After a short shower in which Gabrielle complimented Cara on how fit she was and commented on a few of her more noteworthy scars the two finally dressed in their standard work uniform. Cara was a Colonel a fact that Gabrielle was suitably impressed with. Hence Cara’s uniform was more ornate than Margo’s and her insignia of rank was a silver eagle that was prominently displayed on her collar. Colonel Rayne also preferred to wear trousers and boots rather than the more feminine skirt and pumps. After all where can you put your knives if you’re wearing pumps?
Gabrielle looked down at the knives that were sticking out the tops of her boots. ‘Have you ever considered sais?’ She asked Cara silently.
‘You mean the weapons that you once carried?’ Cara responded.
‘Ya, they’re more versatile and you can continue to carry the knives.’ She was trying to imagine a proper configuration with all four weapons.
‘I’ll consider it. But only if you agree to teach me how to use them.’ She answered with a smile; she was also trying to figure out a good way to carry them all. ‘So where do we go from here?’
‘We need to find Xena. I think that we gave orders to meet at the C.H.A.K.R.A.M. Society when this happened. You mentioned the Society earlier. I’m hoping that the instructions that we left are being followed.’ She said hopefully even though she could feel the tension rise in Cara’s body.
‘Hmm, about that meeting business at the Society… I’m not what you would call a very active member.’ Cara said a bit shyly but before Gabrielle could react she continued. ‘But the good news is that Margo is a very active member. There is one hitch however, I’m not sure if Margo would go to the Society this morning. She would probably go to work and plan on going either during her lunch break or after work… if she can fit it in. The question is if Xena would force her to go or not.’
‘And the answer to that question is yes; especially if she thinks that she will find me there.’ The comment was delivered in a matter of fact tone.
‘But I’m not so sure that Margo will know that you are here with me. I have two sisters and a brother. Any one of us could have gotten this honor.’ Cara did not hesitate to say the word honor. Sometime while in the shower she realized just how much of an honor it was for her to host Gabrielle. This was the one person in her lineage that was truly a hero of epic proportions. Gabrielle was, for lack of a better term Cara’s childhood hero. Now she had the chance to learn from the best.
‘I see. Why do you believe that Margo will be Xena’s host?’
Cara thought for a moment then she shrugged her shoulders and replied. ‘I don’t know… I just know.’ She paused and cocked her head. ‘Can you feel her? I think that I can.’
The two stood in silence, simultaneously looking in the direction that Cara had stopped when she had moved her head. The silence went on for over a minute. Deep in their stomach they felt a flutter and they both knew that Xena was in the city.
‘Does Margo live in that direction?’ Gabrielle asked already knowing the answer.
‘Yes, if I know Margo, and I do, Xena will be preoccupied with her witless banter and antics. She will be unable to feel you until she can bring Margo under control. We should go to work and intercept them there.’
They moved as one without any further comment. Gabrielle was content to allow Cara to drive her own body and the vehicle conveyance; she was the one that knew where she was going and what needed to be done at the moment. Gabrielle had things that she needed to plan out anyway.
Halfway to their destination something occurred to Gabrielle. ‘Cara I noticed the pictures in your home and the obvious presence of a second person. Are you married to the woman in the picture?’
‘Yes, her name is Anise. We’ve been married for nearly six years now. Why is that going to be a problem?’
‘I don’t know is it going to be a problem?’
‘I guess that depends on whether or not the unspoken relationship between you and Xena in the scrolls is as non-plutonic as it sounds.’ Gabrielle didn’t answer but Cara could actually feel her blush. ‘Okay that answers that question.’ She paused to think hard on what she was about to say. ‘Anise is going out of town to care for her father. He was in an accident and needs some help getting back on his feet. She could be gone a week or even more depending upon how fast he heals. But she doesn’t leave until tomorrow morning… and I will not send her off with a peck on the cheek.’
Gabrielle was silent for a moment. She also must choose her words carefully. ‘I understand and I will not interfere in any way with your relationship. Just don’t tell Xena about it. That would be distracting for her and she doesn’t need it.’
‘That’s not a problem, Gabrielle. Just so you know I will not be opposed to allowing the two of you some time together, as long as it is discrete. I will have trouble keeping Margo’s big mouth shut. But I think I can handle her… at least until Anise and I can have a long talk.’
‘Is she really that bad… Margo I mean?’ Gabrielle was having a hard time accepting the idea that one of Xena’s offspring could be such an idiot.
‘No she really isn’t a bad person. She’s just disillusioned with life. Her husband is a domineering asshole and her son is just like him. I think that her husband beats her, but I can’t prove it. If it weren’t for her daughter I think that she might have lost it years ago. But I really have no room to criticize her it’s not like I’ve gone out of my way to help her any. She’s a horrible soldier and the Corps was going to give her the boot about a year ago if she couldn’t promote and believe me when I tell you she couldn’t promote. So I gave her a job in HQ pushing paper and with the job came an automatic promotion. She’s a good secretary. But when I did that for her I think that she got the wrong idea or something. ‘Cuz now… she gives me calf eyes every time that she sees me and thinks that I don’t notice. It’s annoying really.’ She stopped talking so that she could get them through the checkpoint at the gate.
‘So you are in command of all of this?’ Gabrielle asked after they have entered and Cara had stored her I.D.
‘This and a whole lot more.’ Cara said wistfully.
A few minutes later her transport was parked and they were walking in the front door of the largest building outside of an apartment building that Gabrielle had ever seen. They stepped off of Cara’s private elevator into an anteroom. The room contained two large desks, a single coatrack and two junior grade Officers who stood smartly at attention the second that they saw the Colonel. Cara returned the salute and stepped up to the double doors that stood on the other side of the desks.
Without looking back she said. “Denton, tell Baldridge that I want him in my office, now.” She didn’t wait for a reply before she swung one of the doors open and entered her office.
It was a massive thing that was shaped roughly like a diamond and it took up the better part of the entire top floor, minus the anteroom, elevator shaft, a large walk in closet / changing room / bathroom and of course the small personal armory that was stashed behind the large bookcase. Other than that the room was a huge area with floor to ceiling windows on two sides and a partially glass ceiling.
On the left of the doors was a full wall library with various books and decorations tastefully arranged on the shelves. On the right was a full bar and a row of mannequins dressed in battle uniforms from several eras of human past. Down the center was a sunken living room area sparsely attired with two small couches and four chairs set in a square with a large coffee table in the middle. And across from the doors sitting in front of a large vid screen sat an ancient oak desk.
Cara strolled around the suits of armor and up to her desk. She touched the computer screen that sat on her desk and looked into the monitor. “Sergeant Blake, I need to see you in my office the minute that you arrive.” She touched the send button and sat back in her chair. ‘Now we wait for her to come to us.’
‘Good, who is this Baldridge person?’ Gabrielle asked while she felt Cara’s muscles relax into the cushions of her chair. This was obviously a place that she felt very comfortable.
‘Major Danial Baldridge is one of the few men on this rock or any other for that matter that I would trust my life to. He is a man of honor and integrity but he also just a little odd. He is my second in command.’ She said with conviction.
Gabrielle thought about it for a minute. ‘That’s nice but what do you plan on telling him? Is he going to think that your nuts or something?’
‘My dear Gabrielle, he knows I’m nuts! But so is he, so we’re even!’ She laughed a bit. Then she sobered. ‘I’m going to tell him everything because I know that he will believe me and I also know that if or rather when something goes down I want him in my corner. You guys aren’t here to play canasta.’ Cara leaned back and put her boots on the desk.
‘You got a point Cara, so while we wait how about you tell me what the Society has been up to since Xena and I died.’ She would never get used to saying that.
It was nearly twenty minutes later before the door opened and admitted a man that nearly blocked out the light beyond the doorway. It wasn’t that he was all that tall, he was only a bit over six feet nor was it that he was that wide but between the gear that he was wearing and his actual presence he simply seemed to fill the space. He strode with confidence across the room, also bypassing the armored mannequins, occasionally reaching out to flick a tassel here or a ribbon there. It didn’t take long for his long strides to bring him up to the desk.
“Hey Baldy, good morning.” Cara said as soon as he had stopped.
“Hey Braids, how they hanging?” He replied with a smile as he dropped his cover onto the desk. He readjusted the gun that hung onto his right leg and then put his hands behind his back. “What’s up?”
Cara took her boots off of the desk and rose to her feet. Now that she had him here she wasn’t sure where to begin. She started from the beginning, the real beginning. She started from the stories that her grandmother had told her when she was very young and worked her way to joining the Society. From there she told him about the legends and the pass down orders that Xena and Gabrielle had left for their descendants. Then she finally told him about what had happened this very morning and that is when he chose to react. He pulled his weapon and pointed it at her chest.
Cara had moved to look out the window while she told her story but she had heard the distinct sound of a gun being released from its holster so when she turned around she was not surprised. ‘I thought you said that he would believe you!’ Gabrielle yelled inside of her head.
“That’s just it. He does believe me. Don’t you Dan?” Cara spoke out loud. “Now we find out if despite that fact he actually trusts me. Well Dan, how’s this going to play out?”
Dan looked at her with a steely expression for several seconds before he decided on what he was going to do. He chose to test her. He gave her a code that required a specific response to test to see if she was in fact Colonel Cara Rayne. She did not hesitate to give the correct response. Then he asked her the current duress codes. Again she gave an immediate and correct response. He asked her a few personal questions and received the correct answers for each. Finally he lowered his weapon and holstered it. “So only one more question, is it true that Xena and Gabrielle are… you know… snuggle buddies?” His question was accompanied with a crude gesture that consisted of him placing two fingers up to his mouth in a “V” shape and sticking his wiggling tongue between them.
Cara rolled her eyes while Gabrielle groaned.
“What?” Dan exclaimed while spreading his hands wide and smiling like a Cheshire cat. “Enquiring minds want to know!”
Cara shook her head and smiled. “Okay… I’m invested in this because I want to be but also because I really have little choice in the matter. But you have a choice.”
“What choice… To stand at your side and protect your backside or sit in the wings and let you have all the fun without me… some choice.” He said sarcastically. “Of course I’ll have your back. Where else would I be?” He sounded insulted by the very thought and he probably was.
“I knew you’d say that.” She smiled broadly and slapped him on the upper arm. “Good, now let’s get down to some options.”
The three of them talked quite a bit before another knock was heard at the door. Cara ordered the computer to black out the windows and to bring up the lighting a little in the center of the room only. Dan exited the room via a side door that very few even knew existed. Then Cara told the computer to open the door.
Sergeant Blake stepped inside. The sight of Colonel Rayne made both occupants of the body to react. Margo’s heart skipped a beat and her palms begin to sweat and a profound feeling of love and admiration surged through them. She stepped forward and flicked the door shut. She could hear it lock behind her. Margo was frightened by the sound where Xena knew that the sound could only mean that the feeling in her stomach wasn’t from Margo’s over cooked breakfast.
“Gabrielle?” Xena said to the woman in front of her. She didn’t need an answer but she wanted confirmation anyway.
The beautiful blond turned a loving smile upon her. Gabrielle couldn’t help but admire the manner in which she was dressed, she was stunning! “Xena, is that you?” She also knew the answer.
Gabrielle threw her arms around Xena’s neck and was drawn by Xena’s strong arms into a close embrace that brought their bodies and their lips together in tender symphony. They reveled in the taste of each other’s lips and the feel of each other’s bodies for several minutes. But eventually they were forced to come up for air. When their lips finally parted they are both left panting for breath. But they are reluctant to let go of each other. They held their cheeks together and rubbed their faces against each other. All the while speaking with short sentences and kissing noses, cheeks and lips and anything else they can get their lips on.
“Gods, how I’ve missed your touch.” Xena breathed against Gabrielle’s neck. Seconds passed.
“I’ve missed yours.” Gabrielle was panting while she chewed on Xena’s ear. More seconds passed.
“Why must He keep us asleep?” Xena arched her neck back to give Gabrielle better access to her throat.
Gabrielle ran her tongue up the exposed throat to Xena’s chin to bite it lightly. A small gasp escaped Xena’s mouth. Gabrielle’s entwined her hands in Xena’s hair and she used her grip to roughly pull her lover’s head down to engulf her mouth with her own but just before she engaged them both in a deeply sensual kiss she said, “I don’t know.”
Xena pulled Gabrielle in tightly to her body where it molded into hers as if there was no better place in the universe for it to be. She cradled Gabrielle’s head with one hand and cupped her ass cheek with the other. Gabrielle groaned down deep in her throat and her kiss suddenly became more aggressive… hungrier.
Their hands became needy… greedy. They wanted to feel flesh not clothing. It was at this time that Xena noticed that Gabrielle was already partially undressed. She was wearing no coat, no tie and no boots or socks. “What’s this all about then?” She said as she untangled herself from Gabrielle’s arms and lips.
It took a moment for Gabrielle to comprehend what Xena was talking about. Her mind had clearly been on other things. “Cara said that we have time. Even if we don’t, we should claim this moment in time as our own, in case we don’t get another.” She said with a voice that was thick with emotion. Then she took Xena by the hand and led her to a corner of the office where some blankets were laid out on the floor with two pillows. “It’s not much but it’s more than we’ve had in over seven hundred years. Do you care to join me?”
She didn’t have to ask twice or to convince. Xena pulled her to her as she had done before and planted another kiss on her lips. Gabrielle stepped back after a few moments and lowered herself to one knee while pulling Xena down with her. It was a well-practiced maneuver and they pulled it off without a glitch. Within moments the two were on the floor. Gabrielle was lying comfortably on her back with a pillow under her head and Xena was on top of her. Somehow on their way to this position they managed to divest one another or themselves of most of their clothing. Xena carefully removed the final piece from Gabrielle and pulled a blanket over them before losing her own final piece of clothing.
For a good long time all that was heard in the office was the sound of giggling and the sounds of two people enjoying each other’s undivided attention and company. But eventually both parties fall back onto the pillows panting. They had exhausted themselves for the time being.
“Oh, by the Gods what was that?” Gabrielle exclaimed between her panting.
“Liked that did ya?” Xena said proudly. “Been waiting years to do that to you.”
Gabrielle arched an eyebrow at the statement. “Been holding out on me again? Why’d you wait so long?” She growled deep in her chest and ran her hand over her exposed sweat slick torso.
Xena was intrigued by Gabrielle’s caressing so she hitched herself up onto her elbow to watch. “Ah, if I gave you everything at once then where would I come up with new material?” She gave off just watching. She couldn’t help herself; she just had to touch. “This way you never know what’s coming so you look forward to it.” Xena said while watching her own fingers run across Gabrielle’s tight stomach.
Gabrielle stopped touching herself and reached up to place her hand on Xena’s cheek. She lifted her lover’s chin so that they were looking into each other’s eyes once again. “My Xena, my beautiful, wonderful Xena.” Her eyes were full of wonder and deep devotion.
Xena became a little uncomfortable under such scrutiny. It had been a long time since she has actually seen Gabrielle look at her that way. Seven hundred years is a long time to dream of that look. She smiled and tried to drop her eyes, but Gabrielle held her face. “What?” She asked but got no response except a crooked smile. “I’m yours forever Gabrielle. I’m just really glad that you want me.”
“I’ll always want you Xena. You’re my heart, my soul, my life. It’s the promise of forever with you that keeps me doing what’s right when we come back. If it weren’t for that I would be sitting on a beach somewhere.” She smiled when Xena grabbed one of her fingers in her teeth and shook it like a dog does a toy.
Xena’s eyes closed in pleasure while Gabrielle traced her lips with the damp finger. Slowly Xena exhaled and opened her eyes. She kissed Gabrielle’s finger gently. “Maybe that’s why He keeps us asleep.” Gabrielle gave her a confused look. “If we had each other while we waited for Alti to rear her ugly head again… well what would be our incentive? We would already have each other. We could stretch it out until it seemed like forever, if we just kept letting her win or just go free.”
Gabrielle let out a long hard breath. “I get it. We get forever together as a reward only if we put the evil back in its box. But in between we have to sleep apart... great incentive. It’s not quite fair.” She said with disgust.
“He’s a God, when have you ever met one that played fair?” Xena said with contempt.