Disclaimer: We all know that Xena, Gabrielle, Janice and Melinda are
property of Renaissance Pictures, Universal Studios and MCA (have I covered
everyone?). If I've missed anyone it was unintentional. RJ Roberts is
entirely my creation, Dave was once a real person, and Katy and Francis live
in my imagination only.

The lots-of sex-disclaimer: If the idea of reading about two women being in
love with each other makes your stomach turn, you're reading the wrong tale.
You'll probably want to read something of a more general nature. If that
kind of love doesn't bother you, then by all means....read on!

Author's Note: Although I’m not sure why I’m mentioning this, I had a hard
time writing the epilogue. I listened to Clannad’s “Lore” through most of
the writing of this tale. “Trathnona Beag Areir” is a real tune (and from
the aforementioned disc) and while the words are in Gaelic, the haunting
symphony seemed appropriate for a funeral. I must have read this story at
least twenty times, and each time the epilogue moved me to tears. If this
story moves you, please let me know, it certainly moved me.
Feedback is welcomed at
Finished August 7 1999

Dedicated to Arlis
My lesson in happiness
August 7 1990-January 11 1992

Eyes Of The Past

by Taleweaver

Chapter 1

Francis opened her eyes when she heard another thump. It was the third
one since midnight, and this one didn’t sound like a raccoon. Frustrated,
she threw the duvet back and swung her long legs to the floor. Picking up
the baseball bat that always leaned against the bed, she turned on her
bedside lamp with her other hand. She padded barefoot and cautious
throughout the house, turning on lights as she went. In the den, she found
her computer blinking patiently.
The screen held one message only.
‘You know who you are.’
“What the hell…” Francis tightened her grip on the metal Louisville Slugger
and rechecked every room. Then she heard voices in the living room. With her
heart threatening to leap from her chest, she went to investigate. Much to
her relief she found the television set on, tuned to a program about a
female warrior. In a heartbeat she remembered that she’d set the satellite
timer to tape it. Francis had happened to catch ten minutes of the program
the week before, and because it had looked interesting she had programmed
the satellite and vcr timers to record this week’s episode. Which is why her
television was on. Francis yawned widely, turned the set off and padded back
to the den.

The computer still blinked at her. Francis sighed heavily and sank into
the large leather chair. With a critical eye she studied the message on the
monitor and considered the fact that she was alone in the house. In truth,
Francis was alone in life. She leaned the bat against the desk within arms
reach and cleared the screen. Turning the computer off, Francis had to admit
that her loneliness was a result of searching without finding. She knew that
the other half of her soul was out there somewhere;she’d been searching for
it for years without success. The very fact that she was alone spoke volumes
about her life. Financially well off, smart, and very, very choosy. Not to
mention wide-awake.

Sighing again, Francis slipped into a pair of favorite blue jeans, a
rust colored sleeveless t-shirt and white running shoes, no socks. She
brushed her hair and plucked the car keys from the hook beside the door. In
minutes she was driving down near-empty city streets toward her favorite
bar, The Sword N Staff. With no traffic to speak of she was there in
minutes. As she stepped through the door the bartender looked up and smiled
“Ah Francis! Just the woman I wanted to see! You’re up late.”
Francis shrugged out of her chocolate colored leather jacket and smiled back
as she took a seat.
“It happens. How’d your sister’s court case go?”
“Great! The lawyer you recommended, he got her a full settlement and
custody. It’s the happiest I’ve seen her in years. Usual?”
Francis nodded and passed the money across the bar. The bartender shook her
head and smiled.
It’s on the house, my way of saying thanks.”
Francis inclined her head gratefully.

While paying for her second bottle of Harp, Francis motioned with her
chin toward the opposite end of the bar.
Lee leaned on the bar and toward Francis.
“She’s been in a couple of times. The first time she was quite a sight, all
bruised and bandaged up like she was. Now that it’s been a coupla weeks, it
looks like someone tried to slit her throat. She looks pretty upset tonight
though, wonder what she sees in the bottom of that glass?”
“Give her another of what she’s drinking; on me.”
“Goin’ trollin’?” Lee waggled her eyebrows suggestively.
Francis raised one eyebrow.
“I do have some tenderness and compassion you know…”
Lee just laughed while she walked away.

So she wouldn’t be seen as purposely trying to hit on the blond
stranger, Francis concentrated on the glass of dark Irish ale in front of
her. Her mind wandered to the dreams she’d been having lately and the
mysterious message on her computer. She knew somehow that they were
connected, but for all her trying, she couldn't see how.
“So did you find the meaning of life?”
Francis turned to see who’d spoken and looked into sea green eyes.
“Anyone studying their glass that hard must looking for the meaning of
life.” The voice was friendly enough, the smile sincere. It belonged to the
blond that had been seated at the far end of the bar. “Thank you for the
“You’re welcome.” Francis smiled back and introduced herself, then invited
the blond to take a seat.
“I haven’t seen you here before.”
Francis felt a slow smile creep across her face and let her companion see it
before responding.
“Is that a re-worked version of ‘do you come here often’?”
“Maybe it is…” The small blond laughed, then stuck her hand out. “My name is
Katherine, but I prefer Katy.”

Francis studied her from the corner of her eye. She was a little over
five feet tall, blond hair that fell to her shoulders, green eyes and a pale
complexion. A black, sleeveless turtleneck was tucked into black jeans, and
black runners were laced onto her feet. Because Francis relied heavily on
body language, she studied that too. Katy seemed a little nervous, she
glanced repeatedly at the shadows of the bar, her hands shook ever so
slightly and she fidgeted. Francis answered Katy’s earlier question
“Yes, I try to make myself known around here. You?”
Katy swallowed, but didn’t look at Francis when she answered.
“Not really, I don’t go out much. Especially not at this hour.”
“So why tonight?”
“The walls started closing in. I haven’t been out after dark in weeks, and
it was getting to me.”
This last admission took Francis by surprise, despite what Lee had told her.
She was about to try and tactfully ask what could keep a person indoors that
long when Katy turned toward her.
“What do you do for a living?”
“I’m a lawyer. I specialize in helping battered women and mothers who are
petitioning for custody. I’m choosy, I take each case according to it’s own
merits, I follow my gut. What do you do?”

Katy took so long to answer that Francis was beginning to wonder if
she’d heard the question. Katy stared into her beer, thoughtful and silent.
Finally she answered in a small, wounded voice..
“I used to work pretty hard, but one night changed that. Now I don’t usually
go outside after dark. Tonight was an exception.”
Francis watched Katy carefully and waited for her to continue.
“I went out by myself a few weeks ago and…ran into some trouble. They beat
me, took my money and left me for dead; now I jump at shadows…Pretty
pathetic huh?”
Francis shook her head and motioned to Lee. She asked the bartender to bring
Katy another beer and a Coke for herself. When Lee had left, Francis turned
to her companion.
“Sounds pretty normal to me. I’m sure that if I had been in your situation,
I’d be nervous too. Before the attack, what did you work so hard at?”
“You sure you won’t laugh?”
“I’ll try not to.”
“I am, was, a psychic. I used to help people with poltergeists, educate
people about the spiritual realm; that kind of stuff. But ever since the
attack I can’t seem to reach that part of myself anymore.”

For the next two hours they discussed a great deal of things. Life
after death, heaven and hell, whether mankind’s collective soul was in
jeopardy, the necessity of dreams and reincarnation. All the while, Francis
watched Katy drink more than she expected the blond could hold. She didn’t
slur or weave, but when she stood up it looked as though she’d been hit by a
brick. Francis caught her easily.
“Whoa, have a seat. You aren’t going anywhere like that .”
When Francis had helped Katy into her jacket, she slipped her own on and
steered her off-balance companion toward the door. She waved goodbye to Lee
and helped Katy to the car. While she unlocked the passenger door Francis
eyed her warily.
“Do you feel queasy or anything?”
Katy laughed lightly and reached out to touch Francis’ arm.
“Relax, I won’t mess the car.”
Francis put her hand over Katy’s, still on her arm.
“I know. I was worried about you, not the car.”
Francis helped Katy into the car, made sure she was buckled in and closed
the door.

By the time she’d strapped herself in and started the car, Francis
heard the sounds of sleep coming from the passenger seat. She glanced at her
passenger and smiled, feeling her heart go out to the jumpy blond. There was
something about her…Something fragile, innocent and unsullied; and familiar.
Francis sighed and drove home deep in thought. At the house, Francis went
in, turned on a light and went back for Katy. The blond was fast asleep and
didn’t show any signs of waking any time soon. Francis shrugged and
unbuckled her companion, then lifted her effortlessly from the car. She laid
Katy on the couch, then went looking for a spare blanket. A few minutes
later, Katy was comfortably tucked in and sleeping soundly. She hadn’t woken

Francis stood at the end of the sofa studying Katy. She looked so
vulnerable that it took all of Francis’ self control not to take her in her
arms. Francis shook her head and turned out the light, then went to bed.
Unseen blue eyes watched her go and a slow smile appeared below them. As
Francis slipped between cool blue sheets, those unseen eyes studied her
carefully. The tall, lithe body in bed had no idea who she was, or who the
blond on the sofa was, and neither expected that they would soon share a
relationship that would change their lives. But they would learn…

Katy was back there, being followed and chased. When they caught her,
she was just as terrified as she had been the first time. They demanded her
money, and again she gave it willingly. And again they slit her throat and
left her for dead. But this time instead of lying alone in the shadows
bleeding, she felt herself being held and comforted. She looked up in
surprise, straight into familiar eyes in a stranger’s body.
“You’ll be alright now.”
“Who are you?” Katy felt safe in this woman’s arms.
“My name is Xena, I’m here to help you. You need to slow your heart down
“Xena? You mean like the show? You’re real?”
“Calm down, then we’ll talk.” Her tone was firm and left no room for
argument. Katy did as she’d been told. Eventually Xena smiled.
“Yes, I was real. They got a few things wrong on the show, but not much."
“Was Gabrielle real too?”
“Oh yes, and she’s your ancestor.”
Katy was stunned into silence until Xena chuckled.
“Didn’t expect that, did you? Believe me, I wouldn’t lie to you.”
Katy got up and turned to face Xena, but she was gone. Katy suddenly felt
very alone and afraid once more.

Just as the fear threatened to overtake her, Katy saw someone coming
toward her. Getting up to run, she heard a woman’s voice call out.
“Wait, please!” The woman stepped out into the light where Katy could see
her. “Don’t be afraid, I only want to talk to you.”
She had shorter hair than Katy, but it was the same golden hue. The eyes
that looked back at her might well have been her own, they seemed so
familiar. She smiled warmly at Katy. “You wouldn’t pass up an opportunity to
talk to an ancestor hundreds of years old, now would you?”
“Gabrielle?” Katy heard the disbelief creep into her voice.
“Katy…” Gabrielle smiled again. “You’ve got to beat this fear. You face a
much greater challenge than this, but getting past this fear is the first
Katy studied her predecessor carefully and silently. Gabrielle nodded a bit.
“I know how you feel. You can’t see past it, you can’t feel anything else,
it takes over completely. But you must work through it, trust me. Francis
is willing to help, let her.”

In her dream, Katy began to pace; agitated, confused and unsure that
all this wasn’t just an alcohol-induced vision.
“But I barely know her! I mean, she seems very nice and everything but…”
“Oh but you know her better than you think, just open your heart. I know
what you feel for her. It’s the same thing I felt for Xena all those years
ago; it’s the same thing she and I feel today. You see, a little of Xena and
I lives inside both of you. You two are soul fragments of each of us, so you
two share a connection that goes back hundreds of years. I know that
feeling. An attraction for another woman is a little disconcerting but trust
me; you two are meant to be. Let her help you, let her love heal you. She
needs you as much as you need her…”
Katy sat bolt upright while crying out,
“Wait! I need you!”
Strong arms encircled her while a voice murmured comforting reassurances in
her ear. Despite her claustrophobia, she felt safe and was content to be
held in Francis’ arms.

A long time passed before Katy trusted herself to speak. She hadn’t
wanted to ruin the feeling flowing between them, but finally the urge to say
something, anything, won out.
“Francis? Thanks…weird dream I guess.”
"Sounded pretty real to me" Francis didn't want to let Katy go, but she
wasn't entirely sure why. So she continued holding her and stroking her
hair. "Tell me about it."
So Katy shared her dream, every feeling and every word. Even what Gabrielle
had said about Francis.
Francis had remained silent, occasionally making sounds of encouragement,
but listening and remembering. And in her own soul, agreeing wholeheartedly
with Gabrielle. When Katy had finished, Francis realized that the blond was
waiting for her to say something.
"Do you want some water or something?"
Pleased that Francis hadn't scorned the dream-vision, Katy blurted out the
first thing that popped into her head.
"I want to stay like this forever." She waited for a rejection that was not
forthcoming, instead, Francis shifted to a more comfortable position and
pulled the blanket around them both.
"Then we will. Sleep now, we'll talk later."

Francis held Katy while she slept, wondering if the explanation
Gabrielle had given in the dream was the reason she was so attracted to the
smaller woman. She'd only known Katy for a few hours, but already she knew a
great deal about her. She knew that while Katy was afraid of going out
alone, she'd done it. There was a bravery lurking inside this woman, as well
as a sense of humor. She was convinced there was more to life than just
chasing a dollar, that the pursuit of spirit was more beneficial and
rewarding. Before the attack, she'd been doing what she loved. That in
itself was more than most people could say. Francis sighed. Yes, she thought
quite highly of Katy. As she slipped into sleep herself, she thought that
forever was a nice time frame to spend with Katy.

Chapter two

Francis hadn’t been asleep very long when she began to dream of a
campfire. At first, she thought she was alone but a rhythmic scraping sound
alerted her to another’s presence. Walking to the other side of the fire,
she saw a familiar face.
“You! You’re…”
“Real, yes. I know it’s hard to believe, but I was, am, real. Katy told you
that. You doubt her?”
“No, but…” Francis watched Xena sharpen a sword that was probably long gone
to dust. “Do you know how many people would be happy if they could prove
conclusively that you lived once?”
Xena stood and sheathed the sword in a graceful move and then knelt at the
“Did Katy also tell you that you and I are family?”
“Gabrielle hinted, but I didn’t think…” Xena handed her a steaming mug.
“Well, we are. There’s sixteen hundred years between us but we’re family. Of
all my descendants you are the one most like me.”
Francis unconsciously raised her left eyebrow. Xena laughed.
“Yup, you’ve got that too.” Then she fell silent while she poked at the
fire. “Gabrielle is so much better at this…” she muttered.

“Francis, I know you have feelings for her. She feels the same way
about you, but she’s shy. A lot like Gabrielle was at first, but be careful.
If Katy’s anything like my bard, you’re in for quite a ride.” Xena looked up
at her progeny and studied her thoroughly. “Do what research you can on
Janice and Melinda, and you’ll find proof of our existence. In the meantime,
follow your heart. She’s your soulmate, as Bri is mine. I know it’s hard…”
Xena grinned wolfishly, “…but believe me, it’s worth it. You have to keep
her safe for our bloodline to continue; don’t let us down. It’s time for me
to go.” Xena stood again.
“Wait! If she and I…How will she…”
"The Fates have our lives planned out for us you know. You won't know what's
around the bend until you get there. You have to have faith..."Xena
grinned. “For a lawyer, you’re kinda slow sometimes.”
“Will you be back?”
“Now and then.” Even as Xena had faded from sight, her final words hung in
the air. “When you run into trouble, call me. I’ll hear you.”

Francis woke up with a smile on her face. Katy was still in her arms
and smiling too. The situation was almost too unbelievable. Going over the
conversation with Xena, Francis had to admit that she was intrigued by the
possibility of Xena and Gabrielle being more than just myth. Xena had given
her a starting point, now it was up to her to find where history would take
her. Carefully, Francis eased off the sofa. Making sure she hadn’t woken
Katy, she headed to the den to start researching. Two hours later, a light
tap at the door reminded her of the outside world. Katy poked her head in.
“Am I disturbing something?”
“No! C’mere, I found something interesting.”
Katy crossed the room in bare feet and Francis’ shirt. “What is it?”
Katy gave her a sideways glance.
“I’m psychic, but I’m not a mindreader. Want to elucidate?”
“Gabrielle and Xena both claimed to be our ancestors, and I’ve found proof
that while we are related to Janice and Melinda, there’s no traceable proof
that they were related to Xena and Gabrielle. There’s a point that family
history is difficult to trace; the further back in time you go, the harder
it is to find recorded lineage. As far as Xena and Gabrielle being the
archeologist’s ancestors, we have only their word on it. But I think I
believe her…”
“Her, who?”
Francis told Katy about her conversation with Xena, but she also mentioned
the nagging doubts she had about her own motives.

Katy sighed and put a hand on Francis’ shoulder.
“I’ve tried to live life following my heart. While I’ve been true to my gut
instinct, I’ve never gone wrong. Follow your heart, listen to what it tells
you and ignore your doubts for a minute.”
Then Katy left the room. Francis stayed where she was and tried to absorb
the advice. Confused and frustrated, a few minutes later she went to the
kitchen. Katy was gone, coffee was made and the sofa returned to normal.
Francis was beginning to wonder if Katy had left, until the toilet flushed.
“Breakfast sound okay to you?” Francis asked when Katy came in.
“Sounds great. I hope you don’t mind that I made coffee.”
“Mind? It’s nice to be surprised like that.”
“You know, last night I enjoyed myself. A lot.”
Francis agreed and they made breakfast together in companionable silence. By
the time they finished the meal, Katy was looking uneasy about something.
“Get a piece of shell with your eggs Katy? What’s on your mind?”
“I know how this is going to sound, and I don’t want to make you
uncomfortable or anything, but I know you’ve got work to do and…”
Francis chuckled deep in her chest.
“Whoa…Just say it Katy. Visiting a client in prison is uncomfortable for me,
not talking to you.”
“I just don’t know where to go from here.” Katy was suddenly shy, and
Francis realized that she meant more than just breakfast. Francis reached
out and touched Katy’s hand lightly.
“I guess it all depends on where we want it to.” Francis pulled her hand
back and picked up her mug. “I for one, have taken the day off work. I have
no plans what so ever. You?”

“I haven’t done much since I was mugged. I guess I should check my
e-mail and get some clean clothes.”
“Feel like spending the day together?” Even as she said it, Francis felt
exposed and open to rejection. She apparently had nothing to fear though,
because Katy’s face lit up at the suggestion.
Half an hour later they were parking the car in the visitor’s lot of Katy’s
apartment building.
“Wonder what they’re doing here?” Katy pointed to a couple of police
cruisers parked by the door. When she got to her apartment, she found out. A
uniformed officer stopped her as she reached for the doorknob.
“Sorry Miss, no one’s allowed in. Police investigation.”
“But this is my apartment, what’s going on?”

“I think that’s all we need for now Miss.” The officer put away the
notes he’d been taking. “I wouldn’t stay here tonight if I were you. Do have
somewhere else you can stay?”
“She can stay at my house” Francis spoke up. The officer glanced up at her
and nodded.
“There’s a few things I’d like to get; clothes, toiletries…”
“Of course. We’re done dusting for fingerprints now.”
While Katy went into the bedroom, Francis gave the officer her home and
office telephone numbers and explained that Katy would stay with her until
it was safe to come back.
“Our biggest problem right now is that we can’t see a motive beyond
burglary. Until we can decide on a motive, I don’t know when it’ll be safe
to come back here.”
Francis nodded knowingly; this wasn’t the first time she’d seen something
like this.
“With her personal identification stolen during the mugging, perhaps the
thieves figured there was more to be gained by coming here. Tell her to call
if she has any questions, okay?”
Francis nodded again and went to find Katy.

She found her in the bedroom packing a bag with clothes.
Francis sat on the bed looking at her blond friend.
“You okay?”
Katy nodded slowly.
“I guess so. I’m a little…shell-shocked, but I’m glad you’re here. I feel
safer with you. I can’t help but wonder if I’ll ever feel safe again…”
Francis rose and quickly took Katy in her arms. As soon as they touched,
Katy succumbed to the tears that had been threatening since they arrived.
Francis held her while she wept, saying comforting things and feeling very
protective. When Katy’s tears had abated, she sniffled.
“When they mugged me and slit my throat I was so scared, but last night I
thought that maybe it was over. Now they’ve broken into my apartment and I
feel more violated than before. How can I ever feel safe again?”
“I’ll keep you safe Katy, don’t worry…You’re safe with me.” When she felt
Katy nod, Francis looked down and wiped away frightened tears. “Let’s get
the rest of your things together, and we’ll get out of here.”

“Are you sure you have everything you think you’ll need?” Francis asked
again. “Do you need anything to work with? You can use my computer if you
need one, just grab whatever disks you'll need.” Katy nodded. “Okay, if
you’re ready…”
A uniformed officer escorted them out to Francis’ car, handed Katy the bag
he’d been carrying and went back inside. The drive was a quiet one, and Katy
said nothing until the door was closed and locked behind them.
“Francis, I don’t know how to thank you…”
“Just be yourself and don’t let this thing beat you. I’m here for you... You
know, it’s mid-afternoon and I’m starting to get hungry. What do you like on
your pizza?”

Three weeks had passed since Katy’s apartment had been broken into. She
and Francis had settled into a comfortable routine with no adjustment
problems, they had sorted out household tasks and found life together suited
them both. Late one night, Francis was bent over legal books making notes
for an upcoming court case. She’d been at it for hours without even
realizing it until Katy began massaging her stiff shoulders. Without a word,
Francis dropped her pen and lowered her head to the desk. Silently, slowly,
Katy kneaded the tension from Francis’ stiff shoulders and neck.
“You’ve worked hard,” Katy’s lips were close to Francis’ ear, “Why don’t you
call it a night and have a soak. I drew you a bath that I promise you’ll
“Hmmm, that sounds good.”
A dozen candles lit the bathroom, the water was hot and scented and soft
music played from a portable stereo. Francis soaked until the water grew
cool and emerged much more relaxed. She found Katy meditating in the living
room. Although she’d tried to be quiet, Francis saw Katy smile.
“Enjoy your bath?”
“Oh yeah, there’s only one problem.”
“Hmm?” Katy was smiling wickedly now.
“I have this need…and I think you know it.” Francis kneeled behind the blond
and put her lips very close to Katy’s ear while rubbing her shoulders. “What
did you put in the bathwater?”
Katy, still smiling, leaned into Francis and murmured,
“If you like the bath, wait until you see the bedroom.”

Francis chuckled softly as she followed Katy down the hall. Katy was
shy, but creative. The bedroom had also been festooned with candles, and
littered with roses. Francis turned to Katy and took her by the hand.
“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you’re trying to seduce me.” Francis
was husky with restrained passion.
Katy looked up, her eyes were clouded over with something she’d never felt
for another woman.
“If I knew what I was doing, I might agree. But…”
Francis reached out to run a finger along Katy’s jawbone, a sensuous touch
to put Katy at ease.
“Follow your heart, a wise person once said to me.”

Slowly Francis relieved Katy of each piece of clothing, she accented
movement with kisses to nervous flesh until Katy relaxed completely. But
Katy surprised even herself as she reached for Francis’ neck to pull her in
to share their first kiss. It was much more than she expected. Francis’ lips
were soft and gentle and the very touch of her hand on a bare shoulder sent
Katy to a kind of heaven she’d never been to before.
“I need…” Katy didn’t finish, but kissed Francis’ elegant throat instead,
then started sliding Francis’ clothes off.
“I know, I need you too.” Katy felt herself lifted and then carried to the
bed. They made love slowly and passionately at first, and then with great
hunger and urgency as they fulfilled an unrealized need to know and please
one another. They fell asleep with happy smiles, and some time around dawn
Francis dreamed of Xena again.
“See? Told you it’s worth it.” Xena smiled and walked off into the sunrise.
The same sunrise that woke Francis up to see Katy watching her.

Katy smiled and a joy grew in her eyes that Francis hadn’t seen there
“What?” Francis asked.
‘I’m happier right now than I have been for a long time, all because of
you.” Katy reached out and stroked Francis’ eyebrows. Her voice was soft as
she shared what was in her heart. “I feel as if I’ve known you forever, it’s
like you’re part of my soul.”
“Xena said we’re soulmates, maybe that’s why we’re so good together.”
Francis replied. “Move in with me Katy. All your stuff; lock, stock and
barrel. This place feels more like a home with you in it, my life feels more
complete with you in it and I feel like I’ve found my soul’s other half.
Please…say you will.”
“Are you sure you want to share your home and life with a psychic?” Katy
laughed, but the question was serious.
“More than I’ve ever been sure of anything else Katy.” Francis was watching
Katy intently; afraid she’d be rejected.
Katy raised herself up on one elbow and peered at her lover. Then she kissed
her gently.
“Yes, I’ll live with you. But only if you make love to me again.”
“Hmm, already with the blackmail…” Francis laughed and flipped them over so
that she could watch the sea green eyes below her blaze with passion. She
didn’t think life could get any better.

From: "carolyn mcbride" <taleweaver@hotmail.com>
To: kira@zip.com.au
Subject: Chapters 3 and 4 of "EYES OF THE PAST"
Date sent: Wed, 17 May 2000 09:34:09 EDT

The remaining chapters and the conclusion.

Chapter Three

One month after Katy had moved in, she had finally started to come out
of her shell. The two women shared their lives and a home quite happily
together, and Katy had started working again. Much to Francis’ surprise,
Katy had started taking a martial arts class. As a result, her confidence
had grown and, although she still wasn’t entirely comfortable doing so, she
was able to go out by herself at night. Which was good since Francis wasn’t
always able to go with her. One cool evening Francis was able to leave the
office earlier than she’d expected, despite having told Katy it would be a
late night. As expected, she found Katy at the dojo working hard on her form
and stance. While the students went through their excersises Francis watched
Katy’s face. It was nice to see determination there instead of hesitation.
As the roomful of students bowed to the Sensei, Katy spotted Francis and

Katy’s attention shifted to somewhere behind her lover and the smile
curdled as quickly as milk in the sun. Francis turned in time to see a young
man stroll past her, then bend to pick up a little girl. She glanced quickly
back at Katy but her attention was focused on another student who was
talking excitedly. Francis looked back at the young man. He was smiling and
complimenting the little girl, unaware of Katy or the look she had given him
when he had entered the dojo. They left, and shortly thereafter Katy came
over to Francis’ side.
“Hi.” A small smile and a quick kiss on the cheek accompanied Katy’s quiet
greeting. Francis was taken by surprise; usually her girlfriend wasn’t so
demonstrative in public. She was surprised, but pleased.
“Glad to see me?”
Katy nodded, still smiling. As she put her running shoes on again, Francis
kneeled at her feet and began tying the laces.
“You don’t have to do that…” Katy reached down to tie the laces herself.
“I want to.” Francis covered the smaller hands with her own as she spoke,
her voice low. “I know I’ve been working late a lot lately and I want to
make it up to you.”
“By tying my shoes for me?” Katy asked with a grin.
“No, my warrior-in-training. By taking you out to dinner tonight, and taking
the day off work tomorrow.”
Just as Katy opened her mouth to say something, a woman came to stand beside
Francis, who was just finishing the knot on Katy’s last shoe.

Katy stood up and introduced Francis to her fellow student.
“Francis, this is Danielle. Danielle, my girlfriend Francis.”
This really surprised the raven-haired lawyer; she hadn’t been expecting
But either Danielle hadn’t heard or the intimate nature of their
relationship didn’t matter to her.
Danielle smiled at Francis and asked Katy when she could come and check out
the noises in her house. Katy looked at the floor, chewing her lip, and
Francis knew she was thinking.
“I’ll have to get back to you tomorrow morning on that…My daybook is at
Francis was confused, she was well aware that her partner knew her schedule
by rote. What she didn’t understand was why Katy was stalling. But she kept
quiet until they reached the car. As she opened the door for Katy, Francis
broached the topic.
“Usually you know your schedule by heart; what’s with the delay?”
Katy shrugged.
“I wanted to ask you to come with me when I do it. If you want to, I thought
we could go according to your schedule.”

Katy was full of surprises tonight, Francis mulled as she circled the
car to the driver’s door. Although none were unpleasant, they were curious
in their number. There was something that felt different about Katy tonight,
but nothing that could be easily explained. All during the drive home she
was quiet and sat with crossed arms and a hand covering the long scar at her
throat. At home, she dropped her coat on a chair and her workout clothes on
the bedroom floor; again causing Francis to wonder what was going on in that
blond head. Usually Katy was a neatfreak. After Katy had been in the shower
a minute or two, Francis strolled in.
“Want me to wash your back?”
“Hmm? Oh, sure.” It was the first thing Katy had said they’d left the dojo.
“If you aren’t feeling up to going out to dinner…” Francis began.
“I’m fine. Dinner with my favorite lawyer sounds good.”
“You’re sure? We lawyers aren’t a very popular bunch…”
“Anyone gives you a hard time, I’ll defend your honor.” Katy grinned as she
turned to face Francis. “Would you pick something out for my to wear? I
don’t even know where we’re going.”
“You’ll like it, trust me.”
“I wouldn’t trust anyone else, dear heart.” Katy smiled and leaned out to
kiss her love tenderly, but there was something missing.
Francis smiled back, but said nothing about her observations. It was enough
that Katy was still trying to smile. For now.

It was when Katy was on her third margarita that Francis noticed how
quickly she was drinking. Even though they occasionally drank at home, Katy
hadn’t drunk this quickly since they’d met. Now Francis was sure that
something was up. They were at an out of the way table at Katy’s favorite
Mexican restaurant, and because it was well after the dinner hour, they were
afforded some measure of privacy. Francis took both of Katy’s hands in her
own and looked her in the eye.
“Katy…There’s something going on in that head of yours. You haven’t been
yourself since I picked you up. What’s on your mind?”
Katy smiled, trying to be reassuring.
“Nothing except the bluest eyes in the world. Thank you for picking me up.
Are you sure you won’t be disappointing anyone by taking the day off?”
Francis raised one seductive eyebrow and a slow grin eased across her face.
“I’ve made plans for us that will take all day long to fulfill, my love. I
promise you’ll enjoy yourself. But not if you’re hung over.” Francis kissed
both of Katy’s palms and lowered her voice. “Right now I just want to get
you home and make mad, passionate love to you. Feel up to it?”
Passion clouded emerald eyes and Katy began to breathe a little faster. It
didn’t take long to get home.

“Oh geez…Francis…you gotta…I’m gonna, gonnagonnagonna…Francissss!”
Katy’s muscles spasmed and rippled with the force of this last orgasm, while
Francis held her close and murmured terms of endearment in her ear. When she
was finally able to get her breathing under control, Katy rolled toward
Francis and looked deep into her eyes.
“I feel so safe with you. What did I do all those years without you?”
“I don’t know, what did you do?”
Katy closed her eyes slowly, sighed and opened them again. When she did,
they were full of pain and uncertainty.
“Are you sure you want to know?”
“K…what is it? You know you can tell me anything.”
Katy sat up and pulled her knees close, her mind a thousand miles away.
Francis slid over behind her and wrapped her long arms around her lover, and
waited. When Katy did start to speak, it was in a voice small and far away.

“There’s a lot about me that you don’t know. You’ve never once asked me
about my past…”
Francis ran her hands along her lover’s arms and kissed the back of her
“I figured that you would tell me when you were ready.”
Katy hung her head until she could rest her head on her knees.
“I didn’t want to tell you in case…”
“In case I turned away from you?” Katy nodded, but still wouldn’t look at
Francis. “Katy, don’t you know that I love you more than that? What ever it
is, it won’t drive me away I promise.”
“A long time ago I was another person. I went by another name, my hair was a
different color…the works. I was married too. But the relationship went
slowly sour. He started getting violent when I got pregnant. I tried time
and again to leave him but something always got in the way. I was able to
sneak out a week before I gave birth. I went through labor surrounded by
strangers and left as soon as the baby could travel. He found us though. We
were asleep in a shelter when he snuck in and kidnapped my son…” Katy’s
voice drifted off and Francis knew this must have been hell to go through.
“He threatened to kill our son unless I let him have custody. I tried the
police but they didn't believe me; most of them were his poker buddies. The
lawyer I got didn’t really seem to want to do much... maybe if I’d had more
money…Eventually I had to give in. I had no cash, no powerful friends like
he did, and no other choices. So he has my son…”

“Oh Katy…” Francis could feel the resignation in her girlfriend. There
were no tears, no crying out against an unjust system; just absolute
“I haven’t seen my son in two years. I don’t even know what he looks like
“So why change your name?”
“He started sending me threatening letters, then calling at all hours of the
night. I eventually had to move and start over under a different name, but
he’s always found me.”
“So what’s with the look you gave the guy at the dojo?”
“That’s one of his friends.”
Katy said no more on the topic. She was silent and still, and Francis was
beginning to wonder if she’d fallen asleep. As a lawyer, she couldn’t
imagine justice being this warped, but she believed every word. She made up
her mind to do what she could for the woman she loved.
“What name did you go by when you were pregnant?” she whispered.
“Maevis Roberts.” Katy answered in a strangled voice. “Do you hate me for
not being honest with you?”
“Hate you?” Francis pulled Katy around so that she was facing her. “How
could I hate you, why would I hate you? For wanting to keep a skeleton in
the closet? In the grand scheme of things love, that’s a minor thing to hate
someone for. Everyone has skeletons in their closet. It doesn’t matter to me
what name you answered to then, or now, because I love the person and the
soul behind the name. I love you more for trusting me enough to tell me
this, do you understand? This won’t drive me away. I’m here for you;
always.” Then Francis gathered the smaller woman into her arms and held her
tightly. Rocking her ever so slightly, Francis whispered to Katy.
“Sleep now love, I’ll be here when you wake up, I won’t leave you.”

Some time later Francis eased Katy’s sleeping form under the sheets. It
had taken her a long time to fall asleep, but exhaustion and her lover’s
promise to stay close had finally won her over. Francis wanted to crawl into
bed and hold Katy all night, but she was too angry. She was angry that Katy
had been treated so cruelly, angry that justice hadn’t been served and that
she’d been allowed to fall between the cracks. It was unbelievable that even
in this day and age such a miscarriage of justice went unchallenged. Francis
went to the window and laid her forehead against the glass. The flood of
rage had threatened to overwhelm her but it was beginning to wane.
“Xena…what do I do? I would take revenge if I could…but I don’t know where
to start. Help me please.”
A sound from the kitchen was her only answer. Checking that Katy was still
fast asleep, Francis went to the kitchen.

Francis flipped the light on and nearly jumped out of her skin when she
saw Xena sitting at the table.
"Geez Xena, couldn't you have visited in the bedroom?"
"And what would Katy have said about that?" Xena let a smile slide across
her face.
"She's asleep, thank heavens." Francis sank into a chair and ran a hand over
her face. "I didn't think she was ever going to give in." Francis' face
transformed into a mask of fury. "Do you have any idea what she's been
It took Francis almost an hour to tell Xena everything that Katy had shared
with her. She paced, ranted and raved and gnashed her teeth about being part
of an incompetent legal system.
"I have all this anger and nothing to do with it!" She slapped the
refrigerator in frustration.
Xena stood up and put a hand on Francis' shoulder.
"You're a lawyer, start there. You do what you can, and I'll do what I can.
Whatever else you do, keep your plans for today the same. If you change your
schedule she may take it personally. She's a lot like a certain bard that
way." Xena grinned slightly and was gone.

Francis shook her head and smiled a little. Then she turned out the
light and went to bed. She woke up a few hours later with the sun and an
idea. Lightly kissing Katy, she tucked the duvet around her and slipped out
of bed. Pulling on a robe as she walked, Francis mulled over her seed of an
idea. As the computer went through the first steps of starting up, Francis
scribbled on a piece of paper. Three hours later she saved her findings on a
disk and headed for the shower. While the hot water coursed down her back
she went over what she'd found. Katy's ex-husband had never filed for
divorce or custody, but was listed as separated. Katy or Maevis as she'd
been called then, had filled out the birth certificate for her son and named
him R.J Roberts. There was a trail of various addresses and unlisted
telephone numbers for Katy, these ended with the apartment she'd had when
she met Francis. She had also found the police report from when Katy had
been mugged. While there were parts that had been left incomplete, there was
enough to give Francis a good idea of Katy's injuries at the time.

The hospital forms on file had to be "creatively found" and Francis was
thankful she didn't have to seek outside help to get the answers she needed.
She wasn't ready to share what she was doing just yet. Francis' mind had
wandered and she hadn't even begun to wash her hair yet when the shower
curtain opened. There stood Katy looking rumpled and sleepy.
"Is this a private party or can anyone join?"
"Oh no, this is a private affair. Reserved for the owner of my heart."
Francis reached out and helped Katy into the shower. Although it wasn't the
first time she'd seen her girlfriend's scars, Francis looked on them with
fresh eyes now.
"So are you going to call Danielle this morning?" Francis turned Katy and
washed her back.
"Are you sure you want to come along? You don't even know what you're
getting into."
"So tell me."
"She says there's cold spots in the house and violent spirit activity. She
wants me to come and try and make contact. If I can, she wants me to
convince the spirit to leave." Francis stopped washing, her movements being
frozen by surprise. "Change your mind?" Katy sounded disappointed.
"No...You can do that? Get it to leave, I mean."
"I don't know. It depends on what's happening, why the spirit is there, if
it even recognises that it's time to move on...All kinds of things factor
into it."
Francis started to wash Katy's hair. "You set it up and as long as I don't
have a court date, I'll be there."
Katy was pleased.

Francis had planned on driving out to Iron Bridge and having lunch at a
seafood restaurant but sometime during the shower had changed her mind.
While Katy was on the telephone with Danielle, she made up a picnic for two
and packed the trunk with a blanket and a cooler. Not long afterwards they
were on the road. It was a light hearted drive with the wind in their hair,
the sun shining down and good music on the stereo. Their picnic lunch was
almost ant free and very filling. They were laying in the sun relaxing when
Francis sat up. She sat facing Katy's back and began to rub the warm flesh.
"I could get used to this..." Katy mumbled.
"Don't ever leave me Katy. Stay with me while we grow old together."
"What?" Katy sat up now. "Are you serious?"
"Very. I was going to renovate the house anyway. Make the den larger, add on
a big porch...Close your mouth love, you'll catch a fly."
"How can you ask something like that knowing what my past is?" Katy got up
and walked to the side of a creek they'd chosen to picnic beside. "You know
he eventually finds me no matter where I go. He makes sure I'll never have a
normal life. I'll never be able to stop running from him and I'll never get
my son back, you don't want to spend the rest of your life saddled with my
"Yes, I do."
"No you don't. Look, I know the sex is great but..."
"Is that what you think?" Francis was stunned. "This is about so much more
than sex Katy." She went to stand behind her lover and wrapped her arms
around her. "My whole adult life I searched for someone who would make me
happy, and I never found them. With you, I'm beyond happy. I feel complete
for the first time. My heart is yours Katy, can't you see that?" Then
Francis realised something and she let go of Katy. "Unless you don't feel
the same..."

Katy spun around and grabbed her lover's arms before she could step
"No! That's not it at all! I do love you, believe me. I just don't want to
burden you with my past. If I had the choice, I'd gladly grow old with you."
"You DO have the choice, love. Take back your life; don't give him any more
power over you than he's already had. We'll fight him together Katy; you and
I. Trust me, we can do it. We can even petition for custody if you'd like."
"Custody?" Now it was Katy's turn to be stunned. "You want...?"
"If you do."
"Do you know what you're getting into?"
Francis did her best Xena impression with crossed arms and raised eyebrow.
"I have an idea, yes. I help people with things like this for a living
remember? Think about it; you don't have to answer right now."

The drive home was more solemn than the drive out had been. Francis
knew that Katy had some thinking to do and respected that by leaving the
radio off. Katy was still shocked. She knew Francis loved her; she showed
her in a myriad of ways. But Katy hadn't expected this. Especially not after
what she'd revealed last night. It was one thing to grow old together, but
Francis was willing to help her get R.J back. For two years he'd been all
she ever wanted. Sometimes in her dreams at night she could still feel him
breastfeeding and hear him crying; and her heart ached with emptiness. The
passing months didn't ease the pain or lessen the guilt, it only made it
sharper. She had no idea what her son looked like, and that was hard to
swallow. But the most painful truth of all was that she had allowed this
situation to continue by not fighting for her son. Now she had found love
and support in someone she hadn't expected to find. Eight months ago she
would have laughed if anyone had suggested that Katy would fall in love,
especially with a woman. Due to a rigid, puritan upbringing, love with
another woman hadn't been Katy's style. But she knew that it was love, pure
and simple. Yes, she was definitely in love with Francis. She watched
surreptitiously as the raven haired lawyer drove them home. Katy studied
the chisled profile, took notice of the concentration as Francis watched the
road and gazed at the slender hands as they held the wheel. With a wave of
emotion, Katy knew without a doubt that she would willingly spend the rest
of her life with this woman. Katy smiled broadly, which Francis noticed
"What?" She asked, glancing over.
"Yes? To all of it?" Francis wasn't sure if she understood.
"All of it. Spending the rest of my life with you, getting my son back,
growing old together...everything."
Francis took Katy's hand and held it tightly. If she had won the lottery
yesterday, she wouldn't have been happier. They smiled the whole way home.

Chapter Four

They had been fighting Katy's ex-husband for three months now and
were no closer to their goal. Francis was getting frustrated and Katy was
beginning to wonder if there was any hope of getting R.J back. Francis had
tried every legal angle she could think of, and they had even hired a
private investigator to observe and record how R.J was treated; but found no
advantage there. From a legal standpoint, it was Katy's word against her
ex-husband's that he had kidnapped R.J, and he had an army of witnesses
willing to testify that Katy had abandoned them. While there was a case
building, it was not in Katy's favor. Francis turned away from her computer
and sighed heavily. She ran her hands through her hair and wondered how she
would tell the love of her life that they probably wouldn't win this battle.
While she cradled her forehead with her hands, Francis searched her legal
knowledge for some loophole she'd missed. When she came up with nothing she
hadn't already tried, she went to the shelf of legal books. After an hour of
looking, she was beginning to think this one battle might be lost before
they'd fully started. When Katy arrived at the office, she found a very
dejected Francis sitting on the floor surrounded by legal tomes.

"Hi! Why...are you...sitting on the floor?"
Francis looked up, then started closing the books. She wasn't ready to share
the seemingly inevitable defeat yet.
"Hi! My butt was getting numb from the chair so I sat down here. I used to
study on the floor when I had tests to write; I thought better there, so I
thought I'd try it again."
Katy held out a hand and helped Francis to her feet.
"You look exhausted, babe. I know there's no point in telling you not to
work so hard, but I still wish you would at least pace yourself."
"The life of a lawyer." Francis shrugged.
"Especially a dedicated, talented one. These people are lucky to have you
on their side."
"Well, that remains to be seen. Right now I just want to curl up in your
arms and sleep for the next two days."
Francis got fourteen hours of blissfull, undisturbed sleep until the
cordless telephone warbled insistently.

"Mmph...?" Francis grunted into the phone.
"Ms. Brennan? This is Detective Gabriel. I'd like you to bring Katy down to
my office down at the precinct."
"Why? What's going on?" She was wide awake now and already getting out of
"It seems she'll be getting custody of her son after all. I can't say more
over the phone."
"Of course. We'll be there as soon as possible."
Once the connection had been severed, Francis shook Katy's shoulder.
"Katy, get up."
"Unn ungh. Not ready..."
Rooting in the closet for a clean pair of jeans Francis looked over her
shoulder momentarily.
"You will if you want your son."
Twenty minutes later they were sitting at Detective Gabriel's desk, waiting
for him to explain.
"Miss Connor, first of all I feel I should tell you that you are not getting
custody because Dave has given it up. The only reason you are getting your
son is because Dave is dead."
"Dead? How?"
"Lack of blood."
"Excuse me?" It was Francis' turn to be confused.
"Acoording to the coroner, there was no blood in his brain. He said it was
as though someone had managed to shut it off."
"Shut it off......"
"Horrible way to die." Francis nudged Katy with her knee. Katy caught the
warning and said no more about it.
"So if you'll just sign the forms here, here, and here; I'll release R.J
into your custody."

With the forms signed, witnessed, dated and stamped all that remained
was to unite mother and son. When the Detective left to get R.J, Francis
took Katy's hand under the lip of the desk.
"Amazingly, yes."
When R.J came through the door of an adjoining office Katy's eyes flooded
with tears. He was the image of his father with a head full of black curls,
a dark complexion and stunning blue eyes. Detective Gabriel kneeled down to
R.J's line of sight and put a hand on the little boy's shoulder.
"R.J, this is your mommy. You're going to go with her for a little while."
"But I want my daddy...where is he?"
The little boy's plea broke everyone's heart.
"He had to go away for a little while honey, but I'll take care of you.
Would that be okay?" Katy tried to sound friendly, but she was as nervous as
a virgin on a first date.
R.J looked up at this blond lady he didn't know and watched her. She semed a
little scared of something. He walked over and put his hand on her knee.
"Are you 'fraid?"
"A little. Are you?"
He nodded seriously. "My daddy holds my hand when I'm scared. I'll hold
yours." And he held out his hand. When she had taken it, R.J looked up and
"The policeman told me I was gonna have a 'venture. I'm ready now."

R.J fell asleep in the car with two of his favorite stuffed animals
beside him and bags of belongings in the trunk. On the way home Katy said
very little. Francis re-adjusted her mirror so she could see R.J as well as
out the rear window. For what seemed to be the twentyth time, she glanced
over at the silent figure in the passenger seat.
Finally, she could stand the silence no longer.
"K? You want to talk about it?"
Katy sighed and leaned back against the headrest.
"I'm sure this was Xena's doing, but I don't know which I feel more right
now; sadness or gratitude."
"Apparently Dave was good to R.J at least. It's hard watching him pine for
his father. I don't know which of the three of us is going to have the most
adjusting to do."
That night after R.J had brushed his teeth, Katy had read him a story and
Francis had read another; the two women retired to the den to talk after he
had fallen asleep.

"He looks a lot like his father's pictures, Katy."
"Bears a striking resemblance to a certain lawyer I know, who looks a lot
like a certain warrior..."
"Who did what she could to help." Came a voice from the doorway.
Katy and Francis both spun on their heels to see who'd spoken. In front of a
closed door stood Xena and Gabrielle.
"For a psychic, you're kinda slow sometimes." Xena grinned.
"Am I glad to see you two!" Katy rushed toward them.
"We understand congratulations are in order." Gabrielle smiled and hugged a
very surprised Katy.
"Don't look so surprised, just because I've been gone awhile doesn't mean I
can't hug. You are right about one thing. He does look a lot like two
special people..."Gabrielle grinned at Francis and put an arm around Xena's
"About his father Katy..." Xena reached out and put a hand on Katy's
shoulder. "This wasn't fated. Dave would have died in the same 24 hour
period, but he was supposed to die in a drive by shooting. Your son would
have been with him..." Xena's voice trailed off.
"Would R.J have...?"
Xena only nodded. After a minute she explained. "This was our gift to you.
You have your son back and you..." She turned to look at Francis, "...You
have a ready made family. Watch over them carefully and make me proud."
"You're leaving?" Francis asked.
Xena nodded. "For awhile. We'll be back from time to time to see how our
family is doing. Take care of each other...." As her words faded, so too did
the spirits of the warrior and the bard.


On his tenth birthday R.J knew what day it was before opening his eyes.
To say he was excited was an understatement. His mothers always spoiled him
a little on his birthday, and he had a feeling that something special was
going to happen today. He dressed in a hurry, completely mis-matching his
socks and nearly putting his shirt on inside out. Without a backward glance
he dashed from his bedroom, down the hall and stopped at the top of the
stairs. He could hear Francis' favorite music coming from the kitchen and he
grinned, knowing that she was making his favorite breakfast. She liked to
sing while she cooked and the sounds and smells coming from the kitchen
widened R.J's smile. When he walked into the kitchen he was surprised to see
both his mothers cooking. Well, dancing actually, and laughing like little
"Good morning birthday boy!" Francis picked up R.J and swung him in a big
circle, then danced him over to the table. "Pancakes, blueberries,
strawberries and chocolate milk?" R.J could hardly believe his eyes.
Hope you're hungry little man." Katy looked down and ruffled his dark hair.
Then she leaned down and kissed the top of his head. "Francis would you get
the music please?"

Francis nodded and turned off the stereo. The three of them sat at the
table and held hands. Katy cleared her throat.
"Goddess, we are thankful for our many blessings. Thank you for allowing
the three of us to be together, thank you for bestowing us with peace and
love and thank you for Xena and Gabrielle."
R.J picked up his fork and began to eat. Then he had a thought.
"Mom, who's Xena and Gabrielle?"
Katy smiled and gestured with a pancake-laden fork. "That's Xena and
Gabrielle, son."
R.J looked at the two women standing at the opposite end of the table.
"Who're you?
"We're family R.J," Gabrielle smiled and walked toward him. "We've been
watching you grow for a long time. You've made us very proud."
Xena walked down the length of the table, watching his reaction.
R.J asked, "Are you angels?"
Xena smiled just a little.
"Kinda, but we're family too. You're not afraid of us are you?" R.J shook
his head. "Good, 'cause we don't want you to be afraid. We brought you
something for your birthday."
Gabrielle kneeled down and handed him a tube, which he took carefully.
"This is something that I wrote a very, very long time ago. We didn't have
paper like you do, we had rolls of parchment. This one has been coated with
oil so it won't rot. You have to promise to take good care of it."
"I promise. What's it about?"
"It's a story about the time that Xena and I went to India and found out
about reincarnation. It's in a language you probably won't understand..."
"It'll be good inspiration to study that new set of encyclopedias we bought
you R.J." Francis inclined her head toward the boy that looked so much like
her and then offered her chair to Xena.

R.J looked back to the ageless bard, who had by this time, accepted the
offer of Katy's chair.
"Do you think I could learn how to read it?"
Gabrielle smiled at her young descendant. "Only if you study hard and stay
in school." Then her demeanor became serious. "I will be checking in on you
from time to time."
"If I do good in school do you think I could be a writer like you?"
"From what I understand, you already are."
R.J was slightly embarrassed. "Aw...those stories aren't much..."
"Don't underestimate yourself R.J. We all have to start somewhere."
"I also brought you something for your birthday R.J." Xena reached between
her breastplate and her leathers and removed a small dagger.

Katy opened her mouth to say something, but Xena spoke first.
"I understand you've made a reputation for yourself at school, something
about standing up to a bully who had been scaring the little kids."
R.J nodded, red-faced, and then glanced over at Francis and Katy. They both
had surprised expressions.
"Sounds to me like you're carrying on the family traditions quite well. You
know your mother is a writer now and Francis fights her battles in the
courtroom; a bard and a warrior for the new age. It seems to me that
you're already becoming both. So I'm giving you my dagger to remind you that
a true warrior never abuses power. We don't bully people, we defend them."
"Does that mean I'm a..."
"Warrior. And as such, I'm giving this to you. You've earned it. Take care
of it properly. Francis can show you how to oil it and keep it safe. It's
very old." Xena looked up at the clock and then back to R.J. "It's also
time you were getting ready for school, don't you think?"
R.J blinked and nodded. As he left the table, he stopped and looked solemnly
at the two women he realised were more than just angels.
"Thank you, I won't forget..."
"Go get ready for school sport. Your Mom and I have to talk to Xena and
Gabrielle." Francis' tone was gentle but left no room for argument.

When he was beyond overhearing Katy turned toward the two ancient
"Are you sure he's ready for those? They're antiques..."
"Trust us...he's more than ready. He's pretty mature for ten, Katy."
Gabrielle smiled. "You and Francis are doing a good job."
"He's destined for wonderful things, so don't worry." Xena rose from the
chair. "We have to go, stay true to each other."
Katy and Francis beamed at each other. They were more in love than they had
been eight years ago. When they looked back towards the table, their
anscestors were gone.
Francis sighed.
"They never stay long enough..."

"Ladies and Gentlemen, I'd like to introduce you to Sunrise Publishing
House's newest and youngest author; R.J Roberts!"
R.J stepped up to the microphone and adjusted his tie. Katy smiled up at her
son. He looked so mature in the black suit and silver tie; Francis had
picked well. At sixteen, R.J looked so much like his warrior ancestor that
it was hard to remember that his looks came from his father and not the
famous fighter. R.J looked down from the podium at his mothers and smiled.
"I'm not sure how speeches like this are supposed to go, so I'm just going
to forge ahead. First of all, I'd like to thank the two most important
people in my life..." He smiled as he watched their faces light up. They
were getting on in years, but he'd been witness to an ever-growing bond of
love over the years. "Without them I would be nothing. I would also like to
thank all those who said I couldn't do this. They allowed me to prove them
wrong." He spotted two familiar figures standing off to the side that he
hadn't seen in a long time. "I'd also like to thank Xena and Gabrielle."
They stood unseen by all but three people, but they had pride written all
over them. "Without my ancestors I don't think I would have been inspired to
learn the Greek language. They taught me honor, respect and the true meaning
of what it means to live the life of the warrior." With these final words,
he pulled the cover off a large placard that reproduced the cover of his
book. There was a photo of a coastline overlaid with a photo of Gabrielle's
staff laced through one side of Xena's chakram. Above this were the words
'Adventures With A Warrior'
"Without Gabrielle's scrolls I would never have been able to write this
book, and without the hardest work already having been done by two other
ancestors of mine, Janice and Melinda, I would never have been able to
translate the scrolls. So I dedicate this, hopefully the first of many
books, to the discovery of roots and family trees. Thank you."
R.J smiled down at Katy and Francis, then looked toward Xena and Gabrielle.
They smiled back proudly. Xena inclined her head and they faded from sight.


R.j whooped and hollered as he hung up the telephone.
"Mom! Francis! I got the contract for a second book!" He went running
through the hallway, through the kitchen and slapped the screen door open a
mere second before going right through it. He fully expected to be
reprimanded for running in the house, but to his surprise neither of his
parents said a word about it. He leaped off the big porch whooping and
shouting and turned to share his news.
"Mom, I got it! Mom?..." A puzzled look crossed his face as he realized
something was amiss. Slowly he climbed the steps, understanding dawning on
his features.
"Mom? Francis? Oh no...not yet...I wasn't ready yet..."
The two women sat with their hands together, fingers entertwined, peacefull
smiles on their faces, gazing out at the green mountains in the distance.
Although there was gray in their hair and lines on their faces, they both
looked as happy as the day R.J had come to live with them. Now he kneeled at
their feet, put his head in his mother's lap and a hand on Francis' knee.
"Goddess knows I wasn't ready for this...I'll miss you both so much..." R.j
could say no more, the tears robbed him of the words he so desperately
wanted to say. So he kneeled there and wept for the loss of his parents, his
two guiding lights. As he mourned he felt a warmth beside him, and he looked
up through tear-filled eyes. Gabrielle and Xena stood beside him.
"They died together R.J, you know this is how they wanted to go..."
Gabrielle turned to the still figures on the swing. "They're at peace R.J
and together on the other side."
"But I wasn't ready..."
"You know it's not about that." Xena spoke quietly. "Their work is done now,
they've gone home. Be happy that they're together; you'll see them again."

The funeral was a somber affair. As the strains of 'Trathnona Beag
Areir' floated through the air, R.J wept openly. His parents' friends and
associates were all emotional, but none more than he. As the caskets began
to lower, he placed a red rose on the lid of each. As he lowered a shovelful
of dirt into the large, double plot, R.J felt that familiar presence again
and looked up. Under a large oak tree stood Xena, Gabrielle, Francis and his
mother. His parents looked as they had when they were young, and they both
smiled warmly at him. He knew they were happy so he smiled back bravely and
gave voice to what was in his heart.
"I'll miss you all."Then he inclined his head as Xena had done not so long
ago. "Until we meet again..."
The four women faded slowly from sight.


Finished August 7. 1999


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