Disclaimer One: Joxer, Gabrielle, Xena and Argo are the property of Ren Pics I was just using them to exorcise some demons. I think it helped a lot.
Disclaimer Two: This story is very unconventional.. . much different than anything I have every written. I hope you all enjoy my take on things.
Dedication: To my best friend. We crossed the line, but soon we will erase it and start over stronger than before. Thanks to Coldplay for the title and some of the emotion behind it.
NOTE: This story does not follow cannon. In fact, it changes a few major aspects.. . .(poetic license) You'll see what I mean, so use your imagination to stretch beyond the limits of the show. After all, isn't that why fanfic came about?
They call me a bungling idiot, but that is not who I am. I am not Joxer the Mighty; Joxer the Joke; or Joxer the Irritating. I am not a warrior by any conventional means. The sword is not my weapon, nor the mace or axe. My weapon is my heart. It spills on the page like water. No, I am no warrior. I am just simply a poet in search of his Muse. These weapons I keep hidden, and with good cause. They have turned against me so many times, so I take up the sword, the mace, and the axe. Still, my heart overrides it all. I cannot kill. I cannot maim. I can only be who I am underneath it all. . .a man, a poet with a heart. I will not let them defeat me this time.
How do you let go of the woman you love? It's simple. You just let go... by degrees. I have come full circle, and the cycle is almost complete. It's time, so I look upon them once more, my friends, my traveling companions. They walk side by side talking quietly. Even Argo trots almost silently. I amble far behind them, careful not to disturb a rock or speck of dust. It would be a sin to disturb the obvious simpatico.
Everything grows eerily still, I watch in wonder. Gabrielle throws her head back to laugh, and my heart jumps to my throat. I swallow it down. It has no business here. They are bathed in a yellow so bright that it is blinding. It is hard not to be captured by it, consumed by it. Alone they eradiate. Gabrielle has always been luminescent even when she was not aware, but walking in Xena's light, they are the sun. It is time for me to step away from it. I am blind already. I must see again.
You see, I knew of Gabrielle long before I met them. I was just a nobody in the crowd that stood by while they saved yet another town. I watched. I learned, and I became entranced. Gabrielle. She possess a face of such innocence, but her eyes they are lost and house so much pain. I saw it when she fought, and I saw it when she peered at the warrior at her side. I followed them, but there had to be some changes. Joxer the Mighty was born. I became a friend. It was all I wanted...to be a part of the cause; to be near such greatness; to be the one who erased that look.
Somehow, I stumbled. Somehow, I fell right at Gabrielle's feet. With each adventure, I tried to prove myself only to fall flat with skills that I could not master. The harder I toiled; the more I saw. Xena. The chemistry between them grew into something complicated, intense, and overwhelming. I saw it even before they did. I saw it, and I cried. I saw it, and I retreated, becoming a walking shell of armor. I was no longer the warrior. I was no longer the poet. I was just simply empty. They reached out to me. I moved away. It became a ridiculous dance of thrust and parry, twirl and dip. All the while, the flower I knew to be closed to them began to open slowly. Gazes became long and entrancing. Touches became like scraps to starving animals. I saw the fear between them, the wonder. I gave it name before they did. There was a fourth among us now, their love.
The happiness in me bubbled to see such joy between lost souls, but it was quickly blighted by such misery. I pulled away disappearing, giving them time alone, time to learn, time to know. Still, I always seemed to return at the wrong time...on the end or edge of a kiss or a look so scorching the hair on the back of my nape stood up. My heart folded in on itself tearing away from my chest, from the flesh that held it. It showed itself in anger, in bitterness at my two best friends. I avoided their eyes, avoided their touch, even when they needed me. The guilt gnawed. The pain ate.
Xena cornered me a few days ago like I knew she eventually would. Her grip was hard, firm, and her face sad. "Joxer? Why can't you look at me?" My eyes went everywhere from the trees to the dirt below us. She grasped my chin, bringing my eyes to hers. There was a gasp. "Joxer. I didn't know--" I jerked away. I had to. I could feel them coming...the tears.
"I'm sorry," I mumbled, hanging my head. "I tried to stop it."
"So did I," Xena whispered. I glanced up at her. "What are we going to do?"
"You're gonna love her," I resigned. "Because she loves you."
"What about --"
"Me?" Xena nodded. "I'm dealing with it my own way." I wiped at my eyes. I expected to hear pity in her voice, but there was none.
"No, you're not. You're not sleeping, eating, and you're acting like a prickly bear."
"It's my way. I didn't say it was good." I got her infamous crooked grin.
"She does love you, you know?" Xena paused. "Our Gabrielle."
I puff out my chest. "I know. What's not to love," I got deep chuckle for my efforts.
"What are you going to do?" She asked. All humor was gone.
"I don't know. It can't keep on like this. I feel like I'm losing my mind. I don't want her to hate me, but don't tell her. It would--"
"Kill her." We both finished simultaneously.
I sighed. "I only have a few options, and I'm deciding which one to take."
She looked at me knowingly. "You're leaving."
"How did... nevermind. If I do, it won't be forever."
"Then you're gonna have to tell her why. She won't understand."
"I'll write her a story or a poem. That...she will understand."
Ice blue eyes widened in surprise. "You--"
"Yeah," I shrugged. "Who knew?"
"You did all along."
I shrugged again and smiled cryptically.
We stared at each other for a long time. Finally, she offers me her forearm. I take it. . . warrior of heart and warrior of swords.
It is night time now. We have made camp. I glance over at the other side of the fire and see their bedrolls overlapping. I choke down the wave of agony, and decided to put my eyes elsewhere. Xena is no where to be seen, scouting the perimeter no doubt. Gabrielle is nearby. She is squatting, riffling through the saddlebags with an intense look on her face. The fire casts a glow on her, burning through the days grime, leaving only beauty. With a deep breath, I take it in one last time. I will remember this moment until I can return to make new ones. I should speak to her, but I cannot. My courage would fail.
Gabrielle rises carrying several pouches in her hands, heading toward the pot bubbling over the fire. I watch each step. They are sure now where they were shy and reluctant before. She carries with her an air of peace and self confidence that shines through every pour. It makes me smile. Gabrielle stops mid stride as if she senses some kind of change. Her gaze zeroes in on mine. Green eyes twinkle at me, and I know she is happy to see me smile again whatever the reason. Her nose crinkles as she gives me a rendition of her own quirky grin. I was lying before. It is this moment that I will take.
We enjoy a quiet meal of fabulous stew and crusty bread. Afterward, slowly, shyly Gabrielle inched toward Xena, who leans against a convenient tree trunk. Taking up the empty 'v' between the warrior's legs, Gabrielle breaks into story. It is a funny one, and one I know well... that damn Aphrodite. I lean back against a rock and listen aptly. I pretend to let sleep claim me, and soon Gabrielle's voice tapers off as the story ends. There are only murmurs, but they are followed by soft sighs and low chuckles. I gaze from under hooded eyes only to be encompassed by yellow once more.
It is the darkest part of the night, the air is thick when the smell of trees and the sounds of the forest. I move slowly, hoping the clunky armor I intentionally forgot to take off, will not make much noise. I stand over the fire, looking at them. They are wrapped around each other, fitting perfectly like pieces of a puzzle. Only the air separated them, and it was not by much. Even their hair mingled somehow, forming a halo that I hope will protect them from all things, even themselves. I close my eyes and say a prayer to whatever god is listening. "Let this be the right thing." I open them to see piercing blue even through the darkness. Throwing my satchel over my shoulder, I meet the gaze head on. I smile sadly then nod in acknowledgment, holding up the scroll I have written for our bard. Xena's eyes become luminous with unnamed emotion, and almost imperceptivity, she nods in return. It is all I need. Tossing the scroll over the fire, it lands near the bard's bedroll. I turn away, making my way silently through the trees. I wanted to write a story, but I thought a poem would do instead. She may not understand it at first, but as she reads it again and again, it will come to her. The poem is short, but it holds a universe.
Love is anterior to life.
Posterior to death,
Initial of creation, and
The exponent of breath.
I go to find my own yellow and my own Muse, so that when I return, we can outshine them all.
The poem is by Emily Dickinson one of my favs. She is delicious in her tragedy. I hope you all liked the story. I hope it at least made you think. Drop me a line at Minerva
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