Disclaimer: The Sentinel is the property of Pet Fly, Xena: Warrior Princess belongs to Renaissance/Universal. The righteous indignation at the treatment of a supporting character is my own.

Author's Notes: See end notes.

Ring a Bell?



The Treasures of Aphrodite display was a touring collection making a brief stop in Cascade at the museum and Blair Sandburg couldn't stop talking about it. The cultural significance of the various items recovered from one of the prime temple sites, the historic timeline they presented, not to mention the artistic value, because only finely crafted items of perfection were considered a fit offering for the goddess of love and beauty.

Which was why he was one of the museum visitors the day three armed men attempted to rob it. Along with a middle-aged museum docent, a group of school kids and their teacher... he stood frozen as display cases were smashed, alarms went off, and ancient artifacts were carefully placed in bags, destined for the black market.

If only I could have convinced Jim to come with me, Blair thought helplessly, watching as a jeweled necklace, an alabaster statuette, and a small silver bell were removed from their display cases.

Barely audible above the alarm, the bell tinkled brightly as it was lifted.

Not overlooking the slightest chance for extra profit, two of the robbers were relieving the docent of her pearls, and the teacher of his wallet, even shaking down the kids for lunch money. One of the men approached Blair, not noticing the unfamiliar gleam in his eye or the devilish grin.

Blair handed over his wallet with one hand, and took the gun away from him with the other. The man, clearly not expecting such a maneuver, stared at him, stunned. Quite literally stunned at the harmless-looking hippie delivered a punch that spun him around and dropped him, out cold.

His partner in the petty robbery turned at the thud, in time to get a faceful of backpack. Three books, his laptop, and a bag of rolled quarters for the vending machines gave it real stopping power.

The third robber, across the gallery, turned around cursing, his weapon in one hand and the bell in the other. Blair raised his eyebrows and shot the gun out of his hand with the one he'd confiscated. Making him drop the bell as well.

Blair blinked, looking around, and at the gun in his hand. "All right... what'd I miss?"

Back at the station, they took care of the paperwork while Blair gathered a circle of admirers and basked in the unaccustomed praise.

"You mean our Hairboy took out three guys by himself?" Brown kept repeating in amazement.

"He's been hanging around with me for so long, he's finally learning some of my moves." Jim joked, as he wrote out the report and kept grinning at him like a proud father.

On the way home, Jim gave him the old "you did good, you shouldn't have risked your life, but I'm proud of you" speech. Then he went to take a shower while Blair settled down to meditate, to try to figure out what had happened.

He entered the trance state smoothly, moving from awareness of sitting cross-legged in front of the coffee table, the flickering light and warm wax smell of candles, and the rhythm of his music, to finding himself standing in a temple.

He was looking around, a bit nervously, for wolves, jaguars, or Incacha's ghost, but quickly realized that it wasn't that kind of temple. The achronistic Victorian overstuffed pink velvet fainting couch and the well-upholstered blonde reclining on it and eating grapes from a golden bowl shaped like a clamshell was a clue. He tried not to stare at the lush curves decorated with scraps of gauze and silk.

"I just wanted to thank you for getting my stuff back. I mean, like, a museum is almost a temple, people look at my stuff and think about me and that's almost as good as being worshipped again. But some grody greedy guy stealing from me? I'm glad I forgot to take that stupid spell off that bell. Anyway, thanks." She tossed him a grape.

He caught it out of the air, cold and crisp and impossibly sweet. "You are soooo not a traditional representation of Aphrodite, but you are her, aren't you? You seem... familiar..."

Her beautiful face fell. "Oh, yeah, this reincarnation can be tricky. Studmuffin, don't you remember who you are?"

And Blair found himself no longer in the temple, aware of himself once more meditating in the loft.

Reincarnation... remember who I am... who I was... So think of things basic to my personality. Hmm. I tend to be a trouble magnet, get in over my head in trouble, but I can talk my way out of it, or until help arrives. I can fight, I just don't like to. I obfuscate, embroider the truth, and claim I've done things I haven't, if I'm reasonably sure I can if I have to... Flashes of memories from past lives came back to him, and he grinned in recognition. I'll do stupid, dangerous things to help out a friend... I like aggressive, semi-abusive women... and goofy hats...

Grinning at himself, he leaned forward to blow out his candles, and got to his feet, relishing the coordination this body had.

Jim had emerged from the shower in sweatpants, and was puttering around the kitchen, gingerly prodding the contents of a Tupperware container with a spoon. "You sure this is supposed to smell like this, Chief? If it goes bad, how do you tell?"

He walked over to join his overly cynical, ex-soldier now peace officer friend. "I keep telling you, man, you should try it. Radish stew is real good for the digestion, cleans out the plumbing..." Joxer smiled at Xena and wondered vaguely when Gabby was gonna show up, until he remembered. Gabrielle was Cassie Welles. Karma. Her turn to be the outsider for a change.

~ End ~

Author's Additional Notes: Okay. After watching the last episode of Xena: Warrior Princess I ever intend to sit through, I spent ten minutes cursing TPTB for the constant seesawing between character development and comic relief. Totally ruined any sympathy I had for "Our Heroines" because, frankly, if this is how you treat your friends, count me as an enemy. And then I wrote this. I'm feeling much better now.

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Page last updated 8/15/03.