DISCLAIMER: This fan fic uses characters from X:WP and H:TLJ, which are, of course, the sole property of MCA Universal and Renaissance Pictures. But the story, such as it is, is all mine.
This does contain roundabout spoilers for "Fins, Femmes, and Gems" and "The Quill is Mightier..." and, in fact, might be considered a sequel to those episodes of X:WP.
Oh, and it's rated the same as the television show: PG14 for suggestive language and adult situations.
Aphrodite was bored. As most folks know, this is usually not a good thing. She was also a bit angry that, despite all of her attempts to enhance her own reputation and increase the number of her worshipers, Xena was still the number one babe with the rubes. Xena! A leather-clad, sword-swinging, chakram-hurling warrior bimbo over her, the Goddess of Love. It was too much for Aphrodite's ego to take.
And, she knew it was mostly due to that annoying blonde brat who traveled with her. But she had tried to get at Xena through the Bard before, and that plan had disastrously backfired. This time, she decided, she would go after the Bard herself, albeit in a roundabout fashion, reasoning that once Gabrielle was no longer writing about the exploits of the warrior bimbo, Xena's reputation would die and her own would increase.
Hey, no one ever accused Aphrodite of being the shiniest apple in the barrel.
Xena and Gabrielle were stopped for the night in the forest outside of Pherae, after having defeated a warlord who had attacked the village, not realizing that the Warrior Princess was in the area. Their bedrolls were spread beside the fire and they lay next to each other, looking up at the stars, quietly talking.
Neither was aware that the Goddess of Love was sitting on a nearby log, listening to their every word.
"Do you ever wonder what your life would have been like if Cortese had never attacked your village?" Gabrielle asked.
"I've seen what the world would be like without my having experienced that pain, Gabrielle, and, believe me, it wasn't worth it," Xena assured her companion.
"I don't mean if you and your brother hadn't fought him, resulting in Lyceus' death, but if he'd never attacked at all," the Bard clarified. "If you'd never had to make the choice between your village and your soul."
"No, I've never thought about that," Xena replied. "Something else would have come along and turned me into the Destroyer of Nations, though. It's in my blood."
"That's silly, Xena. You're no more predisposed to violence than I am to storytelling. We're both just products of our environments and those things which influenced us when we were growing up," Gabrielle stated.
"You think so, huh?" Xena raised an eyebrow questioningly.
"I do. Look at Joxer, for example," the Bard continued. "He comes from a long line of fierce warlords, yet, he can't even hold his own in a battle with me!"
"You do have a point," Xena conceded. "But even though Joxer might not have the skills of a warrior, he does have the heart of one."
"Where? In a box he carries around with him?" laughed the blonde.
Aphrodite smiled and snapped her fingers in front of Gabrielle's nose. "Sometimes I'm just too good for words," the Goddess grinned, flashing out of existence in a burst of colored flowers.
"I think you're underestimating him, he's been a good friend," Xena chided, nevertheless chuckling at the last comment.
"You're right, Xena. In fact, I just realized something," Gabrielle said, sitting up suddenly.
"Oh? What's that?" the former warlord inquired.
"I'm in love with him!" she exclaimed.
"You're WHAT??!!" Xena cried, sitting up and looking the Bard in the eyes.
"I'm in love with him," she repeated, rising and beginning to roll up her bedroll. "In fact, I have to go to him, this very minute, or I'll simply burst!"
"Gabrielle, this is crazy! This is Joxer. You can't be in love with him. He's...he's Joxer!" she exclaimed, trying to prevent the determined Bard from packing her things.
"You were defending him a minute ago," Gabrielle pointed out.
"As a friend, not as a...lover," Xena said, making a face like she'd just bit into a particularly sour lemon. "Anyway, you don't even know where he is."
"I'll find him. Love will guide me," Gabrielle said dramatically, looking to the stars as the wind blew gently through her hair and the sliver of moonlight reflected beautifully in her eyes.
"Love..." Xena said softly, her own eyes getting that dangerous look in them. "Of course!" She looked around, scanning the area for some sign of divine presence. "Okay, Aphrodite, or Cupid, or whichever one of you is behind this, the joke's over. Now, put Gabrielle back to normal or things are gonna get ugly."
Gabrielle paused and looked around. "This isn't some kind of spell, Xena. I've just come to my senses is all," she said, slinging her pack over her shoulder. "Goodbye, Xena."
"You're not going anywhere, Gabrielle," Xena said, stepping in front of her. "Not in your condition. Wait until morning and then we'll go to Aphrodite's temple and make her remove whatever curse she's placed on you."
"There is no curse, Xena. Now, stand aside and let me go," Gabrielle said, taking a step forward.
Xena didn't budge. "I can't do that, Gabrielle. Now, lay back down and get some sleep and we'll sort this mess out in the morning," she said, reaching out to take the pack from her.
"There is no mess!" the Bard shot back, slapping the hand away, her green eyes lit with determination. "I'm not your property, or your responsibility, Xena. So, get out of my way, or I'll just have to go through you."
Xena would have laughed were it not for that fire in her friend's eyes, a fire she was all too familiar with. "I can't, Gabrielle. You're not yourself. And, I'm sorry about this, too," she said, lashing out with her right fist.
But Gabrielle had been expecting that, and, with a desperation fueled by the Goddess of Love's spell and a cunning born of her years traveling with the ex-warlord, she ducked the punch and rammed her staff into Xena's gut. Hard. "Don't make me hurt you, Xena," she warned, twirling the staff and assuming a defensive stance.
The Warrior Princess was more stunned than hurt, but she also knew there were only two options: 1) Let Gabrielle go, or 2) Fight and beat her. There would be no more discussion, that was plain from the hard glint in her beloved Bard's eyes.
Cursing Aphrodite, Xena likewise assumed a defensive position and the two friends circled each other warily.
Gabrielle feinted to Xena's head and then swung instead at the Warrior Princess' legs, but Xena easily jumped up and over the staff. With any other opponent, she would have followed with a kick to the head, but since it was Gabrielle, she just danced back out of reach of the next move: A thrust up that was intended to catch her below the chin.
"You can't beat me, Gabrielle," Xena said, shaking her head.
"And you won't hurt me. So, I guess we're at an impasse," Gabrielle shrugged. She suddenly threw her staff at Xena's legs and then ran off in the opposite direction as the former warlord dodged the sneaky attack.
By the time Xena looked up, Gabrielle had vanished into the night.
When the sun rose the next morning, Xena was still trying to locate her deranged friend, but Gabrielle had managed to elude her. She suspected by sticking to the streambed that they'd camped near. But even with that knowledge, she had been unable to locate her trail in the dark. And, even though the sun was up, she wasn't having any better luck.
Then, she heard something that chilled her bones to the marrow:
Joxer the Mighty
Roams through the countryside.
He never needs a place to hide.
With Gabby as his sidekick,
Fighting with her little stick,
Righting wrongs and singing songs,
Being mighty all day long,
He's Joxer the Mighty!
He's Joxer the Mighty,
He's really tidy,
Everybody likes him
'Cause he has a funny grin,
Joxer, he's Joxer the Mighty!
"Oh, no," she groaned. But she was thankful for the fact that she hadn't heard Gabrielle's voice accompanying him, and realized that his singing would draw her out. She raced through the trees for the road, but stopped dead in her tracks when she cleared the forest.
Gabrielle had obviously just joined him and she was hanging all over him like vines on a wall. Joxer, for his part, looked confused but happy.
"Step away from him, Gabrielle," Xena said evenly.
"Hi, Xena," Joxer said brightly.
"Hello, Joxer. Gabrielle is under some sort of spell, she thinks she's in love with you. Just leave her to me and I'll sort this whole business out," Xena said smoothly, edging closer to the pair. "Come on, Gabrielle."
"There's nothing to sort out, Xena," the Bard corrected, planting a big wet one on Joxer's cheek. "My man and I are together and we're going to stay together. Right, Joxer?"
"Well, I don't know, Gabby. If Xena's right, maybe you-" he began.
"Xena's just jealous! This feels so right, so perfect, it must be real!" the blonde exclaimed. "Don't you feel the same way about me?"
"Um, sure, I guess. But if it's a spell-" he stammered.
"It's not a spell, Joxer! It's just me realizing what a wonderful, caring, decent man you are and acting on that long overdue insight," she said, gazing into his puppy dog eyes. "Don't you believe me?"
"Of course I believe you, Gabrielle. It's just that I need to be sure. It has to be real or it doesn't mean anything, you know?" he said shyly.
"How can I prove my love for you is real?" the Bard asked. "Write you poems? Sing you songs? What can I do?"
Joxer looked helplessly towards Xena. "Come to Aphrodite's temple with me...us," she corrected when Gabrielle fiercely grabbed Joxer's arm, "and let's find out the truth."
"The truth, Xena, is that I love Joxer. And, we can go to as many temples as you like, but nothing is going to change that fact," she stated, turning Joxer's head and giving him a long deep kiss.
Joxer was too surprised to resist at first, but then didn't even try. When they finally broke apart, his eyes had a sort of glazed look to them, like he'd just been hit over the head with something very heavy.
"Nothing," Gabrielle reiterated, licking her lips.
Xena's face turned a bit green and she violently shook her head. "Fine. Just do me a favor and hold off on the kissing until after we've talked to Aphrodite. Okay?" she asked, stalking off down the road. "Ick."
As the pair followed Xena, Argo trotted out of the woods and fell in step behind the Warrior Princess.
Aphrodite danced around her temple happily, secure in the knowledge that soon Xena's popularity would be a distant memory, especially since she'd "coaxed" that bumbling fool into journeying to the same area as Xena and her annoying, prolific friend. If everything went according to plan, the only person Gabrielle would be glorifying in her stupid scrolls would be her "true love," Joxer.
Then, Xena and the duo in question suddenly burst into the temple, and, the Goddess noted with satisfaction, she'd never seen the warrior bimbo looking so angry. She giggled and waited to see what Xena was up to.
"All right, Aphrodite, I know what you did, and now I want you to undo it," Xena called out. "Or I'm going to tear this temple down with my bare hands. And then all of your other temples. Until not a single one remains. No more worshipers. No more offerings. No more anything. Do you hear me?"
"Chill out, warrior babe," she sighed, flashing into existence. "You really have to learn to control that temper of yours."
"And you need to learn to mind your own business," Xena replied, standing nose to nose with the Goddess.
"Back off, girlfriend!" Aphrodite said, flicking Xena across the room. "Don't get in my personal space."
"I meant what I said about your temples. Now change her back," Xena growled, climbing to her feet.
"You got the hots for her yourself or something?" Aphrodite asked.
"We're not talking about me. We're talking about Gabrielle," Xena hissed, although some of her flushed appearance might have been due to embarrassment, rather than anger. "Remove whatever you did to her."
"No can do," shrugged the Goddess. "This is one of those no deposit, no return kind of deals. Get used to it, sweets."
"There must be some way to break the spell!" Xena snarled. "Every curse is able to be broken somehow."
"Oh, sure, there's a way, but I don't think you'll like it any better than the curse," Aphrodite giggled. "If the disease doesn't kill you, the cure will, babe."
"You can't mean..." Xena whispered, her face losing all its color.
"You got it, leather mama. The only way to break this spell is for blondie and her man to do the horizontal waltz," the Goddess crowed.
"There must be another way," Xena said softly, sinking to her knees. She sat in silence for a few minutes, mumbling quietly to herself. Then, she looked up at Aphrodite with a ferocious gleam in her crystal blue eyes. "There must. Gabrielle and I will visit every priest and priestess of every God and Goddess. We'll travel to every country on this planet. We'll search every library. Read every scroll ever written on curses and spells. We'll consult every oracle. Visit every seer. Talk to every mystic. Journey to every..." She suddenly stopped and looked around the temple. "Gabrielle? Joxer?"
No answer. But, listening closely, she could barely make out the sounds of heavy breathing coming from one of the temple's anterooms.
"Gabrielle! Joxer!" she cried, rushing over and throwing open the curtain. "NOOOO!!!!!!"
The Bard and the would-be warrior were lying on a bed of pillows, naked and covered with sweat. Gabrielle had a very satisfied look on her face and Joxer looked uncommonly pleased with himself.
Suddenly, Gabrielle shook her head and then looked around her in confusion. Realizing they were naked, she quickly grabbed some pillows and covered herself, and Joxer, as best she could. "Did we...?" she asked.
"We sure did," Joxer grinned.
"I think I'm gonna be sick," Xena gagged.
"You know, that wasn't bad," Gabrielle said thoughtfully. "In fact, you were gentle and extremely attentive to my needs, Joxer. Thank you."
Xena made noises like she was being strangled while Aphrodite pumped a fist in the air and grinned. "YES!" she exclaimed, flashing out of existence.
"It was the only way, Xena. You heard Aphrodite," Joxer said. "Gabby dragged me in here as soon as we got here and I was doing my best to keep her off me, but then I heard what Aphrodite said and I knew what I had to do. So I did."
"You sure did," smiled Gabrielle, adding a playful growl. "Wanna do it again?"
"I thought the spell would be broken once you made love to him?" Xena demanded in frustration.
"Oh, the spell is broken. I know I don't love him anymore. At least not the way I did a few minutes ago," Gabrielle said slyly. "I just want him. Now."
Xena could take no more. She staggered over and threw up all over the offerings that had been left for the Goddess of Love. "I'll get you for this, Aphrodite!" she promised, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. "Don't think this is over between us!"
Then, not being able to stand the sounds coming from the anteroom any longer, she marched outside and sat down on the steps to wait for them to finish, sharpening her sword and plotting her revenge.
DISCLAIMER: Yes, this was written in response to all of the Joxer-bashing on the lists and the moral of the story is: Don't tick off a Pro-Joxer Bard by engaging in mean-spirited assaults on both the character of Joxer and the person of Ted Raimi.
Now, be nice.