By Kandis Glasgow
Disclaimers: I should do this right just once. Xena, Gabrielle, Ephiny, Cyrene, and all the other characters I borrowed to tell this tale do not belong to me. They are the sole property of Renaissance Pictures, Rob Tapert and a whole slew of people who got rich off the show. I am not doing this right am I? Oh well Candace, Taylor, Senar, Jules, Giva, Krista, Lissa, Lineah, Terra, Skye, Terran, Spencer, The Silent One, Candace Jr., Erianna, Amira, Creighton (<<Shudder>>), Kimi, Rian, Darail and a few more I am sure I forgot, belong to me. I will be using them again, so dont feel as if you can go out and play with them now that they have a break. You have to ask their mommy if they can come out and play. I am not making money at this. I hope to make some money some day at this. Now is not the time.
The you have got to be kidding me SEX disclaimer . I am sorry, but I have left the sex out of this final chapter. It just didnt seem to fit. Ill write a separate stand alone for it. Hows that? BUT, if you cant stand the thought of women doing the wild thing with each other have you been reading up to this point? I mean. Thats all they did for a bit there. ANWAY, get out of town and dont let me see the likes of you again! If you are too young to be reading the likes of this, really, and I mean this, you should leave until such a time as you are old enough to appreciate what you are reading. If this is illegal where you live, scoot, scoot. Over the border with you. Good. Now you can read it;)
Swearing and all around bad language alert Disclaimer thing: Yep. Candace is one angry, hurt Amazon and shes not afraid to show her emotions. All of the language is exactly how I would react in her place. Everyone else gets in on the act.
Spoilers: Oh yes. My my yes. If you dont want to know what happened on the show before, dont read this.(You know I havent seen it since I have been in NZ and I am having withdrawal! Kimmy promised me a huge Xena party when I return! Ill let you know if it happens! )
I thank you so very much for being patient with me while I searched my soul to finish my tale. I have had the chance to make many changes in my own life while writing this. I saw that it was possible to love someone the way that the women in my stories do. Its not a fantasy. Its work and unconditional love wrapped up with God that makes it all real. I hope you have enjoyed the ride as much as I have enjoyed taking you on it with me. I also hope the end was worth the wait. Thanks again!
If you enjoyed this, I would really love to know. Please e-mail me Sonfire39@yahoo.com or kandisg@Xena.com I love this one. Dont you?
Candace flailed her fists at Xena in anger and grief. "NO! NO! NO! NO! I will not let her be dead!"
"Candace ." The tall warrior tried to pull her in. Candace pulled away.
"FUCK YOU! You and all your gods and your fucking Amazons! You killed her! This fucking place killed her! I HATE YOU ALL!" She pushed the warrior away from her with every bit of strength she had remaining in her body. She turned and ran to the tree line. She wanted to get lost in the woods and lose her sorrow as well.
Gabrielle started after her with tears streaming down her own cheeks. Xena held her back gently. She had to let Candace deal with this in her own way even if it seemed out of place and out of line.
It had been almost two days since the fire that had claimed Taylor. The building was just becoming cool enough to search for the body and prepare it for Amazon rites of burial. Taylor deserved the best that the Nation had to offer a true hero. She had fought against the gods and won. She had then pulled one of their own from the grips of death. Taylors name would live on forever in the annuls of Amazon history. Senar sifted through the ash by the anvil. She found no trace of a body in any of the area near where they had last seen Taylor. Senar herself had watched the beam fall on the warrior. She knew that there had to be a sign of Taylor somewhere. She settled her large frame into a squat as she sifted the ash through her fingers. She threw the gray particles down absently as she thought this out. "Where are you, my friend?"
"Talking to yourself again, my love?" Ephiny was as upset as anyone about the death of their friend. She wasnt making fun of her Champion.
Startled out of her thoughts, Senar looked up sharply at the voice. "Eph. Yeah, I was. Well, no. I was talking to Taylor." She stood to tower over her queen and her wife. She dusted off her hands and frowned with the shake of her head. "Shes not here, Your Majesty."
"Using titles on me now?" She saw the serious look on the face of the warrior. "Senar, what do you mean? I am not following."
"Her body, her clothing. There is nothing here." Senars voice was as confused as the expression on her face.
"Surely there must be. The fire was very hot. Perhaps it is all turned to ash and dust." Ephiny had never known that to be the truth, but anything was possible.
"There is always something left. I have sifted through every inch of this place. Nothing. I dont understand it." The Queens Champion dropped her head to think when her thoughts were interrupted by a haggard voice.
"Xena. Your Highness. I didnt see you." Senar looked at Ephiny to find a clue as to how to deal with this. Ephiny shrugged her shoulders in abject defeat. She had seen Xena in all of her forms and this one was new to her. When Gabrielle had died she had been prepared and had almost welcomed her beloveds passing. It was an end to suffering. This was different.
Anger seeped into her voice. "What do you mean nothing?"
The Champion wanted to explain what she knew, but the right words avoided her. "I was just telling Xena, I cant be sure yet."
"Cant be sure of what?" Xena pinched the bridge of her nose. This should never have happened. If she had let Candace stop her. She felt the guilt to her very core.
Senar sighed. There was really no way to bypass this. "There is no trace of Taylor here. I havent found anything. Not a sku . You dont want to hear this, Xe. Why dont you go get some rest?" Senar put a comforting hand on her friends arm.
Xena pulled violently away from the contact as if it burned her skin. She rubbed the spot to relieve the ache. No one could touch her right now. No one except Candace or Gabrielle. It hurt too much. "No, damn it! Tell me!"
Senar looked to Ephiny who shrugged slightly and gave an affirming nod. If Xena wanted to hear this then she had a right. "OK. No skull. No fingers. No bones. No pieces of metal from her clothing. No nothing. Not even her Chakram, Xe."
Xena took the information in. More anger set in. "You are wrong. Look again. Find something!"
The Queens Champion started to explain that no amount of searching
would make a difference. "Xena
Xenas ire was at its peak. She would not accept this. Xena stood face to face with Senar. The anger in her veins frightened the Champion for perhaps the first time in her life.
The Warrior Princess raised her voice and spun instantly on Senar. Her face was a hairs breadth away from the Champions own. "NO! YOU FIND IT! Find anything! I cant bury a memory and neither can Candace. Look harder!"
Ephiny stepped in when it became obvious that Xena was not going to listen to her wife. "Xena." The warrior turned to face the woman that had so softly spoken her name. Xenas blue eyes were so full of hurt and rage that Ephinys heart broke all over again. Tears welled up, but she could not let them fall. "They have done their best. I will ask them to search again for your sake."
"Well you just do that!" Xena huffed and stomped away. She would not accept the death of her lover, companion and friend. It wasnt right and she was getting to the bottom of it.
Gabrielle had heard the commotion with Senar, but chose to let it work itself out. Ephiny was in a much better frame of mind to deal with the situation at the moment. She could hear the distant wails of her friend and she could feel the grief to her very core. She had lost Xena once, at a time before they had consummated their relationship. She had wanted to die then. Now she could feel the depth of a souls sorrow again through the pain of her dear companion. This was awful. How could something like this happen? Taylor was always much too brave for her own good. Now she was dead due to her heroism. But, without her Mikaya would be dead. It was a confusing world.
The bard jumped at her name.
"I didnt mean to startle you. Forgive me."
"No Jules. I was lost in thought. There is nothing to forgive. What can I do for you?" Her green eyes were rimmed in red from a million tears she had shed the past day and a half.
"I want to, no I need to do something to help. Candace is in so much pain and I feel such guilt and .you see .I." Tears began to fall from the soft green eyes of the great warrior. "She saved my daughter, Your Highness, and I have such gratitude and yet the guilt .I.." She cleared her throat. It would do no good for the morale of the compound to see her like this. She gained her composure as best she could. "I want to tell her."
"I am sure Candace would love to talk to you, Jules. I dont think now is a good time." She gazed back at the forest.
"Maybe if she knew that it was no I suppose not. I am so sorry, your Highness. You have no idea." The warrior was so torn between gratitude and guilt it was tearing her apart. She was watching her daughter struggle with it as well. It would be a long while before the pain healed from this wound.
"I think I do, Jules." Gabrielle began to let the tears come. She hurt so badly to her very core. The great firefighter took up a great deal of her heart. This glorious day had turned out so badly. She had to talk to Candace one way or the other.
Candace screamed out into the Amazon forest. "NOOOOOOOOOO! You CANT TAKE HER! I need her more than you do! Please! God? Can you hear me? Please." She sobbed as her body collapsed to the ground.
"We can hear you , Miss Candace." Skye reached for the fallen angel at her feet.
"Ssskkye? Terr .but, why are you hh.h.ere?" Hope glimmered in her chest. She struggled to her knees. "You! You, you can change this..Please! Please say you can."
Skye bent to take Candace in her arms. "We cannot, Candace."
"But why?" Her voice cracked with pain.
Terra stood firm, knowing that she would surely break down completely if she touched the blonde Regent. She had seen this coming and wanted to believe it wasnt true. "She acted of her own free will."
"But the fire. Yeah yeah the fire. Mikaya said that Ares was in the shed. He he he HE started the fire!" She wanted to exact revenge on Ares, but the chain was broken. They had no power to act. Artemis, Aphrodite and Ares and the few minor Gods were all that remained with any power. It would remain so until the world found other gods to worship and One would change it all. She could at least rely on that.
"Yes, he did. But if it had killed Mikaya it would be different. You see, Taylor acted of her own will. Ares didnt push her in or set the fire while she was in the shed. She went in to save Mik." Terra waited.
"I see. But, I need her, Terra. I need her like breath. I cant live without her." She was still on her knees in the dress that she had worn morning before at her joining. This was the second time she had lost love on her wedding day. Someone had to do something.
She hoped for an answer. "What can I do?"
"We cant answer that. When the time comes you will know what you must do." Terra spoke as softly but pointed as she could to show Candace that there was an answer. She couldnt give it to her, the Regent would have to find it herself.
Terras kind blue eyes broke the Regents heart once again. She had Taylors eyes. Candace thought some more then frowned. What choices did she have here? "I dont understand."
"We cant tell you, Miss Candace. but, you will know." Skyes voice was so soft it was as if she didnt speak. But Candace heard it all.
She stood up more rapidly than a woman with child should. She stood face to chest with Terra. "TELL ME! Tell me what I need to know."
"You know I cant." She wanted to hold Candace so badly her arms ached. The small woman wouldnt allow her touch she knew.
"Fuck you!" She pushed Terra crushing the tall womans heart.
"NO! NO! You are not my friends! You are betraying me by not telling me what I need to know to ..to ." She realized she had no idea what she wanted or needed. Tears flowed as she sunk back to the ground. "This isnt right."
"Candace." Terra finally broke. She fell to her knees beside the woman she knew to be larger than life, who was at this moment only a portion of who she truly was. Tears fell and the aspect of Time tried to stop them without success. She pulled Candaces hands into her own and kissed them. Candace struggled with what little strength she had left. Terra held her firm and pressed them close to her heart as she spoke. "Listen for one minute, then I will let you go. Taylor is a hero in every sense of the word. She gave her life willingly to save another. It makes no difference how the fire started. Taylor did what she was trained to do. She saved a life. She gave her life so that someone else might live, Miss Candace. No one took it from her. She knew what she was doing. She had no more choice than when you almost died defending Ephiny. It was her duty."
Candace let the words sink in. "As right as you may be, Terra, I dont feel any better."
Skye had joined them on the soft earth. She stroked Candaces hair. "No, and you wont for a while."
"There are answers, Candace. You will find them. We must go now." Terra glanced at Skye who only nodded.
"But .no, you go. Go on." She paused as the two women stood together. "And .Im sorry. I didnt mean what I said.
"We know. We love you, Miss Candace. We will see you again soon." Skye wiped the errant tears from her cheeks and nodded to Terra.
The air glowed and they were gone. Candace sat in total silence as she reached out to find her soulmates heart. It wasnt there, but she touched the spirit of another. It was different. Powerful yet gentle and kind. It was fleeting and then it was gone. She was confused. Then she became angry again. "NO! No confusion! I want ANSWERS!" She screamed to the night. She screamed to whoever would hear her. "ANSWERS!"
The small Regent turned to face the blonde warrior who had approached her in silence.
"Jan?" Candace ran to embrace her friend.
"Hey." She pulled the smaller woman in closer as tears streamed again. "I know, baby. I know." Jan kissed the small blonde head as the woman wept.
"Jj jjj an. How do I gggo on? How do we," she pulled away from the Jan and put her hand on her belly, "go on?" Her daughter would never know the joy that had been her mother. She couldnt overcome the unfairness of it all.
"I dont know, Cand. I dont know." She paused. "Can we talk for a sec?"
Candace gave her friend an odd look. "Isnt that what we are doing?"
"This is different. I dont want you to be upset." She realized that Candace was upset already. "More upset."
"What could make me more upset, Jan? Taylor is dead. Nothing else matters." Her shoulders fell in defeat as she wiped at her eyes and nose. She looked down at the beautiful silk gown she had worn the day before. It was tattered and soiled. No one would have recognized it. The thought was detached from her mind. It was only an observation that registered nowhere.
The doctor decided to just say it and pay the consequences. She was blunt in everything else. Why should now be different. "They cant find her body."
The blonde didnt react. Not right away. Her mind whirled with thoughts as if trying to piece a puzzle that didnt quite fit. "I, I dont understand. No body? But, there has to be something. Anything!" The thought of not having something of Taylor to give honor to was churning in her mind.
"There isnt. Senar tore the place apart, so to speak. Sweetheart." She saw Candace flinch at the use of the word. "Candace. They sifted for hours. There is nothing. No bones. No clothing. Most oddly, no Chakram."
The information hit like a thunder bolt. She turned and sped away from Janice at a dead run. The small doctor turned warrior, followed as quickly as she could. "CANDCACE! Where are you going?"
"Temple. Artemis." Her legs kicked harder and she pulled away from Janice as if she were at a stand still.
Jan stopped and watched the blonde disappear into the darkening forest. A serious frown developed on her forehead. She stopped running. "Xena. I gotta get Xe." She ran off quickly in the other direction.
A very confused firefighter sat up from her reclining position to observe her surroundings. It did not look at all familiar. There was peace and calm surrounding her that made no sense. There was light that appeared to come from nowhere and everywhere all at once. It was not like the light from the sun, nor was it like an artificial light. It just was. There were flowers all around her that were of shades she had never seen. She would never be able to describe them were someone to ask. It was as if to understand the color you had to feel it as well as look at it. The petals were transparent so the colors that you could feel blended with the colors around them. She lifted her hand to touch one and the one under her palm sprang up as if it had never been touched. She heard music coming from out of the air. Not from around her, but directly out of thin air. She had been to Elisya. This was so not that. This was another realm altogether. Were it not for her confusion, she would be in awe.
She put her hand to her head where she was sure she had an injury of some sort. She couldnt explain why she thought so at that moment. To her surprise, her hand came away clean of blood. She knew there should be blood, shouldnt there? "Where am I?" She was speaking to no one, but to her amazement someone answered.
"You are here." A calm average voice of no particular accent or origin.
She frowned as she turned to face the man who spoke to her. He was not so remarkable as one would think considering the circumstances. He did not fit the surroundings. Her head cocked with curiosity.
She wanted to be a smart-ass, but her good manners prevented it. Sarcasm was not beyond her reach, however. "I can see that. Exactly where is here?"
"You are." A bright glimmer shown in his eye. "I thought I answered that."
She shook her head. "Maybe you didnt understand the question. You said, "I am here." Here is where, exactly?"
"Here happens to be anywhere you are. Therefore, wherever you go, there you are." The man smiled for no apparent reason although he looked a great deal more peaceful than anyone she had ever seen.
She believed that he believed his statement and for some reason it bothered her. She vowed not to let her emotions run this conversation. "Yes, I see your logic. But, this place where I am here at..am uh anyway, what is it called?"
"It is not called anything." His hands clasped calmly in front of him, he shrugged as if it were a question that had no meaning.
It made no sense to her at this moment in time. "Everywhere has a name. This is somewhere. See?"
"Ok this is Somewhere." He shook his head in agreement.
She situated herself to a standing position and bent to smooth the wrinkles in her pants. It was then she recognized her attire. She was no longer dressed in her wedding clothing. She had on her work uniform. She did however, still have the ring on that Candace had given her. A deep frown settled on her striking features. "Somewhere over the rainbow, is my guess." She looked at him with suspicion. He was way too calm.
"If you would like it to be, I suppose so." He was also much too agreeable.
"OK let me ask it this way. Does this place serve a purpose?" Her hands went to her hips as she squinted.
He grinned and began to walk away from her shaking his finger in the air. "Ahhhhh Taylor, now we are getting somewhere."
She followed him "You know my name." Not a question. A statement of fact.
"Of course. I know the names of everything and everyone." He stopped and she stopped. He turned to face her.
"Just like Santa." She made a point to hold his gaze. Whoever he was she could intimidate him.
He looked back at her in serene forgiveness. He could never be intimidated. "In a way, you could say that."
She wasnt buying it. She kept staring. "Uh huh. And you know the names of everything as well?"
"I know the names of things that you dont even know exist. Everything." His words were emphatic.
"Everything. Right. And I would be the Easter Bunny." She resigned trying the intimidation approach.
"I know the Easter Bunny, and him, my dear firefighter, you are not. I can assure you I know the names of everything. Pick something. Anything. Ill tell you the name of it." He was prodding her along to understanding.
"This is silly." She was in no mood to play games.
"Aw come, on it will be fun." He clapped his hands together with enthusiasm.
She looked around for a bit. "That thing under your nose, whats that called? The grove thing here." She pointed and pulled her lips in to show him.
He answered with authority and then smiled with satisfaction.
"Lucky guess" Blue eyes gave away her surprise.
"I dont need to guess Taylor." His voice softened as he tried to guide her to understanding
"Uh huh. What are you? "Q" or something?" She almost laughed.
"No. Not Q. They can be a down right pain cant they?" He frowned at her looking for consensus.
She knew now that he did not know everything and thus lost his credibility with the warrior. "Begging your pardon, but the Q is a fictional group of all knowing beings from Star Trek. And you are either a nut or a liar."
"Oh no. I have been called crazy many times but it was never proven. I am not a nut. On top of that, I never lie and the Q? They are quite real. Trust me they can be a pain in the dairy air." He laughed at his own mental joke.
Taylor didnt get it and thought this guy was quite crazy. She slapped her hands together with a rub and looked about for the best possible escape. "Well, its been great, but I have to get back."
He stuck his hands in the pocket of his Dockers. He rocked back and forth on his heels. "Sorry, Tay. No can do."
His actions and his looks vaguely reminded Taylor of her father. The use of a nick name struck a nerve. She shook her head trying to clear her thoughts. "So, you cant send me back."
"Sure I can." He shrugged as if sending her back was the easiest thing in the world to do.
Figuring he was a god of the Olympian sort, she stated her request. "Well, then fiddle you fingers or make that sparkle thing and go for it. I have a fire to fight."
"No, Taylor. You dont. You cannot go back." His voice was quiet and more than a little sad.
"What the fuu .ffuu fuuuuh aaaaah fff ff. Hhhhee. What is wrong with my mouth?" She tried her best to see her lips.
He shrugged. "No swearing here."
If she couldnt swear she would yell instead. "WELL FINE! WHAT DO YOU MEAN I CANT GO BACK?"
He almost laughed. It was as if shouting at a blind person could make them see. "Shouting will not make it different. You cant go back to Ancient Greece."
"Well who died and made you God? Cant go back my aaaaaa .aaaa..foot!" She stomped hers to make her point known. It wasn't butch at all, but it was the best she could come up with.
"No one had to die. Not for me to be God anyway." His voice this time was filled with a melancholy that was un-mistakable.
"And You are not!" She folded her arms in challenge.
"Not what?" He pocketed his hands again mocking her in a goon natured manner.
"And why not?" His head tilted ever so slightly.
"Well, look at you." Both of her hands showed him what he was.
He grinned his best grin. It matched every watt of Taylors own when she looked at her wife. "I dont need to. You know, this is one trait I should have left out when I made you people. Its that damned stubborn streak."
She called him on his rule. "Hey! Why can you swear and I cant?"
"Cause its my place. I can do whatever I want. But, damned is what that stubborn streak is, so its not really swearing is it? Still, my place. My rules." Now he sounded vaguely like a spoiled child.
The firefighter shook her head in frustration. "Here we go again. And just where is this place?"
"It is nowhere and everywhere. It is here and there. It is hither and yon. It is, and you are, here." A kind twinkle shone his eye. It was the look of a man teasing his grand-child. Good natured ribbing done only to make his heir think of where they were going or what they were doing. He knew she would find answers in time.
Taylor put her head in her hands and allowed her mind to work this out. She had been in the black smiths shed. The fire was raging all around her. The intense heat of the flames had licked the hair from her arms immediately. The heated air engulfed her as if it were the flames themselves. She had found Mikaya passed out next to the large anvil. She had been overcome by the smoke no doubt. She had easily lifted the girl up and over her shoulders firemen style as she had practiced a thousand times. Struggling through the smoke and flames she had found the window. The fire was not yet raging through the opening. She had taken that one opportunity and had tossed a Mikaya through to the cool fresh air that waited just past the flaming walls. She had looked out the opening to find green eyes imploring her to hurry. She set her foot firmly on the sill, preparing to pull herself out. Her heart stopped at a familiar cracking rumble above her. She looked up to see the beams above her giving way. As she watched the fiery rafter swing down on her she had a vivid realization that she was not going to make it out alive. That was all she remembered. She knew.
"I am dead." Plain. Simple. To the point indeed.
He sighed at her finally getting it. "Yes. To those in ancient Greece, you are dead."
"Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait! Just a fu .fffff rrrrrrrrg! Flippin minute!" She knew that anger was not going to get her anywhere, but her logic had not yet caught up with her emotions. "I cant be dead! I have a wife and a child on the way and Xena and Gabrielle and Amazons and I cannot die! I dont have time!"
"That, my friend is where you are wrong. We all die. Well, most of us do. Even I did it once. Nasty stuff that." He rambled and Taylor began to voice her objections.
"Think Taylor, before you speak. You cant go back. If I send you back you will die a very real death and I wont be able to help you then." He stared at her trying to push the thoughts in with his will.
"A real death? This seems pretty real to me. I am dead but not real dead. This is making no sense. I cant be dead. I am supposed to be with Jesus and I sure as shhhhhi shi. Oh bother I sure as heck dont see him here!" She was huffing as if breathing really was necessary.
He was being a patient being. "That is because you are not looking close enough to see Him. Besides that you are still in your natural state. You couldnt recognize Him unless He wanted you to."
She thought for a few seconds. "Not you."
He shook his head. "Not this minute, no."
"What do you mean not this minute?" Her brows furrowed.
He stared hard at her. "Right now, I am who you need me to be."
Taylor was stomping around in circles half watching the flowers pop up wherever her feet had been, half throwing a temper tantrum, half fascinated with the plant life. One and a half is much more than most people ever get. "A middle aged man in a golf polo and a pair of Dockers. Right. That is who I need right now."
She was pissed now. She placed her large frame in front of him and leaned in. "I am only going to ask one more time then I am going to wring your scrawny little neck. WHO ARE YOU?"
"I am Yahweh." His voice was soft. There were no booming, triumphant trumpets sounding. No flashing lights lit up the sky. He said what he had to say.
She slapped her forehead as she turned around. "Oh for Gods sake. Who are you really?"
"I am who I am. You see? I AM." He didnt shout. He didnt need to.
This time the resonance in his voice struck a chord deep with in the heart of the warrior. She knew, with those words, He was exactly who He said he was. The feeling of who this was burst into her. "But, you I mean how..you dont look." She dropped to her knees. "But why?"
"Why what, my sweet child?" He grinned at her.
"You dont look I mean. How I I I I. You see .I uh." She wanted to laugh and cry and sing and shout all at the same time. She wanted to be like the molecules of air that sang around her. She couldnt even get one sentence out.
"This is that warrior thing I was told about. I dont think this was my doing, really. I had always hoped the warriors would be articulate and well spoken. Oh well. It was perfect for a while there. " He shook his head as if in thought. He didnt need to think for knowing all that was, but sometimes it felt good to give it a try.
Taylor laughed in spite of her feelings. "Are you really Him?" She stood back to her feet, examining Him more closely.
"I am an aspect of Him. I am everywhere and in everything, but I can place a part of myself in this container to communicate with you." He smiled, pleased that she was beginning to understand.
Taylors blue eyes lit up in semi-understanding. She knew there was more to this than she was getting. "Like Yeshua."
"Yes. I came to show them who I really was. There was so much pain and anger then, and that was not who I am. You see?" His voice was so calm and yet filled with grief that spanned untold ages.
"I see, because I believe." Taylor was still dumb struck.
"Yes, well. You are here after all." He grinned at her.
"But, you brought me here? Why?" She had an after thought. "Should I take my shoes off?"
"If you would like, but its not necessary." He wanted to laugh out loud, but chose not to. He loved his creation no doubt. They were such his children.
The firefighters brows furrowed as if in confusion. "But, you know, Holy Ground and all that."
"Anyone who believes is the Temple Taylor. You are holy ground. Do you not know that you are the temple of God?" He spoke as if the words had been spoken for the very first time.
"Ah. I see. Yes. Corinthians. " She contemplated the easy truth for a short moment then was distracted by the trouble of the moment. "Anyway, about sending me back."
The man sighed a deep and heavy sigh. He so wished that they would follow along instead of fighting it. "Because of the circumstances of your," He moved to put little quotes in the air with his fingers, "death, I took you out of the fire before your body was consumed." Taylor started to speak but was stopped in mid-mouth opening, "BUT, you can not go back."
"I have to go back. Candace is there. I dont belong here. I have to GO BACK!" Her heart was breaking almost as much as it wanted to rejoice. She had a revelation of the true meaning of torn.
"You would give up heaven to go back to her? She will be here shortly." He frowned even though He knew what her choice would be. She could do nothing else. He had created them this way.
She shook her head. How could God be so incredibly dense? "You dont understand, I love her."
His lips curled up in a smile, ever so slight. Youd never know He wanted to grin. "You think I dont understand love, is this what you are saying?"
She realized what she had implied. "NO, no. I would never but you see, even here, wherever this is, I could never be complete. I would remain forever empty."
He knew her as He knew all, but He had to give her the option. "Not forever, my brave warrior. Only for the span of the twinkling of an eye. Then she is here."
"No. You dont see. I cant let her suffer like that. For her it is not the twinkling of an eye. It is misery. It is emptiness. It is years of life without living." How could she make the creator of the universe understand the enormity of the emptiness of a single heart.
"How do you know that she feels this?" He wanted her to voice what He could feel in her very soul.
"You know how." She stared back at Him with intense blue eyes.
His eyes matched hers in intensity. "Yes, but I must hear it from you."
"She is my soulmate. We are one flesh. We are one soul. I would feel the same without her. I would rather fall on my sword and risk hell than to live without her. She will not, because of the baby, but I know that she would otherwise." She wanted to cry but found that tears did not come.
"Soulmate, huh? Yeah, that was one of my better moments." He sighed as if He knew the feeling.
"Arent they all good?" She furrowed her brows.
"Well, of course. They are all perfect in the fact that it all works together for good. But, Taylor my friend, even you can see that some seem better than others."
Taylor tilted her head again as a curious child. "Friend. How is it you call me friend?"
"You know me, do you not? We have a relationship." Simple truths that Taylor didnt know she knew.
"I thought I did. Until I got here and didnt know you, but I pray. I didnt really know if you listened." She shrugged as she had seen the man before her do several times.
"The fervent prayers of a righteous man availeth much, Taylor. I heard your cries when you killed those men. You were forgiven before you even asked. Your heart is more pure than you know." He created them. He knew what they were.
"Riiiiight, now I know something is wrong." She laughed at the comment.
"No. Your heart combined with Candaces is complete and pure. The love is a perfect love. Except for My love, the love you share with your soulmates is the most perfect. It will always be there to defeat hate. Always."
She was beginning to see that her feelings and understandings from the past were truths. "So you see why I have to go back."
"You cannot go back to Greece." He pushed her to dig deeper.
"If I cant go to Greece then ohhhh. I see. Well, Then Where Can I Go?" She squinted.
God thrust His finger in the air. "Ah finally! The right question. You can go home."
Taylors raven covered head tilted. "Home?"
"Yes, Denver. December, 21, 1999."
"Thats when we left." It seemed like forever since she had thought about home. She didnt even really miss it.
"Wait a minute. What about Candace. Will she be there? And Xena and Gabrielle? I have to be with them! All of them"
"Xena and Gabrielle must remain where and when they are. They are the past and the future. As for Candace, I dont know. It is her choice." He knew everything, except when it came to mans free will. He did know them well enough to know what they would choose. So He knew without knowing.
"Her choice? What do you mean?" She wasnt liking the sound of this at all.
"Taylor you are dead in ancient Greece. That is where Candace is. To her you are dead. She may chose to stay with Xena and Gabrielle if she so desires." He began to pace a bit. It was better to do something than to do nothing.
"I think you are missing the point here. I need to be with her, NOW!" She was beginning to become angry again.
He stopped His movements and stared straight at the upset warrior. "You are missing the point here, Taylor. If I send you back, a burning rafter will fall on you breaking your back. You will be paralyzed and quite aware of the slow painful death you will experience. Candace, Gabrielle and Xena will find what is left of your body and give you a wonderful Amazon funeral after which you will wait here until Candace arrives. Sound good to you?"
"But ..I am lost." She shook her head.
"Not lost, Taylor, only a bit confused. Look, because of your unfailing service to my cause against the Nephalim, I chose to save you from a fiery and horribly painful death. The time line is set right again and your death in Greece is final." Taylor started to speak. Yahweh put up a hand to stop her. "BUT, you were not born there or then so we have the option to send you back where you came from."
"We?" Now she was confused.
"Well, yeah. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. See?"
"Uh huh. Which one are you?" She wanted to laugh at the fact that she was actually asking God who He was.
"All. But if we have to tear this apart ..Id say Father! ..no Son No! um wait I am .um. I am one of ..no wait..Spir not quite." It seemed that it ran in the family.
"Will the real God please, stand up." Surely He knew of old game shows.
"Ok Im Holy Spirit."
"Cool as!" She grinned.
"No..Im Jesus. OK Im the Father .no." He was playing a game with her and it was amusing Him.
He huffed a laugh. "I cant Taylor. I am all at once."
She was resigned. "But Ill never get it will I?"
He winked at her. "You will when you die."
"Right! Speaking of dying. I am not dead." She rubbed her hands together hatching a thought.
"Uh uh. You would be if you went back."
"OK. If I am not dead, but you are here, I am in heaven, right?" She thought she had it figured out.
"Taylor, you are here. See? We have been through this. You cant BE anywhere when you are here. X marks the spot. This way through the mall.! If you want to go anywhere you have to know where you are first! And you are here!" A huge X appeared on what looked like the ground.
Taylor stared down. If X marked the spot, she was indeed here.
Janice flew into the camp looking for Xena. Her golden hair streaked behind her. With moves better than Walter Payton, the warrior danced, bobbed and weaved her way through the many Amazons that were filing in from the fields. Her voice carried over the din. "Xena!" She stopped and pulled Jules around to face her as if the huge warrior was a rag doll. She spoke breathlessly, but realized by the look on Jules face that she had committed another breach of protocol. Jan tried her best to over come it. She bowed slightly. "Commander, ha ha ve you seen, X ena?"
"I have not, Jan." Jules paused watching the blondes frantic eyes search the compound. "Perhaps I can help you find her."
"Yeah I mean, yes. That would be helpful." She gasped for a breath.
"Giva, take Rian and Lissa. Find her. Jan, you stand here with me." She nodded to the others and they returned her nod.
"Commander." Giva bowed to in salute. The warrior may be her lover, but she was also her commanding officer. It gave her a thrill to obey her strong orders. Such decisiveness was a total turn on. The three women spread out sending out a network of practiced pursuit. Within five short minutes the Warrior Princess was marching towards Jules and Jan with Gabrielle in close pursuit.
Xena was none to happy at being disturbed. She was less than pleasant to be around as it was. "Jules, this had better be good, or I sw ."
"Janice was seeking you, your Highness. I apologize if the interruption is one of bad timing." She knew that any timing at the moment was bad.
The warrior turned her eyes on the blonde. Gabrielle put a hand on her arm pleading with her not to burst out at the doctor. Jan was the glue holding them all together at the moment. Melinda was still in a great deal of pain and a bit weak at best. Terran was tending the wounded with Spencers assistance. Oddly enough it left Janice to pick them all up emotionally. So far she was failing miserably.
The concern in her eyes stopped Xena from lashing out. "Jan? What is it?"
"Candace. She has gone to the temple."
"Alone?" Xenas first thought was to the protection of her second wife. Xena had made Taylor a promise she intended to keep. She was to care for Candace as if she was her own and in reality now she was. The warrior deep within her chest screamed to get out and defend her beloved.
"Uninvited?" Gabrielle knew what could happen to ascend on a Temple uninvited except for worship. She had a feeling that Candace was not about to bow to any god. Not now. Not ever. Not without Taylor.
"This is not good." Ephiny had trailed the two women after her meeting with them had been interrupted. It seemed that protocol was taking a beating the past few days and it wasnt about to end anytime soon. But, Candace going to the temple of Artemis uninvited was madness. The goddess was now one of a handful of the Olympians remaining. How she felt about that was anyones guess. She had a feeling they were about to find out.
"Whos in?" Xena was taking a poll.
"I am." Jan was the first to answer.
"Im going, sweetheart." Gabrielle was not going to leave her small soulmate to the wiles of the Huntress.
"Ahm in." Melinda made her way slowly to the group.
"Mel, you cant "
"Hush yourself, Janice Covinton. Ah will and Ah am goin. Like it or not." Mel stared hard at her lover.
"Were going as well." Two men joined them. They knew that it was unlikely that Artemis even recognize them at all as they were men, but this was one of their own.
"No. I think this belongs to you six. Take a gift if you can find one." The queen of the Amazons knew that it was a fools errand to try to convince the determined group not to make the venture. She kept her thoughts to herself. Who was she to tell anything to a group that had defeated the gods themselves? No, she let them have their way.
"I have one." Xena pursed her lips and refused to say anymore. What the gift was, was anyones guess.
"Gods speed, Xe." Jules nodded.
"Well, its too late for that." She growled. "Lets find Candace."
"OK. Ya got me. I am here. But never mind." Taylor threw up her hands in defeat.
"Taylor it is not necessary to always know where you are. It is where you are going that counts." Yahweh walked around her with His finger wagging in the musical air. He looked very much like a college professor.
Taylor grinned. A philosophical debate with God. This was funny. "But, we learn from our past. We have to know where we have been in order to not make the same mistakes over and over. If I must know where I have been, it is imperative that I know where I am so in the future I will remember where I have been."
"Very good, my firefighter. However, that is with lessons in life only. In a physical sense, you dont ever need to know where you. You must only know THAT you are." His hands settled behind His back as he leaned forward to make the point.
Taylors arms folded and one eyebrow raised high on her forehead. "And I think therefore I am."
He grimaced slightly as if she were so close and yet so far away. "In a way. I am. You exist."
"Ahhh. So, I must only know that I am, so to speak, not that I am here." She had never looked at things in quite that way.
"Indeed." He nodded
"So where am I?" She pointed a finger at Him with a sly grin.
He laughed. This was a test from His friend. He walked to her and tapped her head. "You are here." Then He touched her chest. "But mostly, Taylor, you are here."
She looked down at where His hand had briefly rested. Her own fingers went to her chest. Blue eyes turned on the creator of the universe in extreme sadness. "No. I am not there. My wife and my child are there. I am nowhere. I ..am lost."
"Yes, Taylor. I know that you are. That is why I am doing all that I can " He knew she would cut Him off.
"But, you are God! You can do anything. Send me back and change things." She was sure He could do this one little thing.
He shook his head. "Taylor, if I did that I would take away your right to choose. You went into the flames of your own free will. You have seen first hand what happens when things that must be are changed."
"But, Ephiny and Senar ." She started her defense.
"Werent supposed to die." He finished her sentence.
"Youre telling me I was supposed to?" This wasnt making much sense to her at all.
"No. I am telling you that you are supposed to be in 20th century earth, very much alive." He threw up his hands in explanation.
"Waaaiiiiiit a minute. Candace cant stay in Greece can she?" Her blue eyes squinted.
He wondered how long it would take her to get to this question. "Now there is a sticky one. She can if she wishes."
"But how?" Now this was not making any more sense than the rest had before she started.
"When Hades asked for my help, I agreed with him that both of you could stay if you wished. It seemed to us that to bring you to that time, let you fall in love and then rip you away Well, it seemed a bit unfair, not to mention unkind."
"Will she know that I am waiting for her?" Her voice held the timber of a small child praying that Santa thought she was a good little girl.
He shrugged. "That depends on if she wants to take the chance of finding you."
Her hopes dropped to the basement. "But, to her I am dead."
"She thinks you are, but there is no body for her to mourn over. Do you see?" There was so much more to this that Taylor was missing.
Thoughts clicked through her sharp mind. "They cant find me, because I never died. No bones. What about my clothes? My armor and Chakram."
"I have secured them in the future for you. You will have several pieces of clothing. The leathers from the funeral, battle dress and your joining attire. Mementos are always nice for my children." He giggled. Seems that God does that on occasion, and then you get a platypus.
"No clothes left there? My Chakram?" He nodded affirmatively. "Nothing?"
"Nothing." She was getting it.
"Interesting. If she cant find me . She might figure this out." This was her only option.
"She is brilliant, Taylor. She might." He knew what the small warrior would choose if she found the right answers.
"But but. I see. My only hope is to go home and hope." She didnt like the idea that Candace could choose to stay, but she wouldnt blame her.
"No your best hope is to go home and pray." He grinned. He would do what he could to influence Candace. He had already touched her once. What she did was up to her. He knew Artemis would tell her the truth, but only if she asked the right questions.
She contemplated her options. She could see only one that had merit. "Fine. Send me home." She thought for one split second. "WAIT!"
He knew she was going to say it or she would already be home. "What?"
"Xena and Gabrielle? What of them. I need to see them. To say good bye." She didnt relish the thought of life without them, but it had been bound to happen.
If Candace made the right decisions, all would work out the way it was supposed to. "I cant promise you anything, warrior, but you may see them again. That is all I can offer you."
She sighed heavily. "Very well. It is better than nothing. Send me home."
"Done." He knew she had no choice, but it had been fun.
If this was here, then she wasnt here any longer.
"ARTEMIS! You show yourself or I swear to God Ill rip this temple apart with my bare hands!" The angry woman pounded on the door with her fists. She had pounded so hard, so many times that she had bruised and bloodied her hands. Tears streamed down her face, washing tell-tale tracks in the soot and dirt from the day before.
The voice didnt register. The small powerhouse kicked at the solid door with every ounce of power she could muster. She was not going to go away. Artemis would soon become tired of hearing her. She screamed with an angry growl. There was silence to answer her ire.
"Candace." Finally hit her senses.
She spun quickly to find the Goddess waiting on her. She approached her with anger in her steps. "Where is she, Artemis!"
"You would think to come to my temple with threats of destruction on your tongue and expect me to speak with you? You ask for trouble, little one." Artemis gave the small Regent an evil stare.
"You bet your sweet ass I would think to! You give her back or so help me Ill find an ocean of Hinds Blood and take you out." Candace was in no mood to be intimidated.
"Candace, I have done nothing to deserve this treatment, but, as I can understand your pain, I will not destroy you as you deserve. Neither will I help you in any fashion." She lifted her hand to signal her departure.
"Artemis, please wait."
The soft voice was the only one that could have stopped the Goddess from leaving this pathetic situation for good. She turned slightly to the voice that sent peace through her body. "Gabrielle, my chosen. You wish to speak with me?"
"We all do." She motioned to the group with her.
"I will not. You alone." She was stubborn.
"No, Xena. I will speak with Gabrielle." The Goddess was well aware of what had happened to her family. The thing that had taken from them their power was now destroyed. She had no fear of these.
"As you wish." Xena bowed her head to the Huntress.
"My, my, Xena. Such reverence. If you kneel at my feet, I may by chance forgive you for your past deeds and have an audience with you." She knew the Warrior Princess would never do such a thing. She laughed at her own suggestion. To her shock, there was soon a dark haired woman kneeling at her feet.
"Artemis, I ask your forgiveness of past misjudgments on my part. You are a fair and mighty ruler." Her heart was true no matter how ill it was making her to submit.
The Goddess almost burst out laughing. "Why, Xena. I almost think you are sincere."
"I am." Xena pulled her Chakram off of its hook. Artemis flinched. "This is not for attack, Artemis. It is a gift." The Goddess, enthralled, reached for the weapon that so many had envied through the centuries. This was the one only Xena could wield, with its curved center. Before she could grasp the weapon it was snatched away from her. "Only if you will meet with us." Artemis began to speak and was cut off short, "Allof us."
Artemis raised one eyebrow. "And if I refuse?"
"I will personally see that Candace finds her hinds blood." The cold in her eyes matched that of the coldest regions in Hades. Her threat was a promise. Though she was still on her knee, she was again in charge.
"I see that I am out numbered and out played here. Will you give your Chakram and your loyalty as well, Xena?" Artemis wanted to be certain that the Princess would not find another way to destroy her.
The warrior thought as the group watched the bartering take place. "I am the only one who can use this save Taylor." She held the weapon up. "If you agree, I will wield it for you, only for good. No self serving plans. Do we agree?"
Artemis studied the woman for several strained moments. There was no doubt Xena would keep her word. "Very well. Keep your weapon, Warrior. If I need you I will call. As for this meeting, let it begin."
With no warning the eight were standing in the midst of the cathedral they had visited before under much different circumstances. The sudden change shook Melindas delicate balance. She began to faint. Were it not for quick reflexes, she would have dropped to the floor. Spencer gently picked the woman up into his powerful arms. He looked quickly about for a place to rest the tall professor. The only place available was the marble altar. Without asking the owner of the abode, he placed her upon it. A glowing light engulfed her, flooding out around the entire stone structure.
"What the, hell? MEL!" Jan ran to her side the few steps. She attempted to reach the altar but was repelled by and unseen force. Jan turned on the Goddess. "What are you doing to her? Stop this!"
"I am doing nothing. Watch and see. No harm will come to her." The Huntress stood quietly.
"And Im the Queen of fuckin Egypt." The doctor huffed for what seemed a lifetime, but was really only a few seconds.
The light faded and Melinda sat up. "Mah, wasnt that interestin?"
Jan flew to her side. "Mel baby, are you alright?" She began a quick examination.
"Yes, sweetheaht Ah am fahn. As a mattah of fact Ah am wondahful." She flapped her arm. "Look."
Terran was in shock. He had examined her thoroughly and knew she should not be doing anything with her arm except resting it. "Your arm."
Artemis saw the surprise in his face. "It is quite healed, Terran."
"I see that, but, how?" He continued to examine his patient.
"She is pure of heart and placed on the altar of a God. I am bound to act." She shrugged and passed it off.
Candace was not impressed. "So what about me? Huh? Am I not pure enough in heart for you, Arty?" She crossed her arms and let her blazing eyes bore into the being.
"Candace, I can appreciate your hurt. I have lost a love as well. You seem to have forgotten that." Artemis flung her robe tightly about her frame.
Sarcasm dripped from her voice. She was not happy that the Gods were still playing with her life. "Oh yes. I remember quite well. So you can see how important it is to me that you give her back!"
The Huntress tried her best to cover her knowledge. "Give who back, my dear Regent?"
Candace rolled her eyes. "You know good and well who. Taylor!"
"And why would I have her? She perished in the fire. I would have you talk with Hades, but it seems you have adequately taken that option away." She raised her brows, blaming the group as a whole for rearranging her life.
The Regent of the Amazon nation tried another tact. "No, no, no. There is no body, Artemis. I dont believe she is dead and I think you know where she is."
"To be honest, your Highness. I do not." Candace began to speak again. The Goddess held up a hand to stop her. "It is possible that powers larger than ourselves is at work here."
Candace looked at Xena then Gabrielle. Both shrugged. They knew Michael and the angels. Perhaps they would know. "All we can do is ask."
The Keeper of the Amazons couldnt read their minds, but she knew what they were thinking none the less. "There is no need, my Chosen. I will answer."
"Why would you keep anything from her?" Spencer was not pleased at all.
Her body turned to acknowledge the former aspect of Time. "Only because I am not sure of anything, my dear boy. You see much of this rests on whether our dear firefighter is true dead."
"True dead? What in the hell does that mean?" Jan hated puzzles she didnt have all the clues to. This was one of those.
The tolerance of the Goddess was wearing thin. Janice was leaning hard on her last god like nerve. "It means that if Taylor was taken from the fire before she was killed there is a chance you may find her. However, it would be just like Ares to have taken the body to taunt you."
"What can we do?" Terran would help if he could. Whatever it took.
"WE can do nothing. Janice, Melinda, Spencer and Terran. Your time here is finished. You may leave as soon as you see fit. Candace you have the option to remain with Xena and Gabrielle should you so desire." She offered the information and waited.
Candace hadnt had the chance to think that far ahead. Staying with Xena and Gabrielle would be a great relief to her broken heart. But, she sadly realized, they could never replace what she had lost in her firefighter. "Really? But, what about Taylor? How do I find out? I cant live without her."
"I know that you do not wish you could, but as much as we wish not, we do go on. I will try, little one. First I must ask Ares if he has her. Will you remain here?"
"Duh." The doctor was sick of this.
"Jan!" Mel reprimanded her partner once again.
Janice defended her words. "Well, it was a silly question."
"We will." Gabrielle answered for them.
She sparkled out for a few short seconds and then was quickly with them again. "Well, that was interesting."
Jan was skeptical. "Well?"
"Well, he doesnt have the body. As a matter of fact he was quite agitated to learn that she was missing. He called the Most High a number of names that I am sure he will have to pay for later. If Yahweh did take her, then we have one more option." She rubbed her hands together.
The desperation in Candaces voice returned in earnest. "Please, tell me."
Artemis bent to Candace to be sure she understood all she was about to say. "It will be up to her of course, oh and you as well."
"What is?"Frustration built.
"If and I stress if, He took her she has the choice to remain in paradise with Him until you are with her or she can go back to the time when you left to come here." She stared hard.
Spencer knew he must know the answer to the question on his mind. He just couldnt find it. "Why would one ever desire to leave heaven?"
The small blonde Regent with the brilliant mind and a soul connected to Taylor knew without thinking the answer to the question. "To find me."
A smile crossed Artemiss lips. Candace was easy to forgive. "Yes, Candace. She will know that even in heaven she is incomplete. But, most of all she will know that you are alone. Her time there would be short and glorious while Candace would struggle through life heartbroken. Yes, even with Xena and Gabrielle at her side. They are a part of her, but Taylor is her completion."
Candace was shocked at the understanding of the woman Goddess. "You
"Of course. I was there when soulmates were created. Xena and Gabrielle, you are the key. You and all of your descendants. Soulmates were created so that there is always a defense against hatred. You are the strongest. Within you there is the power to defeat the Gods. Do you see?" Explaining it was harder than understanding it.
Candace began to see where this was going. "But, Artemis, how will I know? What will she do?"
"What would you do, Candace?" The rhetorical question was asked to clarify who Candace and Taylor were to each other.
There was only one more question troubling Candaces heart. "But, what if Yahweh doesnt have her?"
"There are no guarantees, child. You may stay here and have a chance at happiness, or you may face the unknown and hope to find Taylor there. It is up to you." She had said all she needed to say. She left the words dangling in the air like flowers begging to be picked.
Candace looked back at all of her dear friends and lovers. Her other soulmates. Xena loved deeply her she knew, but the warriors true and one love would always be Gabrielle. She would be second. Even though Xena would never treat her as such, she would always know in her heart. With Gabrielle it was the same. There was no room for three. Melinda and Janice would be there along with Spencer and Terran to support her if she never found Taylor. She knew what she had to do.
Determination settled in her as strength began to return to her and hope rang anew. "I must go find her."
Artemis cautioned over-excitement. "And if she is not there?"
"I will wait. My daughter and I will go on." Tears began to fall again as she looked to her belly. "Isnt that right, my child?"
Xenas head dropped. She was going to lose her again, but this time she knew it was for the best. She clenched her jaw against the coming tide of pain as Gabrielle pulled the warrior close to share what they both knew was coming. Green eyes had already filled with tears and the grief was threatening to overwhelm them. The small defeated woman turned to face them. As she did her entire being changed in an instant. Her clothes transformed to those of her modern time. She frowned a bit and Xena caught the look. "Whats the trouble? Youre clean and wearing .those things .with feet in them."
"I am wearing pajamas. I never wear anything to bed." She frowned at the clothing then noted the cartoon on the front. She had a feeling it was a sign of things to come.
"You do now." Gabrielle grinned at her clothing. It looked rather warm if not colorful. She herself loved the feel of flannel.
"Who what?" Xena pointed.
Gabrielle answered with a grin as a tear escaped her eyes. "Thats Mickey Mouse." She began to cry through a smile.
The blonde mother to be approached them with tenderness and sorrow. She pulled Gabrielle close to her. "Please, dont cry Gab. I have to do this. I would stay with you if I thought it was the best thing to do. Even if I thought Taylor was gone from me forever I would still need to leave. Do you see?"
"I do. I am going to miss you for the remainder of my life you know." Gabrielles heart was breaking in her chest. She could feel the tightness over taking her.
"And I you my friend. I love you Gabrielle. We have done some amazing things you and I. I have a feeling we will see each other again. If not here then somewhere up above. You have the Warrior to take care of and I trust you to do it. I wouldnt leave just anyone in charge of her, you know?"
The bard looked up to her wife. "Ill take good care of her. I promise."
"Good." She kissed the woman who was in true, her very self then turned to the tall Warrior that had stolen her heart in times past. As she looked at her she knew that Xena would always own a piece of it. "Xe, this time at least I get to say good bye."
Xena once again fell to her knees. She wrapped her arms around Candaces waist and her child. She looked up with sorrow so very deep in her blue eyes. Candace placed her hand on the head of the warrior who knelt before her. The tears in her eyes refused to cease.
Xena spoke as best she could. "I can not ask you to stay though my entire body screams for me to do just that. You are my second redeemer, Candace. I never thanked you for bringing Gabrielle back to me. Please, know that my love for you is as true as any. When I saw you again my heart soared until I saw Taylor and I knew I had lost you. She is your completion, Candace. Go to her before I change my mind."
Candace bent to her and placed the softness of her lips on the brave womans forehead. She whispered against it. "I love you, Warrior. Take care of Gabrielle and your daughter as well."
Xena nodded and stood to her feet. There were sniffles heard all around as the group said their final farewells.
"OK Artemis. Send us home." Jan wanted to get this over with before they all suffered from break downs.
"I am afraid I dont have the power to do that."
Candace frowned. "What do you mean you dont? You said.."
"Yes, I said you could. I never said I could." She hated having to explain things all the time.
"But, how do we get back?" Candace wanted to go. NOW!
Spencer grinned. "Thats easy." He looked up for no reason and took his voice up a few decibel levels. "Hey SIS? Were ready!"
A glow centered in the large room. Two beautiful women appeared, carrying a large hour glass. Skyes lilting voice brought up the spirits of those gathered. "Excellent. Candace, will you be joining us?"
She nodded once. "Yes. Take me home."
"Very well. Hold my hand. We will take you first and let us pray that you find what you are seeking." Candace reached out and took Terras hand in hers.
Candaces heart was pounding rhythms in her chest. "Yes, lets." She looked back at her friends with a whisper she said good bye and turned from them. "Im ready."
"Good bye." Was all Xena could whisper through tears as the three women disappeared into the future.
Candace stretched slowly waking from what seemed to be the longest night she had ever experienced. Sudden rushes of memory assailed her. Fear crept through her bones and her hands began to sweat. Before she opened her eyes she screamed a whisper in sorrow. "Taylor!"
There was a stirring. A slight lift in the covers. Cool air touched her skin. Her eyes flew open in fervent hope. There next to her was the most beautiful thing she would ever have the joy to lay eyes on. A long muscular frame laid out in all its naked glory. Perfect. Unscarred. Real. She reached out a tentative hand to caress the perfect skin lest it be a dream. The form shifted under her touch. Tears formed in her eyes as her hands went to her mouth. She reached a second time and let the warmth of the woman under her hand warm her heart. "Thank you." She whispered to the heavens. And God smiled.
"Shes pushing, Jan. Stop your yelling"
"Do not tell me what I can and can not do, Princess!"
"Girls, Ill send you both out if you dont settle it now."
"Yes, Dr. Terran."
"So, have you decided on a name?"
"Yes and no." The woman shrugged.
"AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" The woman in labor was not opposed to screaming.
Taylor cringed. "That sounds like it hurts."
"Junior, you have no idea." Xena grinned.
"Here she comes!" Gabrielle was watching over Terrans shoulder with Spencer right behind her. He grimaced and thought of how messy this all was.
"Come on, babe. Once more and shell be here." The warrior encouraged her wife.
"MAH GAWD! MMMMMMMMM."
There was heard a small pat and then a very healthy cry.
"Perfect. Mel, shes perfect." Jan had tears of joy streaming down her face. "Just like her mother."
Melinda sunk back on the bed, exhausted from the many hours of struggle she had been through. Candace bent to her ear. "Well done Professor."
"Ah thank you, Candace. I followed in yourah footsteps." She smiled.
Terran spoke with pride as if he had given birth to her himself. "She is perfect, Melinda. Six pounds 9 ounces. Twenty inches. Ten and ten. Would you like to hold her?"
"Yes indeed. Bring that precious bundle to me." Janice had the honor of handing her daughter over to her mother. "Come here, little one. Time to learn to nurse." The baby yawned and decided to fall asleep instead. It seemed that child birth was hard on the child as well. "Would anyone else like to hold the baby?"
A small blonde four year old tugged at her mothers hand. "Mama, can I hold her?" Candace smiled at her daughter.
"Well Eriana, you must ask Melinda." Several sets of kind eyes watched as the little warrior asked for permission to hold the new born.
Melinda smiled. She thought it only fitting to let the youngest have the honor. "Yes, sweetheaht, you may."
Eriana sat in the chair next to he bed and waited for Janice to hand her the infant. The girl looked deeply at the new life as if she were searching for something important. Finally she spoke. "There you are. I have been waiting for you."
Eight sets of eyes gazed knowingly around the room. Candace smiled and Taylor grinned.
The circle begins again.
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