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DISCLAIMERS: Xena, Gabrielle, Janice, and Melinda are property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. I'm borrowing them for fun with no intention or expectation of monetary profit. The other characters are mine, and are covered under the poor man's copyright.

SUBTEXT: Maintext, as far as I'm concerned. In fact, that's the whole point. This story concerns two women in a romantic relationship, and concerns two women in a romantic relationship, and is mildly graphic (probably an R at the movies). If you are under 18, or this bothers you, or is illegal where you live, please leave now.

I would love feedback. (This is my first time, and I'm pretty nervous.) Please contact me with comments or suggestions at Homophobic vitriol, however, will be jettisoned into electronic oblivion.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

part 3

by Sandakat

Dina lay on the couch, staring at whatever late night talk show her channel surfing had landed on. The comforting thought of blonde hair and green eyes stole into her consciousness, accompanied by a much more stimulating feeling slightly lower in her body, as it had during her workout, run, dinner and the TV shows after. Can't get her out of my mind. A transient visceral recall of soft lips nibbling down her ribs trickled by. How am I going to sleep tonight? Solitary pleasure just didn't seem inviting. What's wrong with me?

She rolled onto her back and stared at the ceiling. Lust I understand. Dina knew the effect she had on both men and women. At times she had taken advantage of both. It was like scratching an itch. But then the itch goes away. This just gets deeper. But so fast Can it be more than just lust so fast?

In the pit of her stomach, doubt and disbelief were running a skirmish with hope, and love. The to-and-fro of the battle was tying her in knots.

She flipped onto her side, eyes pointed, unseeing at the TV. It feels like more. How can it be? I want it to be. I never wanted anyone to get close. It hurts too much when they leave. But it feels so right. Can she feel it too? She must, I can see it when she looks at me. A shudder ran through her at the thought of those deep emerald eyes. I'm not imagining it. No one has ever affected me like this. Another flip followed a flop.

How can I know? Why is this so different? How can I tell?

Closing her eyes, she reached inside and touched the place where her anger lived. It was quiet. It is right.

Doubt threw down its' arms and surrendered. Disbelief left the building. Wrapped in a blanketing peace, she fell asleep.

Awakening late in the afternoon, Rene crawled out from under the blankets and pulled the earplugs out of her ears. Throwing on a tee shirt and shorts, she crept out of her room in search of a large pot of coffee.

On the couch, in the living room, Erin was lying, watching TV in a very friendly lump with a young man that Rene had never seen before.

"Hi Rene." She waved up as Rene stopped and pushed some hair out of her face. "This is Stuart."

Disengaging himself from Erin, he walked over and shook Rene's hand. He was about the doctor's height, slim and muscular and definitely Oriental. Distractingly, the hair on the left side of his head had been dyed green.

"I'm Stuart Matsuhana, glad to meet you." He pumped her hand. "What's up Doc?" He erupted into giggles. "Sorry, I've always wanted to say that."

Arrgh, thought Rene. "Nice to meet you Stuart. What's up? Not me. I need coffee first. Excuse me." She made her way into the kitchen.

"We're watching the news," Erin shouted out to her. "There's another big fire."

Rene wandered out, coffee in hand, and joined the couple on the couch.

" another big warehouse fire in downtown LA. This is the ninth fire apparently set by the same person. The security guard was badly burned and has been air lifted to the Sherman Oaks burn center. He was able to give police a description of the possible arsonist. He's a white man, mid twenties, about 5'9", 200 pounds, short light hair and tattoos down both arms. He was wearing a white shirt and light colored pants."

On the screen, firefighters were busy dousing the burning building. Six engines and two truck companies could be seen in the streets surrounding the area.

The picture flashed back to the newsroom. "Next up, woman sees angel in her back yard," the anchor woman intoned seriously.

Rene took a sip of her coffee. "Jeez, her hair just keeps getting bigger, doesn't it?"


Erin grabbed the phone. "Hello? She's right here. Hang on." She handed the phone to the blonde. "It's your firefighter buddy."

"Dina," Rene told her, taking the telephone. "Hey. Hi. We were just watching the fire on TV. How are you?"

"I'm OK. Hanging out. When do you have to go to work tonight?"

"I have to be there at 8. I leave here at 7:30." She glanced at the clock on the stove, 5:15.

"Would you like some company? We can get some dinner, take a walk, whatever. I, uh, I'd really like to see you."

Rene's heart rolled over once in her chest. "Yeah, I'd like that."

"I can be there in half an hour. See you. Bye."

"Bye," she said as the phone clicked in her hand. "Well." A pause. "Half an hour? I've gotta shower and dress."

She was halfway through dressing when she got the familiar tingling heralding Dina's arrival. She threw on the first shirt she could lay hands on, a faded green polo shirt, over her dark tan pants, and ran out to meet the firefighter.

Dina was wearing jeans and a denim shirt. A dark brown bomber jacket, with brass buttons lay over her shoulders.

A slow smile broke over her face as the doctor walked up and wrapped her in a hug. She stepped back and looked at the smaller woman. "There's something really familiar about you in those colors. I can't place it though."

"I was going to say the same about you and the jacket. Oh well, let's go eat. I think these two want to be alone." She nodded her head toward Erin and Stuart.

"We're watching the news," came Erin's indignant voice.

"Right. You're watching and he's reading the translation off your body in Braille. Got it. See you later." She ducked a couch pillow that came flying in her direction. Chuckling, the two women left. "I know this great Mexican place by the pier. Good food, big portions, cheap."

"You're right. Those were tremendous portions." Dina leaned back in her chair. "Do we have time for a walk?"

Rene looked at her watch and nodded.


They kicked off their shoes and walked hand in hand in the cool sand of the dark beach. Invisible in the dark, the waves boomed and hissed with their ebb and flow. A chilly onshore breeze caressed their faces. Beyond the pier, they could hear the chime of the buoy bells and the faint barking of the harbor seals resting on the buoys and channel markers.

In the shadow of a lifeguard stand, they stopped to kiss and then continued to make their way toward the water.

"Oh, I like this." At the point where the dry sand met the wet, the beach dropped away more steeply, leaving them standing eye to eye. Rene wrapped her arms around Dina's neck and kissed her once, softly on the lips. "I don't have to stand on my toes."

Lips met and parted, letting tongues meet and explore. Dina pulled the shorter woman to her, feeling her warmth and softness down the length of her body. Hearts pounding, they pressed closer, their kisses becoming more urgent with need.

Dina slipped her hand under Rene's shirt and felt her gasp as she stroked her overheated skin. Her lips ran a slow path down Rene's neck stopping only when Rene grabbed her head in both hands.

"Dina, we've got to stop." She kissed the firefighter quickly. "One, we're in a really public place. Two, I've got to go to work. And three, if you keep doing this, I'm not going to be able to keep standing." She tucked her head against Dina's shoulder. "Sometimes I really hate being a responsible adult."

The firefighter ran her hands through the doctor's silky blonde hair and sighed. "You're right. It's just so easy to get carried away. With you it just feels so right. Let's head back."

Once again, hand in hand, they made their way back to the car.

The house was deserted when they returned.

"Erin's gone to work," Rene remarked, glancing at the scribbled-over calendar hanging on the cabinet. "We both work tomorrow right?" She put her arms around Dina.

The taller woman nodded.

"What are you doing the next day?"

"Umm." She put her arms around the blonde's shoulders. "Conquering the known world? Probably not. Rescuing maidens in distress?" She looked hopefully at Rene, who gave her a mock frown. "Looks like no. OK, I'm open. How about we spend some time together?"

"Good choice". She rewarded the firefighter with a peck on the nose.

"What would you like to do?"

"Well, I've done the major tourist stuff, you know, Disneyland, Universal Studios, Rodeo Drive, Hollywood, that stuff."

"We're going to be starting a little late, we've both got to sleep. I have to work the next day, hmm. Have you been to Melrose?"

"Like the show?" She looked quizzically at the taller woman.

"No, like the street. It's a fun area to walk around, shop, eat and people watch."

"Sold. I'll be there. Now, I really have to leave for work". They held each other, swaying slightly, for a few seconds. "Really, I gotta go." The kissed and reluctantly separated.

A few minutes late. One last kiss is a fair trade for the grief I'll take, thought the ever punctual doctor as she drove up into the hospital parking lot, still feeling Dina's touch on her lips.

Dina sat at the station table reading the Times Metro section and hoping the two guys who'd volunteered to cook dinner would get inspired soon. She nursed a luke warm iced tea. How can it be 85 degrees the week before Halloween?

"Pakadios, business phone," blared over the loudspeaker.

Who could that be?

"It's some doctor, wants to talk to you," the captain informed her, handing her the phone as she walked into the office. He turned back to his desk full of paperwork.

"Pakadios here."

"Hey, it's me, Rene. I just woke up and wanted to hear your voice." Dina could feel the warm smile reaching her through the telephone. Her day suddenly brightened immensely. "How's your day been?", the voice continued.

"OK. We haven't been too busy. In fact, I was just reading the paper."

"I wish you were here with me. I don't know what it is, but I'm happier with you around."

"Really? So what would you do if I was there?"

"We could watch TV or listen to music or Since you asked, I do have some more personal suggestions "

The captain swiveled back around in his chair as he heard the strange noise from Dina's direction, his mouth dropping open in amazement as the blush crawled up her face.

Her crimson deepened as she caught his eye. "Uh, I've got to go now," she stammered, "The captain wants the phone."

"He's in the room? Oops." Rene snickered to herself. "So, I'll see you tomorrow if you don't make it to the hospital tonight. Bye."

In a daze, she hung up the phone, walked into the dorm room, and threw herself on a bed. Jose, the engineer, lying on a bed nearby looked up.

"Hey, Dina, you OK?"

Hand over her face, she mumbled something incoherent.

He moved to sit at her side and put a hand on her arm. "You OK?"

She took her arm down. "I'm fine, really. I just, uh," the blush crept up over her face, "Had a, uh, strange phone call."

He smiled broadly and patted her shoulder. "You go girl. I hope she's nice." He paused, and in a moment of uncanny perception, snapped his fingers and blurted, "It's the Doc, Dr. Covington, isn't it?"

She was up and had him in a strong grip by the shoulders before it registered that she had moved.

"Good guess," she growled, towering over him, "This doesn't need to become common knowledge, right?"

"Look, sister," he said with a wink, "It takes one to know one, right? No one's gonna hear it from me."

"Thanks." Dina gave a relieved laugh and sat down again. "Neither of us needs any grief. I don't think she'd appreciate the rumors at work."

"Don't I understand that."

She nodded. His predicament was much worse than hers. Gay men were hounded unmercifully in the macho bastion of the fire department. Being small and Hispanic only made it that much more difficult.

"Don't take this wrong," he continued, "But, I think she's had a good effect on you already. You've been pretty mellow today. You didn't rip in half the guy who changed the TV station you were watching and you didn't go on a search and destroy mission for whoever ate your cookies. Whoa!"

Smiling uncomfortably, she answered, "Yeah, I don't know how she does that to me. My anger just leaves. But, I will get back at whoever ate my Oreos."

BRAAAP "Engine 145 report to car fire at the corner of " The loudspeaker droned on giving the location and time of incident.

Jose gave the surprised woman a quick hug. "Time to work, Mija, let's go." They ran for their turnouts.

The next afternoon, Rene arrived to pick Dina up about four. The heat wave had continued, making it almost impossible to sleep during the day. The Santa Ana winds, hot and dry, the night before, had as usual made people crazy, giving her a very busy night. She'd overslept, and not heard the alarm, once she finally did drop off. Skipping coffee and breakfast had been the only way to get here on time, but had left her in a general state of grouch that she was trying, but failing, to kill.

She glanced at her plaid short sleeve shirt, chino shorts and sockless Topsiders with a frown. I look like a refugee from the Midwest. Heat wave in October. It's unnatural. She wiped the sweat from her forehead.

The grouch took a powder the minute Dina opened the door and swept her into an engulfing hug.

Dina had dressed in a pair of black, button fly jeans and black sneakers. A form fitting black tank top showed off her perfect breasts and muscular shoulders to full advantage. The addition of a small green ribbon woven into the single thick braid she wore trailing down her back, along with all of the black, only served to enhance the startling blue of her eyes.

"You look great. Almost good enough for me to forget how hungry I am," the shorter woman sighed, snuggling into Dina's warm chest.

The firefighter chuckled, a warm rumbling in Rene's ear. "I guess that's a compliment. Let's go, then. I wouldn't want you to go hungry."

They found a parking space on a side street after circling for only fifteen minutes and walked back down to Melrose Street. The area had originally been an artists' escape, but as more people had come, funky shops had moved in. Now, with a Gap and Starbucks, it was well on its' way to being trendoid. But, it still had enough Bohemian to be fun.

"Tell you what, let's get you some coffee and a small bite, walk around and then get dinner. It's still pretty early, OK?"

"Fine." Rene's stomach obediently growled in agreement.

Dina steered her shorter friend into a small café nearby. The doctor's eyes roamed over the snake mosaic inlaid in the center of the floor, the mural of a single giant snake wrapped around the walls of the room, and small delicate snakes which made up the filigreed backs of the wrought iron chairs that sat scattered about tiny tables. SNAKE EYES CAFÉ was stenciled above the doorway.

"Good name," Rene commented as they stepped up to the counter and she scanned the menu board.

"What'll you have?", a woman asked from behind the counter. "Dina! Long time no see, girl." She came around the counter and hugged the firefighter. "You look great."

Dina gave her a quick hug back. "Hi, Sybil. This is my friend Rene."

The doctor was losing her fight not to gawk at the other woman. Sybil was Rene's height, but weighed close to three times as much. Long, kinky blonde hair cascaded freely down her back, hitting behind her knees. A snake tattoo, its' tail at her right ankle, curled up her body in beautiful reds, blues and purples, finally ending with its' head on the left side of her neck. Rene could see most of the snake because the woman wore only a bright yellow tube top, cutoff shorts and sandals.

She turned and gave Rene a warm smile and held out her hand. "Good to meet you."

Rene smiled back, realizing as she shook the woman's hand that Sybil was wearing pale blue contact lenses that had elongated, diamond shaped pupils.

"Sybil was in one of my self defense courses a few years back," Dina explained.

"It saved my life one night. I'll always be grateful. What'll it be girls? On the house, I insist. Rosy Boa, by the way." She looked at Rene, who was still staring.

"Sorry, excuse me?"

"Rosy Boa, the snake. Isn't that what you were trying to figure out?"

The doctor realized that she'd completely missed seeing the small, pale pink snake that was calmly draped around Sybil's neck.

"Oh, yes, thanks." She blushed.

"I'll have an espresso and I think Rene will have a latte and one of you fruit pastries." The firefighter jumped in, covering her friend's embarrassment.

"Coming up, have a seat."

They took a table by the open window facing the sidewalk.

"I am so not in Ohio." Rene shook her head.

Dina laughed openly and patted her arm. "Sybil is exceptional."

"Here you are, enjoy."

"Wow, great pastry." Rene greedily inhaled her breakfast. "You didn't want some did you?", she asked, scooping up the last of the crumbs.

"No, that's fine. I like watching you." Blue eyes sparkled with affection.

The blonde looked at her friend and smiled. Through their eyes an eternal door opened, strengthening and confirming the bond of their connection. For a few seconds, the world fell away.

"More coffee?" They both turned in surprise at Sybil standing above them with a pot.

"No thanks. But, thanks again for the coffee and pastry." Dina stood, the moment gone. "Shall we walk?"

Still early, the sidewalk was filled with families. Children skipped down the crowded sidewalk and twirled around parking meters. Small dogs tangled their leashes in the legs of passersby.

Rene and Dina strolled, brushing arms occasionally, looking into the windows of tiny, chic clothing stores, laughing at the prices and wondering who could possibly wear or afford such clothes.

"Isn't she some actress or other?" Rene nodded toward an impossibly skinny woman who was checking out a tiny silver lame number in the mirror in a shop.

"I think so, can't place her though. Now we know who can wear those." They moved on.

A Harley Davidson leather shop on the corner caught their attention.

"I like the leather, I just can't wear it," bemoaned the blonde wistfully.

"Why not?"

"I look like a wannabe in it. You know - a biker wannabe, a dyke wannabe. I just look silly."

"I want to see." Dina grabbed Rene's hand and pulled her into the shop. The bearded man in the stereotypical Harley insignia vest behind the counter gave them a quick eye, decided they were harmless and ignored them.

"Here." Rene pulled out a short, trim cut black jacket and put it on. Despite being her size, suddenly she appeared to be a small child who was playing in her older brother's clothing.

"See? I can't carry it off. You try one."

The dark haired woman shrugged. "OK. I've never been much for black leather, just the brown." She tried on a jacket.

The doctor stepped back. "Uh, wow, you seem really menacing in that. How'd you do that?"

Without moving, or changing expression, Dina had become grim and malevolent. Her shadow filled the room with a darkness, startling even the large, tough clerk.

"Dunno," she shrugged it off, "Happens every time, though. I'll stick to brown." Everything returned quietly to normal.


Near the middle of the shopping blocks sat a Jewish retirement home that had been there seemingly forever and had waited, unchanged as the neighborhood evolved around it.

They walked by it now, noticing with amusement that quite a few ancient faces sat lined up against the plate glass windows, eagerly awaiting the nightly parade. The TV, off to the side, was on but forgotten.

"Look, wind up toys." The doctor scooted into a toy store. Wind up toys of every size, color and permutation filled the shelves. A large table, like a smooth billiard table occupied the center of the shop, inviting play.

"Look." Rene had found a pair of chattering teeth and set them to dancing on the table.

"How's this?" Dina sent a Godzilla, complete with waving arms and shooting sparks lumbering toward the teeth.

"OK for you." The blonde sped a wind up firetruck toward Godzilla. "Wreck my teeth will you?"

A small, fuzzy fluorescent blue ball came rolling toward her firetruck.

"Now what is that?", the blonde asked.

"I don't know. It was the first thing I could get my hands on to counterattack."

"Check this out." A small boy at the far end of the table was playing with a tiny, pink rubber penis that was cheerfully hopping up and down. "I know a few doctors that would be perfect for," laughed Rene.

"Yeah, a few firefighters, too," agreed Dina, as they continued their tour.

A few more stores of more outrageously unwearable clothing later found them at the end of the blocks of shops and into the restaurants.

"Dinner time?" Rene looked hopefully up at Dina.

"Sure, there's a nice little Cuban place a few blocks up." Placing her arm around the blonde's shoulders, she pointed her up the block.

It was too comfortable to move. I hope she doesn't mind this. I know it's possessive and public, but I like people to think she's mine. I want her to be mine. Becoming uncomfortable with this line of thought, she started to remove her arm, but was stopped by Rene grabbing her hand and holding it in place.

The smaller woman smiled up at her nervous companion. "Don't move it, I like it there." She tucked an her free arm around the taller woman's waist. "I guess a little PDA never hurt anyone." This is a little different than kissing out in public.

Actually, I more than like it, Rene admitted to herself. My shoulder has been waiting for her arm there, not just tonight, always. I just never knew it before. She leaned against the firefighter, basking in the protection of the encircling limb.

The restaurant was cozy, intimate, and smelled wonderful. Diners sat in small groups, quietly eating and conversing.

Dina was unclear later how they'd managed to eat the entire dinner holding hands. But, the warm, tingling radiating up from there to her entire body left her sure they had.

The sidewalks were still filled with people as they exited onto the street, but the population had changed. Groups of adolescents, dressed in black and pierced with silver wandered or smoked on the corners. In the alcove of a group of storefronts, three women in short, tight, brightly colored skirts, fishnet stockings and spiked heels lounged and talked.

"Guys," Dina whispered into Rene's ear, distracting her so that she almost didn't catch what had been said.

"Really?" she turned to look. The firefighter grabbed her and spun her back forward. "OK, I'll be cool." She gave her taller friend a swat on the butt.

A skater rolled by, swerving and dancing to an inaudible beat, weaving among the people and parking meters. Swathed in multicolored gauzy scarves, mimicking a ninja outfit, the person's sex was unidentifiable.

"He believes that if he keeps dancing he'll never die of his HIV."


"Come in for a few minutes?", the firefighter asked expectantly when they'd finally negotiated traffic back to her apartment. "I want you to stay all night, but I've got to get up early. It wouldn't work."

I want you to stay all night, every night. She craved Rene's company. Don't understand it, but I don't want to fight it. I can't fight it. Together they were complete. How could she fight that? It was like being two sides of a single coin. Together, they made one.

"Sure, I won't stay long. I know you have to get up."

They lay entwined on the couch, bodies pressed close, hearts beating in unison.

"Have I told you how much I like kissing you and holding you?", murmured the doctor into her companion's ear, giving the lobe a gentle nibble. She ran her hand up Dina's thigh and played with the back pocket of her jeans. "Actually, just being with you is enough. I don't have to even touch you and I'm happy. Thinking about you makes me feel like Jello."

She ducked her head and blushed. That was more than I meant to say. She felt Dina's hand lifting her chin to look into her eyes.

"Me, too. It just feels so " She groped for the right word, one that said what she meant, but wouldn't be so overwhelming that it would frighten Rene. "It just fits." Wimp, she chided herself.

They lay wrapped in each other, surrounded by an envelope of comfort and connection, letting that be enough. Those simple, insufficient words were a promise, unsaid, but understood, of more. More time, more closeness, more (a thought not yet dared by either) love.

Rene drove home, the 405 freeway a blur of red and white lights, waging a war with herself that she was bound to lose.

Too soon, too soon. What the hell am I doing? How long have I known her? There's no such thing as love at first sight.

But it doesn't feel like first sight, argued the other half of her mind, it feels like forever. What about those dreams?

Just dreams of a sex deprived mind. My unconscious going overboard. I am setting myself up to get so hurt. She swerved around a piece of metal in the road.

But it feels so right. She feels like a missing part of me. She seems to feel the same.

I can't do this to myself. How can I not?

She tried to picture not seeing Dina again. The ache that hit her heart was a squeezing iron fist. Her gut clenched and she was afraid she was going to vomit. Sweat broke out in beads across her face. The car veered wildly.

Fighting for breath, she concentrated on getting the car under control.

I guess that answers that. Why fight what's not a choice? Part of her was relieved. I don't have to fight it. She relaxed, reliving the warmth and security of Dina's arm over her shoulder. Well, good. Very good. Her thoughts took a slightly different turn, to their nights together. The warmth moved a little lower. Great, in fact.

She came home to the sounds of Erin and Stuart obviously making love behind the closed door of her bedroom. She stopped outside the door and briefly considered pounding on it and yelling "Police" or "Fire Department", but decided she was in too good a mood. Let them enjoy.

"Fire station 145."

"This is Dr. Covington, is Firefighter Pakadios there?"

"No, ma'am, the engine is out on a call, can I help you?"

"Please tell her I called, thanks."

"Hi, Erin, this is Dina "

"Hey, Dina, Rene's left for work. The day shift Doc asked her to come in an hour early, sorry. You have the number?"

"Yeah, I'll try to get her there."

"Emergency, can I help you?"

"Is Dr. Covington available? This is Firefighter Pakadios."

"She's in a code right now. Can I take a message?"

"Could you tell her I called? Thanks."

"Dina, this is Rene, it's 4:30pm. I just woke up. I didn't get the message you called until almost 5am. The clerk spaced telling me about it. I guess you're out. Call me. I'll be at work tonight."

"ER. Can I help you?"

"Is Dr. Covington there? This is Firefighter Pakadios."

"She's with a critical patient. Can I take a message?"

"Please tell her I called, thanks. I'm home.

"Fire station 145."

"Is Firefighter Pakadios there?"

"No, the engine is on a run."

"Please ask her to call Dr. Covington at home. Tell her I didn't get her message until 3am. Thanks. I'll be at work after 8pm."



"Huh? Is Dr. Covington available?"


"This is Dr. Covington."

"Hey, it's Dina."

"Oh, thank God. After three days of phone tag, I was going to badly hurt the next one who didn't give me my message." She looked and checked that no one was nearby. "I missed you," she mumbled into the phone.

Dumbstruck, the firefighter managed to squeak out a quiet, "Me, too. Do you work tomorrow?"

"No, I'm off for three."

"Let's do something."

"Sorry, I can't. I promised one of the docs, ages ago, that I'd help her study for her boards."

"Oh." Disappointment slammed the dark haired woman bodily. She stared at the floor.

"The next day? If we don't, I can't be responsible for my actions. Say yes and save LA from a rampaging, frustrated doctor."

"Sounds great to me." She smiled, amazed at how quickly Rene could make her do that. "I wouldn't want to be responsible for you committing mayhem or anything like that. What should we do?" BRAAAP. "Gotta go, there's a structure fire. You think of something. See ya, bye."

She barely heard Rene's, "OK, I'll think of something, bye," as she hung up and dashed for the engine.

Erin was sitting on the couch, leaning against one arm rest, her feet propped up on the cushions, eating Chinese food from a white takeout box with chopsticks, and simultaneously chatting on the telephone tucked under her chin, when Rene got home from her tutoring.

She turned down the blaring TV and walked over to the munching woman.

"Gonna be long?"

She pushed back a few wayward blonde strands. It'd been a long evening. Deborah was just not catching on. Every time Rene had tried to leave, hoping to call Dina, she'd come up with some new question.

Erin put down the chopsticks and held up one hand, fingers spread wide.

"Five minutes, thanks, I only need it for a few minutes, myself. Hi, Stuart." She leaned over and yelled into the phone.

Half an hour later, Erin was showing no signs of giving up the telephone. Rene was fuming.

Finally, she stood in front of the smaller woman, hands on her hips and shouted, "Give me the telephone for five minutes, Goddammit, or I'll.. I'll ", clenching her fists in impotent rage.

Erin looked up innocently. "Why didn't you say so? Of course you can have it. Stuart, Mijo, let me call you back in a few. My dear roomie is about to go postal on me. OK? Bye." She hung up and handed it to the blonde. "Here you go, dear." She batted her eyelashes and walked into the kitchen.

Sitting down, Rene rolled her eyes and dialed the firefighter's number. A groggy voice answered the line.


"Hey, it's me. Sorry to wake you up. I just pried the phone out of Erin's ear."

"It's OK. I tried to call earlier. It's been busy for over an hour." She sounded more awake.

"Well, I've got to give it back to her. That was the deal for getting her off. Anyway, how about Catalina tomorrow? We can take the 12:30 boat out of Long Beach and come back on an evening boat."

"Great, I haven't been there in years. I'll pick you up at 10. See you in the morning. Tell Erin thanks for giving up the phone. Sleep well, sorry I can't be there with you."

"Me, too. I guess I should let you get back to sleep. Bye."

"Bye, Rene."

"Erin," she bellowed into the kitchen, "Phone's yours. Dina says if you hog the phone again, she's going to come over and rip you limb from limb." She handed her roommate the telephone and stomped off to bed.

Dina awoke to the view through her open shades of the coral of dawn being chased from the sky by the perfect blue of a day filled with unlimited promise. Giving a long, catlike stretch, she glanced at her clock, 6:45.

Anticipation was making her heart pound like a child awakening on Christmas morning. The urge to jump out of bed and race over to Rene's was almost overwhelming. Now I want to see her now. The thought sent a shiver coursing through her body. Better find something to do, or I will be running over there. Maybe I'll work out for a while.

Hmm, neither of us works tonight or tomorrow. Her heart rate picked up even more as she contemplated the possibilities that implied. Work out and run. Work out and long run, she thought as she looked at the clock again, 6:47. Tossing back the covers, she hopped out of bed, threw on an ancient gray T shirt, shorts, and a beat up pair of sneakers, and made her way into her workout room.

She arrived at 10 on the dot. Rene met her just outside the door.

They had dressed almost identically, in jeans, and polo shirts. Dina had chosen red, and Rene, blue. Both had tied their hair back simply with a plain band.

"Nice choice of outfit," the doctor grinned at her companion.

"Yeah, you too. Did you throw in a jacket or sweatshirt? The ride back will be cool."

"Nope, forgot. I'll get one." She dashed back into the house, and came out, shortly, with a small day pack.

"Let's go." Rene started toward Dina's truck.

"Hey, Dina," Erin yelled out to them from inside. "So, you're going to rip me limb from limb?"

"What?" asked Dina, cluelessly.

"Nevermind, we'll be late," The blonde called from the truck. "Let's go."

"OK." She turned away, perplexed and got into the truck.

The Catalina Express, out of Long Beach Harbor was a large, triple decked ship designed to hold 200 people. The bottom deck, fully enclosed and surrounded by windows, held the head and a snack bar. The second was partially enclosed, with an open back deck. The top deck was simply open, with a sheet metal fence surrounding the deck and metal benches bolted to the deck for the hardy sun worshippers.

Rene and Dina took a quick tour of the uncrowded ship, stopping to buy soft pretzels and pop (according to Rene) and settled themselves on the open top deck.

The heatwave had broken and the temperature hovered in the mid seventies. A mild onshore breeze skipped across the deck. To the east, the mountains disappeared into a brown pall. But to the west, stretched the magnificent, calmly blue ocean. Catalina Island, 24 miles away, was still only a ghost in the white morning haze.

They sat, drinking in the warmth of the sun and each other, watching the double hump of the island swim slowly closer. A lemon yellow biplane looped and rolled, practicing stunts above them as sea gulls flew by, jeering.

"Look!" The doctor ran to the railing. "Dolphins." As Dina joined her, Rene grabbed her arm and pointed. "There."

A small group of dolphins gamboled just off the side of the boat, their sleek, silvery backs appearing and disappearing as they raced alongside. At some unheard signal, they vanished, to emerge far off to the starboard, heading away.

"Wow." Rene turned and held the taller woman around the waist, hugging her close. "I always wanted to see that." She smiled hugely at Dina. "Thanks."

The firefighter wrapped the doctor in her arms and returned the smile. "Just for you."

Their eyes met. There, on the sundrenched deck, the acceptance that each had reached in themselves, of the truth of their bond, became silently known to the other.

Rene leaned her head against Dina's chest and sighed. Home, finally home, came the thought, simultaneously to them both, tolling with the clarity of a temple bell.

Four small children came screeching up the stairs from the deck below and charged by, followed by their weary mothers. Shocked out of their reverie, the two women jumped apart, blushed, then grinned at each other in quick embarrassment. They resumed their seats, holding hands for the remainder of the trip.

They disembarked with the other tourists at the Port of Avalon, a small c-shaped east facing bay. Reluctantly relinquishing each other's hands, they wandered among the touristy shops of the waterfront, happily pointing out sea shell creations and laughing at clever T-shirts. Soon, though, they made their way to the nearly abandoned beach.

About a dozen sailboats sat moored in the bay. A rusty fishing boat chugged out to sea, trailing a stream of raucous sea gulls. A dive boat was loading equipment and divers in uncomfortable looking wet suits, at the pier at the north end of the bay.

Rene bent down, picking up a small, dark pebble and tossed it into the waves.

"Do you sail?", she asked Dina, admiring a particularly fine boat bobbing nearby.

"No. You?"

"No. There weren't any lakes near us in Ohio that I wanted to be on. Once I was in school, I didn't have the time. As a resident, well, I think I may have had one day in those four years for myself. I think I slept in, ate, had a beer and went back to bed.

I always wanted to try it, though."

"You could do it now. You could take lessons."

"I could," the doctor replied slowly. "Would you do it with me?" Say yes, say yes.

Dina raised an eyebrow, studying her smaller friend. It was a foreign concept, making plans, any plans, alone, much less with someone else. She was a creature of the moment, not trusting in any other than a completely random future.

This wasn't just a simple request for two friends to take a few lessons together, she recognized. Agreeing to this was an acceptance of a certain future. Theirs, together. The thought sent a thrill through her soul.

"Sure," Smiling, she nodded. "Love to." Fate sealed, line crossed.

Rene felt all of her muscles relax. When did I tense up? I needed her to say yes.

"Great." Beaming, she wound her arm around Dina's as they continued along the sand.

Having no destination, just enjoying their time together, they progressed up the beach in a slow staccato fashion, stopping to examine washed up kelp and to show each other pretty rocks and shells and to watch the waves.

The afternoon revolved slowly around them. The sun was setting as they turned past the end of the bay onto a completely deserted section of beach.

"Oh, we're facing the mainland, we won't see the sunset will we?", Rene asked, disappointed.

"No, but we can still sit and watch the water for a while," answered Dina. With one foot, she dug a shallow depression. Taking their day packs, she placed them behind the hole, then sat down in it, leaning her back against the packs.

She motioned to Rene, "Sit down and lean against me."

The doctor settled herself between the firefighter's legs, leaning back against her chest, resting her arms on Dina's bent knees. As they watched, the sky slowly merged from blue into pale yellow and pink, tinting the brown of the mainland umber and orange. Reflecting the sky, the ocean ran in silvers and golds. Starkly white sails dotted the horizon.

As Rene let her head fall back onto Dina's shoulder, the firefighter draped her arms around her stomach and pulled her close.

"Who needs a sunset?", she rumbled softly into the doctor's ear, kissing it. Then she gently sucked and teased her earlobe with her tongue, before continuing on to the smooth skin of her throat.

Rene turned her head and met Dina's warm lips. She raised a hand to caress her cheek. Tongues played and explored, learning each other's secrets.

Her shirt tail was tugged out of her pants and Dina's hand slid lightly up the skin of her belly. She gasped, her body moving involuntarily as she felt the electric thrill of Dina's fingers teasing her nipple through the material of her bra.

Breaking off the kiss, the firefighter whispered in the blonde's ear, "Let me touch you." She slipped her hand inside the bra and lovingly stroked her breast.

Rene gave a quick glance up the beach. No one. Not that it mattered. She was too far gone to stop now. She could feel Dina breathing heavily against her. The pressure of the dark haired woman's breasts against her back only inflaming her more.

"Uhh," as the other breast received the same attention, "Oh, yes."

Fingers slowly trailed their way down her abdomen and, meeting the other hand, undid the front of her jeans. She wrapped her arms around Dina's thighs, thrusting her body upward as she felt the touch slip under her waistband and move against her yearning flesh.

Then they were groaning and moving together as the waves within rose and finally broke, leaving them both panting on the shadowed beach.

They lay there until Rene realized that she had started shivering, and it was almost dark.



"We better get moving, or at least move enough to give me my jacket. Between working up a sweat and getting dark, I'm a little chilly."


Rene stood up first, zipping her jeans and brushing off the sand. She turned and, holding out her hand, pulled her companion to her feet and into a warm embrace.

"What can I do for you?" She planted a kiss at the base of the taller woman's neck.

"Oh, I'll think of something later," she promised with a gleam in her eyes. "For now, let's head back. I'll bet you're hungry and it's almost dark."

"Well, since you mentioned it " She pulled a navy blue shelled jacket out of her pack and put it on. "I could use some dinner."

Dina finished brushing the sand off her bottom and threw on a heavy, gray sweatshirt with a Dalmatian puppy wearing a fire hat and 'LAFD' embroidered over the left breast. Wrapping an arm over the shoulder of the smaller woman, who threw an arm around her waist, in return, together they set a more direct course back to town.

They found a small, uncrowded bar, done in beach decor - surfboards and sailing pictures, that served juicy burgers, wonderful , greasy fries and had beer on tap. They devoured the food, laughing and feeding each other fries and sampling each other's burgers, oblivious to the other diners.

It was fully dark by the time they caught the boat home. Even less occupied than the outbound boat, only about 50 people sat scattered inside the enclosed decks.

Sitting inside was warmer, but it seemed too light and too populated.

"Want to go outside?" Rene inquired, hopefully.

"Yes." The firefighter was on her feet immediately.

They made their way to the open top deck. Ahead of them, the multicolored lights of Los Angeles were strung out in an opalescent array. A fat, gibbous moon hung low over the mountains, gleaming white, hiding the stars in it's brilliance.

Rene walked over and leaned on the railing, looking out at the lights of the city. Dina came over and stood behind her, absorbing the warmth of the blonde's back, placing her hands over the smaller ones. She rested her chin on the soft shoulder in front of her.

I'm really getting to like this position, the doctor mused. Who am I kidding, 'like'? Love. I love this. I love her. My mind finally accepts what my body already knew. How can I tell her?

"Penny for your thoughts," came a breathless voice in her ear.

"You know, it gives me the shivers every time you do that," she informed the taller woman. "What was I thinking? Uh " She turned, facing the firefighter and took her hands. "This has been such a wonderful day. I really enjoyed it. Going there, being with you. Actually, going anywhere, being with you. Or, just being with you. It feels so perfect, so right "

It was getting away from her. How to say this?

"Rene," Dina interrupted.

"I think about you all the time. I want to be with you all the time. I "

"Rene." Dina stood, looking at the doctor quietly, a small lopsided grin on her face.

"What?" She stopped, puzzled at Dina's expression. Oh, God, I've blown it. She's laughing at me. She braced herself for the inevitable let down.

"I love you."

For a second, the world stopped.

"What?," Rene whispered through lips suddenly too stunned to say more.

"I love you," Dina repeated quietly.

"Oh." She collected herself slowly, and smiled. "How did you do that? There I was, blithering, trying to work up the nerve to tell you, and you just go right for it."

Dina shrugged, still holding the blonde's hands, eyes searching her face, trying to sort out what she'd just said, hoping.

Rene took a deep breath. "So, what I was trying to say was, I love you, too. You "

Her next words were lost as she found herself crushed up against the firefighter, being kissed with a passion that threatened to buckle her knees, the echoes of similar kisses resounding through centuries, multiplying her bliss.

Time changes when two are caught up reclaiming and renewing an ancient promise. The clang and lurch as the boat docked took them both by surprise, still holding each other on the deck.

Erin had left Rene a note, held up by a large magnet proclaiming 'USC #1', on the refrigerator.

Hey, Rene,

I'm staying at Stuart's tonight. The number is 555-8960.

If my mom calls, I'm studying at the school library.

Thanks, E

PPS. I forgive Dina

"She forgives me for what?", asked Dina, reading over the doctor's shoulder.

"Nevermind. The important thing is, we have the house to ourselves tonight". Capturing Dina's hand, and giving her a kiss, she lead her toward the bedroom. "I believe you were going to think of a way for me to pay you back."

And she did. And paybacks were definitely not a bitch.

Many sleepy "I love you's" later, Rene threw an arm and a leg over Dina, and cuddled up closer. Feels like we've been doing this forever was the last thought as she was lulled to sleep by her lover's soft snoring.

It was unusual for her to be in the studio this time of morning. What had made her get dressed and come down here? She wasn't expecting any students this early.

The scent of cooking bacon triggered a deep rumbling in her stomach. Having no reason to stay where she was, Dina turned and headed out the door, in search of breakfast.

'Smells like something's cooking.' The thought drifted lazily past Melinda's sleepy mind. 'Cooking?' She sat up suddenly, realizing that Janice's side of the bed was empty. 'Janice, cooking?'

Nothing smelled burnt, and the house wasn't filled with smoke. OK so far. Throwing on a dressing gown, she ran out of the bedroom and down the marble stairs of their antebellum mansion.

Janice, dressed in a pair of men's flannel pajamas, was standing at the stove, happily tending eggs and bacon. Tea was steeping in a pot on the table, toast sat covered in a dish. She turned a disappointed face to Melinda as she charged into the kitchen.

"Oh, you're up. I was going to serve you in bed." She pointed to a small tray, already prepared with a glass of juice and a tiny, perfect red rose in a vase. "Since you're here, why dontcha just sit down, then. It's done."

Totally shocked, Melinda slipped into a chair as Janice placed breakfast on the table.

"Janice, hon, are you feeling alright?"


"I don't understand." The dark haired woman gestured vaguely to the table. "I mean, I like it, but You're up early cooking."

"Well ," the blonde grinned. Actually, it felt kind of good, getting a slight jump on her lover this way. "It's the fifth anniversary of the day we met, and I just wanted to surprise you."

"Oh, my." Melinda's hand covered her eyes in embarrassment. "I completely forgot. I'm sorry."

"Don't worry about it, toots. I wouldn't have remembered if I hadn't been digging in some old papers last week," Janice admitted. "Eat up." She dug into her food with great enthusiasm.

"It's good." Melinda smiled at the blonde stuffing her face across from her. "You should do this more often."

"Don't push it."

There was something else, she could see it in Janice's green eyes. The way she was peeking at her. The sly glint.

"What do you have up your sleeve, Janice Covington?"

"Oh, a small gift, for after breakfast."

"Oh, my."

When they'd finished, the blonde took the taller woman by the hand and led her into the study. Seating her on the couch, she handed Melinda a small, wrapped box.

"There's a kind of story to this," she told her lover, as she stood, rocking slightly on her heels, hands clasped behind her back.

"It's been in my family for a hundred and some years, handed down from mother to daughter," her eyes gleamed emerald in the morning light filtering into the room.

Melinda pulled the small gold locket from the box and held it up to the light. "It's beautiful."

"My many greats aunt, Margaret Covington, was orphaned, along with her brother, and was put out on the streets of London. Story has it, she was rescued and taken in by someone, someone with money and a title. Eventually they became lovers. That's who gave her the locket.

She never had children, but later, she located her brothers and that's how it stayed in the family."

"To M, with love, C," the taller woman read aloud, as she opened the locket.

"No one knows exactly who 'C' was. But this has meant a promise, of caring, of family, of love, for us Covington's all this time. A promise to stay through the bad times and the hurts."

"I can't go dragging you down to some Justice of the Peace to make it official, but, as far as I'm concerned, You're my home and my family. Our friendship and our love bind us closer than any civil servant or blood ever could."

She stopped, wondering where that speech had come from. It wasn't what she'd intended to say, but it echoed familiarly as it came out of her mouth.

Melinda held up the locket to Janice. "Will you put it on me?"

As the smaller woman took it and came around behind, she inclined her head, pulling her hair away to the side.

"I'll wear it always. I love you Janice."

Unable to resist, as she fastened the clasp, Janice gently caressed the fine neck being offered to her. Lips followed fingers as she trailed kisses down onto Melinda's shoulder, pushing down the dressing gown as she went.

"I do declare, Dr. Covington, you are incorrigible."

Standing up, the blonde placed her hands on the back of the couch and vaulted over, landing sitting, beside her lover. With a cocky grin, she took Melinda's hand and kissed her open palm.

"That's why you keep me." One by one, she placed each aristocratic finger in her mouth, drawing them out slowly. Giving a nip at her wrist, she nibbled her way up Melinda's elegant arm to her waiting lips.

"You keep me because I'm the girl your daddy warned you about," she murmured breathily into her ear, then nuzzled her way down the dark haired woman's neck and onto her chest.

Cupping one breast in her hand, she flicked her tongue over the nipple, delighting in the quickening of her lover's breathing and the heat rising from her skin.

"I just wish he'd warned me about you sooner," she managed to pant as Janice moved to the other breast, ravishing it with her mouth.

She moved lower, and thought vanished as the world contracted to the pulsing fires of her arousal and Janice's quenching tongue, finally exploding in a cry of "Janice" before coming back together with her cradled in the archeologist's strong arms.

"Happy anniversary, Melinda. I don't think I'll ever get tired of you calling my name like that," she sighed as they snuggled on the couch. "In fact " A wicked grin spread over her features.

"Oh, no you don't. Now it's my turn."

Janice found herself scooped up and helplessly carried up the stairs in her dark haired lover's grasp.

"Dammit, Melinda, why do you have to be so strong? This really ruins my dignity." She clung to the woman's neck.

"Hon, your dignity is not what I'm after right now," she was informed as they turned into the hallway.

"Yeah?" Janice raised her eyebrows and kissed the neck to which she was clinging.

"Oh, no, that's not what I want at all."

"Good," Janice agreed as Melinda pushed the bedroom door open with her hip and carried her lover in.

Dr. Covington walked through the curtain into the patient's room, "Good evening Mr. Kai," she said, consulting the chart in her hand, "Tell me why you're her tonight."

It was another very late morning, early afternoon before they emerged. Erin had come home, showered, changed, eaten and left for school, smiling to herself at the sounds from Rene's room, without them ever knowing it.

It was much later than that when Dina finally wound her way up the freeway back to her very quiet and lonely apartment.



"Hey, Dina, it's Rene. I miss you already. Yesterday was too long ago."

"Me too. I'm just lying here, letting the TV rot my brains, thinking how much better it'd be with you here."

"Yeah. Unfortunately, I've got to work."

"Hey, the Discovery Channel is running a series on mythology for Halloween week. Tomorrow is about Greek mythology. How about if I record it, since we'll both be working tomorrow, and you come over the next day to watch it?"

"Great. Well, gotta go. Maybe see you at work tomorrow, huh?"

"Yeah, it'd be nice, wouldn't it?"



"I love you."

"I love you, too. Goodnight."


Dina lay on the couch, amazed at how three words could change everything. A protective warmth suffused the room, turning it into a comforting cocoon. How does she do that? she wondered as she turned back to the TV.

Rene arrived to the smell of something wonderful cooking at Dina's. she'd answered the door wearing sweats and an apron, emblazoned with "Kiss the Cook" in bold letters. It was a command that she was happy to obey.

"Thought I'd cook for a change. Like stir fry?"

"Sure do. I'm impressed." The doctor wandered into the kitchen only to be shooed out.

"Go, sit. It's almost done. We'll eat in the living room."

As Rene settled herself on the couch, the firefighter brought out a bottle of chilled wine and two glasses.

"Can you open this while I get the plates?", Dina asked, leaning over and giving her a kiss.

"Since you asked like that, sure."

Dina left the apron in the kitchen and returned carrying two plates heaping with rice and stir fry, and set them on the coffee table.

"Here." Rene handed her a glass of wine, and held her own up as a toast. "I love you," she said, taking a sip.

Dina leaned forward and captured the doctor's lips with her own. "And I love you." Blue eyes misted as they met sparkling green. She took a sip of her own wine.

Over the rim of the glasses, their eyes held, even as the glasses were set down. And still held, as their mouths and bodies met, trading their hearts secrets, for which there were no words. Only the determined gurgle of Rene's stomach finally separated them.

"I guess we should eat before it gets cold, huh?," conceded the blonde, staring at her aggravatingly verbal belly.

"I don't think we have a choice," agreed Dina, picking up her plate with a laugh.

They both dove in.

"That was great," sighed a contented Rene, patting her stomach, which had finally quieted.

Dina laughed. "Well, I hope you didn't have three helpings just to be polite. How do you do it?" She grabbed the plates and put them in the kitchen sink. "Ready for the show?"

Without waiting for an answer, she put the tape in the VCR and sat back on the couch, her long legs stretched out, resting on the coffee table.

Unable to reach that far, Rene curled her legs to the side and rested her head on Dina's shoulder, as the taller woman cued the tape with the remote.

"Well, they've covered most of the gods and heroes. I wonder what they have left to say in the last 15 minutes," Rene commented during yet another set of commercials, her fingers running playfully up and down the sweatsuited leg.

"They've done a pretty good job Hey, that tickles." Strong fingers captured the smaller ones. "But I still think Ares needs a beard." She gave a small kiss to the blonde head still comfortably nestled on her shoulder.

"This is the classic retelling of the myths," the show resumed, "But, since the mid 1940's a controversy had erupted about the ancient sources and some of the actual myths, themselves.

A number of scrolls was discovered in Mesopotamia, only a handful of which were ever translated. Purported to be written by a young woman, they revolve around Xena, a warrior woman, and retell some of the classic myths." Both women sat up and leaned forward. "In particular, the ones involving Hercules and the god, Ares have been greatly altered.

Most of the scrolls were lost during the war, so nothing definitive may be said, but all testing has proven the remaining ones to be authentic. Hopefully, some of the lost ones have not been destroyed, and may yet reappear to help solve this mystery.

Mythology week continues on Discovery. Tomorrow, Hindu mythology."

They thumped back against the couch.

"Xena ," Dina whispered to herself, staring at the happily dancing cereal box on the commercial.

"Must've read about it somewhere," ventured the doctor.

Dina shrugged. "Yeah, I guess," she answered dubiously. "all I know is, I've got to pee. Be right back." She disentangled herself from Rene, who continued to stare at the screen, as the credits rolled.

Something caught Rene's eye as it scrolled past. What? She grabbed the remote and replayed it. Oh, shit, no. She replayed it again. Her mouth went dry and her throat constricted as she read.

"Dina," she croaked, "What was your Aunt Melinda's last name?"

"Pappas, why?," came the muffled reply.

"Come here." She rewound again, as Dina came into the room and stood, leaning over the back of the couch, one hand on Rene's shoulder. "Watch."

The credits rolled slowly by acknowledging the sources used in the production.

tablets, courtesy of Columbia University, New York.

Scrolls, courtesy of the University of South Carolina, on

permanent loan from the estate of Melinda Pappas,

in loving memory of Janice Covington

"Oh, God," her hand tightened convulsively on Rene's shoulder. "Janice Do you, are you?"

"A cousin, 2nd or 3rd cousin. She was an archeologist, died in a cave in. My father wouldn't talk about her. There was something about her he didn't like. I don't know "

Dina's mouth worked soundlessly a few times. "It wasn't a dream. I saw them," she whispered to herself.

Rene whipped around and grabbed Dina's hand. "Dream? You too? I thought it was my sexually frustrated subconscious working overtime." She stood and, pushing a few strands of hair out of her face and behind her ear, started pacing the room.

"We know for a fact that Melinda and Janice were real. We didn't know they were together," stopping, she looked at Dina, still standing behind the couch, "Until now. We do know that, don't we?"

Dina nodded.

"We didn't read about Xena and Gabrielle, did we?"

Dina shook her head no.

"I guess I can assume you've dreamt about "

"Catherine and Margaret. Yes."

Rene continued pacing, gesturing distractedly. "It's all been real. I don't understand. But, I've always had these dreams. No wonder it seems like I've known you forever. Maybe we have How could we ?"

"Rene." The firefighter came around and intercepted the doctor on her path and lay her hands on her shoulders. "It doesn't matter how."

Dina's crystal blue gaze captured the distraught green eyes.

"I love you. You love me, right?"

It was Rene's turn to nod.

"It doesn't matter if we've known each other for a month, or centuries. We have each other now. For me, it's the same." Wrapping herself around her lover, she pulled her in close, placing her chin on the silky blonde head.

Relaxing into the protecting arms, Rene took in a deep, ragged breath and let it out slowly.

"How do you do that? Just bring it down to the essential point. You're right. I love you. It's you and me now. I guess it always has been, huh?"

"I guess so."

"What a great legacy. They really loved each other, Xena and Gabrielle, Catherine and Margaret "

"Melinda and Janice," Dina finished.

"In fact," Rene broke out into a grin and pulled the taller woman onto the couch with her, "I had this dream the other night about Xena and Gabrielle. They were camped by this waterfall. And it was a warm night. And Gabrielle had found this big hawk's feather, and "

"Thursday night?," interrupted the firefighter.

Rene nodded as Dina blushed a deep crimson.

"I had that dream, too. It was, uh, very, uh " She had no words for the state in which she'd awakened. Those two were very inventive.

"Well?" The blonde cocked her head at her unusually flustered lover.

"I don't have any feathers." The firefighter found herself dragged to her feet by a very determined young woman. "But I'm sure we'll think of something."

Continued, part 4

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

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