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Xena and Callisto are the property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance
Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended, and no financial profit
is anticipated. :-) Please check with me before archiving or distributing.

This story takes place during the time frame of the episode, "Return of
Callisto," on the night of Gabrielle's wedding to Perdicas, although I've
probably somewhat altered the time frame. The story won't make a lot of
sense unless you're familiar with that episode. It's not a cheerful story,
so if you don't like darker themes, this would be a good place to stop
reading. It is not in the same continuity as my other stories. It's rated
R for f/f sex (not particularly graphic) and some violence.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Heaven's just a rumor she'll dispel
as she walks me through the nicest parts of hell
i still dream of lips i never should have kissed
well she knows exactly what i can't resist

--Nine Inch Nails, "Sanctified," _Pretty Hate Machine_ (TVT Music, 1989)



Xena Warroir Prince: Blood Sisters
by Atara Stein

She had to find Callisto. That snake Theodorus hadn't known where she was,
but she had to find her. Xena thought about Hercules pursuing her after
Darphus had disobeyed her and slaughtered an entire village, children
included. She remembered the waves of anger rolling off him as they had
fought--and something else too. Was it desire even then? And now here she
was on a similar crusade to stop a murdering fiend with no respect for
human life. Another time she might have been able to muster a wry smile at
the irony, but not this night.

As she rode, her own determination seemed to be streaming away behind her
into the breeze. Even her muscles seemed increasingly sapped of strength,
and her heart thudded dully against the cold walls that seemed to constrict
it. Her lungs drew less air, which couldn't flow past the growing block in
her chest. She couldn't fight Callisto, not tonight. Gabrielle was married,
and Xena didn't know if she would ever be able to force herself to get up
again once she lay down. Gabrielle was married, was offering herself to
Perdicas, and the pain was threatening to swamp her. At the wedding, she
had smiled, assuring Gabrielle that she was happy in her happiness. It was
the performance of a lifetime, and she had only gotten through it by damming
up her feelings through fierce will and cold determination. Now, the ice
built up around her heart, but threatened to melt into a never-ending flood.
Xena fought the tears, afraid that if they started they'd never stop.

But they kept threatening because Gabrielle was married, and all the joy and
all the light in the world was taken away from her. By Perdicas--who had
captured Gabrielle's heart with his distaste for violence. No, not by
Perdicas. It was Gabrielle's choice, and she had left her warrior companion
for a life without swords and blood and battles. Battles? Xena didn't think
she had strength even to draw her sword.

Yet part of her wanted to draw it, to feel it jabbing through flesh, again
and again. Dangerous thoughts. Thoughts that would draw Ares to her side if
they didn't stop arriving unbidden in her brain. Ares. She was tempted, very
tempted. Xena envisioned the unruly mane of black hair, the swelling biceps,
the muscular chest with its covering of dark curls, the powerful thighs, and
the self-satisfied grin that infuriated and stirred her at the same time.
His heat was sufficient to boil her grief away, render the threatening flood
into harmless steam. He would consume her with heat and sweat and bloodlust
and the smell of leather and his own dark musk.

No. If she went down that path, now, this night, she would never come back.
She would never be able to give it up. Every time the pain and grief
threatened, she would burn it away with lust and battle, her quest for good
overwhelmed in an addiction to the only sensations strong enough to keep her
sorrow at bay. No, not Ares. At least not yet. Not everyone had the god of
war available to quench their miseries. There were other ways.

She had spotted an inn ahead. And, exhausted and drooping, she felt she
couldn't ride any longer. Not tonight. She forced herself through the motions
of stabling Argo and getting her water and hay, then went inside. Within
moments she found herself at a corner table, back to the wall out of force of
habit, and a mug of dry red wine clutched like a lifeline in her hand. The
serving-girl recognized the look on Xena's face--she had seen it in many a
patron--and full mugs followed the first one in rapid succession. This one
would need a place to sleep--she obviously wasn't going anywhere tonight.
"I'll order a room ready for you?" she had inquired, and Xena had nodded
dully. Her heart's only home had left her, and it didn't matter where she
slept.

Xena had become very adept at drinking as a warlord; she had earned more
than one warrior's respect by drinking him under the table. Her capacity was
impressive, and the contents of several mugs passed her lips before she felt
the grief and pain start to abate just slightly under the wine-saturated haze
inside her head.

"What a lucky coincidence, my pretty! I've been looking all over for you."
Callisto. As soon as her voice penetrated the haze, Xena reached for her
sword. "It's all right," said the blonde warrior in a reassuring tone. "I'm
not going to try to kill you tonight. I just thought you might like a little
company."

Concentrating, Xena focused her eyes into a determined glare. "Prove it."

Callisto stepped back, unsheathed her sword, and handed it, hilt-forward, to
Xena. "Why are you doing this?" demanded Xena. "I could kill you."

"I can think of worse fates," muttered Callisto, then more brightly, "I felt
you, Xena. You need me tonight. Your little girlfriend has left you all
a-lone. I'm who you used to be, Xe-na. And you need her. If the old Xena
doesn't come back tonight, your heart will break, won't it, my sweet? The
new Xena let herself get soft and weak and opened her heart. That was a
mistake, wasn't it, Xe-na? I can help you--tonight."

"Why?" Xena reached for Callisto's sword and stashed it between her chair
and the wall.

"Why?" repeated Callisto softly, her face suddenly softened. "Why? Because
you're what I always wanted to be. My role model for better or worse. And
you need me right now."

Xena felt a flash of compassion for the younger woman, thinking of a young
girl much like she herself had been, strong, fiery, determined to make more
of life than village existence. And who was the first woman she saw who
wasn't a wife and mother or future one, farming, sewing, cleaning, and
cooking? A killer, a murderer, leading a band of equally murderous thugs.
Yes, that was her first vision of independence.

Noticing Xena's empty mug, Callisto signalled the serving-girl. "You want
it, Xena; you miss it. Think about how it feels, your sword driving through
flesh and muscle, life escaping through the open wound. Think about blood
soaking the ground, blood you caused to flow. Think of all the hearts that
stopped beating because of you. And your own hurts so much, doesn't it,
Xena? Stopping other hearts gets rid of the pain for a while, doesn't it?
You miss that, don't you? You've forgotten how to stop the pain."

Xena stared at Callisto, wide-eyed, snake-fascinated, transfixed. The full
mug arrived, and Xena abstractedly wrapped her fingers around the handle
and brought the mug to her lips, her eyes never leaving Callisto. "Look at
me, Xena," she ordered, somewhat redundantly. "Can you tell me you don't
want me?"

Xena's eyes traversed the form in front of her, taking in the slim thighs
emerging from the short skirt, the flat, hard abdomen, and the round breasts,
just barely contained by the black leather that molded them. Her eyes
returned to the warrior's face, all angular planes set off by full lips,
crowned by a halo of golden hair, and illuminated by the fire smouldering
behind the eyes. Yes, she recognized that fire; she could see its effects in
the wiry tension that hummed through all the limbs. How could such a slender
being contain so much fire? She remembered Callisto's question and shook her
head, still in a seeming trance.

Callisto reached out, one fingernail grazing a burning trail along Xena's
cheekbone and jaw. Energy flared between them, and Xena trembled with lust.
Callisto smiled. She drew her knife and slashed a thin line along the palm
of her left hand. Sheathing the knife, she followed the slash with her
fingertip, bringing it to Xena's mouth. Automatically, Xena's lips parted,
and she accepted the offering. "Taste it, Xena," murmured Callisto. "It
burns your tongue, doesn't it? And it tastes so familiar, just like your
own, the way yours used to be. Blood with no taint of weakness, Xena. You
need that. I can take away your pain--tonight."

Xena disregarded the warning in the last two syllables. Her hand shot out
and caught Callisto's hand. She brought it to her mouth, tracking the trail
of blood with her tongue. Then she yanked Callisto closer, her other hand
wrapping itself into her adversary's blonde hair. She pulled Callisto's mouth
to her own lips, forcing her tongue inside so Callisto would taste her own
blood there mingled with the smoky tang of wine. When Xena finally released
Callisto's mouth, after exploring all its searing recesses with her tongue,
she said curtly, "Upstairs. Now."

On the way, Callisto grabbed Xena's mug and paused to acquire a carafe of
wine from the serving girl. Xena watched, warily, but gratefully. She hadn't
planned on being anywhere near finished drinking by this point in the
evening. As soon as Callisto had put the carafe and mug down on the bedside
table, Xena grabbed her, pulling her close with a harsh shake. She plunged
her tongue into the younger woman's mouth, then worried her lower lip between
her teeth until she drew blood. Callisto giggled with pleasure, while Xena
caught the droplets of blood on her tongue.

Xena began to unfasten Callisto's garments, feeling at the same time a pair
of hands beginning to remove her armor. A flash of fear at the insanity of
what she was doing rocked her for a moment, but the sight of the breasts she
had freed from their leather confinement sent a surge of lust through her
body that smothered any warnings from her brain. Every touch was making the
pain recede just a little farther--how could she stop now? Soon, both women
were nude, garments and armor and weapons strewn about the floor. Xena pulled
Callisto in roughly for another kiss with a quick yank of the blonde hair,
then picked up her companion and flung her lightly onto the bed, joining her
after another long swallow of wine.

Low growls met high-pitched giggles, as teeth and lips sought out tender
flesh that purpled, swelled, and blossomed under their harsh care. Fingers
tightened, and nails pierced and raked skin, eliciting droplets of blood.
Tongues wrestled for advantage, each pressing for victory in the other's
mouth. Long hair, dark and blonde, strained in tight grasps, as fingers
sought purchase and stability before embarking on further sorties across
sweat-slick, blood-streaked skin. Muscles tensed and trembled, and a
wine-flushed fire ignited nerves and raced through veins. Under rough
handling--rolling, pinching, and twisting--nipples hardened and ached.
Delivering a swelling pleasure, a tongue coaxed a momentary surrender from
between a pair of thighs before the advantage shifted again, and invading
fingers opened a passage, and sometimes two, into the enemy's stronghold
of desire. Convulsing muscles and harsh cries signalled victory to the
attacker, and both sides claimed repeated triumphs until exhaustion and
sleep defeated both parties . . .

Xena awoke in the morning, her mouth arid and brine-tasting and her throat
parched. A low throb emitted from the base of her skull, while iron bands
tightened around her head. Her first thought was a desperate hope that the
night before had been a nightmare, a fever-dream of an overwrought
imagination, but the small rational part of her mind that lurked behind
the wine-soaked rags that seemed to fill her skull was aware that she
hadn't imagined her encounter with . . .

"Hades!" she exclaimed, realizing that she was alone. She leapt up to
discover a torn scrap of parchment on the table. An untidy scrawl read,
"You shouldn't have let your guard down, Xena. I warned you that I would
kill your soul." Xena's brain cleared in an instant, sobered by a shock
of horrified realization. She knew exactly where Callisto was headed and
what she intended to do, but she had to try to stop her. Married or not,
Gabrielle's life was the only thing that mattered. She was ready and on
the way to the stable in a matter of minutes.

"I should have killed her while I had the chance," muttered Xena to herself
as she rode. But later, as events transpired, she had to confess, in the
darkest recesses of her soul where her guilt and self-loathing swirled and
festered . . . she had to confess that she was grateful that she hadn't.

The End




    

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