Disclaimer: Here we go.....Gabrielle and Xena, Artemis, Ares, Janice, Melinda, Callisto, Ephiny, Solari, Argo, Joxer, Minya and Hower(am I missing any one? Oh yeah, Autolycus)don't belong to me. (Big red truck:) (Most of them are not in this story, but I am covering all the bases. Ya know, it pays to be safe at all times!) They make money for Universal/MCA/Renaissance/Lucy/Renee/Rob.....You get the picture. I am not making money with this. It's just an enjoyable little fantasy life I like to live in now and again. So join me in my world for a while if you will.

You won't understand this unless you read Stranger Paths (Hey it was a little tale that got waaaaay out of hand) So, have you? If not, run, run, run right back where you came from and read, read, read.

WARNING: I have made reference to the Columbine High School shootings. I live three short miles from the school and my heart and prayers go out to all who were involved and especially to the parents and families of those that didn't make it out. May God grant you the peace to move ahead to brighter times!

 Violence: Uuuh, NO.

Sex: Oh yes! Yes!!! OOOH God YESSSS! Ahem.....Where was I? Oh yeah...Consensual sex between two adult women. If this makes you feel yucky, leave and see a doctor. If you are under age, where are your parents and why don't they regulate your on-line time? Hummm? Now, be gone with you.

Spoilers: Yep. So many I can't count 'em all. So read with caution.

I did have a broken wrist at the writing of this part of the story so I just wrote what I know. I do NOT know the first thing about fire rescue, etc.. So, if I ain't got the details down pat I'm sorry. I am studying to be a sign interpreter and It is hard to do in a cast. I Love sushi. U? :D Enjoy!

Got a beef? (Beet if you're vegetarian) write me UgoXena@aol.com

©1999 K. Glasgow.

Return to Reality

By Kandis Glasgow


When Candace came to, the first realization she had was that she was cold. Deathly cold. She tried to rise but was unable to move due to confining restraints around her body. She was totally disoriented and confused.

"Xena?" Her words were weak and seemed to fall directly into silence. Again she tried to rise from her position. This time she was stopped by a searing pain emanating from her arm. She screamed in agony.

A face with a look of concern leaned over her and spoke reassuring words to her. She could comprehend none of them. She was brought out of her confusion by the pain and began to assess her situation. She was restrained in a metal cot of some kind that had ropes and pulleys attached to it. There was a person in a helmet and harnesses holding the basket steady as it was pulled upward.

"Where am I? What's going on?" Her voice was demanding enough to get attention from the unknown person with her.

"You are hanging off the side of a cliff on Mt. Falcon, but you're in good hands. I promise. Stay calm and lay still. We almost have you up."

Candace looked at the person in confusion. *Mt Falcon?*

"Where's Xena?" Panic was starting to set in. "WHERE'S XENA!"

"I was never good at geography, ma'am. I don't know where it is. Listen you need to remain calm. We are working as fast as we can to get you to safety. Everything is going to be fine. Now try to relax."

The last thing Candace wanted to do was to try to relax so she did the next best thing; She passed out.

Taylor assessed the situation they were facing. They had a woman hanging off the side of a 100-ft. embankment. It looked as if the ground had given way under her feet. Her jacket was lodged in a crevice and the material and a button of the jacket were the only things keeping her from plunging to certain death. She wasn't sure how long the woman had been there. Some hikers had found her just a few hours earlier. They said that a frantic small white dog had led them to her but the dog was nowhere to be found. The hikers had tried to find the it after the rescue crew had arrived, but the prints they had found stopped in mid-stride. It was as if the dog had simply disappeared.

Taylor was, by profession, a firefighter but was doing some volunteering with Mountain Rescue while some of the regular crew took a few days off. Here she could put some of her other skills to work. Rock climbing was a passion for her and the time she spent at her hobby lent itself well to this and many other situations like it. When they had gotten the rig set, Taylor repelled down the rock face with skill and caution. It was getting dark and this was uncharted territory. The rock could be stable or it could all come down in a flash. The first challenge was to get a secured line on the victim. Taylor was a tall and muscular and the woman on the cliff was quite small in comparison. She was relatively light and easy to move. Taylor secured the line and called for the basket. A second team member appeared with the rig and they easily place the small woman in the cot. It was then that Taylor looked in the face of the woman. She caught her breath. In spite of the injuries and the fact that this poor person had been hanging on the cliff face for God knew how long, she was strikingly beautiful. Recognition shot through her and Taylor felt sure that she knew her. She made a mental note to check up on her when they had gotten her to the hospital in Denver.

The small blonde was secure and the firefighter was prepared to bring her up.

"On belay!" Taylor let her crew know she was ready to ascend.

"Belay on!" Came the reply.


"Climb on!"

The climb to the top came with no difficulties. "Thanks for little favors." Taylor whispered to who ever was listening.

Flight for Life landed and the paramedics took over for the rescue team. The physical injuries to the woman seemed minor for the most part. She was suffering from dehydration and was dangerously close to hypothermia. Her arm was most definitely broken and, by the looks of the bruise on her head, she was sure to have a concussion. She would spend a couple of days in the hospital but she would survive. She had no I.D. on her so for the time being she was Jane.

Taylor looked at Jane Doe and was intrigued. No, it was more than intrigue. She couldn't for the life of her, understand the emotions she was experiencing. It was suddenly necessary that she see to it personally that this woman had the best of care. *You have to pull through Jane. You HAVE to.*

Taylor knew that they would take her to Swedish so it would be easy to find her. After this call shift she was off and the end of it wouldn't come soon enough for her.


Taylor drove her Dakota as fast as safety would allow to get to the side of the mystery woman. She still didn't get why she had to be at her side but it seemed to her that she some how "belonged" there.

Once again a warrior held silent vigil over the bed of the small blonde woman. This time however the fighter of fires had no idea why she was drawn to the side of this beautiful creature. All she knew was that she could be nowhere else no matter the consequences. There came a small series of moans from the woman and Taylor's head shot up from it's resting place on the bed. She stood up and stroked the blonde unruly bangs away from the unknown woman's closed eyes. Her fingers lingered and stroked the injured one's forehead to calm her fears. Slowly the moans subsided and the woman began to awaken.

Candace's eyes refused to focus so she closed them. Surprisingly, she felt the warmth of a hand resting on her cheek. She opened one eye to see who it was that offered her such comfort. She almost recognized the face but couldn't place it. The blue eyes that met hers were all too familiar. "Xena?"

"That is the second time I have heard that word. What or where is a zeena?"

Candace was embarrassed by her mistake and closed her eyes tightly. Tears weld up even as she fought to stop them. She was home and Xena was no more. The one she had loved more than life it's self had been taken from her. *Dammit Gabrielle! You promised!* "Shit!"

Taylor was taken back by the response to her question and didn't know how to react. She was normally reserved in her emotions and was at a total loss as to how to respond to the outpouring she was now seeing.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you."

Taylor's words brought the singer back to herself. "You have no need to be sorry. It's not you. I just...it's.. I.." She couldn't finish the sentence as tears and sorrow overwhelmed her.

The tall dark-haired hero sat down next to the small heart broken woman and took her gently in her arms. "I don't know why you are so sad, but I am sorry you hurt this way. If I can do anything please tell me."

Candace didn't answer her comforter. She was content to be held in her arms and cry. She had never thought for a moment that she would be taken from Xena. If she had known, many of her choices would have been different. *Like going there in the first place.*

After she had cried for what seemed an eternity, Candace realized that the woman that was holding her had never moved or appeared that she wanted to. She was again embarrassed and began to extradite her self from the embrace of the strong arms that held her. *God. I must look a sight.* She turned her head so that the person with her couldn't see her face.

Taylor reluctantly released the precious bundle and let her lie back down. She stood up from the bed and turned to walk to the sink for a wet wash cloth. The woman on the bed misunderstood her move and spoke with fear.

"I'm sorry. Please don't leave."

She smiled down at the red face and replied, "It's alright, I'm not leaving. I think you need a cool cloth to sooth those swollen eyes." She retrieved the cloth and returned to the bed. Candace reached out to take it from her, but the firefighter was too fast for that.

"Ah. Ah. Allow me." She sat down and tenderly began to minister to the woman whose name she didn't know. "Can I ask you a question?"

"May you?" *Bad habit, that grammar thing.* Candace kicked herself mentally and missed the barb she would have taken from Gabrielle.

Taylor sarcastically rephrased the first part of her question. "MAY I?"

"Yes, you may."

"Thanks, You're Majesty of Grammar" The woman grinned and the dazzling light of her smile brought much needed warmth to a very cool heart. "You wouldn't by any chance have a name?"



"Depends on who wants to know."

"I see. Well, there is this fire rescue person I know, she just happened to save your life, and she wants to know."

"You brought me down off the mountain." Candace suddenly remembered where and when she had seen the woman. "I'm sorry, I didn't recognize you. I figured you were a nurse or something." This revelation brought a new light to what was turning out to be a very interesting situation.

"ME? A nurse?! No way, I can't stand the sight of blood." Taylor laughed and Candace smiled at the sound.

"My name is Candace. Nice to meet you. I would shake your hand but the cast thing, well you know."

"The pleasure is mine. I'm Taylor, Your Knight in Shining Armor. I'll collect on the hand shake later."

*Later? There is going to be a later?* "My turn to ask a question."

"Fire away."

"Why are you here?"

Taylor looked into green eyes and was captured by them. The spark she felt sent electric shock waves straight to her heart and made it skip a beat. She closed her eyes to catch her breath and calm her heart before she tried to answer.

"Do you want the truth or the story I made up for lack of a better reason?"

"Tell me the story first and then I want the truth."

"O.K. Here goes.... I like to keep an eye on all the people I rescue. I go to see them in the hospital and just keep an track of them in my spare time."

"That's it? That is your story? The one you were going to tell me to hide the truth. Be sure you stick to fighting fires and rescuing damsels. Story telling is not your forté."

"Hey! That hurt! It's better than anything else I could think of. The truth doesn't really make any sense."

"Tell me and let me be the judge."

"The truth is, I don't know why I'm here. I was worried about you. I had to come see you and make sure you were going to be O.K." Taylor peeked up and looked at the blonde with a sheepish glance.

Silence hung in the room as Candace let the words sink in. *The same words. The same concern. The same damn eyes. WHAT in God's name is going on here.*

As quickly as she had warmed up to the woman, Candace turned cold. She wanted nothing to do with whatever games were being played with her. She had been a toy for the gods pleasure, but that ended here and now.

"Well, you don't need to concern yourself with me any longer. I will be just fine thank you. Now, if you don't mind, I need some rest." Candace turned her back to Taylor and closed her eyes. If the blue eyed woman had stopped to notice, she would have seen the silent tears begin to fall again.

Taylor was hurt by the sudden wall that went up around the injured woman. She wasn't sure what she had done or said but she knew that the conversation was over. The tall woman stood in silence for a few moments and stared at the back of the woman that had seized her imagination and her heart. Without recourse she turned and dejectedly walked from the room. *Stupid. Stupid. Stupid! Thinking I could get a woman like that. I won't ever do that again! Could I have made a bigger fool of my self?* Tormenting herself in her mind, she walked slowly down the corridor certain that she would never again see the woman of her dreams.

Candace heard the woman leave and broke down once again. She knew it wasn't Taylor's fault that she looked like someone Candace had loved and lost but at the moment she didn't care who she hurt. She cried until she exhausted herself and finally slept.


Four days after her disturbing visit, Taylor was still lost in a world of her own. Candace's face kept coming up in her mind and in her dreams. *This has got to stop.* To take her mind off of the hair, the face and the eyes, she settled herself down in front of the television at the station house to catch the Rockies game. Half way through the fourth inning of a very slow game, one of her colleagues called to her from the doorway.

"Yo! Taylor, you have a visitor."

Taylor turned around to catch Tom shaking his open hand limply in front of his chest and pursing his lips.

Taylor smirked at her friend. Her fellow firemen knew her sexual preference and didn't care as long as they got to see who she was dating. The women Taylor dated were always extremely attractive. "Hot, huh? By all means, show Miss Thing……"

Candace came around the corner and Taylor's cocky attitude hit the floor so hard you could almost hear it shatter. The compact woman was a sight to behold. It wasn't what she wore as much as how she wore it. The faded Levi's, form fitting green knit T-shirt and tennis shoes, looked better on Candace than any dress, or state of undress, Taylor had ever seen. Her golden hair cascaded over her shoulders caressing them in a gentle curl. The uniformed woman stood up so fast the chair she was in almost fell over. Had it not been for her cat like reflexes, it would have.

The shock registered in her voice as she spoke. "Candace! Hi! How did… why are you…um."

"Tom, could you…" She motioned with her hands for him to scoot. Reluctantly he obeyed the request and left the two women alone.

Taylor motioned to a chair at the table and said, "Have a seat."

"Thank you." Candace sat down and began too look around.

"Can I get you anything? Coffee, Coke, water?"

"Do you have any tea?"

"Iced or hot?"

"Hot. Peppermint if you have it."

"I think so. I have every herb and tea here known to man. Peppermint should be an easy one." Taylor rummaged around for a minute and then exclaimed, "Ta! Da! Peppermint!" There was a hot water on tap and brewing of the tea took only a couple of minutes.

Taylor sat across from the blonde woman and looked at her questioningly.

"I guess you want to know why I'm here." Candace took a sip of her tea and nodded approvingly.

"I am a little curious." *Understatement of the year!*

"I wanted to apologize for the way I acted toward you. I am sorry, Taylor. I wasn't myself that day. I'm still not myself yet but with time I'll be fine. I took some anger out on you that had nothing to do with you. I'm really sorry." Tears threatened to come and the woman bowed her head. *She is going to think all I do is cry all the time, and she'd be right. STOP!* She got her emotions under control and looked Taylor in the eyes. *Those damn blue eyes!*

Taylor saw the sorrow in the green of her visitors eyes and was moved by it. "It's O.K. Really. I know that sometimes when we are hurt we say things we don't mean. Speaking of hurt, how's the arm?"

"It's good. Broken in three places but I won't need pins. Taylor, I know that you know the pain I have is not physical. I lost someone very dear to me recently and I am trying to deal with that. It was very unexpected and promises were broken. It's a poor me story."

"I'll listen if you want to share it. You need to talk and get it out in the open so you can start to deal with the pain and anger. If you don't it will eat you alive. I know what I'm talkin' about here."

"Oh, an expert on pain are you?"

"I lost my brother when I was 12. We were so close you would think we were joined at the hip. It was a sudden and unusual death. We were at a 7-11 when this woman came in screaming her head off. This guy follows her in waving a gun and calling her …names… he aims the gun at her and fires. I tried to get Lucas out of the way, pull him to the floor, but I wasn't fast enough. The bullet passed through the woman and went straight into his heart. He died right there in my arms without ever knowing what happened. I never got to say good-bye."

"God, Taylor I am so sorry. I lost my brother, too. I know that pain. This is the same only different. How are you now?"

"It's alright. Still hurts now and again. I do know loss Candace, but no one owns the market on it. Let me try to help you through this."

"Taylor, it is a very long story and I know you don't have time right now to listen to it all. When does your shift end?"

"Tomorrow afternoon." She suddenly wished she were off now.

"Tell you what, when you finish tomorrow, come over to my place and I'll share with you the all sorted details. It is a very strange story and you may not believe it but I swear on my life it's true."

"I have heard many strange tales in my time. I'll believe almost anything. ALMOST!"

"Do you have paper and pencil.?

Taylor got up and found the requested items and handed them to the seated woman.

Candace wrote with her left hand as best she could. "Here's my address and number. Call and let me know what time to expect you. Can you read it?"

"Yeah. Fine. MAY I ask you a personal question?" She emphasized the word so the smaller woman would know she had learned her lesson.

Candace knew what was coming and smirked. "Yes you may."

"Promise you won't hate me?"

"Is that the question?" This was fun.

"No. Are you seeing anyone? Ya know, a boyfriend?"

"Boyfriend? No, no boyfriend." Her answer was vague on purpose. She was going to make the best of this. Watching the gorgeous woman in front of her squirm was amusing and flattering her at the same time. If Taylor wanted information she would have to ask the right questions.

"So you aren't seeing anyone?"


"If you could, would you."

"If I could, would I? What kind of question is that?"

"Would you go out with me if I asked you?" Taylor thought her heart would pound out of her chest and join her attitude on the floor. *God let her say yes.*

"Are you asking me?"

"You aren't going to make this easy are you?"


"Fine! Candace, will you go out with me?"

"Do you think I'm a lesbian?"

"Aren't you?" Panic was not the word for what Taylor felt right at the moment. *Open mouth. Insert BOTH feet!*

Candace considered her options. She could say no and let whatever relationship could develop here remain just a friendship or she could say yes and let the chips fall where they may. She decided on a third option. It had worked before, why not now? She stood up and made her way to the other side of the table and stopped next to Taylor's chair. The dark haired woman looked up at her, curious as to what she was doing. Candace slowly bent over and let her lips gently caress the cheek of the very surprised firefighter. The lips were replaced by a soft hand that sent shivers down Taylor's spine. The blonde couldn't stop herself. As she leaned, Candace's eyes caught the deepest blue she had ever seen and then her lips caught the softest mouth she had ever kissed.

The kiss was not filled with passion as Taylor defined passion, but the power in the contact was the most passion filled feeling she had ever experienced. Electricity shot through her to her very core. It literally took her breath away.

Candace was shocked to find the kiss had the same draw for her that kissing Xena had if not more. It was as if souls separated for eons had touched. *Now I know something strange is going on here.* Candace ended the kiss and slowly move away from the very surprised woman. The blonde was in a state of amazement herself but somehow found the voice to speak.

"That should answer one of your questions. Yes, I prefer women. I can't answer the other until I have a few answers of my own."

"Such as…?" The firefighter was still having trouble with her breath control.

"I want the truth now. I will be able to tell if you are lying so don't try."

Taylor nodded and realized this small woman was serious about her claim. *She probably would know if I lied.* "Ask away."

"Are you seeing anyone else right now?"

"Well I… uh… sort of."

"How many?"

*Damn! How does she know this stuff?* "Two… three kinda."

"Kinda? Sort of? How does one "kinda sorta" see someone? Three? Good Lord girl! Where do you find the time? Where do you find the energy."

"Look, Candace, get to the point here." Taylor was getting exasperated from the ribbing.

"I don't date in multiples. It's one or none and I expect the same from the women I see. Kapish?"

"So, what you're saying here is that I have to dump the others to even have a chance with you. Right?"

"Right. I don't go in for the playgirl stuff. No games, no bullshit, and I ain't easy."

"No, I don't suppose you are. Let me give this some thought, O.K.?"

"No problem. I am sure that giving up three women to have just a chance at one is a tough decision. But what if she's the right one? And that kiss..my..my..my. That'll give ya something to think about. It sure gave me a reason to lose sleep."

Suddenly alarms and sirens went off and Taylor flew to her feet. "I gotta go! I'll call you later!" She bent over and kissed Candace on the lips and flew out of the rec area leaving the blonde more than stunned. Blasting horns brought her back to her self and she saw the fire-truck pull out of the drive. She was amused at the thought she was having. *Big Red Truck, Candace!* It really was.


It was late in the evening when Taylor was finally able to settle into bed for the night. The call had been the toughest one in her life and hopefully nothing she would ever have to see again. Two teenage boys armed with semi-automatic weapons and pipe bombs had terrorized a local high school. Twenty five injured and fifteen dead. It would be a very long time before the community or the public servants recovered. *What is happening to this world? What's happening to our children? Those poor families.* Tears began to stream down the face of the normally stoic firefighter. No one could describe the feeling of watching kids running in terror from their school. Some bleeding, all scared to death. She would never get to sleep.

She forced her mind to turn to other thoughts so that the pain wouldn't overwhelm her. *Candace.*

Regardless of what people thought of her, Taylor felt herself to be an honorable woman. She dated lots of women, many of them at the same time. One thing she did not do was sleep with any of them. She had slept with one woman several years ago when she first came out and that had been the last. The sex was great but the feeling of emptiness afterward had been overwhelming. She knew the moment it happened that it was wrong, just as she knew in her very soul that "out there" was something and someone very right. It wasn't that she didn't like or want sex. Oh, she "knew" herself quite well. She had tried in the past and couldn't bring herself to tie herself to someone or someone to her physically or emotionally. That wouldn't happen until she was positive it was THE one. She didn't know how or why she felt the way she did and her friends thought her crazy for it. She had the chance to bed the most beautiful women that Colorado and many other states in the union had to offer and she chose none of them. When she met that right woman she knew it would be a lifetime and beyond commitment. *What if Candace is the one? What if one of the women I am seeing now was "Ms. Right"? Got Guts?* Taylor let her mind wander to the moment that she saw Candace parade around the corner that afternoon. She thought she had seen a goddess. *I have never let a woman make me lose sleep...until now. It's going to be a long night.*


Candace was a nervous wreck waiting for Taylor's call. *She probably won't call.* Insecurity crept in to cause her panic. *And what is it about me and kissing tall dark haired women without notice? I have got to break that bad habit.* Candace thought about her dark-haired warrior and was suddenly struck by the emptiness that she felt in the absence of her love. *Xena belonged to Gabrielle. Who belongs to me? Xena, they say the dead can hear our thoughts. If you're out there somewhere, please know how much you were loved by me. I hope the Gods kept that promise and Gabrielle got to come back to you. She loved you too. Of course, you knew that.* A small tear began to trickle down her cheek. She missed Gabrielle. It was as if a red-hot knife had removed a portion of her soul with the loss of both bard and warrior. She was shocked out of her reverie by a ringing phone.



"Hey?" She wiped the tear from her cheek and switched emotional gears.

"It's Taylor."

"Oh, Hi." Candace knew who it was but making this woman nervous was becoming a hobby she rather enjoyed.

"Do you still want to tell me that sad story of yours?"

"I think I could use the company, yes."

"Great! What time is good for you?" Taylor thought she was going to have a coronary right there.

"As soon as you want. I am just kind of hanging out here. I can't really go back to work until the arm stops hurting, so here I sit watching Judge Judy and eating anything I can fix with one hand."

"Sounds like it's up to me to cook if I want more than pickles and potato chips for dinner. Or.... I could take you out for dinner and we can talk then."

"Very sly. That sounds too much like a date, besides I am still a little weak. Staying in and having dinner prepared for me sounds much better. I think I need to be spoiled." The smile sounded in her voice.

"I see, so I can't take you out on a date but I can spoil you. Am I catching on here, Your Highness?"

"You learn quickly!" Her highness was training her subject well.

"Alright. I will bend to your will just this once." Taylor knew she was lying to herself. This woman could command her and she knew she would have no choice in the matter. NO MATTER. *Oh man. I am in so much trouble here.* It was at that moment that she knew exactly what she had to do and phone calls had to be made as soon as she hung up the receiver.

"What do you like to eat?"

There was silence as Candace allowed Taylor's mind wander exactly where she wanted it. The blonde singer could feel the heat of the blush crawling up the firefighter's face.

"For dinner, Candace, for DINNER!"

"I didn't say a word."

"You didn't need to. Anyway...dinner choices. Italian, Mexican, Thai, Sushi, anything you just need to pick."

"Sushi? You can do sushi?"

"Of course. I have many skills."

"What did you say?" It came out barely above a whisper.

"I have many skills?" The reply was tentative and questioning.

Candace felt her whole world come to a halt. Her heart beat quickened and her hands began to sweat. *What is going on? Gabrielle???!! Someone?* Silence "Xena."

"Sorry? I missed that."

"Uh.. nothing. Sushi sounds good." Her voice was shaking and it was evident to Taylor.

"You O.K.?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. Do you need directions?"

"Nah. I know my way around town. I'll see you around 5. I have some shopping to do. See you soon."

"Great. Bye."

"Bye gorgeous." *Gorgeous? Where did that come from?*


Five o'clock couldn't come soon enough for either of the women. Candace did what she could to clean with one good hand. It was never really dirty the messy part was another story. Why she was so nervous was one question she was afraid to even think about. A tall raven-haired woman with many skills rescues her from a mountain side and proceeds to drive her slowly insane. This was becoming an issue.

Taylor arrived a full half an hour after five with apologies spewing from her lips. All Candace heard was traffic, I-25, and out of rice wine vinegar. All of her thoughts and attention were being help hostage by the incredible beauty of the woman before her. Both times she had seen the tall woman she had been wearing an unflattering uniform. Tonight she was wearing actual clothes and she was looking hot in them. Black jeans and leather belt, freshly presses black T-shirt with the sleeves rolled up, showing off her well developed arms ,and Doc Martins. Butch and yet not to the point of masculine. The only difference in appearance between her and Xena was the hair. Taylor wore it short for safety and convenience sake. Parted on the side and all one length it had a tendency to fall just at her eyebrow line setting off those incredible eyes.

"Show me to the kitchen. Hello.... Candace? Earth to Her Majesty."


"The kitchen?"

"Right! The kitchen. I think I left it over here. Follow me and we shall see. Ah yes. TA DA!. The kitchen! "

"Are your pain killers going to your head or something?" Taylor laughed. She enjoyed the small woman's sense of humor. " I saw a guitar when I came in. You play?" Candace walked out to the dining room to put the tablecloth on the table as Taylor removed her items from the grocery bag and began to get organized.

"I do when I don't have my arm in a cast. I guess I could strum if I had too. The arm is still tender though. The doctor said the pain should begin to subside in a couple more days. Hopefully he will let me go back to work then. I doubt it though. I use my hands so much it might make things worse."

"What do you do any way?"

"I am a legal sign interpreter. I interpret at the courthouse and in a couple of law firms. It is really great work. I volunteer at the COD when some hearing person needs a tutor."


"Center on Deafness. They help us hearing folk join the Deaf Community. I love it."

"Wow! You seem to have many skills as well. I noticed your trophies and medals in the case over there. What are they for?"

"Martial Arts. Some fighting, a few forms, but mostly weapons. You are incredibly observant."

Candace moved over to the counter where Taylor was working and opened the cupboard next to the woman rolling California Rolls. It was her goal to get out plates and set the table. Taylor was standing right where she needed to be so she placed a petite hand on the small of the tall woman's back for the purpose of moving her. The contact was remarkable. Taylor must have felt it too because she turned to face Candace with a tell tale look on her face. The blonde woman froze in anticipation.

Leaning toward the shorter woman Taylor spoke with her eyes focused on Candace. "Being observant is in the job description. Like right now for instance, your breathing became shallow and fast. I can see by the pulse point in your neck that your heart rate is elevated."

"Oh yeah? What else, smarty?"

Taylor leaned dangerously close to the woman's face and gently seized Candace's good hand. "Your palm is slightly damp. I would say that you are nervous."

"Aren't you?"

"Oh, yeah. You scare me to death." At first the blonde thought the comment was sarcastic and then, looking into intense blue, realized that it was not. She was serious. Dead serious.

"So what are you going to do about it?"

"I think this for now." And she leaned down the rest of the way taking captive the soft lips of the beautiful golden haired angel that had stolen her heart.

Candace moaned and wrapped one good arm around the tall firefighters neck. Taylor pulled her in and molded her body to make full contact with the soft form in her arms. The blonde flicked her tongue seductively across Taylor's lips and those lips parted in invitation. Tongues met in a passionate dance, waltzing in time to their hearts which now beat as one. Time lost all meaning and space was no more. The eternity of two souls searching for each other was once again satisfied. Candace slowly pulled away and gazed into very turbulent blue.

"What's wrong? I'm sorry. If you want to go I'll underst......"

Her comments were hushed by two fingers meeting her lips.

"Shhhhh. I don't want to leave. On the contrary. I don't think I ever want to leave."

"Forever is a very long time, ya know."

"I've been waiting forever. It's only long when you're alone."

"Good point. What about those other women? I think they might wonder what happened to you."

"That's already been taken care of. They weren't too happy with me, but I never said I would marry them. Hell, I didn't even sleep with them."

"You didn't? Why not? Not that that is bad mind you. It makes me kind of happy in a very strange, greened eyed jealousy sort of way. I mean if you think about it....." A hand was placed over her mouth.

"Do you always ramble?"

"Only when I'm nervous."

"Well, you can relax. I don't bite. Well...... To answer your question, I have always made it a point not to sleep with anyone until I find the right one."

"The right one? Have you ever found the right one?" Candace was confused by what Taylor was trying to tell her. Did she mean the right person for a relationship or did she mean "The Right One."


"So you have never.........never..aah... you know.....ya know?" This was a sensitive subject and didn't want to offend her guest.

"Yes. I have. I slept with plenty of men before I came out, after that I slept with one woman and knew."

"Knew? What did you know?"

"I knew I had to find THE right one. My soulmate. My other half. That's what I knew. Anything else would be compromise and I don't compromise."

"I see. How will you know when you find her?"

Taylor looked at Candace and wanted to tell her that she had already but didn't want to scare the daylights out of the poor woman. Besides that it was obvious that the blonde was just getting over something or someone and being a rebound wasn't in the plans. "I'll know. I'll just know."

"Yeah, you will." *Been there. Done that.* "You are going to love my story. It is a tale of the ultimate soulmates and the lengths they went to to be together. Do you need help in here?"

"Like you can help me, Lefty?"

"Just offering." Candace smiled and left Taylor to her art. She wandered into the living room and chose some Jim Brickman for background music and started a fire in the fireplace. "You want some wine?" She raised her voice to be heard in the kitchen.

Taylor raised her voice in return, "No, but I could use a beer, if you have one."

"In the fridge," came the reply that startled the woman in black. Candace had returned to the kitchen to retrieve a wine key. "Sorry. I didn't mean to scare you."

"It's all right. I'm getting used to your surprises."

"Mind if I watch?" Candace hoisted herself up onto the counter for a better view.

"Help yourself." Taylor went to the refrigerator and pulled out a Corona. "I wonder if Mexican beer goes with Japanese?"

"International meal."

The room turned silent and Candace knew that Taylor was deep in thought and the blonde knew what it was eating away at her. "Taylor?"


"Do you want to talk about it?"

Blue eyes turned to look deep into green. Candace saw the pain that was digging away at the firefighter. Taylor turned away and lowered her head. Tears began to fall once again and she tried with all of the will power she possessed not to break down completely. "Candace I don't think I can talk about it yet. Not without having a major breakdown."

"I understand. Well, I can never fully understand, but I share in the pain that the rest of us feel. I hurt. I know you do too. If there comes a time that you want to talk, I'm here."

"Thanks." There was nothing else she could get out of her mouth.

Both women collected their private thoughts and put them away for the moment. The tragedy that had taken place the day before was too close to the surface to grasp any meaning from it. There would never be any real answers. That was going to be a thing that everyone would have to deal with in their own way. But it was obvious to all that they would get through it only with each other.

Candace broke the silence again. "So, are you ready to hear my story?"

"I'm dyin' heya."

Candace started at the very beginning "Well, it all started with this dream......." And the singer became the bard.

By the time she finished her tale it was late, the food had been devoured, and the fire had burned down to embers.

"Let me get this straight, your telling me that you actually traveled back 2500 years so that two women could be together."

"Not just women, souls. Their souls belonged together."

"I don't understand how you being there could fit into the whole thing."

"I don't either, but I think the gods had a point and with them no one knows."

"The gods? That is such a strange concept, but if you say so."

"Do you think I'm crazy?"

"I think you're strange, but not crazy." The tall woman received a light slap on the arm for the remark.

"What do you think?"

"Honestly? I believe you. There are so many unexplainable things that happen in the world who's to say. On top of that you have names, details, description of landscapes and so on. This Gabrielle, you say she was a writer?"

"She was mostly a story teller, a bard. She wrote down, on leather scrolls, the adventures that she and Xena had. They had more adventure in real life than any cop on TV. Warlords, kings, gods, Joxer the Idiot, it goes on and on."

"Scrolls, huh? What did these scrolls look like?"

"Like the typical scrolls you see on documentaries. She sealed them with her mark. Nothing note worthy."

"If you saw one, would you be able to tell if it was hers?"

"I know her seal. That would be the only way I think. I can't tell you if I could read it or not. Gabrielle did all that."

"Huh. What are you doing tomorrow?"

Candace wondered at the sudden subject change but didn't question it. "I have a doctors appointment at 11. I don't have plans after that. Why?"

"I have some errands to run and I was hoping you would join me. Would you like a ride to the doctor?"

"I would indeed."

"Great! Shall we clean this mess up?"

The two women worked in tandem to accomplish the cleaning and straightening tasks. They sat back down in the living room and began to talk as if they had known each other forever. They shared their backgrounds, hobbies, and dreams. Somehow in the midst of all the talk Candace wound up leaning back into Taylor with long muscular arms draped around her. Talk ceased and sleep took over as two souls destined to be together, peacfully slumbered.

Taylor woke with a start unable for a split second to get her bearings. She then became aware of a small form curled up in her arms. She smiled to herself and her heart lept. *Whoa! I'm not dreaming!* She didn't want to wake her but nature still called 2500 years in the future. She kissed the top of Candace's head and spoke softly into her hair.

"Hey, you. Time to wake up" She didn't know what time it was but the sun was up and looked to be about 7 or 7:30.

The small sleeping figure very slowly came to awareness and didn't want to be there. She was content to remain in slumber wrapped in the arms of the magnificent firefighter. "Nooo. This is too nice."

"I gotta go to the bathroom or we could stay like this all day. That is if you don't mind missing the doctor and the beautiful day it's going to be."

"I'll let you up, but missing the doctor and the day to lounge around with you doesn't seem like the worst thing in the world."

The unruly blonde rolled off the her human mattress and was met with a quick kiss. "O.K. You're forgiven."

Taylor rose and stretched. Stiffness had set in from the position she had been in. "Next time we sleep in a bed, O.K.?" Not waiting for a reply from the astonished woman, the tall woman sauntered to the bathroom.

*Next time. Oh my God! Next time. Let those words sink in there, Tiger. NEXT TIME. Woah.*

Candace pulled her self up from the couch and wandered in to the kitchen. *Coffee. Coffee will put some sanity into this. Right.* With one good hand she did a masterful job of grinding and preparing the drink SHE felt was the TRUE nectar of the gods. It was the one thing she had missed in her time with the Amazons. Two days ago she would have given up anything to go back, even her beloved coffee. That story was beginning to change with each passing moment she spent with Taylor. She stood in silent thought not knowing that she was being admired from across the room.

"Penny for your thoughts."

"Huh?" The words registered and she replied in an actual sentence. "A penny? I think my thoughts are worth more than a penny. Then again I may be overestimating my value. Coffee?"

"Yeah, thanks. I'd give everything I have just to be in that head of yours for ten minutes."

"I tell you more than you want to hear and still you want to know more."

"It's not the knowledge I want . It's the emotions. I want to know how you are feeling."

"How I'm feeling? I am feeling excited, disoriented, scared, confused, ........complete." With this last word she looked at Taylor. She had just let her vulnerable side take control of her mind and she mentally kicked herself. Putting her hand to her forehead she shook her head in disbelief. *Tell me I didn't just say that!*

The beautiful raven-haired woman slowly approached the singer. She placed long secure arms around the woman enveloping her totally. Her reply was simple and yet it spoke volumes to the petrified woman in her arms. "Join the club."


Continued - Part 2


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