talk funny. They said they were family, but I never heard you mention them and.... "

"Eph! Hold it!" Gabrielle proceeded to tell Ephiny the story about their two descendents. " And that's it in a nutshell, Eph." It took awhile for Eph to fully comprehend what Gabrielle had told her.

When Ephiny finally closed her mouth... "Sooo, that means.... You are grandparents!!!"
And burst out in a fit of laughter.

Xena just growled at Ephiny. "Okay! Enough with the laughing!" And Gabrielle just sat there giggling. "Oh great! You too!"

At that moment Irene and Leslie walked up to the table hand in hand. This did not go unnoticed by the three giggling companions. Xena and Gabrielle looked at each other and nodded their approval.

"Okay!!! What's fer dinner? I'm starving! My stomach has been rumbling for an hour." Irene said. With this last statement everyone just howled with laughter. How very like Gabrielle she was...

After the women had finished their evening meal and had had some wine, things got a bit more serious. The conversation got around to going to the Temple of Artemis and what they would find out. Leslie and Irene didn't have a clue yet, and Xena wasn't about to tell them her theory. They would find out soon enough. As a matter of fact both Les and Re were excited to actually see the inside of a temple that wasn't in ruins. They were, at their hearts, archeologists and the thought of gaining new knowledge about a civilization they could only speculate about a short time ago, was mind boggling for them. Everyone decided it would be wise to turn in early. The two time travelers couldn't begin to understand what awaited them.

Chapter Twelve

Morning came very quickly. The five women gathered together and then proceeded to the Temple of Artemis. It was just on the edge of the village. The Temple was a marble structure with columns in the front. Leslie and Irene were very impressed by this spectacular building. The others just thought of this as Artemis' Temple. Nothing that special. In they walked and were greeted by Celin, the High Preistess. "Welcome, my Queen. I are truly relieved you are here and well. The visions were frightening."

"What were the visions, Celin?" asked Gabrielle.

" I cannot answer your question your majesty. That is for the Goddess to tell. Please forgive me... "

Gabrielle just waved her hand and told Celin there was nothing to forgive.

An Owl flies into theTemple. Then there is a bright light and Artemis appears before Gabrielle. "Gabrielle! You are safe... My plan was successful.

"I don't understand! What... Was I in danger?!? From who and... " Gabrielle started to ask when Artemis raised her hand for Gabrielle to stop talking.

Before Artemis could speak, Xena, who was furious by this time, was glaring at Artemis and said: "What have the Gods done this time? Don't you ever get tired of meddling in our lives? When she is in danger it involves me as well. She is the other half of my soul and... "

"Xena! Please, stop it!" Gabrielle said, as she went to Xena's side and held her around the waist. She continued to speak to Xena in a calm and soothing voice. "Remember who you are speaking to. Artemis would never do harm to me. You know this."

"Gabrielle... I... I'm sorry. I couldn't live if... " Xena held Gabrielle close to her.

"Xena... Look into your heart. You know that I would protect Gabrielle. I also know you would give your life for her, but this time I knew you would be unable to protect her, and I could not. That is why I brought them (pointing to Leslie and Irene) to our time. I could not interfere, but nothing said I couldn't manipulate the situation so that the attack on the road to Amphipolis would fail to kill her." said Artemis.

"Areeessss... " Xena said his name with such hatred that the hair on Leslie's arms just stood up.

"Yes. Ares... He has been dealt with. When Zues found out what he was doing.... Well, let's just say he won't be bothering anyone for a while. He thought if Gabrielle were dead, he could get you back into the fold. I could not directly stop this from happening but I could bring Leslie and Irene here to help." She turned to speak directly to Lesie and Irene: "That is why the stone was put into the talisman so that you would feel an irrisistable urge to touch it. And when you both did... Well, you know the rest. Once you were here it was easier for me to... have you do what you were supposed to do... And that was to save Gabrielle's life. You have obviously done that. My thanks to you both."

"Artemis... Can you help us return to our time? When we touched the stone and were transported here... the stone vanished. Now, we have no way of getting back home. Knowing our ancestors has been an incredible experience for us, but this is not home. I miss my children... Please, help us!" A single tear falls from her eye.

Artemis could not help but feel compassion for this woman who looked so much like her chosen, and the other one, she had Xena's temperament. One had only to look at the way she held herself to know that she had confidence. She also didn't take her eyes off Irene. Hmmm! That protective thing... "The stone disappearded because it does not exist yet in this time frame. I may be able to help you return to your time. However, that depends on you."

"Great! More riddle's! What the hell is that supposed to mean? 'that depends on you'. You're the Goddess around here. Why not just snap your fingers and send us back?" shouted Leslie.

"I may be a Goddess, but there are things that even I can not do Leslie. I will allow your disrespectful tone of voice, because in your time we gods are looked at as just mythes. But I will allow it only once. Do you understand me? "

Before an angry Leslie could respond, Gabrielle said nervously: "Please, my Goddess... Leslie means no disrespect to you. This has been a harrowing experience for them both. Although they have adjusted to life here, their time is not now, but in the future. "

Then Leslie said: "Please forgive my outburst. You have no idea how frustrating all this has been. We have discovered who we are and where we come from. We have discovered we are stronger individuals than we once thought we were. But... we don't belong here... What do we have to do?"

Artemis waves her hand, and then turns to Xena... "You, all of you must journey to the isle of Theliki and bring back the Sands of Time to me. It will not be an easy journey for you. The island is in the Aggean Sea off the coast of Amphipolis near Thasos. Bring it back here to my temple."

I have never heard of an island off the coast of Amphipolis. " How far away is it, and why has no one charted it?" Asked Xena.

Xena! You doubt me? The island can not be seen because it is covered in a mist-like fog. Only when you come up close to the island can it be seen. I will give you instructions on how to reach Theliki and where to find the Sands. There is an old temple on the island. That is where you will find the Sands of Time." Artemis whispers something to Xena. She shakes her head in agreement.

"Forgive me Artemis... but... how is this going to help us get home?" Irene asked.

"Have faith! Follow Xena's directions and do as she tells you. All will be well. She knows exactly what has to be done. Then Artemis was gone in a flash of light.

Chapter Thirteen

Xena had managed to procure a ship and a crew. An old friend of hers, Calvos, owned the ship and agreed to take her and her friends to the island, if she could secure a crew for the journey. Thanks to Ephiny, she got her crew. Calvos was thoroughly surprised to see ten Amazons march on board and go right about their duties as a crew. Diandra and Cassia were among the ten Amazons. Best looking crew he'd ever had! He too had never seen or heard of the island, so he was eager to set sail on another one of his adventures. Quite frankly he would do anything for Xena. He owed her. She had saved his family and himself from certain death from a ruthless warlord. She heard of his plight and came to his rescue. Calvos never forgot his debt to Xena, and made a vow that he would be there when ever she needed him. So, that was the case today. He would take her and her friends to this invisible island and wait for her while she did what she needed to do. From what Xena had told him... It would take at least two days to get there. When they did reach the island, he was to wait until their return. And this he would do without question.

Xena and Leslie looked at the ship and were excited to be finally getting on board to start yet another adventure. However, that was not the case for Gabrielle or Irene...

Irene said, "Oh my! I'm feeling queasy just looking at the ocean."

"I know just what you mean. Give me your wrist... (she pokes Irene's wrist several times) Xena taught me how to do that. It will help... (as an after-thought she said) just don't eat anything you wouldn't normally." Gabrielle just smiled at her last statement.

Puzzled... Irene asked, "Huh! I don't get it? How's poking' me on the wrist going to stop my motion sickness?"

"Trust me! You should be feeling better right about now."

It was amazing, but true. Irene was feeling better. "Thanks Gabrielle! This is better than dramimine." Irene noticed the puzzled look on Gabrielle"s face and tried to explain... "Uhh... long story... Hey! I'm Hungry! When do we eat."

"Alright Calvos, let's set sail! " Looking over at her three traveling companions she said: "Okay! Next stop the Isle of Theliki. Oh! And Gabrielle, did you tell Irene about the wrist poke?" Xena said as she was laughing. She had already clued Leslie in on the consequences of the poke. Irene would want to eat the strangest things.

"Yeah, I did." answered Gabrielle. She smiled at Xena, thinking of a long time ago....

They had had their evening meal, exchanged stories and were sitting next to one another. Leslie and Irene were huddled under a blanket sitting by the metal stove trying to keep warm as was Xena and Gabrielle.

"So. How are you two doing?" Gabrielle asked with a sweet smile on her face. All Xena did was stifle a giggle.

"Oh! Fine! The motion sickness is....Oooh! You're not talking about that are you?" Irene said. "Ah, we're doing fine... I finally got up the courage to tell her (she turns to face Leslie ) I love you..."

Leslie was positively ecstatic: "Isn't that the greatest thing in the world to hear. I love you too, Irene."

Both Xena and Gabrielle just sat there and smiled at their descendants. They were very happy that they had finally found the courage to tell each other of their love.

Irene was the first to give in to sleep. "Well, I think it's time for me to turn in. I'll see you all tomorrow." And off she went below decks.

"Xe, I think I'm ready for 'bed' also. Are you. She smiled that smile at Xena, and that was all she had to do to convey what the word bed meant in this case.

"Oh Yeah! Right behind ya, my bard. Good night Les. Tomorrow will be a busy day for us. We should sight the island, and then the fun begins. Try and get some sleep."

"Xena... Do you think this is going to work? I don't want to get Irene's hopes up if there is no chance... If it was just me, I could make a life here as long as I have her, but I know she misses her children... And... She lower's her head.

Sensing the turmoil that was swirling around in Leslie's mind, Xena said: "Les! Listen to me! Only the Fates know what life has in store for us. We have to live our lives as best we can. Where we live them doesn't matter. It's how we live them that's important. Irene know's the chances of getting home are slim to none. We have to trust that Artemis will do as she said."

"Thank you, 'Grandma.... Just kidding!!!" she smiles sheepishly. " I say that with the deepest affection, Xena."

"You're welcome. Now, as your Grandmother; I'm telling you to go to bed!" Xena and Les just laughed and hugged good night.

When Xena got down to her cabin Gabrielle was writing on her scroll of the days events. "What took you so long my love?"

"Les was in need of a shoulder to lean on. You know, I will miss them a great deal when they go home. I've grown very fond of them."

She teased. "Well you could knock me over with a feather! You getting mushy about someone! Other than me, of course." "I feel the same way about those two. Half of me wishes they won't go home and the other half wishes they do. I feel a deep connection to them. A love, actually. Now, my Warrior, come over here and give me some love."

"Oh Yes! My Queen. Your wish is my command." said Xena as she bowed.

Leslie remained on deck for awhile longer, just looking out at the vast expanse of the moonlite sea before her. 'How beautiful!' she thought. She and Irene hadn't had the chance to consimate their relationship with each other. There just wasn't the right opportunity. Things were moving to fast for them. They wanted their first time with each other to be perfect. Leslie had had lovers before, but never a women, and never had she felt such profound loving feelings toward anyone before.

She opened the door to her cabin... There Irene was sound asleep in her nightshirt. Les got undressed and got into bed next to Irene. She snuggled her body next to her love. 'Oh my! She feels so right next to me.' "Goodnight love." as Les kisses her on the cheek. Irene stirs in her arms. "Night Les."

Chapter Fourteen

Calvos was at the helm of the ship with Xena right next to him. Straining to see the island. Xena was losing patience. Up in the crow's-nest was Diandra trying to spot anything that remotely looked like it could be Theliki. "Xena! There! On the port side of the ship. The mist... That must be the island." Diandra slid down the sail and landed right next to Xena. Xena was impressed.

"That was very good Diandra."

"Thank you Xena. I learned that move from you a few years ago." Diandra said smiling.

"Diandra I want you and Cassia to take over here. Watch the island for a smoke signal. If you see one... Come running. Got it?" Xena said.

"Got it! You know you can count on me. How long do you think you will be on the island?"

Xena just shrugged her shoulders. "I really don't know."

"Alright! Listen up everyone... We'll take a rowboat and head toward the island Be very aware of your suroundings. We know nothing of this island so stay on your toes. Okay! Let's go!"

As the women were getting ready to row the boat ashore, Calvos tells Xena, "I won't tell you to be careful, because that's an impossiblity with you, but I will tell you to walk with the Gods. Be safe my friend."

The trip to the shore was uneventful. The women got out and pulled the rowboat up on the beach.

"Make sure it's up far enough so that it won't float away when the tide comes in." Gabrielle said.

"Before we start, Les and I want to thank you both for going to all this trouble. We know this island is an unknown. You are risking your lives to help us. Who knows what awful things are out there or if anything is out there. Yet you both are there for us. We... We love you both. Just wanted you to know that in case.... " Irene and Leslie had tears in their eyes as did Xena and Gabrielle. Of course, there was a group hug.

"Okay now! Let's head on out. Les! Have that weapon of yours handy, just in case." Xena said.

"Right. No problem."

Irene got a great idea! Taking the walky-talky out of her pack... "Les Take one of the walky-talky's. That way if we get seperated we can still be in touch and find each other." Turning to Xena and Gabrielle: We'll show ya how they work so you can use them also." After the quick lesson was over, our four adventurers were off on their trek.

Artemis had given Xena some idea as to where the old temple was, but Xena didn't know how long it would take them to get there, or what obstacles they would run into if any. They walked for almost three candlemarks when they came to a clearing. On the other side of the clearing they saw theTemple. What they couldn't see from their vantage point was that at the end of the clearing was a sharp drop off. The temple was on the other side. They couldn't see any way to get to the other side.

"Damn! How the hell are we going to get accross? I don't see any way. Can we climb down and then up again? We'll kill ourselve's trying." Irene said.

Everyone kind of agreed with her, but being with Xena meant never giving up. There had to be a way, and they would find it. Xena had an idea. She climbed a tall tree to have a look around. She could see things up there that she couldn't see from the ground. Up she climbed. "I see something we can use." She shouted down to her companions as she came back down the tree.

"There is a natural rock bridge connecting both sides of the cliff. It's about one candlemark north of here. I think it's big enough for us to get accross. It's worth a try, anyway." Xena said.

"Xe, could you try not climbing any more trees. I worry!" Gabrielle held her hand as they walked on. Xena just kissed her on the forehead and smiled that half smile.

"Come on Re, let's get going. I can't wait to see that temple. It's even older the the one we saw at the village." Les was more excited about checking out the temple than thinking about getting accross the bridge safely.

Irene just looked at her and shrugged. 'Ever the archeologist! ' "Okay! Let's get movin'."

They had been walking for awhile when all of a sudden there was a small earth tremor. Everyone just stood still for the few seconds it lasted. "Wow! Did ya feel that?!! Is that what an earthquake feels like?? I've never felt anything like that before!!" The panic rising in Irene's voice.

"I dunno!!! Me neither... " Leslie answered anxiously.

Xena heard the panic in both her descendants voices and tried to calm them down. "It's Okay! Trust me. That was not an earthquake just a small rumble. That happens every now and then. You are not in any danger from that. Come on let's keep going. We should be at the bridge very soon."

Both Irene and Leslie nodded and continued on their way. Looking at each other nervously. But they trusted that Xena knew what she was doing; and they would follow her anyway, even if she didn't.

"Xe", Gabrielle whispered to her warrior, "Is it really Okay?"

"Brie, I'm really not sure. But, I had to say something to calm them down. I won't let anything happen to any of us."

Finally they came to the rock bridge. It wasn't nearly as wide as Xena had figured. As a matter of fact it was quite narrow. Maybe a foot and a half wide, but it looked sturdy enough and passible. They would have to traverse it very carefully. As they started toward the bridge it started to rain.

"Rain! Of all times for it to rain. Son of a Bacchae! First the earth moves and then it rains... The damn bridge will be slippery!" said Gabrielle.

Before Xena can respond, Leslie says: "It's Okay! Really! The soles of our boots will help Irene and me not to slip. You and Xena should stay here and we'll go over to the temple and pick up the sand. You'd be slipping all over the place."

Xena saw the logic in what Leslie said and agreed. Gabrielle was not as sure... "How can you be sure you wont fall? You might need us to...."

"Look... Gabrielle! if we need help who better than you and Xena to come to the rescue. We'll give you two a walky-talky to keep in touch with us. We'll keep you informed all the way. You know this is the right decision."

Irene chimed in, "I promise, no dilly-dallying around the temple. We'll just get in... get the sand and back here as soon as possible. I'm not to thrilled walking on that narrow bridge, but Les is right it's the best plan. We can do this. This time you need to trust us."

Alright then... Take your time. Don't rush it and be careful. I'll try and walk you through. Good Luck!" Xena said.

Gabrielle hugged them both. "Gods be with you."

As Irene and Leslie started to cross the bridge it started to rain even harder than it already was. All the women could do was keep going. They were soaked thru but things were going along fine. 'One step at a time' was all Irene could think. 'One step at a time.' "No time to get klutzy now Irene" she murmured to herself.

Leslie turned her body a little to see if Irene was okay. "That's it love! You're doin' fine! We're halfway there. Come on... Hey Re! I like the way your shirt is clinging... "

"Not now Les! Wait till you reach the other side... " Came Xena's voice over the walky-talky. "You both look fine from here."

The two friends were coming closer to the end of the rock bridge. They couldn't wait to get to the other side so that they could sit down and rest. It wasn't that the distance was long, it was the tension of falling to your death that was taking it's toll on them mentally and physically. Finally! The other side. They made it! Leslie and Irene signaled to Xena and Gabrielle that they were alright. All they could do for the moment was just sit there in the rain and try to catch their breath. They were exhausted, but they had to keep going.

They made there way to the temple, talking to Xena on the walky-talky as they went. "Is there anything we should know? Booby traps or some such nonsense? Did Artemis tell you where the Sands of Time are, or do we have to solve a puzzle? The Gods don't make it easy; do they Xena?" Leslie complained.

"No. No. Yes. No. ." answered Xena. Talking into this thing, as she called the walky-talky, seemed to make her nervous.

"My! Aren't you the talkative one! Ha! Ha! Ha!" Where are the Sands?"

"The Sands are on the altar in a small sealed urn." answered Xena.

"Okay... I see it."

Both women walked up to the altar. Then circled it to make sure there were no surprises. When they were satisfied that it was reasonably safe, Irene picked up the urn. She shook it to make sure the sand was in there. Yep! It was there. She put the urn in her backpack and proceed to join Leslie. "Okay Les... Let's blow this joint." Les just looked at Irene and giggled. The women left the temple and started down the path to the bridge. It was still pouring rain... When they got to the bridge both women looked at each other and just shook their heads from side to side and sighed deeply. It looked like the Gods weren't going to make this easy...

"Okay Irene... You go first and I'll be right behind ya. We'll be fine." But Leslie wasn't as confident as she sounded. Truth be known, she was scared to death. It was raining harder than when they traversed the bridge the first time.

"Right!! We will be fine! Sure... Uhh! Do you think we should wait till the rain lets up?"

"Re... It will be getting dark soon. Then we won't be able to get accross until tomorrow, and I don't want to spend the night here."

"Okay then, let's do it!!! It can't get any worse... " Irene was frightened, but she knew Leslie was right. Some how she was more frightened now about crossing the bridge than the first time.

Both women started their journey accross. Irene in front and Leslie bringing up the rear. The going was much more difficult this time. The winds were stronger and it was more slippery. What else could go wrong... All of a sudden the two companions felt the bridge shudder... It was another tremor... Irene lost her balance and fell off the bridge before Leslie could grab her. Irene had grabbed onto a jagged piece of rock that was jutting out from the bridge and was hanging on precariously. Irene was screaming and holding on for dear life. Her feet dangling in the air. Leslie too was having her problems, although she was in a much better position than Irene. She had fallen forward and had grabbed on to either side of the narrow bridge. All she could think of was to get to Irene...

"Irene!!! Hold on!! I'm coming... Don't let go!" She finally regained her balance.

"Don't let me fall!" "Help me Les, help me! I can't hold on much longer. Hurryyy!!!" She was screaming.

Leslie grabbed her hand and the backpack, and pulled her up and onto the bridge. Irene just held Leslie very tightly and sobbed. Then Leslie noticed that Irene's hand was badly cut from the jagged rock she had grabbed when she had fallen.

"Re... You're hand is bleeding... Hon... come on we have to get to the other side so I can take care of that. Are you hurt anywhere else." Irene nodded her head that she was fine otherwise. She checked her out anyway, and decided that everything was Okay. Let's go Re..."
"I'm okay!! Just terrified is all... Just one thing Les... No more bridges....."

Smiling, Leslie replied: "No more bridges. I promise!"

They made their way back accross to where Xena and Gabrielle were anxiously waiting. Xena was very relieved that they had gotten back in one piece. Well, almost one piece... It was then both she and Gabrielle noticed that Irene was bleeding heavily from the deep laceration on her hand and wrist. Leslie was desperately trying to stop the bleeding. She was not being very successful. She knew Re needed stitches, but where was she going to get them out here, she wondered. Leslie helped Irene to the shelter that Gabrielle had prepared, and then set about rummaging thru her backpack looking for the first aid kit.

Irene sat down and felt very weak all of a sudden. "Gabrielle... I... I... think I'm going to be sick! I can't stand the sight of blood... Especially Miiiiinnnne!! Irene just slumps over in a faint. She knew she was about to faint because the blackness just seemed to envelop her.

Lesley was right next to her and grabbed her before she can hurt any other part of her body. "Re! Re! Oh God! Don't you die on me!" She yells as she holds her in her arms, crying and rocking back and forth.

"Les. It's going to be Okay. I can stitch up her hand. That will stop the bleeding. She's not going to die. It's good she passed out. This way she won't feel it when we sew her up. Gabrielle take some herbs out of the pouch and make a tea to help fight an infection. Let's clean out the wound... What's that you have there?"

"It's a first aid kit. It has some antiseptic and antibiotic cream in it, bandages, Bandaids... When she looked up and saw the puzzled look on Xena's face, she realized Xena didn't know what she was talking about. "Ummm, sort of like what you carry in you medicine pouch. This stuff, pointing to the anticeptic, is to clean the wound and this tube is to put on the wound to stop infection. Doesn't always work though. I hope your stuff works better than mine. Ya want to use it along with your herbs?"

"Sure. Let's get to it then." After Xena had finished, and Irene was all bandaged... She started to come around.

First face she saw was Gabrielle's... "I passed out huh?" She looked down and saw that her hand and wrist was bandaged. "Stitches?" "The answer is yes to both your questions You gave us quite a scare. How are you feeling?"

"My hand and wrist hurt some, but it's not so bad. I'm kinda embarrassed that I keeled over like that though. Where's Les?"

From behind her she heard her friends voice. "I'm right here Re." Les came over and hugged her. "I'm so sorry! It's all my fault. If only I hadn't pushed to get across; you wouldn't have fallen and hurt yourself."

"Now you just stop all that bullshit! It was not your fault! Did you cause the earth to move?!"

"Well no! Of course not. But... "

"But nothing. It... was... not... your... fault. Ya got that? You saved my life!"

"I love you, Re. Don't ever scare me like that again..."

"Trust me! Never again! I love ya too."

Xena was standing next to Gabrielle with her arm around her shoulder just taking this all in. "You know Brie... It's kind of scary how much they remind me of us." Gabrielle just shook her head in agreement.

Chapter Fifteen

The journey back on the ship was uneventful, thank the Gods, and everyone was anxious to get back to the village. As they were disembarking the ship Xena thanked Calvos for his part in this mission. So off the group of Amazons went. Ever protective of their Queen. Leslie and Irene noticed that Gabrielle had a more commanding demeanor when she was around the Amazons.

It took three days to reach the village. It was evening, and by this time everyone was exhausted. Ephiny, of course, was there to greet the weary travelers...

"Gabrielle. Xena. Was the journey successful? Did you get the Sands of time?"

"No. We didn't get them... They did." Gabrielle said proudly, as she pointed to Leslie and Irene.

"Well! What do you know!" Ephiny was impressed with the two newcomers.

Gabrielle had told Irene and Lesley that they would all meet in the morning, and then go to the temple together. Xena had told Gabrielle what Artemis had requested of them. She thought that it was a fine idea, and couldn't wait to see the look on Leslie and Irene's faces when they heard the good news. Tomorrow would be an interesting day. But right now all she wanted to do was sleep. It had been an exhausting trip.

Irene and Leslie took their leave and went to their hut. Neither woman had slept really well since they went to Theliki. They had so much going on in their minds that it was practically impossible to sleep thru the night without a nighmare or two. They were very quiet this evening... Each with her own thoughts... And so very tired.

"Les... I'm exhausted! I think I'll turn in if you don't mind. I just can't seem to carry on a conversation. My mind feels like jello."

"Hon, I know the feeling. Me too! All I want to do is go to bed. I can't believe all the things that have happened to us this past month! And the Island... You falling like that... I don't even want to think about it. I hope Artemis can get us home, although I'd be happy anywhere you are. If we don't make it home.... Do you think you could be happy here with me?"

"I won't lie to you Les... I have to do everything in my power to try and get home. But if we can't; there's no one in the world I'd rather be with than you. Whether it's in this time or our own. I love you. Now lets go to sleep. I have a feeling we'll need to be wide awake tomorrow. Goodnight my love."

Leslie got into bed beside Irene and snuggled against her melding their bodies as if they were one. "'Night Re. See ya ing the morning."

They waited, and waited in the Temple for Artemis to appear. 'Punctuality was abviously, not a God thing. ' Irene was torn... She had come to love these people. Her family, as she liked to call them. But the thought of never seeing her children again was breaking her heart. She missed them terribly. 'I am happy here. I've learned so much about myself this past month... I'm more capable than I could ever have imagined. Les is here with me. She loves me! I wonder, will she still feel that way when we return to our time?? Will I?? ' she mused as she looked over to where her friend was.

Leslie was not big in the patience department... she was pacing back and forth. Getting more angry by the minute. "Damn, damn, damn!" Talking to no one in particular... "First we are kidnapped by a God and sent back in time... Almost killed by highwaymen... Killed a man... Nearly fell off that damn excuse for a bridge... " She looks over to Irene and almost inaudibly says "Worst of all I could have lost you." Her eyes were filling up with tears. 'Oh shit! I will not cry! '

Artemis appears again in another blinding flash of light. There the Goddess stood at the top of the steps next to her altar. She liked to impress her subjects.

Artemis spoke to Irene and Leslie... You have done well, my daughters. You have done your kinswomen well. They, and I are proud of you. You deserve an explaination as to why you two are here. Nothing happens by chance. Your fates were determined even before you were born. It was not chance that you were in that cave on that particular day in time. It was not chance that you chose that field of work... It was your destiny. You are truly descentants of Xena & Gabrielle. I'm sure you both feel the connection with them.

"I had two visions in regard to My Chosen. I saw her killed by the hands of Ares henchmen. I could see that Xena could do nothing to save her. The other vision was of her two descendants in the future who would come back in time to save her. Both of you had to be brought here without Ares knowing I had interfered... So... I made the Stone of Ages that only the two of you could use to come back here to this time. It disappeared because you arrived before it was ever made... Sounds confusing I know, but never-the-less that is what happened. You were there for Gabrielle and I might add for you too Xena, because if Gabrielle had died, then you would have returned to your warlord ways and then Ares would have won."

Speaking to Leslie and Irene, Artemis said: "I will make a crystal out of the Sands of Time so that you may return to your time... If you wish. I have also spoken to Xena and Gabrielle regarding the crystal and they have agreed to my request. Leslie, Irene bring the Sands and pour them into the basin on my altar and then stand beside it. " Leslie and Irene did as they were told. Then Artemis turned to Xena and Gabrielle and told them to stand on the other side of the altar as well. Ephiny and Solari were standing at the bottom of the steps that lead to the altar.

Artemis passed her hands over the sands and spoke in a language no one was familiar with. Bright light eminated from her hands over the sands and there in an instant was the most incredible white crystal They had ever seen. Irene started to speak, but Artemis put her hand up to silence her.

"Xena, take your daggar and cut your finger as well as Gabrielle's, Irene's and Leslie's. Each of you must let a droplet of blood fall onto the crystal. Do it now!" Xena obeyed. As the drops of blood fell on the stone, Artemis again waved her hands over the crystal and again a blinding light appeared. When the light had subbsided... Irene and Leslie couldn't believe their eyes... The Crystal had turned a deep ruby red.

"There is something you should know about this crystal. All four of you have given your essence to this Stone. With this you can return to your own time. However, this stone is different than the last one; you will be able to return here whenever you want to. When you touch the stone you will be transported forward to your time, but the stone will remain here to be put on the altar for your return.

"You mean we can come and go as we please?" It wasn't really a question, it was more a statement said out loud so that It would sink-in. " Yesss! We're going Home!!!! " Leslie grabbed Irene in a big bear hug, them ran to hug Gabrielle and Xena. Laughing and crying at the same time. As a matter of fact everyone was crying with joy. Both women were happy at the prospect of returning home. And yet... They knew they would miss their new found family and friends. They would miss this time of Gods and Goddesses; of the excitement and uncertainty that this life held.

"Gabrielle, Xena you have both been wonderful to us, but it's time for us to go home. We have a lot of things to sort out, and I think it best... if we do that at home. I know we will see you again. Please say goodbye to Cyrene for us." Irene said.

"Everything she said and more. Thank you so very much." Leslie said.

"Thank you Artemis for keeping your word to help us get home. I'll never disbelieve in the Gods again! But now it's time for us to leave. Come on Re... Let's do it!" They waved at their family and friends and then touched the Stone. Then in an instant they were gone...

Artemis then commanded her subjects to do her bidding... "Gabrielle, you and Xena will erect an altar in one of the small natural rooms in the cave outside of Amphipolis. There you will place this Stone of Ages on the Altar. Ephiny... you and Celin, will supervise the building of my temple. Take as many Amazons as you need to complete this task as I have commanded of you. You will build the Temple so that no one knows that a cave entrance exists there." Then she was gone in another brilliant flash of light.

Gabrielle just smiled and shook her head, "Well! She certainly likes to appear and disappear in a most dramatic way. Doesn't she? Come on Xe! Let's get our things and our friends and head back to Amphipolis. We have to build that Temple.

"Right behind ya! You know Brie, I am going to miss those two. We may never see them again."

Gabrielle smiled and said, "Oh! I don't think you have to worry about that. I have a feeling they'll be back."


Again the hair on their arms stood straight up, and the tingling sensation occurred through their bodies... And there they were... Back by the altar holding on to the talisman. They just stood there, not really sure any of this had happened...

"Did all this really happen or were we hallucinating?!"

Leslie looked over to Irene and put her hand to her lips to try to stiffle a giggle. "I believe... And that's in my professional opinion (she couldn't help but giggle) that; noting by your attire, we were most deffinately there. Ha Ha Ha Ha!"

Irene had a questioning look on her face. "Wha!!! Oh... My... God... " When she looked down she saw that she was wearing one of the Amazon outfits that she had admired when they first entered the village. "How am I ever conna explain this??!!!" she groaned.

"Re! Haven't I told you I have many skills? It'll be a cinch to explain..."

"Oh yeah! Miss I have many skills. How?"

"Simple... You put your clothes in the backpack when you put on this outfit. Don't ya remember? Just change back to your old clothes and put this stuff in the pack. We can say we found the warstaff and sword behind the altar and that's how you cut your hand and wrist." Les just stood there with an I told you so smile on her face.

Leslie could hardly contain the laughter that was welling up in her throat. She knew Irene was annoyed at her being so smug, but she just couldn't resist teasing her.

'Shit! I hate it when she's right! ' she thought. "Why, thank you Leslie. Right again! My, My!"

After Irene had changes into her clothes, the two women were getting ready to put the talisman into the pack, when in comes Bob with a frown on his face.

"Les! All the damn pictures were ruined. Not one came out... They were all cloudy... I don't understand what could have happened. I'm sorry boss! I screwed up! Hey!!! Irene... What the hell happened to your hand? How'd ya get so dirty...? Whoa!!!! Look at this... " he said, as he saw the sword and scabbard and the warstaff leaning on the altar. He went right over to the weapons to inspect them. It amazed the women that he could say all this in one breath.

After Les had explained to Bob the story that she and Irene had concocted, they took everything out of the cave and went directly to the work tent. There Bob looked over every piece they had brought out of the cave. "Wow! When I saw this talisman in the cave, I knew it was incredibly beautiful, but looking at it just blows me away. Ya Know?!"

"Oh yeah! We know! We were "blown away" too. Answered Leslie. With Irene nodding in agreement.

Leslie was looking around the work tent when she noticed the clay cylinder. "Re! Look! The clay cyliner... I forgot all about it. We never opened the damn thing. Come on let's open it and see what's inside..."

"Wait Les... Not now. Let's wait till later. I'm tired and dirty and I'd like to go to our tent and clean up first. We have to discuss our "findings".

"Okay Re... Sounds like a good idea. I could use a shower also. Even if it is cold water. Hey, Bob! Got that shower thingy hooked up?"

"You bet! I'll have the men set it up for you gals. See ya later."

After their showers the women were sitting in their tent. Each going over in her mind the events that had come to pass. Although they had been gone for one month, only a few hours had passed. They both had a lot to say to one another, but just couldn't find the words to start the conversation.

Leslie noticed the sad look on Irene's face and went to her side. "Hon, what's the matter. Why are you sad? I thought you'd be over-joyed to get back home..."

"Look Les! I need to know if you still love me... here and now, in our time. I know what you said back there, but we're home and it's different now. I know I still love you. Les... If you don't feel that way about me anymore... it's okay... Nooo! It's not okay! What I'm trying...."

"Hold it right there!! Don't say anymore!! . Ya got that! I want to spend the rest of my life with you." She couldn't say anymore because Irene was kissing her passionately. When they finished that kiss, they were both breathless and wanted more than just kissing.

Irene could feel her body reacting to the passion she was feeling. "Les, babe... Now would be a good time to show me those many skills of yours... I don't think I can wait any longer. I want you now!"

Leslie was more than happy to oblige. They made love with a passion neither of them had ever known before, and when it was over they lay in each others arms just savoring the smell and feel of each other. They fell asleep... holding each other.

Next morning Irene woke up to the smell of coffee. When she opened her eyes she saw Leslie sitting on her cot, smiling at her. "Hey sleepyhead. I've brought you some coffee. Come on! Time to get up... We've gotta translate that scroll."

"Ohhh! Coffee! Thanks Les. How'd you know?" she laughed.

Coffee was finished and Irene was ready to face the world. Well anyway the scroll.

"Okay! Ready! Let's break the seal... Here it comes. Right! Be careful when you take it out of the cylinder Les. Here, put it on the table and we'll roll it out." As Irene was perusing the scroll, tears started rolling down her cheek... "Oh Les! It's a message from Xena and Gabrielle..." She didn't seem to have to decipher the document at all. She could just read it as if it were written in english. Probably a residual effect from traveling back in time.

Re! What's worng? What does it say, hon?

I't... It's addressed to us!! It's a letter from our ancestors to us...

Dear Irene and Leslie,

You will, I trust, read this when you return to your time. We decided to put this scroll in a clay cylinder and leave it in the temple itself, rather than in the cave. We figured you would find it first.

I know you go home to your future... a little unsure of your feelings for each other. It is only natural that you feel this way. You have been through so much. There is never an easy way to sort out very complex feelings. You need to take it slow and everything will fall into place. It is very obvious that you love each other. Don't be afraid! Live your life for the Greater Good and you can't go wrong.

You have given Xena and I a great gift... You have shown us how wonderful our life together will be. You, by your just being, have shown us part of our future. We will have children and grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren and so on... You have enriched our lives. We love you both.

Till we meet again... May the Gods watch over you..

Gabrielle and Xena

Oh yes! Cyrene sends her love, and says she expects to see you again soon... Maybe winter solstace perhaps.

After Irene read the scroll out loud to Leslie both women just sat there and looked at each other... It was at that moment that they both knew they would most definately return someday. Of this, there was no doubt.


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