Disclaimers: all the standard stuff here. I don't own these characters. I mean no copyright infringement and I make no profit here. My use of these characters is an act of love, respect and admiration on my part and I hope it will be seen as such.

The character of Mamma Rue, though inspired by a certain song, is the creation of my muse and I. Anyone wishing to use it (unlikely though that is) should be polite enough to ask me first. I would pay you the same respect.

No need for other warnings or disclaimers here, except to say that anything I write with X and G assumes the love they have goes beyond friendship.


by Sam Ruskin

Hi. They call me Mamma Roo. I am the lady with the gold tatoo. Though there are some, I am sure, who would question the lady part. I got the tatoo when I was just a young pip-squeak trying to impress a visiting Amazon. It worked, but that is another story altogether. People come to me with their troubles. More often than not, their troubles have more than a little to do with love. Or, rather, the lack of it. Truth be told, usually it is more about lust than love; but most folks won't admit that. Not even to themselves.

I am no sorceress. Nor am I a shamaness or a witch. Of course, you may have heard differently. That is life, is it not? Actually, I am a bit of an alchemist; with the soul of a healer. A healer of hearts. And sometimes, if I am very lucky, minds.

Most folks round these parts have no idea what an alchemist is or what they do. Some idiot starting spreading the tale, a while back, that we turned lead into gold. Great Mother of Zeus, what an ass. I had to pack up shop and move to five different villages before that one died down. Who'd a thought there was that much lead in Greece?

Nowadays the sign on my shop no longer reads: Alchemist. I am taking no chances. Nope. Not this old woman. Burned that sign, I did. The new one says: Potions. It may not be as glamorous, but it still brings folks to my door. Paying folks. Not morons with lead they want spun into gold for a share of the profit. Anyway, that is how I met Joxer. Joxer, the Mighty. Don't knock the shelves down with your laughter my friend. That is what the lad called himself. Only he wasn't feeling so mighty when he came into my shop. They never are. Good for me, of course. Why else would they be looking to buy potions.

.........."Can I help you with something young man?" I asked the strangely clad person studying the line of bottles on the dusty shelf. He looked around as if he were making certain no one else was in the shop. "We are quite alone for the moment," I assured him.

"Oh. Well..I...what I mean to say is..." he glanced about again. "You're Mamma Rue?" His shy eyes darted between me, the bottles and the floor and back again.

"That is what most folks call me, yes." I took the bottle from his hand just as he was about to drop it.

"Oh. I..sorry..I..you sell potions. Right?"

I pointed to the sign above the door. "Might say so. Yes. What kinda potion you need young fella? Trouble with yer lady love, is it?"

Usually I let customers tell me what they need in their own time but this one made me nervous. I could see the longer he was in my shop the greater the risk to my potions AND my shelves. The only thing that moved about more than his worried eyes was his fumbling hands. I could see right away, this customer could be expensive.

"Yes. My lady lo....no..no..not exactly. I mean...she isn't....no..she.."

I rescued another bottle of elixir and motioned for him to take a seat. He seemed glad for the invitation. I tried to get out of him what it was he wanted from my shop.

"Trouble with the ladies? Or just one lady in particular? Mr..."

"Joxer. Joxer the Mighty," he said with a flourish that was as out of place as a honeybee in winter.

"Pleased to meet you Joxer. Now why don't you just tell Mamma Rue what you need."

He shifted uncomfortably, but smiled. "No trouble with the ladies. Well, some ladies." He cleared his throat. "Well, I'm..yeah...I'm kind of a flop with chicks. Been that way since I was five or six. But ...well..there is this one woman...she's...uh...". His eyes started to fill with water and he looked away quickly.

I patted his strangely clad shoulder. "You know, Joxer. If you don't mind my saying so, calling women chicks is probably not helping your cause any." I watched as he wiped his face and nodded his understanding.

"So you want a potion to get this lady of yours to notice you? Is that it?"

He looked up, thinking. "No. She notices me. She just thinks I'm an idiot." He looked around the shop again. "She thinks I don't know, but I do. Problem is...I AM an idiot. Got a potion for that?" He chuckled but it was a painful sound.

I shook my head gently back and forth. "I am sorry, my young friend. Feeling a fool for love is something I have no potion for." I waited for his eyes to return to mine. "You say this woman already notices you. What is it you want of me? What do you wish a potion to do for you, Joxer the Mighty?".

"Can you...I mean...is there a potion that will...make her ...love me?"

"A love potion, you mean?"

He nodded. I raised my eyebrows and shook my head in a mixture of sadness, understanding and compassion.

"My lovesick young friend, there is no potion that will MAKE another person love you. That is against Olympian Law. The Goddess Aphrodite herself forbids it. I am told that even she will not do such a thing."

He stared at me, clearly stunned. "Olympian Law? I never heard of such a thing."

"That is because you have never broken one of them. Count yourself lucky."

He started to get up, glancing once more about my small shop. I stood before him and pressed my hand onto his shoulder, causing him to take his seat again.


"I have no potion to make your lady love you, Joxer. But I have something I think you will like just as well."

He looked hopeful. "Really? What?"

I grinned at him before I turned toward the farthest shelf. Finding what I wanted, I bent down to retrieve the golden flask. Slowly turning toward him, I winked and made a sign in the air with my right hand. "Be right back," I laughed.

The would-be warrior never took his eyes off me as I found my way to the special work area in the corner.

"It'll just take a minute to mix it up here in the sink." I explained my actions and quickly mixed the special potion. Taking only the smaller bottle containing the blended elixir, I returned to where he sat. Handing the now spell-bound young man the tiny brown bottle, I warned. "It tastes pretty bad. You might want to hold your nose before you take a drink."

He nodded. Closing his eyes, he pinched his nose shut and swallowed the entire contents. "Ugh," he groaned, "That was awful. What was it?"

Laughing out loud, I reminded him: " I told you it tasted bad, did I not?"

"You said Pretty Bad. This stuff is way beyond pretty anything. What is it?"

I retrieved the empty bottle. "Lust Potion number nine," I answered.

"WHAT?!" He shouted. "What did you say? Did you say Lust? You did. You said Lust Potion! What would I want....lust...lust potion....oh gods...she's gonna kill me....no...killing is too good....she's gonna feed me to the fish....the very big fish...in lots of little bloody pieces...oh gods....oh gods..." .

The man seemed to have become possessed and I looked again at the bottle. I lifted the cork and smelled the remaining vapors to be certain I had given him the proper potion. Yep. It was lust potion. Not a madness elixir. I watched him pace about the shop, wringing his sweating hands and mumbling all sorts of horrible things to himself. Finally, I could stand no more.

"Joxer." I grabbed his arm and forced his eyes toward mine. "Joxer! You are afraid of your lady love? You believe she will do you harm? You did not tell me your love was a warrior, Joxer."

"She's not. Well, she didn't use to be...no..I mean...it's not Gabby I'm afraid of...though...HEY...you didn't tell me it was a lust potion!! Why did you give me a lust potion? And what will it do anyway?" He seemed in deep thought for a moment, then was overtaken again with a fear that stole the very color from his face. "She's gonna kill me. I just know it. Gods. She will probably get me with her chakram. Cut off my head. That's what she will do. She will take off my head with her chakram...unless...oh gods...what if she finds out it was a lust potion...great mother of Zeus...I can only HOPE it is my head she aims for...". That is when he fainted.

I looked up from the fallen man when I heard the door to the shop open. It was nearly mid-day but no light snaked around the figure in the doorway. I smiled, knowing full well who was blocking the sun.

"Whatcha got there, Mamma Rue?" The tall warrior moved across the dirt floor to where I knelt. Looking at the fallen form, she raised that eyebrow of hers and shook her head.

"Lust Potion number nine again, Rue?" Xena almost laughed aloud.

I handed her the empty vial. She removed the cork and sniffed. Rolling her eyes and shuddering, she quickly returned the stopper to it's former position. "How do you make this tea smell so bad? Does it taste as awful as it smells? NO. Wait. Don't answer that. I don't wanna know." She looked again at her friend who still slept at my feet. "Poor Joxer. Sorry old friend, but I had to teach you a lesson. You were driving Gabrielle nuts with those puppy dog looks of yours."

"Xena, he was really upset when I told him it was a lust potion. He started mumbling something about someone killing him. Then he began praying to the gods and talking about what someone would do with their chakram. Being fed to fish. Having body parts sliced and diced. You wouldn't know anything about that, would you tall, dark and deadly?"

Up went the eyebrow. "Me?"

"Yes, you. You are the only one I know who uses a chakram. At least around here. When I agreed to teach this young fellow a lesson, you did not tell me it was you he was in love with."

The Warrior Princess choked and reached for the shelf to support her body as it shook with unchecked laughter. "He isn't!! Me?! No....Mamma Rue...it's Gabrielle...". She was holding her sides and gasping for air and didn't hear the door open and close. "Joxer isn't in love with me. He is in love with Gabrielle. Unfortunately for Mr Mighty here...so am I. And he is making the love of my life miserable so..."

"What did you say, Xena?" the sexy blonde asked as she strode toward the warrior. "Is that...Joxer? Hello Mamma Rue. What happened to Joxer?". The Amazon Princess bent down to kiss my cheek. "And don't think I have forgotten you: tall, dark and sneaky. Did I hear you right a minute ago? No. Wait. If I did hear you right I would rather you said it to me again when we are alone...say, at the campfire tonight? hmmmm warrior princess.".

Xena gulped. She opened and closed her eyes three times, then nodded in agreement.

"I thought so." The smaller woman leaned closer to the leather clad woman who now sat on the floor next to her fallen friend. "Actually, I prayed so, but we can talk about that later, right?".

Another gulp, followed by more nodding.

"Lust potion number nine again, Rue?" Gabrielle shook her righteous finger in my face.

"It didn't hurt him, Gabrielle. How was I to know the man would faint dead away? Joxer the Mighty, indeed." I tried to defend myself and my little shop.

"Yeah, Gabrielle. We were only trying to help. You know he's been making you crazy with..." the warrior halted. She had been caught in the glare of unrelenting green eyes.

Joxer stirred and looked up. Seeing Xena sitting next to him, he fainted again. Gabrielle looked at the three of us there on the floor. Joxer was sleeping like a baby in the lap of an old woman who maybe (and maybe not) sold potions. Xena, brave Warrior Princess, gulped once again as blue eyes met green. Finally, the Amazon Queen could contain herself no longer. Her musical laughter filled the shop.

"Lust Potion number nine. Gods, what I wouldn't have given to have seen the look on his face."

Joxer began to snore, causing everyone to laugh all the harder.

"Rue, does it always work? The lust potion, I mean? Xena says it's only tea and some hocus pocus you do."

I slid out from beneath my latest customer and Xena helped me to stand. "Yes, Gabrielle. It works every time. But that is because I only use it on very special customers. Like Joxer here. Sadly there are plenty of people who would actually LIKE the idea of a lust potion. For people like your friend here...well, it just helps them see themselves and their hearts a little more clearly."

"He'll be all right though?" she asked.

"Oh sure. I really didn't know he would faint. He seemed more terrified of what Xena here would do to him when she found out he had used a lust potion on you than anything else. He will sleep for a while and be fine. Well, he will be himself."

We all laughed again.

"Then you will see to it he is taken care of?" she questioned. I nodded that I would. Green eyes narrowed at amazingly childlike blue ones. "Then let's go back to camp, warrior. I think there was something you wanted to tell me. Right?"

Another gulp. "Right. You know, Gabrielle. This might not be such a good time for this particular talk...". Xena nervously mumbled.

Green glared into blue. "Don't even think about it, Xena. You said it. I heard it. No more sub-text. Got me?"


As I watched them ride out of the village I thought: Rue, no one will ever believe this. Not for a single minute. I couldn't help chuckling to myself. Half the known world trembles at the sound of her name and all it took was one small bard to bring her to her knees. I wondered if they ever had that talk, then I remembered those determined green eyes and the warrior's pleading gulp. Yeah, I smiled to myself, they had it. Like the bard said: no more sub-text.

.....Well, I hope you had fun. This is not what I usually write. I think my muse was razzing me about my taste in music. What do you think? I can be emailed at: samanthaeruskin@gmail.com

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