DISCLAIMER: Xena, Gabrielle, Melinda, and Janice are copyrighted characters owned by Ren Pics, Universal, and the various PTB. I'm just playing in their sandbox for a while to see what happens.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Calliope


It was the fifth talk in as many weeks. This one was for the university's alumni association and various hotshot academics. Never mind that one of those hotshots was the illustrious Melinda Pappas. She had a presence on the stage and could mesmerize even the most skeptical in the crowd. The Xena scrolls had more than paved the way for Mel and her partner, renegade archeologist, Janice Covington to make a name for themselves in academia. Yet, they held back the best parts of the Xena and Gabrielle tales. Ones only they knew about.

Mel, being the true Southern belle that she is, was a bit shocked at the intimate relationship between Xena and Gabrielle. Janice was overwhelmed that her ancestor, a naïve and innocent farm girl, had seduced the feared ex-warlord. Gabrielle's scrolls practically burned under their fingers as they read them and Jan had to take a long walk to cool off.

Now, it seems that history was repeating itself. The blonde archeologist lounged back in the straight-backed wood chair, a foot propped cockily on her knee, watching the sexy translator turn on her charm with the crowd. A crooked grin played subtly across Jan's mouth appreciating the opportunity to unabashedly check out the curves and beauty of one, Melinda Pappas. Hmm, hmm, now that's a tall cool glass of tea on a hot summer day. Jan squirmed in her seat. Damn, I have to stop this!

It's not that Jan wasn't familiar with the ladies, quite a few, in fact, but this was Mel that she was ogling. The daughter of her father's colleague. Her business partner. And loath though she was to admit it, her friend, her best friend, at that! She'd never had a best friend, that was a female anyway, and she didn't want to fuck it up.

The petite blonde watched from a distance as the raven-haired woman made her way off the stage and into the waiting crowd. The old men, living off of their fraternity dreams, with their fat bellies and cigars, made no secret of being over-friendly with the tall beauty. A while back, Mel had made Jan promise not to interfere over such behavior. The two women were making their way in a male-dominated world, where sexist, obnoxious behavior wasn't only expected, but guaranteed. Mel tried to use the short-term, hormone-induced male mentality to charm, at least figuratively, the pants off the good ol' boys club. Jan, on the other hand, simply took a deep breath and another slug of her whiskey at the open bar.

A huge shindig was on tap for later tonight and the alumni association had named Melinda and Janice as their honorees. There would be lots of dancing, lots of drinking, and even more kissing trustee ass than normal, as if that was at all possible. The image of the bald-headed university president bent over butt naked made Jan chuckle and kind of nauseous. Mel's tap on her shoulder dispelled the unpleasant thought.

"Ready for tonight?" Those blue eyes held Janice spellbound for a moment.

"Uh, yeah! As ready as I'll ever be to put up with these blowhards for a few more hours, I guess," the blonde waved her hand about then threw back another shot of whiskey.

"Thanks, Janice," the tall brunette glanced down.

"For what? This is what we do. It's nothing!"

"I know how much you hate this stuff, and well,…" Mel hesitated, unsure how to finish. Jan took mercy on the plight of her beautiful friend.

"Hey, don't sweat it, 'kay? I'd do anything for you, Mel."

"Anything?" Mel glanced up, one dark eyebrow raised mischievously. The archeologist shivered but couldn't think of a snappy comeback. Mel nodded as she straightened back up, putting herself back in order before heading back into the crowd, "I guess we'll see tonight if that's true."

Jan stood there frozen to the spot, "What the hell did that mean?" Tapping the bar, "One more for the road, eh? Something tells me I'm gonna need it."

The blonde archeologist twisted the key in the door, to the right, then back to the left, then back to the right again, "Damn it!" She hated this hotel, but most of all, she hated this godforsaken door. She rested her fedora covered head against the cool door. One more time. With a deep breath, she gently turned the key to the left simultaneously turning the handle in the same direction until she heard the click. "YES!!!" Mel had shown her that trick one night, but she always had a hard time getting her timing just right. It hadn't helped that the blonde was a bit drunk when Mel tried to give her lessons.

She closed the door and leaned back against it before removing her hat and flinging it across the room. Immediately, she grabbed the decanter of scotch to her right and filled a glass. Turning around, the contents went spewing from her mouth.

"What the…," looking over the shimmering green strappy dress and black heels, Jan was at a loss for words. Suddenly it occurred to her that she didn't put that dress there since she NEVER wore dresses, so someone had to do it. Nervously, she looked around for danger, throwing open the bathroom door and opening closets. Assured that she was alone, she came back around the corner of the room thinking the unfamiliar items would have disappeared.

She moaned, "Nope, not that lucky." Jan grabbed up what was left of her scotch and threw it back, the burn giving her confidence to step closer. This damn thing better not be booby trapped! A note lay across it. She lifted it carefully but instantly knew the smooth and elegant handwriting.

All it said was, "For me?"

"Awww, Mel!!! Come on!" She held up the dangerous looking high heels, "When I said anything, I didn't have THIS in mind!"

The lights in the university auditorium had been dimmed and Sinatra crooned in the background. To Janice, it didn't matter how much they decorated or how drunk they got the crowd, the gym would still smell like month old sweat socks…WET, month old sweat socks.

The dress, even though a beautiful sheer silk, was so irritatingly different from her dull brown button down that she couldn't help but squirm and feel itchy. Shifting from foot to foot, she cursed the maker, the maker's children, and the maker's grandchildren for infinite generations for creating high heels. She felt miserable, but she promised Mel "anything."

"What in the Sam Hill was I thinking?" She muttered to herself, grabbing up another whiskey sour. "Damn blue eyed, long-legged, sexy as hell woman will be the death of me yet," she continued to mumble, reaching down to massage her calf, unaware of the amused blue eyes watching from a distance.

The rising chorus of "oohs" and "aahs" broke Jan from her stream of expletives. What she saw took her breath away.

"Sweet Jesus," coming down the steps had to be an apparition causing Jan to put her drink down and move it away from her, "Okay, think I'm done."

Mel sauntered down the stairs casually, never breaking eye contact with Jan. Her black mane, normally up in a tight bun, fell around the shoulders of the black tux she wore. Tight-fitting and dashing in the tails, Jan could do nothing but watch the snicker that played across her friend's tan face.

"Close your mouth, Jan, you'll catch flies," the blonde's jaw audibly snapped shut. Mel tapped the bar and requested a Long Island Iced Tea. Jan raised her eyebrow at this.

"Umm, Mel, what are you doing? You don't drink," the raven-haired beauty, flipped her hair back, and graced her petite and stunned friend with a disarmingly sexy smile.

"It's just a little role reversal, honey, nothing to worry about. What? You don't like it?" She gestured to her ensemble.

"No, no, I like it. Just wasn't expecting it, that's all," Jan was still trying to reconcile the debutante she knew with the debonair woman in front of her.

"Good," the dark-haired woman took a long swallow of her drink before turning to face the blonde as she did a slow sweep with her eyes over the curves of the blonde, "You clean up nice, Jan."

Swallowing hard at the frank appraisal, "Yeah, I, um, had a little help."

"I like your hair down like that. It softens you," Mel reached a hand up to brush a tousled blonde lock off of Jan's shoulder. At least Jan knew that a ponytail didn't go with a formal dress and now she was immensely grateful for her foresight.

"Thanks," her heart was thumping in her chest. What was going on here? "Um, Mel, not that I'm complaining or anything, but what's going on with you?"

The brunette looked down into her glass, contemplating what to do now when a smooth slow song came on. She reached her hand out, "Dance with me."

Jan looked around nervously, then down at her feet, "I don't think that's such a good idea, Mel."

"You never cared what they thought of you before."

Chuckling, Jan shook her head, "That's not it."

"No?" the comment was coated in relief even while a dark eyebrow rose in mischief.

"No, see, I barely made it here in these contraptions without breaking several bones. Dancing would definitely finish me off."

"Let me lead, Jan, and you'll be fine," she held out her hand again, "Please."

The blonde's heart thumped even louder, "You will be the death of me, woman." Mel laughed heartily at this, relieving some of the pent up nervousness in her own body as well as the tension between them. Jan took Mel's warm hand in her own, noticing the red nails that wrapped around her fingers. She smiled at the contradiction: a very feminine woman dressed in a masculine shell. Suddenly, she felt very warm. Oh, please, don't let me pass out now!

The crowd parted as the two women reached the middle of the dance floor. Neither seemed to notice or care about the stares. Mel pulled her blonde friend into her arms, placing a steadying hand on a silky, round hip. With Jan in heels, they were almost eye-to-eye. The close proximity allowed her to see the flecks of blue and brown in the volatile green eyes. It explained why the color changed with the blonde's moods. Tonight, the dark green dress brought out a deeper, warmer tone than usual. She was vibrant, youthful, and Mel loved it.

The pair barely took their eyes off of each other as Mel deftly spun Jan around the floor. The archeologist was shocked she was still on her feet but was more amazed still that Mel's own feet hadn't been crushed beneath her fumbling appendages. But she wasn't fumbling. It was like she was dreaming a dream where everything was perfect, even herself. She didn't want to wake now that she was where she always wanted to be. This wasn't how she imagined baring her feelings for Mel, but she was thankful her tall, dark friend had taken the initiative. The blonde reached her arm further around Mel's deceptively strong shoulders, bringing them closer together, until she could run a hand underneath the dark hair, stroking along the fine hairs at the base of Mel's neck. She felt the brunette's deep sigh and the arm wrap tighter around her waist.

The song ended but the couple didn't move. Mel's consistent stroking of her lower back was sending clear messages to the rest of her body, and she could feel herself reacting. She knew they had to get out of there or the crowd would see far more than they bargained for.

"Wanna get out of here?" Whatever alien that was inhabiting Mel's body was also reading Janice's mind.

"Definitely," tugging the smaller woman behind her, Mel gave one of the open-mouthed university trustees a wink on the way out the door. She wasted no time whistling down a taxi and in moments she was jimmying Janice's tricky hotel door open.

Mel stepped aside letting Jan pass. The closing of the door jolted the blonde back to reality. Before she could turn, she felt a hand at her waist.

"I guess it is true," the dark-haired woman whispered in her ear. The warmth radiating off of Mel's body enveloped her and she couldn't resist resting back into the arms.

"What's true?"

"You really would do anything for me. I didn't think you'd wear the dress, but I wanted to see you this way," Jan could feel the smile Mel was trying to hold back. Misunderstanding the intent, she spun on the brunette with a glare.

"What? Ridiculous? Stupid? Because that's the way I feel in this get up," Mel chuckled at her before turning serious.

"No, honey…completely undone. That's what I've wanted to see. I wanted to get below the hard exterior to the woman underneath. The only way I could get you to open up to me was to break down your defenses," she traced the blonde's jaw, watching the green eyes drift closed at her touch. So beautiful. "Now I want all of you, Janice Covington."

A smile played at the corner of Janice's lips before she opened her eyes to the most compelling sight—a rapturous Melinda Pappas barely holding back her need to kiss Jan.

"You're right, Mel. I would do anything for you."

The End

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