Long Ago And Far Away

by  Sian McEwen

Disclaimers: Some of the characters within this story are, of course, the property of MCA/Universal. As those of you reading this story are fans of a certain Warrior and her Bard, I really don't think I need to spell out who they are. They have, however been unashamedly borrowed and utilised for my own nefarious purposes. It furthermore goes without saying that all other

characters in this story are figments of my devious little mind, and their resemblance to any real person, dead or alive, is pure circumstance. This work is all mine. No one other than me may alter, repost or reproduce this piece of work without my expressed permission. If however, MCA/Universal like this story, I would be open to offers, monetary of course, to have this transcribed for our illustrious Warrior and Bard to portray in our living rooms.

Subtext: This story is based on the premise that these two women love each other. If this offends you, find something else to read.

Violence: Well, this IS a Xena story. However, I don't do graphic.

Sex: Well, once again, I don't do graphic, just leave it up to your imagination...

Copyright October 1999 Sian McEwen

Part III

(Or: Maybe Leather And Studs Is Where You're At)

Hercules and Iolaus looked at the despondent faces of Samara and Briana.

Hercules glanced around the campsite and took in Xena's chakram, Gabrielle's bag, cooking pots and other sundry belongings.

"I don't think you have just travelled through time," he told Samara and Briana. "I think you have somehow swapped places with Xena and Gabrielle. They're gone, but all of their things are still here. If you had just travelled through time, they would be here too. Either they've gone to your time, or they've gone somewhere else."

"Oh, this is just great. Why us? Why has this happened?" Briana looked at Samara. "I told you last night we should have kept on driving! If we'd done what I said we wouldn't be here right now!" Briana could have screamed, but she didn't know whether it was with anger or fear at their current situation.

Hercules intervened. "I rather think that this would have happened regardless. This strikes me as the work of someone who wanted Xena and Gabrielle out of the way." He looked at Iolaus.

"Ares!" They said at the same time.

"He's got a temple near Amphipolis," said Iolaus. "If he's behind this, he'll be keeping away, so his temple would be our best chance of finding him."

"Okay," said Briana who, after calming down, was feeling a little sheepish at her previous outburst, "How would we get to Amphipolis?" asked Briana.

"We walk. It's about two days journey from here."

"Walk?" Briana sounded suitably horrified. She glanced at Samara, then at Hercules and Iolaus. They grinned at her. "I can do that!" Then slyly, "But what about you, Samara? Not quite your usual occupation."

Samara laughed. "No, but I do workout you know."

Briana and Hercules both glanced at Samara. They knew.

Iolaus was packing up the small camp. "Better find Argo," he said to Hercules.

"Who is Argo?" Briana asked.

"Xena's horse. Xena wouldn't be impressed if we just left her here. We can walk her to Amphipolis, and stable her there."

Hercules went to find Argo.

"Samara, could you make sure the fire is out, please," asked Iolaus. "And Briana, why don't you roll up the bedding. We can secure all of this stuff to Argo when Hercules finds her."

A few minutes later, Hercules came back into the clearing leading a beautiful palomino. Samara walked up to her.

"Hello, beautiful," she whispered into the horse's ear. Argo nosed her shoulder, so she scratched her nose. "We're going to get along just fine, aren't we?" It had been a long time since Samara had done any serious riding, not since she was a teenager, but her love of horses had never vanished. Argo sensed this, and nosed Samara in agreement.

Iolaus came up behind her with the bags. He went to attach them to Argo's saddle, but Samara took them off him.

"I'll do that," she told him.

"Shouldn't we stay here?" Briana asked. "I mean, we might just go back to our own time tonight like nothing ever happened."

Samara looked at her friend. "You're right, Briana." She turned to Hercules. "We could stay here tonight and go on to Amphipolis tomorrow if nothing happens."

Hercules looked at Iolaus. Iolaus shrugged. "Actually, I'm with them on this one."

Hercules smiled. "Alright then, we stay here tonight, and go on to Amphipolis tomorrow if necessary. We'll need some food though. Iolaus, you take Briana and go and look for some vegetables or fruit, and Samara and I can go hunting."

"I'd rather stay with Samara," Briana argued.

"Three of us will make too much noise for hunting," Hercules told her. "Besides, Iolaus can show you which roots and fruit are safe to eat, and that may be useful."

Seeing that she was going to get no help from Samara, Briana stalked off. Iolaus moved quickly to catch up with her.

"Take care of her."

Iolaus looked at Samara. He wasn't sure if that was a threat or a warning. And it was probably better not to find out.

With Iolaus and Briana gone, Samara turned to look at Hercules. "I hope you're going to take care of me." She was at her most seductive.

Hercules just smiled. Samara pulled the blanket out of it's roll.

"Come on then. We'd better go find some meat."

Iolaus had quickly caught up with Briana, who had decided that walking around by herself in a strange forest probably wasn't a good idea.

"Looks like you're stuck with me," he told Briana.

Briana smiled. "I guess you get to answer some questions I have then. Like how do you guys know Xena and Gabrielle so well? And what might Ares have to do with their disappearance and our being here? And why do you call Xena the Warrior Princess? Is she a princess...?"

"Woah there," Iolaus interrupted. "One at a time... I'll start with Xena... all the rest can be explained from there. You see Xena is a Warrior, she used to be the leader of a vicious army. I met Xena when..." and Iolaus told Briana about Xena and Gabrielle.


An hour later, Samara and Hercules had caught two rabbits. Deciding that would be enough for a stew, Hercules led Samara to a small clearing near a stream. He went down to the stream bank and washed his hands while Samara laid out the blanket. When Hercules turned around, he got a big suprise. Samara was standing in front of him naked. Shocked into silence, Hercules just stared.

Sensing his confusion, Samara said "I'm not Xena. I don't want to be dressed in her clothes when we make love. I want you to be certain that you are making love to me, Samara. Not Xena."

"Tell me something," Hercules interrupted, "What's the... you and Briana, are you... close?"

"We're friends, if that's what you mean."

"Just friends?"

"Just friends. What is with this?"

"Just making sure. I mean... I wasn't sure if you and Briana were..."

"Lovers? No. At least... never mind." Samara pushed aside the slight feeling of disquiet that came at the thought of Briana.

Samara walked up to Hercules and kissed him. The passion that had been inflamed that morning was reignited immediately.

"No regrets?" Samara asked.

"No regrets," Hercules replied.

An hour and a half later, Hercules and Samara walked back into the campsite. Iolaus and Briana were already there, and they had relit the fire.

"Took you long enough to catch those," Iolaus said, glancing at the 2 dead animals that Hercules was carrying.

Straight faced, Hercules looked at his friend. "I guess we were making too much noise."

"Speak for yourself," Samara laughed. She glanced at Briana. There it was again, she'd sensed it just before she had kissed Hercules, a feeling that almost felt like... guilt. Like she had betrayed Briana. But that was just ridiculous, she owed Briana nothing. They were just friends, like she had told Hercules. All right, so she lusted after Briana, but she didn't even know if Briana was interested. Samara mentally shook herself. This whole time travel thing must have rattled her more than she realised. She couldn't believe that she felt any kind of remorse over sleeping with someone. Definitely not her style! The sound of someone talking interrupted her reverie.

"Anyway, this is just for lunch," Hercules was saying. " Samara and I found a stream. We can go back and get fish for dinner." He looked at Samara for confirmation.

"Sounds great," Samara replied. "I love fishing."

She was suprised at the laughs she got from Hercules and Iolaus.

"What's so funny?" she asked.

"Xena loves fishing too," Iolaus informed her. "I guess you two have got a lot in common..."

"If you're going fishing, I'm coming too," said Briana in a tone that said `argue at your own risk'.

"That's fine," Hercules told her. "Iolaus, are you going to come too?"

"Why not?" he replied. "Now, who's going to skin those rabbits for the pot?"

He looked at Samara, who didn't even dignify that comment with an answer. Skin dead animals... not likely.

Briana was looking disgustedly at the rabbits. "Rabbits?" she asked. "And you want us to eat them?"

"That's the general idea," Iolaus replied.

"But they're rabbits. Sweet little bunnies, who did no one any harm."

"They're meat, and we're hungry," Iolaus returned.

"I just lost my appetite."

"Well, that was probably rabbit stew you ate this morning. What's the difference now?" Iolaus was puzzled.

"I'd hadn't met the creatures I was going to eat," Briana said.

Iolaus was even more confused. "Then you don't usually eat meat?"

"Yes, I do. It's just that it usually comes in neat little white plastic wrapped trays from the supermarket, not still with bone and fur and eyes attached. It doesn't still usually look like the creature it came from!"

Iolaus knew when he was losing a battle. "All right then I'll skin the rabbits. But can one of you cook the stew?"

"Why?" asked Samara.

"Because we can't cook very well," Hercules laughed.

"I'll cook then," said Samara. "What say you get some water from the stream."

"You can cook?" Briana asked Samara.

"Yes. Why do you sound so suprised? I'm not a great cook..."

"Would you like some help?"

"Actually, yes."

Hercules came back with the water, and Iolaus with the meat.

Iolaus dropped the meat in the pot, and looked at Hercules.

"I'm going to the stream to clean up. Why don't we take Argo there for a drink as well, then we can tether her until tomorrow."

Hercules looked a little embarrassed. "I guess I'm not used to looking after a horse," he replied. "I've just been to the stream. Oh well... come on, Argo," and he and Iolaus walked off towards the stream.

Briana soon realised that Samara's idea of cooking was 'throw it all in the pot and leave it be'.

"Oh, so you can cook," she teased Samara.

"Well, it's not one of the things that I'm best at," Samara returned.

"Oh? And what are you best at?" Briana laughed.

"Wouldn't you like to know," Samara said roguishly. "I have many skills."

"Perhaps you might show me one day..." Briana looked straight at Samara.

Samara just stared at her, dumbfounded. Was Briana coming on to her? She felt a rush of desire though her body as she took in the actual words. Finally, confused, she walked off into the forest.

Briana was suprised. That certainly wasn't the reaction she had been expecting. Why on earth had Samara walked off like that? She had only meant to let Samara know she was interested... not to scare her off. Briana thought back to the night that Samara had given her that massage and watched her in the mirror. Strange, she could have sworn that Samara was interested. Oh God. Maybe she had read it wrong. Maybe Samara wasn't really interested in her. She stared blankly into the pot.

"You know, I may not know that much about cooking, but I do know that you normally have to stir the stew to stop it from burning." Briana jumped, and turned around to see Iolaus grinning at her.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you."

Briana managed a smile. "I scare pretty easily."

"It must have been a pretty unusual day for you."

Briana laughed. "Unusual? That's putting it pretty mildly. I woke up this morning, wearing strange clothes, none of the possessions that I had last night here, strange men walking into my campsite... Yeah. Unusual." Briana stopped and thought about that. She wasn't angry at their changed situation any more. She wasn't scared any more. She was actually starting to see the possibility of this whole adventure becoming exciting. Adventure? Wasn't that what she had wanted when she had come to Greece? So this wasn't quite what she had had in mind, but this was quite an opportunity. Briana smiled at Iolaus.

Iolaus laughed. Hercules came over to join them after tethering Argo.

"Where's Samara?" he asked.

"Oh, she just... had some business in the forest," Briana told him, blushing.

"She shouldn't be too long."

Samara had covered a fair distance before she finally stopped. Had Briana actually just come on to her? Another wave of desire went coursing thorough Samara's body. What on earth was wrong with her, she should be happy that Briana was interested, instead she felt guilty. Guilty because she hadn't been able to resist her desire for Hercules. Guilty because she hadn't been able to wait for Briana. And now it looked like Briana was interested. She shook her head. What was with this guilt trip? Samara was mad at herself and the feelings she couldn't control. Pulling the sword from it's cover on her back, she took her frustration out on a bush that was on the edge of the forest.

"Was that bush in your way, or did you just decide you didn't like the way it looked?"

Samara spun around with suprise to stare at the man who had spoken. Tall, with shoulder length black hair, a moustache, goatee beard and sideburns, and wearing black leather pants and a black leather waistcoat which looked like it was covered in silver studs, he was one of the most stunningly handsome men that Samara had ever seen.

"I love to see a woman dressed in leather and holding a sword."

Samara swung the sword around to hold it up in front of her. In a swift movement, it was taken from her hands.

"You wouldn't want to use that on me would you?" the man asked her.

"Don't tempt me," Samara retorted.

"Oh, I'd love to."

He walked up to Samara and kissed her. For the second time that day, Samara found herself passionately returning a kiss from a complete stranger. When he released her, Samara just stood and stared at him.

The bushes behind them rustled, and the man looked at Samara and gave her a nod and a smile, then vanished in a flash of light. Shaking her head, Samara bent down and picked up her sword. Curiouser and curiouser. She couldn't help but wonder if she looked around if she would see the Mad Hatter's tea party. Samara turned around in time to see Hercules walk into the clearing. Hercules looked at Samara's sword, followed her gaze, and saw the bush.

"It attacked you, right?" he laughed.

Samara looked embarrassed. "It's been a strange day." She thought about the dark stranger who had kissed her. She felt reluctant to tell Hercules about him. She couldn't see him being impressed at her being attracted to someone else this soon after they had slept together.

"I thought I had better come and see where you were, I wasn't sure how safe you would be out here by yourself."

Samara smiled at him. "Thank you." Hercules put his hands on Samara's shoulders. She looked up at him. "I... I... I think we had better go back to Briana and Iolaus."

Hercules looked at Samara. "Are you feeling alright?" he asked.

When Samara just stared mutely at him, he bent down and kissed her, then pulled her into a hug.

"It's ok to be scared," Hercules spoke softly into her ear. "But don't forget that you have found friends, and Iolaus and I will take good care of you and Briana. Somehow we'll sort this out for you both."

Samara's independence chose that moment to re-exert itself. "I can take care of myself, " she hissed in Hercules ear. Using some moves she had learnt in self defence classes as a teenager, Samara, taking Hercules by suprise, flipped him onto his back.

A stunned and somewhat suprised Hercules stared up at Samara from where he lay. "Was that really necessary?" he enquired.

"Merely a demonstration of my aptitude," Samara drawled in reply. "Never ever underestimate me." She bent down and offered Hercules her hand to get up. He ignored it and got himself up off the ground, and stalked off.

Now Samara was the suprised one.

"Oh dear, I think you hurt his pride."

Samara unsheathed her sword, and spun around to see the stranger who had vanished in a flash of light standing in front of her again. For the second time the sword was quickly removed from her grasp and landed on the ground behind her.

"Been there. Done that." The stranger looked at Samara and shrugged.

"Who are you?" Samara asked.

"I am your destiny."

Confused, Samara replied, "I'm not Xena."

"I know that. I don't want Xena, I need you. Together we are going to be a perfect team."

"You should know I am not known as a team player."

"That is probably because you have never had the right partner before."

"Heaps have tried."

"Oh, but none before have had my skill." He quickly closed the gap between himself and Samara and kissed her again. Caught up in the stranger's passion, Samara found herself responding with an ardour she had never known before. Long minutes passed before he released Samara. "We are going to be so good together." Then in the flash of light he once again vanished.

Stunned at being brought to such a peak without release, Samara was furious and frustrated. Angrier than she could remember having been for a long time. Frustrated that he had left her with such an unfulfilled need. "Don't flatter yourself!" she yelled uselessly at the trees around her.

From his home on Mount Olympus, the dark stranger heard and laughed. Part one of his plan was successfully completed.

Briana and Iolaus looked up in suprise from their cooking as Hercules stalked back into the campsite alone.

"Where's Samara?" asked Briana. "You didn't leave her out there alone, did you?"

"Oh, she informs me she can take care of herself," Hercules bitterly retorted.

Iolaus looked at his friend in suprise at his uncharacteristically sarcastic remark. And then took a second, closer look at the twigs and greenery that

Hercules had failed to remove from his hair and his shirt. He turned and grinned at Briana. "It looks like she showed him too," he laughed, then he stared backing off as Hercules advanced menacingly towards him.

Briana decided it was time to intervene. "Lunch, anyone? I'm starved."

Iolaus laughed again. "Are you sure you're not Gabrielle? You're an awful lot like her."

Briana looked thoughtful as she dished up the stew. "That's just it isn't it. This all has something to do with me and Samara looking exactly like Xena and Gabrielle. And I think that someone or something wanted them out of the way"

Iolaus nodded. "Probably one of the Gods. Probably Ares. If he wanted Xena out of the way it is because he has something big going down..."

"We'll probably know more once we get to Amphipolis," Hercules said.

Iolaus asked "What happens if we can't find Ares?"

"Then at least we'll know that he is most likely involved."

"If it isn't Ares, who else could it be?" asked Briana.

"Could be Aphrodite, or Hera, could be Artemis. Could be any of the Gods, for that matter."

"What do you mean, it could be Aphrodite," said a blonde, who as far as Briana could tell was wearing little more than a silky pink negligee, and who had suddenly arrived in a flash of bright light. She walked over and kissed Hercules.

"Hi bro, how ya been? Iolaus, been chillin'?"

Hercules looked at his sister. "Aphrodite. Maybe you can help us out. It would seem that Xena and Gabrielle have vanished, and that Samara and Briana are here instead. Briana, meet Aphrodite."

Hercules looked straight at Aphrodite. "Any ideas on why, and who has done this?"

"Why would it necessarily be one of us?" she asked.

"Well now, whenever trouble happens, one of the Olympian Gods is usually involved. "

Aphrodite glanced at Briana and smiled. "Look, the irritating blonde has a double. Does that mean that this other chick is the image of Xena?"

At that moment, Samara walked back into the clearing. "Who's the bottle blonde?" she enquired.

"You mean that she's not Xena?" remarked Aphrodite. "She's got the same appallingly bad dress sense. Leather's so... yesterday."

With the two women glaring at each other, Iolaus intervened. "Aphrodite, this is Samara. Samara, Aphrodite."

"So, Aphrodite, do you have any idea who changed Xena and Gabrielle for

Briana and Samara?" Hercules asked again.

"Now that's for me to know and you to find out, isn't it," Aphrodite laughed, and vanished in a flash of light.

"What's with the light show?" asked Samara.

Hercules and Iolaus glanced at each other. "It's a God thing," they replied in unison. Samara quietly digested that little snippet of information.

"Sort of showing off?" asked Briana.

Iolaus laughed. "You got it."

"And we are no closer to finding out who is behind this than we were before she showed up, although at least now it seems that the Gods are definitely

involved in this mess," Hercules said. "In which case there is little point in staying here any longer. I don't think that Samara and Briana are going back to their own time until whoever has organised this is ready for them to." He glanced around the others to judge the impact of his next comment. " I think we should start out for Amphipolis this afternoon. The sooner we leave, the sooner we get there."

Samara looked at Briana who nodded. "I think you're right. Are you sure you're ok with this though, Briana? We can stay if you want to."

"I had thought that it might have been a mistake, that we might just have gone back to our own time tonight. But after meeting Aphrodite, I don't think that is the case somehow. Now it seems planned by someone. And we need to find out who and why, right?"

Samara was quite suprised at the look of pure excitement on Briana's face.

Gone was the morning's distress at their travelling in time, instead was an almost childlike thrill of adventure there.

"Right," Samara agreed.

"Well then, what are we waiting for?"

Hercules took charge. "Samara, why don't you have some lunch while we pack up, then we can leave."

"Lunch? I'm famished," she replied, and served herself from the pot over the fire.

Sitting by the fire gave her the opportunity to watch Briana as she moved around the campsite. Samara liked the way that Briana moved. She liked watching her move. As Briana bent over not far away from Samara to pick something up, Samara realised that she desperately wanted to touch her enticingly inviting bottom... well today really was throwing up some suprises. She blushed as she noticed Briana looking at her.

Briana sensed Samara watching her. She smiled to herself. Maybe she hadn't been mistaken about Samara's interest in her. Hmmm... perhaps she just needed to wait, and to throw the odd invitation in her friend's direction.

She bent over not far away from Samara, and noticed that it had had the desired outcome. This could be fun.

Samara saw Briana smile to herself and felt the guilt return. This really was stupid. Was Briana going to be mad at her for sleeping with Hercules when she hadn't realised that Briana might be interested in her? Probably not. Now it was up to her to let Briana know that she was interested... and to see what transpired from there. That decided, she picked up the plates they had all used for lunch.

"I'm going to the stream to wash these," she said. "Back in a minute."

Iolaus walked over to Briana. "Are you sure you are all right with us leaving here for Amphipolis today instead of tomorrow?" he asked her.

Briana smiled up at him. "Thank you for asking. But I don't think that we are going to find out anything by staying here tonight. This will give us a head start to Amphipolis right? To find Ares, and see if he is involved?"

Iolaus gave her a hug. "Good girl. Today has been hard on you, hasn't it?"

Sadly Briana removed herself from his hug and smiled. "Yes it has. But I am here with Samara, and that makes it easier."

Iolaus looked carefully at Briana. "You're in love with her."



"But she slept with Hercules this morning? I know I didn't say anything this morning, but I'm not stupid. What was I to say? She doesn't know that I love her yet. Iolaus, I can wait, I am a very patient person. And it looks like we have plenty of time."

"Xena and Gabrielle love one another too."

"But Hercules... this morning... doesn't he know that?"

"He doesn't believe it, and he hopes that Xena will come back to him. But Xena and Gabrielle are soulmates. One day there will be someone who is right for him."

Briana looked at Iolaus and heard what he hadn't said. She placed her hand on his shoulder. "And someone for you too, Iolaus, I'm sure."

She looked at Iolaus as he grinned suddenly. "You know, it was pretty damned brave of him to have a go at kissing Xena this morning. If it had been her she would have tossed him flat on his back. And then probably let Gabrielle have a go at him with her staff!"

Briana laughed. "Well it certainly looks like Samara tossed him flat earlier. He's still got grass in his hair."

Iolaus laughed too, and Hercules came over to see what was so funny.

"You've got grass in your hair," Briana told him.

"That's Samara's fault, she..."

"Did this..." and Samara who had come up behind him unseen flipped him flat on his back again.

As Hercules glared at her she smiled and said innocently "They might not have believed me!"

She gave a sudden shriek as she found herself flat on her back in Hercules place. It was her turn to glare at him. "I'm a fast learner."

"Call it even?" she asked?

"Sure thing," Hercules replied as he offered her his hand to get up. "Shall we be going? Ladies, your trusty steed awaits you."

Samara looked at Briana. "I'm ready if you are. And at least we've got good company."

She picked up the bags and attached them to the saddle on Argo, swung into the saddle, then reached down for Briana. "The men can walk, we'll ride."

"Briana glanced at the ground warily. "I'd rather walk too..."

"Rubbish," Samara said cheerfully, "You'll love it when you get used to it."

"Did I mention yet I don't like horses... especially riding them?"

Samara just smiled, continuing to hold out her hand to Briana until Briana reluctantly held out her hand, and Samara helped Briana up onto Argo. Briana wrapped her arms around Samara's middle holding on for dear life. That felt good. Briana thought that she wouldn't have minded holding on to Samara... if she wasn't on the back of a horse doing it.

To get her mind off the movement of the horse, Briana started talking. Samara had learnt that Briana just talked, and didn't need many replies, only the occasional "yes", or "Oh", and was quite happy to let her ramble on about anything and everything. At the moment she was mentioning writing this particular adventure in Gabrielle's scrolls for the bard to find when she was returned.

An hour into their journey, Iolaus looked at Hercules. "How long before Samara takes Briana off the horse?"

Hercules grinned. "Another hour?"

Hercules was wrong. Samara was perfectly happy to put up with Briana's chatter to have her arms around her. It was nearly dark when they finally stopped for the night, settling themselves in a clearing near a stream, where Hercules caught them some fish for their dinner, while Samara fed and watered Argo and Iolaus lit a fire. Briana was sorting through Xena and Gabrielle's possessions looking for a frying pan. When she found one and pulled it out, it was all dented.

Iolaus came up behind her. "Xena probably used it as a weapon at some stage," he told her.

"Used a perfectly good frying pan as a weapon?"

"And that is probably exactly what Gabrielle would have said to her about it!"

Briana looked up at Iolaus. "You care about them both a lot don't you? Are you worried about them, where ever they are?"

"They can take care of themselves. You and Samara on the other hand need Hercules' and my help."

"And we are very pleased to have it," said Samara, walking up behind them.

"Briana, I've brought back some water for you to wash in."

Briana's smile of appreciation lit up her face. "Thank you so much."

Samara smiled back. "You'd better hurry, Hercules is on his way back with the fish he caught."

"That was quick," Iolaus told his friend as he walked back into the campsite with two fish.

"Here's dinner," Hercules told Briana, as he handed her the fish, which, after considering her previous reaction to whole dead animals, he had already cleaned and gutted.

She plopped them into the bent frying pan, and settled it on the fire. "They look good."

They sat in companionable silence while the fish were cooking.

"How much further is it to Amphipolis?" Samara asked after Briana had served up the fish.

"A few days. Why?" Hercules replied.

"I haven't ridden a horse for a while," came back Samara's rueful reply.

"Well we could all walk tomorrow and lead Argo," Hercules suggested.

"I second that suggestion," Briana quickly added.

"Bit sore?" asked Samara.

"Just a tad." She grimaced at Samara.

Samara leaned over to Briana and whispered seductively in her ear "Want me to do something about that?"

"Oh yes, please," came the grateful reply. She couldn't help but shiver excitedly at the seductive suggestion in Samara's voice.

After finishing her fish, Samara unselfconsciously moved behind Briana and started massaging her back. Briana's grateful sigh of pleasure and relief told her she was finding the knots in her friend's back from sitting up on the horse for so long that afternoon.

The two men sat watching Samara, Iolaus with a smile, Hercules with some suprise. Seeing Iolaus smiling, he told him with certainty "They're just friends, you know."

"For now," Iolaus replied. Hercules looked at his friend in suprise. What did Iolaus know that he didn't? Iolaus decided not to enlighten Hercules at this stage, but to keep Briana's confidences to himself. "And I'm tired. Sleep calls, I think." He moved over to his bag, and pulled out a blanket, spreading it out on the opposite side of the fire to where the girls were. Hercules followed suit, and Samara reluctantly realised that they too, needed to get some sleep. She got up and got their blankets, and spread them out ready.

"Help me take off this armour?" she asked Briana. "I think I'll sleep in the shift."

"Sure thing, but I am not putting that nightie back on," laughed Briana.

"I don't know, I think it suited you," Samara returned.

Briana's only reply was a dirty look, then she undid Samara's armour.

Seeing her standing there looking so cute holding the armour was Samara's undoing. She bent down and kissed Briana firmly and sweetly on the lips.

Then just as quickly she took the armour off Briana, placed it near the fire, and laid down on the makeshift bed.

Very suprised, Briana was still just standing there. Noticing this, Samara asked feigning nonchalance, "Coming to bed?"

Briana shook herself. "Yeah."

"Goodnight then," said Samara.

"Yeah, goodnight," replied Briana. She too lay down, touching her lips with her fingers where she had been kissed. Unlike Samara, sleep was a long time coming for her that night.



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