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Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, Argo and all other characters who have appeared in the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess, together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.
NOTE: All works remain the © copyright of the original author. These may not be republished without the author's consent.
This story depicts a love relationship between three consenting adults. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state or country in which you live, please do not read it. If depictions of this nature disturb you, you may wish to read something other than this story.
This story may be best classified as a Hurt/Comfort Story involving the charactes Xena: Warrior Princess, Joxer and Gabrielle. Readers who are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of issue may wish to read something other than this story.
Warnings and Disclaimers written by Wildcat (firstname.lastname@example.org), (c) Wildcat, 1997.
Xena and Gabrielle were tired. A week on the road had exhausted them. In far away Kalipolis, they had heard of big trouble in the little village of Hopta, trouble that would endanger the lives of hundreds of people. However, when they arrived at the village, nothing seemed wrong. Farmers were farming, millers were milling, and potters were potting. Everyone seemed happy. In fact, they were brimming with joy. Xena and Gabrielle were cautious. Things looked too good.
They walked into the local tavern for a rest and to see if they could find out what was going on. As they sat down, they heard a familiar song being sung in the corner of the tavern. It was Joxer's song. Up until now, neither of them thought that any one knew the words besides Joxer. Up until now, neither of them thought that any sane person would want to sing it.
"I think I see the problem here Gabrielle. The people are obviously under some sort of insanity spell. Look how happy they are... they're singing praise to Joxer the Flighty. We'll get to the bottom of this. I get upset enough when evil hurts people's bodies... but to destroy minds?"
Gabrielle agreed. Whoever was responsible for this mess would pay. Dearly.
Wading into the singing crowd, the pair was startled to see Joxer in the middle of it, clutching a mug of beer in one hand, and a buxom blonde in the other. He was telling bad jokes, and everyone was laughing! Xena was even further convinced that something was horribly wrong here.
Joxer quickly spotted Xena and Gabrielle, and called out to them. "Xena! Gabrielle! How are you? Will you join in our celebration?"
Xena lunged into the crowd, grabbed Joxer by his arms, and tore him free of his friends. She dragged him outside behind the tavern.
"Joxer. Tell me what is going on here. Why are these people singing good things about you? Why was that woman allowing you to grope her? Why was everyone laughing at you jokes?"
"Because they like me."
Both Xena and Gabrielle were instantly propelled into a state of shock. Gabrielle recovered first.
"What? Why do they like you?"
"Because I'm a hero."
"I happened to be wandering through, looking for good deeds to do, and on a rest stop here, trouble showed up. And evil warlord threatened to destroy the town if they didn't pay him tribute. I, like everyone else, was quite worried. But then, I said to myself, "I have to make my stand. I can't let anyone push me around. I've lived too long in fear of others. I must do what is right for me, and is right for everyone else, even if I must die." So I went to see the warlord. I challenged him to a duel. We made a deal. If he won, he could have anything he wanted. If I won, he had to disband and disarm his forces, and leave. Well, believe it or not, I beat him! I was pretty amazed myself. I was expecting to die, and to have let down the whole town. His name was Franco. He kept his end of the bargain, and I let him live."
Xena was incredulous. "Franco? I've dealt with him. He's almost as ruthless as Caesar! And you beat him in hand to hand combat? He almost killed me in my youth."
"I must admit, he was far my superior. I got lucky, I guess. Maybe the gods were rewarding me for doing the right thing."
Gabrielle was even more stunned than Xena. Joxer. This changed her whole opinion of him. She had always thought of him as being like a little puppy dog. He always tried to tag along, he was always trying to be tough. But now, well. Now that she thought of it, he might even be pretty cute if he would take off that giant pie tin he wore as armor, got a less extravagant hat, and tried to get some sun. And he was brave, apparently. And more importantly, he was a man. Despite her deep love for Xena, Gabrielle wasn't sure if it would work out. Xena's life of danger made Gabrielle worry that if she was to get into a relationship with Xena, and Xena died, she'd be heartbroken. Gabrielle hurt enough. Additionally, although Xena aroused her, she wasn't sure if Xena reciprocated the feeling. Finally, she had always seen Xena as a bit of a mother to her. Joxer, there was someone who desperately need to be mothered. Gabrielle always did feel maternal. She decided to think about this... it could be interesting.
As they went back into the tavern, another round of "Joxer the Mighty" was sung. Gabrielle thought about it. Joxer WAS a hero! She couldn't remember the last time anyone had sung a song for her. Or for Xena. Xena was obviously quite upset. It was one thing for Joxer to always tag along and slow them down. It was another thing for him to actually try being brave. At the rate he was going, he would get even more full of himself, and do something truly stupid like challenge Hercules to an arm wrestling match, or try taking on an entire legion of Caesar's troops to top this deed. No, she would have to deflate his ego. And fast. She needed to get to the bottom of this so she could find out what really happened. Xena decided to try talking to the woman who was hanging on Joxer before, to she what she would know.
Just as she had made up her mind, the blonde walked over to Xena.
"Hi! My name's Marynthanius, and you must be Xena. You must be proud to have known Joxer for so long. He told me all about you, about how everything he learned about fighting and being brave he learned by watching you. I'm honored to have met you. I have a question for you. When you and Joxer were together, was he any good? Because he is absolutely the most fantastic man I have EVER met in my life. He is so tender and sweet and wonderful. I want to marry him, but he refuses. He says that the life of adventure leads him to places he would fear to bring someone he loved. I guess he's right."
Xena was puzzled. "Joxer and I were never, ever, 'together.' I wandered, sometimes he followed. We never had a relationship, and we never wanted one. He's a nice guy, yes. I wouldn't ever sleep with him. It would be like drowning in my own vomit."
Gabrielle didn't like to hear Xena say nasty things about Joxer, especially now that he had finally shown himself to live up to his delusions. "Xena! Take that back! I happen to think Joxer is a very nice person! He's always happy and he's good company, just like his song says! You shouldn't be so tough on him! He tries hard."
"Oh please, Gabrielle. Yes, he's a nice guy. Yes, he's always happy. No, I wouldn't sleep with him, OK?"
"Xena, you are such a jerk sometimes! You're always so moody and you love to rain on people's parties. I'm talking a walk!"
And with a huff, she stormed out. She went to the town well to think. She was a complete ball of confusions. Why did Xena have to be so moody? As she was thinking, as shadow fell over her. It was Joxer.
"Gabrielle, what's wrong? Why are you crying?"
Gabrielle hadn't even realized that she was crying. Joxer wiped her tears away with his pinky.
"It makes me sad inside to see you cry Gabby."
His sensitivity overwhelmed her. Joxer had always been a bit feminine, just as Xena was manly. Gabrielle couldn't help herself. "Joxer, I've been doing a lot of thinking. For the years that we've known each other, you've been the only man I've ever met who has been loyal, courteous, and brave, even in your own silly way. Most men I meet, they just want one thing. You, we treat you poorly and make fun of you, and you still stick by us. You're always so happy. But I've always wondered... are you... I don't know how to say this..."
Joxer quickly bent down and gave Gabrielle a soul searching, lip searing kiss. Gabby quickly responded. When it was over, Joxer said, "Does that answer your question?" Gabrielle quickly nodded. She was too shocked to speak. Joxer kneeled down, so that he was on the same level as her.
"Gabrielle, I have a confession to make. For years, I've wanted you. I've been wildly in love with you for so long, but I can still remember when I realized I was in love with you. Remember when Cupid's son made you fall in love with me? I was crushed when I found out it wasn't for real, and devastated when it ended. Oh, Gabrielle, you're the most wonderful person I've ever met in my life."
Gabrielle couldn't stop crying at this point. Everything he said was so heartfelt, so sincere, so kind. No man had ever treated her like this. And Joxer was the last man she'd expect to hear it from!
Xena had been watching the whole time. She was silently crying. She was happy that Gabrielle has found someone. She was sad that Gabrielle hadn't chosen her. She was bewildered that it was Joxer. She was convinced that there was some sort of magic in action. Not only was Joxer a hero, but Gabrielle was practically having his babies! It was too much for her. She went to her room to lie down and think.
A few hours later she was startled by a noise. She quickly woke up to see Gabrielle packing her things.
"Gabrielle, what are you doing?"
"Getting ready to go with Joxer. He wants to provide for me. He wants me to live a life of happiness. He wants... oh Xena, I'm going to miss you!"
Gabrielle started bawling and fell into Xena's lap.
"Is there any way I can talk you out of this Gabrielle? It's all so sudden."
"I don't want to lose him Xena. He's been waiting so long for me... just as I've been waiting so long for you!"
"What do you mean Gabrielle?"
"Xena, I love you. All of these years, and I have. But I can't go on any longer like this Xena. I need more than love. I need to be loved back, in a way which you aren't ready to do. I've made my choice. I'm leaving with Joxer in the morning."
Xena panicked. She didn't have much time. She knew how she would find out what was going on. She hated to have to resort to such tricky methods, but she rationalized this as merely "crafty," as well as necessary. She would get Joxer the Innocent drunk.
Xena strode into Joxer's quarters after a dinner by herself. He and Gabrielle were chatting, holding hands, and staring at each other.
"Joxer, I'd like to talk to you. No, I'm not angry with you, I just want to relive the old times, and say goodbye."
Joxer gave Gabby a peck on the cheek, and went with Xena to the tavern. After a few mugs of ale, Joxer became a bit loopy. Xena had never seen him drink anything other than water or milk, so the alcohol must have been having quite an effect upon his 105 pound body.
"Joxer, do you remember all of the times Gabrielle and I had to save you? All of the times that some warlord or giant or evil magician was going to kill you because you got in their way, and we saved you?"
"I sure do Xena, and I really appreciate it. Why do you think I love you two so much? I wish I could have both of you. Gabrielle is so... reasonable, so caring, so soft and cuddly. You're so strong, and sensuous. I love you too Xena, but I know it would never work. And Gabrielle could never be happy sharing me with someone else, not even you."
This was more information than Xena needed to know. Joxer the Swinger? He could barely swing a sword! But his admission was a good sign; she might be able to pump some useful information out of him yet. Joxer babbled on.
"I just wished my mother was here to see this. I miss her."
"Your mother? You've never mentioned a mother before? I thought you were an orphan. That was the only explanation I could think of for your...uh... lack of... self esteem. Yes, self esteem."
"Oh, my mother and I didn't see each other for a long time. I miss her!"
This wasn't going anywhere helpful. Xena's backup plan was certainly out of the picture now. She had resigned herself to trying to seduce him if it was necessary. She had seen too many men like this before. A bit of wine, a few bad memories, and all they want to do is cry and be held and to be told that "everything's going to be all right." She hugged him. He started sniffling on her shoulder. Then he started to bawl. People were staring at him. Xena took him to a room upstairs, and laid him out. He was fast asleep. On her way down the stairs, she heard people making jokes about Joxer. "But they love him!" she thought. She decided to listen without being spotted to find out what nobody would tell her.
"Joxer the Mighty indeed. More like Joxer the Jumpy. Can't hold his liquor, ugly as anything, stupid, and cowardly. If that warlord hadn't heard Xena was coming, he would have terrorized us forever! At least Joxer would have been dead, that would be a bonus."
"And that girl! What's a girl like her doing with a loser like him? Remember when he was 10, and he tried having a sheep for a friend because no one else could stand to be around him more than 2 minutes?"
"And remember the time when the baker was throwing out that bread pan, and he thought it would make great armor? He's still wearing that piece of junk. What a fool!"
Xena was stunned. These people didn't like Joxer! They hated him! This was obviously the town where he had grown up. And what of that story about him saving the village? Everyone backed up his story when they first came to town. She didn't have many more hours to act. At least his drunken stupor would buy her some time. She went over to Gabrielle's quarters, and let her know that Joxer was alright, but drunk. When Gabrielle found out that he was drunk, Xena explained that he wanted to "be one of the boys" just once before he settled down for good. She made sure that Gabrielle knew that nothing "improper" happened between him and any women, and that he would be all right in the morning. Reassured, Garbriel went to sleep holding Xena's hand.
Xena couldn't sleep. She was disturbed by what was going on. She decided to see Joxer before he saw Gabrielle. As she approached the tavern, she saw him leaving, going towards the graveyard. "Graveyard? What would he be doing there?" He had a small flower in his hand. He walked over to a small gravestone, and sat down. It looked like he was talking to someone. Using her stealth, Xena crept up behind him so that she could hear what was going on. She felt like she was intruding, but this was very important.
"Mother, am I doing the right thing? I know you always taught me that honesty is a good thing, and you know I like to exaggerate a bit, but this is what will make me finally happy. I've waited so long for this to happen, I just wish it didn't have to be like this."
Xena decided to make her presence known. "Be like what, Joxer?"
"Xena, I have to come clean with you. Both you and Gabrielle mean too much to me for me to live a lie for the rest of my life. I didn't save the village. You did. The warlord heard you were coming and left. I did challenge him to a fight. He laughed and threw me in a cage until you came. I was too scared to even try running away. All of those people... they don't like me. They never did. They all despise me. My mother died last week, and she left me her money and farm. I spent everything and sold the farm. Every last dinar I used to pay the villagers to pretend that they liked me. I had to get out quickly, because I ran out of money, and was afraid they'd tell you."
"Joxer, but why? Why did you do this?"
"Because I wanted Gabrielle to fall in love with me. I knew that she was in love with you, but that she could love me too, if only I wasn't like a little kid. The only way to prove my worth was to be a hero. But you and I both know I'm not hero material. I'm just as worthless as everyone says I am. You probably hate me now too. What will Gabby say? I know you'll tell her, it's the right thing to do. You always do the right thing. I wish I could too."
"Joxer, you've just shown me more bravery by telling me this than I've seen anywhere else. Sure, other people can fight, or stand up to demons, or challenge gods. But to tell the truth? That is the hardest thing in the world for anyone to do. I haven't been completely honest with Gabrielle myself. I love her too. I just can't find a way to tell her. I've been trying, but I just can't find a way to do it. You've given me hope, that I can tell the truth to her too. I think we should tell her what we have to say, together. It's the right thing to do."
Joxer nodded. His eyes were filling with tears. He embraced Xena, wishing that everyone cared about him the way Gabrielle and she did.
"Do you think... do you think that she'll hate me Xena?"
"The only way to find out is to tell her. If you don't, and she finds out, she will hate you for not telling her."
The two solemnly trudged to Gabrielle's quarters. They found her inside, looking down. When she saw the pair, her face lit up. She ran to Joxer and gave him a hug, then hugged Xena. She told them how much she missed them.
"Gabrielle. Joxer and I both have something very important to tell you. It's about all three of us."
Gabrielle quickly became worried. Thoughts started running through her mind. Did they... together? When he was drunk? Did she take advantage of him to break him away from Gabrielle? What was happening?
As they planned, Xena went first. Her confession was shorter, and Gabrielle probably already suspected the truth.
"Gabrielle, I've been hiding something from you for a long time. I'm wildly in love with you. I don't know what I'd do without you. For a long time I've tried pretending that no one could mean that much to me, because I didn't want to get hurt. It's a lie. I want you more than life itself. You're the best thing that's ever happened to me. I don't care what anyone else would say. I want to be with you."
Gabrielle was relieved. The news wasn't as bad as she thought it may have been. In fact, she wasn't surprised at all, except for the fact that Xena finally told her what she had known for a long time.
"It's OK Xena, I've known. If you had told me a week earlier, things may have been very different. I love you too, I just couldn't wait around for you to admit it, I'm so sorry."
"Gabrielle, what I have to say may change things much more. I've been a complete fool. It seems to be the only thing I'm good at. I'm such a fool, I can't even get paid to be stupid like a jester. Its all a lie. The warlord, my sexual prowess, my sword skill, everything. There was a warlord. He put me in a cage when I tried to fight him. He only let me go and left because you and Xena were coming. No one here likes me. They all hate me. I used my inheritance from my mother's death to pay them to say good things about me. I wanted you to think I was brave so that you would love me. I knew you could, if only you didn't see me as a pathetic weakling. I thought that if you could see me as being mighty, not even close, just a bit like Xena, you would realize that you loved me. It looks like I was right. I just wish I didn't have to lie to make it happen. I'm telling you because I love you. I don't want to hurt you at all. If you every found out, you'd never forgive me. It's best to tell you the truth."
Gabrielle couldn't speak. Everything had just fallen apart around her. She had just reconciled herself with the idea of leaving Xena's side forever, for a life of domestication. She didn't know what to do. She got up and left.
"That didn't go so well, did it Joxer?"
"It went better than I had thought. She didn't slap me or insult me like I expected."
"You're right. It could have been much worse."
After a few hours, Gabrielle returned.
"I'm happy you told me this Joxer. I guess your money must have ran out, because everyone in the village told me what really happened. I'm proud of you. If you hadn't told me... you're right, I probably would have hated you. I still love you with all of my heart. Xena, I still have more love for you than I thought possible. I've been trying to figure out what to do. I love both of you too much to pick one over the other. I love both of you too much to not have one. I still love you Joxer for who you are. Your lie worked; it showed me how much I really do love you. Your coming clean reinforced my image of you as a good man. I just don't know what to do."
The trio looked sullen. This was a dilemma no one had expected. Xena's strength and wit, Gabrielle's good nature and cheer, and Joxer's enthusiasm had never faced such a difficulty. How could friends choose amongst friends? After a while, Joxer spoke.
"This is going to sound crazy. As far as I can see, none of us could ever pick just one. I spent a month trying to decide between you too. Gabrielle doesn't want to choose between me and Xena. Xena has it easy."
Xena cut in. "You're wrong Joxer. In the last day, I too have seen the special side of you. I wish you had shown this side to me a long time ago. No man I have ever met has such sensitivity. The strength of heart you showed to me in the graveyard, at the tavern, in here... you're more man than any I've ever met."
Joxer was astonished. Xena, the Warrior Princess... found him manly? She had never talked about anyone in that way before, not that he could remember. That was as closed to an admission of feelings he'd ever get out of her. She never even spoke to Gabby that way! He decided to present his plan.
"Well, as I was saying, it seems to me that there is no way we will be happy... EXCEPT one. We must choose each other. No preferences. A family, together. I can stay somewhere and keep the home fires burning, and come with you if you ever need me. When you come back, it can be like a farmer coming back to his wife. I want to be the wife, and I want you both to be my husbands."
Gabrielle responded first. "Joxer, that's the most... bold thing I've ever heard you say! You'd rather be... cooking? You'd want to stay home and keep up a house while we went out, and you'd want to take care of us, massaging our feet and cleaning our armor when we returned?"
"That's right Gabby. You know I'm not really cut out for this adventuring bit. I only did it for so long because I was hoping to impress you and Xena. I've always like taking care of little things like keeping the fire burning, and sweeping floors, and cleaning pots, and cooking. It makes me feel good, it's one of the few things I do well."
Now Xena spoke. "So what you're saying is that you want a three way marriage?"
"Yes. It's the only way we can keep from making a painful decision."
Xena nodded her head. "If Gabrielle will do it, so will I. It's a good plan. If people think it's strange, too bad. They'd think Gabrielle and I were strange anyway."
Gabrielle agreed too. "I don't want to have to choose either. It wouldn't be right. We have enough love and trust in each other to make this work."
And so it was decided. The threesome began their lives together as one big, happy family. But that is another story.
To Be Continued...