THE WAY WE WERE

by Joseph Anderson
jander65@hotmail.com

Xena and Gabrielle 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 not be sold, may be copied for personal use only, and must contain all notices of copyright.

This story contains some violence and implied sexual situations. It would follow All In the Family in my extended storyline.


The bard looked nervously at her friend. Something was bothering Xena about what they were seeing. They had been glimpsing warriors for days and seen fearful villagers and tradesmen. Gabrielle didn't understand what made this any different than the many other times they had seen the same kind of things. The bard thought Xena must just be working on some new plan of action to stop this warlord, or warring armies, or whatever was happening. Then Gabrielle finally saw it. She looked at Xena and saw her watching her. Xena had spotted it already of course and had just been waiting for Gabrielle. It was scratched into a tree, the simple sign consisting of a horizontal line, a vertical line and a curved line crossed by the vertical--impaled.

"Xena, this is Sam's army these people are afraid of. Those are Sam's soldiers we've been glimpsing."

The old Warrior Princess nodded. "I'm going to talk to their commander and see what's going on."

"And you'll stop them, right?" the bard said emphatically. Her friend didn't answer but just started her horse forward again.

Atop her tall grey horse the general surveyed the hilly terrain, knowing it hid an army of traitors--like roaches in a wall. She grinned in anticipation. A soldier ran up to her and said something and the general turned to watch the approaching figures.

"Xena! Gabrielle! Welcome to the show. You'll have front row seats," the general called out, her red hair blowing in the breeze and her green eyes glittering. She'd like to kill them. Not that she particularly disliked them; it would just be fun. She tapped her fingers on the thumbscrew she wore on her belt.

Xena rode up with Gabrielle behind her. She could feel how much innate revulsion Gabrielle had for Angela, Sam's consort and commander of his army. "Angela," Xena said. "What's going on? I thought Prince Samuel didn't have to conquer; that he was always invited in."

"Not necessarily, though usually. In this case he was invited to rule this land, but this province didn't agree with it. They think this is their chance for independence."

"Well, let them go!" Gabrielle said. Angela ignored her.

"Why not?" Xena said.

Angela answered, "And where does it stop? Does every single person have the right to secede if he wants? This is a country, Xena, and the majority wants to be ruled by Sam. I'm gonna quash this before it gets out of hand. I'm no George McClellan."

"Who?" Xena said.

"My country had a long bloody civil war that could've been ended quickly. But the government had a general afraid to take action and they missed their chance. Well, that's not gonna happen here. Not when I'm in charge."

Gabrielle was going to lay into her and expected Xena to do the same, but instead she saw her friend was nodding. "I've seen that happen myself. Do they know what they're up against?"

"Xena, stop her! These people just want freedom."

Angela broke in, "There's nothing so free about this province. They have slaves and the rest; and they don't mind being part of the nation when they're invaded and need help. Not everything is black-and-white, Gabrielle. Can a person disobey any law he doesn't like? It's the same situation here."

"No, it's not!" the bard said vehemently, but then found herself at a loss to argue why it was different. She hated the smirk on Angela's pretty, freckled, off-center face.

Xena said, "Gabrielle, why don't you let me talk to Angela alone."

Captain Angela beckoned to a man and said, "Inform the prince that Xena and her companion are here." She indicated Gabrielle. "And get her something to eat."

The little blonde seethed as Xena and Angela decided what she would do. All these years together and Xena was still doing that.

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Gabrielle looked around the tent she had been given. When she was traveling with Xena she was used to living on the road or in village inns that were flea infested more often than not. This was just a tent but it was larger than a lot of rooms, and there were rich furs, silken pillows, a painted amphora of wine, and even fine small sculptures of Bacchus and Ares. The bard knew the common soldiers weren't living like this and she didn't fool herself she rated it either. It was for the great Warrior Princess.

She picked a grape from a bunch and had just popped it into her mouth when she heard the tent flap open and she turned.

"Sam...I mean, your highness," she said.

The tall elegant man looked down at her and smiled. "Please, call me Sam. If not you then who?"

"Okay, Sam," she said a little hesitantly. She didn't know how she felt about Xena's descendant. Gabrielle had already gone through so many shifts in her thinking about him. She had met him as a toddler and seen him later as a sweet naive young man. Then he changed. When Jilly's kingdom was invaded and his military big sister was gone, Sam had rallied the kingdom and become what he was now--a ruthless, larger than life leader, the scourge of their enemies, and someone it was an honor to die for. That was even before he became the favorite of Bacchus and all that implied.

He approached her and held his arms out and Gabrielle hugged him. She felt odd, like she was being overwhelmed, then realized what it was. His charisma was like a palpable entity. She felt him stiffen and step back from her and look at her sadly.

"Sam.." she said.

The prince looked away from her. "I know, Gabrielle. I know." He continued, ignoring the awkwardness. "Gabrielle, there's something I wanted to ask you."

She looked at him meeting his eyes then looked away as it made her feel a little lightheaded. "What is it, Sam?"

"Did you know my mother?"

Gabrielle looked in his eyes again for a second, braving their intensity, and saw the pain in them. She said, "Yes, Sam. I knew Kimberly. I only met her a few times, but I think I knew her pretty well finally."

Sam nodded. "I didn't," he said. "They told me she died but then I found out she just left and she died later." He didn't say any more though he looked like he wanted to.

Gabrielle said with understanding, "Jilly never told you about what Kimberly did here, what brought her here, did she?"

Sam said, "No. Jilly talks about Callisto sometimes but it's hard for us to talk about Mom. We just get too..." his voice trailed off. "All I know is she was the Sword of Ares and everybody was scared to death of her."

"Oh, Sam!" the old bard said. "Kimberly was a hero! A great hero! I thought you knew that. And what she had to do...she couldn't deal with it because she just had so much heart. It ate her up. Sam, she saved me and Xena. She changed history. That's what brought her here. That's why Xena feels so guilty about Kimberly...and I do too. She gave her life cleaning up our mess. And after she became the Sword of Ares she was hunting down warlords and saving people that way. Jilly can tell you about that part of it. She was her lieutenant."

"I didn't know any of that," he said in a low voice.

Gabrielle said, "I can tell you a lot of it. Kimberly told me the whole early story about fighting the Bitch of Tartarus so the Callisto she knew would be remembered. She wanted that for Jilly. And I saw the end myself."

"You saw her die?" Sam asked.

"Yes, Sam. I did."

Sam looked at her and didn't say anything. Gabrielle continued, "Do you have time for a story...a long one."

He nodded looking at her. Gabrielle took a deep breath and prepared herself for declaiming.

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Angela looked curiously at Sam and Gabrielle. They were both subdued. Sam had been with Xena's friend the entire day and clearly something had happened between them. The prince and the old bard had an exhausted look about them, like they had gone through some intense experience.

Xena didn't need Gabrielle to tell her what had happened. There was a new coldness under the surface in Sam aimed at her. Learning that his mother's life was destroyed because of her would explain that well enough.

The dinner was awkward. The bard disliked Angela. Sam was angry at Xena over what he had learned although he knew it was unfair. The Warrior Princess and the commanding general were discussing technical military issues and the two civilians did the best they could, although they didn't really have any shared interests and did not want to discuss Kimberly. That was something between the two of them now. Both would sporadically try to follow what their companions were saying but then give up, lost in the company strengths and spearman to archer ratios.

Finally, thankfully, the evening ended. Gabrielle saw Xena and Angela exchange a meaningful look and clasp each other's arms. She wondered briefly if maybe she should have tried to follow what they were saying more closely.

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"Captain Angela! We've caught 'em just as you planned!'

Angela looked at the horseman calling to her. She smiled. "Have we? Good." She put her hands on her hips and said to her aide as the man dismounted, "Send to Florestan and Eusebius to bring their men up." She pointed to the young horseman who was now standing before her, out of breath. "You, come with me."

She led him inside her tent where as she slung her sword and scabbard around her she said, "What did you see exactly?"

The scout excitedly answered. "They split their men between the hills, all three of 'em. The traitors didn't see me, Captain, I swear it!"

Captain Angela said to herself, "Xena said I overestimated 'em. Idiots." Angela looked at the man, seeing how worked up he was. She liked that. "Do you like to fight?" she asked.

"Yes, Captain."

"To kill?"

"Captain..."

"Does it make you feel like you do with a woman?'

"Captain, I..."

"Or a boy?"

"Like a woman, Captain!"

She looked at him and grinned, then took something small and shiny from a bag on her cot and adjusted it. Angela held it to her right nostril and inhaled quickly. She closed her eyes a moment, then opening them adjusted the object again, handed it to the soldier and nodded her head. He copied her movements and inhaled. A burning filled his head followed by a wonderful feeling he'd never known. He felt he could do anything. The captain took it back and grabbed his face in her hands and roughly kissed him on the lips, her tongue probing. She took his left hand and placed it on her breast. When she pushed him away she looked in his eyes. She was flushed.

"Prepare for battle. As you kill remember my kiss!"

"Aye, Captain!" the man said and stumbled out of her tent.

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A horse was coming. The slaughter continued around her but Angela simply stepped away from the body she had just beheaded and waited, her bloody sword in her hand. She saw it was Sam with Gabrielle riding behind him. Sam had become a decent horseman; you wouldn't think he would be. Far behind them she saw another figure that she recognized as Xena.

Angela was smiling just like Sam was as he dismounted after helping Gabrielle off. He approached her. Gabrielle was gasping for breath and supporting herself with her staff as she listened to the screams and looked around at the carnage.

The bard excitedly came up to Sam and Angela. "You have to stop this! They're still killing!"

"Grow up, Gabrielle! The battle doesn't end with the fighting. Xena shouldn't have shielded you like that, no matter how good you eat..." Angela stopped at a hand gesture from Sam. "OH, I'M SORRY! MY MISTAKE!!!" Angela said and walked off.

Gabrielle grabbed Sam by the arm but found herself held by two soldiers. "Release her. It's all right," Sam said and the soldiers glared at her but released the bard. "This is war, Gabrielle. Angela's right. You're too old for that innocent act," Sam said levelly. The soldiers were still watching them closely and with a look of irritation he waved them away.

The other horse rode up with the gray haired Warrior Princess. Her face was expressionless as she looked around the battefield. She let her eyes rest on one point. Gabrielle followed her gaze and saw poles going up with wriggling figures on them. Angela was supervising, her laughter unmistakable.

"Gods, Xena! Make them stop!" the old bard cried. She whirled at a chuckle from Sam.

The prince said, "Do you think it was right to keep her thinking like this, Xena?"

Gabrielle looked from him to her friend and back again, furious.

"Maybe not," Xena said sadly. "But it seemed the thing to do at the time."

The bard stared at her in disbelief. Xena held her hand down and said, "Come on, Gabrielle. Let's get out of here."

"Stop them!" the old bard cried. Sam chuckled again.

Xena said, "It's not my place. This is Prince Samuel's army." She paused. "I helped Angela plan this. Sam is my family."

The prince spoke again, "Angela says it worked exactly like you said it would." Xena just nodded. She was still holding her hand down for Gabrielle to take so she could help her up on the horse. The old bard was staring at her friend. She finally took the proffered hand and swung up behind Xena.

"Goodby Sam," the warrior said and started the horse cantering away. She could sense how upset her friend was.

"Stop the horse, Xena. I'm going back. I have to make them stop!'

Xena began to forbid her from going back. If her friend was upset by what she just saw, what might be happening now could be worse. However, the bard awkwardly slipped off the horse and began running in the direction they'd just come.

"Gabrielle, NO!' Xena said and wheeled her horse around. She was going to swoop her friend up but at that moment the animal stepped in a hole and stumbled, then panicked and Xena had to get her back under control.

Running up the bard saw that Angela was with Sam now. The tall woman was holding a struggling young soldier whose eyes were mad with fear. Sam was smiling. Angela took her chakram from her belt and cut the soldier's throat. Replacing the weapon on her belt she held him tightly with one hand in his hair and she bent him over. Sam held his golden cup under the young man's throat letting it fill with blood. Angela dropped the soldier who continued twitching. He and Angela kissed passionately for a moment. Now Angela noticed Gabrielle watching them and indicated her to Sam with a nod of her head. Sam looked at the small blonde and shrugged, then began drinking the blood.

Gabrielle raised her staff intending to knock the cup from his hands but then no longer had the weapon. Angela was right in front of her, holding it and smirking. Xena finally arrived, walking her limping horse. She took the scene in and grabbed Gabrielle roughly by the arm.

"Give her back her staff, Angela. I'll get her out of here." Xena said levelly.

The tall redhead raised her eyebrows and smiled widely. Before she could respond with whatever she intended, however, Sam said, "Just give it back to her." The freckled woman frowned at him, then contemptuously tossed Gabrielle back her staff. Xena was leading her horse with one hand and the furious bard with the other. Gabrielle looked back and saw that Angela was holding another struggling soldier preparing to cut his throat and Sam had his cup ready.

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Xena was glad that Gabrielle had finally calmed down. Eventually the next morning she said, "Xena, I don't understand how you can see helping them like that as your duty. I just don't. But I guess I have to take it on faith that you know what you're doing."

"Thanks, Gabrielle," the warrior said. It wasn't exactly a ringing endorsement but considering how horrified the bard had been it was a lot. "I.." she started to say but stopped as she caught a far off movement. Gabrielle followed her gaze and saw a rider. When they could make out red hair both of them tensed up. They waited.

Angela's big grey horse was breathing hard as it stopped in front of them. The general smiled down at the women. "There's been a new development, Xena. Sparta's sent an army to help the rebellion. Don't know it's crushed yet. You're gonna run right into them."

Xena said, "You came yourself to tell me that? Why?"

Angela smirked and said, "Sam wanted me to. He didn't like how we left things, especially after the big bonding session with you," she nodded at the bard. "Seemed okay to me, but he wanted me to make a gesture. So that's what..." her voice stopped in midsentence.

The Warrior Princess looked sharply up at her. "Angela, what's wrong?"

The tall redhaired officer had a rigid expression on her face and she was shaking.

"Xena, what's happening?" Gabrielle exclaimed.

The woman on the horse went limp and tumbled from her mount. Xena managed to catch her and lowered her to the ground. She opened Angela's eyes and felt her pulse and frowned. Angela was covered in a cold sweat.

"Xena?" the bard asked.

"She's had some kind of seizure, Gabrielle. That's all I know for now."

"By the gods," the small woman said and looked down at the tall figure.

An hour later they were still just observing Angela's sleeping form. Angela was lying on Xena's bedroll.

The bard said, "Xena, I don't like her. In fact, I dislike her as much as anyone I've ever met. But I wouldn't wish something like this on Angela."

The warrior had gone back to the supine woman and was feeling her forehead again. She looked up at her friend. "I know, Gabrielle. I wouldn't either."

"Xena, she's opening her eyes!" Gabrielle said.

"What's going on?" Angela said. She felt terrible; shaky and weak. Opening her eyes she saw two strangely dressed woman bending over her. "Who are you?"

They looked at each other and one said, "I'm Xena and this is Gabrielle. You don't remember us?"

"No," Angela said weakly and closed her eyes again for a moment. Then she reopened them and sat up with their help. Looking she saw she was in black leather something like the big woman's. "Why am I dressed this way? What's happened?"

Xena spoke. "You began to shake and then fainted. Has anything like that happened to you before?"

Angela shook her head. "No. Nothing like that. Should I know you?"

"Yes. Both of us. Do you know your name?"

"Angela. Angela Gilroy. I'm a student at the University of Chicago."

"I've never heard of Chicago. Where is it?" Xena asked.

Angela said, "How can you not have heard of Chicago? What's going on? Where am I?"

Xena knew Angela was from the same distant future that Sam was, but nothing beyond that. The warrior said, "This will be hard for you to understand, but you are in what you call Greece. Do you remember Sam...or Jilly?"

"Greece? I'm in Greece? Sam is my boyfriend. Jilly's his sister. She runs a restaurant in Little Italy." Angela got to her feet and looked around and saw the horses and noticed the weapons Xena wore. "Is this a movie set or something?"

"What's a movie set?" Gabrielle asked.

Xena said to Angela's panicked face. "Sam isn't far. I'll take you to him."

Angela said, "Thank you. Thank god Sam's here! Is Jilly here too?"

"No. She's at her capitol as far as I know."

"Her capitol?" Angela said.

"I'll let Sam explain it to you."

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"Highness," a soldier said.

Prince Samuel looked up from a report he was reading. "Yes."

"Captain Angela returns. The Warrior Princess and her companion are with her."

The prince stood up and brushed his long hair out of his blue eyes. Exiting his tent he stumbled and the guard caught him, the prince nodding his thanks to the man who blushed.

Gabrielle was walking as usual ahead of Xena on Argo, and beside her was Angela on her grey horse. Sam could tell instantly something was wrong.

"What happened?" he called.

Angela cried, "Sam!" and awkwardly climbed off the horse, catching her foot in the stirrup for a moment. She ran to hug him.

The men were staring open-mouthed but when the prince glanced around they all studiously looked away. He held her tightly. The prince looked at Xena who had dismounted and approached him with Gabrielle.

"She had a seizure. Angela doesn't remember very much, Sam," Xena explained.

The prince disengaged himself slightly and looked at Angela's tear stained face. "Angie...Angie...how do you feel?"

"I feel okay, Sam. But I don't know what's going on. What are we doing here? Why are we all dressed this way? Why do you look like that?" She indicated his long hair. Her voice had a desperate edge and she was gripping his hand tightly. "Are we in a movie or something?" She was looking around the camp which was full of men with swords and spears and wearing helmets.

"Come on, let's go to our tent," Sam said leading her. Looking back he gestured for Xena and Gabrielle to follow. In his tent he sat Angela down on a fur covered divan. "Have you eaten?" he said. Angela shook her head. He stepped to the tent entrance and said "Tell the cook to prepare a meal for Captain Angela." He paused and looked back at her. Then he added, "A meal without any meat."

Xena and Gabrielle both looked curiously at him and back at Angela. "You don't eat meat?" Gabrielle asked.

"No. I'm a vegetarian," Angela said distractedly. "I can't stand the idea of killing animals. It's so cruel."

The bard made a snorting sound and Xena and Sam both glared at her. She blushed. "Sorry."

Angela said angrily, "I know. Everybody thinks it's a big joke. Excuse me for valuing life!"

Xena walked out of the tent to avoid laughing. Sam followed her a second later. He said, "It's not funny. It's really not." He tried to stop smiling but couldn't.

Xena was trying to get her own face under control. "I know it's not. This is how she used to be? Before she came here?"

Sam nodded. "Yeah."

Xena said, "It might be a god or goddess doing this to get at Ares through his favorite."

"It's my loving family all right!"

Xena and Prince Samuel turned at the voice to see the black-clad God of War. The Warrior Princess could see how furious he was. She said, "Who's behind it?'

The god made a dismissive gesture. "Hades is the obvious choice but it might be somebody trying to stir up trouble between us."

Xena said, "The way she fainted instead of simply losing her memory was like an illness. That'd be Apollo or Asclepius"

Ares said, "That could be just to throw me off. I'll straighten it out." The god looked at the prince thoughtfully. "Maybe this is even about you somehow and not me. Oh, by the way, you two: good job on crushing the rebellion. Nice to see family togetherness like that."

Xena looked away and Ares chuckled and disappeared in a blaze. Sam looked at Xena and asked, "What?"

"Probably Ares himself," the woman said.

Sam frowned and nodded.

The Warrior Princess studied him and said. "You don't think this is bad at all, do you?"

Sam said, "Sometimes we laugh about what we would've thought in the old days of what we are now. There was a sweetness about it that we traded for....for blood..for passionate intensity."

Xena was listening closely. "I understand."

The prince looked up at the sky. "She'll be horrified by me. I don't want her to know what she's done herself." He looked back at Xena. "Jilly can send her home. Ares gave her the ability to go back and forth. Angela doesn't belong here now."

The woman said, "You love her so much you'd send her away. Angela's your life."

The prince didn't say anything.

As Xena and Prince Samuel came back inside his tent they saw Gabrielle and the tall young woman sitting close together and holding hands.

"I'm glad you made up about the meat eating," Sam said.

Gabrielle smiled and said, "That was just a misunderstanding."

Angela looked relieved that Sam was back but she said with a trace of annoyance, "Why won't you tell me why we are all dressed like this? Okay, we're making a movie in Greece. Just say it."

"Could you excuse us?" Sam said to Xena and Gabrielle who quickly left the tent.

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Angela disobeyed Sam and was wandering around the encampment. She thought she was dreaming. It seemed to be the only explanation. Sam told her they weren't making a movie, that they really were in Ancient Greece, and he would send her home when they saw Jilly. Either she was dreaming or Sam and everyone else were part of an elaborate conspiracy to fool her. Dreaming seemed more believable...or hallucinating, she thought. Maybe the seizure was real and Xena and Gabrielle were doctors or something. She liked the small woman an awful lot. They thought the same way. Xena made her a little nervous.

Sam also told her there was something important she had to know before they saw Jilly. Something she needed time to digest.

"What is it?" she said.

"Well, Angela, you've got a son."

"We have a son? Oh Sam! What's his name?" For a moment she forgot it wasn't real.

He looked uncomfortable and said. "Karn. His name's Karn. And he's...well he's..."

Angela said, "What kind of a name is Karn?" Then seeing Sam's face she asked "What is it, Sam? Is he all right?"

"Yeah, he's healthy. It's just that he isn't mine. He's a great kid, Angela."

"What are you saying? Aren't we together?"

"Of course we're together, Angela. We, uh, had an argument and there was just an, uh, incident...and you, well, had Karn. He has your hair. You and Kush will have to talk about it. He's his father."

Angela didn't say anything and Sam left her alone.

When soldiers saw her they would stand and some even seemed scared of her--especially when she removed a tool that was hanging on her belt and examined it as she walked along. It looked like an engraved nutcracker or something. There was one young soldier who blushed when she smiled at him. This whole thing was so absurd. That story about an illegitimate child from a one night stand appalled her but then she calmed down because this wasn't real. It couldn't be; she'd never act like that. She pinned Sam down for more details and apparently she caught him with somebody, then just went out and seduced an acquaintance to pay him back.

Something caught her eye. She saw poles that several men were taking down and a pile of something was nearby. Angela began walking in that direction when she heard a thump and turning saw Sam being helped to his feet by a soldier.

"Angela!" He came up to her and took her hand. "What are you doing here? I told you to wait in my tent." He spoke quietly so the men couldn't hear them.

She smiled and said, "This isn't real anyway, Sam. You're a figment of my imagination, so I decided to do some exploring."

Sam looked closely at her and glanced around. "I don't want you wandering around. It's not safe."

"How can it not be safe? A, it's not real; and, B, you're in charge here. That's for sure. These guys worship the ground you walk on. And, C, I'm a general. You told me so yourself." She was enjoying giving him a hard time, she discovered. He seemed tense and like he was trying to keep something from her. "What are you hiding, Sam? Some deep dark secret from my childhood I can't face? You my superego?"

To his relief Sam saw the poles were down. He wanted to get her away before she saw the bodies. He said, "I'm not a dream, Angela. But I guess that's what I'd say if I was, right?" Sam had an idea and said seductively, "Let's go back to my tent. I'll prove I'm real."

Angela grinned and said, "Okay. This hallucination is getting better and better!"

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"Xena, I need to talk to you."

The Warrior Princess looked up at the prince who was approaching her. There were some men watching. With a sigh she stood up. It wouldn't look right not to show Sam the proper respect.

"Your highness," she said ironically.

The prince gave her a crooked smile that Xena realized was just like her own. "Now I've got you on my case too. Great."

"What can I do for you? How's Angela?" Xena asked seriously now.

"She's the same. Listen, Xena, that Spartan army is coming this way. I'm no soldier. Maybe they'll turn around and go home when they discover there's no rebellion to help. Maybe they won't."

"Sam..." she started to say.

"We're family, Xena. You told Gabrielle that yourself. I need a general. Xena, these are Spartans. SPARTANS, Xena."

The Warrior Princess looked at the ground. Gabrielle was still mad at her for helping them before and she had just assisted with the planning. For her to actually take temporary command of Sam's troops...but like he said, they were family. "Okay, Sam."

He gave her one of his million dinar smiles that Xena knew usually reduced people to jelly and patted her shoulder. He looked at the sun low in the sky. "I've gotta get back to Angela."

Xena understood what he was talking about. "Good luck."

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"Dammit!" Sam said as he approached his tent. The sun had set. As he stepped inside he saw Angela sitting on the divan and his three girls staring at her. All four looked at him.

"Well, well. Look what the cat dragged in," Angela said sarcastically.

The three bacchae made soft growling sounds but stopped at a gesture from Sam. He looked at the three creatures and tried to see them as Angela did. Three beautiful barefoot girls, naked under transparent gowns, had just come into his tent without a word. They were concealing their glowing eyes and canines, he saw. Bacchae were a lot smarter than people gave 'em credit for.

"Angela, this is Elvira, that's Clea and here's Fotena. They're my bodyguards, I guess you'd say."

Angela looked at them. "Uh huh. How come I'm just seeing 'em now? They on the night shift?"

"That's exactly it."

"And they're dressed like that so they can move, I assume. No cumbersome clothes to get in the way."

Sam looked at the bacchae. He expected them to want to attack her for talking to him that way but they had barely perceptible smiles. Even his bacchae liked seeing him sweat a little.

"Angela, they're my bodyguards. You think this is all a dream anyway. So don't worry about it."

She stood up. "Oh, no. You don't get off that easy. This is MY dream. They wouldn't by any chance have played a part in that argument you said we had?" Sam blushed and nodded. Angela made a snorting sound that reminded him of Captain Angela.

The prince could sense the three creatures were hungry. "Why don't you get something to eat, girls," he said. There were still a number of living prisoners. They'd saved them for this very reason.

"What should we eat, Master?" Elvira asked innocently.

Sam couldn't believe it. "The usual, Elvira."

"MASTER?" Angela said. "They call you master?"

Instead of simply leaving each of the bacchae got on their knees and kissed his hand first. He heard Angela make a disgusted sound. All three of the creatures had a slight smile as they pointedly backed out of his tent so as not to turn their backs to him. He shook his head. Even his bacchae.

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"They are preparing to fight, Sam. Can't say I'm surprised. Not with Spartans." Xena was talking to the prince from atop her horse. She had been getting reports from scouts and it was clear what was coming. The sunrise behind her made her look like an equestrian statue.

Angela came out of Sam's tent and was listening. She said in a shocked voice, "You mean it. You really mean it. This is a war."

"I'm afraid so," Xena said, then turned her horse and rode off to return to her lieutenants.

The tall redhead put her arms around Sam and hugged him. "Oh Sam. There has to be a way for this not to happen! This is my dream. How can this happen in MY dream?" There was a frightened edge to her voice that Sam hated to hear.

"Everything will work out, Angela. We'll win."

"Really, Sam?" she said hopefully.

"Yeah, really. I always win, Angie," Sam said softly.

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Xena barked, "Stay out of the way, Gabrielle! Get away from the battlefield..far away." She twisted in her saddle and beckoned to an officer. "Florestan, take the 5th and 6th companies to reinforce our flanks. And tell Eusebius to have the cavalry make a show like they're intending a charge. That'll give'em something to chew on."

"Yes, Commander," the officer said and galloped off.

Xena frowned studying the terrain.

"Xena..." Gabrielle said.

"NOT NOW!" the old Warrior Princess said. "Get away from the battlefield!" Gabrielle shut her mouth and stomped away. Xena glanced after her but then returned to chewing her lip. She thought, what would I do if I was a crazy Spartan who wanted to die in glorious battle? She started her horse forward to personally deploy the infantry.

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A company had made it past their lines and were descending on Sam's headquarters. He came out of his tent and saw his soldiers being cut down. This was what they were here for, he realized. Not to help the rebellion. That was a ruse. Killing him was the real objective for this Spartan army.

Angela came out behind him and gasped. "My god! My god! Sam!"

He looked at her and reached over and took her sword from the sheath she wore on her back. He dropped it and awkwardly picked it back up. "Stay behind me, Angela!" he said grimly.

His men were falling back to reform in front of him. They kept looking desperately at Angela who was deathly pale. His men were outnumbered though were fighting savagely. Sam looked at her. "I love you. I'm sorry, Angela."

Three Spartan soldiers broke through the line of Sam's men and came for him. Sam slipped and fell, dropping the sword again as they were almost on him. He saw a freckled hand pick it up. "Not as sorry as they're gonna be!"

A headless body came crashing down on him. Looking up Sam saw Angela kick one man in the face breaking his neck as she simultaneously drove her sword through the other man who had reached them. Yanking it out she yelled, "Close that gap there!" She ran to the line and leapt through her men into the midst of the Spartans to cut two men down, before stepping back to assume a position in the circle.

"Spartan dogs!" Captain Angela spat and threw her chakram cutting the throat of an officer on a horse. She caught the chakram and looked around her with glittering green eyes.

"Angela...Angela...Angela...Angela." The men were chanting her name as she grinned at them and they continued fighting.

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Xena had known immediately there was something wrong about the attack. When drawing her men away appeared more important than beating them, she had instantly understood.

"The prince! They are after the prince! Fall back! Protect the prince!" she yelled. Xena knew that would galvanize Sam's men. As they ended their pursuit of the Spartans, the opposing army turned and attacked. Xena cursed her own stupidity as she led her men fighting, falling back as quickly as they could. She thought of Angela.

It had been a bloody battle. Spartans didn't fight any other kind. Xena's disgust with herself hadn't abated even though by any objective standards she had won a great victory. She had personally led a force to rescue Prince Samuel. There she discovered a badly outnumbered, decimated circle of defenders around Sam's tent. Xena knew only one thing could have held the crack Spartan hoplites off this long--Captain Angela. The Warrior Princess and her men came down on their attackers like Zeus's thunderbolts. As soon as Sam was safe she and Angela returned to the front and reformed the men. The fighting had gone back and forth for hours, though with both Xena and Captain Angela there the outcome was foregone.

Xena was furious when she found Gabrielle on the battlefield surrounded by unconscious Spartans.

"You were fighting? What did I tell you? What?" Xena had demanded.

The old bard said, "Gee, Xena, I'm sorry. Soldiers came at me and I guess I overreacted."

Xena said, "You weren't supposed to be anywhere near the battle! You know that! I told you explicitly."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Gabrielle said.

"We'll talk later," Xena said ominously,

"Is Sam okay? I started thinking maybe that's what's this was about," the bard said as she was examining her staff.

"Oh, you thought that did you?" Xena said.

"Uh huh." Gabrielle looked at the warrior. "Is Sam all right?"

"Yeah, he's all right," Xena said tiredly. "So is Angela."

Gabrielle sensed something. "Xena?"

"Captain Angela is back. She saved Sam...again. Just like Ares planned probably."

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As Xena and Gabrielle returned to the center of camp they saw a number of impaled prisoners. "By the gods!" the bard said. Angrily Xena rode up and killed one after another with her sword.

"What do you think you're doing?" a furious voice demanded. The Warrior Princess, her sword still in her hand, looked down at the tall redhead striding up.

"Brave men don't deserve that," Xena said coldly.

"Really? They tried to kill Sam!" Angela said baring her teeth as she drew her sword. Xena smiled and dismounted.

"Angela! Stop it!" The prince's tall form came up quickly. He put himself between the two warriors. "She saved us."

Captain Angela said, "After she almost got us killed by falling for their ruse!"

"Angela! Go somewhere and cool off." Sam ordered. She glared at him, sheathed her sword and stalked off.

Xena replaced her own weapon. "She's back in all her glory, I see," the warrior said. Sam nodded and looked down.

"How do you feel, Sam?" Gabrielle asked and took his hand. She was still going through shifts in what she thought of him. After she told him about Kimberly she had felt close, but then was sickened at his drinking fresh blood on the battlefield. Now her heart went out to him again. There was just something about him.

The prince looked at the bard and said quietly, "It was nice seeing the old Angela again. It really was. What would I do without her? Do you know how I feel? I don't. It made me think of my mom and what you told me about her. Like Angela was getting the chance to go back my mother never had."

"I know you think I was behind this. But I wasn't."

Prince Samuel, Gabrielle and Xena looked at Ares who had materialized in front of them. "Who was?" Sam said.

Ares said, "Bacchus. When you were in danger she changed just like before though and her memories came back."

"I'm his favorite. Why would Bacchus do that?" Sam said mystified.

Ares looked bored and answered, "He was rewarding you for the oceans of blood you've spilled in his name. You thought she was better off didn't you? You're wrong but that's what you think. You're also wrong about Kimberly but I don't want to get into that now. Angela's not really his type, y'know. Fighting doesn't interest Bacchus. And my brother wanted to deprive me of a favorite, of course."

Xena bitterly said, "The Spartans. They really were here for the rebellion. You sent 'em after Sam."

Ares smiled and said. "Me? Would I do something like that?" The god disappeared.

Angela was waiting for him in his tent. She had some maps out and was studying them but she looked up as he entered and put them away. For once she was out of her simple leathers and was wearing one of his rich robes. Sam noticed how the ornate needlework brought out her hair and eyes. "You look beautiful, Angela," he said.

She stood up and came over to him, looking seriously in his eyes. "Sam, I remember all of it. I understand you were trying to keep me from learning about the impalings and everything. Instead of looking for a way of changing me back you wanted to send me to Chicago." She softly stroked his long dark hair as she was speaking.

"It wasn't that I wanted to, Angie. I thought it'd be best for you."

She nodded and kissed his cheek. "I know, Sam. But you were wrong. I'd wanna be here with you no matter what. And I couldn't leave Karn or take him away from Kush either. Anyway, this is who I am. I didn't realize you were so ambivalent about it all. You never act that way."

The prince hugged her and said, "I'm not. What we are doing here is right. These are hard times. But you being so innocent...that felt right too. That's the Angela I fell in love with...back when I was innocent myself."

"Oh Sam...you're still innocent. What am I gonna do with you?" Captain Angela said tenderly.

THE END