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DISCLAIMER: This is an Uber and the characters are based on Xena and Gabrielle. I dont own Xena or Gabrielle and this was written entirely in fun. No copyright infringement was intended.
SUBTEXT DISCLAIMER: Very light...subtle
VIOLENCE/LANGUAGE DISCLAIMER: No violence but there is some light language used.
HUMOROUS DISCLAIMER: No tires were harmed during the writing of this fanfic. The dummy spare was however, emotionally damaged but we think it will be okay with some therapy...
OTHER STUFF: This story is dedicated to my beta reader Stacey. If you like this story, its better because of her. Thank you Stacey for putting up with me and for all of your help.
Hope you have as much fun reading it as I had writing it. Feedback is always welcome and appreciated. Thanks.
Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
|Part 1||Part 2|
It was a lonely stretch of road, dark and rage filled. The wind lashed with a fury on this night, the rain whipping back and forth in the ever-changing gale. Thunder boomed, echoing off in the distance as lightning lit up the sky with an eerie glow. Nothing stirred on the flat expanse of land, save for two small shafts of yellowish light, barely distinguishable in the face of Mother Natures howling rampage.
The beams crawling across the ground were of little use this night as were the sluggish wipers that repeated their tireless journey across the windshield, screaming their protest with an agonizing squeak on the return.
Soft music wafted through the car blending with a soft melodic voice humming to calm jangled nerves, contrasting with the frenzy outside.
The young woman sat with her shoulders slightly hunched and the collar of her coat drawn up around her as if to ward off the cold or some unknown fear. She leaned into the steering wheel, her knuckles almost turning white as she clutched it, trying to keep the car on the virtually non-existent road. Her eyes squinted as she peered outside praying that the weather wouldnt worsen.
Wisps of strawberry blond hair had escaped the neat tight bun and fell forward to frame the delicate heart-shaped face. A slender hand reached up and impatiently pushed the honey colored strands away from emerald green eyes.
"Im gonna kill Steve for this." She sighed. "He could have asked anyone else there but nooo..." She blew out an exasperated breath. "He had ta call me...make me get outta bed and drive forty miles in the middle of one of the worst thunderstorms in history in the middle of the frickin night..."
Not that she minded really....
After all...better safe than sorry...right?
She was shocked out of her musings when the car seemed to come to life, the steering wheel lurching violently to the hard left, forcing the car into the opposite lane.
The woman clamped down on the wheel, the muscles in her forearms straining with the effort to get the car under control. She could hear and dimly registered the ominous thub...thub...thub of the rubber from the blow out as it slapped the pavement with each revolution.
Teeth gritted; she wrenched the wheel to the right, forcing the car back into her own lane and then onto the shoulder. She fought to hold it as her foot found the brake, pumping rhythmically in an effort to slow the vehicle without skidding on the rain slicked road.
When the car finally stopped, she gratefully pushed the gearshift to park and slumped forward, panting slightly as her forehead rested on the steering wheel. The beads of sweat ran down her face and she wiped her brow, then straightened her arms and flexed her hands, which were cramping from trying to hold the wheel in place.
"Oh nononono...NO! Can anything else go wrong tonight?"
Lightning burst directly overhead, the jagged bolts reaching menacingly for her as it lit the surrounding area in an apocalyptic glow. Seconds later thunder roared its answer, making her flinch as her hand flew to cover her heart.
"Okay, okay..." She breathed, green eyes cast skyward. "Im sorry...I take it back. I dont really want an answer to that question."
The young woman reached for her purse in the seat next to her and pulled it onto her lap, rummaging through it.
"Easily fixed..." She pulled out her little black cell phone with a smirk, glad now that her sister had talked her into getting it. She flipped the top up, the internal light instantly coming on and lighting up the numbers and digital display, bathing her face in an eerie green glow. She held it in her palm, dialing the familiar number with her thumb, then held it up to her ear as she waited for it to connect and then begin ringing.
She breathed a small sigh of relief when she heard her sisters groggy voice.
"Hey Susan...its me."
"Cait? Where are ya? I can hardly hear..."
"...okay?" Her sisters more alert voice cut back in.
"Yeah Susan Im fine, but..."
She lowered the phone and stared at it incredulously, then was snapped out of her trance when the internal lights blinked off as the phone died completely, leaving her with just the dashboard and radio lights for comfort.
"Okaaay...I forgot to charge it. No problem...Ill just plug it in..." Cait unbuckled her seat belt then leaned over to the passengers seat and popped open the dashboard, searching through it for the plug as she muttered to herself.
"Shit! Its gotta be here..." She slammed the small door closed when she didnt find it, then redirected her search. She felt around on the seat and in the passenger door pocket then on the floor, laying her whole body across the seat with her head almost in the floorboard.
A thunderclap exploded seemingly inside the car and she recoiled, hitting the back of her head on the dash as she shot up in a reflex action.
A slim well shaped hand flew to the back of her head and even white teeth clenched together as she fought to control her temper. Cait realized she had no one to blame but herself for this one as it hit her why the cord wasnt in the car.
She had taken the adaptable charging cord into work to plug into the base so she could charge the phone. However since she was there a grand total of fifteen minutes...and for most of it she was angry...she had never gotten around to it. Then when she left she forgot to grab the cord so here she was now...
"I cant even believe this crap." Annoyed green eyes rolled skyward again. "Is this some kind of punishment? Is that what this is?"
The rain slashed more fiercely at the windshield as bursts of lightning lit the sky, followed immediately by booming thunder.
"Ill take that as a yes." She muttered. "Well alrighty then..."
Cait sat up straight and took a deep breath, then took in her surroundings trying to decide on a course of action. She couldnt see anything out of her rain-streaked side windows and she could barely make out the soft red glow of the taillights in the rear view mirror. The headlights illuminated the road ahead, but she couldnt see anything past the beam, and what she could make out was blurred at best thanks to the lethargic wipers.
She turned the radio down and closed her eyes, and putting her hands to either side of her head, she began to massage her temples, which were throbbing with the beginnings of a huge headache.
"Okay...what do we know?" She muttered "Ive got a blowout, but I have a jack and a spare."
Cait glanced outside.
"Its raining cats and dogs and doesnt show any sign of stopping, but I have an umbrella..."
She reached over the back of the seat and felt for the umbrella she had tossed into the car before she had left, half expecting to find it gone with her luck. She let out a held breath when her hand finally closed on it and she pulled it into the front seat.
"Well, I guess that tires not gonna change itself huh?" She glanced at the traitorous cell phone lying innocently on the seat as she grabbed her keys from the ignition and grasped the door handle.
Steeling herself, she opened the door and flung her hand up to shield her face as the wind and rain whipped around the door and immediately lashed at its newest target.
She swiveled and put her left foot down on the slippery pavement as she poked her practical black umbrella out in front of her and pushed it open until it locked into place. The storm howled around her as a new burst of wind bore down, flinging the door back towards her. Pulling her foot and both hands back in, she managed to stay in one piece.
The umbrella wasnt so lucky.
The door hadnt shut completely but not for lack of trying. The umbrella had been crushed in the door, the handle still clutched in shaking hands, and the part that had been opened had been compressed flat against itself.
Cait sighed as her eyes rolled shut and she tipped her head back. Giving a small shake of her head, she opened her eyes and leaned on the door. She needlessly yanked the door handle with one hand and gave it a shove with her shoulder as she pulled the mangled umbrella into the car with her other hand.
Lightning flashed, illuminating the twisted metal and ripped fabric, making true her fear that it was completely useless now.
"Well..." She took a deep breath and held it, then released it slowly. "I guess I wont melt."
I hope... She added silently. After all, I wouldnt be surprised the way my night is going.
Once again, putting her shoulder against the door, she pushed and stepped out into the fury. This time she was ready for the wind and braced against the door until she stood well away from it. When she let go, the door slammed shut, its thump muted in the screaming storm.
She walked to the back of the vehicle, her long coat whipping around her in the gale, and her hair coming undone from the neat bun in the face of the storm. She held her hand up to block the rain out of her face as she stared disgustedly at the malicious tire, frayed and pathetic in all its glory.
Snorting, she walked to the trunk, careful not to trip on the pieces of shredded rubber that had been flung from the tire while the car had been in motion. She found the right key by feel and pushed it into the lock, then pushed the trunk up and pinned it in place with a piece of wood she kept inside.
She got the jack and tire iron out, then lifted the false bottom and pushed it aside. Wiping her hands on her now soaked coat, she pushed her equally soaked hair out of her face and reached back inside.
Grabbing hold of the tire with both hands, she braced her feet as well as she could on the slippery ground and pulled. Her arms strained with the effort, and she could feel the pull in her back as the tire grudgingly moved from its comfy home. Moisture trickled down her temple and neck and she shivered as it made its way along its path tickling her. She wiped it away, not sure if it was rain or perspiration, then went back to her task.
The tire finally came free and she balanced it on the lip off the trunk for a moment before letting it fall to the ground. It bounced a couple of times, but kept upright thanks to her slightly shaking hands.
Rolling the tire between her knees, she pulled the piece of wood out and tossed it inside then let the trunk close itself after pulling the keys out and tucking them in her pocket.
A burst of wind rose and knocked her back a step, but she grabbed hold of the trunk and steadied herself, not an easy feat with a tire pinned between her legs. She waited until it died down, then rolled the tire around to the back wheel and let it fall, then she went back for the jack and tire iron.
Cait dropped to her knees...right into a mud puddle...and felt the cold wetness sink into her jeans.
With a disgusted sigh, she placed the jack under the car, then fit the tire iron into place and began pumping, stopping twice to check her progress.
When she thought the car was high enough, she moved to the wheel with the iron and began removing the lug nuts.
A brilliant flash of silver illuminated her chore followed by a loud rumbling of thunder. The rain seemed to slack off then and she directed a thanks upward into the cloud covered night sky.
She pulled the last lug nut off then got into a crouch next to the tire. Grabbing hold with both hands she tugged for all she was worth but the thing wouldnt move.
"This really sucks..." She swiped the hair out of her face again leaving a line of grease and dirt in her wake, then went back to her task. "Just wanted anyone up there whos listening to know, I get the message...okay?"
Throwing everything she had into a final heave she wrenched against the tire.
She felt her hands slipping and she tried to catch herself, but her body was too committed to stop and she flew backwards to land with a small splash on her butt, barely able to get her hands behind her in time to stop from sprawling completely out.
Cait sat glaring at the stubborn tire for a moment as the storm picked up and thick sheets of rain pelted her mercilessly.
Shaking herself, she started to get up but stopped as the hair on the nape of her neck stood up.
Lightning flashed illuminating the sky...and a pair of boots standing very near to her.
She scrambled backwards, much as a crab would as her eyes followed the boots up jean encased legs which disappeared beneath a heavy winter coat. She followed it up farther to find a face covered by a hood drawn so far forward that she wasnt even sure there was a face in there.
Caits mind worked furiously as she shot to her feet, stumbling backward slightly.
"Take it easy." The voice rumbled carelessly from the hood as the figure raised both hands, palms outward in a placating gesture.
Cait stared at the...form...open-mouthed, who seemed to have a glow coming from around its body. Then she mentally slapped herself as she realized it was just headlights from a vehicle parked behind her own framing the persons body.
The figure reached up slowly with one hand while keeping the other in plain sight, and pushed her hood back. She stood in the halo of head lights, the front of her body enshrouded in darkness before lightning flashed again, revealing the strong angular face of a woman, expressionless almost to the point of cold.
Cait took an involuntary step back at the remoteness of the other woman, who merely cocked her head as she waited patiently.
Of course...shes waiting for me to decide whether or not to trust her.
Her mind prickled as though there was something she should know about this person but she couldnt quite grasp it. She assessed that thought for a moment and decided that whatever it was; it wasnt something she should fear. Tucking that away, she went back to studying the woman.
Cait couldnt tell the color of her eyes, but she could tell that her hair was dark, so very dark, almost raven colored with blue highlights brought out by the lightning and it hung loose, whipping viciously around her head in the storm. She stood proud... invincible and so sure of herself and it seemed that even Mother Nature calmed in the face of this supreme woman.
And then Cait realized that she too was being studied while this unyielding woman waited.
"Sorry...you startled me." Cait cleared her throat.
"No, Im sorry. Tried to warn ya, but you didnt hear me." She lowered her hands and pointed to the tire with one long well shaped finger. "Thought maybe you could use a hand?"
Not moving her head, Caits eyes flicked to the tire and then back to the woman.
"Id be grateful." She raised her voice loud enough to be heard over the rising wind.
The woman nodded and walked over to the tire, then crouched down to assess the situation as she rested one arm on her leg.
Cait walked over to the car but kept her distance from the stranger and stayed standing, the logical part of her not entirely sure if she could trust this person yet.
Her other parts...like her heart...well they were screaming for all they were worth to just...
"Why dont you get into the car and get warm and dry? Just ease into it carefully so you dont knock the car off of the jack."
Cait nodded and opened the door slowly, the interior light spilling out onto the ground and the form crouching nearby.
Cait stopped and turned back to the woman.
"Dont suppose you have an umbrella?" The strong sculpted face turned up to her, and one dark brow lifted as a corner of her mouth quirked into a small grin.
"No...I..." Able to see more clearly from the dome light, Cait stared down into impossible blue eyes, losing herself and any coherent thoughts as a feeling of...recognition...in the form of safety and warmth washed over her in waves.
"Thats okay." The womans low velvety voice brought her out of her reverie. "Go ahead and get in the car so I can get this changed."
Those wonderful blue eyes lifted to her again, questioning her, blinking slightly as the rain pelted her.
"If youre staying out here, then...so am I." Cait lifted her chin defiantly as she eased the door closed, silently mourning that it sent her savior back into the shadows and she wouldnt be able to clearly see into her sapphire eyes. Now the only light cast on the woman was from the headlights of her own car, creating a halo effect which efficiently hid her expressions from Cait.
It felt...right...saying that. Cait mused. I should be wherever she is; facing whatever she is...
As if the only place she should ever be is at this womans side.
"All right." The woman nodded. "But stand well back."
"Uh...my names Cait, by the way."
She held out a small hand tentatively, then felt a tingling surge through her arm when the other woman gently took it, her larger hand enveloping Caits in a soft, safe warmth.
Cait nodded then stepped back to watch as the woman repositioned herself, then grasped the tired and pulled. The thing came off with seemingly no effort and she set it well out of the way.
Jess picked up the other tire and stared at it for a moment.
"This is a dummy."
Cait looked at the spare, then back to Jess, her brow furrowed.
"Yeah...so?" She shrugged her shoulders, feeling a chill run through her as she disturbed the wet fabric of her clothes and it resettled on her.
Jess lay the tire down and got to her feet, then walked over to her own car. She opened the drivers door, reached inside and then pulled back out shutting the door.
"What are you doing?" Cait yelled over the howling wind. When she got no response she figured she hadnt been heard, so she waited and watched as Jess walked to the now open trunk and pulled out a tire.
She rolled it over to Caits car and crouched down so she could slip it in place.
"Wait a sec...what are you doing?" She crouched beside the taller woman; her eyes flicking back and forth between her savior and the lug nuts that were being systematically tightened.
"You cant try to drive on that dummy spare in this storm. Youll be off the road in no time. Lucky our cars take the same size tire."
Cait watched as Jess raised a shoulder and tilted her head to rub her cheek against it in an effort to push her hair back from her face since both hands were still busy.
Before she could think what she was doing, Cait raised a hand and captured the offending lock in her slender fingers, pushing it back away from the sculpted face and brushing a warm, soft cheek with her knuckles.
Slowly, Jesss head turned toward her until sapphire eyes met emerald and held for a very long moment.
Cait felt the breath being sucked out of her and her heart thrummed erratically against her ribs as her world spun out of control and she fell headlong into the familiar bottomless blue eyes that seemed to be lit from within.
And in that instant she didnt ever want her world to right itself, if it meant not having this...
Thunder rumbled overhead and strengthened, redoubling its efforts to shake the world to pieces as the rain slashed down on two figures so lost in each other for those heartbeats that nothing could have pulled them apart.
Except an iron will.
Jess blinked and shook her head as she turned back to the last lug nut, then moved to the jack and lowered the car.
Cait blinked as well when Jess broke the spell and she pressed her hands to her eyes.
What in the name of Artemis just happened?
Cait dropped her hands and opened her eyes, focusing on Jess...
...whose cool, calm air was gone to be replaced by...nervousness? She was standing there holding the tire iron in one hand while the other hand fiddled idly with it. She had been looking at Cait, but when the younger woman opened her eyes Jess ducked her head and shuffled her feet, looking almost comically like a shy child.
Cait realized that this was the first time the woman had shown any sign of apprehension or discomfort and she marveled at the change.
"Uh...could ya...pop the trunk."
"Huh? Oh...yeah." Cait opened the door and found the latch for the trunk, wondering vaguely why she didnt use it the first time instead of messing with the keys. That thought got her started and she mentally replayed her night.
When she got to the part where Jess had showed up, she played it in slow motion and then took a second reviewing what had just happened between them and decided she didnt have a clue.
And Artemis? What in the heck? Where did that come from?
Tucking that thought aside, she walked to the rear where Jess was just sliding the false bottom into place after tucking the dummy spare back into its snug home. Finished with that, the taller woman put the jack and tire iron away, then she took the piece of wood out and guided the trunk closed.
Cait watched as Jess lay both palms on the trunk keeping her back to the smaller woman, staring down at the vehicle as though she could see through the metal.
She seemed to gather herself together, Cait thought as she noted the slight slump of Jesss shoulders and the small gulps of air she pulled in.
Cait got the impression that it was not something meant for her to see, so she turned and headed for the drivers side of her car.
"I dont have much money on me..." She called over her shoulder. "...but will you take a check for your tire..."
She turned and opened the drivers door, then flung a hand up to shade her eyes from headlights that caught her face as they lanced past her.
When the car was gone she put her hand down, and her eyes tracked to where Jess had been parked.
"...and your time..." She finished in a whisper as she turned to watch the retreating taillights of her night angel.
To Be Continued...
Yes you read that right. TBC. Just so yall dont want to lynch me, let me tell you what I have in mind. Night Angel is going to be the first in a series of vignettes that tells the story of Cait and Jess. Im thinking a total of 3 or 4 vignettes. So I guess youll just have to come back to check and see if they get together in the end, wont ya?
By Shalon -- 22Jun99
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