Disclaimer: This story uses characters from the television show Xena: Warrior Princess. There is no copyright infringement implied. Several bards aided me in this story, but for their sakes I wont name them this time. Not even Lawlsfan.
Spoilers: This occurs during season five and refers to incidents from several episodes
Danger! Warning!: Two women in Love! With each other! Horrors! PG 13
Warning: Joxer bashing. Ive just read three stories where he and Gabrielle are a couple and in reaction to that I think he may die at the end of this one. Painfully. Should I also mention I saw Married with Fishsticks before writing this?Never Paint a Moustache On A Warrior Princess
A story of impractical jokes; an apology to a certain Webmistress
This is a story about a nice day
And it really was a nice day. Cloudless, with an amiable breeze gently wafting through the leaves, brushing against the birds and bards hanging in the trees. A rope squeaked slightly. A bard fumed dangerously.
"Gabby? Whens Xena coming back?" A whining voice behind her inquired.
Gabrielle closed her eyes. "Shut up Joxer."
All in all, it really should have been a lovely day.
Gabrielle looked up along the rope that suspended her from the tree. Shed managed to shift the knots around her buttocks again so that there was some circulation returning. The breeze continued to blow her gently back and forth.
"Joxer? Please. Shut up."
The radiant sun continued to benevolently kiss all of natures creations.
The Bard swiveled to expose a different glorious aspect to Apollo. "If youre interested, Im just about done on this side now, Xena!" She called to the wind.
The only response was another whine from Joxer. Which is a kind of wind. "Do you see her?"
Gabrielle took another breath. "Joxer. Please stop trying to swing, it tightens the ropes. Remember?"
I suppose the reader may be wondering why Joxer and Gabrielle are suspended by ropes, hanging from a tree. First, let me assure you that it does not involve the attempted reproduction of any little Joxers. In fact, lets quickly try to pretend that that subject was never raised.
You see, once upon a time there were these several barbarians. They didnt have any names because no one cared, and they were all the same. Their mothers didnt even waste sequential numbers on them. The leader was a gross, smelly and hairy character I will call Drock after a character from my favorite show, Blue Rainbow. (This is a television show run at six in the morning, about two retarded green men kept in a cave under a storytellers house, who come up periodically to be chastised by her. Its funded by various governments, so I assume its designed to promote out-patient home care, or to disorient all night partyers into kicking drugs.)
Where was I?
Oh yes. Well, these barbarians werent the smartest guys in the world, but they were capable of noticing that their behavior on a certain day was, unusual. Changing their vocation, riding east and then west, deciding to become pirates, falling asleep in caves, well, it all seemed suspiciously, well, not them. Spontaneity was something they left to the various organisms that inhabited their nasty bods.
So they had eventually figured out that a certain strawberry-blonde might be behind their unusual behavior. Probably she was a powerful sorceress, and that could come in handy. The fact that she was blonde and cute seeped into their thoughts as well. But it took some time for then to catch up with her, as she had changed her hair style and been dead and all.
Now, having two years to work out a plan had been essential to guys whose first language involved the exchange of spittle. They had glommed onto the fact that staying away from a certain warrior princess was of primary importance, and worked out that the enchantress should be sleep darted from a distance. They nearly miscalculated the range, because soon after Xena had left to get supplies, Gabrielles last thoughts before succumbing to it were that there must be a sick goat, or perhaps a dead cow nearby. The darts struck Joxer too close to his brain to have any effect, but he was subdued in his traditional manner. (He got up to defend Gabrielle and fell on his nose, which is also a fair distance from his brain, but nevermind.)
Observing Joxers fighting skills or lack thereof, worried Drock. There seemed to be little cause for the feared warrior princess and her sorceress to need him. In fact Drock had gotten the impression that the ladies pretty well handled everything just fine by themselves. <Hehehe>. So he assumed that Joxer was valued as some sort of jester or fool, a position that Drocks mother had once hoped he might aspire to. But to her regret, he and his brothers had gone into the barbarian business, probably because there were no professional hockey teams in their area.
So they had hauled the unconscious couple, (oh, there must be another way of putting that!) So they hoisted the beautiful, unconscious sorceress and the village idiot/fool into the trees and prepared to persuade the enchantress to work for them. Well, no sooner had Gabrielle become conscious and aware of Drocks deplorable stench when she was also cognizant of the distant but familiar sound of hulking thugs being slugged and/or brutally killed with a well-known Úlan.
She took in the situation and her maddening helplessness in a moment, and looked down on the figure of the puzzled barbarian leader. Of course, puzzled was a perpetual expression that Drock had worn since birth, but Gabrielle assumed he was worried about the sounds coming from the woods. Drock had fortunately assumed that 15 barbarians in the bush, would keep one bard in the hand, and was unaware that he was down to seven and counting.
"Six." corrected Gabrielle. (Thanks.)
"Huh?" said Drock.
"Five" Gabrielle cocked her delicate ears to the wind. She was definitely getting better at this.
"Huh?" said Drock, which gave Gabrielle a general idea of what she was working with.
"Im counting how many men you have left in the woods." she said honestly.
Drock smiled. He even tried to snigger, but this broken tooth caught his lip, and it ended up more of a chortle. "I have...." Quick; one hand, and one hand, and the foot with all the toes is.... "Fifteen." He smiled triumphantly.
"Four." Gabrielle corrected again.
Drock held up his hands again. Five, and five, and then he reached down to undo his boots. Gabrielle realized that whatever the rest of Drock smelt like, there was a real danger to all the wildlife if his boots came off. So she hesitated, but gritting her teeth, thinking of the Greater Good (and attempting to clench her nostrils), she said:
Now Drock felt he was on the wrong side on an auction. Her numbers should be going up. She obviously didnt understand higher math. So to educate her, he bent down and began the amazingly laborious job of unlacing his boots. The laces were buried in the grit and manure somewhere, he knew.
Not wanting to be left out of the her partners fun, and for the sake of the nearbye animal life, Gabrielle attempted to create enough momentum to swing and knock over the barbarian while he was distracted. Unfortunately, Gabrielle was not up on Newtons Laws of Motion, (maybe because shed been busy lately, what with changing her hair and being dead and all, or because Newton was not available, even in the screwed up timeline of the Xenaverse) and started a similar action/reaction to occur in her (whats another word for companion but is totally disassociated?) well, the other person hanging on the ropes. Anyways, just as she was almost at the perfect arc, she discovered not for the first time, exactly what sort of dead weight Joxer really was.
Drock looked up to see Gabrielle collide head on head with the idiot, and even he was amazed at the loud thwack that occurred as their skulls struck. Glassy eyed, Gabrielle shook off the small stars and birdies and called triumphantly to Drock. "Two!"
Well, either she had miscounted or was now hearing double, because the warrior princess, having had her fun (remember her? Shes in this story, really!) came striding out of the woods. Dock was paralyzed by the sight of her. The strong firm thighs, the muscular bronzed torso, the mustache painted on her upper lip....
So transfixed was he by this spectacle, that he was still staring at the ink goatee on her chin, when her fist connected with his own chin, and he was no longer a major character in this story.
The solid blow to his own head having brought Joxer back to what he referred to as consciousness, he immediately called out with relief, "Xena!"
The princess simply glared at both of the human pendulums, and after looping a rope over Drock, (carefully, so as not to invite any of his little friends aboard) began to haul him off. Without a word.
As Joxer swung past Gabrielle, he gave her a sickly smile. "I think she found out about your little joke, Gabby."
The mustache? Sorry, sorry, sorry. Forgot about that little detail.
A few weeks before, Gabrielle had undergone a form of analysis with Aphrodite to find a cure for her Bard Block. After a lengthy series of flashbacks, and a completely unnecessary pie fight, she had somehow come to the conclusion that what she needed to do was undertake a search for her Inner Child. She had tried to explain this to Xena, but had gotten as far as the phrases personal exploration, and inner journey, when the normally stoic warrior, who had heard all of this midway through season four, began to moan and even whimper a little.
Taking offense, Gabrielle had decided to begin her inner search by getting back at a certain tall dark and deadly individual, who, (though she loved her more than anything,) still had periods of smugness that drove her crazy.
Most plans were discarded quickly. What could you do to a pregnant warrior princess? But then they were busy fighting off various Gods, killing Zeus, having the baby, seducing Ares, defending Amphipolis, yadda yadda, and things sort of got postponed.
But the thought continued to gnaw. Nibble. Burn.
And it had to be subtle. Something that would inspire no paybacks that Gabrielle was unprepared to pay. Simply, say, placing snakes in a bedroll was not going to accomplish anything, especially if they were sharing. And she could hear that irritating flat monotone going: "Gee Gabrielle. Look. A Snake. I AM Sooo Frightened."
(Of course, insofar as bedrolls were concerned, Joxer was still always offering to share his, but then he was still clueless as to why he slept so soundly after one of Xenas neck massages.)
So, the night before this story begins, our two and a quarter heroes had been settled in for bed around a dying fire. Gabrielle had looked up from her futile attempts at writing, to hear the unfamiliar sound of Xena snoring. Not your light, inhaling and exhaling with a grumble. But a guttural, ground trembling, is that a earthquake? palate quivering, pigs death-rattle snort at the end, category 5, type snore. Certainly the recent events had exhausted the warrior, and she had left Gabrielle on watch, but after experimentally throwing a few peas into the gaping maw, and getting no response, Gabrielle realized that she had the unusual situation of a completely unconscious and defenseless Destroyer of Nations on her hands.
This was new.
Now, Gabrielle knew in her heart that this indicated that a huge amount of trust had been placed in her hands. Trust that could not be abused. She turned back to stare at her blank scroll.
She wrote, "It was a dark and stormy...."
The blocked bard cursed. Looked over at the face of the Warrior Princess. Looked at her quill.
Shook her head.
Nope, that would be wrong.
The snoring continued, if possible, even more obtrusively.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
So, finally were back to the opening. Lets see. Gabrielle and Joxer are swinging from the tree, the barbarians are dead or being hauled back to town, and we have a seriously pissed off Warrior Princess with a permanent ink mustache and goatee drawn on her face. Oh, and Gabrielle still hasnt written any new stories. Thats all, right? Okay...
At this point Aphrodite appeared. Why not? Wearing her usual diaphanous silks, and a pair of horn rimmed glasses, she stood beneath Gabrielle and smirked. "Hey Sweet cheeks, whats up?"
Gabrielle bit back a retort, and gamely smiled at this jest. (After all she is a friendly Goddess, hasnt attempted to kill any babies lately, and she represented a way down from the tree.)
Oh. Have I mentioned how hot Gabrielle looks suspended, with all her muscles tensed, sweating slightly? Well, if I havent, its because Joxers drooling over her has taken any thrill out of it. Maybe if Aphrodite would just get rid of him.....
"Hey Jox, Hows it hanging?" Oh damn, I forgot. She LIKES him!
Joxer tried to show his most engaging expression, the sheepish look, but then stopped when he remembered how easily insulted the sheep had been by it the last time.
Gabrielle held out her bound hands, smiling appealingly. Something that shed had a great deal more success at than Joxer. But the Goddess shook her head.
"Im not here to help you down, Im here to help you understand why youre up there."
"I think I understand the principle pretty well." Gabrielle indicated the ropes circling her waist.
Aphrodite adjusted her glasses. "Not really. You see. You took your repressed anger about your writers block out on Xena because you secretly blame her for it."
Gabrielle closed her eyes. "Couldnt we be discussing this in a nice warm bath of white chocolate?" she suggested through gritted teeth. "Because I really dont think I blame Xena for my blocking."
Aphrodite materialized a high backed chair, and sat back with her legs crossed, (nah, Ill let that one go...)and again adjusted her glasses. "Think about it, Gabrielle. You couldnt write on your scrolls, so what DID you write on?"
"Thats really a brilliant insight, and I truly appreciate you bringing it to me, but..."
"But what you still dont understand is why Xena walked off and left you here, right?"
That wasnt quite what Gabrielle was going to say, but she let it slide. The Goddess continued. "You figured thered be some kind of payback, but this seems all out of proportion, right?"
That WAS true.
"How did you think Xena feels about having a mustache on her face?"
Personal appearance and the Destroyer of Nations? "Xena doesnt care what anyone thinks."
"Most people...no. But why do you think shes been doing those exercises to get rid of the flab since the kid was born? Why was she so grouchy when you had to adjust her armor to fit it?"
Where was this going? "Because she wants to get back into shape."
"Warrior babe was kicking ass right up to dropping the kid. She never got out of shape. Gabs, theres only one person who Xena tries to look hot for. And when that person..."
"...drew a mustache on her..." Oh Gods, Gabrielle thought as the dinar dropped.
"There you go."
"Oh Gods." The bard said out loud.
"So, should I just send you the bill?"
"Is she really upset...hey, wait, what bill?"
"Oh you know me, Im pretty flexible..." The Goddess stretched to prove her point.
"Where is she now?"
"Lets see." Aphrodite materialized what appeared to be a small hand mirror, except that it had clear glass in the centre. Staring into it, she began to intone: "I see Tammi, and Billy, and ooh! Look what theyre doing....ah, there she is. Shes all by herself in the local Tavern. Awwwww. Oh wait, shes not alone, theres a bunch of guys all scrunched in the corner, too scared to look at her. Oh, and I guess she tied up some guy who did, and how creative! She didnt use any rope!"
"What did she use?"
"His own arms and legs."
"Was he double jointed?"
"I guess... Now he is...."
"Oh." Gabrielle hung her head.
The Goddess looked up at Gabrielle. "And you know whats shes thinking? She wondering if you really think shes that butch. She thinks she may not be feminine enough for you."
"Oh yeah! Score one for the Love goddess, huh? Oh and here comes my cue...."
Gabrielle became infuriated at this nonsense, after all, she was hanging in this tree, and her partner was hurting. "What cue, youre not going to sing are you? Because the only problem is that..."
The Goddess watched in anticipation as Xenas lips moved in sync to Gabrielles words.
"...she doesnt understand what its like to be me..." They echoed. And Joxer was blinded momentarily by a brilliant flash.
"Oh yeah!" The Goddess exulted. "Now, am I good, or what?" The chair, mirror and Goddess evanesced with only a "Later!"
Joxer looked over to see that he was now sharing the tree with a strung up, dark haired, six foot, leather clad warrior.
"Xena? How is that going to help you guys work things out, if youre hanging in a tree? Wheres Gabby? Why would Aphrodite just go and have you guys switch places?"
Gabrielle blew a strand of long dark hair out of her mouth,.
"Thats not exactly what she did, Joxer...."
Xena first noticed that the table seemed to have gotten larger. That the mug of cider she had been sipping slowly (while glowering at the world in general) seemed bigger. The aching in her breasts had disappeared.
She stared in wonder at the familiar scar on her right hand and remembered when Gabrielle had received it. Remembered several hot nights that had been launched with her lightly tonguing it. She reached up and touched the short hair, knowing, of course, that it was blonde. She pondered this seriously for a moment. All that this meant. That Gabrielle was most likely hanging in a tree, and that she no longer had the responsibilities of nursing her child.
She immediately snapped into action.
"Barkeep!" she called out in Gabrielles musical tones. "Get rid of this horse piss and get me something REAL to drink!"
Joxer would have liked to have asked more questions, but there seemed to be this evil chortling coming from the woman hanging with him. A sound that made him fear the worst. He knew in his groin what Aphrodite had done. He was sharing the tree with the evil warlord Xena. A woman who would slit his throat just to wet her blade for sharpening. He began to try to imitate a leaf.
Gabrielle felt the energy of this body flowing through her. Energy she remembered from a brief moment in a cave with ambrosia. At the time she thought it was adrenaline. Now she realized that this was the permanent condition Xena lived with, and it felt great! She swayed for a moment, then with the extra eight inches of height, pushed against the tree. The force of the recoil astonished her, and yet her reactions were lightening fast and she found herself landing and balancing on an upper branch. She chortled again, not knowing or caring about the effect this was having on Joxer. A flex of her back muscles and her familiar breast dagger popped up to be caught, and the ropes were easily sliced through.
Holding the breast dagger with delight she called "I said Id get this back some day!" Then standing on the branch reveling in her stature and leathers, Gabrielle crowed. That was enough for Joxer. He could control his blubbering or his bladder, but not both.
Magically changing her form hadnt made Xena any more likely to be elected Miss Popularity by the rest of the denizens of the tavern, which for some reason seemed to bother her. Why were they staring at her so unfriendly like? The muttering had changed a little upon her transformation, but they were all still crouched against the wall nearest the door, and happy to be there, too.
Xenas plan to savour her first drink in almost a year hadnt gone well though. Xena was presently engaged in a futile battle to convince Gabrielles tastebuds that they actually liked the strong port she was drowning them with. As a response, the taste buds had brought in the reserves: the stomach. Or more accurately, they were trying to bring it up. Xena had not commanded an army for 10 years just to be defeated by a simple body rebellion. She began to remind the stomach that it had in its time been responsible for eating things that a goat would have placed cautiously aside.
She finished off the port with a flourish, and choking slightly, decided it was time to go rescue her body and her partner. It was at this point that she remembered that Drock had removed Gabrielles coin purse, that she had then removed it from Drock and that now all of their cash was probably hanging in a certain tree.
Now she found herself worrying that the landlord wouldnt like her. And she did hate it when people were disappointed in her, didnt she? Why did she have this overpowering desire to talk? Unless...But Gabrielle wasnt like that, not anymore. Shed learned to control it....Just like Xena had learned to control all of her darker impulses... The warrior slumped down in her seat again. The sounds that escaped her lips were an old untranslatable obscenity, but for the moment well pretend that she basically said "Oh oh."
It was while replacing the breast dagger that Gabrielle first became aware of a certain problem.
"Joxer. I have to find Eve. NOW!"
Wanting more than anything to cooperate with the figure of death looking down at him, Joxer began babbling his cooperation and assistance. "How,...whatever, ah, happy too! What can I do?"
Gabrielles answer was curt and to the point. "I need to nurse a child. Quickly." Now, this was information that Joxers, well, lets call it a brain for the moment, was overwhelmed at hearing. Those cells which did not immediately faint at the prospect, were stomping about yelling "Yeah!"
"Well, Im your boy!" he started. Gabrielle grabbed the rope he was attached to and began to haul him to her level.
"Get that thought out of your mind, or Ill reach inside your skull and do it for you!" she snarled.
Joxer finally gave up and fainted.
Continued in Part 2
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