DISCLAIMER: Xena & Gabrielle and any other characters featured in the actual TV series are copyrighted to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures; just borrowing for this story. All other characters and story is mine. Please contact me before using any of my stuff. Thanks.
VIOLENCE DISCLAIMER: None.
ON-GOING SERIES WARNING: This is one of Sophia's Solo Adventures. This story takes place after "Fitting In."
SPOILERS: Comedy of Eros
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The Love Contest
*Anymore slower, and I'd be fixing up their reincarnations,* she mused to herself.
"You know, if you had let me help," Cupid flew down and stood beside the Guardian, "you would have been done a lot faster."
"If I had let you help, Molione would have been making goo-goo eyes at a cow."
The winged God of Love rolled his eyes. "I've told you, that wasn't my fault! Eros got out of his crib." He inspected his bow. "Besides, my arrows are potent."
"Not as potent as soulmates. You see cousin, your arrow indiscriminately make people fall in love with the first thing they see. It may take you several shots before you get it right. On the other hand, I only need one shot. And once it's done, that love lasts forever, not even the gods can take it away."
"So you think your skills are better than my arrows?"
"Not better, just more accurate."
"Really?!?" Cupid narrowed his eyes.
Sophia cupped her mouth with both hands. "MOOOO!" she bellowed.
"Enough of that." He pulled her hands from around her mouth."How about a contest?"
A toothy grin emerged upon the Guardian's face. "What kind of contest?"
"I'll make it easy on you. We take a pair of soulmates who are already together. I'll shoot one with an arrow and cause one of them to fall in love with someone else. If it doesn't work, you automatically win. However, if it does work, you have three days to convince him or her to go back to their soulmate. If you manage to do that, then you win. However, if you can't convince them to go back to their soulmate, then I'm the champ." He stuck out his hand. "Okay?"
Sophia cocked her eyebrow. "What's the wager?"
"If I win, you have to baby-sit Eros for three whole days."
Sophia nodded. "Fine, but if I win, I get your bow and arrow set for three days."
"Wait a minute..."
The Guardian held up a hand. "You named your wager, I named mine. Besides, I think you got the better of the deal."
Cupid rubbed his chin as he thought about it. "Fine, it's a deal."
"Now all we have to do is come up with a couple."
"Way ahead of you couz." A devious smirk appeared on the god's face. "Xena and Gabrielle."
"ARE YOU CRAZY!!?!" Sophia eyed her cousin in disbelief. "Imagine what would happen to us if they ever found out. If you want your feathers made into pillows and quills be my guest, but I prefer my hide to be *attached* to the rest of my body, thank you."
The winged god raised his hands in surrender. "Okay. Point taken. So who?"
"I don't know." An idea finally came to her head. "Let's ask Aphrodite."
Cupid nodded. "Mom can pick out the perfect couple. Let's go."
After hearing what the pair wanted, the goddess shook her head. She had expected as much from Cupid, for the gods were always looking for something to ease their boredom. But Sophia usually didn't give into whims...unless she was challenged. Like Athena and Ares, Sophia had a competitive streak a mile wide. "Are you sure you guys want to do this?"
Sophia nodded. "Yeah. We promise to put everything back into place."
Aphrodite eyed the two. "Fine. And to prevent any hard feelings, both partners have to be shot, one while looking at someone else, and the other while looking at something inanimate."
"That shouldn't be too hard for you Cupid," Sophia joked.
Aphrodite clapped her hands. "And I have the perfect couple! Hold on to your hats because we're on our way to find a Warrior Princess and a Bard "
"NO!!!" Both Cupid and Sophia raised their hands in alarm as fear flashed over their features. "Don't go there Mom, don't go there."
Confusion and disappointment shined from the goddess eyes. "Okay." She tapped her chin as she thought. "How about Soranus and Cassiopia? They've been together for five years."
"Sounds fine." Cupid watched as the Guardian nodded her agreement."Then let the contest begin."
Soranus smiled as he and Cassiopia strolled through the woods near their village. The ebony-haired man young took the hand of his wife. Both were smiling brightly, unaware that they were being watched.
Sophia looked around the trunk, but couldn't see anything. "Are they here yet? And which one is going to fall first?"
Cupid looked down on the land-bounded Guardian. "Watch and learn couz." The god pulled back on his bow and let the arrow fly.
"Cassiopia, there's something I want to tell you." Soranus pulled of his hat and he looked up. It was then he felt something pierced his heart. A giant look of puppy love graced his features. "I've never seen anything so gorgeous before in my life. I must simply have you!"
"Soranus, we are in the woods. Behave yourself until we get home."
Soranus eyed the woman as she was crazy. "Not you!" He turned and ran towards a tree. Once there, he threw his arms around the trunk. "My darling! You're so lovely! Please tell me I make your sap run!"
Sophia could barely swallow back her laughter as she heard Soranus' words. "Cupid, I think Aphrodite met something small like a bell or a chair."
"He was the one looking at the tree." Finding this all too funny, Sophia stepped from behind the tree. "Wow," she whispered as her eyes finally came upon the couple.
Cupid landed next to his cousin. "Cute, huh?"
As far as the Guardian was concerned, cute was an understatement. Cassiopia was her height, with auburn hair and chestnut brown eyes. Along with her deep tanned skin and womanly shape, Cassiopia was nothing less than beautiful. She leaned over towards her cousin. "So who's going to be the lucky person?" When the god didn't answer, Sophia leaned over more, without taking her eyes off of Cassiopia. "Cupid? Cupid?" She went to elbow him, but instead of connecting with him, she fell over. "Doggone it!"
Hearing the outburst, Cassiopia turned and franticlly ran to the Guardian. "Please help me! Something's wrong with my husband!"
As soon as she saw the distress in the woman's eyes, guilt nipped at the Guardian's mind. "Look, he'll be all right. I can explain..."
The Guardian watched in horror as lust and love danced in the chestnut orbs looking her way. *You son of a bacchae!* Sophia realized too late that she had literally fallen into Cupid's trap.
"Look at you, you big hunk of womanhood." Brazenly, Cassiopia ran her hand down Sophia's leathers. "Are you a warrior? Because we can play Warlord and Slave."
Sophia backed up, "Listen-- you are under a spell."
"And I bet you have the cure right? So you want to play Healer instead?"
For each step back Sophia took, Cassiopia made one forward. Sophia looked over at her husband. "Hey, Soranus." She nervously smiled back at Cassiopia before returning her attention to the man, "I think your wife needs you." But Soranus was too busy whispering sweet nothings to the tree to be of much assistance to the Guardian.
Finally, Sophia called out to the one person who at the moment she wanted to strangle. "Cupid! Cupid!" She intercepted Cassiopia's wandering hands. "Cupid! Cupid?"
A disembodied chuckle filled the air. "See you in three days Couz."
Sophia plopped down onto her bedroll, exhausted. For the past three candlemarks she had tried to convince Soranus and Cassiopia that they belonged together, without any luck. In fact, most of her time was spent trying to keep the woman's hands off her.
Realizing her words were ineffective, Sophia decided that action--drastic action was needed. *But what?*
"Having fun yet?" The air-borne Cupid looked down at the Guardian.
A dangerous smirk danced upon Sophia's lips. "Why don't you come down here so I can show you how much fun I'm having.....Cousin." She stood to her feet. "How could you do this to me?"
"Think about it. There was no one else here. Besides, I know you won't take advantage of the situation." He arched his eyebrows. "Right?"
Sophia nodded, even though she wasn't sure how much more of the chestnut-eyed vixen's groping she could take without exploding. "She's really beautiful."
"Yeah. And married."
"Well maybe you should tell them that. Soranus is determined to make that tree his. I've never heard so much bad poetry in my life!"
Cupid looked around. "And where's Cassiopia? I thought she would be with you."
"I told her that I loved berries, so she went to pick some."
The god of Love chuckled. "Fire's getting too hot?"
Sophia nodded. "Right now, I would melt the ice off the highest peaks of Mount Olympus."
"Well, I suggest you take a dip in the lake."
"Good idea, a cold bath will do wonders, after I set up camp." She pointed at Cupid. "I'll see you later. And don't be late."
"I'll bring Eros with me so that you can immediately begin your babysitting duties."
The Guardian chuckled. "Just be prepared to hand over that bow and quiver."
Once the Love God disappeared, Sophia set up camp. After making sure she had picked enough firewood for the night, and placed the bedrolls far apart, she grabbed a large rag and an extra change of clothing, preparing for her bath.
"Hey where are you going?" Cassiopia inquired as she entered the camp. "I've picked your favorite berries."
"Thanks Cassiopia. I'll eat them once I get back from the lake."
The young woman noticed the rag and clothing. "Taking a bath?" She hummed sweetly as she made her way closer to the Guardian.
Sophia quickly hid the items behind her back. "Um...."
"You know, taking a cold bath can be very detrimental. Maybe I should come with you to warm things up a bit."
Sophia swallowed hard. "That's what I'm afraid of."
Cassiopia tilted her head, and all Sophia could do was watch as waves of auburn hair cascaded with the movement. "Are you afraid of me Sophia?" She lifted a finger and stroked the Guardian's cheek. "Maybe you need to conquer your fears?"
Sophia closed her eyes at the exquisite touch. "Maybe," she breathlessly replied. Then she opened her eyes and saw Cassiopia leaning in. With all effort and speed, the Guardian dived out of the way. "Um..." She looked around and grabbed a couple of blankets. "I'll be back. Um...I have to check on Soranus." Without looking back, she took off at top speed; hoping the run would relieve some of her energies.
Once she ran down the hill, her target came into sight. Sophia shook her head and chuckled. Soranus leaned against the object of his love, his arms wrapped tightly around the truck as he slept on. 'At least one of us is going to sleep tonight.' The Guardian draped the blankets over the love struck fool, and then proceeded to the lake.
After taking a long swim and catching a couple of fish, Sophia made her way back to camp, all along trying to think of something to say that wouldn't trigger a lusty reaction from Cassiopia. 'Hope you're hungry...Nope, that won't work. Hope you can cook...uh-uh, no good either.'
Finally, she decided on a minimal approach. Once she entered into camp, Sophia walked over to the woman. "Here," she handed the fish to Cassiopia. "Dinner."
Cassiopia smiled. "You're going to love my cooking." Sophia gave her a small smile and walked away. Cassiopia's face lit up as if someone had given her a treasure.
Sophia let out a deep breath. *I can do this.* She sat down, pulled out her daggers and began to needlessly sharpen them until Cassiopia announced that dinner was ready. The Guardian quickly ate, setting aside a portion for Soranus. "Cassiopia do you love me?"
A Chester cat grin appeared on Sophia's lips. The Guardian gazed at the woman. "Then you would do anything for me."
A bewitching smile danced across Cassiopia's lips as she ran her hand on Sophia's thigh. "Anything."
Sophia grabbed both hands. "Good. You sleep on one side of the fire and I'll sleep on the other.
Disappointment shined from the woman's deep brown eyes. "If that's what you wish."
Sophia saw the sadness in her eyes. Once again, guilt crept into her conscious. "Listen, we have a long day tomorrow, and we both need to be well rested." A grin graced her lips. "Now how can I get any sleep if you are near me?"
Cassiopia's face lit up. "I'm a distraction?"
Sophia eyed the woman from head to toe. "You sure are." The two pair of brown eyes stared intently at each other. "Now get some sleep. I'll see you in the morning." She watched as Cassiopia lied down and soon the woman fell asleep. Sophia sat by the fire, her thoughts focused in one direction. *Okay Guardian. How do we fix this?*
Cassiopia woke up, only to find the Guardian laying out some fruit and tea for breakfast. Sophia flashed a smile at the sleepy woman. Cassiopia made sure her hand brushed against the Guardian's as she reached for the tea. "Thanks."
Sophia swallowed hard once again. "You're welcome." She took a couple steps back, trying to place some distance between them. "When you're finished, there's something I want to show you."
"Good, because I have something I want to show you too."
A nervous chuckle leaped from Sophia's throat. "Um, almost done?"
"In a hurry?"
The Guardian didn't answer. Instead, she leaned against a tree and plotted out her next step. Sophia was so deep in thought, she never noticed that Cassiopia had finished her breakfast and was making her way towards her.
Cassiopia strutted over to the tree. When she saw the surprise and nervousness in the Guardian's eyes, she decided to take the lead.
"Now who should go first?" With that she lifted her hands to the ties of her bodice.
Sophia quickly grabbed Cassiopia's hands. "Me!" She quickly dragged the woman towards Soranus, who was busy trying to convince the tree that they were perfect for each other. "I beg thee, all I want is for you to wrap you strong beautiful branches around me."
Sophia shook her head and turned towards Cassiopia. "Do you know him?"
"That's just Soranus. We've known each other for years. Is that all you want to show me? I guess it's my turn." Cassiopia began to lean in, but was stopped by Sophia's hands.
The Guardian's patience wore thin. "Come on, you know him better than that. Isn't he your husband?"
A light of recognition flashed in the chestnut orbs, but just as quickly it disappeared as the arrow's power reinserted itself.
"So that's what you're worried about! Sophia, darling, he is my husband in name only. My heart belongs to you now." This time determined that nothing would stop her, Cassiopia leaned in with her lips puckered and eyes close.
Sophia quickly ducked out of the way. "Hold that thought." Sophia dashed over to the tree-hugger. *Maybe Cupid's spell will be weaker on him.* "Hey Soranus," she stated as she slapped him on the back "How's it going?"
"Not well at all." The disappointed man pointed to tree. "She won't respond to any of my poetry or my gift."
"I ran to the river and brought her water." He picked up a soaked hat. "I've ruin my hat." Soranus looked back at the tree with puppy dog eyes. "But I would give up anything for her. Even for only one kiss."
Sophia shook head. "That's your problem. Listen, I'm a Guardian of Love, and if you want this tree to love you, you've got to be forceful." She strode over to the tree and knocked on it. "See, it's very hard wood."
Desperation came to Soranus' brown eyes. "Please don't tell me it's hopeless!"
*I don't believe I'm giving advice on how to love a tree.* Sophia waved the man over. "If you want her love, then you have to do exactly what I say..."
"Dinner is served madam." Sophia flourished with her arm. "We have roasted rabbit and toasted bread with cheese and fresh fruit. And of course, some port." She guided Cassiopia to the soft seat made from the bedrolls. "Of course, since I travel by myself, I have only one cup." She quirked an eyebrow, "But I don't think you mind sharing, do you?"
Cassiopia just smiled. "So why the sudden change? Not that I'm complaining."
Sophia shrugged as she fixed their plates. "I decided to stop fighting fate." She sat down next to Cassiopia. Unlike the previous night, Sophia told a few jokes and a few stories, hoping to distract Cassiopia from the fact that she was constantly refill the cup; from which the red head was drinking.
Finally, the Guardian took the dishes and cup away. "You know what I want to do?" Sophia purred. "I want to play a game."
The woman shivered as the words caressed her ear. "What's the game?"
"Warlord and Slave. Of course, I'm the Warlord."
"Why don't we skip the game, and say that you've already won."
Sophia jumped up. "That's no fun. Besides," The Guardian leaned over and whispered into her ear, "Anticipation is part of the excitement." She gently nipped Cassiopia's earlobe. "Are you ready to get excited?" Without waiting for an answer, Sophia slowly stood up and walked over to her stash, pulling out her cape. "Slave, put this on me."
"Put it on you? I thought I would be taking stuff off." The flash of anger in Sophia's eyes quickly told Cassiopia that this was no laughing matter. She lowered her head. "Coming my Lord."
Before Cassiopia was able to take the cape, Sophia grabbed her chin, forcing her to look into the dark pools. "Obey all my orders and you will be rewarded, otherwise the consequences will be severe." After seeing submissiveness in her eyes, Sophia released her chin. "Now put this on me."
"Yes, my Lord."
After Cassiopia attached the cape to her leathers. Sophia then turned around. "Stay here. I will call for you when I'm ready." The Guardian strolled out of the camp.
Cassiopia stood there, afraid to move, fearing what the consequences would be and yet at the same time, thinking about the rewards. A giant smirk danced upon her features. "Can't wait for those rewards."
Sophia ran down the small hill, taking her cape off in the process. "Hey Soranus" she loudly whispered. When he came into view, she threw the cape at him. "Here put this on."
Soranus looked at the cape in his hands. "Are you sure about this?"
"Just do it. And remember what I said." She watched as he nodded and disappeared among the trees.
Sophia looked back up the hill. *This better work. I don't think I can say no much longer.*"Cassiopia, do you hear me?" she yelled.
"Yes, my warlord."
"Follow the sound my voice. Come down the hill. Follow my voice." She watched as the woman came halfway down the hill. "Stop." A small smirk crossed her features as Cassiopia halted. "Good. You can obey." She tilted her head. "I want you to walk down slowly." She watched until she was barely an arms length away. "Stop. Now close your eyes." Once she saw that her orders were obeyed, Sophia continued. "Now, come to me." Slowly, with hesitance, the woman made her way closer, unaware that Sophia had moved away.
Sophia watched as the woman was less than two steps away from the goal. "Stop. Keep your eyes closed." She nodded to Soranus, who quietly crept towards them.
She returned her attention once more to Cassiopia. "You've been very patient." She reached over and stroked the woman's cheek. "And very obedient. Now for your reward."
That was his cue. Soranus forcefully wrapped his arms around the woman and kissed her with all his might as she wrapped her arms around him and grasped the silk cape in her hands.
Sophia stepped back and waited for the magic to work. The kiss, which started out very heated and demanding became tender, loving and passionate. When the need for air became to urgent to ignore, the two pulled away, love and embarrassment shining from both sets of eyes.
"Oh Soranus, please forgive me."
"It's me who should be saying sorry."
Sophia walked over to the pair. "There is nothing to forgive. What matters is that you two broke the spell." With a smirk planted firmly on her face, she reached out her hand. "Now can I have my cape back?"
Soranus chuckled and took it off, handing it back to the Guardian. Cassiopia came up to Sophia. "I was right about you, you are a hunk," gave her a chaste kiss on the check, "and a gentlewoman."
Sophia smiled her thanks and watched as the two walked off.
"So," Cupid appeared by the Guardian's side, "did you have fun?"
"You know, that was almost too easy."
"Yeah right. That's why you had such a hard time keeping her hands off and your heartbeat down. Besides, everyone knows that kissing one's soulmate can break all kinds of spells. But what I want to know is how did you get him to kiss her? After all, he was in love with the tree."
Sophia chuckled. "I told him the only was to break through a hard heart was to tug at the extreme emotions. Unfortunately most things wait until they are about to lose something before they show how much they care. So I simply suggested that he made the tree jealous. And the best way to accomplish that was for him to kiss someone else. And you saw the rest." She tied the cape on and then stuck out her hand, "Okay, hand them over."
Cupid pouted. "I guess a deal is a deal." He started to take his quiver off.
Sophia threw up her hands. "Forget it. I don't need them. However, you owe me big time, Couz." With that, she chuckled and headed for another adventure.
Return to the Academy
Written and ©Copyrighted by: Paully Adams05/16/02