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Gabrielle opened her eyes to a dark sky. Was she dreaming again? She took a physical inventory of her person. Then she looked for Xena. Her lover was sleeping soundly not a foot away. Relieved she wasnít in the dreamscape, she gently removed the blanket and slipped away from the warrior. Gabrielle settled near the dying fire. So much was going through her mind right now. The dreams...her feelings about Liz...and her desire to have Xena and Liz make love to her. She thought, ĎThis is just so not right. Whatís happening to me? Oh, Liz, are you going through this with me?í

She looked over at Xena, and sadness washed over her. In hushed tones, Gabrielle spoke. "Xena, I want to tell you everything, but Iím afraid of what you will think of me. Hummp...ím afraid of what I think about myself."

Gabrielleís self-recriminations were halted by the presence of a light. At first she thought the campfire had sprung to life. It became brighter and an entity emerged.

"Why do you worry so about what the warrior thinks?" Artemis spoke directly to her favored one.

"Artemis...I.." Gabrielle was at a loss for words to express her fear. She cast a wary gaze toward Xena, knowing how she hated surprise visits from the deities.

"Donít worry, my child, Xena will sleep through this visit. It is you and I who must confer."

The very idea that Artemis wanted a conference made Gabrielle nervous. Gathering as much courage as possible, she responded to the goddess. "What is it?"

"Come here, child, and sit with me." The goddess took Gabrielle by the hand and led her to a flat rock near the camp. "Why havenít you asked for my help in this matter? It would be of no consequence to have Morpheus cease the dreams and your torment." There was a genuine look of concern in her eyes for her chosen.

Gabrielle held the hand of the goddess almost in a motherly way. "I didnít seek your help because this is of my doing. I canít expect you, or Xena for that matter, to fix things for me. I am Queen of your Amazons. I have to take responsibility for my actions. This is something I have to work through." She wasnít exactly arguing with Artemis, but it was close enough to make her sweat.

The goddess was in a forgiving mood. "This wasnít entirely your doing. That meddling Aphrodite was at the bottom of it. I am very displeased with her part in all this. She has caused you pain and conflict over what? That mortal?" Outside of her chosen Queen and temple priestesses, Artemis held no great love for mortals. She only tolerated Xena because of Gabrielleís love for her. That and the fact Aphrodite had blessed their union.

Gabrielle jumped to Lizís defense. "Artemis, Liz needed my help regardless of how it started. I couldnít just let her suffer. It was within my power to help and I did. Nothing can change that now. "

"And what of your suffering, my child? It is within my power to ease that. You have but to ask."

"I know, but Iíd rather save it for something really important." Gabrielle hesitated before asking the goddess her next question. "Do you think Aphrodite has anything to do with these dreams? Or is it all coming from me?"

Artemis placed her arm around the bardís shoulder. "When it was brought to my attention about your night horrors, I confronted her. This is not her doing... or any of the gods. This is something tied to that other mortal of yours. I donít know how else to help you, Gabrielle. But know this, I will not tolerate you being harmed. This mortal better stay clear of me." Artemis stood and embraced Gabrielle.

In an instant she was gone, leaving the bard to ponder the conversation. She already knew Xenaís dislike of Liz. The warrior wasnít very good at hiding some things from her. Now Artemis had made a vague threat against Liz. Gabrielle chuckled nervously, "Well, Xena, seems you donít have the market cornered on impatience. And wouldnít you be surprised just how much in common you have with the gods after all?" Gabrielle let loose a verbal request, based on a gut feeling. "Liz, if you can hear me, please stay where you are. Coming here wouldnít be a good idea."

A voice behind her caught her off guard.

"Who are you talking to? Are you all right? Did you have another dream?" Xena questions came without pause and were filled with concern.

"Itís ok, Xena, I just couldnít sleep thatís all. Iím sorry I disturbed you. Lie down." She knew it would be hard for her to drop off again and felt guilty.

Xena propped herself up on one elbow. "You know that will be impossible to do. Iím awake now."

Gabrielle decided to keep the visit of Artemis to herself. No sense in starting a fight over the gods on top of everything else. She was chilled being out in the early morning air. Her thin shift wasnít offering very much warmth. She needed the closeness of her warrior and went to the bedroll. As she settled in behind a surprised Xena, she whispered in her ear. " How Ďbout letting me hold you for a while...just until light. Maybe youíll drift off again. We canít go anywhere till sunrise anyway."

Xenaís need to have Gabrielle close overrode her suspicions. These actions werenít in sync with the events of the last few months. She was sure Gabrielle was hiding something, but let it go. And allowed the bard to hold her tight from behind. Her mind replayed the sensation of making love to her and drifted into a light sleep. Gabrielle felt her slowed breathing and gently kissed the nape of her neck. Almost inaudibly she whispered. "Iím so sorry, Xena." She too drifted into a sleep.

The neighing of Argo rousted Xena from her sleep. She was so tired from worry and from the tension between her and Gabrielle. It was beginning to take a real toll on her constitution. The sooner they got to Hippocrates, the better.

"Ok, girl, Iím coming." Reluctantly, she extricated herself from Gabrielleís arms. It felt so good to be close to her without the fighting. The bard half opened her eyes. "Xena?"

"Itís all right, Gabrielle, Argo is just ready to get moving. And we should too."

The warrior went about the task of readying the war-horse for the completion of the journey. Gabrielle began breaking camp. Her thoughts were on Artemis and her warning. She couldnít imagine the consequences of Liz meeting Xena, let alone Artemis. She thought, ĎThank the gods that will never happen.í

With their belongings packed and Argo saddled, they proceeded on the last leg of the trip. At noon, they were at the front gate of Hippocratesí compound. He met them personally.

"Xena...Gabrielle...I heard you were coming. Would it be good news traveled as fast as bad. Come inside." He motioned for one of his numerous attendants to see to Argo. He went directly to Gabrielle and led her inside. Xena fell in behind. The servants were scurrying around the interior portico. Xena had never seen them standing still on any of their visits. She wondered if they did that for everyone or if her presence just scared the Hades out of them.

Hippocrates was motioning for food and drink to be delivered to the center table. He gestured for Gabrielle and Xena to sit. Before speaking, he made sure his guests had a cool drink before them. He began a silent examination of the bard.

He could see the physical evidence of her conflict. The sparkle in her eyes had vanished...dark circles had formed under her eyes. It almost seemed her life essence was slowly being siphoned away. Heíd not seen anything quite like this in all his practice. This had an otherworldly feel to it.

Xena had placed her hand on Gabrielleís. The bard sat quietly in a non-responsive state. It was eerie to watch. Gabrielle was just so tired.

Xena broke the silence. "Hippocrates, I guess you know why weíve come?"

He nodded, "Yes, Iíve heard the rumors. Why donít you tell me exactly whatís been going on. Weíll start from there and check every possibility."

Something about this exchange between Xena and Hippocrates jarred Gabrielle. She couldnít believe they were talking about her condition like she wasnít there. This was the last straw. Before Xena could start Ďfilling iní the physician, she stood and slammed the fist on the table.

Glaring at Xena, she erupted, "Excuse me, but has anyone bothered to ask me whatís happening? I resent being treated like a child. In case you havenít noticed, Xena, Iím all grown up. I can speak for myself!!" In a fit of frustration, she threw her goblet against the wall. As it shattered, the servants took cover. She was in full fury now. Hippocrates and Xena were stunned and just looked at each other. Gabrielle began to pace about the room, ranting. "Just what gives you the right to speak for me, Xena?" In a very sarcastic tone she added, "Donít you think I have the brains to express my dilemma? I am the one going through this, you know."

A nearby chair went tumbling across the floor courtesy of the bardís boot. Hippocrates barely sidestepped the projectile. Xena had begun to make her way over to this out of control woman, her rising anger about to make her a combatant in this fray. Gabrielle was in such a state, Xenaís movement went unnoticed. She was continuing the diatribe. "You know if itís not you telling me what to do, itís the gods or the nearest passerby. Iím just so sick of it!" She prepared to fling a plate but was stopped mid toss by a strong hand on her wrist. The plate fell from her grasp and broke on the floor anyway. Xena wheeled her around and saw anger in her eyes sheíd never witnessed before.

Gabrielle yelled at the warrior. "Xena! Stop it! Turn me loose!"

Xena had no intention of releasing this spitfire as long as there were movable objects still in the room. She tightened her grip and got in Gabrielleís face. "No! You stop it! Gabrielle, get a hold of yourself. Weíre on the same side here!" Xena was looking into the eyes of a wild animal. She loosened her grasp just a bit. It was enough for Gabrielle to break free with one hand. In a movement totally unexpected, her clinched fist came across Xenaís face with all the power she could muster.

The warriorís reflexes were too quick to stop. She decked Gabrielle and the bard crumbled to the floor, unconscious. Hippocrates was at her side almost before she hit the floor. A horrified Xena just stood watching her lover being attended. A few of the larger men servants positioned themselves between her and the form on the floor. There were tears of frustration in her eyes and pain in her heart.

"Oh, gods, what have I done? Gabrielle..."

Before she could finish, Gabrielleís body went rigid and began spasming on the floor. Hippocrates took control of the situation. Her grabbed a wooden utensil from the table and placed it between her teeth. There wasnít anything to do but watch the seizure and keep her head from impacting on the floor.

Xena was beside herself. She moved forward to be at Gabrielleís side, but was blocked by a wall of flesh. Though she could have easily moved them, she asked permission to be at Gabrielleís side. "Hippocrates, please."

He looked at the distraught warrior and saw the pain and fear in her eyes. He motioned for the attendants to let Xena through. She knelt next to the bard as her seizure was abating. Xena looked at her lover and realized how defenseless she was. She couldnít believe sheíd struck Gabrielle. The evidence, however, was turning an ugly purple on the bardís lip and chin. Gingerly, she cradled Gabrielleís head, stroking her brow and hair. "Gabrielle, Iím so sorry. I...didnít mean.."

Hippocrates had motioned for a litter to be brought into the room. He placed a fatherly hand on Xenaís shoulder. "Xena, you didnít cause the seizure. I suspect itís been in the works for quite some time. Now, help me get her on the litter. I need to tend to her."

Xena lifted the unconscious bard to the litter. She looked like she was sleeping. Oh, gods, how she wished that were true. This whole thing was completely out of control. She had to do something to help Gabrielle, but she didnít know how. She watched as Gabrielle was carried from the room. She started after her but was stopped by the healer.

"Xena, give me some time to examine her. I know youíre concerned, but thereís nothing you can do right now. Iíll come get you when Iím through."

She could see protesting wouldnít help and nodded. The physician turned and left the room. Xena surveyed the destruction around her. Gabrielle had made quite a mess. The servants had begun to clean up the shattered pottery, eyeing the warrior nervously.

She felt the stinging along her jaw. She certainly had been punched harder in her life, but nothing had hurt as much as this. In a soft tone, Xena muttered, " You have some serious explaining to do, my love." A young woman was motioning Xena to follow her to her quarters. Silently, the warrior fell in behind her.

Hippocrates had Gabrielle safely positioned on the bed. As much as it pained him, he ordered restraints on her wrists and ankles. He examined her head and neck for obvious cuts and lumps. Aside from the split lip Xena had given her, she seemed intact. He was speaking to his apprentice as the exam continued.

"She is very lucky Xena didnít break her jaw. Sheís going to be very sore just the same and have a Hades of a bruise." He sent his assistant to collect the proper herbs for a compress to reduce the swelling. Other than this, he would just have to wait for Gabrielle to regain consciousness. It could be a candlemark or days. These things were very unpredictable. Satisfied she was comfortable, he left her in the hands of his well trained aides. He now had to deal with Xena, something that was always difficult.

He found her sitting on the pallet in her room, staring out the window. So concentrated in thought was the warrior, his entrance wasnít noticed. Hippocrates knew better than to surprise Xena. He made a throat clearing noise to get her attention.

"Um...Xena? How are you holding up?" He was concerned for her welfare as well as Gabrielleís.

Xena turned to face him. "Iím fine, how is Gabrielle? Is she going to be all right? Can I see her now?"

Hippocrates held his hand up to stem the barrage. "Whoa, one question at a time. First things, first. She has had a minor seizure and is resting comfortably right now. She still hasnít regained consciousness, but this isnít that unusual. She just needs rest and time. More importantly, I need to know everything that has happened to this point."

Xena arched an eyebrow. "Yeah, I guess itís safe to talk now."

Sensing some relief, Hippocrates concurred. "Just donít start throwing things at me. Now, tell me about this mess."

Xena gave him the full meal deal. She related the events surrounding Aphrodite, Liz and the beginning of the dreams...then nightmares. She told him how Gabrielle had been withdrawing over the last two months and about the change in her physically. She also told him about her growing anxiety and impatience with all this...her frustration and anger with the gods and even herself. Todayís events were just more in an ever-widening arc of improbability.

Hippocrates listened intently to the details. "Well, Xena, it seems this is a continuation of what happened months ago. Obviously, Gabrielle and this woman..."

Xena interrupted him. "Liz...her name is Liz. Gods know Iíve heard it enough."

He continued, "...this Liz still are connected. Where did you say this took place?"

"In the village of Daedalius. Itís a few days from here. Why?"

"Hmmm...just wondering. I know the healer there, a woman named Amoria. She is very gifted in matters not of this world. I really think you should talk to her. She may have useful information."

The idea of going back to Daedalius wasnít high on Xenaís list. She wanted to stay far away from that village and itís healer as possible. So much of what was happening was linked to this place, but she knew, for Gabrielleís sake, she may have to put personal distaste aside.

"Iíll give it some thought, but right now my concern is for Gabrielle. I want to see her, Hippocrates, now. "

He knew by the tone of her voice, she would not be denied. "Ok, but donít stay too long. She needs her rest, Xena."

She rose from the pallet and left the room. She didnít need an escort to find Gabrielle. They had been Ďguestsí of the physician before. Xena wasnít prepared for the sight that greeted her. The form before her barely resembled the Gabrielle she knew and loved. She was very pale and frail looking. The bruise on her chin made the warrior wince. She felt sick in her gut and a mist clouded her eyes. Gabrielleís wrists and ankles were secured to the bedside. Xena pulled a chair next to the bed. She loosened one of the bindings holding the bardís wrists and held her hand. She was stroking the skin of her arm and began talking quietly.

"Gabrielle, I know you can hear me, honey. Just listen and let me do the talking. Guess youíre not used to that, are you? Hippocrates says you just need some rest. Donít be frightened, Iím here with you. Iíll always be with you. I love you, Gabrielle, and nothing is going to change that. We, thatís you and I, are going to figure this out. If I have to summon Zeus, I will."

Xena placed her head on the edge of the bed. A tear washed from her eye and cascaded down her cheek, finally coming to rest on Gabrielleís arm. It was the beginning of many that would fall through the night. The warriorís vigil had begun.



Liz entered her home in a much better mood than when she left. Brie and RG greeted her at the door loudly protesting the lateness of their personal kitchen slave.

"Oh, girls, Iím sorry Iím late. You must be starved."

A tandem of Ďyeowsí echoed in the kitchen. And some fancy feline footwork threatened to trip Liz before she could retrieve their evening repast.

"Hey, you guys, cut it out! It wouldnít be a good idea to injure the only one who can open the fridge."

This statement just served to heighten the frenzy between her feet. It was well-rehearsed choreography. All participants knew their parts. Liz gingerly stepping over Brie and RG, inching toward the fridge and the furry Baryshnikovs trying to become one with her ankles. To the casual observer, it was obvious who ruled the house. It wasnít the human. Liz was allowed the fantasy of believing she was in charge. The felines always topped from the bottom.

She retrieved the minced chicken, divided the portions and took the chill off with a few seconds in the microwave. She tested the temp with a finger. The girls were very picky about their food. They preferred something akin to a fresh kill temperature wise. The thought was revolting to Liz.

"I know youíd really like something that still has a pulse, but it ainít happening. This will have to do."

She sat the dishes on the floor and got out of the way. Once again the dinner ballet was complete with no sustaining injuries. She turned out the kitchen lights and headed for the bedroom. It was late but she had so much to do in the next few days. She was tempted to stay up and start a list but sleep was important. No...sleep was imperative. It was the only link to Gabrielle. She must try to communicate with the bard. It was a very scary thing to contemplate, but at least it was a plan. Liz was beginning to feel somewhat in control of this mess. Well, ignorance can be a blessing of sorts. She really had no idea what was in store for her. If she had, the choice of options might have been different.

Sleep came quickly...she was exhausted. There were some innocuous dreamscapes involving dancing flamingoes with sunglasses, her favorite bird. As she pirouetted with one of the graceful birds, she found herself in a room with many doors. All, save one, were alike. It had an emerald green knob. She was drawn to it , opened the door and walked through. She was in total darkness...familiar darkness. Her mind was trying to make a conscious connection. A figure appeared near her. It took a second for Liz to realize she was watching herself.

"Oh, my, this is so totally weird."

Her dream twin turned and spoke, "Youíre telling me. So, here we are, now what?"

"Gee, Iím not sure. I havenít thought that far in advance."

Her twin was an exact mirror, including personality. "Oh, perfect! Wadda yaí mean? Are you saying you donít have a plan, girl? Well, youíd better think of something quick. Sheís gonna be here soon."

Liz didnít think it possible to dream and observe at the same time. She was the same yet different. Just thinking about it was confusing. She was reminded of something Roger always said in moments of total confusion. ĎMy brain and I are taking separate vacations.í This definitely qualified. She decided not to analyze, but to just go with it. She spoke to her comrade.

"Ok, hereís what weíll do when Gabrielle appears. You let me talk to her. Is that possible?"

"How the hell should I know. Iím trapped in here like everyone else. Iíve been doing the same thing night after night. In fact, Iíd love a break. So after Xena appears and take her place, be my guest. Iíll just wait over there till youíre finished. You got that?"

"Yeah, I think Iíve Ďgot that.Ď God, youíre sarcastic. Anyone ever tell you that?"

"Oh, honey, you definitely do not want to go there. And if you do, donít be packing a bag, cuz you ainít staying."

The banter between the Lizzes was interrupted by the sound of someone in distress. It was Gabrielle.

"Hey, thatís our cue, címon letís go." The dream twin began walking away. Liz followed. The corridor was dark and cold. Suddenly, all of this had taken on a very serious feel. The terror in Gabrielleís voice was even more pronounced than before. The twins stopped just outside the unfolding scene before them.

Gabrielle was in a panic state, clinging to the sloping floor, pleading for help.

"Please, someone help me! XENA!! HELP ME!!"

Liz looked across the space and saw, for the first time in a conscious state, Xena. She had seen her in the dream before, but this was different. The perspective was different...more real. She felt sick to her stomach.

Gabrielle reached for Xena but the warrior ignored her plea for help. "I canít help you, Gabrielle. This is your doing."

Liz watched as Gabrielle began to lose her grip on the floor. She so wanted to reach out to her, but could not. She raised her eyes and met Xenaís. This had not happened before. There was an unspoken threat from the woman. It sent a chill down Lizís spine. Before she could respond, Xena was gone and she had taken her place.

Gabrielle looked up again for help and found Liz standing where Xena had been.

"Liz, please take my hand. Donít let me die like this! "

Liz looked into those green eyes and once more felt an incredible stirring in her soul. It would have been so easy to just get lost in them again. She had to push these thoughts aside for there was a more important agenda to address.

She spoke calmly to the terrified bard. "Gabrielle, listen to me."

For a moment, the bardís struggle ceased and the repetitive flow of the dream halted. Liz knew she only had a few seconds.

"Gabrielle, this dream is happening to both of us. We are still linked in time. I have to come to you to seal this tear. You must go to Daedalius, to Amoria. Do you understand?"

Liz gazed into her face for some sort of acknowledgment. She was still looking when Gabrielle started screaming and fell into the void. She wasnít sure the message got through. Liz turned around to face her other self. Her gut was twisting. She was going to be sick. She thought, Ď I wonder if dream vomit is like the real stuff.í

The mirror spoke, "Oh, donít be doing that in here. You get to leave...I have to stay. And I can assure you I have no cleaning watch it sister !"

"So, just how do I get out of here?"

"Honey, If I knew that, Iíd drive us both. But, hey, hereís an idea. Why donít you up!! "

"Yeah, that could work." Liz looked around and spied the door she had entered through. " That...could work even better." She approached the entry. Before opening the door, she turned to her partner. "Hey...try working on your social skills while Iím gone."

As a parting shot, her twin replied, "Honey, Iíll have them when you do."

She walked through the portal. Her eyes snapped open and she found herself in her own bed, drenched in sweat, again.

"Jeez, this is getting to be a pain in the butt. Iím running out of clean clothes to wear."

She stripped off the tee and made a two-pointer in the laundry basket. She was too tired and nauseous to do a wardrobe change. Brie snuggled a little closer to her mom and both fell into a quiet place. She was still prioritizing the coming dayís events when sleep overtook her.

Brie and RG nuzzling her neck gently awakened Liz. It took a few minutes to become fully cognizant. She yawned and stretched. Her eyes opened to find two pairs of catís eyes staring at her. It was cute, but a little startling first thing in the morning.

"You guys have got to stop doing that to your poor momma." She gave each a scratch and bounded out of bed. Having a game plan had greatly elevated her energy. Even her tummy felt better with the daylight. There was a lot to see to before meeting Randi at five. She had to have her ducks in a row before meeting her friend. Randi would be a major player in this next step. She counted on her curiosity to overshadow the complete improbability of the reality. Fortunately for Liz, Dr. Randi James was a very curious woman. She knew this would be just too good to pass up. Confident of success, Liz put coffee on and hit the shower.

The wheel of chaos had been set in motion in two dimensions. Nothing could stop the inevitable...not even the gods. The die was cast...FATE was in control.

Liz spent most of the day gathering ammo for her meeting with Randi. She knew, of course, finding anything that she didnít already know about the Mycenaean Period would be next to impossible. Her doctoral dissertation was titled, "The Archaeological Significance and Juxtaposition of Historical vs. Mythical Sites In Mycenaean Greece." Just recalling the title made Liz want to take a nap. This whole thing was right up Randiís alley. So much, it was eerie. Dr.James was exactly the person to talk to. She also had a huge interest in feminist theory in anthropology. It couldnít get any better if Liz had planned it. Hell, Randi would probably want to tag along. If anyone could Ďfindí Daedalius, it would be the doctor.

The rest of the day was spent with phone calls to her lawyer and to Roger.

"Honey, you want me to bring what to the house? Are you serious? Sweetie, itís the middle of summer...leather isnít the dress of choice...well, unless youíre going to Chaps."

Doing her best imitation of AbFabís Edina, She said, "Rah-jaaa, sweetie...darling, just be a dear man and bring me the bleepiní clothes. Kiss-kiss...bubye."

"Fine...I suppose you want the entire outfit, then, including the whip ?"

Giving it some thought, Liz replied, "Oh, what the hell, bring all of it. Iíll decide what to take later. Iíll see you around nine then. I gotta go. Later, babe."

She hung the phone up and prepared to leave. The University was across town and traffic would be a bitch at this hour. Let the games begin.

She entered the University grounds and found a visitorís space near the Archaeology building. Randiís office was on the second floor. She took the stairs, two at a time, until she was at the second floor landing. A turn to the right and down the hall put her at the double-door entrance. The bronze plaque read Randi S. James, Ph.D., Director Archaeological and Anthropology Studies. She let herself in the outer office. Randiís secretary had left for the day.

"Randi, you here?"

A voice called from the Directorís inner sanctum. "In here, Liz. And close the door would you?"

Liz entered the office, closing the door behind her. Randi was sitting at her mahogany desk, going over some papers, her glasses resting on the bridge of her nose. She looked over the top of the frames at Liz. There was a very disapproving look about her. She started before Liz had settled in the chair.

"Are you trying to completely ruin my career on purpose, or is it just a sideline with you?"

Liz was lost. "What are you talking about?"

Randi held up a sliver of green stone. "Iím talking about this. Do you have any idea of the position youíve put me in?"

Liz had had it with all the cryptic inferences. "Randi, just tell me what has your underwear in a wad. Cut to the chase, already. "

Randi stood and rounded the corner of the desk. She was standing over Liz like a very disappointed parent. "Liz, where did you get this stone? And donít give me that crap about Ďa friendí giving it to you."

Liz pushed the chair back slightly to give her some maneuvering room. "Well, I hate to disagree with you, but a friend did give it to me. Now what is all this about?"

Randi had backed off and was sitting on the edge of the desk. "Well, my dear, it seems your Ďfriendí is dealing in stolen antiquities."

Liz was slack-jawed. "You mean itís authentic? How old?"

"Oh, itís authentic, all right, in the neighborhood of 3000 years old. Right smack in the middle of the Mycenaean Civilization. But wait, thereís more. I submitted this piece for carbon-dating with some stones from a current dig. You wanna know what I was told? " She was pausing for effect. Randi loved theatrics. She should have been an actress. Liz knew it was a rhetorical question, and waited. "Not only was it dated from the same period as the others, it is from the same site. The only reason I have it in my possession now is Howard owed me a favor. I told him I was conducting a separate study on this one piece. He didnít believe me, of course, but didnít try to stop me. Now I want to know exactly where you got this. "

Liz had a chill run across her body. Ignoring Randiís probing, she posed a question of her own. She would have stood, but her knees were shaking.

"Randi, what do you know about Daedalius?"

The doctor stared at Liz with her hazel eyes. "You mean the inventor, Daedalus?"

Now Liz was confused. "No, the village of Daedalius. How do you spell the inventorís name?"

Randi spelled it out for her. "D-a-e-d-a-l-u-s. What do you mean the village of Daedalius? Spelled l-i-u-?"

"Iím not sure, I didnít see a sign. I could be wrong."

It was Randiís turn to sit down. "When were you in Greece? I thought you went to Key West for vacation. Liz, whatís going on? You are trying to sabotage my career, arenít you? How do you know about the dig in Greece?"

"Honestly, I donít know anything about the dig, but I need for you to tell me about it." Liz pleaded with Randi using those blue eyes. "Please, itís really important."

Randi could see arguing with her friend would be pointless. Besides, her curiosity had been aroused. She began.

"You know the story of Daedalus, donít you?" She didnít wait for a response. "Seems he fled Athens to Crete after murdering his apprentice-nephew. Although a genius, his personal life was filled with tragedy. While in Crete, he constructed a mechanical cow to satisfy the unnatural lust of Queen Pasiphae. Now this really pissed King Minos, and he imprisoned Daedalus and his son, Icarus, in a maze. But the good king hadnít counted on the inventorís ingenuity. He fashioned mechanical wings out of feathers and wax for himself and his son. Well, you know the rest of the story. Icarus ignored his fatherís warning and soared too close to the sun. The wax melted and he fell to his death in the Aegean. You with me so far?"

Liz nodded, "Uh-huh."

"So, after that disaster, Daedalus landed in Sicily, where he was protected by King Cocalus. Minos eventually showed up and was slain by Cocalus. Daedalus remained in Silicy, but he became so revered in Greece, that the Athenians commemorated him with a DEME...a city ward...named Daidalidai, which means Ďthe descendants of Daedalusí. Apparently, there were a number of cities named after him. The site thatís being excavated was discovered about five years ago. There is historical evidence that it is Daidalidai. It may also be the Daedalius youíre talking about. It would be too much of a coincidence otherwise."

Randi let this sink in before adding, "Oh, Loozee, you got some síplaininí to do."

Liz let loose a hearty laugh. "Oh, you donít know the half of it. Randi, I have to get to that site. Where is it?"

Randi waved both her hands as if to ward off an evil. "Oh,ít ask this of me. Iíve waited two years to get invited to this dig. You positively...absolutely...cannot go. I forbid it! Besides, Iím leaving in two days. Youíd have to have a valid visa, reservations, and God knows what else. Itís not possible."

Liz was not going to be denied. "Randi, I am going. If I have to stalk you in the Athens Airport and follow you to the site, I will. It would be easier if you took me as a Ďstudent assistantí. That way I can tell you a story on the way that will blow your pantyhose off. Címon, you know youíre dying to hear all this. I need your help, please." The last sentence was sincere and honest.

Randi had always found her friend headstrong and at times exasperating. She knew that Liz would indeed go to Greece, with or without her. She preferred to keep an eye on her. There might be a fabulous discovery in store. Randi gave in.

"Ok, hereís the deal. Iím on United flight 1143 into JFK and then Olympic 3425 to Athens. The flight leaves at nine am. Call my travel agent to see if you can arrange to be on the same flight, that would make it easier. Oh, and I hope you have a lot of money. This isnít going to be cheap." She was waiting for Liz to withdraw but it never happened.

"No problem, Iíll be there." Liz stood for the first time since entering the room. Her legs were surprisingly steady. She looked at her longtime friend with eyes of love. She was going to miss Randi. "Thanks, Randi. Iíll see you at the airport." She gave her a prolonged embrace and light kiss on the lips.

As she left the room, Randi remembered she still had the sliver of stone. She moved toward the door, but stopped. She would keep this little souvenir.

As Liz drove home, she was thinking of the unfolding adventure. It was all falling into place. She would see Roger later and give him instructions. He wasnít going to like it, but she had no alternative. In two days she would be on her way to Gabrielle. This was all that mattered and she could feel the sands of time running out. It would be close. She said a silent prayer to Gabrielleís protector, Artemis, that she would be in time.

Liz entered the condo and proceeded to finalize her Ďthings to doí. She wouldnít be taking much with her. She smiled and thought how Roger would react to this uncharacteristic twist. He was always giving her such a hard time about over-packing. A wave of sadness washed over her. She made her way over to her favorite chair, and looked out at the early evening. Brie hopped into her lap and began purring.

Liz looked at her small charge and lovingly stroked her soft coat. "You are the sweetest baby. Iím really going to miss you, but donít worry, Uncle Roger will take good care of you." On cue, RG jumped on the back of the chair and made her way down Lizís shoulder into her lap also. The raven beauty knew something was going to be different. Liz turned her attention to RG. "You know, donít you girl? You have to take care of Brie and keep Roger in line. It will be ok. "

All three sat in silence, exchanging love on a very cellular level. Liz always thought humans were at their best when communicating with animals. There were tears in her eyes. The act of leaving her babies would be the hardest. A knock on the door interrupted the agonizing thought. It was Roger.

Gently, she pried kitties from her lap, and apologized for disturbing them. She opened the door to let Roger in. He had several shopping bags filled with clothes.

"My, God, itís hot today. Just the idea of wearing any of this stuff makes me want to die. Honey, I need a cold drink. " He made his way to the fridge. In his hand was one of those funeral home cardboard fans. He was busy stirring the air about his face.

"Jeez, where did you find that? I feel like I should be sitting in a sweltering prayer meeting belting out ĎAmensí. And in case you havenít noticed, I have the air on. You may stop emoting at your leisure."

"Oh, just relax, you know how I love accessorizing. I found it in with some of the clothes you wanted. I canít imagine why I packed it away. It just screams...doesnít it?" He was posed against the counter giving her the Ďswooning southern belleí affectation.

"Yeah, it screams all right. Just what, Iím not sure. I thought you were thirsty?"

Liz brushed past the diva and retrieved the last bottle of champagne from the fridge.

"Sorry, but itís this or tap water." She searched for some glasses and handed Roger one.

"Not much of a choice. When are you going to get some groceries in this house? " Roger inspected the glass for signs of a previous inhabitant. Declaring it relatively clean, he poured the bubbly and made his way to the sofa. Brie and RG eyed him critically, and jumped off the chair. Brie did that little sideways-come-get-me-dance in front of RG as they disappeared into the bedroom.

Liz sauntered over to the sitting area, glass in hand. "Ok, letís see what we have here." She began pulling items from the bag. There were several pairs of leather pants, a pair of chaps, leather vest, harness, several wrist gauntlets and oh, yes, the whip. There was also a dark green caftan. "This will do nicely." She made a selection and headed for the bedroom. "Iíll be right back. Try not to rearrange the furniture while Iím gone."

She threw the clothes across the bed and went to the closet. Roger was conversing from the livingroom.

"Sweetheart, I donít mean to pry, but what in hell do you need with my clothes? In case you havenít noticed, we arenít exactly the same size. They wonít be very flattering, you know."

Lizís head was buried deep in the recesses of the closet. She yelled a reply, "I know, Iím not looking for a perfect fit. In fact, the more unassuming, the better." She spied the object of her quest. "There you are, my pretty." She hauled the boots from their resting place. "Now, I need a shirt. Not a tee, I think, but something functional that wonít look too out of place. She took a plain white gauze shirt from the hanger. "Yes...this will be perfect."

She proceeded to don the outfit. The pants were long, but not too bad. She could tuck the cuffs into her boots. She stuffed the shirt into the waistband and tightened the breeches with a leather belt. Now, should she wear the vest? "Hmmm", she mused aloud. It might get in the way but then again it would conceal her womanhood. On this trip she needed to be careful about her identity... the more neutral looking, the better. The caftan would offer even more cover... what about the whip? "Iíll take it with me and make a decision later."

"Well, are you going to keep me in suspense forever? It couldnít take that long to get dressed. I mean, you arenít a real queen, just an honorary one. Címon, parade that outfit for me, girl." The sounds of La Bouche filled the condo. That was her cue.

Liz strutted into the room, styliní ní profiliní. She made a complete turn through the living area before whipping the caftan off. Slinging it over her shoulder, she did one of those exaggerated-model-on-the-catwalk-hip-dislocating walks. Finally collapsing in a fit of laughter on the sofa. Roger was howling and whistling. The cats were hiding under the bed.

The music and hysteria subsided together. Liz took a long drink and stood in front of Roger. Turning slowly, she asked his opinion. "Well, what do you think? Does it make me look androgynous enough?"

Roger raised an eyebrow. "Oh, so thatís the look you were going for here. In that case, Iíd say we have a Ďwinnahí. Now tell me, why you would wear this out in public?"

Liz flopped into the chair, kicking the boots off, and curled her feet under her butt. "Roger, I have to be almost invisible when I enter Gabrielleís time. I need to blend with the local color."

"And this is what everyone is wearing? My gawd, youíre going to a land before queens. How perfectly dull. Well, if you take the whip at least youíll have a decent prop." He sat for a minute and turned a serious eye her way. "This is really going to happen, isnít it? I mean, youíre leaving."

Liz felt a lump in her throat. "Yes, day after tomorrow. Iím going with Randi to Greece. They are excavating a site that is probably Daedalius. I have know that."

"Are you coming home when itís done?" A mist clouded his eyes.

Liz felt a tear roll down her cheek. "I donít know. And for that reason I need for you to take care of things here. You know...the condo...the girls. I wouldnít trust anyone else with them. Promise me youíll do that. Iíve made arrangements with my lawyer to transfer a durable power of attorney to you for as long as I am gone. You will have authority to attend my affairs. You up to it? "

Roger was not comfortable with this conversation. "Oh, God, Liz, I donít know. You sound like youíre not coming back. Itís scaring me." Dealing with stressful situations was not Rogerís strong suit. He knew she was depending on him and he tried to be sturdy. "Ok, Iíll do it on one condition."

"All right, what is it?"

"You have to promise me youíll come back. Even if you think otherwise, just Ďsayí youíll come back."

Liz wasnít good at serious talk either. She tried to lighten the mood. "Roger, I promise, if there is anyway possible, I will come back. Besides, Iím only taking the clothes on my back. And you know how I love to change underwear."

Relieved the tone had shifted, Roger cracked a smile. "Thatís right, I forgot that you have stock in Jockey. Of course, youíll be back. Now, you want me to show you how to operate that whip?"

"Why, Roger, youíve been keeping secrets from me again." Liz said with a gleam in her eye.

"I have many talents, madam. The whip is the harness is a different story." He winked.

Liz closed her eyes and made a cross with her two index fingers. " Please, donít enlighten me. This is way too much information."

The friends laughed...kidded...hugged...and cried the evening away. Roger left with a promise to ferry Liz to the airport on the appointed day. She locked up, took a long hot bath and crawled into bed. She was asleep before her head hit the pillow. Brie and RG appeared on the bed and curled up close to their mom. This was one of the last times they would do this.



Gabrielle was in that dark place again. She could hear pieces of a conversation. She thought it was Xena, but it was so muffled, it was hard to tell. She wanted to understand the words, but they made no sense. It was so hard to stay awake. She just wanted to sleep. Images of her life kept going by. Her mother watching her leave Potidaea with Xena, the look on Lilaís face, her face morphing into that of Perdicus and then Callisto. She was in the Amazon village with Xena in the Queenís hut. Xena was making love to her, touching, kissing, stroking... the sound of the campís drums outside the hut keeping time with their intensity. She felt the wave of desire and culmination of that desire wash over her. She was one with body. Xena was her destiny, she had always known this. But there was another life force pulling at uncompleted expression...a phantom.

She was in the cold again. The floor falling away from her. She clung for dear life by her bare fingertips.

"Please, someone help me! XENA!! HELP M !!"

She saw her warrior staring down at her, but offering no help.

"I canít help you, Gabrielle. This is your doing."

"Oh, sure you can, Xena, just take my hand."

Gabrielle reached up to find Liz looking at her. "Liz, please take my hand. Donít let me die like this!"

Liz stood frozen before her. This seemed slightly different.

"Gabrielle, listen to me. We are linked by a rip time, you must go to Daedalius, to Amoria. I have to come to your time to seal this thing. Do you understand?"

Gabrielle could hold on no longer. She fell into eternal darkness, screaming.

Gabrielle opened her eyes. The room was dark, but not totally. There were oil lamps glowing faintly along the wall. She was on a narrow bed of some sort. She raised her head slightly and was rewarded by a sharp pain between her eyes. She went to place her hand to her face but couldnít move it. Her left wrist was tied to the bed as well as both of her ankles. She turned to her right and saw the top of Xenaís head. She was cradling Gabrielleís arm and holding her hand. She slid her arm from under Xenaís face and stroked her hair.

Quietly she spoke, "Xena? Where am I?"

The warrior lifted her head and looked into her loveís eyes. She was overcome with pure emotion.

"Oh, Gods, Gabrielle. Youíre awake. I was so worried about you."

Xena embraced the bard, tears flowing unrestricted down her cheeks onto Gabrielleís. The bard held on to Xena with her free hand. Xena kissed her full on the mouth. Gabrielle noticed soreness on her chin and lip but hungrily returned the passion. She so loved Xena. The warrior freed her left wrist and Gabrielle pulled Xena into her breasts. They held this embrace for awhile. Xena pulled back to unloosen the binds on her ankles.

Gabrielle needed to tell Xena about the dream. She felt awful.

"Xena, we have to go to"

Xena looked at her and shook her head. "Youíre not going anywhere, let alone Daedalius. You need to rest. You look awful."

Gabrielle knew if she looked half as bad as she felt she was indeed a sorry sight. But she also knew they had to get to Daedalius. It was literally a matter of life or death...hers. As bad as she felt, she had to make Xena understand the importance of this. She pushed herself up on her elbows. It was a monumental effort. Xena was not pleased.

"Gabrielle, lie down, please. Youíve been through a traumatic event. Youíve got to rest." She placed her hands on the bardís shoulders to discourage further movement. Gabrielle took Xenaís hand in her own and looked directly into her soul.

"Xena, listen to me. I canít explain it, but I donít have much time. My only hope is in Daedalius. If you love me, take me there, to Amoria." It was all she had the strength to get out. She lapsed into unconsciousness and slumped in the arms of Xena.

"Gabrielle!! Oh, honey, please, no. What do you mean you donít have much time?" Xena yelled to an attendant outside the room. "Someone get Hippocrates in here, now!!"

Hippocrates entered the room to find Xena holding Gabrielle in her arms.

"Xena, what happened? Did she regain consciousness?"

Without looking at the physician, Xena spoke, "Yes, but just for a moment. She said something about needing to get to Daedalius. She said she didnít have much time. I donít know what she meant."

Xena continued to hold the bard close to her. She was scared not only for Gabrielle but for herself. The thought of losing her was almost more than her heart could take. Gabrielle was part of her, the most honorable part. Without her, the darkness would surely occupy that space again.

"Hippocrates, I donít know what to do. She is too frail to make that trip but she was very insistent. I donít think moving her is a good idea." Xena was looking to Hippocrates to confirm her preference for Gabrielle.

Hippocrates bent over Gabrielle and examined her face and general condition. She was getting worse. He faced the warrior. "Xena, I need to be very honest with you. Gabrielleís condition is deteriorating, thereís nothing more I can do for her here. I believe taking her to Daedalius and Amoria is her only hope." He paused to let the words form reason. "I think you should take her as soon as possible. I will have a transportation litter prepared." The words werenít even out of his mouth before the activity started around Xena and Gabrielle.

A covered cart was pulled to the side entrance. Xena and Hippocrates loaded Gabrielle into the back. Satisfied she was secure and comfortable, Xena took the bardís face in her hands, lightly kissing her lips. "Hang on, Gabrielle. Donít you even think about leaving me, you hear?" Xena knew this was serious when Hippocrates entered the cart to ride with his patient. This was very serious and all the more reason to hurry. She mounted Argo and led the cart, holding her life, away from the compound. They would be in Daedalius late the next day. Xena would have preferred to take Gabrielle to Widgie. She had tremendous faith in the Oracleís abilities. This...Amoria wasnít nearly as talented, but Gabrielle had been so insistent. She prayed it was the right decision.

The small entourage stopped only when it became too dark to safely travel. Xena tended Argo and then spent the night next to Gabrielle. She held her close and whispered words of love and encouragement in her ear.

"I promise you weíll take some time off when all this is done. I know how you love to shop. Maybe weíll go to Athens and you can ransack the market. Youíd like that, wouldnít you, my love? All those merchants just waiting to be outdone by your haggling skills. But maybe weíll just find a secluded valley with a cool clear lake and spend time alone. Weíll swim and fish during the day and Iíll make love to you all night. Oh, Gods, how I love you, Gabrielle. You are whatís best in my life. I donít want to live without you. You have to be all just have to." Most of what Xena felt was communicated non-verbally through her caressing of Gabrielle. She would have given her life for the slightest indication that the bard understood. The warrior drifted into a fitful sleep, holding Gabrielle.

Hippocrates woke Xena early in the morning. It was time to get underway. Gabrielle was pale and washed-out looking, her body bathed in a continuous sweat. The arrival in Daedalius couldnít be quick enough for Xena. Her heart was pounding in sync with Argoís hoofbeats. Toward twilight the caravan entered the village. Upon seeing the warrior princess astride Argo, they cleared a wide path. She still was remembered as a fierce warlord, old habits die hard. As Xena passed, mothers pulled their children behind them. This act of sheer fear wasnít lost on the warrior. Their prejudices, however, didnít concern Xena. The welfare of Gabrielle was the only issue. The whole village could burn in Hades for all she cared. Amoria was waiting outside her door as the cart pulled up. She had been expecting them.

She spoke before the wheels stopped rolling. "Bring the girl inside." The healer turned and faded inside. Hippocrates, his aide and Xena gently moved Gabrielle to the interior of the hut. Amoria motioned for them to place the bard on a pallet near the fire. She positioned herself between Xena and the ailing Gabrielle. Without looking up, she spoke to the warrior.

"Take your leave, warrior. I need to examine the girl." No further words came from her lips. She began her ministrations over Gabrielle. Xena was tired and worried sick. The womanís curt actions were pushing her near the edge. She moved forward to protest. Hippocrates placed a hand on her arm and gave her one of those Ďplease donítí looks.

"Címon, Xena, let Amoria do what she does best. Gabrielle is in good hands here. You need to take care of Argo and we all could use some decent food. Sheíll come get us when itís time." Xena knew he was right and reluctantly left the room.

She walked Argo to the livery and arranged for a stall and feed. She had no idea how long they would be there. She paid for several days housing and then made her way to the inn. She found Hippocrates sitting at a table in the back. It was the same one she and Gabrielle had occupied a few months back. How she wished sheíd never seen this place or agreed to help Aphrodite. Her life was falling apart and she was unable to really do anything about it. She cared little for Amoria and had less faith in her abilities. Why did Gabrielle want to come here? Hippocrates talking interrupted her musings.

"Xena, sit down, please. Youíre making everyone nervous."

She looked around the inn, and sure enough, it was filled with patrons about to soil their collective undergarments. She was tense and that emotion had been broadcast to the entire room. They interpreted her demeanor as one of aggression and it produced the appropriate Ďpucker factorí. Xena ignored their stares and sat. You could feel the group of men sigh with relief. Slowly, the inn went back to business as usual. The innkeeper delivered two mugs of port to the table and made a hasty retreat. When Xena was in a bad mood, it wasnít a good day for anyone.

Hippocrates took a long drink before talking to his tablemate. "You know, Amoria is very capable in these matters. You need to just let her work."

Xena didnít like much of anything about this. "Oh, sheís capable all right." Her voice was dripping with sarcasm. "I didnít tell you about her part in all this, did I?" She took a swig of her port and continued before he could respond. "She practically put Gabrielle and Liz in bed together. She knew about the bet between Aphrodite and Zeus but didnít tell them. She could have prevented that part of it. Hades, I donít know who I distrust the most, Oracles or the gods." She took another long drink and motioned for the innkeeper to bring another.

Hippocrates could see where this was headed. He was just too tired to deal with a raging warrior. "What are you really angry about, Xena? The fact that Gabrielle slept with Liz or that you gave Aphrodite permission to manipulate them?"

Xenaís eyes flashed at the physician. "I didnít know Aphrodite was going to manipulate them! She promised not to. I believed her, Hippocrates. And now look where we are... Gabrielle is fighting for her life because of that...that...woman. Gods, I wish I could get my hands on her!"

Hippocrates tried to remain calm. "Well, with all due respect, Xena, you know how Aphrodite is. Trusting her should have been your last option. But this is a moot happened...itís done. We need to concentrate on the matter at hand. There is a reason Gabrielle wanted to come here and it wasnít to personally punish you. Try thinking from somewhere besides between your legs for once."

He was taking a very big chance talking to the warrior like this. It would either realign her thinking or Xena would realign his face. He waited for the decision.

Xena finished her first mug and started in on the second. She almost drained it before speaking. "Ok, Iíll give you concession on this point. Iím not happy about all of this but my first concern is Gabrielle. I will do whatever I have to for her to be healed."

Xena was about to find out what her limits were concerning this situation. One of the street urchins came over to the table. The child was filthy and obviously malnourished. He spoke so quietly, Xena had to strain to hear his words.

"Amoria says for you to come now." He turned to leave but Xena caught his thin arm. "Here, for your trouble little one." She pressed some coins in his small hand. She waved for the innkeeper to bring food to the table. "You, boy, sit and eat. We will eat later. I wonít take no for an answer." The child was starving and greedily complied. Xena couldnít believe the village would allow children to go hungry. Just another reason to be done with this place. She and Hippocrates made their way to Amoriaís hut.

They entered the space and found Amoria sitting by Gabrielle. The bard was resting on an elevated pallet near the open hearth. She was breathing in a slow regular pattern...not as labored. Her color wasnít good. She almost looked like she was fading away. Xena went to her side and held her hand. The distress on Xenaís face was evident. She looked at the healer. "Whatís wrong with her, Amoria?" It was a direct, honest question. She was hoping for a like answer. She wasnít prepared for Amoriaís reply.

"Sheís dying." Amoria may as well have stabbed Xena in the heart. Xena took the healer by the shoulders and got in her face. There was a controlled rage in her voice. She spoke through clenched teeth.

"You listen to me, healer. I didnít come all this way for you to tell me sheís dying. She is not dying, you hear me. Gabrielle wanted to come here for a reason. And it wasnít to die. Now, Iíll ask you again...whatís wrong with her ?" Xena released Amoria and waited.

The seer was unfazed by Xenaís body language. "Come and sit, Xena. I have much to tell you." She turned from the warrior and settled into a chair near the fire. Xena reluctantly followed and took a seat opposite her. It was exactly where Liz had sat months earlier. Hippocrates settled near Gabrielle, holding the bardís hand.

Amoria looked Xena in the eyes and began. "Xena, Gabrielleís life-force is being drained. There is a disturbance in the stars and she is being pulled in too many directions. She cannot resolve this conflict so she has opted to stop fighting. There is one chance for her survival. The traveler is coming to heal this tear in her. You will have to find her and bring her here. She brings the key with her, but she must make the connection with Gabrielle. Do you understand what I am asking of you?"

Xena thought, ĎYeah, that means I canít throttle her until Gabrielle has the key.í

Amoria shook her head, "It means you canít harm her in any way, warrior. You will have to put aside your ego if you want Gabrielle to live. Now, I ask you again. Can you do this?"

Cold blue eyes pierced Amoriaís. She was shaken that the healer had read her thoughts. "Yes, I can do this. How do I find her? When will she be here?"

"Soon, Xena, she will be here soon. I will know. For now, go be with your friend. She needs your love and assurance. Though she cannot speak, she can hear you. Talk to her. I will let you know when itís time."

Amoria rose from her seat. She motioned for Hippocrates to join her outside. Xena and Gabrielle were alone. The warrior spoke to her love.

"Well, my love, here we are. Your time traveling girl is on her way. Sheís bringing the key...whatever that is...and youíll be well again. I miss you, honey...I miss hearing your voice...I miss yours lips on me and your hands exploring my body. You have some serious catching up to do. " Xena was trying to sound positive but the idea of Liz actually showing up was hard to believe. She had very mixed emotions about this. Her need to thrash the bitch was tempered by Amoriaís warning. It was rather like being caught as a child doing something naughty. She didnít like it then and she sure as Hades didnít care for it now. She decided to play it by ear. With any luck, Liz would incite her and give reason for an altercation. She felt better knowing there may be a chance for Gabrielle. It was almost time.

Chapters 10 - 13