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by Joseph Anderson
This story contains violence, description of a near rape. If you are offended by this please read another story.
Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, Argo and all other characters who have appeared in the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess, together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. All other characters, the story idea and the story iteslf are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.
Gabrielle woke in panic as a heavy hand clamped over her nose and mouth. The room was dark. A huge body had her pinned and she couldn't breathe. She could feel a cold blade as it cut her clothes away.
Hours earlier Xena had left to pursue Jedic, one of her former lieutenant's who led his own mercenary army now. They were heading for wars in the north and sacking villages along the way. Xena and Gabrielle were in a small village that had already been attacked and was deserted.
"Stay here, Gabrielle. There are several different villages he might hit and I have to travel fast to warn them. When I'm back I'll figure out what to do about him."
"Wait, don't just leave me here!" Gabrielle in frustration cried, as the warrior mounted Argo. "Just wait here, Gabrielle! You'd just slow me down, Gabrielle!" the bard mocked, stamping her staff.
Xena wheeled Argo around. "Be careful, Gabrielle. Jedic's army is nowhere near here now but you never know. And, Gabrielle ... if I didn't think you could take care of yourself, I would never leave you alone." With that the warrior rode away into the forest.
"Yeah, right," the bard said. She looked around the little village but there wasn't much to see besides some burned huts and scattered belongings not worth looting. Those villagers who hadn't been carried off had buried the dead and fled themselves. The emotional young woman had seen many similar places since she had been traveling with Xena but it still affected her. She had plenty of imagination.
She found an intact hut and quickly put it in order, deciding to sleep there.
Now Gabrielle found herself in the same hut hours later. She couldn't breathe because of the huge callused hand covering her mouth and nose and could feel herself blacking out. Blind panic was consuming her as she felt a groping hand on her naked breasts. She tried bucking but was pinned tight by the huge form. All she could see was a big black mass and feel a greasy beard. Now her attacker was forcing her legs apart. He took his hand from her face and reached roughly between her legs. She sucked in a deep breath. Sick with fear, she cried "No!" as she felt the large penis begin forcing inside her.
The door to the hut opened quietly. Gabrielle caught a glimpse of a sword. Instantly she was coughing blood and horrified as the now headless body atop her twitched spasmodically.
"Thank the gods, Xena! Thank the gods!" Gabrielle cried to the silhouetted form standing, still holding her attacker's head. But Xena didn't say anything. Gabrielle scrambled from under the dead weight of the heavy body. Xena turned stiffly and threw the head out the door, and in the moonlight Gabrielle saw not the calm face of her friend but the pale, shocked face of Joxer.
"Joxer!" Gabrielle cried. Like an automaton he picked up a blanket and handed it to her. She realized she was naked except for the blood soaking her hair and covering her upper body. She jumped away from the pool she was standing in. Gabrielle ran out of the hut and Joxer slowly followed her. Gabrielle had the blanket wrapped around her and Joxer was looking blankly at the bloody sword he carried.
"I ran into Xena on the road," he said slowly. "I told her I was looking for adventure and glory and she told me to come here and try to stay out of trouble."
Still dazed and nauseated, spitting out blood, Gabrielle listened to Joxer, trying to comprehend what had happened. She could sense he needed her to help him, though she was still shaking and not thinking that clearly herself.
"Joxer, you saved me." Gabrielle said. "Thank you." She touched his arm and he looked down at her hand.
"Is there a well here?" Joxer said.
"Yes, this way," Gabrielle said leading him to the center of the small village. Still moving slowly he brought up a bucket of water. She spied some cracked cups nearby and she filled them and handed one to Joxer. Gabrielle was calming down now. She rinsed her mouth out and watched him sipping his water distractedly. Then he said, "I'll let you clean up." Gabrielle had forgotten momentarily that she was covered in blood, she was so worried about how Joxer was acting. He walked several yards away and sat down with his back to her, still holding his sword.
It was a warm night. From the moon's position, Gabrielle thought, "How could so much time have passed?" Suddenly frantic to feel clean, Gabrielle dropped the blanket, picked the bucket up and poured it over her. She doused her pale body with bucket after bucket; standing naked in the village square, scrubbing off the blood which looked jet black in the dim light. She washed her hair as well as she could. There was soap in her pack but that was in the hut with the obscene, headless corpse. Scrounging, she found a torn robe in a nearby hut and pulled it over her wet body.
A rooster that had somehow survived was crowing and dawn was beginning to break now. Joxer was still sitting with his back to her. Gabrielle sat down next to her rescuer.
"I've never killed anybody before," he said. "It wasn't like I always imagined it." Joxer paused. "Just as I got to the village I saw this big ape sneak into a hut. I thought just you were here so I snuck up and saw what was happening. It was easy. He was so busy, I just came in, pulled his head up and cut it off. I keep my sword really sharp. You probably wouldn't expect that, but I use it to cut vegetables with. Joxer the mighty."
Galloping hooves could be heard and suddenly Xena was there on Argo. She was breathing hard, looking first at Gabrielle who had stood up, then at Joxer and scanning the village. Without a word she rode over to the well where she took in the blood-stained water on the stones and the discarded bloody blanket. She cantered over to the hut where Gabrielle had slept, dismounted and went inside, coming out after a moment. The warrior scanned the village street again, lower this time, and her gaze stopped. She walked over to examine something where it had been thrown.
Gabrielle saw Xena stoop down and pick it up, holding the large bearded head almost tenderly and then set it back down carefully. She took her cloak and spread it over the grisly remnant.
The bard could tell by her friend's stance that she was struggling to control herself, to bring herself back from the despair and rage that were always just under the surface. Gabrielle knew she was the cause, that Xena blamed herself as always for whatever happened. Xena turned and walked over to Joxer and Gabrielle, her face its usual calm again.
"You met Jedic, I see." Xena said grimly. "Did he ... before?" she said.
"I'm fine, Xena. Joxer saved me. I can't believe I let myself be taken like that."
"It's not your fault, Gabrielle. Jedic was good at this. He was good at a lot of things, but he loved rape. I'd let him go back for women we had left unharmed when he rode for me." Xena was pale with shame as she said this. Admitting it to Gabrielle was the only way she could hope to deal with it. If she hid that it would fester inside her.
"He wasn't even with his men this time. He was just following behind picking off survivors. He never used to be that unprofessional," she said sadly.
Disbelieving, Gabrielle said, "He was your friend?"
"You could say that."
Xena turned her attention to the sitting figure who hadn't moved since she had arrived.
"Joxer, I'll never forget this." She was looking closely at the man she had never had the slightest respect for. He had killed Jedic; it was impossible. "You handled that well, like a real warrior."
"Thanks, Xena," Joxer said shakily. "I'll never forget this, either." Xena kneeled down to look him in the eyes, and she put her hands on his shoulders. Her old lover's blood was on his sword.
"You need to clean your weapon, Joxer. Here, I'll do it." And she gently took the sword from him.
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