When a Body Meets a Body
Warning! These characters (and sadly, the actors who portray them) do not belong to me. They are the sole property of Universal/MCA. This story contains subject matter that those under 18 (or those with little tolerance) have no business reading. There are not only references to same gender sex in this story, but also sexual themes (which will only go away by your turning your head away from the words). If these concepts disturb you, then you have accessed the wrong website, and you should hit the "back" button on your browser as quickly as possible. Beware reader! Beware!
Gabrielle cleared her throat nervously. "That's it?"
He looked at her with his most virile look. "Yes," he confirmed, at least a full octave lower than his normal speaking voice. "Yes, it is. And it was a fierce opponent."
Gabrielle looked at the small bunny with pity. "But Joxer, it's just a baby."
He glanced down at the tiny rabbit in his hand the tiny dead rabbit. "Don't let its size fool you, Gabby. It was a cunning beast."
She shook her head, unable to respond to his delusions.
"Did you catch some-" Xena was caught off guard by the wee carcass Joxer held in his hand. "Are you using that for bait?"
Joxer scowled. "No, this is dinner," he said, victoriously waving the dead thing over his head like a flag of conquest.
"You killed that on purpose?" Xena asked in disapproval. "It can't be more than six weeks old."
"Well, what did you guys catch?" he asked defensively.
Xena sighed, and pulled Gabrielle by the elbow. "Come on," the warrior beckoned. "Let's show him what a real dinner is like."
"Yeah," Gabrielle responded with a grin. "What we need is some big game."
The two women had not gone far when the bard motioned quietly for Xena to stop. She put her index finger to her lips and gestured toward a small cave off westward.
"You think something lives in there?" Xena asked.
The warrior drew her sword when, instead of responding, the bard continued sneaking toward the cave. At the entrance, Xena stepped in front of Gabrielle and looked about cautiously.
"I don't see any signs of life in here," Xena commented with disappointment, turning to address Gabrielle.
The warrior's mouth fell open as she stood frozen, watching her bard undress.
"I have some life for you to see," Gabrielle said seductively as she removed her bodice and let it drop to the ground. She moved to her motionless warrior and kissed her.
Xena dropped her sword and let her arms enfold her lover's firm, tan waist. "Was this what you meant by big game?"
Gabrielle smiled. "Yup. You were my big game, warrior. Will you be vanquished?" She kissed Xena again, with great promise of things to follow.
"If I'm lucky," Xena replied quickly between kisses, and she hastily began to pull off her armor.
"Oh please," Artemis scoffed, a sardonic smile on her beautiful lips. "Your army is only as good as the soldiers you seduce, Ares."
"Sister, you underestimate me," Ares cooed, putting his face closer to hers than she would have preferred. "It is I that give the soldiers the power, the focus, the ability to do what they do. Without me, they are just worthless mortals."
"I don't believe that," she answered plainly, stepping back from her brother's strong, leather-clad presence.
"Believe it, Sis. It's all me."
"You think everything is all you, Ares. You might as well be the god of the sun, since by your telling, it shines from out of your ass," Artemis quipped nastily. "A great leader sees that he is only as good as the people he leads."
"Is that why your Amazons are so pathetic, Sis? Because their queen is that irritating blonde?"
"I haven't seen any of your armies victorious over them, Brother dear. What does that say about you?" She walked closer to him now, but her look was one of great irritation. "Besides, Gabrielle has a purpose beyond any that your warriors will ever know. When your wretched, little army men are dead, worm-eaten, and forgotten by all, my queen will be remembered for centuries to come."
Ares yawned dramatically. "Yeah. Sure she will."
Artemis grinned. "She and Xena will be legendary." She paused for a second. "Yes Xena There's a woman who was not made great by the god of war. Her greatness endures without you. I think you would be hard pressed to find someone who could topple her."
"A wager, Brother dear?"
He leered at her smugly. "If you care to back up your empty claims with something more substantive."
"All right. You're on. I will bet you that you can not transform a warrior of my choosing into someone who can best Xena. But you can't give them super-human powers. It must be a mortal who stays a mortal."
"A warrior of your choosing?" he asked incredulously.
"Worried that your powerful leadership won't be able to give him enough focus, Ares?" she chided, tracing his jawline lightly with her delicate fingers.
He lashed out and struck her hand away, surprising her. "Not at all. You pick him. And when he bests Xena, you will owe me your Amazons."
She laughed at that. "Sure. If that happens, you may have them. But when Xena bests your warrior, you will have to bow down and kiss my queen's feet."
He glared at her. "Done. Choose a warrior."
She looked skyward in thought. "I choose Joxer the Mighty."
Joxer sat at the campfire, poking at the flames with a stick. The sun was beginning to set, and Xena and Gabrielle had not returned from their hunt.
He heard movement from the nearby brush, and out stepped the warrior and the bard looking somewhat disheveled. Gabrielle was pulling grass out of her hair.
"Well?" Joxer asked. "Did you catch anything?"
"What?" Xena asked, checking that her armor was straight.
"Anything to eat," he clarified. "I'm starved."
"Um we were looking for big game," Gabrielle explained with a tinge of guilt. "I guess the time got away from us."
"You guys didn't come back with anything?"
The bard and warrior grinned at each other. "Well, I wouldn't say that," Xena countered.
"Yeah," Gabrielle added with a smile. "I've come back with a feeling of great composure and satisfaction."
"What?" Joxer asked, most bewildered.
"Well, what happened to your fine prize?" Xena asked as she sat on a log next to Joxer.
He frowned and poked some more at the fire with the stick. "It's gone," he mumbled.
"Gone?" Gabrielle asked, putting her hands on her hips. "Gone where?"
"It was too small for the stick, and it fell in the fire when I tried to cook it," he admitted sorrowfully, like a beaten man.
"Well, I guess it's a good thing I got this in Thebes then," the bard said, rummaging through her bag and pulling out a block of cheese and a loaf of bread.
"Hey," Joxer called. "Gouda!"
"I knew there was a reason I kept you around," Xena joked, taking some of the bread and popping it in her mouth.
"Besides my excellent hunting skills, you mean?" the bard asked, eyebrows arched.
"Well, yeah," Xena said self-consciously. "There's that too."
The women's sense of peace and inner harmony eventually migrated to Joxer (though he could not boast the same cause of it), and the night became a very merry one.
But as everyone drifted off to sleep, the fire's tendrils lapping high into the night sky, Xena's last conscious thought was that something was very, very wrong.
The sunlight was barely making its presence known as Joxer awoke, feeling the urgent call of nature. He scrambled groggily to his feet, and wandered several lengths away from the camp so that he could be well concealed by the trees while he emptied his bladder.
He shuddered as he noticed that the air was still sufficiently chilled enough to force his breath out in bursts of steam.
When he felt as though he had reached a pleasing type of tree, he paused and reached into his armor so that he and the tree might bond in the profound and stirring orchestrations of nature
The heated cry from the woods awoke the two sleeping figures that still lay in camp, and they jumped to their feet and headed off frantically towards the sound.
"Xena?" Gabrielle called, her worry apparent.
They reached Joxer, who was hysterical, and shouting, "Someone took it! They took it! By the gods! I wasn't done with it!"
"Xena," Gabrielle shouted, grabbing Joxer by the arms. "What is wrong?"
"Xena?" Joxer repeated in tremendous confusion. "Why did you call me Xena?"
But before there could be an answer to his question, he looked up to see himself staring at him in wide-eyed wonder.
And then, he fainted dead away.
When Joxer began to regain consciousness, he stirred a bit, then tried to open his eyes.
What a funny dream that had been, he mused, as he sat up. And then his eyes fixed upon his eyes.
"Jett?" he asked unsurely.
"Nope," his lookalike answered solemnly.
"Jace?" he then asked.
"Jace?" Gabrielle repeated. "Who's Jace?"
He looked over to the bard who held his heart. At least she was as he remembered her. "My other brother," he answered weakly, touching his temple in concern that he had perhaps suffered a blow to the head that he did not recall.
It was then that he felt the long hair he now seemed to have. And pulling some in front of his eyes, he saw that it was straight and black.
"What in Tartarus is going on?" he asked, feeling dizzy again.
"Joxer," his lookalike said evenly. "You and I have switched bodies."
"Well who are you?" he asked, feeling now as though he might be sick.
"Look at yourself," the lookalike said. "Who's body do you think you inhabit?"
Joxer glanced down at his body then. He was wearing armor, and had long, shapely legs. On his side, he sported a chakram, and he had two of the most delectable breasts he had ever seen.
"Xe Xena?" he sputtered.
"Yes," she replied in his own voice. The effect was so disconcerting that he shook his head a bit in the hopes that it would then bother him less. "Somehow, at some point during the night, you and I switched bodies. I can't explain it, but I will get to the bottom of this."
She looked to Gabrielle, who was sitting, staring at her with her mouth agape.
"What is it?" Xena asked.
"Huh?" the bard said, broken from her train of thought. "I'm sorry I just can't get used to that mouth making sense."
"What does that mean?" Joxer asked (in Xena's voice).
Gabrielle appeared truly dumbfounded. She looked at Joxer, but saw her lover and she looked at her lover and saw Joxer.
"Never mind that now," Xena said, standing and taking Gabrielle by the arm in the hopes of calming her down a bit. "What god could have done this?"
"Aphrodite?" the bard suggested.
"But why?" Xena questioned, her hands on her er, Joxer's hips.
"Well, remember how she cast that spell on him before that made him a great hero whenever he heard a bell ring?" she elaborated. "She's seems to have a thing for you um I mean a thing for Joxer."
"A thing?" Joxer asked, most pleased by the sound of that.
"Not that kind of thing," Gabrielle clarified. "But she likes to use you for whatever devious plot she's contriving and this screams of her."
Xena scowled in thought (and Gabrielle thought it looked very odd on Joxer's face). "It does seem like her handiwork," she admitted. "I think we should make a little trip to the goddess of love's temple in Thessaly."
"Good idea," the bard agreed.
The warrior turned around in irritation. "And Joxer, stop playing with my breasts!"
"I just can't get over how strong I feel," Joxer was saying as Gabrielle studied him in disbelief. She had an expression on her face that implied that she did not speak his language that she simply was beyond understanding him.
Joxer ran his hands over his armor and then settled them on his feminine waist. "I just feel so good," he added.
Xena then arrived from behind a small thicket. "Well," she said in a masculine tone. "That was quite a pleasant surprise."
"What was?" Gabrielle asked, then immediately thought better of it. "Never mind. I don't want to know."
"Handy, isn't it?" Joxer asked, playing with his long, sable hair. "When it snows you can write your name with it too."
"Do we have to talk about this?" the bard implored, her teeth gritted firmly.
"Sorry," Xena said, resting her arm on Gabrielle's, to which the bard promptly jerked away.
The warrior pulled her hand back quickly, recognizing that her lover was having a very difficult time accepting the current situation. And that only made the trip to Aphrodite's temple all the more urgent.
When they arrived, all three travelers seemed elated, and yet on edge at the same time. They entered the temple and looked about for any sign of the goddess.
"Perhaps she's out touring another temple today," Joxer suggested, squeezing his shoulders together so that his breasts were pressed together, giving them a more ample appearance.
"Would you stop that!" Xena chastised. "I'm sure she is here. I can feel it."
"Bingo, love slave," the goddess announced, as she appeared before them in a shower of rose petals. "The goddess is in."
"Very impressive," Xena grumbled. "Nice effect."
"Thanks," Aphrodite remarked with a wave of her hand. "So what gives? You guys are like, the last ones I'd expect to see coming to make an offering."
"You guessed that right," Gabrielle confirmed.
"You don't know why we're here?" Xena asked in surprise.
"Please," Aphrodite began, sitting on the gilded chair next to her. "I know I'm like, a goddess and all that, but I really don't have time to follow all of you mortals' trivial, little lives."
"So you didn't switch Joxer's and Xena's bodies?" the bard asked with growing alarm.
The goddess looked taken aback. "No way! You two guys got switched?" She threw her platinum blonde head back in laughter. "What a hoot! But nope, that wasn't me," she insisted, hanging her curvaceous leg over the arm of the chair sensually.
"Any idea who it might have been?" Xena asked, trying to maintain her composure.
Aphrodite smiled. "Now that you mention it, I might have an idea."
"Who?" Gabrielle barked.
"Not so fast, blondie," the goddess chided. "It's kinda bogus that you guys would immediately assume it was me "
"Well, we only assumed that because of what you did to Joxer last time," the bard explained, growing impatient.
"Oh yeah," Aphrodite admitted with a grin. "That was a good one. All right, I'll let you slide this time."
"So?" Xena asked.
"Well," the goddess began. "All of Olympus is talking about the bet between Ares and Artemis."
"Bet?" the warrior repeated. "What kind of bet?"
"Well Artemis bet Ares that he couldn't transform a warrior of her choosing into a fighting machine that could beat Xena." She stopped and corrected herself, "er, I mean you."
"And what are the stakes?" Gabrielle questioned suspiciously.
The goddess beamed. "If Ares wins, he gets the Amazons."
Gabrielle drew in a sharp intake of breath.
"And if Artemis wins, Ares has to kiss your little, bard feet," Aphrodite concluded with a flourish.
"But I don't get it, Xena," the bard said skeptically. "Why would one of them switch your body with Joxer's?"
The goddess began to nod. "Because he is the chosen one," she explained.
"You mean the messiah?" Gabrielle asked, horrified.
"No no, silly," Aphrodite continued. "He is the warrior chosen by Artemis. Ares is supposed to like, guide him into defeating you." She looked over her shoulder for a second. "Well, I have to motor. If you guys aren't here to dig me, then I have better places to be," she said, and her image shimmered away.
"So that explains it," Xena stated with a nod.
"Then explain it to me," the bard directed. "Because I am totally lost."
"Ares switched us," she reasoned. "He knows that it won't matter what body I'm in- that skill and instinct will prevail. But to the unknowing eye, it will seem like Joxer has won."
"Because you are in his body," Gabrielle added.
"Exactly. So we just have to make sure that Artemis wins this bet right Joxer?"
The two women turned to find themselves alone in the temple.
"So are you saying that I'm able to do everything that Xena could do?" Joxer asked the god of war skeptically, as the two stood in a small clearing not far from Aphrodite's temple.
"Well, it's her body, isn't it?" Ares reasoned.
"So, the backflips, the high kicks, the triple somersaults "
"The works," Ares confirmed. "You can do it all."
Joxer seemed to hesitate. "But I can't fight Xena especially with her own body," he explained with a shrug.
"You don't need to hurt her," the god responded sympathetically. "You just need to best her Trust me, it will take practically no effort on your part."
"I don't know. She's in my body, remember. We might be pretty closely matched."
Ares scowled. "Who do you think you're trying to fool? I'm a god, not a drunken imbecile."
Joxer looked wounded. "Well, I wouldn't fight her anyway. She's my partner."
"Partner?" Ares repeated, laughing. "You really think you and Xena are matched equally?"
"Well I guess not equally..." Joxer conceded softly.
"So, win this bet for me," the god negotiated, "and I'll give you what you really want."
"Yup. I'll let you keep that body," Ares offered.
"You think that's what I really want?"
"Are you kidding? You can't stop touching it."
Joxer put his hands behind him self-consciously.
Ares leered. "Besides, don't you have feelings for a certain blonde bard?"
The god tilted his head a bit to the side, as though puzzled by the mortal before him. "You do realize that you now inhabit the body that has sex with her don't you?"
Ares sighed deeply. This was like trying to motivate a clod of dirt. "You do know that Xena and Gabrielle are lovers, right?"
Joxer stood wide-eyed and incredulous at the words. "Um well, yeah," he lied (and quite badly too). "I knew that. Do you think I'm an idiot?"
"So do you see where I'm going with this?" Ares leaned in closer and smirked. "That body is the one that Gabrielle caresses kisses rides climaxes on top of, like a wild banshee."
"Um I think my water just broke," Joxer announced, obviously affected.
"You have to be pregnant for that, Plato."
Ares shook his head in wonder that this mortal had not already met some hideous, grisly fate. "So now do you see why it would benefit you to stay in that body?"
"Yeah. The only thing better than having sex with Gabby," he marveled. "Is having breasts and having sex with Gabby."
Ares decided to simply not continue attempting to guess what Joxer was thinking. There really was no point. "So you will help me win my bet?"
"I don't have to hurt her?"
"Not the tiniest smidgen."
"And then I could travel the land," Joxer said dramatically. "I will be the one revered and worshiped by Gabby and everybody."
Ares nodded insincerely. "Oh, absolutely."
"You have a deal."
"So now what do we do?" Gabrielle asked in agitation as they walked out of the temple.
"Well, I guess we should go find Artemis," Xena answered calmly.
"You don't think we need to look for Joxer? He's running around in your body."
"Yeah, well just remember, Gabrielle that I'm a major player in this too. They can't settle this bet without me. I'm sure Joxer will turn up in no time."
"You don't seem very concerned," the bard noted unhappily.
Xena shook her head. "About Joxer? Ares won't hurt him while he's in my body. Then how would he win his bet?"
Gabrielle sighed and pressed onward. "So we're off to Artemis' temple, then?"
"You guessed it."
The two traveled for the rest of the day, but Xena could not help but notice how visibly disquieted her bard was. Gabrielle was not her chatty, bubbly self. She was withdrawn, pensive and obviously preoccupied.
When they decided they could not cover any further ground safely in the waning light, Gabrielle made camp while Xena darted into the woods and obtained a pheasant for them to cook. Dinner was eaten, much like the travel that day, mostly in silence.
The warrior was not used to having to initiate and sustain the conversation herself, and she was not very adept at it. But Xena feared her lover was drifting away from her again, and nothing filled her heart with greater dread than the thought of that so she muddled onward.
"That's a great fire you built there, Gabrielle."
There was a long pause.
"So, is the pheasant to your liking?"
Another pause then.
"Are you tired?"
"Gabrielle, are you angry with me?"
"What?" The bard looked at Xena in the first sign of visible warmth Xena had noticed all day. "No, Xena. I'm not angry. I'm just bothered by this situation. That's all."
Xena moved closer and put her hand on the bard's forearm. "I know this has been trying for you."
Gabrielle pulled away, less abruptly this time, but the message was still very clear. "I know this is not your fault, Xena. And I'm sorry if it seems as though I am blaming you "
"But this body switching thing of yours is really starting to get to me!" the bard blurted out.
"I know," the warrior said quietly. "I wish I was in a position to change it all."
Gabrielle sighed. "I know, Xena. But first Callisto now Joxer. What's next? A porpoise? A pox-infected mime?"
"Well, know that I love you, Gabrielle. No matter what body my soul inhabits, that remains a constant."
Gabrielle smiled at her lover's beautiful words, and kissed Xena on the cheek. "Let's go to bed."
"Great idea!" Xena agreed, feeling a bit frisky. But when Gabrielle simply laid her bedroll several feet from Xena's and plopped down, rolling onto her side, the warrior frowned.
Xena pulled her bedroll closer to the bard's before she lay down beside her. "You're a long way away," she noted, scooting towards her. Gabrielle did not respond, so Xena ran her hand slowly along the bard's shoulder, then kissed it.
Gabrielle turned to face the warrior then. "Xena, I can't do this."
"Do what, my love?"
"I can't let you touch me like this in that body."
"But Gabrielle, it's still me," Xena argued.
"And I'll tell you the same thing I would have told you if we had been lovers while you were in Callisto's body. There is no way that body is going to lay a finger on me."
"I'm sorry, Xena. Those hands are Joxer's hands." The bard put her fingers to Xena's lips. "And these are Joxer's lips."
"You once told me that it didn't matter what body I was in, you'd stick with me."
"And I will," the bard clarified. "I will love you no matter what comes, Xena, and no matter what body contains you. You will always be my soul mate, and nothing can change that. But making love to Joxer's body would feel like infidelity to me." She smiled softly at her lover's crestfallen expression. "Please try and understand."
"Think of it this way, Gabrielle," Xena offered suggestively. "We could take advantage of this opportunity and try something new."
"But you might find you like it-"
"What I like is making love to you because it's you. I like touching your body and kissing your lips. I can't pretend that this body is yours."
And with that, the bard kissed the air in Xena's direction and turned back around, her back toward the warrior as she attempted sleep again. Xena snuggled up against her bard and wrapped her arm around Gabrielle's waist protectively.
"What is that?"
"That poking me in the back."
"Have I mentioned how heavenly you smell tonight?"
The bard sighed heavily. This would be a very long night.
A little after dawn, when Xena and Gabrielle reached the temple of Artemis, Ares and Joxer were already there.
"Well, maybe I should try one out first," Joxer was saying, as he stood bouncing on the balls of his feet.
"Do you not believe me? I said you could do the flips with no problem," Ares answered shortly.
"Ah, Ares. You never disappoint me," Xena cooed as she approached them. "You are always just a little bit slimier than the last time I've seen you."
Ares grinned. "Hmm, you do a man's body great justice."
"Pity I can't say the same to you," she retorted.
He looked irritated. "Go ahead, deny your animal attraction to me. I'll play along."
"You're right, Ares. I have always wanted you," Xena confessed dramatically. "Take me! Take me now! I want to feel your manly hands all over my hairy back!"
"Hey!" interjected Joxer. "I don't have a hairy back!"
"Yes, you do," Xena and the god said in unison.
"So, where's the little woman?" Ares quizzed suspiciously.
"Still sleeping it off," Xena bragged, her feet spread apart and her fists resting on her hips.
"What?" Ares asked, wide-eyed.
"Yup," Xena elaborated. "If she can walk straight today, then I don't know my business," she boasted, slapping Ares soundly on the shoulder.
"You you had sex with her?" Joxer gasped. "With my Mr. Catapult?"
"Mr. Catapult?" Xena repeated.
"Woo hoo!" Joxer shouted, his body flailing about as though he was in the throes of a grand mal seizure. "I knew she'd say yes someday!"
"Pity it wasn't to you," Ares said coolly.
"There," Gabrielle was saying to the Amazon goddess as they both looked on from across the room. "Now do you believe that's not Xena?"
Artemis scowled. She watched Xena's body do its queer dance of apoplexy, and simply nodded her head. "Well, we will put an end to this cheating."
"Can we not simply call off this bet?" the bard suggested. There was a silence that came then. "Would you weigh my request more if I made it as your queen?"
Artemis smiled at Gabrielle then. "You, my young Amazon queen have a gift that sets you apart from all others. You have compassion and reverence for life. You do me a great service as my emissary, and you never fail to make me proud of all you are but this time, butt out," she finished sharply. "My brother is due for a good ass kicking! Stay out of sight so he doesn't realize you've spoken with me," she directed, and then she vanished.
Gabrielle stood in shock for a moment, then blew her bangs out of her eyes and moved into a hiding place that would offer an adequate view.
"Joxer," Xena was saying, in an attempt to calm him. "Stop jumping around. Gabrielle is mine, with or without your body."
"Maybe she just slept with you because you look like me," he countered snottily.
"Oh yeah, right," the warrior spat. "And it was just a remarkable coincidence that it happened to your body while you weren't in it?"
"Will you two stop this?" Ares barked, feeling more like a babysitter than a god.
"It is time!" called the booming voice of Artemis, and the goddess then appeared before them in a shower of shimmering arrows that disappeared when they hit the earth.
"You could learn a lot from your sisters about how to make an entrance," Xena muttered into Ares' ear.
"It's a female thing," he answered with a shrug.
"Are all the parties prepared?" the goddess asked.
"Begin," she said stoically.
Joxer, still believing he now possessed Xena's athletic capabilities, took a good running start, launched himself from the ground, and landed flat on his ass.
"Ahhh!" he cried, his tailbone throbbing.
Just then, Artemis passed her hand through the air, and Xena and Joxer were transported back into their proper bodies.
"Hey!" Joxer said, as he stared at his own hands. "I'm -"
With that, Xena kicked him dead in the face. "Shh," she directed softly as she leaned over him sprawled out on his back. "This is supposed to happen."
"Well, no one asked me about it," he commented, picking himself up off the ground.
Ares scowled. Something was not right here. Joxer could never have been able to pull off a kick like that. His sister must have caught on. He discreetly waved his hand upwards.
"Hey!" Joxer said again seeing his face from the outside now. He made an attempt to repeat the same kick this body had just performed, but somehow, he just ended up sliding along the ground.
Artemis looked unhappy. She passed her hand in front of them.
Ares watched her from the corner of his eye and did the same.
The goddess walked to her brother and stared at him in anger, then boldly pointed to the two combatants, casting her spell openly.
Ares then did the same.
Xena and Joxer would try to move toward each other, but each teleportation would make them more confounded than the last.
Gabrielle came out of her hiding place and looked on in disgust and astonishment.
"That's enough!" the bard called, causing the proceedings to grind to a screeching halt. "Have you two not had enough fun at the expense of others?"
"Curb your tongue, wench!" Ares snapped.
"Don't you address my queen in such a way!" the goddess admonished.
"Will you two just stop?" Gabrielle replied firmly. "I realize that you are both gods, but this bet of yours means nothing except that neither of you are above deceit and cheating."
Artemis looked as though she had regrets then, but Ares just appeared inconvenienced.
"Do you even remember what the original point of all this was?" the bard continued. "Was there a point? Or was this just one more way for you to play with good people as though they were toys?"
"She is right, Ares," Artemis admitted. "We have made a mistake."
Ares walked towards Gabrielle angrily. "I am so tired of you!" he yelled, but the bard did not flinch. She stood motionless and without expression as he vented on her. "Every time something starts to go my way, there you are, with your ideals, and your little pep talks, to screw it all up! Who asked you?"
"You did," Gabrielle answered boldly, taking a step closer to the leather-clad god with conviction. "When you made the conscious choice to spend your days perpetuating hatred and war, you involved me. And when you decided to target my friends and my loved ones, you involved me. And if that means that I have to spend the rest of my days giving 'pep talks' and butting into your business, then I'd say you have no one to blame but yourself!"
"Yoo hoo," called a voice over Ares' shoulder.
He turned to see Xena holding a sword at a prone Joxer's throat. "It looks like you've lost your little bet," Xena said with a smile.
Ares turned back to look at the fiery blonde before him. What nerves she possessed! Never had a mortal with so much to lose ever spoken to him like that! Finally, he saw a spark of what it was Xena saw in this girl
With a sudden lurch, his hands grasped the bard by the shoulders and he pulled her toward him. He kissed her forcefully and with great ardor, and Gabrielle did not resist.
When he pulled away, he seemed to be breathless. He turned to his audience and smiled. "There you go, Sis. A kiss is a kiss."
And then he vanished.
"Are you two truly back into your rightful bodies?" Artemis asked Xena and Joxer.
"Yes," Xena said, though unable to take her eyes of Gabrielle, who still appeared flustered by Ares' kiss.
"Well," the goddess began. "Then I will thank you all. Especially you, Gabrielle. You have managed to teach even me something."
And as the shimmering arrows appeared, the goddess was gone.
Xena walked to her bard in concern. "Are you all right?"
Gabrielle looked into her lover's eyes and smiled a smile that would have shamed the sun. "I am more than all right," she replied, wrapping her arms around the warrior's waist.
"That was quite a kiss," Xena noted.
"It was nothing compared to yours," Gabrielle offered as she kissed her.
The warrior smiled. "You always have the right answer."
The bard shrugged. "That's my job."
Joxer appeared beside them then. "How come you guys never told me you were you know?"
"Told you that we were what, Joxer?" the bard asked, as the three began to leave the temple.
"That you were girlfriends."
"You didn't know that?" Gabrielle asked in astonishment.
"Well, uh "
"You must have known, Joxer," Xena agreed.
"You guys never did anything in front of me!" he defended.
"Well, of course we didn't," Gabrielle replied staunchly. "We are private people."
"Well Gabby, what about last night?" Joxer questioned suggestively, his tongue visible in his cheek provocatively.
"What about it?"
"Joxer," Xena mumbled. "Just drop it."
"You had sex with my body last night," he declared happily.
"Is that what you told him?" the bard inquired, her eyebrows raised.
"Joxer, that was just part of the distraction," Xena admitted begrudgingly. "Gabrielle never saw Mr. Catapult."
"Mr. Catapult?" the bard repeated, disturbed by the image.
Joxer looked crestfallen. "Oh."
Later that night, when camp was made, dinner was eaten and night had fallen, Joxer excused himself to put his bedroll rather a large distance away from his companions.
Pleased with this newfound privacy, Xena and Gabrielle lay together beneath the clear night sky, their bodies entwined.
"You were very courageous today," the warrior complimented.
"Thanks. I couldn't let you have all the fun."
"Trust me, Gabrielle. Being in Joxer's body was not what I would call fun."
"No? You certainly seemed to be enjoying the benefits of it last night when you were trying to seduce me."
"I wasn't thinking straight It must have been using his brain that caused the problem." She sighed contentedly. "I missed this body."
The bard ran her hand along Xena's back sensually. "Not as much as I did."
Gabrielle grinned deviously. "With pleasure."
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