Copyright: The characters of Xena, Gabrielle, Joxer, and Meg belong to Renaissance Pictures, StudiosUSA, and whatever other powers that be in the Xenaverse. No infringement is intended. The story idea, however, belongs to the authors.
Disclaimer: Extremely mild violence; about what you would find on a pre-school playground. If this is too much for you, why are you reading Xena fan fiction?
Being disgruntled with the fifth season stories, this is our second story in our version of how this season could have gone.
Any comments, constructive criticism, feedback may be sent firstname.lastname@example.org
Xena and Gabrielle are still dead.
But their spirits are very much in existence. And in our physical world, doing what they can to help people. They are busily making their own paradise, even though they don't know this yet.
"Well, that was satisfying." Gabrielle said in her pious way. "We managed to disband an entire army without anybody getting hurt. That's much better than maiming and terrifying everybody."
'Yeah, but not as much fun.' Xena had the good sense to keep this thought to herself. She was still laughing as the last of the would-be soldiers stumbled across a field, knowing that they were headed straight for a very muddy creek.
When the former warlord had stopped laughing, she said, "If I had known how easy it would be to beat other armies just by scaring them, I would have died a long time ago." At her companion's startled expression, she smiled, "Just kidding."
The blonde bard got a faraway look on her spiritual face. "You know, it was easy convincing the soldiers that their leader was crazy and that this whole area was haunted. There are advantages to being invisible. But I don't think you really needed to suddenly appear in front of the warlord in your old battle dress with your sword drawn."
"It worked, didn't it," Xena said with a shrug. "When he started yelling and hacking away at empty air, his army couldn't run away fast enough."
Realizing that arguing with the very practical Xena about tactics was a waste of breath, Gabrielle merely said, "I'm glad you're back in your reformed-Xena leathers."
"They're more comfortable, and for more than just fighting," she gave her partner a leering smile. "I like your choice of clothes, too. You've gone back to your Amazon heritage. But I'm not sure about the color."
Gabrielle looked down at her clothes, posing. "They are nice." She twirled in a circle around her partner. "And what's best is that we can change any time we want just by thinking about it. I could get used to this afterlife stuff." She paused. "What do you mean you aren't sure about the color? I've always liked mustard yellow!"
Xena just shrugged; she didn't want to get into a fashion argument right then.
Then Gabrielle went back to her save-the-world mode. "Maybe we can get rid of all armies that way. Think how great it would be if there were no more armies, no more war! Kings could spend their tax money on making sure all their subjects had enough to eat and houses and eveything they needed!"
Xena didn't want to burst Gabrielle's bubble, but then she thought that she had been bursting her bubbles for years now and what did one more matter. "It's not that easy, Gabrielle. Armies are like Hydras - you get rid of one and two more pop up. But look on the bright side, it's job security; we'll always have something to do." She put her arm around her friend's shoulders and gave her a hug.
Gabrielle hugged her back. "I guess you're right. We should just do what we can to help people." She paused for a second. "And speaking of people who need help, what about Joxer?"
"What about him?" Xena asked, without enthusiasm.
"We can't leave him to his own devices. Without us around to save him, he could get hurt badly." She looked pleadingly at the dark-haired warrior angel.
Xena never could resist those green eyes. After staring into the depths for a few seconds, she let out her breath in an explosive sigh. It happened to catch a passing butterfly and blow it several feet off course; when it recovered, it went off to tell it's friends that the hurricane season had started early.
"Alright, we'll go see how Joxer is getting along. But," and she held up a finger that stopped Gabrielle's half-formed smile in its tracks, "if he's not in any danger, we'll leave him alone. Agreed?"
"Agreed." Gabrielle finished her smile. Based on past experience she figured that at any given moment Joxer would be in danger, probably of his own making. "Let's think ourselves wherever Joxer is. Give me your hand so we end up at the same place." Xena realized that Gabrielle was no longer the naive village girl who had followed her several years ago.
She took hold of Xena's hand, and they both thought themselves to Joxer's vicinity.
Gabrielle was right. Joxer was in danger, as usual. When our two angels came on the scene, the hapless would-be warrior was trying to talk his way out of being beat up by thugs.
"Step aside; I don't want to hurt you," Joxer said, drawing himself up to his full height and putting one hand on his sword hilt. "I am Joxer the Mighty - ha-ha!"
The thugs just laughed at this.
Gabrielle, looking anxious, said "We have to help him before he gets hurt."
"Why?" Xena had taken the measure of the thugs and decided they weren't as tough as they wanted to appear.
Gabrielle hesitated, "Uh, I don't know why. Let's watch for a while, okay?"
They went to lean against a wall, being careful not to move right through it since their spiritual bodies didn't have any substance. It had taken them some practice to learn this technique. They proceeded to watch the developing confrontation.
Joxer was still putting on airs in his delusion of being a great warrior. The half-dozen thugs surrounding him were not impressed. They laughed at his posturing. They pointed out all his ridiculous pieces of mismatched armor, much to their own amusement. They pushed him back and forth among them until Joxer tripped and fell. They walked off, laughing loudly at their victory over the "great warrior."
Xena and Gabrielle floated over to Joxer, who was sitting in the dust. "That's right," he shouted after his tormentors, "you'd better leave before I get really mad. For I am Joxer ... the Mighty," he finished more quietly.
Trying very hard not to laugh at his plight, Xena said to Gabrielle, "So do we appear to him and scare what little sense he has out of him, or should we whisper advice in his ear?"
"Whisper in his ear, definitely. That way he can think it is his own ideas." Gabrielle was always too kind-hearted.
"Okay, here goes." Xena bent down and whispered in his ear, "You're not really happy being a warrior, are you?"
Joxer looked around but didn't see anyone talking to him. He thought maybe it was the Fates talking to him. "Nothing seems to go right for me as a warrior, especially now that Xena and Gabby are gone." Since he said this out loud, a few passers-by give him a strange look.
Gabrielle took her turn at saving Joxer from himself. "Why don't you quit trying to be a warrior and do something you like and are good at?" She gave him an encouraging pat on the back. Unfortunately, he thought it was a muscle spasm and was pleased that he had a muscle.
"But my father's a warlord; I never thought about being anything but a warrior. I didn't want to disappoint him." The passers-by were giving Joxer a wide berth; he looked harmless, but when people start talking to themselves, you never know when they might become violent.
Gabrielle continued, "You can't live your life to please someone else, even your father. You're not cut out to be a fighter; you're too gentle. Think about it - what would you like to do?"
"I don't know; I've never thought about it before. I've tried so hard to be a warrior; what else can I do?" Joxer picked up a pebble and tossed it over his shoulder. He looked up and saw a tavern down the street. His face brightened as he got a thought. "I know; I'll go to Meg - she likes me - and help her run her tavern. I can do some of the cooking." He beamed at the picture of him and Meg side by side.
Xena wasn't sure if inflicting Joxer's cooking on the innocent stomachs of strangers fell under the heading of helping people, but she encouraged him anyway. "That's a good idea. Why don't you start now. Meg will be happy to see you and eager to have your help." She hoped this wasn't too big a lie.
Joxer had a big grin on his face. "Yeah, she will be happy to see me. And a woman all alone needs a real man to take care of her."
Gabrielle nearly choked at this statement; only the fact that she didn't have any physical parts kept her from it. Xena was having second thoughts about turning Joxer from being a warrior. Maybe he deserved his fate. Then she realized that Meg could keep Joxer in line.
Xena whispered once more into his ear, "You'll need new clothes. That ratty old armor you're wearing won't make a very good impression on Meg. You need to dress like a prosperous tavernkeeper. Then she will know that you're the man for her."
Joxer picked himself up and dusted himself off. He smiled at all the people who were carefully avoiding him. "Well, I'm off!" And he walked down the street, as blissfully proud as ever.
Gabrielle let out a long sigh. Xena wiped an imaginary bead of sweat off her brow.
"Whew, I'm glad that's over. D'ya think he'll make it to Meg without getting into any more trouble?"
Xena shrugged. "We did what we could. We're not following him if that's what you're getting at!"
The blonde angel shook her head vigorously. "No way. He's on his own from now on." She floated over to Xena and put her arms around her waist. "Thanks for helping Joxer." She smiled up at her partner.
Xena smiled back. "Anything for you."
After several minutes of enjoying each other's presence, Gabrielle murmured, "Should we warn Meg that Joxer is coming back into her life?"
"No, she's a big girl. She can handle him in her own way."