by JLPeterson
Copyright October 1998



Xena: Warrior Princess and Gabrielle 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. 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 and
must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.


THANKS very much to my beta-readers!

Just another town… Well I made good time to this one with still plenty of daylight left. After a while
all these small country towns look alike to me. Most have one, maybe two roads. Towns with
intersections - hey, you might even get a choice of where to eat and stay. "Humph." This was a
one-road town. I was bored and angry and angry and bored and my thoughts were filling up my head
to near bursting-

"Hey there!"

I swung around to address the voice behind me.

"Joxer!" I cried out in surprise and dismay. Why does he always seem to pop out of nowhere? I had
an inkling that things were going from bad to worse.

He flashed his big dumb smile at me and teased,

"Hey little girl, where’s big bad Xena?"

I stepped up to him and took his nose between my thumb and forefinger. As I tweaked it I
whispered in his ear "don’t you EVER call me *little girl* - got it?"

"Ow! Oh yeah... sorry Gabby". I released his nose. My slight push against his chest managed to
throw him completely off balance and he fell backwards onto the dirt. He dusted off his hands and
re-seated his helmet (leaving his butt covered with dirt) as he stood saying, "I don’t know why I let
you hang around with me!"

I rolled my eyes, turned about and walked away.

In an instant he appeared at my right shoulder, "So Gabrielle, where is Xena?"

Eyes forward I answered him, "She’s off on another one of her
*you-don’t-need-to-be-there-Gabrielle* missions." I narrowed my eyes into venomous slits. "Seems
there’s some dispute between two rulers that only one of *her* many skills can resolve."

Sensing my mood, he softened his voice, "Oh, you sound kind of mad at her."

I stopped walking, faced him and said, "Well, I AM!"

He jumped back a step as if I'd hit him.

I resumed my course with increased determination. I knew I was angry with Xena for, once again,
traipsing off on another adventure without me. She just dumped me like excess baggage. I wanted
revenge. The problem was I had no idea how to even the score. This dilemma was uppermost in my
mind since sleeping alone in the woods last night. I considered telling her that I was leaving for Athens
again - as soon as she showed up. Inexplicably that only served to depress me. How can she leave
me so easily? How come- Joxer interrupted my thoughts.

"Cheer up Gabby. You can be my sidekick while she’s-"

"SIDEKICK!" I yelled through gritted teeth and almost struck him with my staff.

"Sidekick!" I poked my finger on his chest. "If anybody’s a sidekick here it’s YOU!"

"Hey, take it easy Gabrielle. You don’t have to be my sidekick. How long’s Xena gonna be gone for

I could see the inn that she and I’d agreed to meet at down at the end of the road.

"She said she’d be a couple days or so. We split up yesterday before I got into town."

"HEY! What are *you* supposed to be?" A short stocky man had stepped away from a small group
along the roadside and called out to Joxer as we passed. He pulled Joxer’s arm so they faced each

"Who's kitchen did you rob to wear?" He struck the heel of his palm to the center of Joxer's
breastplate, which, I admit, did look like a cooking tool of sorts.

Joxer straightened himself up and replied with an attitude seven feet high.

"You," he said as he moved the man's hand away from his armor, "had better be more careful. I
happen to be Joxer, the Mighty -"

"The *Mighty* what?" The challenger laughed, checking over his shoulder to see that his friends were
witnessing his bravado.

Feet apart, hands on his hips, Joxer answered with certainty, "The Mighty *Warrior*" .

"Mighty? Ha! I've seen girls who look mightier than you! Let's just find out how much of a warrior
you are!" He threw a strong right hook to Joxer's jaw.

I was surprised Joxer still stood. He slowly brought his face back to address the ruffian with a stern
voice and a wagging index finger, "You shouldn’t have done that little man."

The fight was on. I really tried to stay uninvolved but when a second man decided to join the first -
well, that was it. Instinctively I swung my staff around and up knocking the newcomer up under the
chin and off his feet. I pulled the momentum back in an arc and down onto the bully who was
pummeling Joxer. He landed on the self-proclaimed *mighty warrior* with a loud "Oof!" and a quiet
thud. Joxer rolled the man from him. Standing up he reassured the small crowd, "I had it under
control… I was only, ah, toying with him."

"C’mon Joxer," I reached out to take his arm, "here’s the inn."

As soon as we entered the tavern I stopped and told Joxer I needed to talk with the owner. Joxer
continued on and found us an empty table near the back and sat down facing the door as he’d seen
Xena do on so many occasions.

I looked around the room and assessed the likelihood of earning enough dinars to cover my dinner
and a room for the night. It would be rough.

I cleared my throat, approached the man behind the counter and produced my best business-like
smile, "Excuse me sir, you wouldn’t happen to be the owner of this fine establishment would you?"


"Then perhaps sir you could direct me to him?"

"He’s not here," he snorted, "I’m managing the place while he’s gone." He turned his back to me and
resumed wiping down the counter. Uh, okay. I’ve certainly dealt with more unsociable people... one
particular warrior princess to be specific.

"Well, then you're just the man I need to speak with... I’m an excellent -if I do say so myself- bard
and I’d be happy to entertain your guests this evening in exchange for a room, dinner tonight and
breakfast tomorrow."

"You’re a story-teller! Little miss, we don’t have any children come in here - especially at night"

"I’m a BARD. And MOST of my audiences are adult." Gods know I’ve had to sing my songs in lots
of grunge-inns since I took up with Xena.

"Lady, a sweet thing like you-"

"I’m NOT a sweet thing! I can tell you stories that will make your blood run cold and your shorts too
hot!" I’d never said "shorts too hot" before. What a dumb thing to say - I must be mad.

"Now, calm down, calm down. It’s clear to see you’ve got theatrical talents. If you can deliver like
you say, I’ll give you dinner, drink and a room."

"And breakfast."

"That’s going a bit far-"

"AND BREAKFAST." I gave him my best version of Xena's *look*.

He glanced around to see if anyone was watching.

"And breakfast," he muttered.

With my dignity restored I walked to where Joxer sat with two mugs before him.

"I took the liberty of ordering for you," he said as I joined him.

"Thanks, Joxer." I was beginning to feel better. I usually do feel good after a conquest, be it a bargain
at the market or striking a good deal at an inn. I thought about that long enough to ponder how good
Xena feels after a victorious battle. Uh huh…probably orgasmic. I took a long swallow of ale. "That
tastes so… Good," I burped.

"So you going to tell us stories tonight?"

"Joxer, Joxer. You’re amazing - I just can’t believe how incredibly perceptive you are!"

The true meaning of my words passed over his head like Xena’s chakram.

"Why thanks Gabby. So are you doing the bard-thing?"

I took another long swallow of ale and attempted to wait patiently for the sun to set.

Joxer placed both hands around his mug. "Let me show you this neat trick I learned. It's an example
of the," he lowered his voice, leaned towards me and drawled the words, "power of suggestion". I
looked at him blankly.

He sat up straight again. "You don't believe me, do you? This really works! It worked on me." Why,
oh why was I not surprised?

His enthusiasm would not be dampened. "On the count of three I will ask you to do something
simple. You will be unable to resist." He cleared his throat and continued, "On the count of three you
will… yawn. It will happen naturally and without thought. Are you ready?" Guess he thought I'd
nodded *yes*.

"One, two" I hadn't known how wide Joxer's mouth could open. It was almost grotesque.

"You yawned didn’t you!?" I blinked.

"Joxer, *you* yawned. I didn't."

"But it worked on me…" He became introspective. I shook my head slightly in sorrow. It was going
to be way too long before nightfall.

I took another sip and returned to my thoughts of revenge. I sighed wistfully on several occasions.
None of my schemes would accomplish what I desired. I couldn't figure out how to hurt her feelings
without actually hurting her feelings.

It finally grew dark.

I confess it’s hard for me to perform well if I’ve just eaten. I'll usually wait until the dinner crowd is
just finishing up their meals before I start my storytelling. Then I’ll eat afterwards. Well, to be honest,
sometimes I’ve got to earn the dinars before I can pay for the meal. As the tavern filled for dinner I
was disappointed. Not only was it a small group, they were nearly all men, and the women with them
- well, they weren’t their wives or girlfriends, I’ll say that much.

*Dinner, bed, breakfast...dinner, bed, breakfast...* I was trying to pump myself up for tonight's
performance. The dishes were cleared and the barmaid was refilling the mugs. I made my way to a
well-lit focal point in the room. There was no stage.

The manager of the tavern came over to me and spread out his arms.

"Gentlemen..and, uh, *ladies*, we have for your pleasure tonight, the most famous-" He turned and
whispered to me "Your name?"....

"...Gabrielle of Poteidia," and then he added, "who says she can spin a story to stand your hairs -and
other parts- on end!" There was a collective "ooh" in response to *and other parts*. He set me up
and now I had to deliver the goods.

I began with a good blood and guts story about the Horde. Then I went on to the tale about how
Marcus sacrificed himself to save the life of a kidnapped princess. The crowd did not like that. Not
enough gore, too goody-goody and too romantic.

So rather than stop with Marcus’ funeral I continued directly into the story about the virgin bride
serial killer stealing Hades’ helmet. The crowd perked right back up.

"… Marcus and Xena, for the very last time, embraced and kissed, and took advantage of an
opportunity missed while Marcus was alive-"

Someone called out "You were there. Surely they must’ve done more than just kiss?"

"Well, yeah, of course-"

"So what did you see?" They were drooling for details.

"It was dark," I replied, knowing well good that I could see plainly that night, "At daybreak-"

"Didn’t you hear anything?" Someone faked a long moan from another part of the room.

"They were very quiet," I continued. *Quiet* my ass! They were going at it like it was their last night
on earth together - which it was. "Before the dawn’s light-"

"What were you little girl, blind and deaf?" Okay, somebody just pushed me right over the brink of
my self-control.

"I’m NOT a little girl! I’m NOT blind! They were buck-naked and going at it like no tomorrow!"
Joxer's jaw dropped to his knees.

"And I’m NOT deaf! Xena and Marcus were both so loud even the fish in the lake couldn’t sleep!"
Joxer fell off the edge of his chair solidly bumping into the man beside him. "Why you-" the man
growled at Joxer while hoisting him up by his armor.

Some person in a hooded cloak ran up, grabbed my arm with one hand, my staff with the other and
dragged me through the room and upstairs so fast I thought it was Ares! The door of the room
slammed so hard I’m surprised it didn’t fall off its hinges.

"XENA!" She'd dropped her hood and was looking at me with the eyes of Ares’ Chosen. Oh Zeus
I’m gonna die!

She threw my staff into the corner of the room and held fast to my wrist.

"How DARE you!"

"I’m sorry Xena - please, let go of me." My apology and plea were useless. Her eyes were glowing

"I can’t believe you told a -a tavern full of - of - that I was noisily screwing Marcus! How could
you?" For a brief second disbelief washed over her face. All too quickly the anger returned.

"Hera’s tits!" She released my wrist and began to pace. "How am I going to show my face in this
town? I can’t! You little-"

"DON’T call me little! I hate it when you do that! I hate it, I hate it, I hate it!" Um, okay, I should
have kept my mouth shut.

Xena stopped pacing. "YOU! You're not the one who's been humiliated here! Why I should… I
should, " her face was suddenly red with rage, "bend you over my lap and SPANK your bare little
butt!" Oh, ouch… hmmm… I was speechless and just a wee bit intrigued.

"I thought you were sound asleep that night." Her intonation inferred I’d betrayed her by not being
my usual dead-to-the-world sound asleep. That type of sleep I reserve for mornings.

"Yeah, I WAS sound asleep. But you and Marcus were carrying like nothing else in the world
mattered - let alone my sleep!"

She was still fuming. I could see the wavy heat lines rising from her head.

"Why didn’t you say something?" I couldn't speak but my thoughts were running rampant. Oh Xena,
Xena, please - at the time you were beyond listening and it’s not anything I’d normally bring up in our
day-to-day conversation.

"So what other little secrets have you been hiding from me?" She glared at me with her jaw clenched.

"Well? Answer me!" She reached out and twisted my arm.

"Ouch - Xena you’re hurting me!"

"That’s not all I’ll hurt if you don’t speak up!"

Then with all the timidity I could gather I softly blurted out "Well, there’s… Phaelus..."

Oh my gods! She threw down my arm, stepped back and sneered at me.

"Phaelus?! Why you little voyeur!"

She pinned me by my clothes to the wall with visual daggers. Hang on - I looked down at my small
halter-top - I don’t wear enough clothing to be pinned by it to anything. Hey and she just called me
*little* again! I looked to the door and started taking itty-bitty sidesteps in its direction.


"I, um..." My boots got my attention. I was sure she’d throw that cloak back over her head and be
out of my life forever. I’d always tried to be strong but at that moment I wanted to crumple into a
heap on the floor, cry and beg her forgiveness. So I did. With tear-filled eyes I looked up into her
rage and implored her.

"Please Xena I can explain! Please don’t go!"

She snapped her head back with a look of disgust.

"Ha! And just where would I go?" She stepped in a small arc before me and with a grunt added,
"You’d probably follow me anyway... Wouldn’t you." It was not a question. I’d already well
established my reputation as the relentless follower of Xena. I had to laugh inwardly to myself as I
thought "Poor Xena. Unable to escape *The Bard of Poteidia*".

She walked over to the bed and plopped herself down with a heavy and exasperated sigh. I almost
managed to reach the door when THWACK!

Xena's breast dagger vibrated just above the latch.

I looked back at her in shock and anger.

"Xena! You could have hurt me!"

"Gabrielle. If I wanted to hurt you-"

"I know, I know," I surrendered, "you’d have hurt me."

"So," With her eyes fixing me in place, "I don’t even want to know *what* you know about Phaelus
and me. I want to know WHY."

"Xena, I know this is going to sound really, I mean really, really-"


"Yeah, well. I felt like you were always leaving me - or at least wanting to leave me, well, behind.
Like yesterday... I, uh, um.."

"Gab-ri-elle" Time to salvage the bit of her patience I’d gained.

"Well, I'd just had ENOUGH of it so I decided to follow you!"


"And I saw the two of you... I saw... gods Xena, you know what I saw."

"Uh, no, Gabrielle, I don’t *know* what you saw, but I’m sure you could tell me in at least as much
detail as I heard you relate tonight."

I gulped audibly and visibly.

"Can I, um, get some water?"

The tension in her face, neck and shoulders seemed to disappear and she released me from the
stronghold of her eyes.

"Have you had dinner?"

"Huh?" Wow. I didn’t follow that one at all. Without thought I nodded "No".

"Go downstairs and bring up some food."

Once again I am saved by food! I stood and with as much remorse as I could show I walked out the

"Gabby!" Oh no! I ran into Joxer right at the foot of the stairs.

"Was that-"

"Shut up Joxer!" I muttered angrily at him as I shouldered my way past him towards the counter. He
was right on my heels. Oh, I wondered if this is how Xena feels with me.

I kept my back to the room as much as possible. It made me think of a child closing her eyes and
thinking no one could see her. Silly I know. Like I was hardly unrecognizable from behind!

So I pretended. Taking a deep breath, I acted as if all was perfectly normal.

"Excuse me sir. I’m ready for that dinner now."

"Yeah, I’ll bet you are." He prepared a plate for me and poured a mug of ale.

"Say, who was that guy what hauled you away tonight?"

I pointed at the dish, "Could you double this for me?"

"Got quite an appetite, eh?" He piled the food higher on the plate.

"And another ale please."

The innkeeper sighed and complied. "Well, don’t be expecting breakfast then."

I took the two mugs in one hand and the heavy plate in the other. I practically collided with Joxer's
chest as I came around.

"It’s her, isn’t it?"

"Oh please Joxer, just go away."

Recognizing the desperation in my voice Joxer moved aside, "Uh, okay. I’ll talk to you later."

I was up the stairs quick as I could without dropping anything.

I bumped on the door of my room with my elbow.

"S’open," came the dry response.

"I can’t-" I almost fell into the room as Xena pulled the door wide.

She easily plucked the two mugs of ale from my hand as I stumbled past her. I made a quick beeline
to the table and set the plate down. As I turned back around she dropped one empty mug to the
floor and lifted the second to her mouth.

I was afraid to speak so I pulled a chair out and started to eat. Nervously. I wish I’d had my
renowned appetite back. All I could do was nibble at and play with the food.

After what seemed like ages a long hand slipped past my right shoulder and plucked a piece of
chicken off the plate. Moments later her left hand appeared from over my other shoulder and
proceeded to make mush out of the cooked potato. She took her time squeezing the spud through
her fingers over and over. Then she scooped the mash up and-

"Xena!" I stood up abruptly and scraped potato off my face. A good portion of it fell into my
cleavage. I turned around to see my enemy on the bed howling with laughter. I gathered the mashed
potato from my top and hurled it at Xena with all my strength. She dodged it with irritating ease. I
pulled my shoulder muscle. That made me all the madder.

She got up, picked me up and dropped me down on the bed like a sack of flour. Then she pounced
on me like a cat and started eating up the potato remnants left on my face and chest. In between licks
and nibbles she’d say things like "Hmmm, tastes good", followed suddenly by "Must have more!" She
got up, took the dish off the table and dumped its contents on my belly.

This was too much. She started eating the food off me by mouth alone and, besides giving me the
giggles, veggies and chicken and gravy were falling down my sides and making a mess on the bed. I
couldn’t be repentant or angry any longer. "Ticklish, huh? Heh-heh." I know that tone in her voice. I
was doomed.

I couldn’t breathe. Tears streamed down my cheeks and my chest was heaving. Xena sat on the
floor and offered the trickle of ale that was left in the second mug. We exhaled a collective sigh. I got
up off the bed and stared at its food smashed patterns a minute before pulling the sheets from it and
dropping them onto the floor.

Xena stood up, went over to the chair and removed her boots. I brushed off my clothes, sat on the
edge of the bed and peeled off my boots as well. Then I swung up my legs and got ready to sleep.

"Move over." I scooted over to give Xena room as she lay down behind my back.

"I never asked you to follow me, you know."

"I know."

"It’s not my fault you feel abandoned sometimes."

"I know."

"I look forward to coming back to you, you know."

I was silent. She’s never said that before.

"I’m glad you’re with me."

I was twice stunned.

"I love you, Gabrielle."

I got choked up. "I love you too, Xena."

"Oh, and Gabrielle?"

"Yes?" My heart was filled with sweet anticipation.

"If you *ever* tell another tale like you did tonight - I’m gonna skin you alive!"



(if you laughed -even once- it was worth it)

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