by Joseph Anderson

Xena, Callisto, and all elements from the TV series Xena: Warrior Princess are the property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. All other characters belong to the author. No copyright infringement is intended with this fan fiction, which may be copied for personal use only, may not be sold, and must include all notices of copyright.

Jilly vignettes. These won't make any sense unless the reader is familar with my whole narrative about Kimberly and Jilly through "Family Affair."

This story contains some violence and profanity. It's pretty restrained for me, actually.


The small girl was warming her hands over the coals. She didn't want an actual fire; it might attract attention. She looked around at the black forest surrounding her. A few stars could be made out peeking through clouds far above. At a sound the girl seemed to disappear into the ground, though a glimmer of blade was barely visible.

"Jilly, it's me," a voice said weakly as a horse walked into camp. Jilly tried to catch the falling figure but was too small and was knocked flat by the blonde woman's body. The child extricated herself and rolled Callisto on her back. Then she put wood on the coals and chips and got the fire going. Jilly was shaking looking at the unconscious form of the woman who was the center of her world. Callisto had two arrows sticking in her: one in her shoulder and one in her side. She had seen Callisto with an arrow wound once before and she had seen the warrior cut it out of herself and bandage it. Jilly knew what she had to do.

There was a lot of pain; she didn't groan though. Callisto wasn't sure where she was and she didn't want to give her position away. She opened her eyes a crack in order to check her surroundings surreptitiously. Relieved she was in her camp she opened her eyes. It was dawn but she didn't see Jilly. Looking down she could see her two wounds were bandaged, and the arrows were on the ground near the fire. "Nice, very nice, Jilly," Callisto said as she peeked under the bandages. She felt weak and in pain but otherwise all right. She didn't seem to have a fever. Her water bag had been placed beside her and she managed to sit up and took a drink. Where was Jilly? And her horse? Suddenly exhausted, Callisto lay back down and closed her eyes.

The bandits were still cursing their luck and their leader's stupidity. If that woman hadn't killed him they would've themselves. For a month they had been waylaying travelers on this road, if there were only one or two, and it had paid well. They had several horses, money purses and some good pieces of armor. Then they attacked this lone woman and suddenly it wasn't so easy anymore. That idiot probably wanted to rape her or something so he had just stepped in the middle of the road and demanded she surrender. She'd laughed, LAUGHED, and said, "How about if I just give you head?" Then there was this strange sound and his head just fell off his body. She was holding this round thing and looking around the forest with a crazy smile. She threw it again just as an arrow caught her in the side. Joffrey screamed and she somehow caught that round thing again. She drew her sword and jumped her horse right into the forest and that was the end of Garth too. She caught another arrow though so she managed to get her horse back on the road and galloped away.

There were three of them left. Joffrey had died during the night from his wound. On the bright side their shares were all double what they were before. That had occurred to all of them, and they had been eyeing one another. Why only have twice as much? They were all just sitting around their fire now in the morning. All of them saw the small figure at once. A little girl smiling at them and holding a round thing. Oh Gods.....!!!

The simple meal smelled good. Callisto was an average cook. Not great but okay; better than Xena from what she'd heard. She looked up from the small pot hanging over the fire at the approaching horse. She was relieved when she recognized her black stallion and the nine-year-old girl riding it. Jilly pushed a saddle bag in front of her till it fell; it was too heavy for her to handle any other way. Then she dismounted and dragged it over to Callisto, who had started to go to help but then was still too weak. Jilly opened the bag and extracted purse after purse of coins, and then an arrow similar to the ones Callisto had seen on the ground.

Callisto smiled. "Good girl, Jilly. Now wash your hands. It's time to eat."


The young blonde warrior looked up at the man towering over her. His long red braids hung to his waist. She could see worry in his eyes though other than that Weldon was as impassive as he always was. They were looking at the huge pile of loot they'd taken from that last castle. The rugs were beautiful and there were these incredible bronze vessels. The warlord had told them they were in China now and she'd started detailing the wonderful achievements of the Chinese. Then why did we just slaughter so many of them? Jilly thought but she didn't say that. You didn't talk like that to Kimberly anymore. You just listened and told her that the coins didn't do her justice. They were hauling so much loot, using prisoners they had taken (Kimberly explained they weren't slaves--that she would free them when they returned to Greece and they would be better off there) that it demonstrated how skillful Kimberly was that she could keep the army moving as fast as it was. They had already sent several huge caravans back to Greece--Zeus knew if anything reached there, though. Jilly felt helpless. Weldon hadn't confided in her but she thought he must feel the same.

They could see Kimberly now. It looked like she was talking to someone she had crucified but it was hard to say. Maybe she was talking to herself and that was just where she happened to be. They watched a soldier approach her. The warlord seemed to question him closely then she galloped off with him. Probably a scout, Jilly thought. Either there's an army coming after us or he's found another target. Jilly hoped it was an army. She didn't want to sack any more cities of strangers. For Kimberly now the loot seemed like a scorecard. All the armies she had defeated were gone without a trace but the loot was something tangible she could see. Jilly looked at the beautiful bronzes and jade and wondered how many great craftsman were killed or would never be born because of the Sword of Ares' plundering army. It always used to be Kimberly restraining Jilly, but after they had come east without Joxer it was as if there was a demon in Kimberly that had just been waiting to be released. She never killed people gratuitously, that was true. Prisoners were safe unless they had reputations for cruelty or something. But she was so successful and aggressive a commander that the numbers of dead were incredible. Jilly was still a more cruel fighter than Kimberly in one-to-one situations, but for sheer quantity Jilly suspected the warlord was in a very elite league now.

Jilly nodded goodby to the Celt and went to check on her men. After observing her, Kimberly had made Jilly's light cavalry troops practically an independent force. The warlord directed Jilly but left it up to her to deploy her men. Kimberly would still lecture her on strategy and tactics--from the library of military history she seemed to have in her head--but never gave her detailed instructions anymore. Jilly's horsemen were happy not to have to see much of the warlord. Everyone was frightened to death of her which was odd, really, because she hadn't done anything outrageous. Kimberly ruthlessly punished traitors but that was just to be expected. The men sensed the same thing Jilly did--that Kimberly could go completely berserk at any time even though she hadn't yet. If she did Jilly would stay with her. Jilly knew she was likely the only person in the world who could defeat Kimberly in single combat--Xena and a few others like Draco were Kimberly's equal and the outcome of a fight among them couldn't be predicted. If any of them ever fought Jilly there was no question of the outcome. Jilly had no intention of ever fighting her though. She had lost Callisto and she wasn't going to lose Kimberly. If it came to it she would let Kimberly kill her.


The embassy to the warlord were on the floor, prostrate before her. They had been warned that the Sword of Ares was, indeed, a woman and this was not some joke by the warlord. Other ambassadors had apparently objected and were no longer among the living.

"You may rise," the warlord said.

What the three courtiers saw was a darkhaired woman in long brocaded and jeweled robes. She wore rich heavy jewelry and her eyes were heavily made up in the manner of the Pharoh's people. She was seated in a thronelike chair. Standing to one side of her was a young woman, a blonde warrior in black leather, and on the other side of her was the tallest man they had ever seen, with long red hair in braids and a long red moustache. He was also a warrior and wore a breastplate with an intricate interlocking design.

The leader spoke, "Oh great Kimlee, most magnaminous of leaders and destroyer of a thousand cities, the Governor, our master, sends you greetings and a token of his esteem." He indicated a chest and a beautiful teenage girl with almond eyes standing next to it. The young female warrior walked over and opened the chest, the contents of which glimmered as it opened. "This girl is the governor's niece. He sends her to you as a gesture of his respect, to do with as you wish." The look on the warlord's face stopped him.

"Tell your master, I thank him for his generosity and I will pass through his province in peace. It would be against the customs of my people to accept the generous offer of his niece..." Now the warlord stopped at the stricken looks on the faces of the girl and the courtiers. Quickly thinking, Kimberly continued, "but the gift is such a handsome one I will accept it." The girl looked like she would faint with relief and the courtiers stopped sweating. God knows what would've happened to the girl if I'd sent her back, Kimberly thought. Barbarians! I should slaughter them anyway. She'll be better off in Greece.

"Oh mighty Kimlee, my master sends another gift as well. It awaits outside if you would care to examine it."

The warlord touched the hand of the tall male warrior and he went out of the tent to return a moment later. "You're going to like this, Kimberly," he said with a smile.

"Again, I thank your master. This audience is ended." The courtiers prostrated themselves again, then backed out of the tent. As soon as they were gone Kimberly leaped out of her throne, "Oh boy!" She paced around giving them time to get out of her camp, then she exited her tent and just stopped. What she saw was a lifesize figure of herself in her armor. The clay statue was holding an actual sword and some kind of monster was under one of her feet.

"This beats your coins by a longshot, Kimberly," Jilly said. A little irony had crept into her voice and she suddenly found herself on the ground. She could've avoided the blow, of course, but she never did. The warlord's face was instantly over hers and she felt Kimberly's hand tightly gripping her hair.

"What does that mean, Jilly? Eh? No one's forcing you to stay with me! Why don't you kill me and take the army? We both know you can. Ares would like it." Kimberly released Jilly's hair and stood and walked back to examine her new treasure.

Jilly stood up. "I don't want the army, Kimberly. I just want to be your lieutenant. You know that. I didn't mean anything."

"Sure, whatever, Jilly. Sorry. Guess I got a little carried away there." The warlord wasn't even looking at her as she spoke absentmindedly. She was intent on studying herself, circling it and running her hand over the beautiful figure.

"What about the girl?" Jilly asked.

"I don't know. You saw that I couldn't send her back. If she's an aristocrat, maybe she can sing or something. That would be nice to have around. Why don't you go talk to her."



The warlord's large tent was dark. Jilly paused outside of it, feeling something, and then was going to continue on when a voice stopped her. "Come in, Jilly." The young warrior pushed the tent flap open and in the darkness made out the figure of Kimberly seated at her small table. On the floor of the dark tent was the body of the governor's niece. She could see at a glance her neck had been broken.

"What happened, Kimberly? Was she an assassin?" Jilly was shocked. She should have spotted something like that.

The warlord poured herself a flagon of wine and drank half before answering. "No. She was just a young girl in a strange place. I told her to bring me my sword; I was going to show her how to sharpen it. But she didn't know where it was and I got mad and killed her." Jilly didn't say anything. She was fearful that what everyone was afraid of had finally occurred.

Kimberly stood and drank the remaining wine then came from around her table and stood over the dead girl, whose long black hair was fanned out all around her young face. The warlord said, "Jilly, I want you to kill me now and take the army. I've never done anything like this before. There's no one to bring me to justice. Draw your sword and just do it, Jilly."

"No, Kimberly."

"I'm asking you, Jilly."

"Kimberly, I can't hurt you. You can slaughter every innocent person in the world. I'll kill them for you if you tell me to."

"I'm ordering you to kill me."


Jilly heard the rasp of the leather as Kimberly's sword was drawn. She remained motionless.

"Draw your sword, Jilly."

"No. Aaaaahhhh!" Jilly stumbled back as she felt her wounded side. Trust Kimberly to know how to be painful but not dangerous.

Defend yourself!"


"I kept her to protect her, Jilly."

"I know that, Kimberly."

"Jilly, did she have any special skills? Could she sing?"

"No Kimberly. She was just a girl."

The warlord's face was in shadows. She resheathed her sword and walked back to the table where she refilled her flagon of wine and again drank half at once. She looked up at Jilly though her face was in darkness and said, "Prepare your men tomorrow for moving out. We're going back to Greece."

"All right, Kimberly."

"Have a detail of men bury the girl, and bury that figure of me on top of her. It's too beautiful to destroy although I'd like to. I can't have it around me.


Veder and Marina were nervous. It was the middle of the night and someone was knocking on their door. That just didn't happen here. They lived on the edge of the village.

"Veder, open up. It's Jilly." The couple looked at each other and quickly opened the door. The girl they had found exhausted and starving a year previously was standing in the doorway but she wasn't alone. She had a small child with her. Marina caught her breath at how he looked. It seemed to be a 2-year-old boy, but he seemed to be terribly underfed and dirty. It looked like there were bruises here and there and some burns. The woman took the child from Jilly and began finding something for him to eat. Veder looked at Jilly.

"I saw this little boy with a man in a caravan I traveled with for a few days. I just grabbed him and left--that was a four days ago. I've been feeding him but I can't take care of a kid."

"Was the man his father?" Veder asked. He was upset. Any sort of cruelty could make him cry.

Jilly answered, "I don't know. I wouldn't be surprised but I didn't ask."

"Will he be coming after him?" Veder asked and was surprised at the snort of laughter from the young woman.

"Not unless he can roll really good. He doesn't have any arms or legs."

Veder shuddered. "But how did he beat..." then he stopped as he realized Jilly was describing a new development.

Jilly continued, smiling, "From the look of some of the people he was traveling with, he might get good at some other things though now that's he's helpless." Her voice changed, " I hate assholes like that." She said the last with a venom that sent a chill through Veder. Her voice quickly changed again and she lightly said, "Anyway, Veder, he seems smart from what I could see. I remembered you lived around here and that you didn't have any kids. I thought maybe...."

Veder looked over at Marina. She had the little boy on her lap and was giving him some soup she'd warmed up. She'd been listening intently. She looked up and nodded, her eyes shining. Veder said, "Thanks for thinking of us, Jilly. What's his name?"

"I only ever heard him called 'hey you' and 'brat.'"

Marina spoke up. "Have something to eat, Jilly. Veder, take care of her horse. Honestly, you men!" Veder and Jilly smiled ironically at each other as he left the house and she went to ladle a bowl of soup for herself.


The new leathers felt stiff to her. She hadn't bothered going to Euphemies for them. He provided them when he made her weapons but she didn't want to treat him like a tailor or something. The style was a little different too, though she had the armored chest and shoulder components reused. No one ever gave up anything of Euphemies.

Now Jilly dismounted in front of the large shop. She coughed from the marble dust in the air. She had been to Athens a couple of times previously accompanying Callisto as a child and then with Kimberly; but they always did what they came for (killed who she came for in Callisto's case) and left immediately. Jilly wanted to look around a little after she spoke to who she needed to here.

A young slave boy came and took her horse. She looked closely at him. He seemed okay. Whenever she saw children she looked for signs of their being badly beaten or used sexually. When she saw that, she would take the child away and try to find someone who wanted a child or at least a safer place, even if they were still servants. Jilly always returned to deal with whoever was responsible. Recently in Megara she had seen a young beaten girl and when she followed her home discovered what was apparently an inbred clan who bought and worked children to death. After grabbing the girl and two other young slaves, she had returned at night, snuck in a window and just went from room to room quietly killing the 28 people who were packed into the squalid building. She regretted letting them off so easy but the logistics demanded it. There were some older children of the family and she killed them too; Jilly knew they would be just like their parents.

The shop foreman came out and led her through the busy courtyard to Phedias's personal studio. The scuptor was studying a piece of marble with some kind of faun emerging. He was a middle aged man with a greying beard, powerful and stocky, wearing a heavy apron and holding a mallet and chisel. He stood at their approach and smiled at the young woman. Ordinarily he would never talk to a woman as a customer; however, he had been warned that this was a dangerous warrior, so he was prepared to listen to what she had to say.

"You honor my establishment, Lady Jilly," Phedias said smoothly. Schmoozing was part of being successful like he was. The young warrior looked at him. She could tell he was a sexist jerk. He was still a living legend so she wouldn't kill him unless he really pushed her. A lot of times real talented people were jerks--it just all depended on your point of view. Plenty of people probably thought that or worse about her.

"Hello Phedias. I want to commission a frieze from you, and I need you to start on it immediately. I'll pay whatever that takes. And I want you to personally execute it."

Phedias chose his words carefully. He could see how lethal she was--he was very observant. "The City of Athens has me engaged for projects years in advance. I cannot possibly take any new commissions even for my shop let alone me, though I am honored. I can recommend several other fine men for you." He hated when this happened. He knew she was a quasi-bandit. Those kinds of warriors were extremely dangerous and tended to have quick tempers. He'd had to get protection from the City from Cortese.

Jilly had expected this. She wasn't quite sure how to handle it. The frieze was to honor Kimberly so she didn't want to do anything Kimberly would disapprove of--such as cutting off Phedias's toes or ears. Things were simpler back when her role model was Callisto. She noticed something though. The scuptor was looking at her in a strange way--not exactly sexual though there was some of that in it. Jilly understood what he wanted.

"Here," she said, and removed her sword and scabbard, and undid the clasp on her leather top and took it off. Taking her brass-toed boots off, she reached down to untie a knot and stepped out of the short leather pants.

Phedias was staring at her intensely, then quickly walked to the door behind her, opened it and called out, "Bring me a new piece of marble from the lot we got in last week. Bring it immediately. And have wine, bread and cheese sent in." He looked at her. "What kind of frieze did you want?"

Jilly answered, completely unself-conscious. "A battle scene of the last stand of the Sword of Ares. I was there and can tell you whatever you need. It's for a small monument I want to erect at the battle site."

He nodded and called out the door again. "And bring a small frieze slab." He turned back and his eyes devoured the beautiful dangerous girl.


She was still coughing from the marble dust. All that modeling was getting for her was Phedias taking her commission; he was still charging her an outrageous price. It would be months before the frieze was ready. Phedias wouldn't just drop everything else. Jilly had a feeling Ares wouldn't like it if she used any of the treasure he'd given her for the army, so she would just have to start hunting down bandits for their loot. Maybe she could be a mercenary; Callisto said that always paid good if you had a reputation. As long as she was in Athens for the week of modeling, she would go out at night looking for robbers like her father had been. She smiled slightly; this could be fun, anyway.

The tears were running down her face. Jilly was absolutely transfixed watching the play. The masks the actors wore depicting Arrogance or Sorrow, Shame or Rage, felt so right to the girl they went right through her. When she realized that Oedipus was seeking his own destruction, thinking he was doing his duty, the girl had to stifle her sobs so she wouldn't disturb the others in the audience. She could see many of them were just as affected as she was, though. No one talked like that, but this was a play; everything was heightened. It was like when Gabrielle had told her that story, only all the actors and masks magnified the effect. It was a revelation to her that anything but combat could be that thrilling. Something about the theme of fated self-destruction touched her in a way she couldn't understand. Then she realized that could be Callisto or Kimberly, Xena, or even herself. She had to avenge Kimberly and Callisto on Xena and Gabrielle. She had no more choice than Oedipus had in trying to discover who had offended the gods and brought plague to his kingdom.


Taking her hat off, the small blonde wiped the sweat from her face with a handkerchief, squinting against the sun. It wasn't hot but she was nervous. Janice Covington hated begging for grant money. Usually Harvey did it for her. He was good at schmoozing like department heads always are. The few times Janice had done it once she got the grant, three times she didn't, and twice she blew up and told them to shove it. She really needed Harvey for this stuff. Putting her hat back on she thought that Mel would probably be good at it too. She could never bring herself to ask her help in anything--part of that was that Janice had always been the one saving Mel and she couldn't adapt to the change, and part was that talking to Mel was just too painful for her. She'd learned her lesson there, finally. She had Kimberly to thank for that. The big dangerous woman had gotten her drunk and just let her have it that she had to get over Mel. That had been years before, when Mel's and Franklin's son was kidnapped and she and Kimberly had come to help.

Now Janice was trying to make herself go into the Library to see the Claridges, or the Winstons, or whoever it was with the money she needed. She looked down at how she was dressed. It was ridiculous. Harvey said seeing her in her khakis and bomber jacket was good theater, what they expected. Those were field clothes. She felt like a trained seal dressed that way now.

"You look great."

The archaeologist looked at the speaker. It was a blonde girl who looked about 19 or 20. She looked familar in a way.

"Thanks. Who are you? Are you one of my students?" She couldn't place her.

The girl smiled at her radiantly and shook her head, her long blonde hair swinging from side to side. "You're my Aunt Janice. I'm Jilly, Kimberly and Cal's daughter."

Janice took her hat off again and looked at her. Jilly would be about ten now. But that family didn't have to conform to the ordinary rules of time and space. "How can you be Jilly? I believe you, but explain it to me."

She shook her head again. "It's just too complicated. It gets REALLY bizarre. If you believe it's me, that's good enough. I just came by to say hello. I'm visiting my parents in Chicago and this trip I'm going around seeing people. I saw Aunt Mel two days ago in Atlanta. Pretty strange, knowing little Kenny is my grandfather."

"You're Kimberly's daughter, all right. Where are you living if it's not with your parents?"

"Greece. I've got a boyfriend there."

"How do your parents feel about that, Jilly?" Why am I asking that? Janice Covington thought. I sound like some dried up old fart.

Jilly laughed. "They don't mind the Greece part but they hate Langland. You will too if you ever meet him, I'm sure. Everybody but me does."

"Why is that?" Janice said, laughing herself.

"He just doesn't play by the rules. But enough about Langland. Why are you dressed that way in the middle of Massachusettes and looking like somebody might dump Greek Fire on you?"

The archaeologist smiled but began to feel uneasy. Greek Fire was a pretty arcane reference to make. It was used in battles in Ancient Greece. Then she got it, and the girl laughed at the expression on her face.

"Yep, that's right, THAT Greece. But really, what's up?"

"Oh, I have to make a pitch for a grant. So I can finance another dig."

Jilly was studying her then said, "Can you bring me in with you? I'm just curious. Then we can do something afterwards if you're free."

"Yeah, sure, Jilly. This is a luncheon but it's really for me to ask for money. I'll give a little speech. A guest is fine."

When they got inside Janice got another strange feeling from the girl. She could see her looking around the room with a light charming smile, but Janice would swear there was something cold in her eyes. The girl stopped scanning the room and the archaeologist followed her gaze to a well dressed older couple. She recognized the Winstons. Janice excused herself to find the luncheon organizer to talk about her presentation. When she tried to find Jilly again she couldn't at first then recognized the girl with the Winstons, talking animatedly. Janice Covington could see from here how smitten they both were with the girl. The Winstons then saw her and they started in her direction.

"Dr. Covington. You're niece is charming. She has been telling us about an important dig you are looking to finance."

"Mr. and Mrs. Winston. Yes, that's true. Jilly isn't really my niece though she calls me Aunt Janice. I was close to her mother, well somebody else really. It's hard to go into here."

The Winstons had a puzzled look and the archaeologist noticed that Jilly had a pained expression on her face.

Jilly spoke up. "Aunt Janice really should get ready for her presentation. Did you know..." she led the couple away, talking to them. She shot a look back at Covington and rolled her eyes.

During her short speech Janice saw that both Mr. and Mrs. Winston were patting Jilly's hands like fond grandparents. She would whisper to first one, then the other. She got more than the usual smattering of applause; it was led by Jilly and the Winstons. As she descended from the small podium, Jilly came up leading both of the Winstons by the hand. They were all smiling. Janice opened her mouth to begin her pitch but found Jilly's hand over it.

"Aunt Janice really shouldn't talk. It was bad enough for her to give this presentation, but she feels so strongly about her work that she disobeyed her doctor to do it. Well, I for one won't allow her to ruin her voice!"

The Winstons smiled. "You are a lucky, lucky woman to have a niece like this looking after you Dr. Covington. Don't try to talk. Here." Mrs. Winston was speaking this time while her husband beamed at Jilly. She handed Janice a check. The archaeologist's eyes widened and she began to say something but found Jilly's hand clamped over her mouth again.

"Now now, Aunt Janice. You mustn't talk. You know that. She is very grateful, Mr. and Mrs. Winston. You are really advancing archaeology here!" Smiling the Winstons wandered off.

"Jilly, this is fantastic! This is more than double what I hoped for. How did you do that?"

"Never mind that. Just point out anybody else in here with money and remember, YOU CAN'T TALK!"

Janice Covington just sat looking at the three checks while Jilly ate her salad. The girl had talked the Levines and Jack Branagan into competing with each other for generosity. She could just finance the whole dig; none of that running out a third of the way through and having to come looking for money or having to justify what she was doing.

"Jilly, can you just stay with me and handle things like this?" Janice finally drank the coffee she had allowed to get lukewarm.

"Sorry, Aunt Janice. I've got places to go and people to kill...just kidding. If I'm ever around, sure. What about Aunt Mel? Not only could she charm people but she and Uncle Frank could finance you themselves. I'm surprised they aren't doing that now. Uh oh." The young woman stopped at the look on the archaeologist's face as she stared at her coffee. Jilly realized there was something big her mother hadn't told her. She had no idea what it was; but the tough little woman looked like she might cry. Janice Covington! Some kind of bad falling out? Jilly had no idea. "I'm sorry, Aunt Janice. I'm just a kid nobody told anything to."

The archaeologist cleared her throat. "It's okay, Jilly. It's just something between me and Melinda. We don't really have much to do with each other anymore. Excuse me." She stood up to go to the restroom, leaving the young woman.

Great! Look what I did. You'd think somebody would tell me something. I am ten years old, she thought. She'd call her mom and see if maybe now that she'd put her foot in her mouth she would explain what the big secret was. She thought a moment and followed the older woman. As she stepped in the door she could hear sobs coming from a stall. Mami mia!

"Aunt Janice? Aunt Janice?"

"What is it Jilly?"

"Can I do anything?"

"No, Jilly. It's all right. I'm just being stupid. Go back and finish your salad. I'll be right with you."

Jilly had her hand on the stall door. "Okay, Aunt Janice."

The archaeologist, who was leaning against against the door from the inside listened as the young woman left the restroom. This is ridiculous, she thought. I have to get a hold of myself. I can't put this on Jilly.


Kimberly was on the phone with her daughter.

"Mom, why didn't you tell me not to mention Aunt Mel to Aunt Janice?"

Kimblerly sighed. "Jesus, what did you say?"

"I just mentioned her and Uncle Frank and that I wondered why they didn't finance her digs. I was helping Aunt Janice talk some money out of some almunae. She actually started crying! God, Mom, you could've said something!"

"I'm sorry, Jilly. It's just that you and me have been really busy with our own stuff. And it was private anyway. Think about it, Jilly; have you ever seen Aunt Janice with a man or with any pictures of men other than her father around her?"

"Oooo. Janice and Mel? Mel is your grandmother and my great grandmother!"

"You got it. I'm sorry, baby, I should've warned you. It was just kinda awkward, so I didn't."

"Okay Mom. Kiss Daddy and Sam for me. By."

"By honey."


The site hadn't been as productive as they had hoped. But since they were so well financed they just kept at it, almost luxuriating in the ability to do so. Janice Covington had never been at a dig in China before. The red tape (haha) hadn't been as bad as she thought it would be. Jilly had gone to see the Chinese Embassy people for her and had charmed them just like the Winstons. Now one of her students came running up, young Sallwethy, and he excitedly said they'd found something. She followed him and the painted hand could be made out clearly, and a meter away a foot.

The redhaired student said, "It seems to be a lifesize figure. It's broken of course, but this is fantastic!" The archaeologist was excited herself. Something like this was a one-in-a-million find. If it could be reconstructed it would make the cover of National Geographic for sure.

"Okay, Hank. Get Cindy and Jack and you three work on digging it out. Take as long as you need. Good work, Hank." She slapped his shoulder and the brilliant young man smiled at her. She suspected he had a crush on her. Boy, was he barking up the wrong tree!

She was standing at the hole looking at the figure's head which was fully exposed now. It was in three pieces but everything was perfect aside from that. Janice's heart was beating fast as she looked at the chainmail veil recreated in clay. "Hank, have you uncovered the left hand?"

"Um, yeah, Dr. Covington. It's over here. We removed it." He carefully carried it over to her. "Do you know what that is? None of us could identify it."

The archaeologist held the clay forearm and hand. "It's supposed to be a bracelet of hair, Hank," she said quietly. The student looked at it curiously.

"From a defeated enemy, you think?"

"No, from a friend."

The End