Joxer, Meg, Virgil, Xena and Gabrielle all belong to Universal Studios/Studios USA. I'm just borrowing them for this piece of experimental fiction.
This story is not for kids under 16 years of age. There's not much violence, but the subject matter is pretty disturbing.
THE GENESIS OF THIS PIECE
This story was supposed to have been my final Xena fanfic piece. I had decided that I wanted to end my fanfic writing days with a story that resolved the Meg/Joxer relationship once and for all. Again, since no one had taken it upon themselves to write serious Meg/Joxer fanfic, that's why I decided to do it one last time. This tale is a very emotional, and oftentimes, disturbing piece. It's not for the faint of heart. This story was started on June 7, 2000 and finished on July 7, 2000.
If nothing else, I wanted to show fanfic authors that it was okay to play around with the Xena characters a bit and show new sides to their personalities, while retaining the characteristics shown on the television series.
It would be three long years before I came out of retirement to write one last fanfic piece. More about that another time.
Until then, I hope you enjoy this story. As usual, I'm open to any and all opinions, positive or negative. You can be as brutal as you wish.
January 19, 2004
The young blonde paced back and forth. He shook his head,
trying to deny the awful truth.
"I-I thought she had more time!!"
He spun towards the old woman, placing his hands on her shoulders.
"A-are you sure, Darnia?? I-I mean…c-can't it be a mistake??"
She shook her head sadly.
"I'm afraid not, Virgil. The illness has advanced. Meg only has a few days left at best. I'm sorry, dear."
The young man stared at the ground, tears filling his eyes. Another man walked over to his side, placing an arm around him and holding him close.
He looked up at Darnia again.
"I-I can't believe how fast this illness progressed!!"
Darnia lowered her head, face darkened.
"I've seen this illness do some terrible things. But even I'm startled at how fast it's moving in Meg's case."
"A-And Maria?? W-When will my sister be here??"
"She should be here very soon."
Virgil drew closer to Darnia.
"I want to see my mother."
Darnia placed a hand on Virgil's face.
"Come, sweetheart. Come."
The three walked into a small bedroom. Lying in the bed was Meg. She was emaciated. Her once beautiful face was streaked with wrinkles. Her skin hung loosely from her skull. Her eyes were closed. She was breathing in long, drawn-out rasps. Her long hair was spread out on the pillow, large streaks of gray threading their way through it. Virgil walked over to the bed, and sat down next to it. He gently grasped his mother's hand.
"Mom…" he uttered silently.
The eyes opened. They still had retained their brilliant ice-blue. Meg looked upon her son. A weak smile curled her lips.
"Virgil…" she said in a hoarse rasp. "Sweetheart…"
Virgil lifted her hand to his face and kissed it. Meg's eyes narrowed in pity at the agony in her son's face.
"I-I-I don't want you to die, mom!!"
Meg sighed a bit. She delicately wiped the tears from her son's eyes.
"We all die sooner or later." she said softly. "But you needn't worry. Your father and I will keep an eye on you and your brothers and sisters."
Virgil lowered his head, biting his lip.
"I-I wish they weren't so far away…I wish we could contact them…They'd want to be here with us."
Meg frowned. A tear trickled down her cheek. She paused for a moment.
"It's not their fault…I-I-I just wish I could say good-bye to them…Poor Francisca too…She'd never make it back from Rome in time…I-I-I'll miss her…such a sweetheart…"
Meg shook her head slightly. She looked up at the ceiling, and sighed.
"Life hardly goes the way you want it to…"
She smirked and raised an eyebrow.
"Only good thing about this is…I'll be back with Joxer. Forever."
Meg looked back at Virgil. She spoke in low, gentle tones.
"Life is a gauntlet, son. You have to be strong. Stronger than you think you are. Trust me-I know. Look at my life. I've had so much hardship. I'm lucky to make it to sixty-three summers. But part of that is because I forced myself to face the bad things life had to offer, and deal with them."
A warm smile appeared on Meg's face. She tenderly stroked her son's cheek.
"And life offered me some beautiful things too, Virgil. You're one of them."
Virgil returned the smile.
"I'm lucky to have a mom like you."
Meg looked up at the ceiling, a far-away look in her eyes.
"I remember the day I gave birth to you. Just like it was yesterday…."
"Hold on Meg!! Hold on!! Just push!!" shouted Francisca.
Meg squinted her eyes shut and gritted her teeth with all her might. Her veins pulsated in her neck like snakes. She bore down as hard as she could, willing her muscles to push through the blinding, searing pain. Joxer cradled her head in his arms, his eyes wide with fear and anticipation.
"You see anything, Darnia?!"
She stared down into Meg's swollen vagina.
"Hold on…hold on… I see a head!!"
Meg cried out in agony. She opened her eyes. They were wild with pain, fear, and heated determination. She took a deep breath, and pushed again with as much force as she could muster. Her body trembled erratically from the effort. A smile quickly formed on Darnia's face.
"The baby's coming, the baby's coming!! I've got the head, and the shoulders!! One more time Meg!! Push!!"
Francisca clutched Meg's hand.
"C'mon sweetheart, c'mon!! One more time!! PUSH!!"
Meg let out a piercing scream and gave one last forceful push. And the baby slid forth from Meg's vagina, covered with blood and embryonic fluid. Darnia grabbed the baby. It began to cry loudly. A brilliant smile formed on Darnia's face.
"It's a boy!!"
Meg sobbed hysterically in pain and joy. Joxer held her close, kissing her head feverishly. Francisca rushed over to Darnia's side. The umbilical cord was cut. Darnia cleaned up the infant and wrapped it up in an blanket. She brought it to its mother. Darnia placed it on Meg's chest. Meg took the child into her arms. Her ice-blue eyes were wide as saucers, filled with profound elation. Tears flowed down her cheeks.
"A boy!! A boy!!"
She lowered her head and kissed the infant repeatedly. The baby's cries were the sweetest music to her ears. Meg nuzzled the infant, gently kissing it on the forehead.
"My little sweety…my little sweetheart…my little bundle of joy!!"
She looked up at Joxer, who was absolutely thunderstruck. A smile formed on Meg's face. Her lower lip trembled.
"Joxer….here's your son."
Joxer quickly moved in closer. His face was filled with joy and overwhelming love.
"My son…" he repeated to himself.
He bent down and tenderly kissed the infant on the head. Then he turned to kiss Meg. Their lips brushed across each other. Joxer pulled back, smiling warmly.
"I love you Meg."
Meg returned the smile.
"I love you too, Joxer."
Joxer looked down at his infant son.
"Hey Virgil." he said softly. "Welcome to the world."
"Hi Viiiiirgil!!" Meg cooed lovingly. "Hi honey!! Hi sweety!!"
Meg nuzzled the infant again, kissing it tenderly. The baby continued to cry. Meg pouted.
"Awwwww…honey, don't cry!! Don't cry sweety-pie!! Momma's here!! Momma's here!! Would you like me to sing you a lullaby honey?? Hmmm?? Shhhhhh….shhhhhh sweety-pie. Listen. Listen to momma sing."
And Meg began to sing a beautiful, tender lullaby. The baby slowly stopped crying. He snuggled close to his mother's chest. Meg lowered her head towards the child. She rocked the infant gently. singing softly. Meg tenderly stroked the tiny head with her fingers. Joxer gazed down at his wife and child. Tears began to run down his cheeks.
"I-I-I'm a dad!!" he said aloud.
Meg looked up, giving him her warmest smile.
"Yes, you are Joxie. You're a dad. And I'm a mom."
Joxer stared at Meg and his son, incredible joy threading through every fiber of his being. He giggled with glee.
"I-I'm really a dad!! I'm r-really a dad!! I'm a dad!!"
Meg's smile grew wider.
"Yes you are!!"
Joxer spread out his arms, gazing up at the ceiling.
"I'M A DAAAAAAAAAD!!!" he screamed with elation.
He ran out of the room, screaming and hooting with joy. Meg and the other women heard him run down the stairs, crying out the good news. Soon, they heard Joxer screaming from outside their window. Meg's eyes widened in disbelief.
"What is he doing?!" she exclaimed.
Francisca ran to the window. Her eyes widened and she covered her mouth.
"Meg, he's hugging and kissing everyone that comes by!! He's dancing around like a maniac!!"
Meg burst out laughing, savoring every moment. A brilliant smile formed on her face. She looked down at the tiny life in her arms, and lowered her face to his.
"Daddy's telling everyone about 'cha! Yiiiiez he is!! Yiiiiiiez he is!!"
She kissed the infant tenderly on the head, nuzzling it, caressing it with her nose and lips. Meg rubbed her cheek against the baby's head.
"I love ya, baby Virgil!!" she cooed tenderly. "I love ya sweety!!"
Darnia and Francisca came over to Meg's side. Darnia smiled warmly, shaking her head in amazement.
"He's beautiful, Meg. Absolutely gorgeous."
Meg looked up at Darnia, beaming with happiness and pride.
"He's perfect. He's perfect in every way."
Francisca chuckled with gleeful delight.
"Oh Meg…Motherhood suits you so well!!"
Meg flashed a brilliant smile, reaching out towards Francisca. She grasped Meg's hand.
"Oh Fran, does it ever!"
Meg turned to Darnia. A tear rolled down her cheek.
"Oh Darnia…I-If Gabrielle hadn't sent you to deal with my pregnancy problem, Virgil wouldn't be here with us. Joxer and I owe you, Darnia. More than you'll ever know."
Darnia smiled gently.
"The happiness I've seen from you and Joxer is payment enough from me."
Meg lowered her head and began nuzzling the infant again. The baby gave a low, contented squeal.
"Daddy and I are gonna give ya lots and lots and lots of love. Oooooooooh- so much love. So much."
She kissed the baby on the head once more. Meg looked up. She heard Joxer's cries of happiness. A warm smile formed on her face.
"That's right Joxer. We're gonna bring up our son with lots of love. You and me."
Virgil grasped his mother's hand, kissing it tenderly. A tear rolled down his cheek.
"I couldn't have asked for two better parents." he said, his voice trembling.
"And I couldn't have asked for a better son." said Meg, smiling weakly.
Suddenly, Virgil heard footsteps rapidly approach the door. The door swung open. A young woman burst into the room. She rushed over to the other side of Meg's bed, and knelt down by her. Her ice-blue eyes were filled with tears.
Meg grasped her daughter's hand. Her smile widened slightly.
She placed her head on Meg's chest, sobbing softly. Meg tenderly stroked her daughter's head.
"Maria…sweetheart…don't cry, honey." she said with a soft rasp.
Virgil knelt down beside the bed. He reached across it, and grasped Maria's hand. She squeezed it firmly, almost painfully.
"M-Momma…I-I love you momma…" she uttered in a strained voice.
"I love you too honey."
There was silence for a few moments. Maria lifted her head. She moved up, kissing Meg on the forehead. Meg delicately wiped away Maria's tears with her hand.
"S-Sweetheart, could you get me some water?"
Maria nodded. She turned to the night stand and picked up a pitcher. She poured water into a mug. Virgil lifted Meg's head up, and Maria put the mug to Meg's lips. She drank the water slowly. Then Meg stopped. Maria pulled back. Meg wiped her lips with her hand.
"T-Thank you Maria."
Maria set the mug back down on the night stand. She slowly got up, sitting in a chair. Virgil placed Meg's head back on the pillow. He sat back as well. A few moments passed. Meg raised an eyebrow.
"How's…how's the furniture business? And how's Pridas?"
Maria lowered her head, and sighed.
"Ohhhhh, c-can't complain, really. Business is good…U-Um…y-yeah. B-Business is good…Pridas is okay…"
She looked away, her ice-blue eyes wandering over the floor. Meg's eyes narrowed in pity.
"Sweetheart, look at me."
Maria hesitantly looked up at her mother. Meg smiled.
"Don't be afraid."
"I-I-I….I-It's really hard to see you like this."
Meg formed a delicate frown.
"I'm sorry Maria…I-I wish there was something I could do…"
She looked at Virgil, then Maria again. Her frown grew deeper.
"I…I'm sorry I'm making you kids suffer."
Maria and Virgil each grasped Meg's hands. Meg squeezed them. She sighed. A few moments of uneasy silence passed between them. There was a knock at the door.
"Yes?" asked Virgil.
"It's Thanis. C-Can I come in?"
Virgil looked at Meg. She nodded slowly.
"Come on in." he answered.
Thanis quietly opened the door. He stepped inside, closing it. Thanis walked over to Virgil's side. He looked upon Meg's emaciated form. He bit his lower lip in grief. Thanis somehow mustered up the strength to speak.
Meg smiled again.
"I-I'm not intruding, I hope."
Meg gave a light snort.
"Nonsense. Sit down, Thanis."
Thanis pulled up a chair, and sat down by Virgil. Meg gazed at him, raising an eyebrow.
"You're taking good care of my baby, right?"
Thanis grasped Virgil's hand.
"Yeah. Y-Yeah, I am. I love him very much."
Meg closed her eyes, nodding slowly.
Thanis swallowed hard. He lowered his head, brown eyes wandering over the floor. He looked up again at Meg.
"I-Is there anything I can do for you, Meg? Anything?"
Meg opened her eyes, and gave a tired smile.
"You're sweet. No, thanks."
A long moment of silence. Meg's eyes turned towards Maria. She studied her daughter closely.
"Gods… you look like her."
Maria knitted her eyebrows.
Meg gazed at her daughter with a quiet sadness. She spoke one word.
Maria's face darkened. She lowered her head.
Virgil and Thanis glanced at each other with dread. Meg looked up at the ceiling and sighed.
"Joxer….Joxer, Joxer, Joxer…He really cared for Xena. And for Gabrielle. Searched for them a long time after Ares took their bodies away. And then came the day that Argo died…"
Meg sat in the kitchen, breast-feeding her baby daughter. She tenderly stroked the infant's dark hair.
"Hungry, arntcha Maria? Hmmmm?"
She rocked her chair gently, gazing down at her daughter with love. She smiled.
"You eat up sweety. I wantcha to grow up big and strong!!"
Meg quickly turned her head towards the entrance to the kitchen. A little boy ran inside. He stood there, gasping for breath. Meg instantly got to her feet.
"Virgil!! What's wrong?!"
"I-It's A-Argo!! Argo's sick!!"
At that moment, Francisca rushed into the kitchen. She eyed Meg with dread.
"Meg, you'd better come to the barn."
They all left the kitchen and rushed over to the barn. Francisca opened the door-
And Joxer knelt on the ground, next to a golden palomino. The horse's eyes were closed. Tears ran down Joxer's face in torrents. Meg noticed that the horse was not breathing. Grief filled her face.
She turned to Francisca, holding the baby out to her.
"Take Maria and Virgil back to the house."
Francisca took the infant into her arms. Virgil stared up at his mother.
"Momma, what's happening?!"
Meg looked down at her son.
"Virgil, go back to the house with Francisca."
"But Momma, what about Argo?!"
Meg knelt down in front of her son. She placed her hands on his face. A sad smile formed on her features.
"Sweetheart, I'll see what I can do. But you can't stay here!! Not now. Okay?"
"Do as she says, son." said Joxer quietly, his voice shaking.
Virgil turned towards his father.
"I said do what she says, boy!!" Joxer snapped harshly. "Get inside the house!!"
Virgil flinched in terror at the fury in his father's voice. His father had never yelled at him before. He ran out of the barn, crying. Meg and Francisca stared at Joxer in shock. Meg rose to her feet. Francisca quickly turned to her.
"I'll go keep Virgil company."
Francisca ran outside. Meg closed the barn door. She walked over to Joxer.
"You didn't have to yell at him." she said quietly, her voice laced with a tinge of anger.
Joxer shook his head. He looked up at Meg, his face ashen with agony.
"I-I-I'm sorry." he whimpered.
Whatever anger that was in Meg was gone in an instant. The pain that filled Joxer's face broke her heart. She dropped to her knees beside him, wrapping an arm around him. Meg looked upon the horse's lifeless body.
"Gods…" she whispered.
"I-I found her like that. I-I was just going in to check on her, you know? Just to see how she was doing."
Joxer wiped tears from his face. Meg held him close, leaning her head on his.
"Joxer…I-I-I'm so sorry…."
Joxer choked back a sob. He trembled with grief.
"I-It's over Meg."
Meg grasped his chin, and turned it towards her.
"What do you mean, honey?" she asked softly.
Joxer slowly shook his head in great sadness.
"I'm not going to look for Xena and Gabrielle anymore. I-It's over…."
Meg's eyes narrowed in grief and profound pity.
"I-I-I…I can't believe I'll never find 'em!! I-I-I can't believe I'll never see them again!!"
Meg wrapped her arms around Joxer, holding him tight. Tears trickled down her cheeks.
"Oh sweetheart….I'm so sorry…"
Joxer let out a loud sob. He clutched Meg tightly to him.
"M-My best friends are dead!! My best friends are DEAD!!"
Joxer let out a loud wail. He buried his face in Meg's neck, and began to cry bitterly. Meg held him close. She whimpered softly.
"I-I-I-I'm so sorry, sweetheart…" she said, her voice trembling with grief. "I-I'm so sorry…"
They stayed there, alongside the dead horse. Meg would be there as long as Joxer needed her.
Meg closed her eyes, sighing. She opened them again and looked up at the ceiling.
"I curse the day they came back from the dead."
Maria lowered her head, closing her eyes. Virgil shook his head in exasperation.
"Mom…when are you going to stop blaming Xena and Gabrielle for dad's death?! Eve killed him!!"
Meg turned away. Pain, grief and anger flowed briefly across her face.
"Joxer would never have left me to stop Eve if it wasn't for them."
"Mom, Xena and Gabrielle were torn up over Dad's death!! Mom, they loved him!!"
Meg bit her lower lip. She let out a slight, strangled sigh.
"Their pain was nothing like mine. They didn't love him like I loved him."
"Virgil, let it go." uttered Maria quietly. "Mom's mind is made up about Xena and Gabrielle. She won't change it."
Virgil sighed heavily in defeat. He lowered his head. At that moment, the door opened. Darnia came in, and walked over to Virgil.
"Honey, your food is ready."
Virgil shook his head.
"I-I'm not hungry." he said quietly.
Thanis turned towards him. His eyes narrowed in anger.
"Virgil, you haven't eaten in over a day and a half."
Meg quickly turned towards her son. Her ice-blue eyes flashed in anger.
Virgil looked at his mother timidly. Meg's eyes narrowed.
"Boy, you'd better eat something now, or else."
An uncomfortable pause. Virgil sighed heavily.
"I'll bring it in here." said Darnia.
She left the room. Meg eyed Virgil for a moment. She spoke.
"Look at me Virgil."
Her son hesitantly looked up at her. Meg spoke with quiet strength.
"You've got to promise me to stay strong."
"I nothing. I know how much this hurts you. But…But death is a part of life. You're a young man. You've got to try and move on."
She looked at Maria, then Virgil again. Meg spoke. Her voice was still raspy, but her will came through strong and clear.
"I want both of you to remember this. And when you see your brothers and sisters, you tell them the same. Tell them to stay strong."
Virgil and Maria nodded once and lowered their heads. A few moments of silence passed. Maria looked up at her mother again.
Meg raised an eyebrow in question. Maria spoke again.
"Do you…do you hate the fact that I look like her?"
Meg's face darkened a bit. She closed her eyes, and sighed gently.
"No, sweetheart." she said with a quiet rasp. "I don't."
"Mom…Xena is your cousin. She's family. You've shouldn't be that way with her."
She looked up at the ceiling. A faint smile crossed her lips. Meg spoke softly, her voice with a raspy, tired edge to it.
"It took old King Lias a good 6 years to find this out. Even with all his money. Xena, Diana, Leah and me…we all looked exactly alike, but we didn't have the same mother. Lias searched back. Turns out that all our mothers had the same mom. Grandma was some powerful warrior from Britannia. She had four daughters. She was trying to escape some other warriors, so she spread out her four girls around Greece. She was killed. They never found the kids. They grew up separate…and they never knew about each other. They each had a daughter. It wasn't until Xena met Princess Diana for the first time that she knew something was up."
Meg looked at Maria, a thin smile crossing her lips.
"Grandma's blood is strong. Not much anyone can do about that."
Maria gently grasped her mother's hand.
Maria rolled her eyes with dread. She bit her lip for a moment, then spoke.
"Momma…Virgil's right. You've got to let go of the anger you have towards Xena and Gabrielle."
Meg's face darkened. She looked away from her daughter.
Meg gazed at the ceiling. She closed her eyes, and sighed slightly.
"I'm…tired. I want to sleep a little bit."
Maria, Virgil and Thanis looked at each other with deep sadness. Virgil sighed, and rose to his feet.
"I-I'm going outside to eat, Maria. I'll be close by, if you need me."
"No problem Virgil."
Virgil looked at his mother.
"I love you mom."
"Love you too."
Virgil got up and Thanis followed him. They stepped outside. Virgil and Thanis sat down at a table. At that moment, Darnia brought over a plate of chicken with some bread, and a mug full of apple cider. She set it down before him.
"Eat up, Virgil." she said softly.
The young man sighed. He picked up a chicken leg and bit into it. He chewed slowly and thoughtfully.
"I'm going to wash the dishes. Be sure to eat everything."
Virgil gazed off into the distance, not answering. Thanis placed a hand on Virgil's leg. He looked up at Darnia.
"Don't worry. I'll make sure he finishes every bit of food."
Darnia nodded. She walked off. Thanis turned towards Virgil, eyeing him closely. He continued to stare out into space, chewing his food slowly.
He picked up his mug of apple cider and took a long drink from it. He set it down on the table, picked up the leg, and bit into it again.
A pause. He chewed and swallowed the meat.
"Talk to me. Tell me what you're feeling."
Virgil sighed. He put down his chicken leg and wiped his hands. He placed his elbows on the table and then folded his hands. Virgil rested his chin atop them.
"I'm still having trouble dealing with the death of my father, and now I have to face the death of my mother…I-it's too much to take."
Thanis leaned over and kissed him on the side of the head. He rubbed Virgil's thigh affectionately.
"You're not alone, you know. You've got me. You also got Maria and Darnia, as well as the rest of your brothers and sisters."
Virgil placed his right hand over Thanis's, and squeezed.
A few moments of silence. Virgil stared out into open space again, his mind deep in thought.
"What's on your mind now, Virgil?"
He pursed his lips.
"I'm thinking back to a time four years ago, when my father was still coming to terms with my homosexuality."
"What do you mean?"
"My father knew there was something different about me from an early age. He began to wonder if I was going to turn out like my uncle Jace. Dad was afraid. Mom…mom was trying to get Dad to be more supportive."
Thanis's eyebrows knitted together.
"I-I don't understand…your father wasn't happy that you were gay? H-He couldn't support that?"
Virgil shook his head.
"No, but not for the reason you think. At first I wasn't sure what it was. Prejudice was a hard thing for me to accept from my dad, because he…he was just as good a father as could be. Turns out he-he was afraid for me. Even though homosexuality seemed acceptable to many people, Dad told me there were some people out there who weren't so accepting."
Virgil chuckled harshly.
"And I found out the hard way."
Thanis's eyes widened with concern.
Virgil gave a slight, cold grin. He remembered back…