Standard disclaimers: I do not own the characters they are owned
by...well whoever owns them this week. I just know it isn't me. No copyright
infringment is intended.
Subtext warning: It's in here but I wouldn't say that it's anything graphic. Still if the thought of two women being in love bothers you this may not be to your taste.
When Harry Left Mattie
Marion D Tuttle
The press confrence had turned into somthing no one could have expected. Press agents were left looking at the rubble of what had been the stage that the directors from C.H.A.K.R.A.M labs had been speaking. They apperance of the God Of War had left some mystifed, some quaking in fear and others just shaking their heads.
Ares stood looking at the smoldering remains of the scroll that Xena was holding in her hand. "Un-freekin beliveable" was all he could say.
Looking down at all that remained of they unholy alliance she enterd into with Ares to get Gabrielle back Xena felt relif wash over her. "Ares made it, Ares destroyed it. I guess that means you ain't got no soul oww."
Untangeleing herself from the pile of chairs she had been thrown into Gabrielle saw that Xena was still standing face to face with Ares. "You may have won the battle Xena, but I'll win the war. Until next time."
"Oh you think there's gonna be one?" Xena taunted
With a smirk Ares was gone. Xena moved to help Joxer you had, true to form, managed to make a complete ass of himself. "Joxer...Joxer, are you ok?"
"Yeah it's just my head."
Nothing much to damage there Xena thought but managed to keep that from slipping out. Even though he was a bumbeler, he was a true friend. Making her way to where the two where standing, Gabrielle saw imediatly that the soul of her love was now in Annie's body, not that of her husband. "Xena." She said, embracing the other woman. "No matter how hard he tried Ares has never been able to break us up."
Taking Gabrielle's hand in her own she added "And he never will, I promise."
Causullay strolling out past the reporters and onlookers that were left Xena mentioned to Gabrielle. "You know, I liked you better blond. But I can go with this."
Joxer now in Harry's body could see what was unfolding before him. He had held a small glimmer of hope that Gabrielle would still want to remain his wife or Harry's wife. but that possibility wasn't looking real good right now. Searching for a way to break his silence with out seeming to obvious he asked. "So is there any thing I should know about this new body of mine?"
Xena quipped "Yeah, don't stray to far from the bathroom."
Feeling the rumble he knew what she meant "Dear God what did you eat?"
It had been several days since the news confrence that had served to change their entire lives. They were still to the world Annie, Mattie and Harry. They still had their modern day identites but now the thin veil that had seperated their past lives from their present lives had been ripped away and they were left with wondering how to adjust and deal with these new changes.
The first incedent had arisen right after they had left the confrence. They had agreed to go grab a cup of coffee and decide what they were going to do next. Harry had been the first to start in the conversation. "Well I guess we should think about where we go from here."
Annie and Mattie had looked at each other. It was clear to both of them that they wanted to be together. But there was the little legal problem of the fact that Mattie was married to Harry. Mattie cleared her throat, not sure of how to breach the subject. She had the sole of the Bard but right now words failed her. In a way, as Mattie she did love Harry. They shared a bond. but it couldn't come close to the bond that she, as Gabrielle shared with Xena.
Sensing his wife's discomfort Harry made an attempt to ease the tension and to avoid the words he didn't want to hear. He had a plan, maybe if he could get Mattie to agree to go away with him for a while he could convince her that they belonged together. It wouldn't be easy, after all they had just gotten back from an extended vacation in Greece but he had to try. Not quite able to meet the cold stare he knew would be coming from Annie he toyed with the napkin by his plate. "Maybe we should go spend some time up at the cabin Mattie..."
"Joxer...." Xena started.
"No! Don't call me that, I'm not this Joxer person damn it! My name is Harry." Putting his hand on Mattie's shoulder he went on "And this is my wife. I don't want to hear about spirit's that are long dead. Ever since we found out about this it's been nothing but a pain in the ass."
Xena was in full control of Annie's body. "Funny you didn't feel that way when I was in there and you knew that the reason that you and Mattie were together was because of me and Gabrielle."
Looking between the two people that meant everything to her Gabrielle was torn. She was in charge of Mattie's body and really had been for quite some time. It broke her heart to admit it but Xena was right. She had married and stayed with Harry because that was were Xena's soul had been. But now everything was diffrent, she still loved Xena but Harry didn't deserve to be hurt, or was it Joxer she was worried about. Her head was swimming trying to figure it all out. Seeing that a confrintation was brewing Gabrielle did the first thing she could think of. She knew if she used the names that she was thinking of it would enrage Harry who for some reason seemed to be the only one that had control over the past spirit. But given that it was Joxer that didn't really come as a surprise. Placing a calming hand on her husband's arm she spoke to him "Harry, this isn't the time or place to go into this. Maybe your right, maybe we do need some time to sort through everything. Can you give me a few minutes with Annie and then we'll decide?"
Grudgingly he nodded his head. "I won't be to far away." He looked over towards Annie making sure she understood he had no intention of leaving them alone for long.
As soon as he was out of ear shot Xena started "Gabrielle, you can't tell me your even thinking about staying with him. That's Joxer for Zues' sake."
"I know who he is Xena, but like it or not in this world I am married to him and I can't just forget that. I at least owe him the dignity of..."
"The dignity of what? Gabrielle don't get me wrong, you know I love Joxer too. He is a sweet man and he has been a wonderful friend to us. I'm sorry if he is going to get hurt but we belong together." Feeling like her heart would burst if she didn't get the words out "I love you, we're part of each other...."
Placing fingers over Xena's lips to stem the flow of objection that were coming Gabrielle simply stated. "I know that Xena and I love you too. But for some reason even though we seem to be in the forground here. Harry seemes to be the one in control of Joxer. We have to go about this the right way Xena. If Harry fights me on this think of what could happen. We both know enough about the modern world from living all these years as Mattie and Annie to know it could get ugly. If I insist on leaving Harry right now he would have no trouble convincing people that I was as crazy as a loon. Claming to be a long dead woman, come back to life and wanting to be with her soulmate of centuries? They'd lock us both up and throw away the key."
"So what are we going to do?"
"Do you trust me Xena?"
"You know I do, always."
"Than let me handle this, this is not a fight we can win with a sword. We have to appeal to Joxer. He's in there somewhere and he knows the truth. That we belong to each other."
Xena hated to admit it but Gabrielle was right. This had to be dealt with in just the right way. It was clear that Joxer was present, but Harry was fighting for dominance. It seemed a little odd to her that Annie and Mattie had been so willing to fade into the background for them. Sensing her warrior's thoughts on this Gabrielle answered the unasked question. "I know what your thinking, Annie and Mattie just seemed happy to slip into the background so that we could be together. We're still going to need them though, you know that. We can't very well walk out of here and annonce that we are Xena the Warrior Princess and Gabrielle the Battiling Bard of Potodia. We just have to get Harry to let Joxer through enough, maybe than we can convince both of them that this is all for the best."
Everything was swirling in a blur around her. Xena knew what Gabrielle was saying was right, but that didn't mean she had to like it. "Ok we'll do this your way, for now. But Gabrielle I don't know how long I can stand watching you play the good little wife to someone else."
That was all they had a chance to say to each other. Harry came back to the table and sat down. There was something difrent about him Gabrielle thought. Both Joxer and Harry were gentle men but Harry seemed to have a hard edge to him now. "Did you too have a chance to ...settle things?"
Xena started to rise at the tone she heard in his voice but a steadying hand from the bard kept her in place. "Let's go Harry." Mattie told him we can talk more when we get home."
"Ok Kitten." He ushered her towards the door, then acting like he was looking for something he handed her the keys to their jeep. "Here why don't you go ahead, I'll be right there."
Rasing a brow at him she wanted to question him further but thought better of it. "I'll be home in a little bit, I'll catch a cab. I just want to check on a few things. We have been away for a while and I do have a lot of catching up to do at the office."
"Fine I'll drive you over...."
"Don't be silly, there's no point in you hanging around...I won't be to long."
Sighing she gave in knowing that to argue the point would be fruitless. "I'll see you at home then." He reached to kiss her and at the last miute she turned and offered him her cheek. She felt him go a little rigid at the fact that she didn't kiss him but he covered it quickly.
He watched as she climed into their jeep and waited for her to turn the corner. Then with a single purpose in mind he turned back towards the coffe shop. Moving back to the table where Annie still sat he looked at his former lover. Without preamble he said. "Look Annie, I know that you might still be upset over what happened between us. But Mattie is my wife and I love her, I know she loves me if I can just get her to see She is Mattie now and not this Gabrielle."
Sitting back Xena studied the man before her he seemed sincere the problem was she knew he had no problem in believeing in their past lives once he had found out that it had been her spirit inside him. She was still a little unclear on the cosmic screw up that had caused that one. But no it seemed that Joxer had just faded away and Harry was all that was left. Not that Harry was a bad man, he wasn't. She remembered the relationship they had shared he had always been kind and loving. If she had thought for one moment that her Gabrielle could be happy with Harry she would bow out. But she knew that wasn't going to happen. Now that they had their own identities back there was only one choice really, Xena and Gabrielle had to be together, it was just a question of how to make that happen.
"Can I ask you something Harry?"
Thinking that maybe he was getting through to her he relaxed a little "Sure"
"Have you asked Gabrielle what she wants your is this just what you are hoping for?"
The anger returned "I told you, she is Mattie not Gabrielle. Just stay away from my wife!"
Storming back out onto the sidewalk Harry tried to calm his warring emotions. He had done his best to suppres the impulse that had taken him over when Joxer had been there and in control of him. The bumbiling fool had been ready to just kiss his wife on the cheek and let her walk of with his old girlfriend. As much as he tried to deny the fact he knew that the old warrior wanna be was now a part of him. In many ways Joxer was braver than he was. As much as he loved Gabrielle he would have let her go if that was what she wanted. Harry was determined to keep his wife true, the reason she had fallen in love with him was in large part because of the connection their spirits had shared. But he believed in his heart that Mattie had come to love him.
He took the time in the cab on the way home to try and calm down the anger he was feeling. He couldn't explain why he felt this way. He had always been a good guy, not the kind of man that stormed around in fits of rage. But then it wasn't every day he faced the possibility of losing his wife to a long dead girlfriend either. The whole thing had his head swimming, he had been able to accept Xena's spirit residing in his body but having Joxer there just didn't feel right. Deep inside a little voice tried to tell him to do what was right, to let Gabriele go. But he pushed it down.
Walking into the house he saw Mattie, she was sitting at her desk in her makeshift office going over some of the notes she had taken after the first sessions they had together when Harry and Annie had first come here. Joxer spoke to him 'Even then they found there way to each other. It doesn't matter what bodies their spirits are in...' He shook his head to clear it from the voice. He called to her to get her attention. "Mattie?"
She looked up, slightly starteled to see him standing there. She had been so lost in her notes she hadn't heard him come in. Quickly pushing her notes to one side she rose to greet him. "Harry, did you get everything taken care of?"
"I think so..." He seemed distracted to her but she was unsure of how she should approach him. She suddenly had the feeling that she was married to a stranger. Moving to the bar he poured himself a scotch. "Can I fix you something?"
"No, thank you. I've had enough to make my head spin for one day I don't need anything to drink."
"And I do? Is that what your saying?"
"I never said that." Seeing that the potential for an argument was there she decided for another tactic. "It's just been a long hard day. Just getting home from the trip and than everything that happened. I guess seeing Ares again after all these years really threw me for a loop." When he didn't respond to her she went on. "I thought he had finally accepted Xena and I were together..." As soon as she said it she realized her mistake.
"You and Xena are not together, it's me Mattie, Harry I'm your husband. Why do insist on hanging on to this past life crap?"
She raised a brow at him. "When did you start feeling this way? You were more than willing to accept Xena as a part of who you are now. But it seems like your fighting against Joxer, why?"
He felt the surge of anger welling up inside himself again. "I'm not Joxer OK? I am your husband, Harry. You ask why I can't accept this...this spirit of some bumbeling ancient greek. Well I'm curious why you can't accept the truth of who you are? Why is that Mattie? Why do you feel the compelling need to hide in this fantasy?"
Tears poured down her face as she looked at him. She didn't want to hurt him but she had to make him understand. the problem was she didn't know how. Lost for words she turned and walked out of the room leaving him standing there.
As he watched her walk away the voice in his head spurred him on. 'Go after her fool, she is your wife." He shook his head understanding for maybe the first time where all this anger and confusion was coming from.
Gabrielle wasn't exactly sure where she was going, all she knew was she needed some time. Time and space away from Harry or was he Joxer she wasn't sure anymore what was real and what wasn't was it possible this was all in her mind? Was she creating some elaborete fantasy in her mind because she found her own life so unfulling? She just didn't know. Before she even realized where she was going she found herself standing at the entrance to Annie's apartment building. She couldn't deny that she had been drawn there. Looking on the directory she found Annies name and rang the buzzer.
"Yeah it's me, can I come up?"
"Sure." The buzzer sounded releasing the latch on the door and she stepped inside. Climbing the stairs to the second floor apartment she asked herself again why she was doing this? It had all seemed so clear just an hour ago but now doubt was starting to settle in. What if Harry was right? The door opened, she took one look into the deepest blue eyes she had ever seen and she had her answer. She knew where she belonged.
"You fool! All you had to do was be a man for once in your miserable life and tell your wife to forget about this. But no you even screwed that up."
Harry stood with his head down feeling more like Joxer at this moment than he had in centuries. "Ares I know you want Xena but it isn't going to happen. I love Gabrielle, Harry loves Mattie but we both know that it isn't meant to happen...."
"Idiot even when I try to help you get the woman you always pined over you fight me."
Joxer surged to the forefront now. "You know something Ares? You may kill me for this but I have to say it. Everyone always thought I was such a fool, but your the fool. At least I have enough sense to know what is starting me in the face. You'll never have Xena. She doesn't want you!"
Ares looked with disgust at the body he had been inhabiting. At first he had tried to convince Joxer that after all these centuries he had his chance with Gabrielle. All he had to do was make her see reason, they were married after all that had to mean something. But when Joxer had rejected him he had pushed his soul into the background. He had tried than to appeal to Harry but suprisingly Harry was not sure that he should fight Mattie if she choose to leave him. He wanted her to be happy after all.
That was when Ares had decided to take matters into his own hands, he would simply borrow Harry's body long enough to make it clear to Gabrielle that he had no intention of letting her cast him aside. If he could just keep tham apart long enough, he thought he could make Xena come around and realize that she belonged with him. "You don't know what your talking about you little pip squeek." with a wave of his hand he sent Joxer flying, crashing into the wall. The impact dazed him, he tried to get up and was met with a kick to the stomach that sent him to the floor again.
Joxer never got a lot of credit for being brave or teribbly bright but he did have one thing that Ares could never defeat, a pure heart. "Do what you want Ares, but it's over..." he looked away just as the God Of War raised his hand for what would be the final blow.
The first thing that ran through Xena's mind when she saw Gabrielle standing ther was to pull her into her arms. She held the impulse in check though. It was clear that Gabrielle was upset and she didn't want to add to that by pushing the issue of them being together. She was almost propelled backwards by the force of the smaller woman crashing into her. 'Well' she thought to herself 'She certinaly took the guess work out of that for me.' Her arms closed around the smaller woman, feeling the shudders from coming from Gabrielle she gently pushed her back far enough so she could see her face. The tears had started to fall. "Hey, tell me what's wrong."
"Oh Xena, I don't know what to do. I tried to reason with Harry, Joxer...I don't know which one he is I'm so upset...he's so upset...I want to be with you but he....he is my husband in this life and if I try to leave him...." She disolved into sobs.
The warrior pulled her closer, she had already made up her mind that she was not going to lose Gabrielle. When the had found each other as Harry and Mattie everything seemd near perfect, but there was one thing that was just a little off. Xena's spirit had never been completly at ease in Harry's body. Now it felt like she was where she was meant to be and so was her bard. She wasn't going to let the fact that Joxer happened to be existing now in the body that just happened to hold a marrige license come between them. "It's going to be ok." She said rocking Gabrielle gently "I promise, now tell me everything that happened when you two went back to your place."
She stopped for a moment, letting her mind go back to just an hour before when she had stood arguing with the man that was here husband. "Something didn't seem right, I can't put my finger on it but..." Her mind started going over all the subtle diffrences that she had noticed but had not had time to register. "It's funny Xena, you and I seem to be in control here. I mean Annie and Mattie still exist but it's like they were an extension of us, for us. But with Harry, I know he doubted the past life thing in the begining. I remember when you two first came in, but then he seemed to accept it once you got through to him. Now it's even worse though, it's almost like he and Joxer are at war for control but the end result is nothing like either one of them."
Xena's head snapped up. "What did you say?"
"They end result isn't like either one of them."
"No before that"
"They seem to be at war for control?"
Xena felt her blood run cold. Grabbing Gabrielle by the hand she headed for the door. "Come on we have to get back tou your place. If I'm right Neither Harry or Joxer have much time to spare."
Joxer looked up to what he believed was going to be his last sight in this life time. Ares was standing over him, ready to send him into the next world. "You could have had it all Joxer, the woman you've loved forever. Nice cozy little set up but you had to try and play the hero and do the right thing...."
"Aiaiaiaiaia" Xena came crashing into the room through a window just to the left side of Ares, knocking him off balance.
"Never one for a subtle entrance were you Xena?"
"Sublty would be lost on you Ares." She spun around and kicked him away from Joxer. Gabrielle was not far behind, she saw that Xena was taking care of the threat Ares posed so she moved to her husband to make sure he was alright. Still unsure whether she should call him Joxer or Harry her main concern was making sure he was alright. When he looked up at her and weakly said "Gabrielle...." She knew.
Xena had manuverd herself so that she was between Gabrielle, Joxer and Ares. If he was going to try to get to either one of them he would have to go through her. "You haven't gotten any smarter have you Ares?"
He bristeled at the insult "It ends here Xena."
"You got that right. I'm a little tired of telling you no."
He held out his hand and a sword materilezed before their eyes. Seeing that Xena was without defense Gabrielle grabbed one of the wepons she and Harry had bought on their trip to Greece. At the time she had thought it was just going to be ornimentail. Now she prayed it would be functunal as well. "Xena!" She tossed the sword.
The warrior caught it in one hand. "Thanks." Metal clashed as both Xena and Ares looked for an opening. Xena was getting a little tired, Annie hadn't kept up the regement of conditioning Xena was used to but she was still in good shape. The question was, was it going to be good enough to beat Ares. Ducking a near miss that was aimed at her head she saw the answer. She rolled to the side, grabbing the circle that was going to save all of them. Standing quickly she turned and and focused the center of the dics at Ares. Seeing what she held in her hand he registered the closest thing to fear he ever would. "No...you can't..."
"Yes, I can." The room was filled with a strnge light and smoke, when the smoke cleared there were only three of them left, Ares was gone.
Joxer coming to his senses "What happened?"
Gabrielle answered before Xena had a chance. "Xena used the Eye OF Hepestus to imprison Ares, again."
"And this time I plan to make sure he won't be getting out." she slid the metal disc into her pocket. "I'm going to put this where no one will find it."
Joxer looked from Gabrielle to Xena and back again, he knew what he had to do. Harry knew what he had to do to, Joxer gracefully faded into the back round to let Harry come to terms with what was going to happen. "Mattie can I talk to you a minute?" Seeing his wife move closer to the warrior he shuddered at his earlier behavior, or more to the point the behavior he had allowed to go on because in his heart he had feared standing up against Ares. Sensing that Mattie was not inclined to be alone with him because of what had happened he added "Please?"
She could see there was something diffrent there, his actions before had to have been because af Ares' influance. The man that was standing in front of her was the man she had spent the last two years with, this was her husband. "It's ok." She told Xena
Casting a look at Joxer she could tell he was back to his old self. Than again was he Joxer or Harry? There still seemed to be some confussion there, it was starting to make her head spin. Either way the man that was there no did not seem to be a threat to Gabrielle. "I'll be right outside." It sounded more menicing than she had meant it to.
Watching her warrior walk out the door Gabrielle turned to face the man she was married to. "Harry...."
He held up a hand to stop her. "No don't....Please. I have something to say and I think I have to get it out all at once or I never will. Promise me you'll let me finish?"
"I know that you would do anything to keep from hurting me, but I know I'm not the person you want to be with." He felt the lump in his throat. "When we first met we connected because Xena's soul connected to Gabrielle's that's the only way a woman like you ever would have loved me. I know that...I think I know how much I hurt Annie when I left her. I never really understood that, until now...But the truth of the matter is I am not the one you were meant to be with. You were born as Mattie in this life, but your more Gabrielle than you are Mattie and Annie is more Xena. I don't pretend to understand it but it's there. I'd be a fool to try and come between you."
Gabrielle felt tears well up in her eyes. Everything he was saying was true, still she did regret, deeply they fact that he was being hurt by this. "Harry..."
"No, you promised me you would let me finish. Joxer did this centuries ago, he loved you but he knew that you belonged with Xena. I guess I am just following my soul." He leaned in and kissed her on the cheek "Be happy, I'll always be here, for both of you if you ever need a friend."
The tears flowed freely now it was in that moment she knew it was her old freind standing before her. He may want to let Harry take things over for him in this life and stay in the backround but Gabrielle knew Joxer had just given her the greatest gift anyone every could. "Thank you..."
Without another word he left, unable to stay there any longer he felt without making a fool of himself. Xena watched as he left, upon entering the living room she saw her bard. Her tear stained face for the breifest of moments made Xena think things had not gone well. "Gabrielle? Are you alright?"
Flying into her warrior's embrace she answered her. "Yes Xena I am more than alright. Harry is not going to fight us on this. He gave us his blessing. I think Joxer had more than a little to do with it though."
Xena felt a lump rise in her throat. Joxer had always taken a little bit of a bum rap she thought. He may not have been the warrior he had always wanted to be. But his heart had always been true. He loved Gabrielle, he may have been the one person that loved her as much as Xena. She couldn't help but respect the fact that he loved her enough to let her go. Not only once but twice. Brushing her lips against Gabrielle she marveled at the softness. She had kissed and made love to her soul mate while her soul resided in Harry's body, but it had never been the same. Now it felt as if they had both finally come home.
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