The Cock Block and the Wingman
"What is it?" Eve asked, worried she'd somehow committed this atrocity.
"I'm sure there are more technical and PC terms for it, but me and my buddies back home used to call it the 'cock block'." Sarah explained.
"Cock block." Eve repeated.
"Right." Sarah continued. "You see a 'cock block' is an individual who impedes her buddy's progress with the object of their affection. Last night I might have very well shared a bed with that nice lady that I didn't know, but you impeded that process. That makes you a cock block."
Eve simply rolled her eyes, but Sarah continued.
"Though the terminology is a bit misogynistic in nature I've always thought the interchanging of the word cunt for cock to be a little over the top feministic. The point is you never want to be a cock block. You want to be a wingman."
"Right, and what's a 'wingman'?" She asked, indulging her friend.
"Ah a wingman is a friend who actually helps you seal the deal. There are a variety of efforts that can be considered wingmanesque, but we won't get ahead of ourselves with the more complicated aspects of best bud bar etiquette. All you need to understand is that what happened last night need not be repeated unless you want to suffer ungodly amounts of karmic misfortune in the getting laid department." She said, with a clap to the messengers shoulder.
Eve looked up at her and smiled.
"You do realize that when you get like this I only understand every other word you say, right?" She asked.
"Yep, that's why I made you some notes." Sarah said as she rummaged inside her jacket for a piece of paper and handed it to her friend.
As Eve perused the notes she laughed to herself about the contents. It even had pictorial examples.
"You know, even had I known about this whole cock block/wingman business, I still would have stopped you from sleeping with that woman. She seemed dangerous; I got a bad vibe off of her." Eve said.
"Yes, but I'm immortal and even if she did try to kill me I'd come out on top… possibly in more ways than one." Sarah said with a smirk.
"You really are incorrigible, you know that!" Eve softly slapped her on the shoulder. "And if you are truly being honest your view of women is absolutely appalling. Is that all they are to you? A conquest?"
"No, of course not. " Sarah said defensively. "Look I'm not trying to pull a Shane here and leave a slew of broken hearts all over the West Hollywood of ancient Greece, but if by some miracle I get hit on by some tall, dark and mysterious chick I'd like at least the chance to get to know her better in private. Is that so much to ask?"
"Again, with the not understanding you." Eve said. "Can you please at least try not to make references to things that don't even exist yet?"
"Alright, alright." Sarah caved, and moved to face Eve and place her hands on her shoulders. "All I'm saying is that I'm a big girl and I can take care of myself, especially with that whole immortal thing going on. So I'd appreciate it if next time we're in a bar, you give me some breathing room with possible romantic encounters. Are we cool?"
Eve exhaled a sigh of submission.
"We're cool." She said with a shake of her head and a small smile before Sarah smiled back and they started walking again.
"Were you really going to sleep with her?" Eve asked.
Sarah smiled softly then shook her head. "No, probably not."
"Why not?" Eve asked.
"Because it's very likely that I'll never see her again, and I'm not really into the whole one night stand thing." She said.
"Then why this ridiculous wingman speech?" She asked.
Sarah sighed and looked up at the afternoon sky. "Because she really looked like she'd be a great kisser."
They walked for a few more minutes in silence when a thought occurred to Sarah.
"What are your rules about sex?" She asked. "Being that you're like an instrument of God and everything."
"What do you mean?" Eve asked. "I don't live under any sexual restrictions, why would the God of Eli ask that of me?"
"Because it's a part of nearly every major religion in the modern world." Sarah said.
"Well it's not a part of Eli's plan, I can tell you that." Eve said. "Love is the truest path one can follow. How can an intimate expression of romantic love be wrong?"
"Hey, I'm just playing devil's advocate here." Sarah raised her hands and paused for a bit before asking her next question. "So…how long has it been for ya?"
Eve dropped her jaw and looked at Sarah. "Please tell me that you didn't just ask about my sex life."
"Hey, we're pals now right." Sarah said in mild defense. "This is what girls do they talk about sex all the time."
"Well I certainly don't." Eve said. "Some things are just private."
"Fine." Sarah said, looking at the ground before mumbling "Rada would have told me."
"Oh Rada would have told you!" Eve threw up her hands. "Please ask the question again so I can attempt to be more like the Slavic wonder."
"Hey, easy there cowgirl. That's one of my friends you're talking about." Sarah said with a smirk.
"Well, I'm still not discussing my past sexual experiences." She said.
"Fine." Sarah said. "We'll discuss possible future interludes. You got your eye on anyone?"
Again the messenger's mouth dropped, but this time she smiled.
"I'm not talking to you about that either." She said. "Boy, you're intrusive."
"Oh, come on Eve. You're my only means of entertainment right now. At least give me a little something to think about other than the fact that I'm starting to wear a bunion on my right toe."
Eve crossed her arms for a few seconds, and then gave in.
"Alright. "She said. "There is someone that I have feelings for, but… It just wouldn't work out."
"Why?" Sarah asked.
"Because I've caused them a great deal of pain. I can't imagine them ever wanting to be with me like that." She said.
"Oh great, we're playing the pronoun game." Sarah said. "You do know you can tell me if it's a her, right?"
"Maybe I don't want to tell you too much about them because I don't want you to figure out who it is." The messenger said.
"Oooo. That's even better." Sarah said. "We could make a game out of it to pass the time."
"What?" Eve asked.
"Hey, I'm asking the questions here." Sarah said, as she thought. "Ok, let's see. Well the first one's obvious, but I'll go ahead and ask anyway. Is the object of your affection a woman?"
"Can we please talk about something else?" Eve asked.
"It's either this or your past romps in the sack, you decide." Sarah said.
Eve sighed in resignation. "Yes it's a woman."
"I knew it." Sarah said. "Have I met her?"
Eve started to answer but before she could so much as utter a syllable an arrow rained down from the trees and landed at her feet.
"Whoa!" Sarah said, drawing her bat.
Eve yanked it out of her hand then yelled at her. "Are you crazy? That's an Amazon arrow, now clasp your hands above your head before you end up losing an eyeball."
Sarah did as she was instructed and within seconds half a dozen Amazons dropped down from the trees. One of them approached the two women and took her mask off to reveal dark features and dangerous eyes.
"Eve." She said, addressing the messenger. "We weren't expecting you for a few more days. Who's your friend?" She looked toward Sarah.
"Varia, meet Sarah." Eve said, dropping her hands. "Sarah, this is Varia, queen of the Greek Amazons."
Sarah dropped her hands and extended one of them after shaking off the open mouthed stare she had plastered on her face. If all the Amazons looked like Varia, living in the past might not be so bad after all.
They walked for just under a mile before reaching the camp. Most of the talking was done by Eve and Varia, both trying to catch each other up on the current events of their individual situations. The stone was not mentioned amongst the other Amazons for privacy purposes, and Sarah was nearly foaming at the mouth to find out where she could start looking.
"How've you been?" Varia asked, after all the formalities were out of the way.
Eve looked up in surprise. "Um… good…considering the circumstances I guess. You?"
"The same." The queen said. "We're having some trouble with the younger Amazons though. They don't seem to want to stay in the camp at night and there are apparently some brigands about. We've lost three of our sisters in the last four moons."
"That's terrible." Eve said with concern. "Have they been found?"
"No, that's just it." Varia said with frustration. "We find their weapons on the ground and blood nearby, but no bodies. We don't know what's happened to them."
"Are there any enemies nearby? Is the camp under attack?" Eve asked.
"It doesn't seem so." Varia said. "If there is a threat they haven't made any demands or even shown their faces. It's so strange. Now we just keep everyone in at night and put the guards at the gate on high alert. We can't afford to risk a perimeter watch."
"I'm glad you're safe." Eve said, softly touching Varia's bicep, and then quickly removing it once the queen had noticed the physical contact. "The tribe needs a strong leader. It would be terrible for them to lose you." She said hastily.
"Right." Varia said, tearing her eyes away from Eve's. "We've been very fortunate not to have an attack inside the village."
She paused for a moment, and then spoke again, her eyes never leaving the path ahead. "I'm glad we found you when we did. Nightfall will be coming soon and I wouldn't want anything to happen to you." She said, finally looking at Eve, but once the messenger's eyes met her own she added; "You know…Xena would kill me herself if anything happened to you."
Eve looked down and gave a small chuckle. "That she would."
Sarah was watching the entire scene with rapt attention. The small looks that the Queen and the Messenger were giving each other did not go unnoticed, and neither did the cautious dialogue. They walked for a few more minutes in silence before Varia announced that she was going to run ahead to prepare the camp for visitors.
As she ran off Eve's eyes followed her along the path.
Sarah moved in close to the messenger and leaned to whisper in her ear. "I'd like to solve the puzzle, Pat."
"What?" Eve said, drawn out of her reverie.
"I think I've figured out the answer to all those little questions I was asking you earlier." She said with a smirk.
"And if you have any interest in keeping your tongue in your mouth you'll hold it until we're in private." Eve said through clenched teeth.
Sarah was a bit taken aback. "Um, I thought you were supposed to be non-violent."
"Well you're not exactly mortal and you're annoying enough to even get on Eli's bad side. I think they'd let just one act of insanity slide." Eve said.
"Noted." Sarah said, tabling the discussion for a more private time.
As they walked through the Amazon camp Sarah and Eve were feeling very different emotions. Eve was nervous and filled with trepidation as she looked over the Amazons standing there to greet them. Some of their faces still showed the hatred they felt about her raid on the camp so many years ago, but some were more curious than hateful. It was the younger group that might possibly give her a chance. There was still too much pain left with the older ones.
Sarah could only think one thing as she surveyed her surroundings.
My God, these girls hate clothing. I feel like I'm on Survivor: Bikini Island. Not that it's a bad thing.
She realized Eve had been speaking to her and tried to regroup. "Um, yeah, sorry. Just a little tired from the trek that's all."
Eve's look told her she knew exactly what the problem was. "We've been summoned to the queen's chambers for a private consultation."
"Right!" She said. "We should…" Her eyes followed an even more scantily clad Amazon walking out of the steam room back to her hut. "…go then."
Eve dragged her in the right direction and she tried to shake the Neanderthal mentality out of her head.
"Could somebody please explain to me what that new girl was wearing?" Zoe asked the group of girls sewing wine skins once the topic of conversation was out of earshot.
Meg looked up from her work and scanned the girls retreating form. "I don't know. It's weird, whatever it is. Maybe she's one of those rejected Spartan babies that have to fend for themselves in the woods. She may have made her own clothes."
"What girl? There's a new girl?" Rah asked, as she stood to get a look at who they were talking about.
"You missed her; she already went into the queen's hut." Zoe said to Rah then addressed Meg. "And they don't send the female Spartan babies out into the wild, sweetie, it's just the males."
"Was she attractive?" Rah asked, still looking in the direction of the tent.
Both Meg and Zoe simply rolled their eyes and went back to the sewing. It had been a while since Rah had a girlfriend, and it had been even longer since someone new had come into the camp.
The queen's hut was much more lavish on the inside that Sarah had expected. There were all kinds of masks and weapons, not to mention a huge bed. She only hoped that the rest of the accommodations in the camp would be so nice.
"So what is this secret mission you two are on?" Varia asked. "The message that came in before you was somewhat cryptic."
"We're here to find the green stone Xena entrusted to the Amazons a couple of years before she and Gabrielle went to sleep in the ice cave." Sarah said, not knowing whether the purpose of the stone had been revealed to the Amazons when the warrior placed it in their care.
"We were also hoping to possibly stay on for a while." Eve interjected and Sarah looked at her knowingly. "There may be something we can do to help you with the aggressors in the woods."
"Well we could certainly use your help with that." Varia said, looking relieved. "As for the stone, you will probably have to check with our village historian. I don't know anything about it, but if Xena entrusted us with it, you can rest assured it's well hidden."
"I believe you on that." Sarah said, remembering the trouble she'd gone through to get the damn rock in her own time.
"Yes, well now that we know you'll be staying on for a while I'll have Zoe prepare a welcome party for tonight. We always like to celebrate the arrival of new guests." The queen said. "In the mean time you're welcome to go to the scroll hut and speak with our head historian."
"Great." Sarah said as she moved toward the exit, Eve in tow.
"Eve." Varia called as she perused some papers on her desk.
The messenger looked back and answered. "Yes."
"Could you stay behind for a moment?" The queen asked. "I'd like to catch you up on a few things before you leave. Sarah, you can go ahead, just ask someone where to go and they'll be happy to escort you."
"Sure." Sarah, said as she left the two women alone.
Varia looked to Eve and started to speak. "So what's her story?" She asked.
"Sarah?" Eve asked and was answered with a nod. "She's a distant relative of my family. She heard that I was in trouble and found Xena and Gabrielle. She is the reason I'm still alive today."
"Oh, a relative." Varia said, seeming almost relieved. "I thought that maybe you two were…"
As the implications started to dawn on Eve she opened her mouth in shock then laughed.
"You mean, you thought we were…" Eve laughed again. "No, no definitely not. We're just family….and friends, but that's all."
"Right." Varia said with a small smile. "I guess I just assumed that you would probably be with someone by now. It's been a while since we last saw you and you are an attractive woman… and … can I get you something, you must be thirsty." She said as she turned to the pitcher behind her and began to pour.
Eve looked at her quizzically.
Is she…No there's no possible way she could be interested in me. I killed her little sister for Eli's sake. She thought, and then moved closer to the queen once she turned to offer the water. She sure is acting strange though. Maybe I'll test the water's just a little.
Did I really just say that?!? Eve thought.
Did she really just say that?!? Varia thought.
"Well um… some more than others." The queen said, nervously. "But I'm not really interested in anyone in the village. Don't get me wrong, I love my subjects but…"
"But it just doesn't feel right with any of them." Eve asked.
"No, it doesn't." Varia answered, feeling herself calm into the conversation. "I think it might be because they are my subjects, you know. There's this ease to it that just doesn't make any kind of courtship exciting."
"I understand, it was really hard for me to connect with anyone when I was…" Eve stopped and her brow furrowed as she tracked back to a time when she had nothing but subordinate soldiers under her command. A time when she raided Amazon villages and sold their warriors off as slaves. And when she looked into Varia's eyes she could tell that the queen had thought back to that time as well.
"I'm sorry, Varia." She gave the cup to her. "I should go."
"No, Eve, wait." Varia said, grabbing Eve's bicep. "We can't tip toe around this forever. We need to talk about it."
Both women had tears in their eyes when they locked. The stood there in silence for a few seconds, when Eve broke the contact.
"I'm sorry, Varia, I just can't." She pulled her arm away and started again for the door, then looked back to give a final explanation. "I care about you so much now. I just can't bear to relive what I've done knowing how much it hurt you. I'm sorry I'm such a coward."
And with that she left the queen alone with her thoughts.
Varia didn't know what to do. Every time she was around the young messenger her feelings raged in a war with each other. Part of her still wanted to hate her for what she'd done to her sister, and part of her could not help but know there was a very powerful connection between the two. She was disgusted with herself. She should hate Eve.
But she didn't, and that made her hate herself much more than she could ever hate the messenger.
Sarah perused the grounds of the Amazon village and finally found a group of girls off in the corner. They appeared to be smoking something, and the very possibility that there was tobacco in the camp was enough to distract her from her current task.
"Hey." She said to the group.
"Hey." They all answered back, not quite knowing quite what to say at first.
"I'm Sarah." She said, holding out her hand.
"My name's Meg." The one to the left came up first. She was cute with cheek length light hair that curled at the ends. Her eyes were calm and welcoming. "This is Rah."
She pointed to the small, but very toned girl to her right. Rah came forward with quick movements and broke out a smile that was infectious.
"Hi!" Rah said enthusiastically as she also took Sarah's hand.
"Rah, that's Egyptian, right?" Sarah asked.
"Yeah!" Rah said, excited about the fact that someone knew about her heritage. "I was born in Egypt as a slave girl, but then I escaped with one of the noble's sons and we headed for Greece. Then we got attacked by some thugs in the forest and the Amazons saved us and took me in. I was really lucky they did because I love life in the village, with all the girls and stuff…. And I talk a lot… They don't let me out much."
Sarah chuckled at the end of Rah's monologue. She talked very fast, and the time traveler found it endearing. "Nice to meet you, Rah."
"And this is Zoe." Rah said, pointing to the spiky haired blond to her right. "She's the supervisor of festivities and me and Meg work under her. Meg more than me though, cuz they're bonded and all."
Meg and Zoe looked at Rah and sighed, and then Zoe offered up a hand.
"So where are you from?" She asked, not really knowing what to think of the new girl. She dressed funny, she talked funny, and though she didn't seem like a threat there was something about her that seemed very strange.
Even if Rah hadn't said so, Sarah would have figured out that Zoe was the leader of the group. She seemed very cool, just leaning back and taking in the situation before saying anything herself.
"I'm from all over really, but I was born in the west." She said.
"Like in Ionia?" Zoe asked.
"A little further west than that." Sarah said, and then quickly changed the subject. "So um, what are you smoking there?"
"Oh it's this great stuff that Zoe grows. Just kind of relaxes you for a couple of minutes." Meg said. "Would you like to try some?" She asked offering up a small cigarette.
"You're a fucking life saver." Sarah said as she took her up on the offer. She then thought about it for a second, it could be pot and she still had stuff to do before settling in for the night. "This doesn't make you… hungry and sleepy does it?"
"Oh no." Meg said. "We save that stuff for later on."
"Gotcha." Sarah said as brandished her Zippo and lit up.
The rest of the women jumped back and looked at her as the first cave men would have at the site of flint scraping together and sparking.
"Oh my Goddess! What is that? Some kind of magic?" Rah asked.
"Oh, no." Sarah said, exhaling the smoke and realizing how odd the small device would look to these women. "No, it's just a fire making device I picked up on my travels. It's harmless I promise. You wanna try it?"
She offered the lighter up to the group and it was Zoe who first moved to try it out. She opened up the top of the Zippo then studied it for a moment as the other girl stared as well. With two hands on the silver object she rotated the flint a couple of times then finally did it fast enough to create a flame.
"Nice." She said, using it to light another cigarette and discarding the half smoked butt of her previous smoke to the ground.
Sarah thought for a minute then started to rummage through her bag. She had packed a five pack of Bics in there before she left just in case she lost her Zippo, but she figured using them to make friends might be better than letting them stick around in there on the off chance she might need them one day.
"Here." She said offering up three different colored lighters to each of the women. "It's the same thing only …"
"Pretty!" Meg said, reaching for the red one and striking the flint correctly on the first try.
Zoe reached for the blue one and gave back the Zippo before Rah reached for the green one.
They all struck the flint at the same time and smiled to each other. Very happy with the new toy they'd received from their new friend.
"Now you'll have to use it wisely, because the fuel won't last forever. But you should get some quick lights out of them for a while at least."
They all thanked her emphatically then Zoe started to speak.
"Look, I'm sure we'll be throwing a party later for your arrival. You should come by our fire pit at some point and try out some of the special stuff I've made. We don't share it with everybody because these bitches can party something fierce, but you seem pretty…"
"Cool?" Sarah said.
"Cool?" Zoe tried the word out for size and decided she liked it. "Yeah, you're cool. So make sure to find us later and we'll show you how Amazons really party."
"Sounds great!" Sarah said. "Hey before I let you get back to your work can you point me in the direction of the scroll hut? I'm supposed to be meeting the head historian."
"Well it's that one over there, but the historian is teaching lessons to the younger Amazons." Rah said. "You can go over to the lesson tent, it's right next to the scroll hut and the lessons should be over soon."
"Awesome, thanks." Sarah said as she waved goodbye. "I'll see you guys later."
Once she was out of sight the three women looked at each other and then at their new toys, then struck the flint in synchronicity and smiled.
As Sarah made her way over to the tent Eve caught up with her.
"Hey." Eve said.
"Hey, did you get everything squared away with Varia?" Sarah asked, still not sure what the two might have been discussing.
"Um yeah, everything's fine." The messenger said solemnly.
Sarah noticed the tone. "Have you always been this bad at lying?" She asked.
"What are you talking about?" Eve asked, knowing already she'd been caught.
"Well you look like your dog died and your best friend ran off with your wife. Add a little whiskey and banjo playing to the mix and you've got yourself a country song." Sarah said.
Eve sighed. "I don't want to talk about it."
Sarah stopped in her tracks and crossed her arms.
"What are you doing?" Eve asked.
"Waiting for you to stop being bullheaded and tell me what's going on." She said.
"Ugghhh. You are so annoying sometimes!" The messenger growled at her. "Look, things are just complicated with Varia right now, that's all."
"Complicated how?" Sarah asked.
"Complicated in the way that I killed someone very dear to her and she wants to talk about it." Eve said.
"So talk about it. Don't you think you owe that to her?" Sarah asked.
"Can you even try, just for a second, to put yourself in my position?" Eve said, moving closer. "I have some pretty damn strong feelings for her that I can't possibly act on because in the back of her mind she's always going to know that I'm a monster."
"But you're not a monster anymore, Eve." Sarah said. "The things you did in the past are tormenting you. That doesn't happen to monsters; they don't have regrets."
"You don't understand; every time I'm near her I feel such…" She sighed. "Such longing and despair."
"Yet you're the one who suggested we stay a little longer to help them out with their problem. The good must somehow be overpowering the bad. Either that or you're way more masochistic than I had imagined." Sarah said.
"That was when I thought that the tension between us was still there because she hated me." Eve said, shaking her head and ignoring the joke at the end of Sarah's comments. "Now it's different."
"How's it different?" Sarah asked.
"I think she was coming on to me." Eve said. "She thought that you and I might have been together and she seemed unhappy about it. Then when she found out it wasn't true she seemed relieved."
"God, I'm so confused." Sarah said, adjusting the hat on her head. "Shouldn't you be happy about that?"
"No!" Eve persisted. "She deserves to hate me, and I deserve her hatred. I can't even imagine how tortured she would be if she fell in love with someone who had done such terrible things to her family."
"Eve, let me know if I'm wrong here, but isn't one of Eli's big platforms all about forgiveness?" Sarah asked.
Eve just stood there and looked at her for a second. She knew Sarah was right, but it still didn't change the way she felt.
"Not for me." She told the time traveler. "Now, please, just drop it. We have more important things to do and I just don't feel like dealing with this right now."
Sarah looked at her and decided she'd been through enough. The subject was tabled for the time being and with a nod they both headed toward the lesson tent to meet the historian.
What they didn't expect to see was a very tall black man teaching the Amazon children. Both of them stared on in awe.
"Don't these crazy bitches kill men if they come in the camp?" Sarah whispered to Eve as to not interrupt the lesson.
"They used to." Eve said; just as confused as Sarah.
They looked on at the scene. The man at the head of a class of nearly twenty pre-pubescent Amazons spoke slowly and with purpose. Sarah placed him around twenty five years of age. He had a sturdy frame and sometimes spoke with his hands. At the moment he seemed to be teaching about Socrates.
"So, you can see Socrates' problem was that he was an intelligent idiot. He was constantly asking all of his students to broaden their minds and think outside the box when, in the end, his unwavering devotion to a state that hated him would cause his mortal undoing." He paced as she spoke and looked mostly at the floor before asking for questions. "Now we don't have much time left and I think I've covered just about everything for the day, so does anyone have any questions?"
A dark haired, spunky looking Amazon on the right side of the room raised her hand and stood to address the teacher. She was grinning mischievously as she paused to figure out how she was going to ask the question she'd formed. A group of girls around her were snickering softly.
"Master Anthony." She started.
"Yes, Pyra, go ahead." He addressed her.
"Are you a virgin?" She asked.
As soon as the last word of the sentence exited her mouth nearly the entire class burst into uncontrollable giggles, as did Sarah who received a soft slap from Eve. They waited to see how the instructor would handle the situation. He simply stood there for a few seconds contemplating his next move and right when he opened his mouth to speak he was interrupted by a student from the left side of the room.
"Pyra, you're as dumb as a Cyclops. Of course he's not a virgin." Said the lithe looking brunette who was standing strong, hands balled up in fists on the table. Everyone's attention, including the instructor's, on her.
"First of all, Master Anthony studied in Egypt!" She said, and Anthony decided to let her continue just to see what might come next.
"Second of all," She said putting one of her fists in the air with two fingers sticking out. "Master Anthony is a tall, black man!"
Sarah's jaw hit the ground and Eve's eyes seemed like they were going to pop out of her head, but the instructor remained calm, still waiting to see how this was going to end.
"And third…" She said raising a third finger and putting emphasis on her next words. "Master Anthony studied in Egypt!"
She then slammed her fist down on the table as if she'd just proven her point even though two of her examples were exactly the same. The entire class was silent and Sarah now had a hand over her mouth to fight the laughter that was just dying to get out. After a few seconds the room shifted their attention to the instructor, without a clue as to how he would address these claims. Anthony simply smiled and stood up.
"You know…" He paused briefly to look around the room. "I think we're done for the day. Why don't you guys go harass the weapons instructor, now?"
As the girls shuffled quickly out of the room to attend their favorite class of the day, Sarah and Eve moved in to speak with the teacher.
"Um, hi." Sarah said to him as he was gathering his scrolls.
"Hello." He said, looking up. "Can I help you with something?"
"I hope so." Sarah said. "My name is Sarah, and this is Eve, daughter of Xena and Gabrielle."
"Oh, wow, I've read about you." He said to Eve, and she hung her head in shame. "I'm kind of Amazed you've come back to camp after all that has happened with you trying to kill the Amazons, then the Amazons trying to kill you."
"You know, that's funny. We were just talking about how weird it was for you to be in the camp being that the Amazons aren't too fond of living with men." Sarah said hastily. She was starting to realize that she was becoming a lot more protective of Eve than she ever thought she would.
"Yeah, neither one of us are exactly characters that fit in around here, huh?" He said before smiling and offering up his hand to both of them. "My name is Anthony and I'm a runaway from Egypt. The Amazons took me in because I saved the life of one of their sisters."
Eve took the offered hand and issued a genuine greeting as she clasped the forearm. "It's nice to meet you Anthony. I'd love to hear the whole story at some point during our stay."
He nodded then looked over to Sarah who did the same. "Same here."
"Well I assume that that's not the only reason you came to see me, unless you wanted to know more about Socrates that is." He said, getting to the point.
"No, actually it isn't." Sarah said. "We were told that you were in charge of keeping up the Amazonian historical scrolls and were hoping you could help us find some information on a green stone given to the Amazons by Xena over 25 years ago. It was supposed to be hidden and kept safe."
"Hmm." He said, truly interested in the task. "What was the stone's purpose?"
"Uhhh. Don't know." Sarah said, hoping he could still find it without that much information being divulged. "It was pretty big though. About the size of the palm of your hand, green in color, and she would have brought it here on a visit without Queen Gabrielle. Is that enough information to get you started?"
"I'm not sure." He said, the wheels already turning in his head. "I haven't read a lot of the scrolls from that far back, especially if they didn't have to do with some sort of conflict, but I'd be happy to check it out for you. Give me a couple of days, maybe a week and I should at least be able to point you in the right direction."
"Great!" Sarah said, happy with the man's confidence. "If you need us to help you out, just let us know."
"Actually, I'm afraid only Eve would be able to help." He said, and elaborated after seeing the confusion on Sarah's face. "Only Amazons are allowed to touch the sacred scrolls. Eve is an Amazon by direct birth, you however we have no records of, so you'll either have to become an Amazon or sit out the research."
Burying herself in Ancient Amazon scrolls for days did not sound like Sarah's idea of fun after all she'd been through; she decided to leave that to the professional.
"No problem." She said. "I don't mind waiting around while you guys take care of all the fun stuff."
"Alright then," Anthony said, "It's settled. Eve you can help me start looking through the scrolls first thing tomorrow morning."
Eve was more than happy to help and Sarah was more than happy to have a couple of days off just to relax. They said their goodbyes to the instructor, and then started to walk out of the hut before Sarah realized something. Turning back she spoke to the professor once more.
"Hey, I just thought of something." She said. "If you're able to take care of the scrolls does that make you…"
"An Amazon?" He finished her sentence, and then gave her a look of mild amusement. "Yep, I'm afraid I have the incredibly emasculating honor of being the first initiated male Amazon. Feel free to hold your laughter until after you've cleared the exit."
Sarah gave off a small smirk, and then clapped the man on the shoulder.
"I thought having to deal with the Amazons would be bad enough for you, I didn't expect you to actually be one." She said, in a mock way of consolation, and then walked off after Eve. "See ya later, Anthony!"
"I've got to get out of this camp." He said to nothing more than the roof of the hut, then gathered the rest of his things and went about his day.
As day turned to night the festivities started to commence. There was a huge feast laid out for the new guests consisting of all kinds of vegetables, fruits and a large wild boar. Wine was flowing freely and everyone's spirits were very high. Varia had started things off with a toast to Eve and Sarah before everyone was allowed to dig in. Then after a few drinks and a full belly, Sarah decided to go talk to the stoic Queen while Eve was involved with a detailed description of the history of the Elisians to a group of Amazons.
"Mind if I join you?" She asked.
"No, of course not." Varia said as she sipped at her wine and stared at the young messenger.
"You better watch that one." Sarah said, jokingly. "She might convert your Amazons over to the path of love."
Varia chuckled. "Not that particular group. They're too young and ornery to step away from the thrill of battle. I think they are taken by her beauty."
"Doesn't seem like they're the only ones." Sarah said, taking a sip from her own cup. "You've barely taken your eyes off of her all night."
"If you're going to make accusations I'd prefer you just come right out and say them." Varia said, pulling her eyes away from Eve so she could shoot daggers from them at Sarah.
"I was under the impression I was simply making an observation; accusations are used against people who are generally up to no good." She rolled her eyes. "Jeez, you Amazons are touchy."
"Either way, it's none of your business." Varia said.
"Honey, you wouldn't believe the things I've jumped into that were absolutely none of my business. I'm a pro in this arena." Sarah joked.
"Well why are you jumping into this one?" Varia asked; she was growing impatient.
"Because you're torturing her and I don't even think you know it." Sarah said.
"Is that what she said?" Varia asked, alarmed.
"Nope, that's another one of my observations." Sarah said. "Look, I'm not going to beat around the bush here. I know your history with Eve, and it's a fucking shame that things went that way. But you have got to know that she feels terrible about what she did to your sister."
"You think I don't know that?" Varia asked. "You're not the only one who's so perceptive. I see her face every time she looks at me. It's like the very sight of me instills so much pain inside her."
"Does she instill pain in you?" Sarah asked.
"I wish she did." Varia said in a defeated tone. "That would make things so much simpler. But the truth is when I look at her I see a beautiful woman trying so hard, with every fiber of her being, to atone for a horrific past. If I walked up to her right now and demanded her life for what she did to my sister she would gladly give it to me." She looked down at her hands in her lap. "What she won't give me is the chance to be anything more than cordial with her. The slightest step into kindness and she shuts down."
"Have you ever thought about forcing her to hear you out?" Sarah asked. "She's the daughter of Xena and Gabrielle. Eve has enough stubbornness in her to drag this out for the rest of her life. Do you really want to wait that long?"
Varia looked at her as if she were starting to make sense, then shook her head and looked away.
"I don't even know what I can give her with our past experiences looming in the background. It would probably never work." Varia said.
"You could be right." Sarah offered up, taking another sip. "But you'll never know until you try. Don't you at least owe yourself that?"
"But my sister…" Varia said, going off to a dark place.
"Your sister was killed by Livia, and as stupid as this may sound, that woman is dead. Eve killed her. She is not the one who murdered your sister anymore; she's the one who avenged her death." Sarah paused. "She also mourns it every day of her life."
Varia looked again at the messenger, and thought for a few moments before letting out a very small chuckle. "You must be related to them. You're completely unrelenting."
Sarah smiled; she had won.
"Yep." She said, stretching out in victory. "We were born with heavy amounts of the stubborn gene. So what are you gonna do?"
"I think I'm gonna pull her away from those Amazons for a private conversation before they get a little too well acquainted with each other." Varia said; standing and offering her hand to Sarah. "Thank you for having this conversation with me. Of course you know if it doesn't turn out well I'll have every right to kill you according to Amazon law."
Sarah took the offered forearm. "Sweetie, I'd like to see you try." She said, tipping her hat and keeping her seat until Varia had escorted Eve safely back to her hut.
"Now, that's what you call a wingman." Sarah said as she tossed back the rest of the contents of her cup and standing to go meet up with her new friends.