Part 2

(E-Mail Rachel)

Callisto awoke to the sound of snoring. She looked across the fire to see Gabrielle draped over Xena's body, one arm flung over the warrior's waist and a leg draped over Xena's lower extremeties. "How quaint...look at the little lovebirds." thought Callisto as she took the scene in. Xena's arms were wrapped around the bard lovingly, and there was a look of utter peace on her face. She tried to move but found her wrists and ankles bound together again. "Well at least she didnt leave me to get up close and personal with that tree all last night." she mused as she tried to free her hands.

"Don't bother trying to get loose..." came the voice across the fire from her. "I made sure it was impossible." said Xena, an amused tone in her voice. She carefully disentangled herself from the bard, trying hard not to wake her up. The bard stirred, latching herself onto Xena's arm and tightening her grip.

"Xena...." mumbled Gabrielle in her sleep.

Xena looked down at the bard. How did things change so fast? 'Hmmmm...' she pondered to herself. 'I guess there is no turning back now my love.' She gently unclasped the bard's fingers from her arm, bent over and placed a light kiss upon her forehead. The bard smiled in her sleep at the touch. "Xeeeena...mmmm" and with that she rolled over and resumed her snoring.

"Such a loud, irritating noise coming from so little a person, dontcha think?" sniped Callisto.

"You know...you are walking a very thin line. I should have left you out there unconscious in the woods for the wild animals to feed on." Xena replied in a cold tone.

"But Xena, then we wouldn't be having this nice chat." she said, "And by the way, I think you owe me a thank you."

"I owe YOU a thank you???" Xena's laugh carried sincere amusement. "Oh please! For what?"

"For getting you two little babes in heat together." came the reply. "You owe me."

"I owe you nothing Callisto." (except maybe a nice trip to Tartarus, she mused.) "For the past four years you have done nothing but try to make my life miserable. And now you say I owe you!?!" Xena laughed again. "That'll be the day. Right now you're lucky I'm feeling generous enough not to rip your head from your body and let you watch your bottom half try to find where I hid your upper half."

"My my, who would have thought you could wake up on the wrong side of the bedroll Xena? I'm offended!"

"You? Offended? I highly doubt that. I'm going to catch us some breakfast. You be a good little captive and don't wake Gabrielle up, or you will have me to answer to." stated Xena as she grabbed her chakram and strode out of the camp.

'Hmmmm she's a tad on the testy side this morning.' Callisto mused. Despite her angry snipes at Callisto, Xena seemed to be more sure of herself since last night, and didn't run screaming into the night as she had hoped for. She had thought for sure that Xena would not be able to handle the change in her and Gabrielle's relationship. In fact, it had never occured to her that the warrior's now very obvious feelings for the bard would do just the opposite to her state of mind.

"Poop." thought Callisto as she tried once again to loosen the special ties binding her wrists together.

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"Mmmmmmm...." Gabrielle stretched and peeked one eye open to the new day. A clear, cloudless sky greeted her, the sun shining brightly above, welcoming her to consiousness once again. She flopped over, opening her other eye, to find Xena just now returning to camp with three plump rabbits for breakfast. She allowed her eyes to drift over her warrior, taking in everything. The confident stride, the sway of her hips as she walked, the way the wind blew her dark hair across her shoulders ('wow thats sexy' she thought) the strong, well-muscled (but not overly so) arms. Her eyes traveled upwards to Xena's face. "And those eyes...oh, her eyes. I could just get lost in them forever." She sighed.

Xena felt Gabrielle's eyes on her, and as she turned her back to the bard to put their soon to be breakfast down she smiled warmly.

"Looks like another one is totally smitten with you Xena." remarked Callisto as she observed the bard's thoughly adoring look that was directed Xena's way. "How does it feel to have finally conquered her hmmm? Will you throw her away now that the challenge is gone? Or will you keep her around for a little while as your personal sex slave? It's so funny.....YOW!"

"I know I can't kill you Callisto, but i sure can make your never-ending life one you wish you could leave." Xena said as she hoisted Callisto up by the throat. She fixed her iciest 'Bad Xena' stare on the other woman. "So, if I were you, I would shut my trap now, before I'm not feeling so benevolent."

She casually tossed Callisto back onto the bedroll and turned away with a sniff. "Oh, and by the way...if you thought I would sit up and roll over because Gabrielle and I have realized our feelings for one another, you were dead wrong. I realized last night just how strong that makes me." And with that she walked over to the fire and began skinning breakfast.

By this time Gabrielle had managed to awaken to the point of lucidity, and was watching her Xena take Callisto down a peg or two. She chuckled quietly and strolled over to where Xena was preparing the rabbits.

"Good morning love..." she whispered into the warrior's ear as she kneeled down and slipped her arms around Xena's waist, planting a soft, sensual kiss on her neck as she did so. "Can I help you with breakfast?"

"Mmmmm, good morning to you too" purred Xena, slipping one arm up behind the bards' neck and pulling her down till their lips met for a quick good morning kiss. (ok, not so quick) "And yes that would be wonderful." she replied as Gabrielle sat herself down next to Xena. She handed over one of the skinned rabbits, which the bard carefully prepared and set over the fire to cook.

"I do believe I'm going to hurl." snapped Callisto, and for once she wasn't lying as she turned to the side and did just that.

"Do we really make her that sick?" Gabrielle asked innocently.

"Nooooo dear...." Xena chuckled. "Head injury, remember? You tend to get some queasiness with a concussion." She walked over to her saddlebags, and rifled through them looking for something. When she returned, she was carrying a package of herbs and a cup. "I'm just gonna go over and check her out...give her some of this. It will make her feel better."

"Alright, but Xena...don't let her get to you." said the bard.

"I know, i know..." replied the warrior, "She just irks me at times."

She unceremoniously dumped the contents of the package into the cup and poured some hot water into it. Swirling it around to mix it, she walked over to Callisto.

"Here....drink this. It will help your stomach."

"I didn't know you cared." said Callisto.

"I don't, but she does." said Xena as she nodded her head in Gabrielle's direction. "She has a thing for treating people nice, even if they don't deserve to be. So I just go with it."

"Somehow you think you have earned her love, don't you Xena? Tsk tsk, you and I both know you havent."

Xena resisted the urge to knock Callisto unconscious yet again, and forced herself to remain calm. She held the cup up so the tyrant could drink. "I suggest you swallow this yourself before I force it down your throat with my fist." She couldn't believe the nerve of this woman. She knew Callisto was trying to make her feel inadequate when compared to Gabrielle, but after last night she knew no one would ever be able to make her feel that way again. No matter what they said to her. It just didn't matter anymore what anyone else thought because she knew the truth in her heart.

Callisto swallowed the concoction, and proceeded to lie back down on the bedroll. After a few moments, her eyes became heavy and soon she was off into dreamland, where ghosts chased her mercilessly through her past....

She was 10 years old, and standing in the middle of the square. The warlord Xena's army had crashed through her beloved home and razed it to the ground. There were no survivors save her. How she survived was not the question, but what was she going to do now was. She thought about her mother and sister....Xena had killed them. She was alone. She cried and cried, hoping it was all just a bad dream and that she would wake up any minute now. But when she opened her eyes again, her house was still just smoldering ashes...a grim reminder that it had indeed really happened.

She began to search the village for anything she could use on her journey. Food, yes....she found some, which she stuffed into a sack she found lying on the ground. With a last look at her home, she sighed, turned and began to walk down the road.

It was late evening and three days later before she came to another village. Tired and out of food, Callisto looked like Celesta warmed over...dirty and grimy from the road, still wearing the same charred clothes she left her village with. She aimlessly wandered through the town, not knowing where she was going, or what she was going to do. As she passed the blacksmith shop, the man inside happened to look up and see her. "Oh my, where did she come from?" he asked himself. "She isn't from around here." He stepped outside and caught up to her easily....

"Ho there child! Don't you know it's not safe for a young lady such as yourself to be walking the streets alone at night?" he asked.

Callisto stopped walking and turned to face him, a cold glare fixed on her face.

"My father ran off when i was two years old, and the warlord Xena destroyed my village three days ago, killing my mother and sister." she stated, enjoying the shocked look upon his face, and proceeded to walk away from him.

Oh yes her words stunned him, and for a moment he was speechless, letting her walk away. But he regained his composure and caught up to her.

"Where will you go? What will you do? Do you have any family you can go to?" he asked.

"No....my mother and sister were my only family. Now I have nothing." she began to walk away again.

"Child, please come and stay with me. I don't have much to offer, but you won't be hungry or cold. And honestly I could use some help with the shop." he laid a hand on her shoulder.

She turned on him then, fixing pain-wracked eyes on his. He could see the hurt and anguish clearly, and that cut right into his heart like a dagger.

"Why would you want to help me?" she asked. "You don't even know me."

"Because everyone needs help at one time or another in their lives miss." he stated. "If i think i can make a difference in someone's, then i will try to do so. I will give you a place to sleep, and food, in exchange for your help doing chores at the shop. It isn't much, but it is better than your prospects alone on the road i would think."

She pondered the offer for a few minutes. She looked at him, standing there patiently awaiting her answer...then simply said, "Ok." And with that he led her back to the shop, fed her and got her some decent clothes to wear.

Kalevis was a gentle man, and for the next ten years he took care of Callisto. She was always distant...never saying much at all, but he liked having her around. She was turning out to be quite a young woman, hard-working to the point of exaustion many a time. When she was fourteen, he found her behind the barn with a makeshift sword, thrusting and parrying with an imaginary enemy. "Who are you conquering little one?" he had asked. "Xena" she had said. "Someday she will pay for what she did to my family....I will see to it Kal." And he saw the look in her eyes right then, saw the hatred and anger, and didn't doubt it for a second. During the 4 years she had spent with him, he had seen the power of her will many times.

Over the next six years she trained whenever she had extra time....learning everything she could from wandering mercenaries and thugs. Kal knew she had a talent for the sword...hmmmm a talent that was uncannily eerie it was so good. And it didn't suprise him the day she told him she was leaving.

"I need to find Xena now Kal. Thank you for your kindness for so long." She grasped his forearm soundly, then turned and left....never looking back. "Simple and to the point." he thought. He sighed. He knew he would never see her again, but he did know he would hear about her. Of that he was very sure.....

Gabrielle saw the body under the blanket shaking uncontrollably. She tentatively crossed over to where Callisto lay, and pulled the blanket back from her face to see if anything was wrong. What she saw shocked her....Callisto was crying! Albeit in her sleep, but nonetheless crying! Tears were rolling down her face, and Gabrielle didn't even realize what she was doing when she reached over and pulled the woman into a comforting embrace. All she knew was her heart was telling her it was the right thing to do. She hated to see anyone in pain, and this was the only way she knew how to comfort the woman. She began rocking her, and whispering, "It's ok, everything will be alright" over and over until the shaking subsided. The woman began to stir in her arms but she didn't let go right away...preferring to make sure she was alright. "Maybe she just needs to talk." thought Gabrielle.

Callisto began to wake, and felt very warm. She then began to figure out there were arms around her, and someone was rocking her. For a moment she thought it was her mother, and she smiled. But when she opened her eyes and saw it was Gabrielle whose arms were around her, she yelped and tried to get away. She fell over into a heap when her bindings prevented her escape. She pushed herself as far away as she could from Gabrielle, scrabbling across the ground in her attempt.

"YOU!!! Get your gods be damned hands off of me!! What do you think you are doing?" she yelled.

"You were crying in your sleep....I w-was just trying to help." replied Gabrielle.

"I don't need your so-called 'help' little Miss Goody Two Boots! Don't you ever touch me again, or I swear I wont hesitate to kill you!" Callisto's eyes were wide with anger and shock at being in the arms of a woman she hated so.

"You had best not make threats like that unless you know for a fact you can carry them out. I'm sure Xena would have something to say about it you know." Gabrielle replied calmly.

"Xena Shmeena! Where is she anyways?" the tyrant cast her eyes around the camp, but Xena was nowhere to be seen.

"She took Argo for a run, she will be back later." Gabrielle wished Xena were back right now in fact.

"I'm hungry, what have you got to eat?" asked Callisto...the rumbling in her stomach obvious to Gabrielle's ears right then.

"Rabbit stew, would you like some?" asked Gabrielle. Then added..."I thought Gods didn't have to eat?"

"Just get me something to eat now blondie, and I promise I won't spill your guts when I get loose from this later." she sniped.

"Ok, ok! Geesh so ungrateful!" said Gabrielle as she filled a bowl for Callisto. "Unfortunately I will have to feed you. Xena said under no circumstances am i to let you loose."

"Whatever, just bring the food." Callisto opened her mouth as Gabrielle spooned some stew and offered it to her.

After a few minutes of silence, Gabrielle had to speak....(as she always does) "So what were you dreaming about?" she asked....sincerely wanting to know...maybe needing to know.

"None of your business bard" she replied. "Why would you care anyhow?"

"I don't know, I just thought that maybe if you talked about it, you might feel better."

Callisto snorted. "Oh please! I don't have feelings Gabrielle. They were destroyed by your 'lover'." she spat the last word out harshly.

Gabrielle ignored the jibe and continued...."Why don't you tell me your side of the story Callisto. I want to understand how you can carry so much hate around inside you for so long and not implode."

"You would not want to hear my story Gabrielle....it's full of terrible things." said Callisto looking at the ground suddenly.

"Humor me." the bard said resolutely.

Callisto looked up again to find only kindness in Gabrielle's eyes. 'Why does she care what I have to say, after I stalk her lover mercilessly and killed her husband?' she thought.

"No, we don't have to eat, but that doesn't mean i like to hear my stomach making all that noise." she said. Sighing, she got herself into a semi-comfortable position, and started at the beginning...

Continued In Part 3 ---->
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