DISCLAIMER: Xena, Gabrielle, Janice, Melinda, Callisto, and of course Argo, belong to MCA, The gods Ares and Athena, belong to history. This story is done for entertainment purposes only, without permission from MCA. I'm not making any profits from it. (But I will take e-mail.)
This story depicts women being romantically involved, and though there is no explicit sex. (Come on, read it any way.) It does have women involved in a sexual relationship. If you don't like this type of story, please stop now. If it's illegal where you live, lock the doors and pull the shades.
SPECIAL NOTE: This is dedicated to my father, who on 17 April 1997 lost his yearlong battle with cancer, I miss you dad.
The Further Adventures of Janice and Mel
Athena goddess of wisdom and war, most favored daughter of Zeus was born and brought up by Triton, who also had a daughter Pallas. Both women grew to love each other; and it was with Pallas that Athena learned the arts of war.
But once on a time during their practice, Zeus wandered by and when Pallas was about to strike a blow; Zeus in fear interposed his great shield Aegis, and Pallas, being afraid, looked up, and so fell mortally wounded by Athena. Upon seeing the tears of his daughter, Zeus fled, his great shield forgotten on the ground.
Athena being exceedingly grieved for her dead love, made a wooden statue in Pallas's likeness, and placed the shield Aegis, which Pallas had feared, about the breast of it, and honored her by taking the name, Athena Pallas.
After much time had passed, Zeus came again upon Athena, and demanded his shield, Athena now with her love Nike, claimed to have no knowledge where the great shield was; Zeus in his power knew his daughter was telling the truth, and the shield was lost; Such is the legend of the Aegis.
Athens, Greece About 1000 BC
The man watched the warrior-maiden from the shadows; what a waste he thought, the woman had the heart of a warrior, but her devotion to Athena made her seek justice, not riches.
He watched as the maiden finished her prayer before the statue of Athena, then stood and left the temple. Quickly he moved behind her as she shut the door; then he bolted it, must not be interrupted, it was dangerous enough entering the temple.
Turning back to the altar, he walked forward, his eye's shifting around, taking note of the structure of the temple, and details of the donations. He felt jealous about the offerings, never had he seen such... workmanship, much time and labor had to gone into these gifts.
"Ares," turning, the god of war beheld his other-half, Athena, goddess of war. With a smirk he nodded, a hand brushing his black Beard, "Greetings sister, I knew that you would come once you sensed me in your temple. There are things we need to discuss, things that our father should not know about."
Walking closer Athena narrowed her brow, she was wary, she knew that Ares only did things for himself, "And what don't you want our father to know?"
Pacing the room, the god of war smiled, pointing to various objects about the temple. "Oooohhh..I like that one, you must have really helped this mortal for them to make a gift like that."
Athena smiled, she knew this ploy, having done it herself; "Ares you did not come here to discuss the donations to me, why did you wish to see me? And don't say that you missed your sister, because I would not believe that."
He looked at Athena, knowing that his ploy to relax her had failed; not that he thought it would, but she would have expected him to try, "Tell me dear sister, did you know our father is looking for the Aegis?"
Frowning, the goddess stepped forward, "He will not have it, he caused me to kill my first love when he interfered in our game...he forfeited it to me."
Nodding, Ares smiled, "I agree, now you must hide it...but if you hide it; And Zeus asks, he will be able to tell if you're lying or not, you have to have someone hide it for you."
Laughing, Athena shook her head, "You think I would trust you with the Aegis, a shield that would stop Zeus' thunderbolts."
Laughing also, the god of war smiled, "I did not expect you too, but you know I would want it, so I came here to offer a...deal. I know you have the Aegis, and you know I want it, so you choose a champion to take the shield and hide it."
Strolling over, Ares knelled down looking at a vase, "Mmmmmm, nice craftsmanship...while I have my champion try and take it from yours, either way Zeus does not get the Aegis. And I still have a chance to get its power...while you would not know where it is hidden if Zeus asks you."
Athena paused thinking it over, her desire for Zeus not to have his shield back clouding her vision, "Agreed, but you cannot take the Aegis unless your champion holds it for one full day among the mortals, and we agree on champions."
Seeing Ares nod, the goddess continued, "My champion will be Xena."
Laughing Ares nodded, he had suspected Athena would pick her, "And I chose Callisto."
"No, not Callisto," Athena said as she stepped closer, "She's now a goddess, and it would not be an even match."
Nodding he smiled, almost there he thought, his sister did not know Callisto's hatred of the warrior princess.
"But Callisto is a minor goddess, between you and me, we can take away her powers, and say...put them in the Aegis. If she takes the shield from Xena and holds it for one day...Callisto gets her powers back, and I get the shield....if she can get it from Xena."
Turning to look at the statue of Pallas next to her, Athena deliberated over the idea, "She will still be immortal, even the gods cannot undo the apples from the tree of life."
I have you, the god of war was thinking, "True, but Xena seemed to handle Callisto before in that area."
Athena did not like giving any advantage to Ares, but could not stand the thought of Zeus ever touching the shield, "Agreed, but if you interfere..the pact is off, and I will rally the gods against you."
With a slight bow, Ares smiled, "Then I will release Callisto from her rock prison, and the contest will begin."
With his sister's nod, the god of war turned to leave; already plotting how to take Callisto's powers from the shield and bind them into him, along with the shield it would make Ares almost as powerful as Zeus.
New York City, USA, 1943 AD.
Melinda Pappas closed the door behind her as she called out, "Janice?"
She had met the young archaeologist just over a month ago and became friends, though she was different, unlike anyone else she ever met. They both took an immediate liking to each other, so much that she moved from her home in Charleston, South Carolina, to share an apartment in this . . . Yankee City.
She was back sooner than expected, she did not want to admit to Janice, that she looked forward to seeing her again. In fact she had been weary with her life when Janice's letter arrived for her father.
It was her last chance for a life outside of the university, to actually dig for the artifacts she only read about, for once to see life outside of her southern upbringing.
She surprised herself taking off for Macedonia in the middle of a war, and the adventure she had! Smiling she turned at the sound of Janice's door opening, pausing as a tall brunette buttoning her blouse came out of Janice's room.
Mel looked the woman over, very attractive about her height, build, hair almost like hers, also she seemed very surprised to see her, "Hello" Mel said, her southern drawl very pronounced.
Nodding with a quick glance to the room she just came out of, the woman gave a nervous smile back, "Hello, I . . . I'm Jane, I didn't know that Janice had company here."
Walking forward, Mel took the woman's hand pumping it vigorously in a handshake, "I'm Melinda, Janice's roommate, I live in the room across from her, is she awake?"
Jane laughed in relief, "Yes, she was stirring, but I have to take off for work. So, you're Janice's roommate, can you tell her I enjoyed last night, and I'll call her later?"
Mel nodded as the woman hurried out the door, then shook her head, she would have to talk to Janice about this.
Just then the object of her thought's came out of the bedroom, she was only wearing a oversize men's pajama top, that came down to her knee's, with the sleeves rolled up over use her wrists. "Mel, what are you doing back already?"
Melinda, chuckled taking in the sight of her friend, it did not take long for her to learn that Janice seems to have a preference in wearing men's clothing
"Hello to you to Janice, I came back early because all I had to do was pack some things that will be shipped up later, and make sure the housekeeper knew where I would be . . . and I wanted to show you something."
Janice, walked into the living room glancing around, then turned toward the bathroom while she listened; She knew Mel came from money, and lived in a mansion left by her late father in Charleston's' old quarter.
Noticing that her roommate seemed preoccupied, "If you're looking for Jane, she left for work, said that she enjoyed last night, and will call. I want to talk about that."
Holding still, Janice saw that Mel looked upset; please god, not so soon, she was thinking, all she had were passing lovers. No woman wanted to stay around her just to be friends once they learned her preference.
With a look of disapproval, Mel shook her head, "Janice, if I'm not here, it's perfectly fine if your girlfriends sleep in my bed. I know the couch is uncomfortable, but I really don't mind if one of your friends staying the night uses my room."
Melinda paused, surprised by the look of amazement that crept over her friends face, "What?"
Shaking her head quickly, Janice smiled, "I'll remember that, but I don't want a stranger sleeping in your bed . . . so don't pay any attention when I have a friend sleep over; Now what did you want to show me?"
Opening her bag, Mel retrieved a rolled parchment along with her notebook, "Janice, this was waiting for me when I got home; there was no return address, but it's part of a Xena scroll."
Nodding, Mel unrolled the scroll, pointing to the writing, "This is the same style and material as the other's that we saw, what's more important is what it said."
Handing her notebook to her friend, Melinda turned for the small kitchen, "read that while I make you some coffee." With a shutter, Mel wondered how anyone could drink it, tea was much more . . . ladylike.
Janice sat in her favorite chair, concentrating as she read Mel's notes . . .
Gabrielle rubbed the back of Xena's neck, enjoying the moans of pleasure issuing from those perfect lips. They had set up camp and already eaten; the bard was trying to do her best and ease the day's tension from her lover.
Gabrielle smiled, it had been four full moons since she and Xena shared their love for each other; four long wonderful moons since her task for the now dead Melosa of the Amazon's.
The only thing she had regretted since that time, was Xena's refusal to display any affection in public for her. Even though stories now abounded about their new relationship; the warrior insisted in maintaining her stone mask for everyone but her, and that only dropped in private, or if she was in danger.
The bard was surprised when suddenly the warrior leaped to her feet drawing her sword, but that only lasted a second before she stood along side her, staff at the ready.
Gabrielle strained her ears trying to hear what sound alerted Xena, yet the woods were silent, nor could she smell anything different other than the forest.
Risking a quick glance at her warrior, the bard spoke in a whisper, knowing that Xena's sensitive ears would hear her words. "What is it? I can't hear or smell anything."
Shaking her head, Xena eyes darted from place to place, turning slowly, sword at the ready. "It's not that Gabrielle, it's a feeling, a very strong feeling."
Then the air in front of them shimmered, until a human form appeared, a woman just a few inches shorter than Xena, but with her raven hair, only hers was curling barely touching her shoulders.
Athena stood in front of the pair and nodded her head in greetings, in her right hand she held a spear, and strapped to her left arm was a round shield. The shield was about two feet in diameter, with a gray metallic sheen.
"I ask that your pardon of my interruption," The goddess began, "But matters of great importance have come up, and I've come to request your help."
Xena gazed at Athena, while carefully and slowly returning her sword back to it's scabbard. She knew who the woman was, goddess of wisdom and defensive war, but she was also sister to Ares, and if the tales were true, at times crueler than Ares.
"What can a mortal do that a goddess would require help for?" Xena replied.
Looking down at the kneeling Gabrielle, Athena, stabbed her spear into the ground, and walked over to her, ignoring the protective glance of the warrior. Athena placed a hand on the bard's shoulder she helped her back to her feet. The look of awe and worship plain on the young woman's face.
Athena shifted gaze to Xena's worried expression and smiled, "You flatter yourself Xena, you knew in you soul that I was here before I even appeared," looking back to the for once dumbfounded Gabrielle.
"She's beautiful Xena, I can see why you love her." dropping her hand from the bard with a smile Athena backed-up until she was once again next to the fire. "I've come to ask you to be my champion Xena, you can decline if you wish, and I will hold nothing against you. What I'll ask will be dangerous to you and to Gabrielle."
Motioning to the tree stump surrounding the campfire, the goddess seated herself, and breathed in the night air. The last time she had relaxed like this on earth was with Pallas, she sighed as the memories flooded over her.
Xena looked at her bard, annoyed with the gawking she was giving the goddess, the warrior had long ago become tired of the god's interference in her life. And didn't respect or worship them anymore. But Gabrielle, the look on her face as she gazed at Athena, was all revealing.
The warrior looked at the goddess, with a slight smirk of disbelief, "I can refuse if I wish?"
A look of anger flashed across Athena's face, so brief that only Xena caught it, yet the goddess smiled nodding. "Yes Xena, if you decline, I will leave now and not bother you. I'm not like Ares, but I can only say one word, and you must agree to champion me on that word. Otherwise I cannot tell you why I've come to you...agreed?"
Gabrielle turned her head towards Xena with a shrug of her shoulders, "Can't hurt to hear one word can it?"
Xena chuckled, her face lighting up as she looked at the young woman, "You have no idea what one word can do....Ok, Athena..say that word."
Xena froze, a roar filling her ears, and vision dimmed as she fought the rage coming over her, anger that the gods once again have brought her bane back into her life.
Xena's reflections were brought back to reality when she felt a hand hugging her knee, turning her head, she saw Gabrielle's worried gaze, the depth of pain within her eyes.
"Why can't you leave me alone for once, why do the gods have to bring back Callisto back?" Xena held her anger in check, she still knew that it would not be smart to raise the goddess' wrath.
Surprisendly, Athena just nodded, but within she hated to lie, yet, she was determine to keep the shield from Zeus, "Xena, I see a time where Callisto would escape the prison that you trapped her within, with the help of Ares."
Seeing she had the pair's attention, she continued, knowing that she had Xena's help, only as long as she believed the lie, "I know that if Ares can't get you, in time he'll release Callisto, and think what that would mean."
Not caring what Xena thought, Gabrielle reached out taking the warrior's hand holding it tight. Xena looked at her lover, seeing the distress in her eyes, but also the slight nod of her head.
Seeing the nod herself, Athena smiled speaking before Xena could think further, "Thank you, taking Callisto's powers away is not easy, she's a minor goddess, not born with the blood of Zeus, but to take away her powers I needed the help of another god, and something to hold her powers."
Closing her eyes Xena smirked, "Ares, you had Ares help you...but why would he help?"
Athena unstraped the shield on her arm, holding it out to Xena, "Because of this, the item needed to hold Callisto's power, the Aegis."
Hearing Gabrielle's gasp, Xena took the plain looking shield turning it over, "Callisto's powers are sealed in this?"
"Yes," the goddess replied, "Zeus would never have agreed to this, so I took his shield, then Ares and I took Callisto's powers and sealed them into the Aegis, nothing else could hold the power of a god."
Watching Gabrielle run her hand over the shield, Athena continued, "This quest is this, take the shield and hide it where ever you wish, if Callisto finds the shield and holds it for one day, she regains her powers. And Ares takes possession of the shield."
Looking up from her examination with a frown, Xena gazed at Athena, "How powerful is this shield that Ares would want it, and what do you get out of this?"
The voice responding surprised the warrior, turning to look at Gabrielle. "Sorry Xena, but Zeus' shield is said to be able to withstand his lightning bolts, and that the person who wields it, is invincible."
Athena looked at the bard, her eye roaming over the gentle curves, so much like Pallas her mind thought, "Almost invincible, Gabrielle, the shield itself cannot be broken, but the person wearing it can be, so the strength of a god helps."
Turning her gaze back to Xena, the goddess continued, "As we speak Ares, is releasing Callisto, if he interferes, then the contest is over and I take back to shield, I will watch over Ares for that reason. Callisto does not have her powers, but she ate the apple from the tree of life. That makes her immortal, and the gods cannot reverse that.
Standing up the goddess grabbed her spear, looking intently at Xena, "The Aegis cannot be destroyed by any power here on earth, and do not call any other gods for help, for once Zeus has the Aegis, Callisto has her powers the instant he touches it."
Shimmering into a blur, Athena could be seen to smile, "Luck be with you Xena, for the gods cannot be."
Looking where Athena once stood, Xena turned her gaze back to the shield, it was then that she remembered that Athena never did answer her question about why she was doing this.
Janice turned the page over and stared at blank paper; she reached out and took a final sip of coffee as Mel watched her with baited breath.
Finally, after a full minute, Janice turned her head looking at her friend, "And the rest?"
Melinda picked up her purse and withdrew a slip of paper, handling it over to Janice, "It only had this note with it.
Found this while fighting the Nazis bastards in Africa, was told that some hood named Ali Bey Amoud in Casablanca had the rest.
Janice felt a tightness in her throat, Jack...that jerk, he by accident ended up taking all the known Xena Scrolls. She been searching for that idiot trying to recover the scrolls, but he seemed to have vanished, figures he would bother someone else in trying to fight the war.
Looking up Janice noticed the look of expectation Mel was giving her, looking back at the note, then at Mel, the woman reached over on the table beside her and grabbed a cigar.
Lighting the stogy she took a deep inhale before blowing out smoke rings Looking over at the waiting Melinda, her voice took on a husky sound whenever she smoked, "Well sweetheart, want to go to Africa with me?"
Janice sat up as the B-17 came in for a landing at the Casablanca airport, she had used a lot of favors to hookup a ride in a bomber being ferried to the front lines. It had only been a few months since the allied invasion of Africa, and was able to be included with Mel in the manifest as part of the all-female crew.
Not that it was all that simple to fly into a war zone in an unarmed plane, to a city that still had Nazi agents, and Rommel trying to push back Montgomery just a couple hundred miles away.
Looking out the open gun ports she could already feel the desert heat whipping past the plane. Turning to look at her companion, she tried to hide the grin forcing itself across her lips.
Melinda looked like she had come straight out of a Tarzan movie, a complete safari outfit with pith helmet, that had a peach colored scarf tried around it and trailing halfway down her back, just like in the movies.
While Janice had on her normal baggy pants tucked into motorcycle boots, a man's tan shirt, and of course her fedora, common sense and the heat made her stow away the leather jacket into a duffel bag.
A jolt ran through the plane as the wheels touched down, Mel glanced at the calm woman looking out the gun port and did her best to hold back her fear.
She hated flying, and this had to have been the worst she ever experienced, hopping from place to place, landing long enough just to refuel. The three-woman crew was nice, but it never left her mind that flying a B-17 even without the gunners, took four people normally.
No..she could never join the Women's Air Corps. Her musings were interrupted when the plane came to a halt, and the pilot came back with a smile aimed right at Janice.
"Here you are kid, are you sure you'll be all right?"
Nodding, Janice took the pilot's hand giving it a tight squeeze and her best smile, "I'll be fine, thanks Rachel, don't know what I would have done without you."
Walking over to the hatch, Rachel grabbed the bar and turned the handle, rotating the locking bolts, "Listen, this town is really full up, only place in five hundred miles that these troops can get some R&R, so if you need a place to stay, I'm sure I can get you a cot at the WAC's barracks."
Grabbing her duffel bag, Janice once again shook her head, "No, I have a place to stay, but thanks for the offer." Turning her eyes to Mel, she arched one brow and smirked, "Ready to go on safari?"
Mel adjusted her glasses, and grabbed her suitcase, while feeling a flush of embarrassment raising in her cheeks, as Janice climbed out of the plane.
Following behind she just reached the hatchway when Rachel grabbed her arm and winked at her, "Don't let her bother you, she's no doubt remembering that she wore the same outfit the first time she came to Africa."
Pausing with a surprised look Mel took a quick glance at Rachel, then at Janice as she headed towards the main building, "She did?"
Laughing with a nod, Rachel released Mel's arm with a twinkle in her eyes, "She did, I should know, I flew Janice and her father to Egypt before the war. Listen, she likes you...just remember, she acts tough, but inside she's all mush, and she needs a friend."
Stepping from the bomber, the heat hit Mel like a wave, thankful for Charleston's heat waves, she hurriedly dragged her suitcase to catch up with Janice, all the while ignoring the stares her outfit was receiving.
Finally catching up to the small woman, Mel followed her through the terminal, her head turning side to side at all the various soldiers. The American and British uniforms she knew right off, but some of the others she had no idea.
Janice kept her head forward, yet she knew just where Mel was behind her, she headed out of the terminal and the staring soldiers, passed the men calling out for camel rides straight to the taxis.
Mel herself was regretting her decision in buying her outfit, with all the stares she was receiving, she was in fact starting to become a little miffed that Janice never said a word about it, only to become more annoyed when the woman stopped and she ran right into her back.
Janice rolled her eyes as Mel apologized, her attention on the taxi driver in front of her, "Mas l'khir, Al-Mounia bsh hal?"
Mel and the driver looked at Janice in surprise, the driver quickly grinning as he replied, "Al-Mounia, sab, wahka?"
A look of disgust passed over her features, Janice shook her head, "La...la, ghaalii, thalaqtha!"
Mel turned her head back and forth, as the two continued speaking in Arabic, her face feeling flushed as she received more glances from the uniformed men around her. Suddenly Janice grabbed her arm pulling her into the taxi.
Crossing her legs as the driver set the car in motion, Janice put a cigar between her teeth, but didn't light it, her eyes shifted over to the fuming woman next to her, until she raised up her arms in exasperation, "WHAT?"
Mel pushed back her glasses and stared at her friend, "Janice Covington, you may think it's funny that I decided to look like some great white hunter, but I would have thought that you would at least have the decency to try to warn me. I felt like a simpleton, did you see all them soldiers looking at me!"
Laughing Janice took the cigar and rolled it between her fingers, inhaling the aroma, "Is that what this is all about?" rolling the window down all the way to try and cool off from the heat, she smiled.
"Listen sweetheart, you look cute and that's all, as for all the stares...remember we're in a war zone. There's about ten thousand guys in this town, half I'll bet just came from the front lines, and not seen a woman in two to three months."
Seeing that she had Mel's attention, Janice stuck the cigar back into her mouth and chewed on the butt, "I can tell you they were not looking for a fashion tip, in fact I bet most didn't even see you in clothes."
Melinda felt the heat raising in her cheeks, and knew it didn't have anything to do with the temperature of the desert, "Oh my...I didn't think about that...I'm sorry Janice, I guess I'm just a little excited, so where are we going?"
Janice looked out the window as the taxi passed an armored column parked on the side of the road, "Al-Mounia's, it's a club here, I know the guy that runs it, and he owes me, always has a room for me, plus he should be able to give us a lead on this Amoud guy."
Mel just sat back and enjoyed the ride, wondering about all the people that seem to owe favors to the woman seated next to her.
Janice walked into the club, stopping to let her eyes get adjusted to the dim light, the darkness helping to keep it significantly cooler from the heat outside.
It was just as she remembered it, the long bar to her right, the glasses stacked for the evening crowd, about fifteen to twenty tables and far to her left for a stage for the entertainment, red curtains hiding the entrance to the back rooms. About forty feet in front of her was a balcony section that had another five tables.
The place had a couple soldiers drinking at the bar, whispering between them, but instantly their eyes turned to the two women standing in the doorway.
Janice sighed as she felt Mel at her shoulder, she hated being noticed, but had the feeling they'd be watched no matter where they went, and that was going to make things more difficult.
She walked into the room with Mel following, the person she wanted in sight, sitting at a balcony table, about five feet higher than the main floor.
He was just a little taller than Janice's, five feet, four inches, but outweighed her by sixty pounds, he was wearing a grey pin-striped suit, he didn't seem to have any hair but anyone could not really be sure since his head was topped by a red fez, his skin was dark brown from the sun. His eye lit up soon as he saw the young archaeologist, standing he met her coming up the stairs in a tight hug.
"JANICE!, my god what the hell are you doing here?" were the first words out of his mouth in perfect English.
Smirking, the short blond pulled herself out of the embrace, "Nice to see you also." Nodding to Melinda, her face seemed to lose some of it's anxiety, "Uncle, this is my friend Melinda Pappas, Mel, meet my uncle Al Covington."
Taking Mel's hand in a tight grip, Al raised an eyebrow at Janice, "your friend?"
Covering up Mel's puzzled gaze with a louder than necessary laugh, Janice pulled them both back to the table her uncle had been sitting at. "What's the matter, can't I have a friend?"
Nodding, Al looked at his niece, catching the panic around her eyes, and threw up his hands, "What, can't I make a joke? Now answer my question, what are you doing here?"
Melinda listened as Janice talked about the Xena scrolls, and the parchment with the note from Jack, all the time looking around the club, wondering what kind entertainment the club had. It was only the silence that brought her back to the table, Janice and her uncle were staring at each other.
Mel could see that Al seemed upset, she cursed herself for not paying attention, "Janice, you keep on this Xena thing and it'll kill you just like it did your father."
Her defensives up, Janice pulled out her cigar, sticking it between her teeth, and bit down hard, "Leave dad out of this, either help me or don't, but don't give me any crap about the scrolls, they're a part of my life as they were dad's."
Breaking into the argument, Mel wanted to end it, she never was allowed to see any family fights while growing up, and something about witnessing this one just felt wrong. "So, you're Janice's uncle, I never guessed that Janice's parents came from Africa." Her high pitch southern accent even more pronounce due to her nervousness.
Al Covington, looked at Mel, irritated to have been interrupted, but all the same, sat back in his chair, "Hell, I have no idea where the family came from, I was born in Chicago."
Janice also sat back, watching the two talk, she should not have lost her temper, but anyone, family or not, criticizing her father, brought her danter up.
"So you're Al-Mounia?" Mel was asking.
Shaking his head, Al shrugged his shoulders, and signaled to the bartender, "Naaa, I'm the Al part, Mounia is my wife's name, but she's gone now. Besides, a name like Al-Mounia's brings in more tourists, people don't come to Morocco to go to Al's Place."
Frowning Melinda felt terrible for bringing up the memory of Al's wife, "I'm sorry that you lost your wife, was it the war?"
Laughing, the man smiled at Mel, "Nothing like that, she just ran off with a camel."
Mel opened her mouth to reply, but nothing came out, she was trying to figure out what that meant when the bartender arrived.
Pointing a thumb in the bartender's direction, Al stood up, "This is Jamie, if I'm not around he'll take care of you." Looking at his niece AL Covington let out a loud sigh, "Janice, the person your interested in likes to club hop, so he can come in here anytime between eight and two, the guy on duty will let you know, ok?"
A tender smile started to spread across Janice face, but she quickly stopped it, "Thank you."
Blowing out a breath, Al shook his head, "Thank me by keeping safe," before leaving he instructed Jamie to be sure that everyone knew Janice and Mel were on his tab.
Looking at her companion, Janice had to smile, knowing she tried to keep peace between her and her uncle, "It's going to be a late night Mel, how about something to eat, then a nap before we start looking for Amoud?"
Perking up, Mel shifted in her seat, "How about something from Morocco? I mean this is only the second time I've been out of the states, is there something here that I can try?"
Turning her head back to Jamie, Janice ordered two plates of Pastillia, her attention now entirely on her southern companion, "So what do you think of Morocco so far?"
"Hot," replied Mel, yet her manner, shifting in her seat, and not looking at Janice caused the woman to sit up straighter, "Is something wrong?"
Her cheeks flushing, Melinda looked to make sure no one could overhear, "Well, it's just...well, it's the scrolls, I mean, did you get the idea that Xena and Gabrielle were, huh....very close?"
Janice felt lightheaded, and she hoped that Mel didn't notice, she knew just what Mel was saying, though at first she regretted not to have been Xena's descendant, she did feel pride in knowing how close the pair was. Yet she really was not ready to talk about THAT topic with Melinda yet, ancient Greece may not have frowned on homosexually, but 1943 America sure did, some were still lynched in the south for it.
Pretending not to understand, Janice just shrugged, "Knowing all that they had been through, and the time together, I'm sure that they were the best of friends." Holding her breath, could not help herself, she had to ask, "Why, is there anything wrong?"
Mel chewed on her bottom lip and shook her head, this was not something you could really bring up, not that it bothered her. No, Melinda sighed looking up as the food arrived, it did bother her, daddy warned her long ago about these type of women, now finding out she just may be descendant from one, gave her something to think about.
Taking a large spoonful of the dish in front of her, Mel found out she had forgotten just how long it had been since she had a decent meal. "Janice, this is great!" As she took another large bite, "but I asked for something Moroccan, not chicken pot pie."
Looking surprised, the young blond held back a chuckle and waited for Melinda to swallow, "I thought you knew what this was, Pastillia basically means Pigeon pie."
Her hand froze, spoon in the pie,, staring at Janice, "Pigeon, as in birds that fly around parks?" Feeling her stomach do a couple flip-flops, Mel smiled and forced another spoonful into her mouth, she was not going to show Janice what her stomach was feeling.
Digging into her plate, Janice called out for a shot of whiskey, suppressing a smile at the look on Mel's face. She definitely was not going to tell her that was her reaction the first time she had the dish years ago.
"Mel, are you alright?" Janice put on her sweetest smile, but the raven-haired southerner was not falling for it. "I'm fine Janice, just tired," she replied.
Downing the shot soon as it arrived, Janice stood reaching for her and Mel's bag, "Then follow me, let's wash up and get some sleep, we have a man to see about a scroll tonight."
Mel opened her eyes after hearing something move around their room for the umpteenth time, her gaze locked on the something. Janice clad only in a pair of men's boxers fiddling with her gun.
Janice looked over at Melinda with a shrug that she tried to make look like an apology, and sat crossed-legged on her bed loading her bulldog .44 revolver.
Melinda was too tired to be embarrassed at the nudity of her friend, she was a Yankee after all. "Janice, why on earth are you wearing boxers?" Was all she could get out.
Closing the cylinder, Janice spun it to check the smoothness of the operation before looking at her friend, "Cause they're comfortable, men design women's panties to look sexy for themselves, they really don't care how much panties ride up your. . ."
"JANICE COVINGTON," Mel shrieked, "watch your mouth."
Hiding her smile, Janice placed the revolver on the table between her and Mel's bed. The room right above the nightclub was the size of your everyday bedroom, with two twin beds, a dresser, and a nightstand. The pair was thankful for the slowly spinning ceiling fan, and that they were at the rear of the club, their window overlooking the alley which greatly reduced the noise from the street.
"Time to get up sweetheart, It's seven o'clock, I want to be downstairs in an hour," Janice replied as she stood grabbing her shirt off the dresser.
Sitting up her in bed, Melinda had a case of the shivers, trying to wake up, her blue nightgown matted against her body from the heat. "I'm up. . .Did your uncle say anything else about the man we're looking for?"
Pulling the tie around the collar, Janice sighed, "Not much, he's a smuggler of anything that brings a price. . . guns, drugs, people. There's some talk that he was a Nazi collaborator, but everyone's is too afraid to bring up charges."
Finally standing up, Mel made her way to the small bathroom, closing the door behind her. Janice may not care about walking around naked, but she sure in hades cared.
Turning around, Janice got the shoulder-holster out of her duffel, slipping it on to check the fit, then grabbed her gun listening as Mel started the shower.
By the time Melinda finished her shower and stepped out of the bathroom she was wearing tan slacks, a cream-colored embroidered cotton blouse, and low heels. Her gaze turned to Janice, wearing what seemed to be the only style of outfit she owned, but this time she did have on a men's tie.
"Janice, one day I'm going to have to take you shopping for new clothes!" Mel said in teasing tone. Donning her leather jacket, Janice checked the bulge on the left side, judging how well her gun was concealed as she replied, "Why, I think I look great."
With a roll of her eyes, Mel walked over to grab her hand purse, "Don't you own at least one dress?"
Shaking her head, Janice motion to Melinda, "Leave the purse, take only what you can carry in your pockets," walking back to her duffel bag Janice grabbed a box of ammunition, dumping a handful of shells into her jacket pocket, "Besides dad always said dresses were for sissy's, ready?"
Melinda nodded as she decided that she really didn't need her compact, more due she had no place to put it than desire to leave it behind, and followed Janice out the door.
Janice nursed the drink in front of her as she scanned the club once more from her balcony table, it was half past eleven, and still no show from Amoud. The club itself was crowded with soldiers, the British and America's separated as if each was claiming their own territory within the club.
One of the balcony tables was claimed by her and Mel, three others by locals who like her were watching the crowd, the fifth table stayed emptied, it was reserved for Ali Bey Amoud. Janice wondered why her uncle forgot to mention that he kept a table reserved for the man they were looking for.
Melinda on the other hand had been feeling very uncomfortable, she was thankful that Janice was there due the number of GI's that approached their table despite the growls emulating from Janice.
One America soldier had even been back three times, each time he was a bit drunker, and a little more than irate when Janice told him to pack sand, whatever that means?
Janice sipped her whiskey, while Mel drank from a glass of wine, their attention diverted from the empty table as the lights dimmed. The lights around the stage became brighter, causing the GI's to go into an crescendo of yelling and clapping.
Janice listened as music started to come from behind the stage curtains, the scratchy sound revealing it was coming from a record player. The GI's becoming even more unruly as her uncle came from behind the curtains, "Soldiers of the allied forces, please give a big hand for, TARMA!"
As Al Covington left the stage a woman stepped from behind the curtains, she was wearing a belly dancers outfit, only it had few scarf's, the object to show more skin than tradition would normally allow.
Janice herself was breathless, the woman as she moved around the stage was no doubt a dancer, Janice had seen many belly dancers the last time she was in Morocco, and Egypt, this woman was a real professional.
She was young, no more than twenty, maybe twenty-one, hard to tell from the balcony, but she looked about the same height as herself, but very slim. Janice took in her smooth blemish free brown skin, smiling wondering where her uncle found her.
Melinda herself was fascinated that a woman would dress like that in public, show or no show, then her attention turned to a small group working their way through the crowd towards the balcony.
Taking a quick glance at Janice, Mel could see her attention was on the dancer. She hoped that this was Amoud's group, she wanted to sight them before her companion, show that she was not just person hanging around for Janice to save.
The group climbed the small stairs, sitting at the reserved table, all thoughts of nudging Janice forgotten as she looked at one of the handsomest men she ever set her eyes on. "Oh my," was all she could get out.
Janice leaned her head closer to Mel after hearing her exclamation nodding, her eyes fixed on the dancer, "You too huh?, very beautiful."
Nodding, Melinda smiled not helping but staring at the man, and for once finding something the two of them agreed on, "Very beautiful Janice, I'll love to run my hands through that black hair, it looks so silky don't it?"
Grinning at Mel's revelation, Janice nodded not expecting her to come out like this, "And that skin, like a creamy chocolate without a mark."
Shivering, Mel laughed, she would have never expected this reaction from her friend, "And deep brown eyes to drown in."
Blinking, Janice leaned forward squinting her eyes as the dancer moved around the stage for the GI's, "Uh. . .how can you tell, I must be going blind."
Taking off her glasses she held them out to Janice, her voice gently teasing, "Here use these and you can tell, besides, he's close enough to tell without my glasses."
Sitting up Janice turned her head to look at Mel, "He?" then her glaze followed Melinda's to the now occupied table, "Mel, that's Amoud!"
Turning her head, Mel nodded, "I think so too, the other two seem more like guards."
Biting her lip to keep from saying anything, Janice was thankful that she didn't reveal anything for mistakenly assuming that Melinda was talking about the dancer.
Mel wondered what was wrong with Janice, then thought it must be cause she was staring at Amoud, don't want to tip our hat too soon she guessed.
"HEYYYYYY BABY I'M BACK!" shouted the American wearing an Army uniform as he stumbled up the stairs to their table, the little furkin bitch pretending to be a man had drove him away three times before. Much to the laughter of his buddies, this time he was going to show her, if she wanted to act like a man, he'll show her how one took what he wanted.
Janice was instantly in front of the table, only the people from the balcony tables paying any attention to the confrontation, the rest of the club's gaze was still on the figure moving around the stage.
The GI towered over Janice, looked down at the small woman he was becoming more angry that he let himself back down the last time. Reaching to grab the woman's shoulder and push her out of the way so he could get nearer to that tall ravened hair woman behind her, "Out of the way buddy."
Grabbing the hand before he touched her, his words were slurred, so she knew he had a drunk's courage, "Go back and watch the show," Janice replied in a low voice.
Jerking his hand away, the GI swayed back, but caught his balance, looking at Janice while licking his lips he started forward again, "Go home little boy, your daddies calling ya."
Next thing he knew Janice's fist was slamming into his face sending him backwards, hitting the balcony railing he flipped over landing on a table occupied by four British Tommies. Who promptly picked him up and tossed him onto a table surrounded by America's followed by a few choice curses.
The club instantly became quiet but for the sound of music from the record player behind the stage. Mel looked around, it seemed like an eternity as no one moved, then swearing she heard a rebel yell, the club erupted into a brawl.
Janice stood at the top of the stairs leading to the balcony, kicking and punching anyone that tried to come up. Mel was standing against the wall watching the fight with wide eyes, ducking as a glass shattered against the wall, her mind thinking that things are not like this back in Charleston.
Avoiding a fist at her head, Janice retaliated with a kick to the man's groin, then shoved him down the stairs into a group of soldier's trying to come up, sending them all flying.
Melinda took several half steps as another man climbed over the balcony reaching for her, when Amoud grabbed and pulled her away, then drove his fist into the man's stomach dropping him to the floor.
Mel looked at Amoud as he ran to defend the balcony, looking around for help while the man at her feet groaned, raising to his knees. It was then than she closed her eyes and gave him a swift kick between the legs, then smiled feeling a bit proud after seeing he was unconscious.
Despite the fighting around her, Janice felt more alive than ever, as she only did during her search for artifacts. Then she heard a woman's scream, checking on Melinda she saw that she was safe.
Looking towards the stage, the dancer had been hoisted over the shoulder of the drunken GI that started the whole thing.
Screaming "STAY HERE!" to Mel, she ran to the end of the balcony jumping onto the railing using her momentum to vault over the heads of the soldiers fighting on the main floor, landing on the stage, and delivering a devastating kidney punch to the GI, who promptly dropped the dancer.
Gathering and cradling the frighten woman up in her arms, Janice started for the backstage. Only to catch sight of Ali Bey Amoud heading for the kitchen, but with a struggling Melinda being dragged behind by his guards.
Momentarily distracted, Janice still managed to dodge a chair flying through the air. Looking over the sea of fighting bodies between her and Mel, she felt that she had no choice but to get the dancer to safety.
Pushing aside the curtains she placed the woman on her feet and found herself instantly hugged with mutters of thank you. Though it felt good to be held within the dancers embraced, Janice was more concerned with Mel's well being.
Muttering her apologies, Janice tried to head back for the stage, only the dancer's arms holding her back. Then the shrill of whistles filled the club, indicating that the Military Police had arrived.
"Don't go, you arrest they will," filling her ears, muttering under her breath, Janice wondered how long this would delay her, then she caught what the dancer was saying.
"Ali Amoud take friend yes!. . .I show where live, friend be there ok?"
Smiling, Janice nodded and followed the dancer to a room where she quickly removed her costume and dressed into street clothes. Janice turned her head as the woman dressed, much as she was infatuated with her, she did not want no cheap thrill.
After dressing, the dancer grabbed Janice's hand and pulled her to the back entrance, "Ali Bey Amoud, we go now. . .yes?"
Nodding, Janice felt to make sure she still had her revolver, "Ali Bey Amoud, we go. . . yes!"
Continued - Part 2