Part One of the Alpha/Omega Trilogy

by maven

STANDARD DISCLAIMER: Anyone you recognise from that hour or so you spend glued to the tube (like
the warrior, the bard, Argo, Ephiny, Eponin, Solari), the personality spin on Ares and the world were the
action takes place is copyright Renaissance/MCA/Universal/etc.  And, while they make the money, we get the
fun.  So, TPTB, nah-na-nah-na-na-na !
SUBTEXT and VIOLENCE DISCLAIMER: This is alternative but the Canadian rating people would put it
out with a rating between PG14 and PG18.  Nothing explicit and only slightly implied.  OK, very implied but
not explicit.  With a little clipping they'd get it down to an PG14 easily.  So, if you're a minor, if its illegal
where you live or if you're just uncomfortable with the whole idea go find a nice story where Xena marries
Hercules and Gabrielle marries Iolaus.
          Ummm, no real violence (as in no one gets hurt permanently) but, if you liked Bambi, there may be a tense moment.

CONTINUITY DISCLAIMER: As mention is made of events in Been There Done That it happens after
that episode.  Let's put it pre-Rifts, OK?

EXPLANATION AND FURTHER DISCLAIMERS:  OK, when I get obsessed everything reminds me of
my obsession and my obsession reminds me of everything.  Can be quiet sickening sometimes.  And if I'm
gonna write this; I'm gonna write it once and get both the 'realisation/declaration' story and the 'wedding'
story in one swell foop.  And I'm better now, really.
         Also, I use a shifting point of view; going from third person to the Bard to the Warrior to
secondary characters without any rhyme or reason.  Also, I sorta have a contest with myself where I don't
use the main characters actual names unless its absolutely necessary.  Call it an experimentation in style.
 Finally, here are the copyright notices so you know that certain scenes weren't plagiarised.  The
entire set-up in the meadow was inspired by Swamp Thing #34, written by Alan Moore and copyright DC
Comics.  The 'favourite attribute' and the 'realisation' scene were inspired by Zot #35 and #33 respectively,
written and copyright Scott McLeod.  The 'unbelievable blue eyes' is from "Always Forever" by Donna
Lewis.  The Sapphric quatrain is a slightly (very, just to make the syllables fit) altered from the lyrics for "I
Would Die For You" from the Jann Arden album Time for Mercy copyright A&M Records.  Let's see, what
else.  The footsie scene was inspired by the FanFic "EPITHALAMION" by Torch who writes about the
*other* blue eyed action-taker/green eyed sensitive-chat soul mates.  (Hmmm, an interesting Uber-Xena
idea.  And the Vampire Lestat mom's name is Gabrielle.  Coincidence?)  Oh, yeah, of course.  The "I will"
joke was stolen from Four Weddings and a Funeral.
          'Cause, hey, if the show can do this with Groundhog Day, The Court Jester, Romeo and Juliet and
countless other, so can I.
          All the above, plus the selections used at the beginning of each section, were used without
permission but you can make it up to them by reading their books/stories and listening to their music.  Fair?
          Oh speaking of which.  There are no Sarah McLaughlan songs although I am a huge fan and her
work would fit right in here.  The reason for this is a little story by Blue called Dimension's Hope which is
part of Blue's Dimension trilogy (at least there's only three so far).  Anyway, I recommend you read it/them.
'Cause that was the first FanFic I read and it sorta started this all.
          Think that's everyone.  Now that wasn't too bad, was it?  Comment can be sent to me at .

Has there never been anything else you wanted of me, something perhaps for which you wouldn't ask?  Take
it.  It's already yours.  It's been yours all along.
 =The Feast of All Saints, Anne Rice
The late afternoon sun shone brightly on the meadow.  It was a perfect day.  Shepherds had taken the flocks
into the higher hills to allow nature to replenish this winter pasture.  Already the grass had grown to waist
height in places, tall stalks of grasses and grains mixed with the small flowers which grew wild in the
protection of their taller cousins.
The Bard walked easily to the left of TW, twirling a long stalk of grass between her fingers.  Occasionally a
song bird or flying insect would distract her but always her attention returned to the grass.
"You're awful quiet,"   the Warrior finally said.  The first hour of silence had been nice.  But then the Bard's
unusual silence had become... well... unusual.  The Bard looked to her, dipping and turning her head slightly
so that she saw the Warrior out of the corner of her eye and through a fringe of bangs.  Effectively hiding
the playful gleam in her green eyes.
"I was thinking," the Bard said, turning her attention back to her stalk of grass.
"Usually you think out loud,"   the Warrior said.  Paused and then drawled, "Constantly."
The Bard smiled at the circle the head of grain made as she twirled it quickly between her fingers.  It took
nearly a candlemark for the boot to drop.
"Thinking about...?" the Warrior finally asked.
The Bard had taken two steps before she realised that the Warrior was no longer at her side.  She glanced
back over to see her standing there, statue still, expression tight and hostile and quickly schooling itself into
"I see," the Warrior said tightly.  Expression now tight, neutral and closed.   The Warrior took two long
strides and then matched her steps to the Bard's.
"Well, its been awhile since he was kil.. since he died.  And I was thinking it was time to get on with my
"No one expects you to mourn forever.  You'll meet someone..."
"Actually," the Bard interrupted, "I've met someone."
"Met someone?"
"Well, yeah.  And I have these feelings..."
"Ah...romantic feelings..."
The Bard's voice trailed off and she looked wildly around, searching for the band of brigands or raiders,
cursing herself for leaving the staff tied to the saddle.  Finally she realised that the horizon was clear.  She
turned her attention back to the Warrior.
Who took several deep breaths, relaxed the battle tension.  She opened her mouth to speak but her brain
failed to provide any cue.  Another breath, another attempt.
"How does...?" the Warrior began trailing off as again words failed.
"Well, I haven't actually told yet," the Bard admitted.
"You should."
The Bard sighed, raising her head to meet the Warrior's eyes.  "Dumb warrior, that's what I'm trying to do,"
she muttered under her breath she turned and resumed walking.
It had been said softly, barely above a whisper.  Loud enough for the Warrior's keen ears to hear but soft
enough that she could pretend that she hadn't.  Pretend that it was still unsaid if she wanted.  If she wanted.

Her brain twisted the problem as her body propelled her forward.  She weighed the advantages and
disadvantages as she reached out and turned the Bard to face her.  Her heart answered.
"I have loved you, deeply and silently, for a very long time."
And again words failed the Warrior but it didn't matter because she was holding the Bard against her; arms
across her shoulders and chin resting on her head.  The Bard's arms squeezed the Warrior's waist.  A dry
warmth explored the back of the Warrior's neck before snorting a damp breath.
"Argo thinks we should be moving," the Warrior said.  Releasing the Bard she took a step back and then
captured her hand.  Together they walked through the meadow.
"What now?" asked the Bard after a few minutes.
"Thinking," replied the Warrior with a slight start.
"Well, as you never think aloud, this is nothing new.  Are you going to tell me or do I have to pay a dinar?"
"I was thinking 'what now' just when you asked me 'what now'."
"Oh," the Bard said.  She glance sideways and up at her companion.  "Look, I've been talking with some of
the Amazons.  Well, actually just a few.  Ephiny really.  And... well... I know that two women... can..."
"I know that," muttered the Warrior.
The Bard was chagrined but not surprised that her cheeks were warm.  Right up to the tips of her ears.  She
was, however, quite amazed to see a similar blush on her companion.  Electing to ignore it she continued.
"I know you know.  I wanted you to know that I know," the Bard said.
"Well, now I know that you know that I know," the Warrior said.  She shook her head, "Can't believe I said
"And if this were a scroll," the Bard continued, "we'd be back there a few dozen paces getting to *know*..."
"Stop it," the Warrior growled, a slight, hesitant pause.  "How do you feel about that?"
The Warrior made the mistake of looking down into the Bard's eyes and saw exactly what the Bard thought
about that.  Breathing and thinking joined talking on the list of now elusive skills.  After a timeless minute
the Bard broke eye contact.
"But I was thinking, we're only a couple of days from the Amazon village and that if we waited ...  if you
don't mind..." she added hesitantly.
"C'mere," the Warrior said and again the Bard found herself in a tight embrace, her head again tucked under
the Warrior's chin.
"I take it that it's all right?" the Bard asked after a few minutes.  The Warrior's head nodded against hers.
"I've waited this long for all this, a few more days won't kill me," the Warrior assured her, releasing her and
putting an arms length between them.
"Thank you," the Bard said, green eyes shining.  They began walking again.  "But some of those ceremonies
of greeting and return last forever."  The Bard weighed the next words carefully, wondering if they needed
to be said and decided that they did.
"Do we need to talk about Perdicus?" the Bard asked.
"Nope, Marcus?"
"No, ahhh, Joxer?" the Bard asked.  The meadow rang with the sound of the Bard's giggles and the
Warrior's laughter.
"Autolycus?" asked the Warrior.
"Not exactly."
"I was aiming for your cheek.  You moved."
The Bard grinned and squeezed the Warrior's hand.  "Seemed the thing to do," she said.

The late afternoon sun shone brightly on the meadow.  It was a perfect day.

...I fell fatally in love...
 =The Vampire Lestat, Anne Rice
They sat cross legged on the Bard's blanket facing each other with new empty plates balanced on knees.
The Bard knew that she had been talking.  But that was before her thoughts had fallen off the path, tumbled
down the bank, splashed into the river and been swept out into a sea of...
"You've got the most unbelievable blue eyes I have ever seen," she said.
"Sounds like a ballad."
"Hmm, maybe when I get use to them I'll write some more.  Like in a few thousand years."  She cocked her
head to the side.  "What do you like best about me?" she asked.
The Warrior pointed towards the Bard's neck.
"That spot, just before the collarbone, off to your right."
The Bard put a startled had to the spot.  "This," she asked in amazement.
The Warrior frowned, shook her head.  "No, actually, about a hand length and half lower."  The Warrior's
grin turned evil as she watched the Bard work out the measurements and then turn bright red.
"Typical.  Why should you be any different," the Bard muttered.
Laughing the Warrior moved both plates to beside the blanket.  She reached into her bags and handed the
Bard a folded square of parchment.
"Got something for you," the Warrior said.  "I did ask for the parchment.  And you did say yes."  The Bard
possessiveness of parchment had gone from point of friction to personal joke.
The Bard unfolded the parchment to reveal a small lock of reddish blonde hair which the Warrior reclaimed
with a shy smile.  Turning the Bard held the parchment to the dying light of the fire.
"I have never felt a love like this before
"Love that won't wash away, leave me in the dark
"I could not survive without you by my side
"I would die for you."
"You wrote this," the Bard said, not doubting it for a minute.  "There goes the theory that you keep me
around for my bardic skill.  That's a perfect Sapphic Quatrain."
"A what?"
"Way of arranging syllables; 11,11,11,5."  She handed the parchment back but it was refused.
"Keep it.  I did say I was just borrowing the parchment."
Smiling the Bard tucked the square into her carry bag.  "When did you write it?"
"Thessally," the Warrior said, after a slight pause.  The Bard looked up sharply at the... deadness which
the Warrior spoke that single word.  And she realised that she had never heard the Warrior say it since they
had left the city.  "Every time I nearly lost you I'd promise myself to tell you how I felt.  And the last time, in
the village where the day kept repeating, I was going to but Joxer was, well, Joxer and I didn't."
The Bard patter the Warrior's knee comfortingly.  "I didn't say anything either. Guess we both needed to
nearly loose the other before we realised how much we meant to each other.  That was the scariest time of
my life.  Didn't really sink in until the day after we got you back."

Her memory brought up the sight; the Warrior sparring with the Amazons who had accompanied them to
the temple of Helios.   The Warrior fought them with sword, fist and each other; moving deftly out of the
way and using their numbers against them.   The Warrior was smiling; a look of pure joy at being alive and
*doing* something.  And the Bard watched in awe as she tried to put words to the emotions she was feeling.
Emotions that she had locked behind a door so that she could get the job done.  Because the Warrior had
needed her.  Because the Warrior had said please.

"She's very beautiful, isn't she?" Ephiny asked.  And with those five words the door had crashed open,
sweeping her away with all the repressed and buried emotions of nearly two years.  Ephiny had held her
while the storm of tears took her, rocking like a child.

"But she doesn't... and what if... gods, Ephiny, what's wrong with me?"

"Wrong with...  what do you mean?"  She had hugged the Bard tight to her, staring into green eyes
beginning to fill with self-loathing.  "What have they done to you?"

And Ephiny had continued to hold and talk to her.  Using the Bard's natural tolerance to overcome the last
of her childhood prejudices.  Removing the guilt to allow the newly discovered love to begin to strengthen
the bond of  friendship even more.  And the Bard was sure that the Warrior had noticed a change even if she
hadn't realised the cause.
"Your voice," the Warrior said
"What?" the Bard started, brought back to the present.
"That's what I like best about you.  I was teasing before."
"So you don't think I talk to much?"
"I said that?"
"Well... once or twice," the Bard said, serious mood broken and heart light.  She smiled at the Warrior.
Smiling back the Warrior moved to her own blanket, placing her sword between the two bedrolls.
"Get some sleep.  We've got some travelling to do tomorrow."
Still smiling the Bard lay down, using her bag as a pillow.  The Warrior lay on her back, staring at the stars
and listening to the sound of the Bard getting comfortable.  Then the sound of the Bard rummaging under
her bedroll.  Then the sound of an item being thrown and a small rock landing somewhere in the woods.
"Warriors," muttered TB.

Smiling the Warrior contemplated the stars until morning.

Ain't an illness, hardly a sin, never feel guilty, never give in.
 =Why, from Age of Consent, Bronski Beat

"Sure you don't want to walk?" she asked me for the fourth time in a candlemark.

"Nope, this is comfortable.  I close my eyes and hold on.  Why?"

"'Cause if you hold on about an hand's width lower I will not be responsible for my actions.  I didn't realise
you were such a tease."

"Sorry," I said, raising my hands a up her stomach a few widths.  At which she hissed in a startled breath as
my hands were stopped by the bottom of her armour.  My hands flew away from her as I looked in vain for
somewhere to hold on.  "Maybe I'll walk now."

The Warrior nodded, holding my staff as I slipped to the ground.  Keeping Argo's pace slow we continued
down the trail.  I told a Hercules story.  Currently tales about her and my entire collection of romantic
stories were off limits.  After a few candlemarks she pointed out a marker, indicating that we were entering
Amazon territory.

"So, what are we going to tell them?" I asked as I finished the story.

"We?  You're the queen.  You're the bard.  I'm just going to do the silent, brooding warrior."

"Big help.  All right, I'll want to go a bit slow.  This will probably be a surprise to them.  Most of them..."

I trailed off, frowning slightly at a tree before glancing up at the Warrior for confirmation.  She nodded but
remained outwardly relaxed.

From behind the tree emerged two figures; features obscured by masks.

"My queen," said Solari as she removed her mask.  "It's good to see you.  Both of you."

I grinned back happily, glad to be met by a friend.  Within a few moments I was surrounded by a group of a
dozen hunters; being introduced to the ones I knew and becoming reacquainted with the others.

"What brings you home?" asked Solari finally.

"Well," I began, glancing back at the forgotten warrior.  She hid a smile as she dismounted, using a half vault
off the saddle so that she landed well away from Argo.  And didn't bother to hide the sardonic smile as the
Amazons automatically shifted slightly away.  Somehow the Warrior was even more imposing on the

"Well," I continued.  "I think I'd best talk with Ephiny first.  But nothing urgent.  At least, nothing bad.  No
one's chasing us or anything."

"No insane or power mad... er... people or anything like that?"  Solari asked the Warrior.


"Good.  Pleasant change," muttered Solari.

I tucked an arm through Solari's and began down the path.

"Now, tell me *everything*."

By the time we had reached the village Solari had, indeed, told me everything.  Part of my mind did what the
Warrior annoyingly called "the bard thing"; memorising facts and stories while most of my attention was on
the murmur of excited Amazons questioning her while she answered in monosyllables.  I use to think that
people only listened to me because she was such an unwilling conversationalist.  Not one for small talk.

Solari had sent runners ahead so that when we arrived all of the village was there to greet us.  A welcoming
party of a score stood with the rest of the Nation in a semi-circle around them.  Ephiny stood at the head,
her mask pushed back on her head.  Eponin stood close by, behind her and to the right.  Very close.  But
that was one of the many things Solari had told me about.

"My queen," Ephiny said, handing me my mask.  And then she opened her arms for a hug.  I felt the tug of
my staff as the Warrior took first it and then the mask and then I was being passed around like a child at
Soltice gathering.  Finally I stood grinning at Ephiny.

"What have you...?" she began.

Suddenly I could feel someone moving in quickly and quietly behind me.  An arm snaked around my neck.
Before my attacker's other hand could find purchase or reinforce the hold it was all over.

I shifted my feet slightly to both give me a steadier stance and move my attacker off balance.  Both of my
hands grabbed the forearm at my neck and, with a twisting motion bent and sent her over my shoulder.
Eponin landed with a thud between Ephiny and Solari.  I reached behind me blindly and felt the slap of the
staff.  I gave it my most impressive flourish which ended with the end resting on Eponin's collarbone.

"...been doing," Ephiny finished weakly.

"This and that.  Practising a lot.  Trying to outgrow this Bard Hostage thing."  I stole a glance behind me.
The Warrior was leaning against Argo, apparently ignoring the proceedings and examining the queen's mask.
With a look of such paternal pride that I was almost annoyed.  Except that it made me feel so warm.  I
turned my attention back to Eponin.  I moved the staff to an out-of-the-way hold and reached down to help
her up.  "Gotcha," I whispered.

"I deserved it," she whispered back.  And we grinned together for a few moments before my cursed stomach
monster growled.

Lunch had been delayed and moved outdoors as not even the eating hall could house all the villagers at one
sitting.  While the Warrior gave some instructions to one of the grooms Eponin and Ephiny led me to an
area with a few chairs and cushions.  With an unconscious display of affection Ephiny sat on a cushion at
Eponin's feet, leaning back comfortably.  Servers brought us each a plate and we chatted about nothing in
particular as I watched the Warrior coming toward us.  Her expression was closed but, even from several
strides away, I could see the eyes glinting as she took in our group.  With a nonchalant air she put a hand on
my shoulder giving just a little pressure to indicate what she wanted.  With as much grace as I could manage
while holding the plate I slipped forward off the chair allowing the Warrior to sit.  Ephiny and I engaged in a
little contest of foot placement, ending with our lower legs entangled.  Finally I leaned back against her legs
and offered her the plate over my shoulder.  Instead of taking it she simply took a piece of cheese.  She then
turned her attention to Eponin and Ephiny.

Eponin was staring, mouth open, as she realised the intentional mimicry of her and Ephiny and took in the
meaning of it.  Ephiny was trying very hard not to laugh.

"What?" the Warrior muttered, reaching for another piece of cheese.  Which she flipped into Eponin's still
open mouth.

"Actually," I said, "the reason we're here is, we were wondering if we could stay a few days and..."

"If you could perform the joining ceremony for us," the Warrior interrupted.

I twisted around, staring in amazement.  Behind me I could hear Eponin choking on the cheese.

"If you want to.  If that's OK?"   the Warrior asked me, suddenly sounding unsure of herself.  Almost shy.
Mutely I just nodded.  She smiled back, "Good."

"Joining ceremony.  Of course, there's the week of ritual purification followed by the morning ceremony..."

I tore my gaze away from those blue eyes to glare at my so-called friend and regent.  Ephiny nodded at us;
at what were, I was sure, near identical looks of command.

"I think you want the short version," Ephiny said.

"Definitely the short version," Eponin agreed.

Lost in your eyes, caught in your name.
 =I Will Never Be the Same, from Yes I Am, Melissa Etheridge

She was sitting alone, at the top of the natural bowl, looking down on the practice field.  The rest of the
village was leaving her alone, unsure how to treat our young queen.  Many of them had stood against her
when Velasca had challenged her authority.  And, while as regent I had made my peace with them, she had
not had that opportunity.  I stood beside her until she noticed me.  Smiling up she patted the ground beside
her before turning her attention back to the practice field.  I decided to watch the show.  Just as we had all
those months ago.

The Warrior was taking on a dozen of my... rather her... guards.  The Warrior had a staff held in her left
hand, the chakram in the right and was fighting purely defensively.  The staff would flick out to deflect one
handed a full strength staff strike.  A thrusting blade would find itself encircled by the chakram, which would
twist the sword out of the attacker's hand.  A quick side step and Eponin's second in command received the
chobos intended for the grinning warrior.  The Warrior toyed with them for about a quarter candlemark
before flicking the chakram aside to lay on the grass by the edge of the field.  Then,  grasping the staff two
handed, she got serious.  Within thirty heart beats the twelve best warriors of the village were disarmed, on
the ground or standing with hands clasped over their heads.

"Show off," I muttered.  But I couldn't disguise the awe.

"Yeah, I know.  Did you see how she flipped the swords up so that they landed in the chakram?"

"One missed."

"Two didn't."

We watched as the guards clustered around her and an informal training session broke out.  The Bard's eyes
followed the Warrior as she adjusted stances and grips of the guards.

"So, how long have you two been..." I trailed off, amused at the reaction my question had brought on.  The
young queen was blushing bright red and just barely managing to meet my eyes.

"We haven't.  I just got up the nerve a couple of days ago and we've been riding here ever since.  We haven't
even kissed."  She flopped back like a child, staring up at the clouds.  I lay back too, on my side holding my
head on a hand so that I could look down at her.  Her attention was on the sky, a dreamy expression that I
saw all too often in the younger Amazons.

"Why not?  And why come here?"

The Bard laughed and ticked the answers off on her fingers.  "Because here we'll be safe and protected.  We
don't have to hide it because it's dangerous if her enemies know.  Because I have good friends here.  And so
does she although she'd never really admit it.  This is home; for both of us."

"But your family... her family..."

"I feel more comfortable in the few weeks I've spent here than I did my whole life in Potedia.  And the few
times we've been in Amphipolis... the people know what she is but they saw what she *was*.  It's hard for
them to forget."

"And why a joining ceremony?"  There, the big question which the tribunal had been pestering me about
since the noon meal.  I was sure neither had thought about the political ramifications of an official joining.
And with any luck it'd never be an issue.

"Because she knows that I really want it and would never ask," my young queen said softly.  And smiled that
smile that I use to have myself when thinking of Phantes.  And which I was now, when I was looking into a
certain pair of eyes, beginning to see reflected back at me.
"But you won't be staying," I said.  Not needing to ask it as a question.  It would be like trying to tie down
the wind.

"No," she turned serious, green eyes darkening.  "She can't. "

I nodded, "Well, anytime you want to have a little safety, peace and acceptance just drop by for a while.
This is your home, and not just because you have no other place, OK?  And not just because you're queen,
either.  You're both family now."  She nodded happily.

"Look," I said.  "Is there anything you need to talk about... I mean I know some of this is beyond your

She blushed and held up a hand to interrupt me.  "Gods, Ephiny.  No, its fine."  The blush deepened and she
covered her face with both hands.  "This is so embarrassing.  I'm sure I can...  Like, there's no time limit or
betting pool."

I let the silence stretch, wondering how to answer that when she peeked out from between her fingers.
"Ephiny, is there a time limit or betting pool?"

"Well," I hedged.  And was amazed when all signs of embarrassment were replaced with mischief.

"Tell me everything."

"Everything about what," drawled a voice from behind me.

"Everything about the ceremony," the queen answered, smiling up at the warrior.


"Tomorrow at noon," I answered.  "Then a feast at moonrise.  Between noon and then you spend in the
privacy of the queen's hut mediating on the meaning of the joining and the gifts of Artemis."

"Yeah, right," the warrior muttered.  She then crouched down beside me, staring down at the queen.  "Look,
I was going to go into the forest, maybe hunt or practice or something.  Burn off some energy.  Maybe even
talk to her godliness, seeing as I'm joining with her chosen tomorrow."

"Now, look," I began.  The warriors disdain for the gods was legendary.

"Don't worry, I'll be polite," the warrior assured us.  With a slow wink at the queen she rose and, in an easy
lope, headed for the forest.

"Meditating," the queen asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Wait until I explain about the rituals."

But if I am to heal I must first learn to feel.
 =Ruins, from Yes I Am, Melissa Etheridge

As I left the clearing and entered the woods a sense of peace fell upon me.  Maybe it was the knowledge that
there was no danger within a days ride.  Maybe it was the nearing of night.  Likely it was just being away
from the awful temptation that was the bard.  The sparring had released little energy - the physical exertion
offset by the knowledge that she was watching.  Watching me and giggling and whispering on that hill with
Ephiny.  Like two children sharing a secret.

Grinning I broke into a run, picking up speed as my eyes quickly adjusted to the dying light.  A fallen tree
vaulted, a steep hill descended with a lazy front flip.  I fell into a rhythm of motion as the sun descended.

I could remember running like this when I was young.  In the forests of Amphipolis.  Feeling the joy of being
young and strong and the softness of the night.  Before running came to mean chasing or being chased.
Before the night came to mean hiding or simply a time to rest.  And I wondered when that joy had left.

But I knew to the heartbeat when it had started to come back.

I ran up a slight rise and launched myself into the coming night, not caring what was hidden on the other
side.  I fell through the night air landing gently in the gravel of a creek bed.  Startling the stag who was
taking a drink into frozen fear .

The chakram was in my hand, my mind already calculating distance and wind and the force necessary to
strike the deer and take it down quickly and painlessly.

And we stared at each other for a few seconds before the stag blinked and leapt away, over the creek and up
the hill and out of sight.

"Going soft, warrior?"

I returned the chakram to my belt, turning to face the figure standing there.  Arms and ankles crossed as he
leaned against a tree.

"You can't ruin my mood tonight, Ares.  I feel too good.  So leave."

"I thought you were going to be polite?" he asked, standing upright and approaching me.

"To Artemis; not you.  What do you want?"

"To offer my congratulations.  No really," he protested over my snort of disbelief.  "And to escape my
sister's chattering.  It's all they can talk about.  Artemis' chosen queen is being joined.  Athena's trying to
claim you in her guise as Goddess of Prudent War.  Aphrodite just loves weddings."

I raised an eyebrow.  "Didn't realise we were so... popular."

"Aahh, don't let it go to your head.  They'll all have new pet projects in a day or two."  He moved closer still,
raising a finger to caress my cheek.  Eyes staring into mine.

"But me, you know how I feel about you.  Remember the old days?  The excitement, the victories, the
challenges.  How can you walk away from that?  I know you enjoyed it."

"Yeah, I did.  Then.  But not now," I said as I stared back.  His touch was just that, a touch.  No shiver of
anticipation like when I had served him.  No shudder of revulsion like recently.  He had no hold over me
now, no temptation for me.  And he realised it, withdrawing from me although he didn't move physically.

"You'll call on me again," but his voice lacked real conviction.  But my reply didn't.

"No.  I won't.  Not for that."

He stepped back, smiling as if it didn't matter.

"Well, when you tire of the little blonde, give me a call."  And, with a shimmer like heat off of cobblestones,
he was gone.

Smiling I dropped to the ground, pillowing my head in my hands and staring up at the stars.  And, finding
the bear I could finally see, I fell asleep for the first time in three days.

I will stand firm in the tempest, I will ride destiny's trail
To believe when the truth comes up empty
To hold and respect without fail
Come and be one in the motion, a desire they cannot comprehend
Never to question again, for I am your passion your promise your end
Oh yes I am...
 =Yes I Am, from Yes I Am, Melissa Etheridge

I stood in front of the ceremonial dais watching the shadows shorten.  They had insisted on dressing me in
my full regalia which I had hadn't really worn since the coronation.  The damn stuff still itched, the armour
pulled at my shoulders, the leather glove gauntlet was sweaty and Ephiny assured me I looked lovely.  I had
to take her word for it.  My mind was totally blank.



"I don't even remember my name."

Ephiny sighed and smiled.  "Don't worry.  If you can't remember the ritual responses just say 'I will'
everytime I poke you.  All right?"

Response was unnecessary as there was a ripple of sound and motion at the outer ring of the circle of
gathered Amazons.  And as they parted a figure strode through them; sun glistening off her so that she shone
like a goddess.  She wasn't wearing her usual armour and leathers but rather a long black tunic with copper
coloured embroidery at the hems and throat.  As she passed Eponin she handed her the sword so that, when
she reached me, she was armed only with the chakram.  Which, after a brief glance by Ephiny, was handed
to Solari.  And then she looked at me and caught me in her eyes and the world shrunk to just her.

"My queen," asked Ephiny as she touched my arm.  "Are you ready?"

"I will."

"That would be a yes," Ephiny said, mostly to herself before raising her voice so that the assembled
Amazons could clearly hear her words.

Which, I am sure, were elegant and moving.   I didn't hear any of them.  I just listened to the murmur of
voices; Ephiny's queries, my warriors assurances, the Amazon's responses.

"I will... what was that?"

Ephiny smiled, "I said, you may kiss your consort, your majesty."

And I reached out, lightly holding her upper arms as she took a small step forward.  And I stretched up, on
toe tip as she steadied me with one hand at the back of my neck.  And the entire noon sky condensed into
the blue of her eyes as she brought her mouth down onto mine.

And I was lost.

I'm gonna open up, I'm gonna come inside, I'm gonna fill you up, I'm gonna make you cry.
 =Damn, I Wish I was Your Lover, Sophie B. Hawkins
The Warrior lay on her back, legs slightly spread.  The Bard lay between them, her head resting on the
Warrior's chest and her hands tucked into the small of the Warrior's back in a hug.  The Warrior picked up a
tidbit from the plate and, as it was the Bard's turn, brought it to her mouth.  Feeling it against her lips the
Bard opened her mouth, tongue licking against the Warrior's fingers, teeth capturing them and then sucking


The Bard released the fingers and shifted slightly.  Now her mouth found the Warrior's breast and a wave of
desire rolled over the Warrior.  Which somehow the last eight hours of 'meditating' had merely increased.



"It's almost moonrise.  They'll be waiting.  They'll have real food."  No response.  At least, not verbal.  The
Warrior tried a different tact now.  "You are going to kill me.  Or at least hurt me."

"Just once more," the Bard said, shifting down and tracing kisses down the Warrior's stomach.  "Maybe


"C'mon.  Ephiny wins fifty dinars if you do.  And I get half."

"That's cheating."

"No, simply taking advantage of their tendency to underestimate me," the Bard replied.  Hands and kisses
distracted the Warrior from the subtleties of the reasoning.  They also stripped her of all desire to argue the
point further.

"What's... in it... for me...?" the Warrior managed.

"I should think that was obvious."

The ragged cry of the queen's name coming from the cabin caused every head to turn in that direction.  With
a satisfied grin Ephiny collected her coins while watching similar transactions of money or watch duties
change hands.  Around the clearing conversation again started, food passed, drinks poured.


"Well," said Solari after a brief pause.  "That was definitely eleven."

"Our sweet, young, innocent, virgin queen," Eponin said in amazement.

"I'll say," Ephiny replied.  "She bet me double or nothing on eleven."

"Serves you right for underestimating her," Eponin smiled.

 Whoso loves
Believes the impossible
 =Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I held *my* queen tightly in my arms, her head nestled on my shoulder as she lay on half over me.

"Goddess, I envy them.  Didja see them?" she asked.  I smiled down at the top of her head.  Everyone had
seen them.  They had finally emerged from the cabin to a shower of coins and flowers.  Both had accepted
the teasing, the food and the drinks.  And there had been dancing, singing and tale telling until the moon had
begun to set.  And then the Warrior had picked up the Bard, silencing the story with a kiss that had lasted
until the two had disappeared into the queen's cabin.

"You know, love, you'd have just hurt my feelings.  Except I feel the same way about it."

Ephiny raised herself so that she could look into my eyes, looking for the truth there.  And seeing my love
and trust for her.  And I saw again that look which I was seeing more and more.  I kissed her eyelids shut,
trying to taste that look and bring it inside.

"What we have," I assured her, "is wonderful and precious.  But what they share is a gift from the gods."
She smiled at me and nestled back down.  I pulled the blanket up so that only her eyes were showing,
sighing softly.  Drifting into sleep which was rudely interrupted by a cry surely heard on Olympus.

"That was the queen," my love said with a groan.  "No one in the village is going to get any sleep."

I rolled over, pinning her beneath my weight, delighting as her expression shifted from grumpy sleep into

"Well, might as well take advantage of it," I said.

The End