The characters Xena, Gabrielle, Joxer and the amazons do not belong to me. I just take them out to play with. If you are offended by non-traditional relationships, sex or subtext please read something else.


Vacation Interuptus




It was that magic time when the world was soft and silent. The sun had not rising but faint streaks of grey at the bottom of the eastern sky promised that once again it soon would. The inhabitants of the village were deep asleep leaving only a few waning candles to shed bits of light in the consuming black of night. The birds had not awakened and small nocturnal creatures had retired to their dens. The whole world seems at peace in the embrace of a dark, comforting, silent god.

“You're smiling, Xena.”

“I'm happy.” The warrior stretched raising her arms high above her head and straightening long shapely legs all the way to the foot of the bed. “Ahhh., she yawned.” The curves of her body were revealed as the blanket slipped away.

Gabrielle turned on her side, bent her elbow and raised her chin on her hand to better observe her companion's beautiful body in the faint light. “And you're naked.”

Xena pulled the blanket free of them both and tossed it to the floor. “Uh huh. So are you. How convenient.” She ran a finger from the bard's chin, down between her breasts and on to the cute little navel.

Gabrielle stopped the finger's descent there catching Xena‘s hand with her own. “You forgot that Amazons sleep in their clothes.” She chided as their fingers entwined.

“I'm not an Amazon.” Xena smiled up at her. “What's your excuse?”

“I've been making love” The bard explained. “Amazons remove their clothes to make love.”

“Got lucky, did you!”

Gabrielle laid down flat on her back. “Oh yes. And you?”

“Oh, I got very lucky.” Xena shifted on her side to face the bard. “Several times.”

Then she rose up and turned atop the bard staying on her hands and knees. “Let's get lucky again.” She lowered her head and touched the bard's lips lightly with her own. Her lips brushed back and forth across the bard's mouth which opened slightly for a kiss. But Xena teased her, gently taking the bard's lower lip in between her teeth and making a growling sound. Gabrielle freed her lip and pulling the warrior's head down, pressed their lips together in a passionate kiss. Her hands roamed the warrior's back and Xena growled again.

The door in the wall to the right flew open. Positioned length-wise to the door, the bed and its occupants were in full view of the two Amazon guards who stepped inside. They carried spears, wore battle armor and looked dreadfully official. Xena whipped her head around and glowered, an eyebrow arched in menace. The Amazons, profoundly embarrassed, withdrew without uttering a word and quietly closing the door.

“What could they have possible wanted?” Gabrielle asked. “It's not even dawn.”

“Who cares?” Xena lowered her head to resume the kiss. She settled between the bard's legs as they kissed and Gabrielle shuddered. Then there was a timid knock at the door.

Xena threw her head back. “Where's my chakram?” She asked loudly.

“Xena, no! It must be important.” Gabrielle extricated herself from beneath the warrior, crawled off the bed and wrapped herself in the blanket from the floor. “Coming.” She called to the door.

“If only that were true.” Xena sighed, rolling on her back on the otherwise empty bed.

Gabrielle gave her a sympathetic look and pressed her finger to her own lips begging the warrior to be quiet.

“This had better be good.” Xena crossed her legs and put her hands behind her head.

Gabrielle rolled her eyes. “Please, Xena, cover up.”

“You've got to be kidding.” She said dryly. “They know what we were doing and are going to continue doing as soon as you get rid of them.”

A voice came from the still shut door. “My queen, we are very sorry to, ah, wake you.” Xena laughed loudly. Hesitating briefly, the voice continued. “We have an urgent message from someone named Joxer.”

“That's it. I'm going to kill them all. Joxer last.” Xena sat up on the bed.

Gabrielle raised her hand to toward the door latch, then looked at the warrior and lowered her hand leaving the door closed. “Just tell me the message.” She instructed through the door. She could hear the guards murmuring, then after clearing her throat, one of them explained the urgent situation.

“Joxer requires your help immed…er, as quickly as possible. He's been charged with murdering an Amazon priestess last night and according to our laws must be tried at dawn. He will be executed as soon as the trial is over. It's the law.”

Gabrielle turned to Xena. “Joxer couldn't murder a butterfly.”

“Not even one that was unarmed.” Xena muttered.

Gabrielle turned back to the door. “Whom exactly is he supposed to have murdered? And where is Joxer now?” She had a dozen questions but those were the most pressing ones.

“We have arrested Joxer. He is being restrained in the stocks. His victim was the high priestess Deantera. We saw him do it and we have the knife he used, my queen. There is no question of his guilt.”

Gabrielle closed her eyes. This had to be a mistake. “Why does the trial have to be at such an early hour?” she asked. “As queen, I order that the trial be delayed so that we can investigate the matter.” She put her hand on the back of door and leaned toward it as she spoke.

“We have done the investigation. Joxer is in our custody and since you, the queen, are also here in the village, the law requires the trial to commence at sunrise.” The Amazon's voice was firm and, from Gabrielle‘s point of view, unfortunately accurate. Deantera was a high priestess in an order that served Artemis and Artemis was the patroness of all the Amazon nations. The crime could not be more serious. “He must be tried within the hour and executed.”

“Works for me.” Xena folded her hands across her stomach and gave the queen a come hither look that reinforced her lack of concern about the Joxer situation. “That's solved. So let's get back to being lucky.“ She reached over and pulled the blanket free from Gabrielle.

“Xena, we can't abandon Joxer.”

The warrior smiled her sexiest smile as she rose from the bed and stepped toward the bard. “Oh yes. Yes we can.”

Gabrielle flushed crimson. “Um, just watch Joxer.” She instructed the Amazons outside the door. “We'll be there in 10 minutes.”

“More like 30.” Xena corrected her, running the back of her hand down the bard's side.

“Yes, make that 30 minutes.” Gabrielle said in a husky voice. Before she could say anything else her mouth was covered by the warrior who pulled the bard to her and administered a prolonged and passionate kiss.

It turned out to be 40 minutes. Gabrielle rationalized that the last six minutes had been spent getting dressed and walking across the village, so those didn't really count. Besides, they had arrived before sunrise. The sky was still dark enough that stars were visible and only a hint of pink light could be seen to the east. She smoothed her skirt and bodice and tried to assume an imposing posture which Xena undid by pinching the bard's firm butt just as they reached their destination.

Joxer had been moved from the stocks to a room in the meeting hut where the trial was to be held. In front of the meeting hut, beneath a blood red cloak, was the body of the unfortunate priestess. Xena lifted the cloak and inspected the gaping wound across the dead woman's neck by candlelight. She had been split open from ear to ear, nearly beheaded.

“This could not have been Joxer. He doesn't possess a weapon sharp enough to do this.” She told Gabrielle and the Amazons who had gathered. “Let me see the so-called murder weapon.”

An Amazon guard handed her a bloody, rusted dagger. Xena recognized it as the useless weapon Joxer kept in his boot. She handed it back saying, “This weapon didn't kill her. Look, it's dull. It couldn't make a cut like that even if was sharp.”

Gabrielle faced the Amazon who was to present the case against Joker. “Why do you think it was him?”

“About three hours ago, the guards heard a disturbance coming from the temple. They raced there and found Joxer kneeling beside the dead priestess with the dagger in his hand and his clothing covered in her blood. He had his hand in her hair and was mumbling incoherently. He leaped to his feet when we got there and we subdued him. He hardly put up a fight.”

Xena smirked. “I believe the incoherent part.”

“And the fact that he was easily subdued.” Gabrielle replied. She could hear Joxer trying to talk through his gag from inside the meeting hut. She went to him and pulled the gag away from his mouth. The room was quite dark, illuminated by a single torch at the back. Joxer was tied to a chair in the middle of the room with a long table on either side of him.

“I didn't do it, Gabrielle.” He looked at her with imploring eyes. “It wasn't me.”

Xena had followed the bard and stood to one side her arms folded. “Why were you at the temple in the middle of the night?”

Joxer nodded his head excitedly. “I was at the temple. I was. But I wasn't the one who killed her.”

The Amazon prosecutor stepped in. “The trial will answer all these questions. It's nearly time. We will begin as soon as the sun comes up.” She took a chair at the table to the right of Joxer. She pointed to a chair for Gabrielle who was required to act as judge regardless of her friendship with the accused. “Since Xena is not an Amazon, she will not be permitted to stay for the proceedings.”

“No one is staying. I will not permit the trial to begin until we have determined the murder weapon.” Gabrielle asserted her authority. “I was told you had the murderer and the weapon. But that it obviously not true. Thus the trial must be delayed.” No one challenged her although the Amazon prosecutor did not bother to hide her displeasure. The three women left the meeting hall where Gabrielle informed those gathered. “I am postponing the trial at least 24 hours. And I am asking Xena to lead a thorough investigation into the death of the priestess.”

The prosecutor sent two guards to watch Joxer. She walked over to the body and bowed her head. The priestess had be a friend for many years. She then turned toward the queen whom she hardly knew. “May we at least give Deantera a proper funeral this day. It is a matter of respect to burn the body before nightfall.”

Gabrielle nodded. “Yes, of course. I would appreciate it if you would organize everything that needs to be done.” The Amazon indicated she would and left. Gabrielle and Xena went back into the dark room to continue their talk with Joxer.

“Can you untie me?” he asked.

“NO!” Xena said with a touch of revenge in her voice.

“Joxer, you have to stay here.” Gabrielle settled into a chair next to the hapless man. “We'll get you out of this, but you have to tell us what happened.”

His story was rambling and hard to follow, but they got the salient facts. He had met a pair of travelers at a bar the previous day. They were thugs, but the ever clueless Joxer had taken them up on the offer to accompany them to the temple of Artemis. They wanted to make an offering to the goddess, they had told him. Their village was in need of food and they wanted to ensure a productive hunt.

“And you believed them?” Xena scoffed. “Did you even get their names or the name of their village? There aren't any villages within a day's ride, Joxer.”

“Sure I did,” Joxer protested. “I'm not stupid you know.”

Gabrielle grimaced. “Let's try to stick to the truth. Okay, what happened when you got to the temple?”

Joxer rambled on describing what had taken place when the three men arrived at the temple. It had been well after midnight because they had walked. They had expected the temple to be deserted at that hour. But the man named Vectin had gone into the temple to check while his partner had roamed around outside looking for something to leave as an offering.

“Like what?” Xena asked exasperated.

“I don't know.” Joxer shrugged. “I make it a habit not to question other people's religious practices.”

Gabrielle groaned and indicated for Joxer to continue. He told them that he had heard yelling from inside the temple and the priestess had come running out screaming. Vectin was right behind her and catching her pushed her to the ground. His partner, whose name Joxer couldn't recall, ran into the temple at that point. Then Joxer had watched Vectin grab the priestess by the hair and slit her throat. The murderer used a short, roman style sword, a fact that peeked Xena's interest. But she said nothing.

The murderer, Vectin, had threatened him with the bloody sword, Joxer said, adding that he, Joxer the mighty, had threatened the thug right back and sent him running off. Joxer had not seen the second man came out of the temple then or ever. Then with sadness in his voice, Joxer told them that he had knelt down beside the dying priestess and stroked her head. He didn't remember having his dagger in his hand or even taking it from his boot. But he acknowledged that he might have when he saw Vectin murder the woman.

“I don't want you to talk to anyone else about this, Joxer. We'll find Vectin and the other man.” Gabrielle told him as she rose to leave. Xena replaced the gag so Joxer couldn't talk even if he wanted to.

“I'll start at the temple.” the warrior said. “If they are on foot, I should be able to find them quickly. My guess is that they are roman deserters who are scavenging as they pass though this area.” She walked into the subtle yellow light of the emerging sunrise and motioned for the two Amazon guards to follow her to the stable. They saddled the horses. One of the Amazons approached Xena as she mounted Argo.

“I apologize for disturbing you earlier. I hope you can forgive me.” She said. She was young and sturdy and even in the subtle light, Xena could see the earnestness in her brown eyes.

“Are you still alive?” The warrior asked in low, serious voice.

“Yes, of course, I am.” The young woman looked quizzical.

“Then I have forgiven you.” Xena gave her a sly smile.

The Amazon looked relieved. “And you were just joking then about the chakram, right?”

The sly smile disappeared and Xena arched an eyebrow. “I never joke about my chakram.” She spurred Argo and rode off leaving the Amazons to hurry and follow.

The pool of blood looked black in the yellow morning light. Xena examined the foot prints, easily detecting those belonging to Joxer and his shabby boots from those of the other two men. The prints confirmed Joxer's story in so far as they could. His footprints overlaid those of the actual murderer. She looked for evidence of the man's partner. The two Amazons completed their inspection of the temple and came to report what they had found, or rather not found. There was nothing missing. A chair had been overturned, but nothing else seemed amiss. Xena listened as she followed the prints of the mysterious second man. He had walked in a straight line back and forth in front of the temple. Then he had circled to the rear of the temple where he had run inside, presumably when the priestess was being killed.

Xena began walking back and forth across the ground behind the temple. The Amazons followed for a few minutes, then stood and watched. On the fourth pass, the warrior knelt down and pulled at what appeared to be a dead branch stuck in the ground at the edge of what she suspected had once been a stone courtyard. The branch moved to the right and the stones rolled open revealing the entrance to an underground chamber.

“How did you know?” the brown eyed Amazon asked.

Xena dusted off her hands. “This temple used to belong to Ares,” She answered, then pointed to a crest barely visible at the peak of the temple roof. “That's one of Ares' sigils. He likes to keep a stash of weapons on his temple grounds for his armies to use when needed.”

“That must be what Joxer was looking for.” The brown eyed guard told her companion.

“No.” Xena corrected them. “That's what the actual murderer and his partner were looking for. Let's take a look inside.”

They stepped down six crude stairs and crouched as they entered a small, dark chamber lined with wooden boxes. There was just enough light to see that most of the boxes contained swords and spears. Excellent quality, Xena noted. The god of war never scrimps on weapons. There were maces and bows, as well as arrows and vials of what was most likely poison. The amazons checked through the boxes, delighted at the cache of weapons. It would be a great asset to their tribe with plenty to share with other tribes if the queen so chose. They picked up a box of swords to take back with them.

“I wouldn't do that.” Xena said. “Ares still owns them and he does not like it when his weapons of war are stolen. You really don't need that kind of trouble.”

They exited the chamber to find the sun fully up in the sky. Xena blinked at the brightness of the light. She closed the chamber, replaced the stones that hid it and reset the lever. Then she made a trip around the temple looking for the place each of the two men had left from. Following one set of footprints, she discovered that the men had joined together about 50 feet paces later amid heavy brush. She whistled for Argo. When the Amazon guards mounted their horses, she sent one of them back to tell Gabrielle what they had learned. Then she and the brown-eyed guard began to follow the murderers' trail, heading east to the nearby hills.

Gabrielle watched the Amazons build the funeral pyre. She had sent runners to two nearby tribes, the only ones near enough to arrive in time for the ceremony. And she had word sent to the priestess's sisters informing them of Deantara's death. There was nothing left to do except wait for Xena. The wind caught her hair as she walked slowly back to the queens hut. She and the warrior had only intended to spend a few days with the tribe. They were on a vacation. The first real vacation Xena had ever agreed to do, Gabrielle chuckled. They were spending a full moon purposely avoiding trouble and focusing on each other. It was their anniversary. They had been lovers for a year.

In the hut, Gabrielle gathered up their belongings and packed them in their bags. They had brought too many items, she thought. Xena had been right about that. But the bard liked to have her things with her and had insisted that she needed several of her scrolls and writing implements in case the mood struck her. She had brought a change of clothes including an extra pair of boots and a nightgown. She shook her head and smiled remembering how Xena had picked up the nightgown and merely asked ‘why?' A question Gabrielle still had no answer for.

She looked at the two saddle bags. Xena's bag was thin and compact while her own was stuffed so that it hardly closed. She examined the gift the Amazons had given her when they'd arrived, a small medallion made of silver and engraved with the likenesses of her and Xena. She put the medallion into the warrior's bag. She knew Xena would remove it and make the bard pack it in hers, and she sighed. Strange, she thought, how despite being so incredibly beautiful Xena disliked any image of herself. She thought it might be the last residue of self-hate tormenting the warrior who could not yet accept forgiveness for her dark past.

The Amazon guard dutifully knocked on the open door to the hut. Gabrielle felt herself blush at the insinuation and motioned the woman in. She was relieved at the news that Joxer could be proved innocent of the murder. Then, once the guard had left, she felt the familiar fear creep over her heart. Xena was in danger again. She accepted the fact that she would not relax until her warrior returned safe.

The day grew long and shadows stretched across the paths which connected the village huts. All was ready for the ceremony. A huge pyre had been erected in the center of the village and drums were already being beat in slow, sorrowful rhythm. Gabrielle hoped that Xena would sing the funeral song she had created. Xena only sang at the funerals of people she respected, she knew. But the Amazons would appreciate it. She resolved to ask the warrior sweetly and perhaps provide an inducement in the way of future luck. She smiled as the thought of making love with Xena warmed her all over.

Joxer was still in the meeting room under guard. But he had been fed and watered and was no longer tied to a chair. She went to see him twice to reassure him and he had slept awhile in a chair with his head on the table. She looked in on him once more and waived at the guards who sat bored on either side of him. Joxer was a pain most of the time. But she had grown fond of him and it was fortunate in deed that she and Xena had been here. She shuddered to think that he might actually have been put to death. He was like the goofy cousin who always needed rescue. But his heart was good. She considered him a friend.

Xena did not return in time for the ceremony much to Gabrielle's worry-laced disappointment. She sat through the dancing and the remembrances spoken by the Amazons who had known the priestess best. Her eyes were ever searching the perimeter for a sign of her warrior. At the end, just as the sun descended from the last bit of sky, the Amazons lit the pyre and stood to watch the flames consume their priestess' remains. From the edge of the gathering came the sound of a mournful dirge. It was Xena's voice carrying over them as the fire died and the last tears of farewell were shed. Gabrielle felt her heart skip a beat.

The two thugs, their faces bruised and swollen, had been deposited in the meeting chamber under heavy guard. They were deserters from a roman legion, just as Xena has speculated. And they had confessed to the murder at the warrior's undeniably forceful suggestion. Joxer was freed to leave. He gathered his dignity, thanked Xena and Gabrielle and confessed he preferred to spend some time alone, far from the Amazon village.

“Think he will be all right?” Gabrielle asked Xena as they headed back to the queens hut.

“He's never been all right before.” Xena pointed out with a smile. “But he'll live. It's quiet out there. Those two were the only thugs I found any evidence of.” She pushed back Gabrielle's bangs. “He'll live. I promise.”

The night air was soft and warm around them. And as they walked hand in hand, the proximity of the village disappeared into the darkness. They were the only people in the world then; their world in which only each other existed. When they reached the hut, Xena closed the door and braced it with a chair. She took off her armor and weapons and placed them on a small table in front of the packed bags. “Ready to go, I see.”

Gabrielle smiled. “There's no hurry. I was just tidying up as I waited for you to return. We are on vacation, remember? “ She began unlacing her bodice as she spoke.

“We won't be off in the morning then?” Xena asked, taking over the task of unlacing the bard‘s bodice and happy they would be spending the night in the comfortable little hut.

“I have to conduct the trial at dawn. It shouldn't take long.” Gabrielle said and slipped out of her skirt. “We should be able to continue our vacation by noon. Think we can head to Athens?” She pulled back the blanket on the bed and turned, eyes shining, toward Xena. “We could be there in a few days. If we get lucky.”

The warrior gathered her up and set her on the bed, then settled atop her. “Oh we are going to get lucky,” she promised. “Now where were we?” Her mouth found the bard's and they continued what they were doing before being so rudely interrupted.

They made love slowly, hands finding every curve, fire racing beneath their skin. They moved against each other and kissed and petted until at last reaching mutual release, they held each other riding waves of pleasure. Savoring the bliss, they were content to hold each other, letting the dark embrace them. Then their hands sought the softness of the other once more, and the fire flared and they made love again. Finally spent, Xena lay on her back and caught her breath, while Gabrielle curled beside her, her hand atop the warrior's abs. Xena stroked the bard's hair and felt her fall asleep. “You're smiling.' Gabrielle had told her in the morning. ‘I'm happy.' she remembered replying. She kissed the sleeping bard on the forehead. “You are why I smile. You are my happiness.” she whispered. “I love you, Gabrielle.”

The bard snuggled tight against her warrior. “I love you, Xena.” She reached up and stroked the warrior's cheek. Then they slept, secure behind the chair that braced the door and a love that kept a dark world far, far away.

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